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Discussion in 'News' started by Doug_G, Dec 1, 2011.
What's still killing the electric car - The Globe and Mail
A tad on the vitriolic side, but I can't argue with many, if any, of his points. We can suggest renting or borrowing a car on the infrequent occasions that a longish trip is required, but it is added expense and inconvenience. BEVs are simply not for everyone and possibly not for the majority of folks.
That said, the benefits of BEVs should not be dismissed out of hand either. This guy at least mentions some of them, but in his mind, the range issue trumps all.
As we know, Zenn seems to be banking their future on success of ultracaps, so there is one set of bias going into that story... They want to talk negatively of today's batteries because they want the world to have interest in their story of what they might be able to do better in the future.
Yes, I think it is safe to say that the EV you can buy in 10 years will have much better energy storage than what you can get today... But how long are you willing to wait for more improvements?
H'se mostly right though of course his conclusion is short as the small subset he describes as customers is not really all that small. I'd say 100s of thousands. He also missed the range growth in Lith batts. and how finding plugs becomes 2nd nature.
I liked this:
though replace "energy" with "motion"
FYI, Toronto's Globe & Mail is well know as the mouth piece for small cap companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange - Like ZENN. I was once linked to a mining company listed there (long story...reverse takeover deal gone wrong...), and the guy in charge of promoting the penny stock explained to us that many G&M articles in the finance section were in fact there for stock promotion. They are often published to coincide with a road show or other stock marketing efforts.
Needless to say, I now read financial sections with a different eye.
I still have to read it more carefully, but... I think it is more playing on pre-conceived notions than it seems. He mentions neither the Leaf not the Model S, even though he emphasizes cost and the Leaf is something like $7,000 or $8,000 less than the Volt. Instead of mentioning the Model S and fast-charging, he talks about ultra-capacitors. He tries to establish battery weight as a knockout argument, but concluding that only ultra-capacitors could solve that problem, goes a bit far and suggests bias on his part.
I thought the weight thing was odd -- what does it matter what the car weighs, if the performance is great? Still, I agree with his point that a one-car family that expects to put in the not-too-infrequent long drive probably shouldn't buy an BEV today. That's fine. A one-car family that regularly needs to haul a half-ton of manure shouldn't buy a sedan, either. One-size-fits-all should not be a requirement for success.
Weight is always the enemy of performance and efficiency.
The weight of the battery is important because an EV needs to be more efficient than an ICE and carry around as little extra weight as possible because it has less energy at its disposal.
The Lotus Elise is a car very highly optimized to reduce weight. Very few ICE cars are anywhere near the efficiency of the Lotus - and the Roadster is not as efficient as it could have been if it was from a clean sheet of paper.
In more typical cars: An ( iron ) V8 engine can be around 400 pounds. A transmission can be 100 - 200 pounds. 16 gallons of gas is 100 pounds.
The exhaust system on an ICE car can be 100 - 200 pounds. The entire drivetrain could easily add up to over 1000 pounds.
The Audi A8 is all aluminum like the Model S, the A8 is 4300 pounds and the Model S is 4000 pounds.
The ~1000 pounds of battery + ~100 pounds of electric drivetrain in the Model S is likely to be not a lot more than the drivetrain weight of the A8.
Lastly, the success bar for BEVs is actually very low. if 10% of the car buying public in the US considers a BEV thats over 1.5 million per year. Supply won't be able to match that demand for many many years.
you can post on his FB page: Incompatible Browser | Facebook
And the Volt, which according to him "works", is about 3800 pounds (for four seats only and less internal space). The Leaf is 3350 pounds.
Performance (as in 0-60 time), yes, in direct proportion to weight. Efficiency, technically yes, but to a considerably smaller degree.
At highway speeds, the bulk of energy consumption (~80%) is from wind resistance and drivetrain losses. (see Roadster Efficiency and Range | Blog | Tesla Motors) So presuming the form factors are equal, extra weight in the car does not affect wind resistance and drivetrain losses, though it does add marginally more friction to the tires (the other 20% of losses). So even though the Tesla Roadster weighs 50% more than a Lotus Elise, its efficiency is not significantly reduced by the added weight. I would guess no more than 5%.
Another thing to factor in with EVs and hybrids is regen braking. It equalizes losses from additional weight because regen braking recovers more energy with more weight. Plus most of them have tires with low rolling resistance.
I'm willing to bet the efficiency of EVs and hybrids are much less affected by weight that conventional cars for those two reasons (it probably takes much more dramatic weight reduction to see any noticable effect).
True, but the conversion from battery to kinetic energy back to battery is still inefficient. (about 90% battery->kinetic, 70% kinetic->battery as I recall.) So every extra pound still does reduce efficiency. Low rolling resistance helps considerably with the frictional losses; I hear that there will be an optional set of wheels that will increase the Model S range to 320 miles.
On the subject, I always thought that the kinetic energy of the car should be taken into account when computing the Wh/Mile averages, especially on the Trip screen for short trips. After a fast 0-60 start it always pegs at 999 Wh/mile, because the kinetic energy of the car is treated no differently from "lost" energy. Perhaps the altitude of the car (as determined by GPS) could also be taken into account, though that becomes misleading when the trip is not a round trip.
Also, for math sticklers, the Wh/mile displayed on the Trip screen is evidently computed from the rounded mileage numbers (to a tenth of a mile) rather than the exact mileage, so it fluctuates rather drastically back and forth in a predictable pattern near the beginning of a trip. Maybe with the Model S they'll finally correct this tiny detail?
I'm not sure how to deal with this but it sounds like he is try to garner some publicity for his facebook page. He never explains how, where and when he pick up the EV. Nor did he talk about charging it. Therefore, I find his article slanted.
Globe and Mail at it again ...
Another negative article about EV in the G&M :
Whats behind the dismal sales of electric vehicles? - The Globe and Mail
Just read the 241 comments and only a handful are positive or present actual experience with EVs.
Long road ahead ...
The thread asks the wrong question because the number of Model S reservation holders argues for a different position. Maybe, "What's limiting widespread acceptance of EVs?" If that were the question, the answers are many, 1) most EVs are nasty looking, 2) range anxiety / poor range, 3) expensive, 4) weak charging infrastructure, 5) charging takes too long, 6) fear of trade-in value once batteries need replacement, 7) fear of the unknown, 8) uncertain fate of EV technology, 9) fear of being different, 10) not enuf room for the dog or your kid's friends to come along, 11) fear of potential / unforeseen maintenance problems, 12) fear that new tech will eclipse Tesla's battery-based vehicles, and . . . finally 13) weak marketing efforts.
Opps . . . I almost talked myself out of buying the Model S. Never mind.
his article is what's still killing the electric car. Why would a sensible person want to drive their EV to the point where they WILL run out of battery power? This writers is going over the top.
In a word: The dealers. Even for those who wish to purchase an electric car, finding a dealer willing to sell one is a real chore. The dealer car salesman's job is to move inventory off the dealer's lot. Because EVs aren't sitting on the lot they have little interest in selling them as they don't make nearly as much commission.
Here is my take on the obstacles that the e-car is still facing.
It is irrelevant whether they are true or not, its my worthless opinion that the following are still being perceived as "facts."
1) High cost of purchase.
The best comparison I can think of is the Ford Focus Electric vs the "regular" Ford Focus.
Ford Focus Electric (~$40,000.00) / Ford Focus (~$20,000.00).
And, a greater number of customers walking into the showroom will be able to finance $20,000, but not $40,000.
2) Reduction of utility.
There is a considerable reduction of the number of "missions" that one can perform with an electric car over an ICE car. Based on the current e-cars available today, the maximum distance peeople will drive an e-car is double its range in a day. That is, drive afield to maximum range, recharge for ~4 hours, and drive maximum range again to return home. Most of the trips are up to 1/2 it range, then turn around and drive back home.
3) Range Anxiety.
The range of a today's typical e-car is "about 100 miles." The range of today's typical ICE car is "about 300 miles."
The recharge time of said typical e-car is ~4 hours. The refuel time of said typical ICE car is ~10 minutes.
Whenever an ICE car owner hears these facts, they immediately think of all the trips they have made in their current car that exceeded 100 miles, and decide that an e-car is not going to work for them, and move on.
4) Infrastructure Anxiety.
The current sales pitch touts the fact that you recharge in the comfort and convenience of your own home.
Customers perceive this as "don't depend on charging stations out in the field being present -and- available where you are heading."
A typical example (for me) is a trip from Orange County, Calif., to Santa Barbara, Calif. - a distance of about 120 miles. (Let's say that I could make it there on a single charge.) When I arrive in Santa Barbara, I go to park at the public parking place that has 2 charging stations in it. But when I get there, both spots are already taken, and will be for several hours as *they* charge, not me. Now I have to begin a desperate search for an alternate charging station, if any. If I go on a search and don't find one, my car could die completely and need to be towed. If I stick it out and wait for the two e-cars in front of my I'll be extending my stay in Santa Barbara by an additional 4 hours, minimum. Hey, when I bought an e-car, I didn't sign up for *this* hassle.
Soooo, How do we turn this around?
1) Cost. We e-car owners have to brag (or will brag, when we future owners get one) - loud and unashamedly - about how much money we are *saving* by using an e-car. Wax eloquent. Exaggerate. Lie. If necessary, dredge up complicated facts that "prove" your point. 100 mile range on 30 kWh; $0.10/kWh; = $3.00 per 100 miles. No smelly gas stations. Almost no maintenance (but skip saying "almost"). No slippery tuneup & lube shops, no shifty transmission fixit joints.
And remind them that all that money saved in gas could easily be used to pay for the increase in car payments. With money left over!
2) Utility. This is *not* a reduction in utility, it is a refinement of the original mission of why you bought the car. i.e., I bought it as a commuter car, to and from work, and a few trips to the stores on weekends. Admonish others that they shouldn't try to make their commuter car into the car that will take them long weekend trips from Los Angeles to San Francisco. They have another vehicle besides the commuter e-car. Use *that* one to go to San Francisco. Hey, when I drive I-5, I don't see teeny little commuter econoboxes with me on the freeway, I see enormous SUVs heading up and over the grapevine. Maybe someday, e-cars will do this, but its foolish to wait for that day to come when you can take advantage of the e-car today.
3) Range anxiety. Such anxiety can be dispelled with the realization that as long as you already have a first car that *can* go on long trips, you don't need a second car that duplicates the capabilites (and costs) of the first. Don't try to make it do what it wasn't designed to do.
3) Infrastructure. We have to tell them that there are other people (smarter than they are, apparently,) who have *already* bought e-cars and are taking advantage of the charging infrastructure available today. Just looking at all the busy charging stations is a testament to the fact that people *are* buying and driving electric cars all over the place. Its time to get on the bandwagon. As there are more e-cars, there will be more charging stations. Count on it.
It will be some time before these myths are dispelled, but someone's gotta do it. And that someone is usually in our mirror.
Its a small cross we have to bear when we are on the leading edge of technology.
A week ago I would have brushed off your post as "no longer true". But last week I went to visit the local Nissan and Chevy dealers to see if they would like to bring cars or brochures to a planned screening of Revenge. I was surprised at what I encountered especially since the local Toyota dealer is dying to get EVs on their lot, and upset that Toyota is dragging their feet with the Rav4. The Nissan dealer had nobody who cared or was the least bit interested in selling the Leaf. Although they are listed on several EVSE maps as having recently installed a Blink charger, they said "we don't have any charger and don't expect to get one anytime soon." They have no plans to start selling the Leaf before 2013.
The Chevy dealer said they have sold 6 Volts but every one was a special order and they have no plans to keep any in inventory. They acted like the few customers who bought them were crazy. They are making no effort whatsoever to learn about the car or promote it to their customer base. One salesman joined the conversation and said "I'm pretty sure the payments for that car work out to about $1,000 per month. I'm not going to push that on anybody."
Missing the boat... The level of misinformation continues to astound me.