ELECTRIC CAR and 100 mpg plus

Since the USA has the knowledge, industry,and money to deliver the electric car with 100+ mpg, who,what,and why are the other major roadblocks (controls} to having this auto in consumer’s hands by 2010?

It doesn’t make much sense to talk about the mpg of electric cars, could you clarify the question?

Demand and offering this at a favorable price to the consumer while retaining a profit for industry.

It would not be too difficult to do; but the 100 mpg would be for the gasoline part only. The rest of the energy would come from a battery that is charged up with coal-generated electricity.

A 100 mpg hybrid which does not need recharging is very hard to do, unless it is the diminutive size of the Indian Tata car just unveiled.

The best achieved figures were 80 mpg during the early 1990s when the US government sponsored a research program to triple the mileage from a standard US car. Ford built a Taurus in titanium, carbon fibre, and aluminum alloys and put a small diesel hybrid power train in it. It achieved 80 mpg, but cost several million dollars, and the driveability was not great.

If your question has an evironmental focus, you have to add up the greenhouse gasses generated by the engine as well as the coal-fired power station for a plug-in hybrid.

Last month I did a hypothetical calculation and found that in such an environment, the cost of the electicity per mile driven was 50% of the cost of the gasoline burned in the engine at current gas prices. In other words, you save money with a plug-in hybrid, in term of energy cost as well as effieciency.

Doing the greenhouse gas calculations is more complex, but you can use 40% efficency for the elecric generating station vs 35% for a gasoline engine. On balance, the environment benefits very little, unless the electricity is generated by nuclear, hydro-electric, wind or biomass.

So, as Craig suggested, there are many dimensions to the question, and electicity is measured in kilowatt-hours, not gallons!

If you clarify your question more we can add a more complete dimesion to it. What is technically possible is often not affordable.

Another interesting aspect of the question of the plug-in hybrid/electric cars is the collection of road taxes. It might make sense to charge plug-in cars during off peak hours (i.e., overnight), to avoid stressing the power grid.

FWIW, there seems to be a great deal of angst, emotion and drama with a lack of practical knowledge regarding automobile technologies and the environment. Somewhat akin to the legend that GM accidentally let a V8 get sold cabable of 100 mpg back in the 50s, or the recurring notion of a perpetual motion machine being invented by simply connecting a generator to an electric motor quick enough to keep the current in the loop… I don’t know the answer to the current environmental/fuel problem but it appears that there are several runaway trains running down dead-end tracks, pushed with a great deal of emotion.

The biggest roadblock is simple: Ford and GM and in bed with the oil companies. Chrysler might be but they could use the money (Daimler-Benz dumped 80% of the company last year). Perhaps SOMEONE at Chrysler has some forethought. They could kick Ford and GM all the way to the bank. Otherwise look to Toyota, Kia or Mitsubishi to develop it.

How do you know this technology exists? Privy to inside information? If someone is going to use the conspiracy argument then what is the explanation for no European and Asian electric cars? Why has it not been developed already?

For the sake of argument assume a car like this was possible and sold like hotcakes. What’s going to happen when countless numbers of people start plugging in cars all at once? Transformers on electric poles are going to be popping right and left and there’s going to be brownouts and blackouts.
Try plugging in a dozen or so portable electric heaters into the wall sockets in your home and see what happens.

Last question. Have you been dinking around on that Fly The Road site?

Just for grins and giggles, can anyone do the math and find the theoretical maximum mpg for an average family sedan? I mean, can a Camry be built to function adequately and get 50, 60, 80, 100 mpg?

Many years ago a gas company sponsored annual competition for maximum gas mileage among schools with engineering departments. I recall reading a Road and Track article of the winner one year. It was a small British roadster and 200+ mpg was said to have been achieved on public roads.

No, the biggest roadblock at this time is the cost and availability of lithium batteries. These are the same type as used in electronic equipment and top of the line power tools. They have the highest “energy density” of any battery, that is they pack the most energy per pound or cubic foot, both important in a car.

Electric vehicles have been with us many years; golf carts, fork lift truck, people transporters at airports, milk delivery trucks in England. They all have the common disadvantage of short range because of the battery limitations. However, these vehicles don’t go anywhere and every day they are plugged in at he end of the shift.

GM’s Chevy VOLT is a plug in car and GM will have it on the martket (they say) in 3-4 years. Toyota and Honda will likely have plug-in hybrids by that time as well.

No, there is no perpetual motion machine or secret technology being witheld from the poor American customer. If GM had a cost-effective lithium battery, they would have it in a car within 6-9 months!

Americans have demonstrated over and over again that what they say they want and what they buy are 2 different things. Some examples of frugal cars that fizzled:

  1. Chevette with Isuzu diesel engine. This engine was actually better than the standard gas engine.
  2. The 4 cylinder Ford Taurus
  3. The Geo Metro with 3 cyl engine, described in other post
  4. Four cylinder compacts in the 60s and later in the 80s
  5. Ford Tempo with diesel engine

The list goes on, The only major country in the world where 6 cyl. Camrys outsell 4s is the US.

So it looks like we need that $6.00/gallon gas to force the market.

In the Middle Ages the public believed that alchemists could make gold out of lead. The alchemsists did no try to make the public believe otherwise, so their reputation as magicians remained intact. In spete of universal education and access to all amnner of scientific information in any public library, there are still those who believe that somehow you can create cheapenergy out of virtually nothing. In Europe I find the general public does not suscribe to the conspiracy theories, but there we don’t TV talk show hosts and other scaremongers promoting this nonsense!

If I remember correctly, back in the late 70s/early 80s Benz created a vehicle that got something like well over 2000 MPG on the test track.

Unfortunately, it was not practical at all for public use. Seems like it was a 3 wheeled vehicle, one passenger, had bicycle type tires and a tiny one-cylinder diesel engine.

I’m not convinced that electric cars are going to be that much of an energy saver at this point by the time one figures in the energy consumption used to build countless electric generating plants, millions of miles of wiring grid, maintenance and upkeep on all of that, etc.

Every year Shell Oil used to sponsor a worldwide economy contest. The last winner, I remember got nearly 900 miles per gallon in a featherweight, 1 person “car” with bicycle wheels. The driver had to lie flat to keep the air resistanc down. The engine was slightly larger than a large model airplane engine. This car was built by Australian University students. No trade secrets here.

In this post we are talking mostly about practical, lightweight, draveable family cars that hold 4 persons and can cruise safely at normal highway speed. Such a vehicle needs about 80 horsepower from combined battery and gas engine to accelerate. For cruising only about 30-40 horsepower is needed.

So, industry will find the right combination of battery and engine power to build the right car.

“Try plugging in a dozen or so portable electric heaters into the wall sockets in your home and see what happens.”

It’s actually more like plugging one resistance heater in. There won’t be any problem as long as the outlet can handle the power. Most outlets can handle 15 or 20 amps, and GM is clever enough to figure that out. The Volt and other electric cars will charge overnight using a plain old 120-volt home outlet. BTW, I’m ready now. If the General sold a Volt right now, I’d buy it.

I say, stop paving over the worlds surface and return to the horse and buggy. (We never should have left it)

Like Jerry Reed sang," Lord Mr. Ford, if you could just see what you have done".

I had a 4-cylinder Taurus with a 5-speed manual transmission that was probably one of the best cars I’ve ever owned. It was a big cushy midsized sedan that was fun to drive and regularly got gas mileage into the mid-30’s.

I think what’s a big problem with selling fuel efficient cars in this country is that even though most people you ask say they want more efficient cars, most people don’t buy brand-new cars and those who do aren’t all that affected by fuel prices. Compared to the other costs of owning new vs. used, such as insurance and depreciation, the operating savings from a few extra MPG’s is insignfigant. In Europe, fuel costs make up more of a car’s operating costs and new cars cost much less relative to most people’s cost of living, which means that more efficient cars are in their economic interests.

In this country there is a fairly small slice of the market that will, often contrary to their economic interests, spend more for a more efficient car, but this is more-or-less cornered by the Japanese companies, especially with their hybrid models. Given Detroit’s reputation, partially stated by ampinoy, it is a major gamble for an American car company to sell an “eco-friendly” car when that segment of the market won’t buy an American car just on principle. The Volt might capture some of the market, but it’s based on a technology that currently doesn’t exist, so who knows if it’ll come out and I’d say if it’s all practical it’s probably likely the Japanese will come out with a version that’ll be better positioned to exploit the market.

No, the biggest roadblock at this time is the cost and availability of lithium batteries.

The big drawback for pure or hybrid electrics are the bulky, heavy, and expensive batteries. Why are we so hung up on batteries as energy storage devices? I remember back in the mid '70s there was a big push for flywheel energy storage, using composite materials. Is anyone again looking at them for hybrid cars? They or other energy storage devices would be used for recovering energy in braking and for assisting acceleration – you just have to be able to convert it both ways (to and from storage) fast enough. Some sort of liquid fuel ICE provides the cruising power and recharges the storage as needed.

I have seen how this works. If you have a plug-in hybrid that has 60 miles range on battery power, and you commute 80 miles a day, you only burn gas during the last 20 miles. If the gas engine gets 40 MPG while running, your effective use of gas is 80/.5 = 160 miles per gallon. Of course this assumes that your batteries were charged by some renewable source like wind, solar, tidal or hydroelectric power. If your electricity is generated from fossil fuel, you really need to add that, but even if you do, it might be effieient enough to keep the MPG near or above 100.

The answer is that there ia a private company out there (can’t remember the name) that makes a kit that makes the Prius a plug-in hybrid. So the only roadblock is the expense of the Prius and the expense of the kit, which if memory serves is pretty expensive.

If we could just stop oil production in two OPEC countries, we could have this car. A gallon of electricity has to be cheaper than a gallon of gasoline.

My comment about plugging in a dozen heaters in the home was only an analogy about what would happen to an “as is” electric grid if numerous people all plugged in at once.
One heater (normally) won’t hurt the home wiring system but if hundreds of thousands of people all plugged their cars in at the same time then transformers and sub-stations are going to be going down all over the place.

Here about 2 years ago we lost electricity on the entire block because one measly squirrel made a misstep on the lines at the pole by my house.