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Good Article on Electric Vehicles

There was a good article last Sunday in the Baltimore Sun:


What do y’all think?

I’m not sure if it was a “good” article so much as a rah-rah infomercial disguised as a news article. The article came off as biased toward electric cars to me, seldom mentioning the advantages of gasoline cars.
Yea, everything works if you subsidize (make other people pay for) it enough.

All it takes is a little willingness to look at history. Increased safety, decreased pollution and increased reliability in cars has never been the priority of car manufacturers until government mandated. Electric cars were even viable alternatives in the Calf. experiment, if that’s what it’s called, in the form of the EV1 and RAV electric which still functions reliably today. When the state mandates were removed, the car companies went back to business as usual. They do the bare minimum. Look at the pitiful response by GM to the EV in the Volt where govt. credit is given to help it’s purchase for EVs with batteries bigger than a certain size. It seems the Volt could have made a much bigger/better statement and actually been worthwhile. Instead, they chose a battery size that barely meets the minimal standards for range to receive this credit.(16kwh was the minimum needed to qualify for the full $7500 federal tax credit; Volt can travel 25 to 50 miles (40 to 80 km) on a 16 kW?h (10.4 kW?h usable) lithium-ion battery) After that, they get as little as a pitiful by hybrid standards, 37 mpg

The beat goes on.
And I agree with BLE that as long as car companies are not regulated into doing differently, gasoline cars will continue to have distinct advantages over EVs.

It’s ok, predictably cheerleading the EV cause, but makes some good points. My problem - I think we’d save lots more gas spending the amount of money we’re spending on EVs if we spent it on hybrids, or maybe plugin hybrids. As it said at the end of the article:
"Thanks to significant advances in computing technology for automobiles over just the past decade, the automaker is able to use electric and gasoline motors together ? and more efficiently. That feature is expected to appeal to consumers long accustomed to putting gas in the tank.

“Each one [gas and pure EV vehicles] has its pros and cons,” Nitz said. “But together, it’s really a winning combination.”

Getting 38 mpgs day in, day out, with my hybrid makes me think we’d save lots more gas that way, at much less overall cost. You could do 10 hybrids for the batteries in one Leaf.

Speaking of the Leaf, it’s leaving folks stranded:

Well, you know what happens when progress is left to entirely to “greedy corporations”, if we only were a more enlightened socialist society, we might just have flat screen TVs, laptop computors, i-pods, and wireless internet by now.

(pause to let the sarcasm sink in)

Seriously, if it were easy to make a good electric car, we would all be driving them already. Ford and GM would just as soon make money building electric cars as gas powered cars. Exxon and BP would just as gladly mine lithium as drill for oil, it’s hard dirty and dangerous work after all.

On thing that’s not often mentioned about electrics is that unless you want to replace those batteries annually after only a hundred or so charge/discharge cycles, you need to regard the last 40% of an electric cars range as an emergency reserve. Deep cycling is very hard on batteries, including lithium ion batteries. Think I’m kidding? Get in the habit of running the battery on your laptop completely dead before rechaging it all the time and see how soon you have to buy a new one.

Good point on the deepcycling. Hybrids have sophisticated controls to optimize battery use and life. Not something an EV can do, it’s just charge/discharge/charge, at the whim of the owner.

Do we actually think car companies are willing to, on there own, produce cars that need almost no service ? Don’t compare flat screen tv whose profit is made on the sale and a car whose profit is realized during it’s entire lifetime.

Replacing batteries is a non issue for rav ev still in service after 10 plus years and still performing as new. Let’s not let actual history get in the way. (waiting for sarcasm to sink in) as far as government regulations and the car industry is concerned.

You know that when TVs had vacuum tubes, they needed a lot of service also. And don’t worry about the service department going away, electrics still need brake service, tires rotated, wheels aligned, chassis lube, cv boot inspections etc. People will still get in accidents and bodyshops will still be busy. Replacing a bad cell or two in the battery pack will still be no job for the consumer.

I guess you haven’t looked at the service intervals of hybrid brake systems where regen brakes in ev can make it a once in a life time. eVs check the tire pressure and fill the washer are the typical service interval. Everything else like cabin filters are owner serviceable. I don’t know what you are buying for electronics, but my flat screens go 15 years without service. Everything you talk About are just inspection., guess you’ve never worked with an electric vehicle compared to an ice as I have in the golf industry.
And, one of our fave discussions, oil change intervals and lube needs, gone.

We must have read a different article. I didn’t watch the Volt ad at the beginning. Did you lump that in with the article? It sure looks to me that the author stated a number of disadvantages over the last 100 years, leading to a time when electric or hybrid vehicles begin to make sense.

“Do we actually think car companies are willing to, on there own, produce cars that need almost no service ?”

Of course! And I base that comment on what I see in the automotive industry. Toyota and Honda saw an opportunity to start building hybrids long before the government gave incentives to do so. Toyota has been so successful that Prius is not longer a model; it is a new line of autos, like Lexus or Scion. Many auto manufacturers seem to be following their lead.

Also, straight electric cars have only recently become viable, even in a very limit application. The current generation of batteries begin to provide satisfactory service for some commuting applications. As battery charge density increases and charging docks become available in public places, electrics will be a more viable option.

A lot of hype is being generated in the media about the Volt, a bit less about the Leaf, but the real progress is being made IMHO by Tesla Motors. They’ve been delivering a true hybrid for over a year now and seem to have solved some of the critical technical problems.

If somehow the battery packs become affordable, and especially if a rechargeing infrastructure is created, I think EVs will become commonplace. They’ll never fully replace ICEs, but will be commonplace.

I’m an EV advocate, but I think it has to happen naturally. I hope the feds don;t try to force the issue through mandates.

Visit the Tesla website to see what an EV can be.

Tesla is great if you are a rich guy. The more difficult trick is to provide an EV that anyone can afford. Tesla would have to cut the price by a factor of 3 or 4 to have any real market impact. Even at $50,000 for the Type S it is still too expensive for most everyone. 300 miles on a charge is great, but without charging stations in many locations, they are still essentially commuter cars or fun cars.

What percentage of the RAV EV’s built are still on the road? I have a couple of cordless drill battery packs less than 10 years old that have degraded to the point of near uselessnes, the same nickle metal-hydride chemistry used in the RAV EV.
If you treat NiMH batteries right, they can last a pretty long time. I hear that the Prius is programmed to never charge the NiMH main battery over 80% or discharge it below 30%. The potential life shortening problems with going beyond these parameters is one of the reasons Toyota was so against people converting them into “plug in hybrids”.

I’m not a knee jerk anti electric guy, I fly RC airplanes and all my present planes are electric. I have one plane that is about 3 years old and each of its three lithium battery packs have about 125 charge-discharge cycles on them. I typically use about 60% of the charge during a 10 minute flight and they definitely aren’t still performing like new any more, though they are still useable.

I agree. All pro arguments and examples, no cons. Highly optimistic on the costs of batteries plummeting, etc. Also very pro on “Govt.” (my tax dollars) being stolen and used to support your purchase - which makes me sick.

Look, I’m all for electric vehicles. I’m honestly tired of fixing gasoline engines, transmissions, and cleaning up the fluids they leave behind. As a computer software engineer, I really want one as both a daily and a weekend race car (road race). Reprogramming it to suit my driving style would be fun.

BUT - they are not viable yet.

  1. Initial cost. If they can’t sell without me having to shell out money for you to buy one - they are too expensive. If they were a good deal, they would be flying off the showroom floors, but the math does not add up.

  2. Short range only. They just can’t complete with the range or quick “recharge” of fossil fuels. Maybe ultra capacitors will solve this over chemical batteries. But for now, the just charge too slowly and run down too fast.

  3. No winter use. Batteries don’t like cold, they sap their range smartly. And if you get stuck in traffic - you have no heat, or radio, since that also takes more battery power. Forget heated seats. And at night - headlights. Ouch.

  4. Slow. Batteries weigh a LOT! Even the expensive Tesla roadster is slower than its much less expensive gasoline cousin around a track due to weight. Add lightness, not batteries.

  5. Long-term costs. Battery packs aren’t cheep, and range will decrease from day 1 until the range is so pathetic that you must replace them, at a huge cost. Again, hopefully ultra capacitors or some other technology will solve this. But that is just an IF/WHEN right now.

Take away the stupid “Govt” subsidies and Nissan and GM won’t even sale the pathetic amount they are now, 67 and 281 respectively for Feb. That’s not just low volume - that’s a failure.

So if you want a no-volume car, that costs an arm-and-a-leg, has limited range, is only viable for possibly 3 seasons, is slow, and has serious long-term maint. costs, go for it. Just make sure and forgo the subsidy while you are at it please.


All that weren’t crushed. You’re under the illusion that all lead acid/nic. metal hydride are alike. They aren’t. They are programed to fail at a certain rate as well. They are all part of the profit making practices as the rest of the car is a generational investment with little maintenance. The hydride battery even performs very well in cold weather. The battery technology is there and the Volt, if you read my previous reference, is a perfect example of contrived maintenance on a maintenance free car. Ev s are a non profit maker. It has zippo to do with technology. That’ve why the high price. The batteries cost no more than a transmission/gas engine to which they must be compared. Check the Leaf maintenance manual out. They don’t have one that I could find cause Nissan hasn’t even decided what needs to be maintained. Translation; how to fake a few inspections to max profits. I’m still waiting to hear maintenance items,not repair items from you for an ev. No lubes, there are no chassis lubes in gas engines, so don’t say that. The key is, there are no maintenance items that are key to the manufacturer. Buy one you’re gone for good. Therefore, gift. Subsidized 40k eVs.

Tesla is combined with Toyota to produce an ev. That’s a joke, as Toyota could have done all the research themselves. It’s still a non profit for them unless Tesla whose committed to the ev does their government subsidized work for them. Like Toyota doesn’t have the engineers. Some of us are still under the sad illusion that corporations work for the public good. They go kicking and screaming and only if carrots are held in front of them by the govt.

It’s actually, your vote that determines whether we have ev s and not your pocket book or personal preference. You will either have to pay with your tax or purchase dollars to keep auto corps profitable. W/o government intervention, we would still be driving cars that poured fumes and smoke, lasted but 80k miles, got x15 mpg were still paying the same price to have carbs adjusted and midas do yearly muffler replacements.
If the next step is viable ev s , then sorry guys, we the people will have to "manage"them into it like we successfully did the bailouts for autos. It may sound like socialism, but guess what, the Chinese are doing it successfully in part on the backs of their people. The govt and “free enterprise” have to work together as it’s still a political solution more than an engineering one.

With all due respect, we need to remind ourselves that there is a potential “charging” station at every telephone poll. At some point, Electricity has the Potential to be “free” if we had the will to make it happen. Don’t you think that doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of energy/car companies

" At some point, Electricity has the Potential to be “free” "