# Electric cars are a pipe dream

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Syzygys, May 20, 2010.

1. ### DreddDreddRegistered Senior Member

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Something that already exists is not a dream. But I take it that your premise is that it is a dream to consider it a solution to some of the technology problems in our oil addicted society.

Obviously the bias one has on the subject, one way or the other, is engendered by the education one has been exposed to which sets the basis for one's cognition.

Since 1973 and the oil embargo with those long lines at U.S. gas stations, the mantra of BP (big petroleum) has been "it can't be done overnight", which was just repeated by Senator Kerry when he revealed his new energy legislation a few days ago.

With the education we have in this nation, coupled with the severe addiction to oil, "overnight" currently means 30-40 years or longer.

Addicts are commonly overcome with "we can't" which replaces their pre-addiction attitude of "we can".

This is looking like a debate about psychology rather than a debate about technical ability to produce a new technical reality.

3. ### phlogisticianBannedBanned

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10,342
No, it's a debate based on the facts that electric cars lack range, performance, cannot be easily replenished, and cost more than an equivalent petrol car.

Electric cars are not useful for anything other than urban, or short distance trips at the moment.

5. ### SyzygysAs a mother, I am telling youValued Senior Member

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If oilprices finally go up to painful level, I can see Evs gaining popularity if they are sligthly modified:

1. Get ride of the unneccesery electronics. Only radio, no electric windows either. AC in the North and heat in the South can also be spared.
2. Space can be given up for bigger battery. It might even be a 2 seater, if the range goes up to 200+ miles.

Unless improvements are made, people's attitude towards driving needs to change to make EVs marketabel...

Somewhere I read that hybrids also cut down on 75-90% oilconsumption, so that is the real solution without giving up comfort and safety

7. ### X-Man2We're under no illusions.Registered Senior Member

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As long as the prices of EV's can compete I think they will do well and grow.Also EV's are basically in their infancy and as they grow so will their range.Lastly from reading articles here and there it looks like the US will be in last place for adopting EV's on a grand scale of the developed countries.The US is such an oil and gas nation whom will have great difficulty breaking it's addiction.Somewhere just yesterday I read the US is in 18th place as far as EV's,Solar,Wind,Wave etc go.The almost 1 trillion spent on the oil wars thus far could have bought a lot of renewable energy or even government replacement EV's.Sadly all the US has left for number one place is the Military.

8. ### SyzygysAs a mother, I am telling youValued Senior Member

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If 120 years is infancy for you....

Also we already established that their range DIDN'T grow in 100 years.

9. ### horseboxRegistered Senior Member

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Efficient EV's will obviously not be invented by you anyway. Alchemists had been trying to turn common metals into gold for hundreds of years. Does that mean we will never be able to turn a common metal like copper into gold? No it just happens to be a far more complex task than these alchemists could have imagined. The more we learn about nuclear reactions the closer we come to figuring out how to transmute elements in that manner. That analogy is a terrible one because nuclear chemistry like this involves such a great deal of energy but what I'm saying is its all a matter of knowledge. It would be unwise to assume that we will not accomplish something in the future simply because we do not currently have the knowledge to accomplish it.

Last edited: May 24, 2010
10. ### X-Man2We're under no illusions.Registered Senior Member

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Being around for 100 yrs and many firms working thru R&D is two differant things.EV's have been ignored until fairly recently.Now that we have a need and a growing market,good things will happen.

11. ### TBodilliaRegistered Senior Member

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The Nissan Leaf takes 8 hours to fully charge at home on a 220v circuit.

I just found an updated article on the quick charge option: the charger lists for $16,200 for the standard model,$19,000 for a model with a cooling unit (if you live in a warm climate) and $17,000 for a heated unit (if you live in a cold climate). I'm guessing that since I would need a heated & cooled unit, I'm looking at over$19,000. The charger will take the battery from 0 to 80% in 30 minutes. One major drawback: it needs 480v to operate, so it won't really be available to the homeowner.

I have several battery operated power tools. I think they are great. But they do have their drawbacks:

You need to have more than one battery. Having only one battery is useless.

As the battery dies down, the tools loose torque. They still run, just not as powerful.

If the battery completely drains under stress/use, you have to have a cool down period before you shove it in the charger. That means you need more than 2 batteries.

Batteries seem to go bad for absolutely no reason. One week it works fine, the next it will no longer take a charge.

Batteries don't like the extreme heat or extreme cold. Hell, some winter mornings my truck starts pretty rough because it is so cold. I can only imagine what that cold will do to a battery powered car.

I'd think about buying an electric car, but I wouldn't give a battery powered car a second look.

A side note: Back in 2006, Jesse James, and the crew on Monster Garage built a battery powered dragster using only tool batteries. They used 384 28v lithium-ion batteries. Technically, it was 2005, but the show aired in 2006.

http://www.milwaukeetool.com/NewsAndMedia/PressReleases/Details.aspx?PublicationId=948

http://www.delsonproducts.com/monster-v28.htm

12. ### ElectricFetusSanity going, going, goneValued Senior Member

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AC requirements would require about .5-1.5KW, that nothing compared to the acceleration and driving needs. Also electric motors and batteries do produce waste heat which could be used for heating a car.

the Tesla S model has tons of extra space (front trunk, 5 people + 2 reverse back seats) even in the 300 mile version and is design to compete with equally priced ($50-$75k) luxury cars. Once battery production ramps up cheaper cars with more capabilities become possible.

or oil prices skyrocket, or it just becomes fashionable as many hybrids did.

That impossible if all cars where hybrids it would reduced consumption by 15-30%, think about it if a Toyota highlander normally gets 16 mpg and its hybrid gets 20 mpg thats only a 20% improvement in mileage.

13. ### SyzygysAs a mother, I am telling youValued Senior Member

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Honda Civic hybrid gets 40-48 mpg, so that is a 50-65% savings over a car with 20 mpg. Honda Insight gets 55-65. So yes, it is way more than 20% savings:

http://www.greenhybrid.com/compare/mileage/

Also mentioning luxury EVs is ridiculous, because the whole point is to make them cheap, economic and enviromental friendly. So let's not compare to 60+ K luxury cars...

And again, do we really need 6 CD changer? Or electric windows? Or DVD players in the beackseat? We did just fine without them for 100 years... I grew up without AC, sure it is nice but if the oil based society comes to an end, I can do without it.

But heating is a necessity and that does take lots of power...

P.S.: Once battery production ramps up, the price of the noble metal in it will go up too...As mentioned earlier, the Chinese have already stopped exporting it...

Last edited: May 24, 2010
14. ### SyzygysAs a mother, I am telling youValued Senior Member

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I know, just like this:

"The consensus among EV proponents and major battery manufacturers is that a high-energy, high power-density battery - a true breakthrough in electrochemistry - could be accomplished in just 5 years" (Machine Design, 1974).

15. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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The performance issue is settled - you can get very good performance from an electric car.

They should be more reliable - a gas car has very complex electronics on top of its power supply.

The cost issue is partly mass production, partly intrinsic - the intrinsic part is vulnerable to technological improvements, the mass production part is available at any time.

The range will always be a problem, probably, but that's partly infrastructure as well (battery swaps, or fuel cell swaps). Range is not critical for most cars actually on the streets now.

The idea that electric power would not work for trucks, machinery, etc, is nonsense - its been powering train engines and forklifts and such things for many years. It would be ideal for buses, delivery vans, and other vehicles that start and stop a lot, have basically short ranges, idle a lot, and park at a central location.

16. ### John99BannedBanned

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22,046
The cars they are using them in today are much heavier and have many more demands including more lighting. I think the early ones you are referring to are the open air buggy type. Dashboard lights alone are a few watts and add in the extra weight so it isnt an accurate comparison.

17. ### SyzygysAs a mother, I am telling youValued Senior Member

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The reasons were already discussed. The bottomline still hasn't changed, for comfort and safety we gave up range...

It is the same with gasoline cars, the T-Ford's mileage was 20 mpg, pretty much the same as the average car's today... No improvement there either....

Last edited: May 24, 2010
18. ### SyzygysAs a mother, I am telling youValued Senior Member

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Holy shit, there is a magic word that you missed: PORTABLE (as a battery)

You can not have battery powered heavy machinery as we speak (or in the near future). Unless you are dreaming of a city with electric lines all over the street to get continuous power, but that is again science fiction, not reality...

And about the range, just let's think about cars being used as business (taxis, delivery vans,etc.) They all drive more than 100 miles in an 8 hour shift... So throw battery power out of the window for them too...

19. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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30,994
Or fuel cell? As long as you're sure - - - seems like an ideal solution for a city bus.

This thing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilo_class_submarine is pretty heavy at 3000 tons submerged, with a 400 mile range on battery power.

No they don't.

Last edited: May 24, 2010
20. ### quadraphonicsBloodthirsty BarbarianValued Senior Member

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? That's been a reality in countless cities for a century now. There is no shortage of metro light rail systems that are so powered, both above ground and below.

21. ### SkepticalRegistered Senior Member

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syzygys "logic" is entirely based on the ridiculous assumption that battery technology will not improve. History shows that when a new technology is first introduced commercially, it is expensive and poor in quality compared to later models. Think of the first personal computers!

Lithium batteries are the subject of massive research efforts, and new generation products will be way better than existing ones.

For example : take recharge times. Currently it may take 8 hours to recharge a personal electric vehicle. But recharge times are getting better.
http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/renewables/a-rapidrecharge-lithium-battery

I quote :

"Fast charging is of interest to some plug-in vehicle makers. For example, using Altair Nanotechnologies’ battery technology, Phoenix Motorcars has built a 160-kilometer-range electric car that can be fully charged in just 10 minutes"

Of course, this requires special high voltage rechargers. However, why should not special recharge stations install the proper equipment?

Take range. Again, research is working on this.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=lithium-air-electric-car-battery

I quote :

"At Argonne National Laboratory and elsewhere, researchers are just beginning to crack the basic science behind a promising technology: lithium-air batteries. If their theories are right, these batteries will have five to 10 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries, the big battery pack that's powering the first wave of electric-drive cars."

Even in terms of existing technology, syzygys is skating on pretty thin ice with his arguments. The Tesla (admittedly expensive) can achieve 300 km on a single charge, and has unbelievable acceleration and top speed.

And for simple family cars? Statistics show that 80% of all car trips are less than 50kms. Mostly commuting and shopping. Since lots of families have two cars, that creates a massive market for a short range electric car.

22. ### ElectricFetusSanity going, going, goneValued Senior Member

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Recharging primary problem is not the batteries its the electric lines to the batteries, Most homes do not have 480V or 600V needed for high speed recharging.

23. ### SyzygysAs a mother, I am telling youValued Senior Member

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With the incredible speed of:

Endurance
400 nautical miles (700 km) at 3 knots (6 km/h) submerged

Not to mention it is way easier to move weight in water than on dry land, so try again...