Feeds

back to article US utilities moot massive EV order to boost car biz

The idea of somebody picking up the phone and ordering 10,000 Chevy Volts should be more than enough to improve any General Motors executive's day - and it may not prove to be that hopelessly optimistic. Senior folk at several US electricity generators and suppliers are worried that the current financial turmoil engulfing the …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Silver badge
Pirate

Foreign dependence on Lithium?

Whilst I'm generally in favour of battery-powered EVs over most other solutions, the problem is the current tech is heavily reliant on Li-Ion (lithium-ion) batteries, as used in laptops and mobile devices. There is already a potential shortage in lithium supply - if we switched tomorrow to just EVs with Li-Ion batteries we'd exhaust the world supply FASTER than if we stuck with oil!- and that ignores competing lithium hunger from the computer tech industry. At the moment, battery research has some options other than Li-Ion, but they are not as commercially attractive just yet.

And then there's the strategic problem, especially for the US, of the fact that the largest exploitable lithium reserves are largely in South America, in politically-hostile countries like Bolivia.

So I'm expecting to see a lot of manouvering from the hydrogen fuel cell lobby to get the biggest chunk of any car industry bail-out being tied to greater investment in hydrogen fuel cell research and production. This will be intersting to watch as the biggest potential beneficiary of such a cash injection would be the US petrochemical industry the Dummicrats detest so much!

Meanwhile, here in the UK we can resign ourselves to more wasted opportunities passing us by courtesy of our inept politcians, before we end up belatedly buying nuke power from the French and importing expensive EVs and batteries from abroad.

0
1
Dead Vulture

10,000 not that big an order

GM stated in congressional hearings they expect to sell 60,000 volts a year, so 10,000 over multilple years is not that much. Also 10,000 x $40,000 = $400,000,000 GM want the largest of a 3 way slice of $25,000,000,000 to stay in business. So revenues of $0.4B over multiple years when they need more than $8B cash now to stay in business, what were you on when you wrote this piece?

My numbers are frm the New York times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/22/business/22volt.html?em

0
0
Thumb Up

Li-ion batteries

@Matt

From everything I've read, standard battery technology is unlikely to be the long-term solution, there are just too many problems with them: supply (as you mentioned), recharge times (impractical for many people) and the environmental aspect of disposal.

The long-term tech looks set to be ulta-capacitors. Less rare raw materials, potentially greater power/kg - and best of all - much faster recharge times (minutes rather than hours at a suitable outlet). With suitable UC tech, you could recharge on the road, not just overnight (which you could still do from normal home mains).

I don't consider swapping batteries at a charging station to be a sensible idea either. It would fix the shape if cars for good, as you would need a common form factor, and they are not small. UCs could be built to fit the structure of the car.

Paul

0
0
b
Go

good, looks like we're making progress.

it's called LEADERSHIP.

the oil-pigs and their lobbyists have had it their way for far too long. 5 mins would have been too long.

these b*stards have held mankind back.

did you know that in 1900 there were more electric cars than oil burning ones?

standard oil, the rockefellas soon put a stop to that.

cheers,

bill

p.s. stuff and nonsense: http://www.eupeople.net/forum

0
0
Thumb Up

so, if government gets out of the way

private industry will take care of itself.

Game, set, match.

0
0
Boffin

@b

In 1904, with lead-acid batteries, a relatively unsophisticated motor, and a chain-driven transmission, the Columbia Automobile Company had an electric car on the market that had a 40-mile range before needing to be charged.

100+ years later, with advances in battery technologies, electric motors, drivetrains, and automotive design, there are new electric cars coming out on the market... that have a 40-mile range before needing to be charged.

Why does this strike me as immensely funny (and not in a good way)?

0
0
Flame

As I look out my window

At the inches of snow on the ground (still falling) and the below 30 (F) temps, I wonder how long a set of these batteries will last...will I get to work...will they get me back home...will my employer install recharge stations...hell, will anyone install recharge stations?

If that "Also 10,000 x $40,000" means that these things will cost $40k apiece, there's no way in the world that a "normal" person of "normal" means will EVER be able to afford one. Sure enough, just like the fancy 'leccy cars touted...the wealthy, the exhibitionist, the "more money than croesus" folks will have one so they can tool around and show everyone how "environmental" and "green" they are. MEH!

0
0
Pirate

@PunkTiger

"In 1904, with lead-acid batteries, a relatively unsophisticated motor, and a chain-driven transmission, the Columbia Automobile Company had an electric car on the market that had a 40-mile range before needing to be charged.

100+ years later, with advances in battery technologies, electric motors, drivetrains, and automotive design, there are new electric cars coming out on the market... that have a 40-mile range before needing to be charged.

Why does this strike me as immensely funny (and not in a good way)?"

Well, it's not as if I like defending the auto industry, but that really isn't a fair comparison. Those early vehicles were made of very light, relatively flimsy materials (essentially, as they were called, motorized carriages) and had both poor acceleration and low top speed. These modern vehicles, while possessing similar range, are substantially heavier, faster, safer, and more reliable. Hauling around 10 times as much weight (note: "10 times" selected to be illustrative, not literal or accurate) at a much higher rate of speed and still achieving the same approximate range is certainly indicative of substantial progress.

To those who expressed concern over the use of lithium-ion batteries, I couldn't agree more, and I'm surprised that no commentor has, as yet, raised the issue of fire. If we pump out millions of Li-ion batteries for laptops every year and still can't figure out how to design them not to overheat, can we solve that problem for automotive uses? Also, aren't lithium titanate batteries supposed to have much greater energy density? They might not be readily available yet, but it would seem sane to invest in a technology that could improve range by 10-40% (more numbers being pulled out my ass, can't recall what the article on LiTitanate said) without increasing the size of the envelope.

Regarding what Paul said:

"I don't consider swapping batteries at a charging station to be a sensible idea either. It would fix the shape if cars for good, as you would need a common form factor, and they are not small. UCs could be built to fit the structure of the car."

Think outside the present form! There is no reason why a single large envelope must be used; after all, the "battery" in an electric car is just a bunch of smaller ones packed into a larger package with a few leads. It would make more sense, in my mind, to swap batteries in a manner similar to the old full-service days. Say, for example, that a normal car's engine compartment is your battery compartment. You pull into the station, and pop your hood. An attendant greets you, disconnects and removes your several standard-sized batteries one at a time, replacing them with fresh ones as he places the spent batteries on the station's charger. It would seem logical that each battery unit would have a diagnostic connection, so your vehicle could estimate total charge and give you a readout analogous to a fuel gauge; you have X kwH before empty. Eh, I'm off on a tangent.

The ol' skull 'n' crossbones, because theft of electricity ('leccy piracy?) is going to become a major crime.

0
0
Thumb Down

What a joke

If Grant is correct and they think this vehicle should be priced at $40K that is F-ing ridiculous. The correct price for a small electric vehicle is about $10-15K. The whole reason Detroit is in the mess they are in is because they are making $40K vehicles that cannot be afforded by the average American. The whole concept of vehicle leases is a recent idea created to put stupid consumers into huge SUVs they couldn't afford to buy. The only way Detroit will survive is by building cars that consumers can afford - and that means a median price below $20K.

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.