As US motor mammoth GM gears up for the launch of its plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt, it has applied to trademark the term "range anxiety" - meaning the fear suffered by battery-car owners regarding their ability to get home again after a given journey. Upstart battery car maker Tesla Motors has issued a panicky and unconvincing …
Oh for the love of all that is holy....
Can't we all accept that electric cars are new technology, and need time to mature before being viable for general motoring?
Just like bicycles, motorcycles, buses, trains, aeroplanes, helicopters, and pogo sticks, electric cars are viable alternatives to internal combustion cars for some current journey patterns. One day, they will probably be a viable alternative for most journeys. One day further on from that, all the internal combustion engines will grind to a halt for lack of fuel, and we'd better hope that there have been enough early adopters of electric cars to make them viable by then.
But no, everyone has to have a go, just to prove how clever they are. Well, here's the news - it doesn't make you look clever, it makes you look short-sighted and stupid.
Thank you, and good night.
The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.
It's from Lewis Page, author of "People have NO BLOODY IDEA about saving energy."
Which said, abridged, "Tumble drying uses more power than hot washing, so we should all do both."
New Technology? Whaaaaa??????
The first crude electric carriage was built in Holland in 1835. They were quite popular in the early 1900's as internal combustion cars of the era had a nasty habit of killing/maiming the people trying to start them with the old hand cranks. Once the killing/maiming-the-operator problem was cleared up electric vehicles pretty much disappeared for the same reasons we're talking about today. Power density in batteries is very low compared to gas/diesel, and recharging is extremely slow compared to refilling the tank.
Next time you might want to get your story straight before you call everyone who disagrees with you stupid.
Oh for the love of all that is holy.... → #
I wonder what the horse drawn carriage people said when the new fangled motor vehicles turned up. Did they mention the fact that the motor vehicles' range was limited and that drivers would have anxiety about filling up when there were no filling stations. Unlike horses which could go on and on and on and only needed a bit of hay every now and then and would be fully recharged overnight! :-)
Yes, I'm perfectly well aware that electric cars were played with back at the dawn of modern history, thanks. This doesn't change the fact that internal combustion has benefited from ~150 years of development with a user base of pretty much the entire human race, whilst electric cars, erm, haven't.
I don't call everyone who disagrees with me stupid. I call people who disagree with me using stupid facts and arguments stupid.
@ The other AC
I bet they did, too :-)
They weren't just played with
You said in your original post "that electric cars are new technology, and need time to mature before being viable for general motoring". That is absolutely and provably wrong. Perhaps history qualifies as a "stupid fact" on teh interwebz these days
In the early 1900's EVs were more popular than ICVs. There was no conspiracy by the oil industry, Car Manufacturers, Republicans, Bilderberg Group, etc to kill them.
They were impractical then, and to a large extent pure-play-EVs are still impractical now. Sure we could have spent the last ~90 years trying to square-peg-round-hole them into common usage... we could have spent the last 60 years primarily pursuing fusion energy research too... and Hitler could have been assassinated prior to his rise to power in Germany.
When you build your time machine please take care of these misdeeds of history. Thanks!
/mine's the one with the history book in the pocket
I would say that electric cars have benefitted from quite a lot of development over the 150 years that you are talking about.
For example, the electric motors used to provide the motion are much more efficient due to the developments of the last 150 years. Similarly too, so are the batteries and power control electronics. Also with a user base of pretty much the entire human race. In addition, a number of improvements to IC cars have also improved electric cars (reduced weight, drag, rolling resistance...)
Did I read it wrong? Seemed pretty clear to me that the idea was that if we had spent the last 150 years developing EVs like we developed ICVs that EVs>ICVs, not to say that no improvements had been made in the EV space in the last 150 years.
I can't say that I disagree with him necessarily on any logical basis - who can? The whole hypothesis is insane to consider anyway because it didn't happen that way so saying *IF* it had happened that way then X. Well, I could say just as easily Y but who really cares... we're just making shit up. What happened happened. EVs had their chance, ICVs won, EVs might be making a comeback as technology improves.
It serves no purpose - other than propaganda perhaps - to rewrite/sugar-coat the history of EVs as some sort of oppressed yet fundamentally superior technology. We are supposed to learn from history... are we not? Could it be a superior technology in the future... maybe. Is it now or was it in the past... not since the crank-shaft-kills/maims-operator problem was resolved. Will we even have a say in the matter once the oil runs out... no, we won't.
I call Goodwin!
I've got a 1909 Strand Magazine that compares 'orses to the new-fandangled motor-cars. The comparison revealed that 'orses needed to be replaced every 30 miles on a long journey, left a lot of smelly environmental keepsakes around (24 tons daily in London apparently), were very dangerous at one end due to 'teeth' and at the other with 'hooves', tended to violently react to strange noises/lights/animals/humans/americans, needed overnight covering and tending/feeding 24/7/365. Oh, and tended to die a lot.
In cars 'all' you theoretically had to worry about was carrying a spare can of petrol.
@GJC Re: Hitler
Wouldn't I have needed to compare you to Hitler for this to be a Godwin's Law incident?
The point that I was trying to make there, perhaps not too clearly, is that it makes no sense to say:
"This doesn't change the fact that internal combustion has benefited from ~150 years of development with a user base of pretty much the entire human race, whilst electric cars, erm, haven't."
Is it really "a fact" that if history had of happened differently it would play out as you say it would? Do we really know that battery and/or electric motor technology would by significantly more advanced if we had thrown wooden shows into all the ICEs for the last 100 years? It's an unprovable supposition stated as a fact. Without going back and changing history to prove/disprove your assertion it is just your opinion, not a fact.
No we can't
Electric cars were invented before diesel cars, and at one point they had 25% of the market, because they were easier to start than steam cars, and had a similar range, although they did still take longer to refuel. They disappeared rapidly once diesel and later petrol cars became a viable option.
Electric trains are very popular, and way ahead of diesel in terms of performance etc, but they have the advantage that they don't have to carry their fuel.
....I must have missed the memo that restricted web forums to facts alone.
Yes, it is my opinion that electric cars would be better than they are now if they had benefited from 150 years of development and been used by a significant percentage of the human race (and 25% of the market in 1905 or whenever doesn't count, as the worldwide market for cars at the time was about 15).
Personally, I'd say that opinion is self-evident enough that it could easily be relied upon as a fact, but no-one can ever really know, in the absence of a time machine.
However, it is also my opinion that electric cars will be much more practical and desirable in the future. How far in the future? Who knows? How much more practical and/or desirable? Also who knows?
But I bet electric cars get a whole heap more desirable when we run out of dino-juice.....
I can't use my electric car like a petrol car shock.
In other news; I can' t use my bicycle as a submarine....
The only difference between the two cars is power source. One is short range, uses toxic, exotic and hard to recycle metals to store electrical power, only a small percentage of which is likely to be carbon free. The other uses a more energy-efficient chemical based energy source (petrol, or diesel, if you want to reduce carbon) to spin wheels, albeit a source in ever shorter supply and has some emissions. They both do the same thing, just one better than the other.
A bike and a sub are completely different devices with different roles. I won't describe how they differ as it's too tempting to refer to a tube full of seamen, as compared to the local bike......
"A bike and a sub are completely different ". Both are entirely useless to fish.
Subs & fish
Depends on the fish, surely? A submarine make a handy container for keeping food fresh and tasty for some months, for certain species.
I find it a bit odd that GM are getting away with trademarking something that they claim not to produce (range anxiety).
It seems to me that the point of the exercise is one of the most cynical tactics ever envisioned: trademark a term whose main purpose is to criticise your competitors so that they cannot answer your criticism.
That's screwed up; really, really screwed up.
>It seems to me that the point of the exercise is one of the most cynical tactics ever envisioned
Cynical - in an industry which decides whether or not to do a recall based on balancing the cost of compensation in respect of deaths and injury caused by a known fault against the cost of fixing the said fault in the vehicles already sold?
"Battery stations, where they simpy change your battery for a full one, now I wonder what type of places would be suitable for this?!?"
would require some degree of standardisation to become effective... there would have to be laws to force manufacturers to use standard battery packs...
we all know just how difficult it is to source battery packs for laptops with each manufacturer having different ones and ones that are not even standardised amongst their own products...
Regarding battery swaps: It's a neat idea but impractical
All of the batteries would need to be standard across manufacturers, and a 3rd party (government, car manufacturers maybe?) would need to own all the batteries and then lease them to people. It's not impossible, and I do admire the creativity in the thought - just difficult and impractical.
Regarding the solar panels - sure, why not? :)
Agree they would need to be standardised but I don't get the ownership? Why not just have a like for like exchange system.
My local garage owns a battery which they have charged, I own a battery that is close to flat. Might we not be willing to exchange their battery for mine plus a small gratuity?
Residual capacity could the the reason
Someone has to pick up the cost of the loss of capacity after a pack has been recharged a hundred or so times. Leasing makes more sense than owning, as nobody will complain about swapping one that is new for one that is near it's end-of-life it they lease it.
You would still have some uncertainly about range, and you would probably have to have some rules about when a battery pack would be retired or reconditioned. Would you make it 90% of original charge capacity, 80%, 50%?
I'm all for this technology, but there are serious wrinkles that need sorting out, not the least of which is the cleanness of the electricity. Also, could the power grid cope with thousands of battery packs drawing tens of amps at the same time? For example, if a battery charging station has 50 packs charging at any time, which draw 30A each while charging, we're talking 1,500 amps, or at 230V, 345KW per station. That's a lot of power. A typical UK house draws about 0.4KW per hour, averaged out across the year (according to EDF), so the charging station would put the same load on the grid as 800+ houses.
These figures are rough, based on the Tesla's battery pack which apparently take 3.5 hours to charge at 70A at 240V (thanks Wikipedia), mapped into something that is more likely to be found in the UK urban environment.
How many petrol stations serve as few as 150 customers in a day (assuming packs take 8 hours at 30A to charge)? And you would have to be pretty certain that the packs could not be nicked for their scrap value. And how large would the station have to be?
So, interesting ideas, but currently, fossil fuels still rule, as indicated by the icon.
That has been suggested but I don't think it will work, batteries have limited life span so a battery station may take a good one and give you an old duffer, or the other way round. Are you or they going to take such risks?
...are fine if you want a little light to read by whilst waiting for the tow truck. I doubt if you're going to get much in the way of distance out of them though.
Re: Peter Gathercole 15:43 GMT
The infrastructure for charging batteries would improve in parallel with battery technology advances. So battery recharging stations would incorporated flywheel tech or massive capacitors (located in the no longer used underground fuel tanks) which would be charged at off-peak times but could give the necessary high current boost for rapid charging.
And you are assuming that everybody would want a full, rapid charge at every recharging station. Most recharging would be trickle charge topping-up at home, work or at street charging points.
Obviously grid capacity would need upgrading to replace the liquid fuel distribution network, and renewables (and fusion) would need to be brought onstream to supply the extra non-fossil fuel demand, but I don't think these issues are insurmountable.
Degradation of the battery over its life span is the main reason why I mentioned the 3rd party ownership model. In the states (not sure about the UK or elsewhere) this model in used for purchasing propane for grilling/home use. At least one of the vendors is a company called Blue Rhino. For the user, they purchase a tank and then swap them when they need a refill. The refilled tanks are all refurbed to ensure they are safe to use, and the company takes care of the upkeep and disposal of old/unsafe tanks as a built in cost to the refill.
At the end of the day I would tend to say that this would make the cost of such a program for EVs prohibitively expensive unless it were highly subsidized by Big Brother... but just a $0.02 there
Perhaps it could work in much the same way as industrial gas bottles do, at least down in this part of the world: a company owns the bottles, but leases them out on a contract so that when the one is empty, you go in and swap for another that is full. The company is responsible for keeping them safe (a rusty, leaky acetylene bottle is just scary), and for refilling them. It can be similar for domestic LPG bottles, too.
I can't see why this wouldn't work for batteries. Certainly every gas bottle connection ever made (well, almost) fits into every other one, and there are enough different manufacturers of them around.
Wouldn't it be better to just use flow batteries? That would reduce the "charging" to a simple "electrolyte change" at the station. That should work as similar as filling up the gas tank today. Is this truly hard to implement?
Might have some merit
the exchange system on car parts - popular with classic cars where no one makes the bits anymore - is I sell you the part at a discount against the value of the old part. eg that the old dynamo you trade has a load of copper wire that can be recycled and the casing can be cleaned up for rebuild with new bearings and a rewound stator.
That method might be usable with a battery pack.
Under this condition, you would "buy" the fresh and charged battery pack on the assumption that the one you hand over isn't used to buggery, at a cost reduced by the expected value of the trade in.
If the battery pack had it's own blackbox recorder logging its use, then that data could be used by the charging station to set the transaction cost there and then (to speed the swap out) but subject to a modifier if subsequent testing/analysis revealed a problem with the pack you handed in.
So the car owner would pay: cost of new battery pack + value of electricity + profit margin - value of old battery pack +/- fiddle factor
Incorrect assumption is incorrect
Currently being worked upon is the fact that there is a MASSIVE amount of energy that can be produced by power stations that isn't being used. Could the power grid cope with the extra charging? Easy answer is yes, as long as the cars used smart charging techniques and drew the power during low use periods. Sorry but the industry and acedmic sectors are already way ahead of you.
Also if they manage the base load fof the power stations using electric vehicle charging, they can smooth out the electricity production curves and make the power stations more efficient, there by helping to reduce the "dirty" production.
Your 8 hour charge time for the Tesla is also a bad assumption. You are assuming the battery will be completely drained before charging. If you top-up the car each night before bed, or while you are at work, or even while you are doing ANYTHING ELSE, you won't even notice the charging.
Fossil fuels are going to be replaced. No, i don't think battery electric vehicles are ready to take over yet, but they are nowhere near as bad as "some people" like to make out.
It's being considered.
I saw this in Autocar last year.....
"Renault-Nissan is planning to make its electric vehicles rechargable in three different ways when they first go on sale in Europe from 2011.
Drivers will either be able to plug their cars into two types of charger or swap their batteries in special “quick drop” exchange stations.
The two types of charging facilities will offer either a standard service, which will take four to eight hours to fully replenish a battery, and a fast charge will enable an 80 per cent charge in around 20 minutes.
The third option is to exchange your depleted battery for a fully charged one. Renault-Nissan claims that the swap would take just three minutes."
Will it ever happen though?
I thought GM's electric car basically failed ...
... because they pulled it and clawed them all back from often quite happy customers? Although that could be a myth. Mind you I don't think range anxiety is really the issue here - that's just for people who don't plan ahead adequately.
For me, the problem is living in a flat, leaving me with no charging options at all. I think for now probably the optimal solution is small petrol or diesel car and an electric scooter (reasonably cheap, and the removable batteries some have are more flat-friendly), but I'm too poor for that so small petrol bike will have to do as an approximation of the mean of those two.
Who killed the Electric car.
I strongly suggest everyone interested in electric cars watch the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car".
It has a bias of course but does bring to light many interesting facts about how auto manufactures and oil companies have been treating electric vehicles.
One of the best points I remember, over 90% of people drive an average of less than 30 miles a day.
Electric cars may not be the answer to all our transportation needs but it would work for a good chunk of it. Fleets, delivery and other civil service vehicles that all return to a set location every night would be idea for switching to electric.
See the film "Who killed the Electric Car".
Happy customers forcibly removed from their EV-1s whilst they are taken away and scrapped, with only a few remaining intact today. Museum pieces.
GM never sold any, just leased them to people.
And this is my main gripe with all full EVs. Living in flats means that you can't just plug the thing in. This has discouraged me from buying most EV prospects; hybrids do interest me more, but they are too bloody expensive!
Re: Who killed the Electric car
I drive a lot less than 30 miles on average per day, but sometimes I do a 600 mile trip, and I don't have space or money for a second car.
I see the electric car manufacturers have got Apple disease with non-swappable batteries.
The sensible solution is: pull into a fuel station, push the release button for the batteries. Pull out your current batteries and put them on a dolly. Wheel them over, and pay for the replacement fully-charged set. Take the dolly with the charged batteries, wheel over to your car and put them in. The fuel station person connects up your discharged batteries and then sells them when they're fully charged.
That will fail for so many reasons:
- safe storage space
- power needs
- how to work out the price to swap your crappy old holds-half-a-charge battery set against a shiny new just-dropped-off one
- getting manufacturers to standardize on battery size and capacity
Battery electric cars are, and will always be, a niche market. The batteries are environmentally unfriendly to make, show few signs of reaching the point of holding a decent change and being quickly rechargeable. They're only cheaper to run because the government hasn't worked out how to charge road fuel tax on electricity (yet).
For the forseeable future we'll be driving liquid or gas fuelled cars, that either burn the stuff in an IC engine, or (less likely) feed it to a fuel cell. The fuel may be derived from non-fossil sources, and the car may be a hybrid to benefit from regenerative braking and smaller engines, but that's all.
Except that batteries age. I can't see many punters wanting to swap the brand-new batteries in their brand-new car with whatever old ones the garage has today, nor can I see many garages wanting to swap known for unknown cells.
Maybe if all the batteries where owned by the car manufacturer and rented out - like camping gas bottles, but even then you have the "Range Anxiety™" associated with unknown batteries.
Great idea, needs work
replaceable battery packs are a very sensible idea, carmakers have already agreed on a standard charger plug, and given there are so many tax dollars floating around, a requirement to use standard battery packs could be enforced right now.
There is no need to value a half-used pack, the car has a right to take one battery from the pool, they must be issued "free" and returned free. The capacity monitoring electronics will be better than a laptop battery pack - themselves pretty good, allowing a highly accurate mileage capacity measurement, adjusted for whether you are a caner or a crawler.
One could even ascribe loss in capacity to each user, charging "caners" a bit more to keep it fair. The wear-out dynamics of batteries are complex, shallow discharge costs almost nothing, heavy discharge and especially, deep discharge take a fair toll off the lifetime. The aim is realistic, to charge fairly for legitimate costs.
On the other point - copyrighting a pair of words, thats really shit, especially since they are in common use. I can't happen in the UK, no-one can own "the best day of your life" like Disney does.
Battery Power = Stopgap
Battery power is at best a stop gap method for 'Green' cars. First you have to discount the energy and materials it takes to make batteries not to mention the toxic waste involved in disposing of used batteries.
Add in the size of the Tesla battery which is not exactly small and comprises 6800 cells , so replacing at a service station is no small task.
The only real way forward for alternate fuel sources is either Hydrogen Cell powered cars , or some form of magnetic induction from tracks laid in the roads to provide power and continual charging to to electric cars on the major highways leaving pure battery power for side roads and streets.
Swappable batteries is the goal of companies like Better Place (which IIRC is still in the demo phase in Tokyo). The idea is you lease a battery for your vehicle from the company, and replace it as it needs charging. I assume the cost of the lease has rolled in the cost of replacing terminally flat batteries as well as other damage, etc. It's an interesting idea, but we're so early in the game who knows what delivery method will win.
@AC 13:36 GMT
A few years ago car phones were a niche market because before cellular technology there was only enough frequency space for a few hundred phones per city. Innovations in battery technology are bound to occur as long as there are enough people willing to be early adopters to provide the revenue to plough back into research.
You say "batteries are environmentally unfriendly to make". As far as I understand it once a Lithium battery reaches the end of its life then it should be possible to recover all of the Li it contains to manufacture new batteries (assuming Lithium doesn't leak out during normal use). The same applies to other metals like Titanium. Batteries won't be like catalytic converters which spew out particles of rare and expensive metals which can't be recovered.
Battery swapping is an excellent idea, other replies have covered the ageing problem by counting charge/discharge cycles to price the battery swap fairly.
OK, lets look at hydrogen, its tricky to transport and store, there is no infrastructure in place, has less "bang for the buck" per unit and its current main commercial source is from cracking natural gas.
CNG or LPG would be a better alternative, infrastructure is already in place to move and store it at a commercial level. You can even have CNG refill stations installed at your home, just connect the hose and the next morning your tank is full, wait, why does that sound familiar?
We need to stop looking for a "One size fits all" solution, its not going to happen. Electric cars for company and municipal fleets, taxis, delivery vans and average drivers. Hybrids that can run on CNG, LPG, BioDiesle and other alternative fuels, even Hydrogen when its ready, for situations where electric is not suitable.
Side note, magnetic induction would cause drag on the vehicles, there are also concerns about the safety of strong EM fields to animals. Magnetic induction charging stations on the other hand would be great, just pull into a parking stall or your garage, no plug to worry about.
People, we need to start thinking outside the box. So far most people are thinking "how do we replace cars". We should be thinking more along the line of "how do we remove the need/desire for cars", "what can we use to fuel a car that ISN"T fossil fuel based" and "how can we get more people to use mass transit/alternatives".
In some cities in the US they have "City Share" cars, day/hour rentals. You sign up and get a RFID card, need a car for a few hours its there, special parking spots all over the city. Someone else handles maintenance/insurance/registration. You only pay for the time you use it. Great for people who only need a car once or twice a week.
"how do we remove the need/desire for cars",
you can not the car is freedon. personal transport to go whereever ypu want when ever you want allows so much of the moden world it is somthing pepol will fight toof and nail for
"what can we use to fuel a car that ISN"T fossil fuel based"
better and at the momnet nothing is perfect my perrosnal prefrence if for somthing like a plug in hybrid and maby some sort of recicled bio desial for longer trips
"how can we get more people to use mass transit/alternatives".
make them signifcently better than cars currently it costs me MORE to take the train into work than my car and I live and work within walking distance of the station and it is less convientent as I can only start/finish work when there is a train
I have lways thought thatthis is being looked at from the wrong perspective. At the moment we drive up to a petrol station and fill up.
Shouldnt we just design a car with a replaceable battery? Drive up to a fule station, change your empty one for a full one and drive off. The empty one can then be left to charge for as long as required for the next person.
Rather than fuel deliveries there would just be some trucks moving batteries around to even out the spread etc
I appreciate there might be some holes in the idea. I dont know how much a battery would cost, but the more there are, the cheaper they would get until they ubiquitous and not worth stealing.
Oh how we laugh
>> ...but given industrial three-phase juice they can be up to 80 per cent in under three minutes
Hmm, lets do some figures for that. The Tesla is 50-something kWH, and it's suggested we can charge something of that sort of size to 80% in 3 minutes.
80% of 50 is 40kWH, 3 minutes is 1/20th of an hour. So the power required is in the order of 800kW.
A commercial supply to a garage isn't likely to be more than 100A/phase if 3 phase. So that's a maximum of around 75kW if you ignore the power it needs for it's own use - like running the lights, the pumps, the tills, the car wash, etc, etc. So the total supply available is only around 1/10th of the power required to charge a single car at that rate - so we've immediately put the recharge time up to 30 minutes, and only one car at a time. If the supply is single phase (not unlikely) then we're only looking at 25kW and 90 minutes charge time.
No problem, the garage owner can just have the supply upgraded. Well all I'll say is that he'd better be sitting down when he gets the quote ! You want a supply capable of charging just one car at that rate - that's most likely going to mean you get your own substation, and upgrade the local distribution network to cope. In fact, the local electricity company may well prohibit you from putting that sort of intermittent load on the existing network because of what it will do to their other users* - a look back in history at the JET project shows the sort of things you may have to do if you want to attach a large intermittent load to the electricity supply. So think new cables dug under the road back to the nearest grid substation and your own 11kV feed - that's not going to be cheap.
* You stick an 800kW load on the local 11kV ring main and chances are you'll drop other users below the lower voltage limits for the supply. If that results in tap changers upping the voltage to correct, then at the end of charge, other local users will get an overvoltage. Anyone doing monitoring will report the electricity company who will get fined - and they'll be looking for the culprit to pass the bill onto.
Or to sum all that up is a few words - fast charging like that will only happen on some very well supplied industrial estates and in cloud cuckoo land. Elsewhere it's complete fantasy as the electrical supply infrastructure just couldn't support it without **MASSIVE** investment.
Easier to make methanol where the electricity is available (ie sunny places where PV arrays would work) and ship it around in the infrastructure (tankers and pipelines) we already have, to be used in vehicles that we already have and that could be made flex fuel for peanuts at the design stage, and dispensed with existing equipment that can effortlessly supply hundreds of miles of fuel in a matter of minutes.
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