back to article Electric cars stall in USA, Australia

Better Place, the electric car outfit founded by spurned SAP CEO aspirant Shai Agassi, has walked away from projects in the USA and Australia, to “focus on delivering on its strategy in Denmark and Israel, where the complete infrastructure is in place and commercial operations are fully underway,” Better Place's electric car …

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  1. Anomalous Cowshed
    FAIL

    utter bollocks

    This battery swapping idea is utter bollocks, the kind of idea that sees a sledgehammer used to break an egg, an idea which would be so wasteful and restrictive that it would send thousands of people down a path of enormous cost, lack of flexibility, and ultimately loss of their investment. An idea born of corporate types with little imagination but lots of contacts and hype. An idea that, by consuming such vast resources and delivering such a disastrous and ridiculous model, would probably set back the development of viable electric cars for many years. Thank goodness they've had to pull out of these two big markets. They can now focus on selling their bullshit to two small countries where that particular product is rife.

    1. Winkypop Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: utter bollocks

      Wot 'e said.

    2. Steve I
      WTF?

      Re: utter bollocks

      Ummm, are you thinking that the used batteries get thrown away - i.e. they're used once? I don't think they're using lots of Duracells, but big battery packs that get removed, swapped and then recharged at the swap station, to be swapped for the empty battery o fthe next car that comes in. The only overhead that this would have over a 'conventional' recharging station is the battery-swapping facility.

      Or was this just a ill-informed rant at electric cars in general?

      1. Anomalous Cowshed

        Re: utter bollocks

        No I was not.

      2. Blake St. Claire
        Thumb Down

        Re: utter bollocks @Steve1

        I'd guess that the typical small gas/petrol station on this side of pond serves 100-200 customers a day. A high volume station on a major highway maybe 1000+.

        If every car was a hot swap battery electric, you'd need a warehouse for the batteries that are charging and charged. And I don't know, you'd probably need 2x or 3x batteries in stock to cover the time it takes to recharge.

        I'll just wait for the ultra-caps, although it seems like not much effort is being put into developing those.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: utter bollocks @Steve1

          I'd guess that the typical small gas/petrol station on this side of pond serves 100-200 customers a day. A high volume station on a major highway maybe 1000+."

          Bearing in mind the range of a fully charged battery compared to the range of a tank of Diesel, you can multiply those filling station visits by a factor of between 5 and 8. Depends on what/how/where you drive, of course. Personally, I can get 700+ miles from a 55 litre tank of Diesel. Electric cars get up to 100 miles on a battery pack.

    3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: utter bollocks

      "This battery swapping idea is utter bollocks....." Actually, the idea is rather good as it removes one of the biggest practical problems of having an electric car, namely the time off the road needed to charge the batteries. But battery swaps bring their own commercial issues in that the need all the cars using them to have identical battery packs, which means if you want to increase your appeal you have to share your tech with other manufacturers, or you have to shoulder all the costs of supporting your customers over the whole target country. That also means you have to invest in a stock of spare battery packs for each charging station, the charging stations themselves, etc. Very costly unless you unload some of the cost by sharing with other companies or by using facilities and distribution chains already in place such as the existing network of petrol stations. For small countries like Israel not too big a commercial problem, but for massive countries like Oz or the States it would be a commercial killer without massive government subsidies.

      Me, I'm all for corn-oil-fuelled electro-diesel hybrids. The tech is already available, I can buy the corn oil from any supermarket and it is much cheaper than diesel anyway, even after adding on the HMRC surcharge for using it as fuel rather than a food product. I get all the flexibility of a normal car because it is a normal car. All you have to deal with is the rabid Greenpecker fanatics insisting I'm somehow stealing food from the Third World (though they can never explain coherently how).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: utter bollocks

        I can hardly believe it, I've just upvoted a Matt Bryant post.

        I do see one reason battery swapping might get traction, though. It's easier to tax than electricity used in a plug-in @home.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: utter bollocks

          "I can hardly believe it, I've just upvoted a Matt Bryant post."

          Your cognitive dissonance will be relieved by adopting my tried and tested system, which is to downvote any of Matt's posts without even reading it. There's a very small chance that you might be unjust with his first contribution in a thread, but after that you're guaranteed that he deserves it.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: AC Re: utter bollocks

            ".....my tried and tested system, which is to downvote any of Matt's posts without even reading it....." LOL, always warming to know I'm hitting the right buttons with The Faithful. Frankly, I have long thought it waaaaaay beyond the capabilities of many of the sheeple that bleat here to actually read and comprehend posts.

      2. Chet Mannly

        Re: utter bollocks

        "Me, I'm all for corn-oil-fuelled electro-diesel hybrids."

        Unfortunately that means you're also for third-world starvation.

        Linking basic staples like corn to the oil price means they are just too expensive for the poor in developing countries, plus it means areas of wilderness are destroyed to make new farmland for fuel.

        Some kind of sustainable diesel, sure totally with you, but food-based fuel is a disaster outside the western world unfortunately...

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Chet Mannly Re: utter bollocks

          ".....Unfortunately that means you're also for third-world starvation....." Sorry, but that's just alarmist nonsense. Go look at the price of a bottle of vegetable oil in your local supermarket, if there was some World shortage it would be much higher. Currently, in Europe, we spend a rediculous amount on food mountains and wine lakes via EU subsidies, so there is already an excess. If we all switched overnight there would be problems, true, but a phased approach would give plenty of time for the market to build up production to meet demand. That's simple supply-and-demand economics. It worked in Brazil just fine with their ethanol petrol projects, and I don't remember any news items on Brazil running out of land or people starving to death. The US produces massive excesses of wheat which could be similarly used, and at the same time boost both the farming and chemical sectors in the US, giving an added bonus to reducing dependence on foreign oil. This rediculous idea that there is not enough arable land just silly seeing as we have already passed that point when we introduced artificial nitrogen fertilisers. Hydroponics offers even more scope.

          ".....Linking basic staples like corn to the oil price means they are just too expensive for the poor in developing countries...." Actually it would allow many Third World countries to push up foreign earnings as suddenly farming would be much more lucrative. For example, in coutries like Zimbabwe it would mean large farms cleared for cattle could instead be used for corn or wheat. But of course, any idea of helping farmers anywhere is treated by the city-dwelling Greenpeckers as verboten as they all hate farmers, whether they be riding tractors in the wolds or living in the Third World.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Matt, you want Rape

            The veg oil you see in the supermarket is Rapeseed oil, not corn oil.

            Rape grows plentifully and is not a staple food of anybody (except possibly the Scottish), and it's dirt-cheap too boot.

            Many parts of the UK countryside are wrapped in the wonderful yellow of rape already, and given that we're supposed to be cutting down on frying with it, driving on it instead sounds like a good idea to me.

            1. Charles Manning

              It's the land, not just the crop

              Land planted with rape cannot be planted with food crops. Therefore growing rape does impact on the supply of others.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Chet Mannly utter bollocks

            "Go look at the price of a bottle of vegetable oil in your local supermarket"

            The price of vegetable oil is as it is because currently it is mostly only used in food production. The world currently consumes over 93 million barrels of oil per day. In western countries between 50 and 70% of this is used for personal transport. It doesn't take a genius to see that if everyone switches to running their vehicles on vegetable oil or vegetable derived ethanol then the prices of vegetable products (and consequently meat products) will increase markedly.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: AC Re: Chet Mannly utter bollocks

              "....The price of vegetable oil is as it is because currently it is mostly only used in food production. The world currently consumes over 93 million barrels of oil per day. In western countries between 50 and 70% of this is used for personal transport. It doesn't take a genius to see that if everyone switches to running their vehicles on vegetable oil or vegetable derived ethanol then the prices of vegetable products (and consequently meat products) will increase markedly...." Your argument is one sided, you simply provide the figures for daily consumption of oil, then insist that it is impossible to meet through vegetable oils without providing any actual argument to support your insistence. You also do not provide a case for your rise in food prices, but the example of Brazil undermines your argument completely. And that's before we start looking at possible additional sources of food (fish farms, which do not need arable land) and vegetable oils (seaweed, ditto). You are obviously not the genius you mentioned.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: AC Chet Mannly utter bollocks

                You're like those idiots that watch salvage hunters etc and think that it's possible to go out there and make loads of money from other peoples tat.

                Or those fools that bought houses in the UK at the height of the market ignorant of the wider context and thinking that because people need somewhere to live prices were always going to go up.

                Sure a few people can and do make money from it ... but the reality is that it relies upon less rather than more for it to remain profitable for the few. Of course, those involved in the auction business would rather more people as it makes them more money.

                The reality of markets is that if you make a change it has an effect ... unfortunately you seem unwilling to appreciate the potential dangers preferring to believe that the world is full of spare capacity that we're just not using properly.

                BTW - Fish farms require food to feed the fish (not to mention chemicals and drugs to combat the unhealthy conditions that come from overcrowding) and while we're at it we seem to be having problems over fishing already, you do realise that fish food is generally just ground up fish don't you? or did you think that fish just drink water and grow like magic?

                As for seaweed oil, I'll believe in it's long term viability probably at about the same time I see cold fusion working.

                1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  FAIL

                  Re: AC Chet Mannly utter bollocks

                  ".....you do realise that fish food is generally just ground up fish....." You obviously know as little about fish as you do everything else. Whilst the common types such as salmon are predatory, many others are herbivorous such as the Grass Carp grown for food in China. In the US the Grass Carp is even used for controlling the levels of river weeds.

                  "....about the same time I see cold fusion working." You never know, maybe they'll do something on Cartoon Network for you.

        2. Tom 13

          Re: Linking basic staples like corn to the oil price

          Now that's utter bullocks.

          I don't object in principle to using food stuffs for fuel instead of fossil things. It's just that corn and its various derivatives are totally inefficient. I hate communist greenies with a passion, but if there were an efficient food based alternative that cost about the same as a tank of gas I'd use it. And no, that doesn't mean you just need to jack up the taxes to make the food alternative "cost effective" to me. It has to do that without government intervention.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Linking basic staples like corn to the oil price

            "...... It's just that corn and its various derivatives are totally inefficient......" Whilst vegetable oil is less efficient per litre/gallon than proper diesel, it makes up for it in cash savings here in the UK. Sorry if you are not UK based, but here the price of motor fuel is ridiculous due to a taxation mechanism that was supposed to drive down car sue age and hence pollution. In the UK over 60% of the price of a gallon of fuel is tax, which is why you will see British tourists in the States weeping when they see the prices there.

            However, older diesel engines with pre-rail-injector designs can burn thicker veggie oil with very little or no modification very well. And an added bonus is your car actually smells like a chippie rather than a smog machine. Because the oil (usually corn oil) is not being taxed as fuel oil it is very, very cheap compared to diesel. Now, HMRC hate losing any money, so you are obliged to declare how much untaxed oil you are using as fuel and pay an excise duty on it, a process called "making an entry", but it still works out very cheap compared to diesel, even with the economy disadvantage of older diesel engines compared to more modern ones.

            Indeed, in the UK the whole idea took off due to an artificial fuel shortage: http://www.sovereignty.org.uk/features/eco/biofuel.html

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Linking basic staples like corn to the oil price

              I guess you didn't notice the price hike in veg oil a few years back. Veg oil in most supermarkets costs over £1 a litre so it's not such a great saving.

              Also you'll find that the UK Govt. allows you to make something like 10k litres of bio-diesel a year tax free.

              Also with so councils and companies moving their fleets to bio-diesel I wonder how many local fish n chip shops have used oil to give away these days.

              So unless you're really into fried food and you collect all your own used cooking oil, using veg oil to power your diesel isn't such great savings.

              Still I guess every penny counts.

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                Angel

                Re: Linking basic staples like corn to the oil price

                "..... you didn't notice the price hike in veg oil a few years back....." Cough*catering packs*cough. 100 litres at a time. Much, much less than a pound a litre.

          2. JCitizen
            Go

            Re: Linking basic staples like corn to the oil price

            Totaly agree Tom 13. I remember when the whole corn ethanol craze started, Allen Greenspan was scratching his head wondering why they didn't go with switch grass and methanol instead. The problems with fuel cell technology has been largely solved with methanol and the new reforming processes that attend with it. So it looks like he was rather prophetic - however, I suspect the whole corn thing was actually secretly promoted by the oil industry because they new it was doomed to fail. Corn ethanol producers are failing in droves in my area, so don't be surprised if the problem fixes itself soon.

            Switch grass can be grown on barely arable land and ditches, and eve the state could make money to offset the load on taxpayers by harvesting the stuff from the roadsides and selling it to methanol producers. This is what is closer to sustainable in carbon neutral technology.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: utter bollocks

        > All you have to deal with is the rabid Greenpecker fanatics insisting I'm somehow stealing food

        > from the Third World (though they can never explain coherently how).

        Perhaps because you're conveniently ignoring the demonstrable price rise in corn, i.e. maize – along with most foods, including beef, because corn is a primary feedstock for cattle in the US – that occurs when large quantities of corn are diverted into industrial scale production of ethanol and biodiesel.

        And when you can sell your Mexican corn for more in the US than in Mexico, guess what happens to the supply of corn in Mexico? Anyone who has ever taken a uni Econ course knows what happens to prices when there is scarcity. And for some reason poor people have more difficulty handing the price of their dietary staple doubling or tripling than the wealthy do. I hope I don't need to explain why that is.

        There, explained. Coherently too I'd claim. If you don't grok that, you might consider upping your meds.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: AC Re: utter bollocks

          "....There, explained. Coherently too I'd claim...." Sorry, but you did was repeat a load of alarmist FUD. Please supply some verifiable facts to back up your "I belaive this will happen" scenario. Those of us that make decisions based on logic are not going to be swung by hyperbole and melodramatics.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: AC utter bollocks

            Oh, you think it's alarmist FUD? Why research the facts yourself when you can stand on a barrel and spout nonsense. But since you're so helpless, let me google that for you:

            http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1717572,00.html

            https://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/25-11

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-carlsen/nafta-is-starving-mexico_b_1067761.html

            http://www.good.is/posts/food-price-watch-riots-in-algeria-mexican-government-buys-maize-futures

            http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10699716

            and that's just the start. So yeah, go ahead, keep your head in the sand.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: AC Re: AC utter bollocks

              "....But since you're so helpless, let me google that for you....." The problem is you Googled you just didn't bother READING the subject matter. The majority of those articles are about countries with existing political problems leading to lack of food or the food prices of staples being driven up, not one is about the impact of crop-based fuels. The one article you obviously didn't bother to read was the last, from the NZ Herald, which does have a passing comment on using all spare US wheat to feed the Third World rather than using 25% for ethanol, quote: "If all the food in the world were shared out evenly, there would be enough to go around....."

              Further down this article is a very telling comment - "....if more African land was brought into production...." - revealing that the real issue is not the lack of arable land but the cr*p state of many Third World countries, their governments and their policies. I know the standard mantra for Greenpeckers faced with that truth is to blame it all on Western capitalism but that doesn't remove the fact we have EXCESS food in the West.

              All you are doing is repeating the usual Greenpecker socialist shrieking and trying to apply it to a completely differernt scenario. Those countries would be knee-deep in the brown stuff whether we in teh West were using crops for biodiesel or burning kittens for heating. Go away and READ up on the subject.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: AC AC utter bollocks

                Lets get one thing straight.

                The world is a messed up place, and it is beyond doubtful that a move to bio-diesel will somehow make everyone happy sharing non-violent individuals. So lets stick with the real world.

                It's rather strange that you call people Greenpeckers and show a disdain for Socialists, and yet here you are implying that we could/should share out all the food evenly. "If all the food in the world were shared out evenly, there would be enough to go around....."

                Of course the intelligent capitalists and savvy socialists among us will quickly realise that the whole point of capitalism is making money from inequalities in supply and demand. Some companies even go to the trouble of artificially limiting supply so as to attain a better return on investment. So what makes you think that the agriculture industry isn't interested in ROI? Likewise you mention overproduction, but fail to appreciate it's causes and lets not even approach the subject of land suitability.

                Seems to me that you're a closet Socialist that has plans to put the wrongs of the capitalist system to right and create a world socialist republic based upon a universal love of Bio-Diesel and altruistic food sharing.

                Back in the real world we are faced with a reality that if we move towards a bio-diesel future the costs of food will go up and these costs will fall disproportionately upon the poor. The knowledgeable among us will not have missed the irony of Ethiopia exporting food during the famines of the 1980's.

                But it's not just about the poor ... plantation farming and alien crops has wide ranging impact upon wildlife as wilderness is reduced and monocultures limit species diversity ... and of course increased demands upon water further impacts upon its free availability to wildlife.

                I'm also pretty sure that some people will have also figured out that world meat consumption is rising and that requires even more land and water, not just for the livestock but to also produce the food they're fed.

                I'm guessing that you don't mind if the poor don't eat meat because they wont be able to afford it, nor will you care if they can't afford the locally grown crops destined for export to be used as bio-fuel. They can always eat carrot tops eh!

                While hydroponics solves some problems you haven't really thought about the energy costs and you also completely failed when considering the nitrogen fertiliser required for hydroponic production ... the manufacture of nitrogen fertiliser is of course energy intensive and an inefficient use of a limited fossil fuel, oil!

                What about the extra energy required for the running of the hydroponics lights, pumps ... will they be powered from bio-diesel generators?

                You also haven't taken into account the rising number of cars in the world and the potential numbers once India, China and Africa get into swing.

                1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  FAIL

                  Re: Re: AC AC utter bollocks

                  So your contention is that we should just give up on developing any alternatives, crawl into a hole and sharpen sticks? Yeah, you do that, you won't be missed.

        2. JCitizen
          Facepalm

          Re: utter bollocks

          Uhh! You forgot to mention that the by-product of ethanal is corn meal, which alone with about four other good by products is sold to the public. Corn meal was a good feed stock last I checked.

      4. Dr_N Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: utter bollocks

        " I get all the flexibility of a normal car because it is a normal car. All you have to deal with is the rabid Greenpecker fanatics insisting I'm somehow stealing food from the Third World (though they can never explain coherently how)."

        It's more likely that people will point out to you that there isn't enough arable land to produce the quantities of "corn-oil fuel" that would be required if everyone switched to your utopian dream of a "Crisp 'n' Dry" fueled transport system.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Dr_N Re: utter bollocks

          ".....there isn't enough arable land to produce the quantities of "corn-oil fuel" that would be required...." Sorry, but that is claptrap of the highest order. Unless you can support it with some figures, which no Greenpecker ever can. Artificial nitrogen fertilisers and hydroponics rendered that fairytale a joke long ago.

          1. Dr_N Silver badge

            Re: Dr_N utter bollocks

            "Sorry, but that is claptrap of the highest order. Unless you can support it with some figures, "

            It's YOUR utopian dream You do the freakin' math.

            I'm just off out for a spin in my turbo-charged petrol engined car.

            Why? Because I CAN: It's not some half-arsed pipe dream.

        2. A Dawson
          Flame

          Re: utter bollocks

          Corn is poor in oil production there are better oil producing plants which produce an order of magnitude more oil for the same land use and algae in ponds is two (nearly 3) orders of magnitude more although does require infrastructure and lots of water.

          Flame icon .. cause you want to burn the stuff

      5. David Kelly 2

        Re: utter bollocks

        Battery swap is a great idea but it demonstrates the folly of electric battery power: cost.

        Electricity is almost free but wear and tear on the battery is on par with hydrocarbon combustion. BetterPlace is apparently ashamed of their pricing structure, I couldn't find it on their site. Other sources suggest 399 euro/mo is the going price in Denmark for a battery swap subscription. About $540/mo. My Prius fuel costs are about $7000/year for 9,000 miles in the USA. EV can not compete with those economics.

        They say with production of the Nissan Leaf moving to Tennessee and the $7500 Federal bribe, effective cost of a new Leaf will be in the $22k range. That could get American's interest as a 2nd vehicle, but not as primary for nearly as many.

      6. Tom 13

        Re: the idea is rather good as

        You were doing rather well until you slipped on the corn oil and fell flat on your face.

        To the first paragraph I would add that if properly structured, such a system might remove one of the other major bugaboos for electric car buyers: the huge cost of battery replacement when they die before you are done paying for the car. You could do the quality checks at the recharging stations and remove the failing batteries there and distribute the replacement cost amongst all the users.

        I doubt it would be enough for me to personally give up my fossil fuel burner, but it might make it more palatable for some. In fact, it is the biggest objection my roommate has to buying a hybrid, and a pure electric car simply wouldn't work for her. She makes an 8 hour drive to see her mother on a somewhat regular basis. In fact, I'm not even sure she'd be able to get TO work in one, let alone return without recharging.

      7. Chemist

        Re: utter bollocks

        "and it is much cheaper than diesel anyway,"

        I doubt that. A quick google got me 15L for £24.99 which is more than the price of diesel in these parts at the pump.

        Have you a ref.for this cheap oil ?

  2. GettinSadda
    Boffin

    Title Fail

    It's not "Electric Cars" that are failing in Oz and the USA, it is the champion of one particular EV technology. Battery replacement only works if you can get all EV manufacturers to agree to use the same battery pack (or one of a very limited selection). Of course manufacturers being what they are did not want to work together on their car designs so Better Place basically ended up with just Renault - and only one of their four electric models. It also turns out that the Renault Fluence ZE is not that good by EV standards.

    What the Better Place model also required was for battery-change stations to be not too expensive when compared to rapid charging stations. This all falls apart when you find that a DC rapid charging station can be bought for as little as $13000 but a battery change-station can set you back tens of millions. This then got even worse when the EV manufacturer that made Better Place's Fluence ZE, switched to AC rapid charging for its new Zoe model - meaning that rapid chargers could easily cost less than $1500 each.

    1. Chet Mannly

      Re: Title Fail

      "It's not "Electric Cars" that are failing in Oz and the USA, it is the champion of one particular EV technology."

      *sigh* why is the champion leaving? Because electric cars are a total flop in the US and Oz (sorry its post fail, not title fail)

      Its pretty obvious why - the US and Australia are characterised by l-o-n-g driving distances. My Grandparents used to live 350km away - that would be 2-3 overnight charges depending on the car/driving style (or 2-3 swaps if they did put infrastructure all the way out to small population centres which would be phenomenally expensive) to get there vs 1/2 tank of petrol.

      So electric travel time is 3-4 days vs less than 4 hours no stops needed for petrol/diesel...

      Maybe in Europe where the population is far more densely packed the electric car *might* make sense, but not in places like the US and Aus.

      1. GettinSadda

        Re: Title Fail

        I know people that frequently travel those sorts of distances in electric cars in a single day. Not just in "high-range" EVs like the Tesla Model S, but mainly using a Nissan Leaf.

        1. Chet Mannly

          Re: Title Fail

          "I know people that frequently travel those sorts of distances in electric cars in a single day...mainly using a Nissan Leaf"

          Nissan claims 100 miles (160km) per charge, not 220 so they are either magical or you are making stuff up :-)

          Also that was calculated at 38mph in ideal conditions with a professional driver, not highway speeds and real world conditions which will likely drain the battery faster.

          Even taking Nissan's figures as absolute gospel (in the way that we never do with regular manufacturers fuel economy claims) - that's still 2 charges.

          For 90% of driving (commuting, shopping) the range of electric cars isn't a problem, but like most Australians I need a car that does long trips too, and that's where the electric car currently falls down.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Title Fail

            My Volt works just fine but swapping batteries is stupid.

            Electric cars work fine. stupid idea is just stupid.

            Title Fail Stands..

      2. doi
        WTF?

        Re: Title Fail

        350km is easily doable without recharging in my new Tesla Model S, soon to be delivered. (Which is cheaper than a comparable BMW here in Norway.)

        With other EVs such as Mitsubishi i-Miev or Nissan Leaf you need to recharge on route. Using Chademo fast chargers your battery is recharged to 80-90% in approx 20 minutes, about the same time you use to eat, drink and go to the toilet. No need for overnight charging.

        How often do most people drive more than 100km in one go anyways? 99% of people drive far less than that per day, and could easily drive an EV instead of a fossil car. If you need to drive twice as much as that, just charge your EV both at home and at work, no big deal. (If you need to drive even more than that daily, I pity you.) Nissan even offers free rental car for the few days every year you need to drive longer distances.

        Tesla are to install their superchargers here in Europe also, where Tesla owners can recharge for those long distance trips. For free.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: How often do most people drive more than 100km in one go anyways?

          At least 24 times a year for me. But even if it were only twice, my primary car would need to be able to deal with it.

        2. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Yes, most of my driving is well inside the range

          But a significant part of my annual mileage isn't.

          So, I'd have to either buy and maintain two cars - one EV for commute, one diesel* for longer range - or hire a diesel* car every time I need the longer range.

          At the moment, the EV simply costs far too much and depreciates too fast for either of those to be economically viable.

          - I'm also very lucky in that I do have somewhere to charge an EV, most city dwellers don't so couldn't even consider it.

          So my question is - where is the car that is both these things?

          Plug-in EV for my daily commute, diesel genny for my occasional long journey?

          How ****ing hard can it be if even Top Gear can cobble that together?

          * For low-carbon long-range, diesel is the only choice.

    2. Chet Mannly

      Re: Title Fail

      "a DC rapid charging station can be bought for as little as $13000"

      ...which will significantly reduce the working life of your $7000-$10,000 battery, making each rapid charge significantly more expensive than you imply here.

      1. GettinSadda

        Re: Title Fail

        "...which will significantly reduce the working life of your $7000-$10,000 battery, making each rapid charge significantly more expensive than you imply here."

        Not according to the manufacturers of these cars, or those who drive them daily and use such chargers regularly. Also, battery packs currently cost about $5000-$6000 and manufacturers are generally giving them a 5-year performance warranty so any problems between now and 2018 are covered.

        1. Chet Mannly

          Re: Title Fail

          "Not according to the manufacturers of these cars, or those who drive them daily and use such chargers regularly. Also, battery packs currently cost about $5000-$6000 and manufacturers are generally giving them a 5-year performance warranty"

          1 - Nissan (the manufacturer of the leaf) say that rapid charging reduces the working life of the battery

          2 - the cost depends on the battery pack obviously, the only car I had complete data for is the leaf. Current estimates are U$7,000-10,000 to replace the battery and dispose of the old one (batteries like that contain lots of toxic chemicals, so there is a disposal cost involved here, not just the battery pack)

          3 - rapid charging reduces the life of the battery to around 5 years, hence the warranty. Without rapid charging batteries are expected to last for 10 years (I'm guessing mileage on that will vary with driving style/average temparature/electricity supply quality etc).

          All power to you if you are happy to replace batteries more often, but reduced working life is a legitimate cost associated with rapid charging, and not an insignificant one.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EVs are so impractical

    It's no wonder that EV sales have tanked. All three supporters of EVs...now have one. Since these vehicles are so impractical for 99.9999 % of motorists, why would anyone be surprised to see all of the EV suppliers dying a painful death or dumping their losing products and moving to clean Diesels?

    1. GettinSadda

      Re: EVs are so impractical

      Three supporters? Tesla are currently selling 400 Model S electric cars per week, despite them being as expensive as a BMW 5 or 7 series. The only reason they aren't selling more is that they can't currently make them any faster.

      Why don't you see if you can get an extended test drive of an EV (Nissan do 24-hour test drives of the Leaf) and see how impractical it ends up being.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: EVs are so impractical

        > Tesla are currently selling 400 Model S electric cars per week

        Yes, but that's California. Hardly representative of the real world.

        1. GettinSadda

          Re: EVs are so impractical

          >> Tesla are currently selling 400 Model S electric cars per week

          >Yes, but that's California. Hardly representative of the real world.

          They may be based in California (as are companies like Apple) but their cars are currently selling well across the USA and there are lots in other countries with pre-orders waiting for some to be exported.

      2. Chet Mannly

        Re: EVs are so impractical

        "Tesla are currently selling 400 Model S electric cars per week, despite them being as expensive as a BMW 5 or 7 series"

        20,000 whole cars per year in the US market? Ford would sell way more F150s than that a week. Ford in Australia would consider 20,000 sales of a single model in a year to be an abject failure.

        I don't buy that they can't make them faster - plenty of people in the US looking for work, plenty of factories in mothballs, and rivers of cash are flowing out the white house trying to get the economy going - Tesla could open a second facility in a heartbeat. The fact they haven't says a lot...

        1. GettinSadda

          Re: EVs are so impractical

          "I don't buy that they can't make them faster - plenty of people in the US looking for work, plenty of factories in mothballs, and rivers of cash are flowing out the white house trying to get the economy going - Tesla could open a second facility in a heartbeat. The fact they haven't says a lot..."

          Setting up a modern auto factory is not a small task! It took 18 months to move from empty space to production at their current plant then another 6 months to ramp up to full capacity last month. If they started building a new line now I wouldn't expect to see production until the end of this year at the earliest. I suspect they will start on the new line towards the end of this year.

          1. Chet Mannly

            Re: EVs are so impractical

            "Setting up a modern auto factory is not a small task!"

            So why haven't they started?

            As I said there could not be a better/cheaper time to set up a new factory in the US, but they aren't doing it I assume because they don't think the sales will support it.

            I wasn't suggesting they could snap their fingers and a factory appears, merely that the fact they were at capacity does not imply that they could sell dramatically larger numbers if it weren't for the factory limitation.

            If that were the case they would have already started on another factory already given the 2 year time lag as you said.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: EVs are so impractical

      So how many days a year do you do more than 100 miles - very few people answer more than 1 or 2 (I used to answer 250, because my commute was insane) - and you don't have a few hours in the middle (where the vehicle can pick up some more juice (e.g. at the office or the house of family/friends).

      The "limited" range is rather nullified by the convenience of recharging when you park up for the night (yes I know not everyone has off road parking)

      For the rare occasions you need longer range you might also want a larger vehicle (e.g. to take the whole family to the other end of the country for a holiday) so you can easily hire an appropriate vehicle. I've very rarely drvien a vehicle which is appropriate for the journey I'm taking - they are a compromise between the "long heavily laden" journey and a "nip to the supermarket".

      The EV serves the bottom 99+% of those journeys really well, so you buy one in a form factor that serves those journeys well (and those are now covered *much* better than they were before.

      Then on the couple of occasions a year when you need something outside those parameters you hire something for the day.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: EVs are so impractical

        > you can easily hire an appropriate vehicle.

        That isn't a sustainable model. If everyone had EVs for the commute, and planned to hire larger vehicles for occasional long drives, there would never be enough hiring capacity for holiday weekends. No rental company could afford to keep thousands of cars on hand just to meet a few days peak demand each year. The infrastructure to refuel those hire cars would collapse as well, though lack of use.

        Assuming, of course, that such cars would even be manufactured in sufficient quantity. They would certainly become very expensive.

        This is exactly the same situation that we see with wind turbines. They can't be relied on to provide service all the time, so you need backup capacity for the off-service days. You end up creating two parallel infrastructures at high cost, neither of which is efficient because it doesn't get enough use. That is not a sensible use of finite resources.

      2. Chet Mannly

        Re: EVs are so impractical

        "So how many days a year do you do more than 100 miles"

        At least 1 weekend a month, in January it was 3/4 weeks I was on hols) - holidays I'd rather not sacrifice

        "you can easily hire an appropriate vehicle"

        But you see I can buy an "appropriate vehicle" in the first place for probably thousands less than an electric car (depends on the car), and not have to call a hire car company anytime I want to take a spontaneous holiday.

        You are right, for short commutes an electric car would be perfectly fine, but while you can still buy a car that does everything you need for thousands less electric cars wont take off in more dispersed populations like the US and Aus IMHO

      3. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: EVs are so impractical

        Wrong metric - it's not % of journeys, it's % of calendar days.

        For both hire and purchase you amortise the sunk costs over time, not journeys.

        The only place you pay a hire car by distance is a taxi - except the meter still ticks if you're stationary, so not even then.

        Personally, I need the long range for around 10 days a year, except I still need a vehicle at the other end which cranks it up to ~40 days. That's a lot of hire car charges!

        Then there's the cost of the EV itself, which even with subsidy is higher than a new mid-sized people carrier - and unlike the people carrier the EV will be worth diddly-squat when I get rid of it, just like my laptop is worth nothing after a few years.

  4. nevstah
    IT Angle

    corn-fed

    does that mean they'll be considered free-range?

    1. NukEvil
      Joke

      Re: corn-fed

      Only if you don't keep your car in a windowless garage.

  5. David Pollard

    V2G was a non-starter too

    Three or four years ago Vehicle-to-Grid was all the rage. Even David Mackay, who is generally quite accurate, reckoned "the key thing is to build up electric vehicles and electric heat pumps demand at the same rate as wind supply. Roughly 1000 electric vehicles per (2MW) wind turbine."

    http://withouthotair.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/is-david-mackay-trying-to-make-wind.html

    With batteries costing around $500 per kWh capacity and lasting for 1000 cycles used gently or 500 if hammered, their use as backup for wind would be hopelessly uneconomic; even if their owners were prepared to forgo using the car during calm spells.

  6. Seán

    Weird numbers

    There are some pretty stupid numbers being thrown around in some of the comments. IBM have started that by 2020 batteries will have ten times the go they have now and they will be in use on the road. You can bet against them if you like. Induction charging is the way forward, possibly with a rail running along the road.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      You what?

      Never mind that induction charging is hopelessly inefficient, how much do you think it would cost to install that rail?

      For an order-of-magnitude estimate, look up how much it costs per mile to electrify a section of the railway network. It's a lot more than that so add another zero, because you're digging up a road rather than stringing wires between poles.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Go

    A "concept of operations" question.

    What's the cycle time to do an automated battery charge Vs a full normal speed charge?

    Because that's about how many you'll need on site to keep a replacement station running 24/7. NB It has to be a normal charge because who would want to receive a pack you know has been hammered by the station using fast charge.

    If we are looking at an 8 hr charge cycle and a 5 minute replacement that's 96 batteries/station provided you can get the necessary power flow into the site to get them charged (figures pulled from nearest bodily orifice).

    And of course at c$5000/pack that would be about a $430k investment for one station.

    However once you have a standardized pack size/interface you open up the options. Hybrid modules (packed fuel/engine/generator + battery), flywheels, mixed battery/super capacitor packs for "performance" etc.

    So that charge time / replacement time is very important.

    It's got a shot. maybe.

  8. Steven Burn
    Thumb Down

    Err no thanks

    I'll stick with my Jeep Grand Cherokee (1996 4.0 Limited) - she may drink fuel like it's going out of fashion (managed to get her to 17.4mpg), but overall in the long term, she's still alot less expensive and easier to fill, than electrics will ever be (given there's not a single electric filling station up here, nor are the batteries cheap enough to ever consider being a viable alternative to petrol))

  9. The Grump
    Mushroom

    Sorry, but...

    1) batteries need to be (at least) good for 300 miles to be practical in the US - everything is soooo far apart. Most countries in Europe would fit in Texas.

    2) Drive an hour - replace a battery - drive another hour - replace another battery ? Not buyin' it.

    3) Starving third world population ? Sounds good to me. Ever feed stray cats / dogs ? You get more stray cats / dogs. And most of the population in certain third world countries want to kill us. OK - you're right. We can't let them suffer. Kill them all now. More humane that way. Can't let them starve, you know.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Distance needn't be a problem

    Those suggesting that long journeys, or filling stations a long distance apart in the US, mean that battery vehicles simply won't work, seem to be under the impression that the robot filling stations will only fit one standard battery to each vehicle.

    I don't see any reason why small commuter vehicles couldn't take a single battery while larger vehicles could take, two, three, four or more standard batteries and so extend their range more or less proportionately. The US already has huge pick-up trucks - plenty of room in those for extra batteries for extra range.

    1. Flip

      Re: Distance needn't be a problem

      Each battery pack would increase the overall weight of the vehicle. Isn't there a power to weight ratio that needs to be maintained for EV performance? Otherwise, an EV with 3 or 4 battery packs wouldn't have any more range than a lighter single-battery EV.

  11. FlatEarther

    OZ Average Commute

    Here's some data from oz (well Sydney). Average trip distance is 17 KM in greater Sydney.

    Look at http://www.bts.nsw.gov.au/Statistics/HTS/default.aspx#top 2008/09 Household Travel Survey Summary Report, 2010 Release

    These is much lower than the range of any electric car mentioned in all of the comments. Just because Australia is big doesn't mean electric cars are unsuitable. My family has two cars - I commute about 40 kms each way to work and occasionally go on longer trips, so most current electric cars would be unsuitable. Any margin of error, such as a traffic jam or extra side trips and I'd be at risk of running out of juice. My wife's average trip though, is about 3 km. Most of her fuel consumption is starting the damn thing up. Electric would be ideal.

  12. Green Nigel 42
    Mushroom

    Chicken or Egg?

    Having read through a lot of the posts and arguments for / against the battery swap scheme, EV's, crop fuel & other alternatives here, I am drawn back to my initial thoughts.

    We need urgently to change our suicidal mono-culture dependence on fossil fuels which we almost exclusively depend on not only for the the maintenance of our living standards, but for our survival.

    China, India & other rapidly developing economies competing for this finite resource to supply their industry, transport & change to a meat centered diet. The laws of supply & demand will drive prices up & force us to look harder, take greater risks & fight wars to preserve a secure supply. . Of course big oil & defense companies with their powerful lobbies have a massive vested interest to maintain the status quo & have the consequent benefits of state subsidies in the hidden form of political & armed intervention . However Shale oil/gas only be viewed as a breathing space to develop & try out new methods of energy generation, supply, storage & efficiency improvements

    As I see it, this company is attempting to setting up a commercial solution to overcome the short comings of EV's, battery technology & the variability problem of solar/wind (with out the need for subsidy?). They are putting their money where their mouth is, (our opinions are cheap by comparison)! If they succeed or fail the knowledge & skills of this exercise will be of benifit to us all.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Chicken or Egg?

      ".....Of course big oil & defense companies with their powerful lobbies have a massive vested interest....." Aw, you were doing so well up until the mask slipped and you trotted out the standard anarch-socialist claptrap. One of the reasons we're so lagging on electric cars is because Greentards such as yourself blindly objected to schemes such as nuclear power that could have provided the cheap and abundant electricity we need for them to work.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Green Nigel 42
        Alert

        Re: @ Matt Bryant, Chicken or Egg?

        First off, I'm actually pro nuclear, happy to live within 10 miles of a Nuclear station and support the planned building of additional reactors. As an engineer (not in that industry but have worked with colleagues who were), I find easy to accept the very small risk of accident and disposal of waste has. As such regard it as the only present cost effective non carbon based fossil energy source & not those windmills & solar panels which do have their place but can only be seen realistically as under development at present.

        Again I see Fission only as a stepping stone (giving us 50-100 years by which time Fusion may be ready!) towards a truly sustainable energy solution, In many areas I agree with the I MechE 's UK 2050 energy plan (see link)

        .http://www.imeche.org/Libraries/Key_Themes/IMechE_UK_Energy_2050_Report.sflb.ashx

        This outlines an achievable plan rather than the UK governments impossible Energy Bill of 2012,(which of course includes the excessive reliance on wind, something Parliament produces an excess of!)

        As regard the heavy influence of Big oil & defense on Government. I can bear witness to the extraordinary efficient use of resources by procurement of lobbied for government projects in the Western nations, collaborative programs are even more effective (the JSF & non cat & trap carriers my favorite). The benefit we do gain is in the rapid development of technology in times of crisis, but these of course cannot be released for commercial exploitation for security for many years.

        The real waste however is that the brightest & most talented are attracted to these industries for the higher salaries in common with the City recruitment. To be fair the Defense industry has preserved the core of engineering in the UK against the Citys,Government policy & old style British managements destructive short term outlook that has destroyed most of our manufacturing base.

        I do not say that the Defense Industry or big Oil should be prevented from lobbying it is a question of balance, after taking in practicalities, it is still a dangerous & uncaring world & change cannot happen that quickly, but they should not be seen as the only way to secure our energy needs (as seen by recent conflicts & support of unsavory regimes). The defending of our economy can be increasingly, more effectively achieved by applying as much political will, resources, vigor & talent into developing a diverse non fossil fuel energy system as we have applied to in supporting Oil & Defense. Innovation built this nation & can again if we apply it to an expanding market area, it could generate far greater, longer lived sustained growth, than applying lt to the same old projecting of political economic & ultimately military power for an ever diminishing resource.

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