Two months ago, it was far from clear whether Detroit's Big 3 carmakers would even exist by the time their hometown auto show rolled around. Thanks to government funds they made it—and as a result, much of the Detroit show seemed to be a performance for Washington; an elaborate sales pitch for the continued relevance and potential solvency of the American auto industry. Hybrids, plug-ins, and pure electric cars, both real and vaporous, were central to that pitch. Meanwhile, Nissan, Infiniti, Porsche and Ferrari skipped town, and boutique electric-car makers Fisker and Tesla and the Chinese automakers BYD and Brilliance staked out sizable plots on the main showroom floor. Here's a selection of highlights.
Please click here to launch a gallery of the hottest cars at this year's Detroit auto show.
Lots of good news for used car dealers, with no hope in sight for the auto industry. Cheap gas + economy woes = people wanting cheap, dependable vehicles.
Last year's show was full of a feeling of "its almost here, an automotive revolution." It made you want to see if you could get another two or three years out of your car so you didn't buy something that was about to go "betamax."
This year, I just feel the urge to go buy a Civic, because it feel like there isn't going to be anything revolutionary drifting down to the common man in the few years.
Other random thoughts: Unoriginal, ripped off from someone more visionary, cost more to make than anyone would buy it for, ecology without economy is the new rich white man's guilt, and seen it before and seen it again and you still won't have a plant to produce them in next year when you dust it off for year #3, and since when did car names have to suck so much?
Also, with the new baby boom, I saw nothing for families, nothing with any real utililty (other than the Fit ripoff), and nothing to send me to the new car lot anytime soon.
0-6mph in less then 5 seconds does not sound too fast too me ... :)
I'm worried that this shift to electric cars that you charge in your home may be problematic from an infrastructure point of view. I know that in the summers our electrical grid in Ontario is already over loaded. If we start charging cars and running our AC every night in the summer, we are going to run into problems. As much as I hate gas powered cars for the pollution, the delivery system of gas is very efficient. Electrical lines loose power as you get further from the source. I would like to so how efficient an electrical car is when you factor in power lost in transmission and charging. Not to mention that the batteries also require energy to produce. I wonder how much better a solution electric can be over gas.
I would like to support whatever the real answer to clean transportation is, but I'm worried that we just arn't there yet. I think the answer for now is make cars lighter, and drive them less.
While the proliferation of electric cars is great most several areas in the United States already suffer from a lack of energy. I’m sure everyone remembers California rolling black outs. Start plugging in a million electric cars and see what happens.
Until we have clean, renewable energy, electric vehicles will not solve our energy reliance on oil or coal. Although they will provide a quick fix, renewable energy is still the key. People should remember that the average car uses less that 20% of the energy contained in the fuel they burn, while a oil or coal powered plant convert about twice that two energy.
I would like to see more diesel hybrids. I drive a Ford Super Duty and would love to have the option for my next one to be diesel-electric with electric motors at the hubs for better traction, pulling power and energy efficiency.
Electric cars are right now the best option. Hydrogen cars require electricity to turn water into hydrogen and oxygen and then the car would use hydrogen. This is an efficient process. The problems with the grid and coal can be easily solved. Instead of coal we need to gradually start using renewable energy. The electric grid of America is old anyways and even if we continue with the current system we would need to replace it. We cannot keep complaining; we need to move on from this step or else global warming and gas prices will continue to increase.
Some of you have overlooked important differences between the use of gasoline cars and EVs that give electric cars a clear edge over their gasoline-powered predecessors. Much of what you read here are key details you are unlikely to find elsewhere.
Just because gasoline prices dropped to just a fraction of their all-time high just a few weeks ago, that is no reason to think they will stay low for long. OPEC production cutbacks have already resulted in a doubling of prices in just a few days, and you can be sure the oil sheiks have no intention to let prices plateau-- they will continue until gasoline has recovered much of its artificially inflated value.
EVs (true EVs, not hybrids) are still a bargain even with gasoline at $2. a gallon. When you buy a Civic, you continue to be at the mercy of oil prices. Gasoline could continue to rise even beyond the $5./ gallon record high that we saw a few months ago. The cost to drive an EV is far more stable-- it is not tied to oil prices. And GVs (gasoline vehicles) have lots of expenses that EVs do not-- no tune-ups, oil changes, oil filters, air filters, smog tests, fan belts, etc.
GVs need regular brake jobs EVs do not-- EVs use regenerative braking (regen) that not only increases the range an EV can drive between charges, but dramatically reduces the frequency of brake jobs as well-- an EV typically does not need brake pads for 10 years, and the brake fluid operates at much lower temperatures so brake bleeding is also less of an issue.
Similarly, EVs need less transmission maintenance as well-- GVs need several forward gears and a reverse gear; EVs only need two forward gears at most, and no reverse gear. To back up, an EV's motor merely needs to turn backwards. And since EVs do not idle at stop lights and in heavy traffic, there is no pointless clutch band wear at such times. When an EV accelerates from 0 mph, there is no clutch slip at all-- extending band life dramatically. The only time you may have even a small amount of clutch band slip is shifting between 1st and 2nd gear, and many EVs use no transmission at all. For all these reasons, EV trannies are far smaller, simpler, robust and long-lasting. Since EV motors and trannies never build up the high temperatures engines do, seals and other temperature-sensitive parts last much longer. An EV transmission can last 10 years without service, which reduces cost and maintenance time, and time is money-- no one likes to be waste time standing around repair shops, and tranny service is among the most expensive that most cars need-- it's not uncommon for a tranny rebuild to cost thousands of dollars.
EVs only cost about $6- $12 a week for a typical driver for electricity, and many EV owners are installing solar electric panels that help to reduce the cost of operating their cars even more.
The balance sheet works like this: an EV has a large monthly car payment that ends after a few years, and then you're left with a car with a much longer lifespan that only costs a few dollars a week for electricity. To charge your car takes perhaps 3 seconds a day to plug and unplug... you never go to a gas station again.
The GV owner, on the other hand, is still at the mercy of OPEC, and still spends plenty of money and TIME for operating and maintenance, including the hours a year wasted standing around gas pumps.
As for no factories that can produce EVs in the next several years, that's not exactly true-- Tesla, Phoenix Motorcars, Electric City Motors and others are already tooled up and making EVs, albeit currently in smaller but growing numbers. it's just the dinosaurs-- GM, Ford, et al-- that cannot be ready any time soon.
The Phoenix Motorcar, by the way, has 5-passenger SUVs and SUTs that will meet the family requirements you mention.
Google the term "V2G", which explains why EVs will not only not be a burden to our grid system, but will actually help to prevent the kind of blackouts we had a few years ago here in L.A.
Rather than sucking up electricity when it's most needed, smart charging systems will know when the grid is at its weakest and the energy will back-flow from EVs to the grid to prevent or ease the very problem you describe. And since EVs charge up at night when there is a surplus of electric energy from windmills, it utilizes energy more intelligently. Windmills, you see, tend to be more active at night when there is less need for them, so EVs are a very convenient solution.
Your comment that gasoline distribution is more efficient than electric distribution is totally unfounded and the opposite is true: gasoline tanker trucks effectively double the cost of the operation of a GV-- every gallon burned in a car has to be delivered by a huge, labor-intensive, smelly, noisy truck that also burns its own fuel, needs its own maintenance, requires a complex dispatching system that must deliver fuel long before it is needed, and contributes to congestion of our roadways. Like GVs, the tanker trucks are terribly inefficent-- about 15% when all factors are considered.
EVs, on the other hand, run on electricity that is delivered without human handling as gasoline needs, does not clog our transporatation system, is silent and potentially non-polluting (when generated from renewable resources) and does not have to be delivered until it is needed. That is far more efficient.
Of course batteries need energy to be manufactured! So what? You think gasoline is made without any expenditure of energy? And the batteries last hundreds or thousands of times longer than the gasoline does. Altair NanoSafe batteries, in fact, are so robust that they can last tens of thousands of charge cycles without loss of chargeability. That equates to more than 50 years of use, or several times longer than the expected life of the car.
You say, "Until we have clean, renewable energy, electric vehicles will not solve our energy reliance on oil or coal."
No, they won't SOLVE the problem, but they will dramatically reduce not only our need for oil, but they will be able to dramatically reduce the $700. billion we spend on oil, money that is not only going to countries such as Saudi Arabia that financed the 9/11 attacks, but continues to fund terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere. That $700. per year saved would go a long way to repairing our broken health care and educational systems, and our domestic roads and bridges. We could finally have a POSITIVE balance of trade for the first time in our history, and begin to pay off the crushing national debt the Bush Administration has saddled us with.
You say EVs are the answer, but you say they could run on hydrogen from electrolysis, and claim it is an efficient process, but it is not. It takes much more energy to break the oxygen-hydrogen bond than the energy you can get back. If we are ever to find a relatively efficient means of producing hydrogen from water it is likely to come from mimicking the same process plants use with chlorophyll.
To anyone else that is still reading:
The Prius of years past and other similar hybrids are not any part of an answer. They cannot be plugged in, so all their energy still comes from oil. They are also PARALLEL hybrids, meaning that they have two complete drive trains in which both the engine and electric motor drive the wheels. Any hybrid such as the current Prius is terribly complex, making it very difficult to modify for battery-only use.
If we are to have hybrids, the Chevy Volt is typical of a SERIAL hybrid, meaning that the generator only does one thing-- it generates electricity to keep the batteries from losing power. It can also be plugged in. It will be far simpler than a Prius, making it far easier to modify to avoid obsolescence.
When the next generation of batteries such as the Altair NanoSafe are available, we will have the option of removing the generator entirely and replacing it with batteries to increase the range, and reduce the dead weight of the generator. In due time we will have rapid-charge batteries and high-speed charging stations that will allow us to drive EVs the same way we drive gasoline cars today-- we will be able to drive from coast to coast if we want, eliminating any need for an onboard generator.
There are those that assume EVs could never compete with gasoline as long as an EV's range is limited, but if an EV can be operated much more cheaply than a car with gasoline, and is more convenient in many ways as well, EVs will be the transportation of choice.
EV may very well be the way of the future but I also think it will have to share the car market with a mix of other fuel/technologies to effectively make use of the regional available power sources. One thing that strike me however is the fact that the car manufacturers are mostly silent about the sticker price of their proposed EV solutions. It may be shocking to the point of killing the EV a second time!
We could not agree more with billdale. Even though we do not own an electric car, we own a 2001 Toyota Prius Hybrid car with 180000 miles. Yes this is not a electric car, but it has many of the benefits of one. We have not replaced the brakes. The regenerative braking stops the car most of the time and not the braking system. We do not need to smog the car ever. We have not replaced a single part in our car besides the tires and shock absorbers. We change the oil every 10,000 miles and we have never tuned up the gas engine. We got this car used with 40000 miles and with the amount we saved in gas and maintenance costs the car has paid itself. We recently got rid of our second small car to replace it with a Chinese made Electric scooter. We are saving so much money in gas, car payments, maintenance and insurance. Most of the Americans drive about 30 miles a day. Our scooter cost 1600. The insurance savings will pay for it in less than a year. The scooter is powered by new lithium batteries that give a range of 40 miles without having to recharge it.
We live in California and were fortunate enough to install a Photovoltaic System in our roof. We have been producing our own electricity for over three years. Zero electric bill. We are our own power company. We might pay off our system sooner if electricity rates keep increasing faster than usual. We are having three electric rate increase in this year alone. The system cost was 23000. My Electric company paid 10000 and we were able to get 2000 in tax credits.
We will never buy another Internal Combustion Engine car. Granted new electric cars are still expensive to purchase. However there are several places where you can get kits to convert any regular car to electric car. Our next vehicle will be a all electric Pick Up truck conversion. The only draw back for current technology is the batteries. Right now the most cost effective battery for a car are still the Lead Acid. Any other technology is still expensive. We do not worry, advancements in technology and demand of electric cars will drive the cost way down.
Toyota was losing about 10000 every time they sold a Prius for 23000 ten years ago. Now they are selling the car for the same money and they are actually making a profit on each Prius they sell. Yes, Hybrids are not the solution, they are just a natural evolution of car technology. A few car companies have several plug in hybrids and soon affordable 100% electric cars. We just have to wait a bit. We all need to install a Photovoltaic system where is sunny and a Wind Generator where is windy. This is one of the best investments we can make. We need to become energy independent.
Barack has sworn a oath to bankrupt the coal industry and cause US electricity prices to skyrocket. Why would anyone want an electric car under those circumstances? Hope and change for you Obamamericans.
How come nobody is trying to develop an electric car that can charge itself while you drive it? My idea comes from a automobile altenator. How come they cannot develop , basically, a large altenator on each wheel of the vehicle
so when the car moves down the road the "altenator" on each wheel would send current to the cars battery charging the system every time you drive? I got this idea from manufacturing motorcycles. On a motorcycles engine crankshaft
there is a stater that sends an electrical current to the battery when the motor is running. Why can't this technology be converted to an electric vehicle so we would no longer be dependant of anyone for any reason.
You said, "Barack has sworn a[n] oath to bankrupt the coal industry and cause US electricity prices to skyrocket."
Do you also fear there are commies hidden under your bed, ready to pounce on you as soon as you turn out the lights? I hope you don't live in my neighborhood, or in Washington... you sound scary.
Obama has never sworn anything remotely similar to what you say... he does intend to dramatically reduce our dependence on coal, of course, but 98% of all Americans are in favor of that as well-- coal dirties our air, pollutes our rivers and lakes, and kills thousands of miners every year from lung disease. We are better off with virtually any source of energy in preference to coal.
If coal wanes in use, it will only be because solar, wind or other more benign sources of energy are replacing it, and not because our elected president forces it not to be used when we need it. That's absurd.
jisom: cool your paranoia before the Secret Service finds it necessary to lock you up!
Yes, motorcycles have tiny generators to slowly recharge the battery, but they're small for a reason: the bigger they are, the more drag on the engine. Generators can never create more energy than whatever energy is used to turn them-- that's why perpetual motion machines don't work.
If you don't quite understand the principle, clamp an automotive generator in a bench vise, and hook up some kind of crank so you can turn it by hand fast enough to generate some electricity. If you don't hook up anything to the generator, as you turn your crank you'll see it has a light but noticeable drag; but as soon as you connect any kind of electrical load to the generator, you will notice an immediate and heavy increase in the drag, making it much harder to crank. That is why you do not want to drive with all your lights on all the time-- it just wastes lots of energy and slows down your car unnecessarily.
Electric vehicles, such as the Tesla and Prius, do have generators to pump energy back into the batteries, but they are not used to charge the battery at any time except when you try to stop the car-- it's what's called regenerative braking, or regen. The drag on the car is so heavy as it charges the battery that it makes a very effective brake, and you certainly would not want to drive any car anywhere that has its brakes on all the time.
Sorry, that is why your idea would not work.
I believe that the oath that firstname.lastname@example.org was referring to with regards to President Obama came from his January 17th 2008 interview with with San Francisco Chronicle which he stated "...if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted."
tim416 makes a valid point. Can our current grid infastructure actually be able to handle this new onslaught of electric cars? Maybe it won't be that bad, since it looks like only a trickle of electric cars will be hitting the market anytime soon.
When it came to getting quality electrical work done on my house, I went with Mister Sparky, due to their amazing reputation. Weeks before I had to decide which company to hire, all of my neighbors said their Houston electricians were the best in the business, and that the effort they take to please every customer would impress any potential client. After they had finished their work, I received a call a few weeks later to make sure the job that everything they did, was working perfectly. I can sleep at night knowing that Mister Sparky did the job better than any other company. http://mistersparky-houston.com