PopSci's own senior editor (and senior car expert) Seth Fletcher has a great op-ed in the New York Times today, giving an overview of the Obama administration's plan to put a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015--a plan he says is vitally important, highly ambitious, and totally possible.
Seth glances on the history and near future of electric cars, a subject he explores at length in his book, Bottled Lightning: Superbatteries, Electric Cars, and the New Lithium Economy. You can check out an excerpt of the book here--it's a great read--and more from Seth about lithium battery tech here.
We could of HAD and should of HAD more than a million electric cars on the road several years ago.
Trailer to the documentary “Who killed the electric car?”
It kind of does seem like a good idea for GM to re-introduce the Volt...now that the Nissan Leaf is going to be available in America. It is also won the "Car of the year award" for 2011.
Who really cares, they use electricity, which comes from power plants. Yes I believe they are a good idea, but not yet. Not until they can get me further than I can go now and recharge in as much time as I can fill up my tank. Plus, it will most likely cause another energy crisis (electric). Good..sure, now... nope. Too expensive for the benefit.
Any study of history of business or technology will indicate the troubles and hurdles, including human ones, in developing anything new. After all, what better battle than the one about electricity, AC or DC? Politics decided. This one is no different. Remember VHS vs. BETA? But this is one is more expensive than previous ones but necessary. Already hybrids have made a dent in reducing gasoline usage. The much maligned cash for clunkers also removed many low mpg vehicles from the road. Newer engines use less fuel. BUT, if we all slowed down a bit, drove on cruise control and stopped driving like we are possesed by a something, we all could increase our mpg performance of our current cars by at least 25%. Yep, that is not an exaggeration. Even our hybrid shows the difference between my wife's habits and mine. I get over 33mpg and she struggles to get 29 mpg. It is all in how you lead the stops, press lightly on the gas and look forward beyond the vehicle in front to maximize coasting. But alas, too many impatient drivers, mostly females, get annoyed if they do not get to the next traffic signal as quickly as possible. They just do not get it. Please try some of these techniques and you will slow down the money pipeline to the oil companies and suppliers. KEEP YOUR MONEY. Good luck.
Sure, get the Fusion Power plants online and I'll be happy to buy an electric car. Right now, buying an electric car is BAD for the environment not only because we burn coal for power in many areas, but overall millions of electrics would cripple our grid - a grid that already has trouble staying up in the summer. This is besides the toxic fumes and poisoned earth the manufacturing of those batteries causes... Another side effect is, the LESS oil we use, the MORE it will cost us!! Yes, I know it sounds stupid and goes against a schoolbook "supply and demand" BS, but that is the hard, cold truth - they will constantly increase their profits regardless of whether we use more or less ... it's that simple.
Want to be green? Shut down MALLS and don't have a chain (of anything like McD's, CVS, etc)every 1/2 mile... Go to useless retail shops and add up how much power they use for their cheap no insulation warehouse style buildings. You would be shocked to see an office space the size of your home using literally 20x the power you do...
I too would like to own a Volt. The problem is that they are not really as green as being pushed. They also kind of cheat a bit on road taxes. They are heavy and damage more roads than cheap small cars like the Cruze Eco.
But from a practical point, the less oil one uses the better. We complain about wars over oil or blood for oil and yet we don't act.
In almost all cases I believe that electricity is being produced by efficient and cleaner processes than the gas engine. While coal is abundant, and it may end up being the US's only energy source in the future it is still being run in mostly well controlled plants.
Being green is a total life commitment that almost equals the life of a Saint. There really are very few people who live green as they could.
I guess I will buy a Volt even if my cheap Federal employer refuses to install chargers at work. I feel that charging the car at night would reduce oil and use a power plant that is in an unused state.
I dont see myself getting an electric car for a while. I love sports cars and gas engines too much. I can not aford anything great now, but there are plenty of "budget" cars like a WRX, EVO, or even Corvette that offer tons of HP and control for basically pennies. The only electric or hybrid car I would think about it something like the Porsche 918 spider. But that is unrealistic and its going to be a while until they make a "budjet" electric or hybrid sports car.
I WOULD however get an electric motorcycle. It is a much better gamble at the point than a car. The cost of the bikes are not much, and speed is already pretty good and getting better. I can easily see myself buying an electric motorcycle in the next 5-10 years.
Maybe if they'd attack the problem instead of trying to force a solution, I'd be more impressed.
How about a combo of rationing and price control?This leads to varied solutions that start right now
Four people in a 10mpg car equal one person in a 40mpg car.
Trip planning -- "Is this trip really necessary"
Innovation -- nobody KNOWS that the hybrid/electrics are the answer ( in fact, I think that the hybrids are a nightmare and may well not be delivering all that is claimed). TYhere may well be beter ideas out there.
Instead we're subsidizing electrics and we just finished an extremely inefficient program to destroy existing vehicles.
( I guess that it won't take any energy or cause pollution to replace them)
Also, new mileage requirements will cause auto prices to skyrocket. Probably making people hang on to their old vehicles longer
Let's get the government out of the engineering business -- they're not that good at it.
the power grid can handle this as probably half of the charging up will occurr at night and electric cars will not replace gas/diesel cars overnight, i try not to be politcal but sometime the truth hurts, the bush administration wasted 8 years chasing cheap oil, if half that effort had been put towards electric cars the debate would be over and the majority of us would drive electric cars, cleaning up our coal plants is a separate issue that should be dealt with separate from electric cars and should happen ASAP
There is no need to have cars, planes, boats and other means of transportation if you use the hyperspace concepts of teleportation.
With this method, you walk into a low-speed of light, wavy space-time tunnel and are teleported to the other opening instantaneously.
I actually experienced this wavy water-like space-time when communicating with the designers of the Julia Set crop circle that appeared in England. One of the remote viewers for the designers entered my room and I felt like a fish in a fish bowl filled with water. I could follow his wake as he moved around the room. This led to the detection of the first gravitational wave.
Teleportation was discovered over a decade ago and is no longer a mystery. It is the means that the aliens use to cross the galaxy in a few minutes. See Andrew Basiago's interviews about this device.
Hydrogen cars with the energy for hydrogen production coming from nuclear. It's not perfect, but realistic. The delay would be building the infrastrcture.
Great. When Germany can go for a million electric cars the USA can do even better i guess www.bit.ly/pZjff
Sorry, but you obviously have never driven an electric car (I have-- I own both an EV and a Prius). Trying to compare EVs as simplistically as you have done does not work. First, when you're paying FAR less per day, per month, per year or in the lifespan of the vehicle, you'll see that you never again waste time standing around for several minutes, smelling terrible carcinogenic fumes. With an EV, a typical day is spent driving to and from work, the market, school, etc., and when you get home, you just plug in-- that takes all of two seconds... the next morning you unplug your car, get back in and run around all day doing your chores again... and come home, plug in, and the routine repeats itself. You will never again pay $90. for gas as my buddy did today for one tank of gas that will only last a few days. That time you spend at gas stations inhaling terrible hydrocarbons can never be regained. That's DOZENS... maybe HUNDREDS of hours over your lifetime, which you'll never get back.
And that's not where the time losses end. EVs, which may have NO moving parts other than the wheels themselves, but which may or may not have a transmission, drive shaft, and differential, never have more than about a dozen or so moving parts, even if you include the transmission and drive train-- EVs require no reverse gear, and never need more than two gears forward. (Just like any household electric drill, EV motors can reverse rotation without gears, reducing complexity and weight greatly.)
EVS never need smog tests, tune-ups, oil changes, fan belt adjustments, air filters, fuel filters, oil filters, new spark plugs, oxygen sensors, catalytic converters, mufflers, transmission rebuilds, or other work all ICE cars eventually do-- even an EV's brake pads, rotors, and brake fluids commonly last the life of the car, since nearly all of the braking is done with "regen"-- regenerative braking-- that not only uses the motor to slow the car nearly to a stop, but also recoups much of the kinetic energy that is completely lost when you stop an ICE car. As soon as you let off on the accelerator pedal, the motor becomes a generator, pumping energy back into the battery. (A worldwide patent filed recently uses an advanced motor design to recover even more of that energy, extending the vehicle's range, and the life of the battery. See US patent #20110101815.) EVs do have friction brakes as your own car does, but they are hardly used at all. The electric motor does most of the braking until you get to very slow speeds, or when coming to a full stop or parking, at which time you use your regular brake. No, it's not complicated or confusing-- it actually works just like a "regular" car. In your own car, when you take your foot off the accelerator pedal, the engine begins to slow the car down, but not nearly as effectively as an electric motor does. You cannot rely on engine braking very much, so you use your brake pedal all the time.
EVs not only do not need all those expensive parts and services as listed above, but they save you all that incredible TIME as well-- how long were you waiting in the repair shop last time? How much in the last year? How much over the life of your car? EVs need NONE of that. A typical six-cylinder engine has about 166 moving parts-- each moving part adds more chances to break down, and increases inefficiencies. An electric motor just does one thing-- it turns... quietly and efficiently.
When you try to compare the efficiencies of your ICE cars to that of EVs, don't forget-- you gas up from a filling station that receives regular deliveries from huge, smelly, noisy diesel trucks that clog our freeways, zig-zag back and forth over our roads on their supply routes. Spewing fumes and noise, they need dozens of support staff at dispatching stations that supply the mechanics that keep the trucks running, logistics handlers that plan out the delivery routes, and managers to run the dispatching centers. Each of those people have full-time jobs, have cars that also require gasoline and support to keep them running... it goes on and on... and all of that support is just so that the fuel can be delivered to your filling station. EVs, on the other hand, need none of that-- their "fuel"... electrons... are delivered quietly, efficiently, cleanly, without any babysitting as all those tanker trucks do. And the grid lines don't take up any space on our roads and highways, either.
You talk about the generating stations as if they're terribly dirty, when in fact it's far easier to control emissions from a stationary generator running at a constant speed, where you have the luxury of as much space and hardware as you need, than it is to control the emissions from a tiny car engine that is constantly changing speed, load and temperature, and whose space and weight limits are extreme. And what happens if your car suddenly has a bad oxygen sensor or fouled spark plug shortly after a smog test? It can run for a couple of years, fouling your air, costing you efficiency, before it's corrected again.
Nanotitanate batteries from Altair Nanotech Company already are capable of being charged up to about 85% of capacity in less than 10 minutes, they last for tens of thousands of charge cycles, and are extremely safe. But they are too expensive to put in mass-produced cars yet-- the battery materials themselves are not expensive, but like LEDs that cost $20. each several years ago and now cost just pennies, the manufacturing process of the battery can be reduced enormously, resulting in very affordable, powerful EVs whose batteries can outlast the car itself-- they can last for decades, without all that maintenance ICE cars require.
As for EVs "starting an energy crisis", again, there is no data to show that-- the opposite is true!!! EVs can actually play a major part in avoiding the energy crises you predict. Check your facts-- do a search for V2G, or Vehicle to Grid-- electric vehicles are usually charged at night, when there is an excess of energy that is otherwise wasted because generators cannot be turned off or slowed down. That excess energy that would otherwise be wasted can be stored in EVs, and resold back to the power companies when needed if there is a danger of a brownout. This REDUCES the need for new generating stations. There is much more to this story than there is room to type here, so before you say, "yeah, but", do yourself a favor and get some facts before you go show how utterly naive you are of the facts.
Again, before you start making comments that embarrass you, check your data!!! What you say is NOT true, and there are not going to be millions of EVs on our streets overnight-- by the time there are a million EVs here in the US, there will be just as much effort put into making sure they have places to charge, and that the infrastructure can handle it. Coulomb Technologies and Clipper Creek, Inc., among others, make the charging stations, and are making sure everything is there before we need it-- that's how they make THEIR living, by making sure EV owners will be able to drive their cars.
The very people that buy EVs tend to be environmentally conscious, so they are the same people that install solar panels on the roofs of their houses to charge their EVs. In my state, like many areas, there is a very aggressive program to put solar and wind power on the grid so that in just a few years, one-third of our energy will come from renewable sources.
" ...the toxic fumes and poisoned earth the manufacturing of those batteries causes..." Cite your sources, fella!!! Oh, that's right... you HAVE none, because there AREN'T any!!! In case you think all these EVs are running on lead/acid batteries, uggggh... NOOOOO! These cars use a variety of battery chemistries, but they do NOT use lead acid to power them! The batteries being used are far more benign to the environment than the car you drive, the battery materials can be recycled, and many of the EVs that have been around long enough to show how long their batteries will last prove they outlast your own car. So STOP spreading your misinformation!!!!
More than 10 years ago, the State of California forced all the car maker to make one percent of their cars EVs-- so for a few years, EVs were being driven, including the Toyota RAV-4. The City of Santa Monica was wise to buy a whole fleet of them, and if you go to Santa Monica City Hall, you'll see those same beautiful EVs parked under a solar panel that serves as a sun shade for the cars as well. Ask the city how the nickel metal hydride batteries have performed-- they'll tell you that many of their EVs have in excess of 100,000 miles, none of them have had to have their batteries replaced, they have received virtually no maintenance, and they continue to be used by the city for official business.
"... Another side effect is, the LESS oil we use, the MORE it will cost us!!..." NOT true!!! Again, you CANNOT cite a source for that statement, because there IS none!!! Not even the oil industry would make such a ridiculous claim!!! In fact, the best ally an ICE car driver has is an EV driver, because the less oil sold, the less demand; the less demand, the more gasoline prices will drop, or at least it will work to prevent rising prices. And once the oil barons see EVs sold in significant numbers, they'll be afraid to keep increasing the cost of oil, because the more money drivers spend on gasoline, the more drivers will switch to hybrid and EV vehicles. Polls have verified that-- the people that drive EVs and hybrids are often doing so for fear of rising gas prices, and they don't want to get trapped driving the same outdated technology you do.
"... [Volts] are heavy and damage more roads than cheap small cars like the Cruze Eco."
Volts are not as heavy as the millions of Escalades, Suburbans and other monster SUVs on the highway, and they certainly will not be doing even a fraction of the damage to the roads that illegally overloaded semi trucks are doing every day. But I am glad to see that you do plan to get a Volt, or maybe an EV.
You say you're in love with engines-- you haven't driven an EV yet to see just how much easier it is to fall in love with such machines! It's incredibly fun to have someone sit in the car for the first time, and as they are buckling up, you have already "started" the car and it's rolling, by the time they look up-- the startled looks on their faces is more fun than you'd ever believe. And if the cost of gasoline continues to rise-- which it will, until there are a lot more EVs on the road, and even then it may continue to rise due to the millions of new drivers in China and India-- you'll see more and more incentive to switch to an EV.
You say you don't like government in the engineering business, but isn't that what you'd be doing with price controls and rationing, as you suggest?
I actually support the idea of huge gas taxes, but they should be swapped for
something close to elimination of other taxes and fees that we use now. That's what all of Europe has been doing for decades-- as long ago as the '70s, European countries were paying as much as $5./gallon-- back when money was worth much more than it is today! It inspired drivers to drive more efficient cars, to drive less, and to use other modes of getting about, such as trains, buses and bikes. If Europe had not done that, their pollution would be far worse now, and the entire world would be that much closer to running out of gasoline by now.
And, yes, car prices will continue to climb, which they should-- we are junking cars far too quickly, when we should be doing what we can to keep them running, including forcing the car makers to design cars to last two decades or more, and to be more recyclable.
You worry me, fella. If you really think anyone is really and truly flitting around in hyperspace, you need to get a grip. Look around you, carefully... stay away from those funny pills, and you'll see that everyone else has their feet on the ground.
I sympathize with your viewpoint, but hydrogen shows no hope of being any part of an answer for us, especially in the next 20 years-- and those that say that hydrogen is the future have been saying it would be ready for use in twenty years... but they started telling us that more than 30 years ago. It's just not gonna happen.
There are lots of major problems with hydrogen, and ALL of those problems must be resolved before hydrogen could be of any use. For instance, EVs are already in production and on the road, but hydrogen is not close to being ready. In fact, there are already many thousands of EVs, and a mature grid infrastructure has been available for nearly a century: EVs can be charged anywhere. (EV owners I've known have even been dared to drive from state-to-state, begging for a charge from total strangers as they go, just to see if it could be done. Just as you might imagine, people are EAGER to give you a charge to keep you going, knowing they'll have an interesting tale to tell their friends.)
You were a bit vague when describing hydrogen cars... maybe you meant fuel cell vehicles, or maybe ICE cars running on hydrogen gas-- but in any event, hydrogen requires extremely low temperatures, extremely high pressures, very expensive containment vessels, and transport delivery trucks would have to be very expensive and nearly impossible to protect from terrorists.
Who would want to take a chance on buying such a vehicle until they have an infrastructure to buy the fuel from-- yet who would be willing to spend the billions of dollars for even a few hundred of these facilities if they have no one to sell the fuel to? It's the chicken-and-egg kind thing-- which comes first, and who's gonna pick up the enormous tab? The government, who can't figure out how to survive now as it is?!
Have you ever seen the footage of the Hindenburg zeppelin crashing in 1937? It was so horrifying that as soon as it happened, hydrogen airship use stopped abruptly and immediately. Passengers were not willing to get in them, anywhere worldwide, and airship use never resumed. No matter how carefully you try to engineer it, Murphy's Law will be there to bite you in the butt as soon as there's an opportunity-- and if Soccer Mom is fueling up her SUV with half a dozen kids when they all burned alive in a massive fireball seen for miles, be sure that the whole world will know about it within minutes, and no one will dare buy another hydrogen vehicle.
If you produce hydrogen, you have to use it immediately, because it's the tiniest atom in the universe and squeezes its way out of even tightly sealed containers rapidly. Refuel your hydromobile to full, let it set for a couple of weeks in your garage, and you just might find that half of that terribly expensive gas has evaporated out. Oh... and if that terribly volatile gas is no longer in your tank, where is it? Maybe close to the pilot light on your water heater or other source of ignition?! It doesn't sound too safe to me.
There are actually many more very serious problems with hydrogen vehicles, but this just gives you a taste of it-- and EVs, by comparison, have no such problems. The Volt and the Leaf have both passed safety crash tests (side, front, rear, and roll-over), and passed magnificently; EVs are very easy to design for safety. They are much safer than ICE cars.
Those of you that want to kvetch and cower and dicker about EVs are wasting your time. Momentum has been building, EVs are already rolling silently past you on the freeway without you noticing, and before you know it, you'll be choking in your own fumes while the rest of us are jumping ahead of the curve, ahead of your fumes, and ahead of you.
Electric cars will never be mainstream for the same reason they fell out of the mainstream in the early 1900s....they have terrible functionality as vehicles. Electric cars have been around just as long a the ICE and at one point accounted for about 1/3 of vehicles in major cities. They fell out once people had the option to travel farther and faster via the ICE and since then our entire infrastructure and economy has evolved around that functionality. Mankind will not accept going backwards in standards of living just for the sake of energy efficiency (i.e. getting energy directly from the grid instead of converting from oil to gasoline or into hydrogen).
Hydrogen technology is the only tech on the horizon capable of matching the ICE unless battery tech magically evolves to the point where it can either deliver 800 or so mile range (a days worth of driving) or 200-300 with 5 minute charging. Hydrogen also has the advantage of being decent at renewable energy storage.
While you do make some good points, you're assuming that you're just using a fuel cell vehicle for transportation, when in reality you could also use it to power other things, or sell that energy back into the grid.
As for the terrorists attacking a hydrogen delivery truck: You could just as easily transport it as water through the utilities grid and convert it to hydrogen through electrolysis, it's not perfect, but you can collect the resulting water and reprocess it.
To rebut the Hindenburg, yes it was a tragedy. However it could have been worse, hydrogen rises as it burns, and in fact part of that hydrogen kept the flaming blimp from immediately crashing to the ground. Hydrogen also burns clear, the flames that you saw were from other components and cargo burning.
For the soccer mom bursting into flames in a fireball because of an accident catching the fuel source alight, this could just as easily happen with an ICE vehicle.
If you're interested in learning about some more of the misconceptions of hydrogen, you can check out the book "The Hydrogen Age" by Holland and Provenzano. While I agree that EV are part of the answer and a good thing, I would be daft to think that we could base our entire economy on a single source of transportation, we're already proving that it's a foolish prospect.
"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known..."
Bill, I could lift an armada of air balloons just from your post alone. You make some valid observations, but you assert your opinions like a tent-meeting preacher. Has anyone yet come up with a truly green method of recycling or disposing of the large and highly toxic batteries these cars require in order to function? Until that issue is effectively dealt with, the electric car will never be a truly environmentally effective alternative. Oh - and there's this wonderful element on the periodic table called "helium"; check it out!
Perhaps in the beginning, most cars will be charged during off-peak hours - but an ever-increasing number will be charged during the day, as employers start offering hookups in their parking lots.
Day-charging will be highly attractive due to the longer commute range it will provide, which will require a bunch of nuclear and coal power plants that are politically unpopular, so they're not even on the drawing board yet.
Something will have to give - electric companies can't even keep up with PRESENT demand on a hot summer day as it is - or a relatively cool summer day in California.
Even our home wiring, power drops, and/or local distribution transformers will have to be beefed up in most cases where residents demand fast-chargers. I think the electricity usage of the family car will surpass the already-huge amount that air conditioning consumes.
That's not a bad thing, because we have plenty of coal, uranium and natural gas to be self-sufficient for perhaps hundreds of years. The overall system will be much more efficient and less polluting than gasoline-powered transportation, but it will be a major, very expensive challenge in the short term.
Perhaps in the long term, wind and solar will mature enough to be economically viable for charging your car, but that's not the case right now. Currently, most alternate energy sources (except perhaps geothermal and hydroelectric) make absolutely no economic sense without artificial incentives like government grants, rebates, and tax incentives.
Just try to justify the cost of solar cells to power your new electric car and home 100%, even WITH tax incentives. Once you add in installation and maintenance costs, inverters, batteries, and the solar panels themselves, you would never see a payback in your lifetime. Selling yout excess power to electric company during the day and buying it back overnight will only eliminate the cost of batteries, so it may still be thirty years before you see a payback.
LOL!!! Where do you guys get your ideas?!
"Electric cars will never be mainstream for the same reason they fell out of the mainstream in the early 1900s....they have terrible functionality as vehicles."
"Hydrogen technology is the only tech... unless battery tech magically evolves"...
Pffft!!! You're delusional! The reason ICE cars won out over EVs for so long is because there is much more money to be made keeping the world enslaved by oil, and with cars that require constant, expensive maintenance, than there is building and selling cars that run on cheap, renewable energy... cars that are so absurdly simple that they need virtually no maintenance even after decades of use. The oil industry has gotten hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies from the government over the last century-- NON-STOP subsidies-- if EVs had received the same pork barrel subsidies during that period, you can be SURE that we'd have mature, practical, efficient EVs by now, and there WOULD be no gas guzzlers.
Check your facts-- you're dreaming! There were hydrogen fuel cell programs around for decades, and they always said FCs were 20 years away, and the few FC proponents left are still saying that. There are gigantic problems with hydrogen-- I already detailed many of them in an earlier post-- and unless ALL of those problems can be dealt with, hydrogen has NO future. It's a dead end. That's why you see support for hydrogen has all but died out completely. And it's absurd to suggest that an EV must be able to drive for 800 miles to be practical! How many people do you know drive that much in a day?! With a range of, say, 120 miles, an EV can satisfy the vast majority of most drivers, and since you've never driven an EV obviously, you cannot appreciate its many conveniences, for which you would be more than happy to make adjustments for those rare times when you might need exceptional range. When you find yourself saving enormous amounts of money and time by driving electric, you find ways to compensate, and it's not that hard-- ask any EV owner.
EVs, until very recently, have had the cards stacked against them. Just as Eli Lilly is not willing to spend money to develop drugs that they cannot patent and cannot charge fortunes for, and they do all they can to keep us addicted to their immense variety of drugs with terrible side effects, the oil companies know that as consumers become more aware of the realities of the EV, it will not stop... so the oil industry will pull any tricks they have to try to maintain their stranglehold or your wallet. One of those tactics, for instance, was when Chevron bought the rights to the wonderfully appropriate battery used in the RAV 4 EV, and then sat on the patents all this time, never using them, keeping Toyota or anyone else from making that particular battery design, which does not degrade even after more than a decade of use. The good news is that the patent expires in a few months.
Electrons are cheap. They can be harvested from clean renewable resources, and economies of scale will soon make EVs much cheaper to produce than ICE cars. And because an electric motor only has one moving part and an engine has thousands, EVs can be kept running reliably much longer than an ICE car can.
Oil subsidies need to end... I'm very happy to see the Obama administration is working aggressively to get the EV industry the support it needs. There is no corner of the Earth where the need for EVs is not recognized: you need only read the financial pages of any newspaper to see that every car maker, even the ones in China, India and Europe, are spending billions of dollars to produce EVs. If you think EVs are such a bad idea, why do you think EVERYONE that counts disagrees with you?!
The nitwits that are foaming at the mouth over EVs, in which they point out that EVs are not perfect in some way or other, and therefore should never even be allowed to enter the market, don't bother to acknowledge the terrible problems and inefficiencies of ICEs. Just because we've been driving around in gas guzzlers for a century does not mean it was EVER the best way to do things, or that we should continue to do so! It's long overdue for us to abandon our addiction to petroleum.
The switch to EVs is gonna happen no matter how much you scream and cry and stomp your feet... it's GOTTA happen... the use of gasoline is unsustainable.
You can't produce gasoline on the roof of your house, but you can charge an EV that way. When you drive electric you're not supporting corrupt, maniacal, repressive regimes such as you have in Libya, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Those tyrants want to use our petro dollars to develop and build nuclear weapons, finance suicide bombers and other terrorists, and keep the world in turmoil. I'm not willing to spend my money that way.
"You could just as easily transport [energy] as water through the utilities grid and convert it to hydrogen through electrolysis, it's not perfect, but you can collect the resulting water and reprocess it"...
No, sorry, that's NOT true. If simply producing the hydrogen was the only problem, FCs or ICEs running on hydrogen would be fine, but that is naive... you don't understand everything it takes to run a hydrogen infrastructure, some of which I detailed in an earlier post. If hydrogen were viable, there would still be billions of dollars being spent on it, which there is not. If you only look at a few attractive points in the use of hydrogen without seriously looking at its problems, you end up wasting a lot of time chasing wild geese.
"For the soccer mom bursting into flames... this could just as easily happen with an ICE vehicle."
Hmmmmm... what's your point? That ICE vehicles are dangerous fire traps? Yep, I knew that, and never tried to say they weren't! I'm not the one trying to defend them, remember?! EVs cannot explode like that, and recent official crash tests with the Nissan Leaf and other EVs have shown them to be much safer in an accident than ICE cars.
I like your Carl Sagan quote- it applies most appropriately to EVs!
@ dog canon:
It seems to me YOU'RE the one making pointless comments! Did anyone ever say EVs were perfect?! What mode of transportation is? EVs and their batteries can last for DECADES without their batteries needing to be replaced. As I already mentioned earlier, the city of Santa Monica has had a fleet of Toyota RAV 4s in constant daily use for more than ten years that have required zero maintenance beyond mundane stuff such as tires, washer fluid and wiper blades. My close friend, "Gadget", of Discovery Channel fame, is the one that designed and built the dual-purpose car port/ solar panels that keep them running, so don't try to tell me how they use coal-fired generating power.
Regardless how rabid you might be in your attempt to paint EVs as environmentally dirty, any unbiased, side-by-side comparison of EVs and ICE vehicles would show EVs as far better in any respect.
And what's your point about helium?! Maybe you're trying to suggest it's a viable source of fuel? It's great stuff, but in order to use it for a power station, you need at least a little unobtanium, and it's in very short supply.
Examine your motives for attacking EVs-- whatever they might be, they can't be good. We need to get off of oil.
you're busted, fella... you say solar is not financially viable, when in fact tens of thousands of homeowners all over California, Nevada, Arizona and the South can say otherwise.
You say there are still things that need to be done to get EVs in the mainstream. We all know that. It's all Tinkertoy stuff... nothing a garden-variety engineer can't handle. Just like the need for a faster, more robust telephone system did not stop us from eventually having the high-speed DSL we have now, the technology will be developed as the need arises. Necessity is the mother of invention.
Google V2G... it's a system where, should the grid be too close to overload, the utility company can signal electric vehicles to reverse power flow, and supply energy to the grid. This would be done on a voluntary basis with vehicle owners, who would be compensated fairly for their help.
Also, check http://patent.ipexl.com/date/20110505_1.html ... this patent is for a modification that can be done to existing generators, such as on wind farms and at natural gas generating stations, that can result in significantly greater available power for grid systems. This can prevent the need for more generating stations, and an overall surplus of power nationally. The same patent applies to the motors used in EVs, making them more efficient not only as motors, but in "regen" mode. An electric vehicle can pump more energy back into the battery as it brakes, extending the driving range of the vehicle significantly, especially in stop-and-go traffic.
You also mention trying to get payback for 100% solar power for your EV-- you're just using numbers to say that it won't work, when in fact, if you install a more conservative number of solar panels, you can get payback much faster. And, as solar continues to drop in price, you can max out the panel space on your roof, selling back most of your energy to the power company; doing so has the added benefit of helping to decentralize our grid, making it more invulnerable to natural disasters, terrorists, and accidents.
There are dozens of companies doing gangbuster business in the southern California area installing rooftop panels; many of them are being installed for the same people that are buying EVs and hybrids. If it is as you claim, there would be tons of disgruntled naive homeowners on 60 Minutes telling how they were suckered into buying solar systems by unscrupulous solar installers, but of course, that's not the case.
There is a huge swath of the country that can currently profit from solar, and with the steady increase in efficiency and the increase in fossil fuel power, solar becomes even more viable. Areas that are less sunny will also be able to profit from solar as economies of scale are realized.
You guys that continually attack EVs amaze me... the sky is falling, the sky is falling... it's as if you're standing at the side of the parade, screaming frantically for all to hear: "There's no such thing as a unicorn, it's all just a trick!!!" But no one listens to you, because they are all enjoying the lovely parade, full of row after row of beautiful, gallant, prancing unicorns. EVs are already here, those of us that understand them buy them and drive them because they're superior, and no matter how threatened you feel by progress, they will be gaining a greater and greater share as time goes by.
Thank you, PopSci, for making such forums available to quiet all the Chicken Littles of the world.
In your article “We Can and Should Put a Million Electric Cars on the Road by 2015” you stated America can and should put 1 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road by 2015 for the benefit of the country. I have been looking into this subject and I find it hard to agree with you in full on this point. EVs in their current state are not efficient enough to replace a high efficiency combustion engine. When you add biofuels into the equation, EVs are bigger polluters depending on the regions power generating medium. The premise behind using EVs is to reduce our carbon footprint and do less damage to the environment with a side effect of reducing our dependency on foreign energy sources. Lithium resources are limited on earth and are not located in the United States. How much since does it make to use this material in mass to make large batteries?
I don’t want to make the argument that EVs shouldn’t be in use at all because they are the best idea for small commutes with many stops. Starting and stopping a combustion engine generates its greatest inefficiency. I think our best plan of attack for vehicles of the future would be a multiple technology approach with high efficiency internal combustion engines running on algae biofuels leading the way and EVs being limited to local vehicle fleets. It would greatly interest me and many of your other readers if you would do an in-depth article on transportation energy of the future so this debate can be better understood.
@Bill can you provide some of your sources to make your long list of comments hold water? There doesn't have to be one answer for all our transportation needs.
Hey Bill - you still haven't answered my question about battery disposal. Just sayin'.