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Electric cars, a historical flop…

March 15, 2012 in News

One of my favorite writers, Jonas Fröberg at the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet wrote the article I’ve been looking for, for sometime now. I’ve had numerous discussions with Till about a subject that I wanted to cover, that purely electric cars are nothing more than a joke. Jonas, having visited the auto-show in Geneva states that there is an odd silence regarding electric cars.

Just a few weeks ago GM announced that it was stopping production of its crown jewel, the Chevrolet Volt, the reason, lack of demand…

According to Jonas article 39 421 cars were sold in Sweden, out of these only 25 were purely electric cars. But despite the government doing everything it can including giving people a government funded check for 40’000 SEK (4500 Euro’s / $5900) if one buys a purely electric car, the sales in Sweden has so far this year gone down from last year.

The fact is the they simply do not work, the range is terrible, there are more or less nowhere to charge them and everyone knows what only the engine heaters do to the electric bill in the winter, just imagine having to “fill” up your car at the prices currently in place in Sweden right now. Not to mention the fact that there is an energy shortage in Scandinavia right now.

But being able to charge your car is just a small piece of the problem, the major thing is as Jonas states, the price of the cars. Today you can buy a small to medium size electric car and you’ll have to pay more or less the same as a fully equipped 9-5 Aero used to cost. Pay more get less is not a concept that works very well with people regardless of the cause.

Many tests have been done with electric cars and almost everyone come to the same conclusion, in the winter you’ll have to choose, either heat or range, in the summer you’ll have to choose, either cool or range… And the range is still not good enough to take the average Swede to work and back with the average things people normally do on the way like shopping for food. Normally in the evenings people drive their kids to various activities which is about an hour after coming home from work and by then the cars batteries are empty.

Hybrid cars have become more popular but the price is still sky-high compared to an equal car running on E85 or bio-gas. And the range is still terrible so these cars end up running on normal gasoline more or less half of the time.

Jonas pointed out that the new Volvo V60 Hybrid is coming out shortly but with a price tag of 560’000 (63100 Euro’s / $82’600) the waiting line for it will be “as long as for the sales of skiing equipment on the sunny shore in the middle of the summer”…

Jonas points out that if these cars are supposed to have a future and avoid the title of “complete flop” something needs to happen and it needs to happen now. I fully agree with this, prices have to go down to a level of a normally priced car, but considering the extra equipment needed in these that is unlikely and I as a tax payer do not want the government to use my tax money on providing cash-returns just because people want an electric car, that money can be much better spent. And the availability of charging stations need to increase, basically until the range problem has been solved, charging-stations need to be available at more or less every parking place everywhere for the system to work. Considering the cost to build just one charging station that is highly unlikely to happen.

The ePower was a very good initiative and having been taken for a test-drive in the car I must say that it was very impressive, however it still suffers the same problems as most other electric cars and with the price tag it had been projected to be sold at, in no way was it an option for me…

The only electric car that I think I’ll ever drive is this one:

146 responses to Electric cars, a historical flop…

  1. I won’t even go into the litany of reasons why electric cars have failed. But suffice to day—-when the free markets decide that electric cars are desireable and necessary, they will succeed. For now, they are neither desireable nor necessary.

    • Until an electric car can drive the distance my gas powered 9-5 can go in air conditioned comfort, a battery powered car is not in my future. The US is a huge country with long distances between cities, etc. Electric powered cars are just not feasible. However, for city commutes they might make sense, but they would still need a good a/c in the deep south where I live.

  2. Love the remote control SportCombi! Wonder how rare they are, would be cool to have one.

    • They’re not that rare, I guess. I’ve seen a couple of them.

      Got myself one for Christmas a couple of year ago and I still haven’t opened the box. I’ve felt tempted many times, but I want to keep the odometer at 0. ;)

  3. In regards to the Chevy Volt, it has a gas engine too.
    When the electricity it initially runs on, is spent, the gas engine kicks in just before the electric charge runs out completely & it runs on gasoline the rest of the time til you are able to charge the battery again. Its not a straight up pure electric car like the Nissan Leaf is which isn’t ideal at all for long road trips say across the state/province/etc. But the Volt can be driven on such long trips w/out any worry of getting stranded b/c the car ran out of its charge.

    • This is a benefit when it comes to addressing range anxiety, but a disadvantage in every other way. Now you are lugging around two motors instead of one, adding bulk, cost and reducing fuel efficiency and range because of it.

      Tesla’s approach to design a strictly electric vehicle from the ground up is a much better one in every other regard and is what allows them to accomplish many of the seemingly impossible things they claim (like 300 mile range on a single charge, and 0-60mph in under 5 seconds).

      The cost is still high, but as volumes increase and battery technology improves, this will get better and better.

      • I wouldn’t take too much stock in Tesla’s claims.

        On the plus side…if you brick the Tesla, you can always ditch the powerpack and add a turbo Ecotec. ;)

        • I don’t know. Their Roadster claims are pretty close, as long as you drive reasonably and don’t flog them.

          I figure if I get the 85KwH (300mile claim) model, I should be safe driving 8 miles each way to work and can probably drive the 100miles each way to my parents house, which is the furthest I ever drive. If need be, I can do some light charging there while I visit.

    • Exactly. The issue wit the Volt is price, not performance. It was unveiled during the depths of the recession and it will be a few years until the market crawls back to pre-2008 levels.

      It can be driven across town on an electrical charge, or across country on a mix of gas and electricity. That kind of dual powertrain will appear in more vehicles.

      I’d bet anything that if Saab had a similar vehicle it would be hailed here as revolutionary, and the slow sales would be blamed on consumer ignorance.

      LULZ.

    • The Volt hasn’t caught on—-even with several million dollars in advertising budget, the federal government bribing buyers with $7000.00+ tax credits, etc. People generally think they are still overpriced (even with the tax credit) and that the crusing range of the electric power is so useless—-why bother? It’s why GM has ceased production (they say for 5 weeks—-I’ll be surprised if the actually resume on time). I know General Electric has committed to buying 12,000 of the Volts and it angers some taxpayers—-neither GM or GE is effectively paying U.S. corporate taxes, GM is in hawk up to their ears with the treasury—-seems like a “funny money” exchange to see this, with the ties these two companies have to Washington, DC. But I guess moving 12,000 Volts will keep some people working??? Interestingly (and I’m not the first person to say this) the Volt might have been successful as a compact gas engine car, no electric. Or maybe as a traditional hybrid, brought in for a little less money than a Prius. It’s a useful hatchback layout, space efficient (more so without batteries in place). Styling isn’t bad and could have been even better if not electric.

      • Watch U.S. gas prices start to rise above $4 per gallon again, and I think you’ll see demand start to surge.

        People in the U.S. are irrational about their gas prices and will probably flock to something like this even if it doesn’t make sense financially if we see an uptick in gas prices, and we probably will seeing that U.S. gas prices are at a seasonally adjusted record height, and the spring/summer driving season which usually spikes the prices hasn’t taken off yet.

        I feel like the Volt production hold is a short term thing.

        As far as the price of the volt goes, they could have gotten that much lower if they chad chosen either electric or gas. Doing both, adds a lot more cost.

        • If they had gone electric only, they would have sold a fraction of a fraction of what they have sold—-and what they have sold is a laughable number, pitiful, a failure defined. I don’t consider it “irrational” to be an American concerned with the cost of gasoline. Higher gasoline costs crunch family budgets—-but it’s not just putting gas in the car—-it’s also the cost for goods, groceries, etc. When gas prices go up, practically EVERYTHING goes up with them. Fact, not opinion. Been there, done that. I do most of my driving for work and my company pays for the gas. I’ve been “off the hook” as far as the increase in gas has gone, insofar as filling up my own vehicles. Pleasure driving on weekends doesn’t cost me much, even at high per gallon rates. My concern is for people you seem cavalier about. How is demand going to “surge” for people living paycheck to paycheck—-rural families who need pick-up trucks for work? People (MOST people) who can’t afford to go out and plunk down 40,000 U.S. for a new car? One more thing: where I live, for my 2004 ARC, which requires high octane gas, we’ve been over $4.00 per gallon for a while now—-not approaching it, but over it. Other parts of the country are even higher than we are. 4 bucks is here.

          • Most people don’t drive cars requiring premium fuel.

            I’m talking about when 87 octane gas surges in cost past $4.

            No, everyone won’t run out and buy a Volt when this happens, but certainly enough people will so that GM won’t be shutting down production.

            • I filled up our 9-5 here in Sweden today for 15 Swedish kronor/liter which is 8.5 US dollars/gallon… That’s 95 octane gasoline, the lowest octane rating sold here. Conclusion: 4 US dollars/gallon is extremely cheap compared to the Swedish prices.

              • I agree it is.

                As I said, people in the U.S. are rather irrational about their gas prices. Most here seem to think that the prices the U.S. had in the late 90′s (~$1.20 / gallon) are the appropriate prices, and anything else is too high, and for some reason they get irrationally upset when gas prices go up, even though the overall cost increases over a year are significantly lower for most than other increases in price over the years.

                Americans have a highly irrational response to gas price increases. It’s one of the biggest threats to Obama’s reelection in the fall. If gas prices go up much higher than they are, he will likely be defeated. If they don’t, he will likely win, regardless of who the Republican challenger is.

                This is particularly funny considering that the President – no matter what he does – has little to no influence on gas prices.

                Oh the joys of irrational American politics. I wish I had never moved to this looney country.

                • That’s quite interesting… 1.20 US dollars/gallon is approximately what the gasoline cost here in 1979 (2.14 Swedish kronor/liter). :S

                • The amusing part is that what is probably driving gas prices up more now is speculation based on potential conflicts with Iran.

                  If anyone in U.S. politics is responsible for increases in gas prices, it is probably those Republican senators who are sabre rattling and supporting armed intervention to address Iran’s Nuclear program.

                  Every time anyone even mentions potential conflict with Iran, it scares the crap out of investors and drives up oil costs even further.

                  (Maybe this is their plan, to scare up oil prices so that the uneducated and irrational masses blame the sitting president, and they win in the fall? Hmm…)

                • We know Matt—he told us Presidents “don’t have anything to do” with gas prices. Of course, he wasn’t saying that when George Bush was President and he was a Senator. Back then, Presidents seemed to have a huge influence of gas prices. And also, of course, he’s now planning to release oil from our strategic reserve, like he did last year, to bring down gas prices. They’re getting as nervous at the White House as you seem to be about his re-election. They’re showing that yes, Presidents CAN do something.

                • Then I suggest you leave and go back to your own looney country. No one is forcing you to stay in the US.

                  Europeans don’t understand they tyranny of distance and populations size. France is the size of Texas. A population of 320 million spread over an enormous distance (vs. say Australia, which has a highly concentrated urban population in a handful of cities.

                • Replying to the comment that the US President does not have an influence on gas prices.
                  Supply and demand SHOULD determine the price of crude oil and refined products. However markets are also driven by speculation of future results. When the POTUS loudly and consistently publicly states that he thinks the prices are too low and ought to be on par with Europe he is underpinning the speculators to drive the prices up.

                  There is so much supply of refined product in the US we are now exporting it. When Obama took office the national avg price for Regular was $1.89. Since that time he has cancelled oil leases and slowed drilling permits. He has steadfastly refused to open new areas for oil production. He even refused to allow construction of a new pipeline system from Canada, a program which involves no government monies at all. His energy policy is a social political policy that in point of fact is causing massive economic issues for the most disadvantaged parts of society.

                • Matt: Here’s a truce for you: I’ll agree that Americans are “irrational” about what they pay for gas if you agree that Americans are “irrational” about the cost for private health care insurance and medical care—and we just need to pay the going rate and shut up about it.

        • P said on March 15, 2012

          Gas prices are already over $4 in the Northeast and I’ve never ever seen a Volt on the road since they have been around. Prius’ are all over the price but I can’t imagine many will flock to a Volt, they are to freakin expensive!

          • you got problems !!!! almost $12 a gallon in blighty

          • Gas prices are over $4.00 a gallon in a lot of U.S. cities/regions but I think Matt is referring to a national average??? What does a gallon of gas cost in Saudi Arabia? I think a few years ago, it was well under a dollar a gallon, probably under .50 cents. Not sure about now. Matt: Bread in the U.S. is often under $3.00 a loaf—-and combines use energy to harvest the wheat to make the bread—-and so do ovens. Should we increase the prices of a loaf of bread to make things better too?

            • Regular gas in the northeast is still well below $4. Premium is just a hair above.

              Personally I run on E85 for $3.24 a gallon. The milage is slightly lower, but not as bad as on non-turbo vehicles, and compared to running 93oct, it represents a cost savings, even when factoring in the lower mileage.

              I’m not saying that everyone is going to suddenly run out and buy Volts once we cross the psychologically important $4 barrier, but it will likely convince those who were on the fence before to go ahead, and that will likely make sure that GM won’t need any further production stoppages.

              I do agree with whomever that posted that the Volt should have been a Cadillac model. At that price level people want something that doesn’t look and feel like a bargain basement econo-mobile.

              • Matt: I’m in Washington, DC, Virginia to be exact. Regular 87 Octane Shell is over $4.00 per gallong—just checked yesterday. Some stations (depending on location) are a little less and some are more. I think prices are considerably higher in the District and in Maryland, where gas taxes are higher. I guess technically, I’m Mid-Atlantic and not Northeast—-hard to believe high priced places like New York and New Jersey and Boston are cheaper for gasoline than we are down here. Again, we are over four bucks for regular unleaded, in some places, well over.

                • Last I remember looking (probably about 2 weeks ago) regular was $3.67 at my usual gas station.

                  I usually go straight to the E85 pump and don’t even notice the regular pumps that often, so it may have gone up a little bit since, but probably not much.

                  Just checked, actually. Most places are at $3.78-$3.82 somewhere. Brand name (Shell, Exxon, etc.) a little higher. Some places a little lower.

                  • I tend to buy only brands I recognize as I’ve heard horror stories about the off brand gas and what it can do to engines. Some say that the gas is perfectly fine—that it comes from the same refiners as the name brand stuff. Others have said the little privately owned stations without an affiliation or with a sketchy one put cheap fillers in, including H2O. Not sure what to believe, but I don’t take the risk. Shell in Vienna, VA was 4.01 yesterday for regular. If you shop around, you can do better. If you use a more “beltway convenient” location, you’re a dime or so higher.

  4. Hybrids are nice but as you mentioned they are very expensive.

    • Andy: My company car is a Prius that was about $26,000 in 2008. It has a navigation system built in, premium sound system, a very nice car. I believe back in 2008, I could have gotten a better car for the same money—-but the company wanted us to try for a hybrid and the Prius was the only one without a waiting list. It does its job well—-not spectacularly, but very nicely. The problem with the Volt is that it is SO MUCH MORE MONEY than other hybrids that are offered now—-and I don’t think people have found a good reason for that high price yet—-that will make sense to them in their everyday lives. It’s way overpriced.

    • Also, I’m aware that the Volt is an electric car and the Prius is a hybrid—but most people need more cruising range than the Volt offers, so they end up using gas anyway. For those who have a very short daily commute, a Volt or a Leaf is a good way to save money on gas—–but it will take years to recover the savings on gas because of how expensive the cars are. That is, unless fuel prices are pushed up artificially high to force us into electrics.

  5. It may not make sense in Sweden, but for me with my short 8 mile commute and infrequent long drives it makes perfect sense.

    I pre-ordered my Tesla Model S in may last year and looking forward to taking delivery end of June 2013 (would have been sooner if I didn’t have to pay off the 9-5 first)

    My theory regarding why electrical vehicles haven’t taken off is two-fold.

    1.) Until recently no one has made an electrical vehicle people actually wan’t. They have been boring, slow, ugly efficiency vehicles.

    2.) Range anxiety. Larger batteries, more charging infrastructure, and faster charge times are a must.

    Tesla’s planned “supercharging” network with promised 45 minute charge times should help with some of this, as will their enormous batteries compared to other manufacturers.

    Heating and cooling are still going to be an issue and impact range, though for Tesla that impact seems to be less than 10% (not sure how they have accomplished this).

    Electric vehicles will enter the market slowly, and this is probably a good thing, as the power grids most places in the world would be unable to handle the additional load caused by everyone moving to EV’s, but long term I think they are the only viable alternative to internal combustion of fossil fuels. Neither Ethanol or biodiesel are sustainable due to the large amount of arable land needed to supplant fossil fuels.

    I wish Saab were in good shape and developing an EV. I would love to by a Saab instead of a Tesla, but I have made up my mind. My next vehicle will be electric.

    • I would love to see batteries get smaller—-and some sort of universal size. Consider power sources: We have diesel fuel and three grades of octane rated gasoline in the U.S. Of course, we also have a myriad of seasonal blends (which has driven up cost) but that’s besides the point—-my point is that most cars run on gasoline or diesel—-some require higher octane. That’s about it. What I would like to see with electrics is to reach a point when gas stations to begin to carry “battery exchange” power sources. If there are only a few different sizes, they can carry all of them. You drive your car in when the dash warns you that the battery is “low range.” You pay a fee and the service station puts a fully charged battery in your vehicle and takes your discharged battery—-and recharges it. This is by no means perfect, but it would solve one big problem, which is finding a place to charge your car.

    • CONGRATS to the S!
      Seen it the skin recently and I was impressed. Huge amount of new thinking and good news they replaced the roadster battery pack (old tech) with a new better design in different ranges = prices.
      The car itself is seriously good looking, and the reversed extra seats reminds me of the extra seats in the old 95 – really clever!
      http://hem.bredband.net/saabsidan/e_saab95.htm
      Tesla S takes the Combi Coupe to a new level…
      Brilliant, if you ask me, but obviously not for everyone…

  6. To certain people (like me) it has an average effect… I got a ride in the all-electric 9-3 e-power and I was so extremely disappointed by the silence, the lack of safety (in terms of people not hearing you coming), lack of power at low battery level and lack of range.. So I bought a 9-3 with the roaring 2.8T V6 instead, as it will probably be only (modern) car with a big engine that I will ever own…

    However, I still think that one day we won’t be running on petrol anymore, but not on a car with one ton of batteries either. Maybe a flywheel, maybe compressed air, maybe hydrogen, maybe solar, maybe even nuclear. But not petrol.

    • I feel like – except when it comes to motorcycles which can be REALLY loud – the safety argument doesn’t really hold up, at least not for many drivers.

      My 2011 9-5 is so well insulated that I can barely hear my own engine in many cases (annoying when I forget to shift) let alone others people, unless they are really flogging it.

  7. I have an opinion in the matter and while I agree that electrical cars TODAY are much to expensive, they are virtually inevitable. The dino juice is very finite, and we have probably already seen peak oil. There must be alternatives, soon, and electrical vehicles offers, or rather, will offer the highest degree of flexibility and efficiency. AND simplicity….

    For Sweden, who gets over 90% of its’ electricity without any CO2 emissions it makes good sense to (try to) develop this mode of propulsion. Yes, there are issues in the coldest days of winter, both in terms of cabin heating and energy storage, but development work is being done. Energy density is increasing, charge times are decreasing, lifetimes increasing…

    In the meantime we might find some alternatives in ethanol producing algea in our vast oceans without competing with food supply (too much)…

    So while I will stick with my (gas guzzler) 2006 9-3 Aero with its’ dino burning twinscroll V6 for some year to come, I personally can’t wait to get my hands on a SAAB EV when (if) available (at reasonable cost)…

    http://bit.ly/2sGGE7
    http://www.saabsunited.com/2009/10/driving-the-electro-engine-saab-9-3-convertible.html

    Still like that RC SAAB, where can I get one???

    • I think that if the world’s population growth continues unchecked, soon we will need to consume that algea ourselves to keep everyone fed.

      A couple of observations:
      1) People in Europe discard tons of food every day
      2) High prices for food means that farmers in third-world countries can finally start earn money for their crops and help increase prosperity in their own country
      3) Third-world countries that are able to grow their own fuel won’t have to import as much oil (if any)

      The last one would of course be bad for the shippers of this world. Supergood for our environment though. That will be difficult to achieve with batteries.

    • @theSandySaab: http://shop.speedparts.se/en/prod/gifts/car-models/radio-controlled/ex2010.html — they seem to have RC Saabs in stock.

      I still have mine in its original box somewhere. Gave one to my brother a few years ago. He works in a school so I thought he’d bring it there and let the kids experience a proper car.

      Too bad the model is RWD. I’ve spent the morning googling, and there are quite a few capable FWD RC cars out there, but all of them look ugly (no Saabs).

  8. Electric cars can work: with a fuel cell running on highly pressurized hydrogen.
    400 km range, and full trunk size are the data of the Mercedes B class fuel cell.
    And a planned 5000€ premium on the price over a standard fossile fueled B class…
    And it is fun to drive!

    • A Mercedes, fun to drive?

      I thought that was unheard of even for traditionally fueled versions :p

      Usually they are about as engaging on the road as a box truck.

      • Okay, not fun, but at least a very special experience. No noise at all. Good acceleration.
        Nice animated display of the energy flows between engine, battery, fuel cell and brakes…

      • not true. My wife’s C-class 250 CDI is a cracker. Perfect chassis dynamics, steering, handling are fantastic. It is a truly FUN car to drive.

    • The problem is the energy to make the hydrogen, at least with technology available today. Only Iceland can produce hydrogen sensibly, then you will have to distribute that….
      The hydrogen cars themselves are very much viable (ICE or fuel cell), but what I have read is that it does not make sense in terms of energy efficiency…

      • Yes, but that’s the same with battery-electric cars. And they don’t have 400 km range. And they don’t “re-fuel” in minutes.

        • I know this thread has been slow lately, but I have learned today and seen something I did know. I have just seen self sustainable ICE driven electrical generators with H2O to HHO splitting electrolytes, already at fantastic HHO production levels. What seems to have started out as a special welding instrument is now rapidly becoming a way to beat back the high fuel price. 100% water driven vehicles are probably some time away, but already are they providing a significant boost in ICE MPG’s ranging from 10-100%!
          I really have to reconsider my take on the EV future as an (ex?) EV fan. This could be a great future solution for the ICE, obviously actively hindered by the oil industry. Could this be something for a re-started Saab to sell as a “Hybrid” solution, with virtually no change top the ICE itself just add a vehicle system integrated HHO generator?

          • Splitting H20 into H2 and O2 molecules is nothing new.

            Electrolysis is a process that has been thoroughly researched for 100+ years. Yes, it works and it is already put to good use, but at the end of the day: you will have to put in more energy than you can extract from burning the hydrogen produced.

            Perpetuuem mobile scams is also old news. What is new though is putting up a show and tell on youtube to get punters to pay for the necessary ‘information kits’ that supposedly will reveal all the secrets.

            Nuclear FTW.

  9. Think hydrogen and fuel cells, people. The moment we find an efficient way to extract and store hydrogen the petroleum-powered car will become obsolete for everyday use.

    To quote James May’s Honda FCX Clarity review:
    “One day we will, sadly, run out of oil and then we’ll need something else. Now electric cars have always seemed very promising. But as long as they are powered by batteries, they don’t quite cut it. I mean, think of all the people down there [pointing to L.A.], driving around. We built our lives around the car as we know it; You get in, you drive as far as you want to go, you fill up, you drive some more. That is the freedom that a petrol-powered car gives you. If it’s replacement is something that goes for ten yards and then takes four hours to bring back to life – we’ll have gone backwards.
    The Clarity though, is different. It fits the life we already have. The reason it’s the car of the future, is because it’s just like the car of today.”

    • Batteries are an interim solution. Until hydrogen is readily available (and tune-able, very important ;) ), I’ll be happy to pootle along with my ethanol-powered car.

    • Hydrogen fuel cells are pretty much batteries when you think of it.

      Use electricity to convert water to hydrogen and oxygen, then burn it to reverse the process.

      In that regard, I see it as one of many alternatives for future battery technology for use in electric vehicles, with one huge advantage, it can be easily refilled quickly on the go.

  10. Electric cars are almost twice as expensive in Sweden compared to regular cars. Despite the high price, at least two car manufacturers have recently lowered their price on electric cars in Sweden by 70-80 000 SEK. The government subventions are just plain ridiculous. Our government must do more to support electric cars and start supporting converted (former gasoline) electric cars as well.

    The average (american) car driver don’t drive more than 40 miles (64 km) per day. That’s easily covered by most electric cars in one charge. And there are quite a lot of power outlets available at the Swedish parking lots (which are used for engine heaters during the winter).

    So, basically, the major issue with electric cars are the prices. Nothing more, nothing less. Yet, there is a solution to this issue as well.

    I’m personally currently converting a Saab 96 from 1974 into an electric car (read more at http://saab96.se). This car will have a range of approx 120 km per charge. And the cost of this conversion will be somewhere between 120-130 000 SEK. And I’d be happy to let you try this “historical flop” when I’m done with the conversion, Tim. ;)

    • Sulo, update you post! Looking forward to your progress…
      In the mean time, listen and learn:
      http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,990054967001_2077261,00.html

    • The main problem is that you can not use those power outlets for engine heaters, to charge your car. You need a three-phase outlet in order to do that…

      • You’re missing the point here. The average car driver will manage just fine with one charge (say, at home during the night). And one thing (more electric cars) will lead to another (more charging stations).

        One point you’ve left out completely is the cost of gasoline here in Sweden. It’s above 15 SEK per liter now. Let’s assume you’ve got a car that does 20 km per liter (0,5 liter/mile), that’s a fuel cost of 15 SEK. With an electric car the fuel cost would be 2-3 SEK with the same distance.

        Instead of buying in to this electric car bull-shit by Jonas Fröberg, you should check out the documentary “Who killed the electric car?”. You can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDH_4lOM05g. I’m pretty sure it will change your view on electric cars.

      • the volt can be charged from a regular outlet, just takes longer

        • Exactly.

          I don’t know how many amps the 230V engine core heater plugs are able to supply, but here in the U.S. standard household plugs are 120V 15A. even the Tesla can charge off of them (but it would take a LONG time to charge a full battery. Still better than nothing for a trickle topoff.

          The U.S. 120V 15A gives us 1800W. For a full 8 hour work day of charging that’s 14.4KwH. If we then assume ~90% charge efficiency, that gives us 12.96KwH of charge in an 8 hour work day. That’s ~80% of the Volt’s 16KwH battery, or ~55% of the Nissan Leaf’s 24KwH battery.

          If those Swedish 230V engine block heater plugs allow you to pull at least 8A of current, you will match the performance above.

          • Which still leaves quite a lot of room for hilarious Top Gear moments when the guys try to drive from south of England to the north.

            Something that takes more than 5 minutes to charge will leave you wanting a second car to switch with.

  11. Mattlach, I agree with your points. Well said.

  12. I as a tax payer do not want the government to use my tax money on providing cash-returns just because people want an electric car, that money can be much better spent.

    That’s an argument that’s as old as the hills, and can be made about anything from war to religion. As an American, I don’t want my tax money spent on yet another multi-year bombing campaign of yet another Muslim country, but in a democracy, my voice has to be added to all the rest. Sometimes, governments are useful in furthering certain ideas and ideals over others, often to ultimately justified results.

    Space programs are a perfect example. Whether you agree with government largesse being spent on space exploration or not, the fact is we never would have accomplished what we did after WWII without Washington and Moscow pouring giant piles of cash into space programs and related projects. The result was the Jet Age, and the countless innovations that came in its wake.

    DARPA is another famous example of government funding, which ultimately led to the Internet. Inventions, improvements, entire fields of study beyond count have blossomed thanks solely to government support. Why should electric transportation be any different?

    Yes, it’s a nuisance that electric cars can only go 100 miles, and that they need so long to recharge. Their high price tags put them out of reach for 99% of drivers. The lack of charging stations in all but the most metropolitan areas is a real problem.

    But no widely adopted technology, particularly one which is meant to move people over great distances, at high speeds, with all the safety and convenience features we expect nowadays, comes about overnight. And arguing against government help would of course exacerbate that delay.

    The petroleum-based internal combustion engine’s days are numbered. That’s not up for debate. Electricity, however, is easy to produce, easy to distribute and increasingly easy to store. Given enough time, just like any other important innovation, practical electric cars will become the norm for personal travel.

    • “The petroleum-based internal combustion engine’s days are numbered. That’s not up for debate. Electricity, however, is easy to produce, easy to distribute and increasingly easy to store.”
      Why isn’t that up for debate? I’m willing to debate it, right here, right now. The internal cumbustion engine is terrific and the world has plenty of oil—-untapped resources practically everywhere. You might have reasons for not WANTING to drill for more oil or burn fossil fuel—-but that is very much up for debate, believe me it is. And it absolutely will be debated. Until someone wins that debate, guess what? We’ll be using hundreds of thousands of new internal cumbustion engines every year, on trucks, cars, lawn mowers, tractors, etc., all over the planet. As for electric cars: Electricity is sometimes created by coal burning plants. That’s the case in the U.S. and a good many other nations, industrialized and even those formerly thought of as “third world.” Coal burning plants—-more coal exploration—-to make the electric to run your car. If we want to get away from coal, it’s impossible to keep nuclear out of the equation right now. Or natural gas (fracking anyone?). If it EVER happens, it will be many decades before wind and solar are anywhere close to replacing nuclear and fossil fuel sources.

      • A few good points.

        The electricity mix in the U.S. is (in order of size) 45% Coal, 24% Natural Gas, 20% Nuclear, 10% renewable and 1% petroleum. (Monthly Energy review (June 2011).

        So, right off the bat you are using only 70% greenhouse gas producing energy sources vs. 100% for internal combustion. Add to this that typical internal combustion engines operate at about 35% efficiency, while power plants steam turbines can operate as high as 70% efficiency (though 50% is more typical for combined cycle gas fired plants) and the benefit is even larger.

        Now I’m no fan of coal, and I’d wish we’d get rid of it, but the equation here works solidly in favor of the EV, even when considering distribution losses and charging inefficiencies.

        I also feel you overstate the untapped resources. Oil reserves are increasingly in more and more difficult places, and BP’s mega spill last year should be an indication of why we maybe want to avoid drilling in very deep or otherwise difficult locations.

        IMHO, I support super expensive oil. Yes, it costs me more in the short term, but in the long term it helps speed up our development of better alternatives. As long as we are dumb and happy with cheap oil this progress will be (and has been) slow.

        • http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/mar/9/obama-and-the-50-buck-light-bulb/

          Then I assume you’ll love this one. The fifty dollar light bulb—-and it only cost taxpayers 10 million dollars to have it developed—-by PHILIPS! Hey, aren’t they Dutch? I wonder if Muller was involved? Maybe that 10 million can go to help save Saab! The “raise gas prices now” to have a better future is so opposed to logic (in my opinion of course) it’s too difficult to respond to. Again, I see it as a cavalier attitude toward people who are truly struggling to make ends meet—-almost cruel. And we have to agree to disagree on oil reserves, except to say that in our country, we’re not doing the exploration to verify which one of us is right. It’s not being allowed. That might change depending on politics in the coming months/years.

          • Regarding the $50 light bulb, not every development is going to be a major leap forward. We get there in fits and starts.

            I’d buy a $50 LED bulb that lasts 10 years if it produces 60W equivalent light output (Current LED technology falls well short of that goal.) $5 per year seems like a reasonable cost, especially considering the low power use. I already have all CFL’s in my house, since I started to swap them in 7 years ago. As of yet, not a single one has burned out, and the power bill has gone down significantly. Well worth the money IMHO.

            The problem is that cheap oil has led many people to make life decisions (living in a big house far from where they work and relying on driving large vehicles to and from work) that are no longer rational in our modern world.

            In the future we need to minimize travel, and live in small homes close to where we work. I sympathize with those stuck in in bad situations, but the truth is, exploring for more oil won’t do anything to oil prices today, or even in the next decade. New exploration has an impact on prices 20-30 years out. Currently, U.S. oil production is the highest and most stable it has ever been. It’s not supply that is driving prices. Right now it is uncertainty regarding Iran.

            Once the economy picks up, we might see Oil supply as the culprit again, especially considering the rapidly increasing demands of China and other 3rd world countries, but even then, drilling more won’t yield any results.

            You don’t solve a problem of a finite resource by exploiting the finite resource even more, and raping and pillaging the earth in the process. You look for alternatives.

            Our oil use is our biggest problem in america. It drives everything from our awkward reliance on foreign dictatorships in countries where people hate us, our trade deficit, and our massive environmental problems. The sooner we get off oil the better, at almost any cost.

            • Agree on all points mattlach. The solution isn’t to maintain current demand for oil and explore for more oil. The real solution is to reduce demand and stop being such energy pigs compared to the rest of the world. Choosing to live 20 or 30 km/miles away from your work is a choice in most cases. Cities built and designed around the cheap oil formula have been short-sighted, with almost no focus put on any transportation alternatives that don’t revolve around the car.

              And good grief…I WISH gas was only the equivalent of $4 / gallon ($1 per litre). But if people choose to drive vehicles that only get 20-30 mpg, then that’s their choice to end up paying more for their fuel costs. Use less, save more. Simple solution.

              • Richard: The solution is to let the free market dictate this, not the world governments. Also, my 2004 Saab 9-5 Station wagon gets around 20 MPG city, if I’m lucky and around 30 on the highway, driving very responsibly. I could have bought a less efficient SUV—-or minivan—and in fact, there are times I wish I had the extra space. The fact that you’re being critical of people who have chosen a car that gets 20-30 MPG is offensive to me. I believe I made a very responsible decision in the car I chose—-and frankly, it’s not any of your business anyway, or the government’s. As well, where I chose to live in relation to where I work is also my business and on one else’s. Could be the school district I want for my child, could be a larger yard, whatever. No, we’re not entitled to “cheap gas” but we’re entitled to a government (according to our constitution) who will stay the heck out of the way of private industry.

                • Angelo: Sorry if I offended you by simply outlining consequences of choices. My own 2002 9-3 SE gets only slightly better mileage than your 9-5, and I accept that when I have to drive it I will pay about $1.30 a litre ($5.20/gallon) to do so. Probably more in the coming years.

                  The key is to use this finite resource called oil a lot more responsibly than we have to this point. And one half of the equation to lowering prices is to lower demand. Lowering our demand or need for oil sometimes requires sacrifices. We can’t all have our cake and eat it too when it comes to lifestyle choices.

                • Interesting that you rather have non-elected, over-paid, right-wing men making all the decisions for you. What is the benefit in that??

                  What you and all of us will realize in the near or mid-term future is that the market will price oil at the correct level when it is running out:

                  We can decide if we want to achieve change by government decisions or if we stick our heads in the sand and waits for the market to deliver us from evil.

                  I prefer to cast my vote on people interested in making life better for most people rather than an unelected unknown lining their own pockets.

                  When gas prices goes through the roof, do you think the “market” is driving electric or gas?

                  • Grumpy: Which right wing men? Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, Chairmen at Goldman Sachs and the other Wall Street Banks? Or the really rich right wing men in Hollywood, owners of the studios, actors, directors. Or the multi-millionaire right wing men who are recording and concert stars, who are politically active? Hmmm….now that I think of it, ALL of the right wing men I just mentioned supported left wing candidates. As far as people who have made life better, they include Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers—-Jonas Salk, Bill Gates (another financially challenged right wing man who supports left wing candidates)—these unelected unknowns have done more for humanity than any elected official, especially recently.

                    • Angelo, maybe it is the ones you haven’t heard of you should be worrying about.

                • Free markets are very good for some things, but very poor for others.

                  I think the recent housing/financial collapse have proven once and for all that free markets are not always rational as had been assumed.

                  The concern is that the free market is going to collectively stick their fingers in their ears and scream “LALALALALALALALALA I Can’t hear you” as loudly as they can and we will miss the opportunity to develop good alternative energy solutions in time, before we either hit peak oil, or we have seen irreversible damaging climate change, both of which probably collapse our economy and end our way of life.

                  • Matt: Not sure how this applies to electric cars and Saab—-but you bring up the housing/financial collapse which would absolutely not have happened if the United States government wasn’t using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to bully large banks into making billions of dollars in loans to people who could not afford the houses they were “buying” and who had no prayer of ever paying that money back. Social engineering—-”everybody deserves a home.” We’ll be paying the price for that government miscue for decades—-or I should say, my seven year old and HIS kids will be paying. Luckily, we’re all good to borrow trillions from China and Rachel!

                    • Big banks were not being bullied in any way shape or form. They were laughing their way to the bank buying up mortgages and selling them on to third parties. It was all profit incentive.

                      Sure, government incentives to get people in homes existed, but they had VERY little impact on this. The source was the packaging, repackaging and tranching of mortgages into so-called mortgage backed securities, many of which were re-sold at great profit to retirement plans and sovereign wealth funds.

                      Collective mass hysteria drove the system over the cliff.

                      No one in government was forcing banks to make bad loans. There was just so much profit to be made that they turned a blind eye to the risk.

                      Trying to pin this on government programs is more of that crazy Tea Party revisionist junk to try and fit their blind political agenda.

                    • I would recommend listening to the “Giant Pool of Money”, a fantastic piece of investigative journalism that really uncovers the true causes of the crisis. It was awarded the Polk award as well as Peabody award.

                      http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/355/the-giant-pool-of-money

                    • Wow.

                      Just re-listened to this, as I hadn’t listened to it in a few years. Looks like Saab sponsored this story by advertising at the end. What a coincidence :p

                    • Matt: I’ll urge you to go to You Tube to find congressional testimony by people like Barney Frank, Maxine Waters and Chris Dodd. Lying about how solvent Fannie and Freddie were. Also, it’s absolutely true that the government told big banks they needed to make these loans—or face obstructions with the mergers and aquisitions they desired, the ability to move into new states, etc.

                    • That has been fact checked so many times, and totally debunked.

                      The financial crisis was caused by:

                      1.) irrational markets / investors / banks

                      2.) Deregulation, allowing the banks to make these foolish mistakes.

                      Yes, there were government programs encouraging home ownership, but these programs didn’t make idiot banks lend money to people with no credit or even income/asset verification.

                      Blaming government programs is bull made up for an election year to try to sell a failed political concept.

                      Factchecked:
                      http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/201110140001

                      There isn’t a single reputable source that points the finger at government programs, only idiot politicians, radio bullshit artists (like Rush Limbaugh) and those grand fabricators of information, Fox News.

                    • Yeah, FOX News doesn’t have credibility, but I suppose you consider CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, New York Times, MSNBC—-to be the bibles of truth? I’ve seen how this works first hand with mortgages—and know people in the business. I know that big banks and mortgage companies made off like bandits but if you’re ignoring the government’s big part in how that happened, you’re choosing to be misinformed. That’s sad.

                • And again, you don’t solve the problem of an addiction by providing more of what people are addicted to.

                  can you imagine if we treated heroin addicts like this? Give them more heroin to keep them complacent?

                  The truth is that we – the whole world included, but particularly the U.S. – have been on a 50 year cheap oil high, and we are complete addicts and we need an intervention before we kill ourselves in the process.

                  Just like with heroin, getting off the stuff is going to be painful short term, but long term the best thing we could possibly do.

                • The distance between where you choose to live and where you work is a matter of other peoples’ concern because the roadways you drive on are publicly subsidized. If people like myself who live in an urban area could opt out of paying for the upkeep of your suburban interstates and highways, most of us would.

              • Also, different parts of the world have different layouts for how people live—-the U.S. happens to be very wide open—-a lot of space—-and I don’t think we need to force people to abandon suburbs or rural areas for cities. This also makes it very difficult to have outstanding trains as Eurpoe does—-in countries with big populations and small land mass. Our country and our interstate system have developed just fine. There’s plenty of oil in the ground, natural gas, coal—-the battle will be using resources available, with technology that works RIGHT NOW, or going back to the stone age and paying outrageous costs to drive cars and heat our homes. A lot of people love the idea of “getting away from oil” until their wallets are slashed. When the Mom or Dad doing the family budget sees their discretionary income down to zero and they’re borrowing money to not lose their house—-they will come around to the sensible strategy of fully utilizing what we have and what we know works while we develop options—-NOT artificially high prices to force something that is decades ahead of us anyway. People are also coming around to seeing “green energy” make millionaires with false promises. Solyndra for example, and their are others. Our money down a rathole—-and the rats living quite well thank you.

                • I agree that different regions of the world have come up with different solutions to transportation needs, but some have just been a little more forward thinking than us here in North America.

                  Last year while in France, we took the TGV high speed train from Paris to Marseille. The trip takes just 3 hours and covers a distance of 783 km (489 miles) averaging a speed of 261 kph. And this high speed train technology is nearly 30 years old. I understand that in America no one wants any government involved in their lives – EVER – but sometimes they do serve a useful purpose in shaping how a society should live and evolve. Efficiencies in energy consumption and civil planning are two areas where the “free market” will never work as it requires thinking of something other than profit motive.

                  • I don’t think it’s forward thinking at all to put people at the mercy of a mass transit schedule unless you have a small enough system where you can run trains every few minutes. The land mass of the U.S. makes that nearly impossible, except for urban centers, which comprises some but not nearly all of where Americans live. As for the government being involved—-if they could build a train line as you describe and not use gasoline taxes or otherwise saddle car owners/motorists with the bill, let them do it. My only other caveat would be that we not end up in a situation where the government loses millions of dollars each year as they do with Amtrak. Of course, if money could be made on this sort of system, the private sector would be all over it.

      • Angelo,

        Of course, IC engines aren’t going anywhere any time soon. And yes, there are still a few untapped petroleum plays around the world, as well as constantly advancing technology (which is often the beneficiary of…wait for it…government funding) that can produce more oil from existing reservoirs than in past years. What’s not up for debate is that sooner or later the petroleum will be gone. I’ve spent the last five years working in the oil & gas industry. I’m by no means an expert, but I know enough (as do most people) that petroleum is a finite resource. Therefore, an engine which is powered by petroleum has a limited lifetime. Certainly there are possibilities for renewable fuels such as biodiesel, algae, ethanol, etc. But those technologies are even further behind than lithium ion batteries.

        My point is gas stations will be a thing of the past one of these days. IC engines have had a great long run, but simple math and logic says they can’t go on forever. And electric transportation offers an excellent alternative.

        As for coal- or gas-fired power plants, that’s hardly reason to ignore the promise of electric cars. Rather, it should be an incentive to produce cleaner electricity.

  13. ttela.se reporting that BMW and MAGNA not interested in SAAB

  14. Basically the Government is shoving electric cars down your throat. F them.

  15. I hadn`t picked up on the Volt production stop – but what a delicious sense of poetic justice. All those development costs down the drain – perhaps if they had kept SAAB and let the SAAB Engineers have their head, GM would now have something to crow about!

  16. well i think its all @£¢¤ for what i think…all that environment thing starting with electric cars,.i live in canada when the electricity is .hmmm cheap made with water and a damn…imagine one second…all those north americans comming home, and need to plug in their cars..in united states they burn coal or use nuclear..wow! ..they say burning coal is one problem in air quality…and nuclear well the name give me the shivers. In Canada we flood hundreds of square miles to make reservoirs?? dont tell me this is environment friendly!!…I simply dont understand people…they pay a 1.50$ for 500ml plastic water bottle that they throw away after most of the time in the garbage and inside 500ml of water is very expensive if u compare to a liter of gas here…about 1.35$..its free and more ecologic out of the tap i beleive!!.i dont know maybe my analogy is not right but its like when a few years ago when they introduce the new eco friendly light bulb yeah right!! full of mercury!!! u need glove and a special garbage can to dispose it!!! and the studies prove it, u install those in your house and u save in electricity????? well again its all “/$/ they prove that those bulb dont generate any heat so the house heater kick in more often in winter because a few 60 watt light bulb here and there produce a decent amount of heat, ok im sorry if i sound a bit angry but that eco , electric car and all those make me mad.
    guys forgive my poor written english.
    stef

  17. Nice to see GM fail yet again. And to think European journalists just named the Euro version (the Ampera) as 2012 Car of the Year. You have to laugh.

    Regarding Saab I dint think we will ever see another Saab roll off the production line in Trollhattan. Having just one model just puts Saab back to where they were thirty years ago – with a single model. :(

    I hope I am wrong.

  18. The Volt is down in America because the Volt simply isn’t worth the money to get 36 mpg when it IS using the gasoline motor. As it is Americans hardly consider compacts as “good” cars when compared to larger cars and then GM goes and tries to charge $45,000 for it? No way in hell, on the other hand the Nissan Leaf sells 1,000 cars per month so there IS a market for electric cars in the USA, at least if the car can make a case for itself. And another thing is that while the Volvo IS expensive, it already is a premium sports wagon (and a nice one at that) which already gets good reviews so the extra 10K (US dollars) that is charged is justified by the Volvo’s 123 mpg ratings along with it’s 0-60 time of 6.7 seconds and over 440 lb-ft of torque. Whereas the Volt is cheap inside and out, has pitiful MPGs when gas motor is on, is VERY slow, and is just an eyesore. To say that the Volvo V60 PLEV will fail is just not the case.

  19. 1) Just imagine all cars on earth are full electric. After 5 years of usage (at most, look at you cellphone or laptop), the batteries of those cars will be in need of replacement. And again after 5 more years and so forth. Where to put all the very dangerous stuff from the used batteries? Who will pay for this? This will turn into a severe problem once the electric cars are abundant.

    2) The most severe drawback with batteries is that you need to carry around all the components for the chamical reaction all the time. With a combustion engine (be it fossile or hydrogen) you only need to carry around the fuel. Oxygen and the waste can be taken from and let into the environment. This saves a lot of energy, thus increasing the ratio of power to weight significantly. So I’d rather place my bet on hydrogen cars than on battery cars.

  20. I’m glad you posted this Tim; electric vehicles aren’t worth their money. But what bothers me more is that companies like Toyota try to get a green, politically correct image by promoting Priuses but selling lots of gas-guzzling V8 Tundra 4x4s in other markets…
    Well, at least the big Tundra drives a lot better than the crappy Prius!

    • As his headline states…”A Historical Flop” but that isn’t going to stop a lot of people, elected officials, etc. from cramming this down our throats. You can hear the drumbeats in the distance and they’re getting closer—-they want it to be this choice: “Ride a bus, Gus, or buy an electric car.”

    • It’s humiliating beyond belief. I wonder what the “out of warranty” cost would be to have someone fix a Fisker? I’m thinking very enormous. And yes, the U.S. government has funded and given tax breaks to companies developing electric cars that sell for over 100,000 dollars. Cars that will be bought by the mega-rich, celebrities, pro athletes, etc. as “image boosters.” Really looking out for the little guy, aren’t they?

    • I wouldn’t necessarily blame Valmet for a software issue. Sounds like that is solely on Fisker.

  21. Cars that run on hydrogen would be a better choice. Is BMW still experimenting with this ?

  22. electric cars will be better option then gas cars, in the short term
    big corporations are delay them because they dont want to invest money in develop technology , they prefer make money with currently tech

  23. Well.

    My car runs on solar energy. It does this by consuming ethanol produced from bio-mass. That bio-mass can come from organic wasteproducts, plants or algae.

    Rather than pollute the landscape with ugly solar panels, one could grow plants instead.

    Using this technology propells me 720+ km most weeks (360+ km each way) with a minimum of fuzz involved supplying new renewable energy to my car.

    Problem solved.

    As for who “killed the electric car” — we consumers did. Tim mentioned the Volvo hybrid. It costs more than what my 9-5 Aero did. So much more that I can easily drive 100000 km for the money I saved. And I am doing that in a larger, better looking, more versatile and safer car. No downsides, just much cheaper and better.

  24. The Volt production has NOT been stopped, just halted due to low demand.

    Apparently one or two Volts caught fire and it essentially killed the market for it. Much like Audí’s brake issue during the 80s in the US.

    • It has indeed “stopped” or “halted” and this is scheduled for five weeks—-though my guess is that they might not resume building them on their stated schedule.

  25. I actually looked at the Volt during my recent car buying experience. Saab had just gone into bankruptcy, so I had to at least look at options. I was intrigued by the concept since it takes away the range anxiety of pure electrics. I drive on long trips for business. My first impression was that the Volt is small. Too small for my liking. Smaller than a 9-3, with much less storage. The second impression was that it did not look worthy of the price tag. I agree with others that suggest it should have been a Cadillac. I had seen images of the pre-production Volt and it looked much nicer than what eventually made it to market. GM dumbed it down like they have been doing for decades. I didn’t bother to test drive it. I did test drive the Buick Lacrosse hybrid, which ran out of gas leaving the lot (not a good way to win over buyers). Nice car, not peppy, with a tiny trunk due to the batteries. I would not be able to fit my bicycle, which I could do with my old 9-3 sedan with the rear seats down. So, I ended up buying a NG 9-5 T4 Premium for around $29,000 US (liquidation sale) and so far I could not be happier. I have been getting over 28 MPG on highway trips, and really enjoy the luxury and head-turning looks. Good luck with the Volt GM. Not sure how they’ll come out of this. My guess is Cadillac won’t touch it, and the US taxpayer is too enraged to allow bigger subsidies. Epic Fail.

    • Greg: The U.S. taxpayer probably won’t have a choice—-as those tax credits and subsidies will continue. I actually think a Volt with a 4 cylinder gas turbo—-or for real fun—-a turbo diesel—-would have been popular. The car would cost $15,000 less than it does, would have had more space without the battery packs—-and they could have given it a less goofy name.

  26. The challenge of finding a new source of power, be it electric, hydrogen, some hybrid, solar or some new sustainable energy source not yet discovered is a challenge that we must undertake. Oil will get more expensive as reserves diminish, there are the politics of the Middle East and the clear pollution issue. That said, its an expensive process, especially in trying to generate volume in the early stages to get the costs down. That is why humanity must pursue this quest collectively, be it individual governments, or perhaps some international engineering effort into which we all contribute. The idea of investing further in 19th century technology for short term profit makes zero sense. Humanity really has no alternative but to go after this with the highest priority.

  27. This reminds me of a book by Arto Paasilinna with the title “Adam och Eva”. It’s fun to read, but I don’t know whether there is an English translation.

  28. I just don’t understand the need for this post. Electric has a place for a certain profile of the market. I’ve owned over 17 Saabs, currently own a beautiful 2010 9-5 aero, and put money down for a tesla model s because it’s really truly phenomenal that you can get the range they have achieved out of a pure electric drivetrain and at the same time have the sheer thrill of acceleration you get from a well implemented pure electric as well. It’s exactly the kind of innovation that an Eco conscious brand like Saab should have / should pursue and lead in. This is not a matter of if – it’s a matter of when. Watch what happened to the BMW active e program in the us. Sold out in three months. There are many of us who get the potential these initiatives represent – and are willing to enable electric to become real. Weird to have such a post within an otherwise truly progressive community.

  29. Another sad irony of the failure of electric cars does in fact have to do with their range. It’s a given the in MOST cases, the practical application for these glorified golf carts is in a large urban center—-to cut down on pollution, where people live closer together and closer to where they work—-so that the limited range isn’t an issue…or is it? Last Winter, when the Washington, DC area had a snow/ice storm during work hours, the same thing happened that always does: People left their offices all at the same time and started on their journey home. Simple, 8 mile commutes turned into hours of driving, sitting in traffic, nowhere to go. Of course, it was freezing, so people used their heaters. If your car was low on gas or if you were driving a Nissan Leaf, you were soon stranded with no power source. The tow trucks got their first lessons in transporting electric cars. The hottest Summer days and the coldest Winter days seem to be when the weaker cars break down—-leading to massive traffic jams in or around big cities. That’s when there are traffic tie-ups and delays that will drain the life out of your Leaf, pronto. Good luck with that. Keep your AAA membership up to date.

  30. LOL – you are right – but I lost count after I counted 17 – and I know there were a few more I was forgetting! In any case, I’m as true a saabist as they come, and I would have loved to / will love to see all electric Saabs with great torque, low consumption, high range.

    The ones who think this is golf cart stuff have never experienced a tesla roadster – it pops your eyes out the back of your brain!

    • Maybe, but selling at U.S. $109,000, I don’t think I’ve seen a Tesla Roadster in person—-and they stopped taking orders for them anyway, didn’t they?

  31. Tesla has announced thier first SUV, the Model X. Drop dead gorgeous. Gull wings. 270 mile range. $85,000 top price. Gives Americans a clear (green) conscious to drive an SUV without being a gas guzler. Bring it on, and let the competition do the same.

  32. Greg – exactly. All wheel drive too. There aren’t any places left to hide behind excuses. It’s all about intent and execution. And tesla (elon musk whose other successes are paypal, spacex) is executing incredibly.

    • Are you guys being serious? No hiding behind excuses? How about the excuse that a sliver of a sliver of car buyers are spending $85,000 on their next car? Get serious. “Execution” for a roadster that costs over $100,000 or an SUV in the mid 80′s better be damn perfect. THAT’S where I don’t want any excuses—-when someone is paying a year’s salary or more for a car, it better bake bread and wash our dishes too. I’m far from detstitute and in fact, have friends and friends of friends who have hit life’s lottery. I think I know only one person who has spent in this range for a car—a couple years ago, he bought a Porsche 911 and he also bought a Cayenne. Mass market electric cars are going to have to sell for approximately the same price as a comparable gas engined car. They are going to have to hold a charge of at least 250-300 miles. There has to be a way to take them on vactation and not fear running out of “power” somewhere—meaning places to recharge and half hour recharging times—-or battery packs available on the interstates just like gas. You’ll have to be able to use blasts of Air Conditioning on the hottest days and mega heat on the coldest days too, without “running out your battery.” Cost of ownership will have to be roughly in line with gas engine cars. They will have to be just as safe. They will have to cost the same amount to insure. A really nice hand-made electric for a hundred thousand dollars is all well and good—-it’s not revolutionary by any stretch of the imagination.

  33. Funny thing is you missed the point and still made it anyway: the internal combustion economy did not emerge “born perfect” – it took a century to get there. Companies like tesla recognize that, and tesla introduced a high performance model to perfect the technologies in a fraction of that lifetime. Their gorgeous model s is a LOT less expensive, gives 300 miles on a charge, and does so with as “normal” and experience as you can imagine. The BMW active e does that too – and is the second generation experiment by BMW before a commercial launch. Yes, get over the excuses. Tesla is doing to electric propulsion what they’ve proven they can do to other industries. American innovation, ingenuity, in real world time rather than generations. Celebrate it, for Gods sake – its the one single thing that separates the “men from the boys.” electric is here to stay, and it will only get better faster than you can imagine, and hundreds of thousands and then millions of us will be driving them. We will leave a better planet behind when we are gone – better, way way better than the gasoline fueled disaster staring up our nostrils. Yes, no excuses. There is real success in bringing this to market – that’s probably why so many who are economically rooted in the gasoline economy – even the progressive saabisti – get scared out of thee wits. Yes, no excuses. This is mainstream stuff in the blink of an eye.

    • No, actually the point made in the post I responded to was your saying “there aren’t many places left to hide” and in my opinion, that isn’t factual. Basically, I pointed out areas that WILL make most car buyers cross the $85,000 and 109,000 cars mentioned off their list. Thus, the “places to hide.” I didn’t say anything about how quickly Tesla has developed their product in comparision to what happened in the 20th century. As far as leaving a better planet behind, it’s open to interpretation as to what that means. Leaving a better civilization behind? If you’re talking about pollution or the “state of the planet” I hope you or Tesla have plans in place for those hundreds of thousands and then millions of dead battery packs. Hey, here’s an idea for them and I’ll give it for free: Steam powered jet propulsion backpack so each individual can fly from home to work and only expel water vapor into the atomsphere.

  34. The ICE is outdated, imho. Even with some small and agile VC backed inventors with new technologies, improvements in ICE efficiency will be in small increments. Battery and energy storage is being continually improved, every now and then with quantum leaps. While EVs are not for 100% of the needs 100% of the time, once EV range reaches acceptable levels, quick charges possible and/or quick battery replacements as refills, heating & cooling solved, cost have been reduced (etc), the EV is inevitable, I believe. An EV can still be a designers wet dream, a people mover, safe as Saab. Then we can let the remaining and dwindling dino juice resources go to the ones that really need it – the military and aviation…

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/atv.shtml
    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/evsbs.shtml

    • “Battery and energy storage is being continually improved, every now and then with quantum leaps”

      I have completely missed this. References?

      In the past 20-30 years, portable computing have pushed the envelope in many areas, including battery technology. Starting with NiCd and NiMH and ending with various Lithium based solutions. Most of these designs are either not durable (1000 recharges, if not less, and you’re out), some perform bad in the cold, others get very volatile in certain conditions (do not overcharge a LiIon battery pack, and make darn sure you do not completely deplete it!).

      Sure, progress have been made, but I would hardly call any of them a ‘quantum leap’. Each ‘progress’ has come with its own set of tradeoff. E.g. you cannot travel with a significant amount of LiIon batteries in your luggage. They are considered quite the hazard. Even more dangerous than water (sigh).

      I would go so far as to say that the chemistry involved has been largely known for a century now. Unless people are willing to look into uranium-powered fuel cells, then I would be very surprised if someone came up with a good solution.

      As for fast-charging, the infrastructure involved is quite complex. Only a few places has a grid in place that could handle a significant number of three-phase charge points.

      Finally, yesterday I carried out a little research into the world of remote control cars, and I found it interesting to see that one enthusiast website compared various battery technologies. The battery I “grew up with” is still an alternative..! If we, in the last 20 years, have seen a quantum leap in battery technology, then I see no reason why anyone would still contemplate using NiCd based batteries.

      On the other hand: If we can restructure our society in a way that would e.g. let office workers carry out their job from their homes (I usually do that two days per week), then I think a solution might be in sight.

  35. Rune: You’re being far too practical and honest.

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