Electric Updates (updated with Tesla response)

It’s been a while since my last post, but I haven’t lost any interest in Saab. There hasn’t been too much exciting NEVS news (public at least) to share, and there hasn’t been a whole lot of exciting EV news to report. The fact that Saab is investigating production of the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) version of the 9-3 is exciting and welcome news, but doesn’t change the fact that its parent company is still primarily interested in electric cars. As I’ve read through comments the past few weeks, it’s clear still that some don’t see a viable market for electric propulsion in its current stage. I’m not writing this post to try to change their minds, only here to show those who understand the role it will play in the future of automotive technology relevant stories affecting the current leading players Saab wants to compete against.

While this is a long post, I find that I often cover a lot of ground that I see commenters on other articles confused about. There’s a lot of juicy info in here to bring everyone up to speed on the good and bad in the EV world, so it’s probably worth reading the article and the links provided if you care about this stuff. To make it a little easier to digest, I’m breaking it into sections about each subject. Truth be told, it might as well be 5 separate articles, but heck it’s the weekend so enjoy!

Tesla

I’ll admit, the main reason I even had enough inspiration to post today is because I saw a Tesla driving in my mom’s neighborhood outside Buffalo this week. For two seconds I thought it was a new Ford Fusion, then a Jaguar XF, and then I realized quickly that it was something I’d never seen before, a Model S. It looked sexy, and it was fast – 55 in a 30 mph zone fast. For frame of reference, watch it smoke this Mercedes Benz E63:

I was immediately envious of the guy driving it, not only because he’s one lucky SOB to be the among the first to own one, but because the silent whooshing car he was driving was not only sexy, it’s literally revolutionary under its skin. I had a moment looking at it go by where I felt like I was really witnessing something remarkable, like watching the Concorde take off or seeing a brand new Ferrari drive by for the first time. There’s something special about seeing a car that is first of its kind in so many ways in person, in your own neighborhood. When you see one yourself driving down the street for the first time, you’ll know what I mean. If Saab can bring an EV to the table that can compete with the Model S but at a lower price point, I think it would instantly change its image as a dead brand.

Telsa has as strong a connection to their customers as any brand out there and so far their owners seem about as passionate a community as Saab fans, if not more as you’ll read in this article. Tesla is working to improve their sales process as their VP of sales George Blankenship recently noted in his blog. As a new company, even their sales operation is still in beta, and as such are constantly tweaking it to be more consumer friendly. Since nearly every function of the car is electric or determined by software, they can remotely roll out software updates to tweak settings on owners cars to work out glitches instead of instituting huge recalls (like for door handle or touchscreen errors). He also admitted that they reached a milestone in December of a production capacity of 20,000 cars a year, which puts them into the black. In other news, Tesla recently placed in the top ten of Consumer Reports brand perception study. Not that I agree with its findings, but it’s a pretty good sampling of how the general public feels about the quality, design, and technological innovation that Tesla is capable of. It’s amazing considering they’ve only delivered a few thousand Model S sedans so far.

While Tesla has had great success with initial Model S sales, leading the EV pack in January, I’m much more interested in how consumers will feel about it after the first 13,000 preorders have been filled. Many of the luxury customers buying the car will be cross shopping it against conventional cars like the 5/7-series, A6/8, and E/S-Classes which obviously are much better supported by a hundred year head start of gasoline based economy infrastructure. If the superior handling, speed, and features of the EV can sway enough customers, they may be able to leverage their way to their goal of releasing a sub $30K model as their next major release. By then the combination of higher energy costs and government incentives will probably heat up the EV segment into a much more competitive by the Saab releases the EV2.

Government Intervention

Quick griping, if you don’t like getting political, skip this section…I read a lot of comments complaining about government intervention into the automotive space to encourage conservation of resources and less reliance on gasoline, stating that the market should determine the winners and losers. The only problem with that logic is that market forces in the car world have been heavily determined by government policy towards energy, with oil subsidies, tariffs, tax breaks to auto makers, union regulations, among others having shaped its history. In the early days of the automobile, electric cars were just as relevant and plentiful as gasoline powered cars. The advent of mass production from Ford promoting their ICE Model T, the discovery and subsequent dominance of crude oil in Texas coupled with the government’s subsequent desire to rapidly industrialize were all short term fixes with huge long term consequences. The sheer dominance of early auto giants like GM effectively killed off electric transportation, and while systems like electric streetcars were almost entirely privately funded, gasoline powered cars got to ride on roads paid for exclusively by tax payers. Long story short, while some commenters like to complain about how tax incentives for electric cars are unfairly changing the rules in electric vehicles’ favor, we need to remember that decades of history of corporations lobbying the government has led to the current state of the industry. There’s no denying that electric propulsion offers more pathways to sustainability than fossil fuel. Not only will it inevitably lead to not only a greener planet with less government spending to deal with the waste products of ICE, but also disturb the volatile political crises created from an economy dominated by middle eastern interests.

With that said, initiatives like California’s to have 1 million ZEVs on the road by 2020 and 1.5 million by 2025 are not only ambitious but represent a huge shift away from traditional way of doing business more interested in the public good than automakers profits. California wants to reduce transportation-based greenhouse gases by 80% of 1990 levels by the year 2050, first by requiring all major cities in CA to be ZEV (EV, PHEV, or Hydrogen powered cars), and have 100 hydrogen refueling stations. They are also trying to reduce or eliminate the government red tape, ahem, that it takes to build this green infrastructure. And they’re not backing down any time soon according to the Detroit News interview with chairman of the California Air Resources Board, Mary Nichols. She noted that,

“the mandate is actually rather lower in comparison to our hopes for EVs…it’s taken off a little slower than we hoped it would… It’s just going to take a little longer. We see enough good signs not to feel like we have to change course.”

Indeed, CARB initially required that 10% of car manufacturers fleets be ZEV by 2003, only to reverse that after significant lobbying. Then they stated a goal of 25,000 for 2012-2014, only to reduce that to the present 7,500. It’s nice to see them sticking with the plan now, and offering manufacturers a way to sell credits to other car companies (cap and trade), a plan originally endorsed by most conservative lawmakers until very recently.

Cold Weather and EVs

One obvious drawback to EVs is the effect that cold temperatures have on battery efficiency and capacity. To address this, GM made a short video to help customers get the best bang for their buck in the winter with their Volts. These aren’t exactly genius level tips– park the car in a garage if possible, preheat your car with energy from the wall charger instead of the battery, check your tire pressure and don’t overheat the cabin.

A more troubling account comes from the New York times, who recently tested out Tesla’s new East Coast supercharging infrastructure. You’ll remember we talked about these when Tesla announced them in the fall last year in California. The first two are in Delaware and Connecticut, as Tesla is trying to create a way for its owners to drive from Boston to Washington without having to pay for fuel. Alas, the cold temperatures reduced the efficiency of the battery pack, and despite the driver’s best attempts at hypermiling, the car almost didn’t make the trip.

After a short break in Manhattan, the range readout said 79 miles; the Milford charging station was 73 miles away. About 20 miles from Milford, less than 10 miles of range remained. I called Tesla again, and Ted Merendino, a product planner, told me that even when the display reached zero there would still be a few miles of cushion.

At that point, the car informed me it was shutting off the heater, and it ordered me, in vivid red letters, to “Recharge Now.”

I drove into the service plaza, hooked up the Supercharger and warmed my hands on a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

If this is Tesla’s vision of long-distance travel in America’s future, I thought, and the solution to what the company calls the “road trip problem,” it needs some work.

The Tesla manager handling the drive noted, “It’s disappointing to me when things don’t work smoothly…it takes more planning than a typical gasoline car, no way around it.” And that’s just it, without the proper infrastructure, most of us agree EVs are going to be a second car only local proposition. That takes it out of the running for a lot of current Saab customers, but not all. The fact that it will be at least 3-4 years before most of us can get our hands on a new Saab EV is a blessing in disguise, so that the charging infrastructure can be built up enough to support better long distance travel.

UPDATE: Tesla CEO Elon Musk just conducted an interview with CNBC where he noted some discrepancies between the Times reporter’s claims and the vehicle logs, showing that he did not in fact actually charge the battery to max charge (like starting with a partially full tank), took a detour through Manhattan (which for any of you who have done so, know that’s slightly insane if you’re trying to make the drive). He apparently wasn’t driving the speed limit (mostly 65mph), but as the reporter points out, who drives the speed limit, especially in a Tesla? In any event, the story is more complicated than the Times reporter’s initial account.

The Times has since responded to Musk’s allegations in a statement denying his claims, to which Musk responded that he will publish the car in question’s black box information. I’m certain that Tesla will follow up, and we’ll see how they respond. While I can already hear the comments from many commenters about what a PITA it is to need to rely on only a few charging stations to be able to charge their electric car in 30 minutes or less for long travel, see my above statement about how I’m grateful electric Saabs won’t be on the market until the infrastructure is built out more completely, allowing a much greater range of charging options for long distance travelers.

But some of that logic might actually be counterintuitive as another times piece about Dutch EV drivers explores. While the article reinforces the anxiety many drivers feel about range, especially in cold, it also points out a study from Accenture which shows that drivers have learned to use EVs as a primary, not secondary car.

Drivers learned to figure out how far they could drive on a charge, overcoming what has been dubbed “range anxiety.” They started off cautiously driving straight from home to the office, knowing they could charge at one or both sites. Over time, they expanded their driving repertory, learning where to find charging points in garages and along highways — a smartphone app contains them all — much as people learn the locations of convenient A.T.M.’s. That task was made easier by the growing number of chain stores and restaurants offering parking spots with charging outlets, so that customers can refuel while they dine or shop.

Ultimately the article concludes that the nascent industry will need a lot of consolidation and smoothing out for most consumers to feel comfortable enough to buy an EV. But for those who do and who plan, it can be a rewarding purchase.

For more reading about range depletion in the cold, check out this piece from green car reports. As you’ll read in the comments section there, the consensus when buying a Battery EV is to go for a bigger battery, period.

Fast Charging Standards

At present, there’s a few different efforts to standardize the recharging infrastructure across the globe. In the US, SAE has come up with their own standard called the CCS (combined charging system or combo connector). It’s a variant of the J1772 connector) and is supported by every Western manufacturer you could think of, including the Europeans. In Japan, CHAdeMO DC is the main game, supported by Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Toyota. Recently, the European Commission Clean Power for Transport (CPT) left them out of their recommendation for an EU charging network involving something called the Type 2 connector by Mennekes.

CHAdeMo versus Combo Cord
CHAdeMo versus SAE Combo Cord

Needless to say, they’re not pleased. I can only assume since NEVS has stated very publicly that they intend to use “Japanese technology” that the charging network they support is dependent on the CHAdeMO connectors. Although, China just released their own standard which is confusing the situation even more by introducing even more charging standards which NEVS will obviously need to support. The CHAdeMO association is quick to point out that it’s not a big deal to include their charge cords at EV stations, as “from a cost point of view, there are significant commonalities between the two devices of more than 80%, with the only difference relating to communication protocol and charging gun.”

Both connectors essentially connect to what is a 6.6 kW three phase charger with the option for faster charging at higher voltage stops (see RedJ’s comment for clarification), capable of rapidly recharging a car’s battery in a claimed 15-30 minutes. As I mentioned above in the Tesla cold weather supercharger debacle, the more stations, the more fast chargers, and the better the standards, the easier adoption of EVs will be.

Dual CCS and CHAdaMO charger

While there will be adapters so that cars can use either charger, you obviously want to be able to have a global standard. Even Tesla uses its own proprietary connector. In any event, this imaginary conversation the writer from plugincars.com has from the two competing charge connector camps is pretty accurate for the debate going on about which connector should win out. So we’ve basically got Japan, the US, Europe and China (*and Tesla) all deciding on their own connectors. At some point, one will win. Just for the record and if it were my choice, I’d go with the combo connector if I were Saab. Fortunately, there are new stations which support both chargers like ABB’s Terra Smart Connect Duo, shown on the right.

VW’s EV Stragegy

In a very informative article from greencarcongress.com, they met with Volkswagen and Eaton executives at VW’s California Research Lab to discuss VW’s electrification plans. Needless to say, I think they’re dead on in terms of their strategy which basically states:

  • either charging standard is easily supported, and if one wins out it won’t be hard to adapt existing stations
  • charging will evolve towards single-phase AC, fast three-phase AC in Europe, DC charging up to 20kW, and public DC charging up to 86kW. Half of Volt users don’t even bother installing a Level 2 (240V AC) charger, and VW expects most plug-in drivers to be content with single phase overnight charging.
  • batteries will continue to evolve, perhaps doubling capacity over the next few years.
  • VW_W2W_chart.002Even though China wants to rapidly increase their number of EVs, because of their reliance on coal, it won’t spur Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions (see their chart on the left). That said, SPG, Saab’s principal owner, is in the market of providing green electricity, so I could see a green sales strategy emerging and potentially a major advantage in case China’s government acts upon encouraging only green power as a source for EVs (speculating here).
  • VW sees BEVs as second or third vehicles. (I tend to think that as cost savings are noticed by their owners, as was said in the NYT piece about the Netherlands, drivers shift their habits and use the cars as a primary car).

 

Swedish Automobile Fisker is looking for a Chinese savior, wait…

In a story that seems recycled from two years ago, Fisker has hired consulting groups to look for cash and sell of technology licenses or even parts or the whole company in China. I think I know how this story ends already. Maybe they could hit up Youngman?

Stefan Zomborcsevics
Guest
3 years 7 months ago
Fisker got in real trouble after tbe A123 batteries failed. And now they are at stand still with production because the A123 went bancrupt. That’s bad, but a problem we will see I guess. New tech, many start up companys in need of cash. Deep pockets and stubbornes combied with “good enough” products to consumers is needed. I don’t think a new EV needs to beat the best ice cars at first. But it need to be usefull for every day driving. The evolution, it seems, will get the EV cars more and more compelling to some of us. And… Read more »
GerritN
Member
3 years 7 months ago

First rule for a project manager: Avoid single point failures!

Stefan Zomborcsevics
Guest
3 years 7 months ago

Yea, thar would have helped. Alot!

Stefan Zomborcsevics
Guest
3 years 7 months ago

Oh, and thank for the update Jeff!

John C.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Odd the Tesla/Merc video cut off right when reality set in….

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago
Jeff: Government “assisting” big oil and the proliferation of ICE automobiles? Yes, of course. We (consumers) saw a huge advantage transitioning from horses to cars. We had choices—-steam, electric, etc.—-and settled on gasoline. Because it was the best option. It still is (and diesel). And Jeff, gasoline taxes fund mass transit. Here in the U.S., the government makes far more money on every gallon of gas sold than the oil companies do. Yesterday, I posted that Tesla story on a previous thread. Here we have a car with a sticker price pushing a hundred thousand dollars—-and they are going to… Read more »
Dannii
Member
GerritN
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Disclaimer: I really like electric propulsion, I am Dutch but I live in the US.
What the Dutch story shows is that even when all the stars align favorably for EV’s (high gas prices, small country, very environmentally minded, etc.) the sales numbers are still pathetic.
The biggest hurdle is to get the energy density from -20degC to +40degC high enough that a 400 mile range becomes possible. Until then EVs will be expensive toys or just for city use (nothing wrong with that, btw).

theSandySaab
Member
3 years 7 months ago

There are more choices today:
www (dot) plugincars.com/cars
My favorite is the Model S, because it is a pure EV design, chioce of packs/range, performance and looks. Still, I’d be the happy first NEVS EV-SAAB owner in my city!

Great update, thanks Jeff!

mallthus
Member
3 years 7 months ago
Here in Colorado, the Tesla Model S is pretty common to see on the road now. (By “common”, I mean I’ve seen more than 5 in the last 3 months, which makes it a more common sight than Lamborghinis, Bentleys, or other “rare” marques.) It’s a handsome car in person, with the same sort of “presence” that the Maserati Quattroporte has. As for electric cars and government subsidies…well, yes, they do get quite a lot of subsidies. No denying that. But the question that needs to be asked is “Are the subsidies that electrics/hybrids/etc get enough to overcome the cost… Read more »
GerritN
Member
3 years 7 months ago

“By “common”, I mean I’ve seen more than 5 in the last 3 months, which makes it a more common sight than Lamborghinis, Bentleys, or other “rare” marques.”

or a new Saab 9-5, unfortunately 🙁

mallthus
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Actually, new 9-5 (and 9-4x) are pretty common around here. Of course, I live near Boulder, the Saab capital of the Western US, so I recognize that commonality is an anomaly.

JerseySaab
Member
3 years 7 months ago

“Carbon footprint” should not be taken into account as CO2 is not a pollutant. In no imaginable way do carbon taxes provide a “level playing field” or enable a “free market” — they are just another way for politicians to loot additional funds from the populace to pocket or squander.

Various fuels and methods of propulsion should be able to duke it out in the marketplace on their own merits without subsidies.

phermansson
Member
3 years 7 months ago
Well CO2 in itself is not a pollutant but what we’re doing by removing oil from hundreds of meters below the surface, burning it and thus introducing it into the atmosphere, is that we’re increasing the CO2 ratio of the atmosphere. Right now the atmosphere holds about 0,04%. However what we need to understand is that CO2 can act as a highly reactive substance and thus a minor change can create large changes. Lets say an increase to 0,05% could have serious consequences, scientists don’t exactly know what’s going to happen but to be honest, if it worries them then… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Something happened thousands of years ago too—an ice age. Climate changes. Weather changes. It’s happening on Mars, similar to here—with no gas being burned up there that we’re aware of.

phermansson
Member
3 years 7 months ago

That was one of the worst comments I’ve seen from you. Normally you provide good arguments but this shows that you have the knowledge of climate change of a 10 year old kid and that you havnt spent any serious time studying the subject at all…

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago
I kept it short and sweet. Tim—-do you not get that the “global warming” (check that, conveniently modified to “Climate Change” to cover all bases) is political and not scientific? POLITICAL and SOCIAL scientists are teamed with actual left leaning scientists on this one. They finally came up with a hot one to redistribute wealth among various sectors in established industrialized nations—-and are pushing hard for ways to siphon much of that off to the developing nations too. Is there any truth to it? Sure. The greatest scams always begin with a morsel or more of truth. That’s how they… Read more »
phermansson
Member
3 years 7 months ago

I know a couple of guys who works with studying climate change in the oceans, those guys are not working for politicians and the things they’ve found certainly isnt propaganda…

You are a smart guy, much too smart for the kinds of comments you’re writing here now. Read and study the subject seriously and with an open mind rather that repeating the message you’ve been feed by some US politicians…

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Tim: There are climatologists who disagree on this too. There is science that rejects it. And believe me, I’m not being fed anything by US politicians. They have been bullied into largely being slient about this—-it’s like questioning religion in a church if they say anything about this being junk science to the liberal news media. There have also been well documented scandals that prove there IS in fact, a portion of this movement who are lying to bring down industry—-acknowledged in e-mails. Their words, not mine.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago
Also, regarding the guys you know—-not sure what they’ve found but maybe it is a cause for alarm. That doesn’t mean what they’ve found is related to my activity—-or that our activity plays a large part/is largely responsible for what they are finding in the oceans. Like I said, the Earth has been through enormous changes over the centuries—before we were even here and well before we were polluting the air. There is also a school of thought that humans are destroying the planet—-and humans should stop populating the planet—-the planet is better off without humans, etc. Hopefully you’re not… Read more »
Thylmuc
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Might be that the present warming (yep, I have heard that it stalled since a couple of years, but the trend is rather strong still) is not caused by humans. But, what are we to do about it. The logical answer is that the only way that we could somehow cool down the planet is by reducing those gases that are known to absorb UV light, i.e. carbon dioxide, and methane. This conclusion is irrespective of any causes, since it is essentially the only thing we can do.

JerseySaab
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Climate change is a natural phenomenon, the only thing we can do is to adapt to it. The idea that we are going to control the earth’s climate by driving electric cars is ludicrous on its face.

phermansson
Member
3 years 7 months ago

So you are 100% sure of that?? What if you are wrong?

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago
I don’t think any of us are 100% sure of what is being discussed. But until the evidence is much stronger than it is—-I don’t think we should make the sort of monumental/wholesale changes to our lives that are being advocated by some. Methane? Do we stop breeding livestock as a food source? I guess the leather car interiors could be phased out too. See? I always knew that textile in my entry level Saab small hatchback was a good idea. No wood dash either—-I’m happy with a material that won’t mean taking trees down. Maybe they could glue a… Read more »
rune
Member
3 years 7 months ago
Jeff, it struck me back in 2009/2010 that SweGov partly acted the way they did because of the fear of climate change (btw: near 20 years of stable temperatures does not exactly scream “climate disaster!” to me…). Sacrificing a car factory and talking about windmill production looks good on the resume of any politician trying to ride the green wave. The hard rooted belief that climate change is driven by human activity has its own set of consequences. One consequence is that in many places in Europe, people have switched to diesel. CO2 might have been reduced, but the toxic… Read more »
Red J
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Rune, renewals are a needed imperfection to adapt to the current energy needs while trying to create a post-industrialization world that is worth living in.

In the near future, not sooner than 2050, nuclear fusion power plants will be able to produce energy in a clean way, no gases, almost no radiation, only short life radioactive waste, but till then I prefer some windmills than a coal burner.

rune
Member
3 years 7 months ago

RedJ, windmills and solar are the absolutely most expensive ways of producing power. When the cost of electricity rises, what is left of our industry will face even more perils. Of course, once the power hungry industry is gone… I suppose ‘problem solved’ at that point. Well, except for those cloudy windless days.

Anyway… In raw numbers, solar and wind have proven more deadly than nuclear, if you factor in the amount of power generated.

Red J
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Rune, nuclear power has a waste problem. I don’t know how this “problem” is handled in Sweden but I’m not satisfied how German politicians handle this “problem”.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago
Jeff: I can assure you, I’m thinking for myself to a greater degree than you’re thinking for yourself. Just as you think I’ve been hypnotized by FOX News, I’m sure you’ve been brainwashed (brain scrubbed clean) and reprogrammed like a drone/robot on the global warming topic. Over a lifetime of ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, Time, Newsweek, New York Times, college professors, etc., you’ve been directed to buy into a fraud and a money grab. It’s great that they want to demonize corporations and “go green” but the fact that they invented a fairy tale and a pack of lies… Read more »
phermansson
Member
3 years 7 months ago

So these networks also influenced just about every news organization in the rest of the world as well? Including the United Nations, EU and just about every government in the world?

The US doesn’t know anything about “going green” compared to for example the EU, if you think you’re having a bad time, just wait until the US has to catch up with the rest of the world. Do I need to remind you that the US continues to be one of the major obstacles to a global environment policy?

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Tim: The BBC and others are to the left of the ones I mentioned. It’s not reserved for the U.S. And as for the U.S. being an obstacle for “World Green” does that mean you honestly believe that China, Mexico, India, Pakistan, Venezuela, Brazil, etc., etc., etc., are all bright eyed and bushy tailed to destroy their economies buy saddling themselves with useless and ridiculous crippling environmental regulations? Blaming the U.S. is popular and easy, but it’s a depressingly narrow world view.

rune
Member
3 years 7 months ago

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf04.html — no, the amount of high level radioactive waste is minimal and quite manageable.

A world of flickering lights and cold houses — now *that* is a real problem.

Red J
Member
3 years 7 months ago

I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with three of the five points of that document. But as I’ve said, this may only be a regional problem.

Thylmuc
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Make that infrared, not UV. Sorry. To much work…

davidgmills
Member
3 years 7 months ago
I consider myself very liberal, past liberal, progressive and I think the CO2 stuff is a crock. See my post above about the sun’s magnetism. During the 20 the century we just happened to have the most magnetic sun in the last 8000 years. And scientists are beginning to see ways in which solar magnetism can greatly effect earth climate. In fact such an experiment was done at CERN last year. It showed that cosmic radiation can indeed produce aerosols to form clouds. The sun’s heliosphere protects the earth from cosmic radiation. There is much geological evidence (C14 and Be… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago
David: I’m conservative. This argument, if made rationally, transcends conservative vs. liberal—-it falls into “common sense” which I think you outlined quite well. It’s interesting—-many on the left are strongly opposed to nuclear (which is probably the friendliest environmentally per kilowatt generated). They are against coal. Against oil. Against natural gas. They whittle it down to solar and windmills. And now, many on the left are opposed to windmills because of the large number of birds killed by new generation windmills, as well as the eyesore aspect. That leaves solar. And really, by any honest evaluation, wind and solar combined… Read more »
davidgmills
Member
3 years 7 months ago

That is why I am such a thorium nucleau power advocate.

mallthus
Member
3 years 7 months ago
If you want a true free marketplace where technologies, fuels, etc compete fairly and with minimal governmental influence, then you have to consider a tax that burdens all energy sources with their full, fair and equitable societal, environmental and geo-political costs. I don’t see carbon as a pollutant, per se, but it is a marker for other pollutants (CO, for instance), it’s a component in climate change, and it’s easy to measure, quantify and track. Yes, it burdens fossil fuels more heavily than renewables, but that’s sort of the point. Fossil fuels benefit from installed infrastructure, government subsidies in the… Read more »
RS
Member
3 years 7 months ago

On fossil fuels and government subsidies. Don’t see it. I think we in Europe pay roughly 60 % in taxes at the pump.

Garrett
Member
3 years 7 months ago

The US government and its two aircraft carriers in the gulf at all times with two more on hand to sail there just in case is subsidizing the rest of the world.

RS
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Garrett, I’d actually like to know what the real market price for oil would be without those ships? Bet it would be far less than what we pay for petrol + all the environmental taxes.
The interesting part of all this is that European Governments collect all the more tax revenue the higher oil price goes. The money we pay them per liter has roughly doubled in 10 years keeping the gas prices artificially high.
It’s starting very effectively cut peoples will to drive (and buy new cars) around here…

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

So we’re punished for using electric or putting gas in our cars? What happens to the revenue they collect? The proposals from the left (in the U.S.) included billion dollar transfers of any “carbon tax” to the United Nations, for work in developing nations (trusting some dictators to build wind turbines maybe?). No thanks.

rune
Member
3 years 7 months ago
30 years of data is not much data when discussing climate changes. There has been no increase in temperature for almost 20 years now, but that does not mean climate change is not (or is) happening. It just means there has been no change for almost 20 years. It would be far more interesting to compare how pilots experienced flying during the medieval heating period, but I don’t recall any viking ships with vings having been found yet. The claim that a trace gas in our atmosphere leads to catastrophic changes in weather patterns is an astonishing claim and should… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Yeah—-some of us do disagree. We shouldn’t be paying ANYTHING having to do with a carbon footprint in my opinion. I’ll plant a tree. That’ll be my carbon offset for the decade. Then I’ll get in my ’79 Monza with the V8 and cruise the boulevard.

phermansson
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Have you seen the studies regarding the development of cancer and exhausts from cars?

Perhaps you should look at that a bit and then you’ll think twice about starting up your ’79 Monza with a V8 while your kids are playing 5 feet away from it…

Ground Ozone (03) created by cars is also something that has been found to cause cancer with kids and O3 is something developed by all ICE cars.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Yep, there are certainly quite a lot of studies we pay for. Much of the time, the results of studies are contradicted by more studies. Lots of studies. I have one—-driving a ’79 Monza on weekends extends your life by a few years because of the pleasure.

phermansson
Member
3 years 7 months ago

I’m amazed that you actually believe that…

saabdog
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Lighten up, Tim! I think SU may be shortening your lifespan. Maybe its time to take a ride in a good old-fashioned internal combustion Saab for some stress relief.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Nothing destresses me like taking my kid out for a ride on the weekends. In that Monza—-it’s like “Field Of Dreams” in a way—-me driving a very close version of what I had when I was 16 years old—-with my kid sitting next to me. It’s like I’m back in highschool.

scand
Member
3 years 7 months ago

My buddy gets his Tesla S next week. He was around number 8000 on the wait list, and his car is approx # 4500. He and I were wondering if 3500 people dropped off the wait list, or whether they are waiting for the smaller battery pack. He got the mid range one.

Looking forward to seeing/driving it.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago
Getting back to the post itself—-is the Tesla the closest thing we have to a real world EV right now? Or would that be the Leaf? I’m ruling out the Volt since it’s not entirely an EV. Among cars that are electric only, which one that’s currently for sale is considered the “real world” EV? The Leaf, while far from inexpensive, is attainable by most people—–but I don’t think it goes very far on a charge. The Tesla, when equipped properly, apparently can go a good distance on a charge (not vacation distance, but certainly well within back and forth… Read more »
Silas
Member
3 years 7 months ago
The Focus Electric is close in 2 of your 3 criteria. It is listed as $39,200 starting MSRP and with the $7,500 tax credit you’re close to $30,000. It can seat 4-5 with some cargo capacity but the range is a “best in class” 76 miles per charge. From the Ford website: The Focus Electric gets all of its power from an advanced state-of-the-art 23kWh liquid-cooled, high-voltage lithium-ion battery system. It gives you a best-in-class range of up to 76 miles on each charge.* The all-electric motor is designed to help reduce energy loss and heat generation while reducing your… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

But that 7500 tax rebate gimmick can’t go on for ever. So I consider the price close to 40,000 for a Focus. By the way—-the Focus is a more attractive car (in my opinion) than the homely Volt. But 76 miles? That is not enough—-not close. I have relatives I visit who live about 220 miles away. I’d want about 300 mile range for weekend jaunts.

Silas
Member
3 years 7 months ago
I agree with you that’s why I said it’s close in 2 of 3. Obviously not in range at all. Space is good, price should be better. Yes, I also agree that the Focus looks better than the Volt. My dad has been buying the Focus as a company car since they came to the US back in 2000 and currently has 2 of the new ones, one sedan and one hatchback. Maybe they could start having an extended battery you plug in the trunk for longer trips like one of those battery extenders for phones. Or have a PV… Read more »
rikard
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Nice post, EVs are a interesting subject. An enviromental thought: (no I’m not going into the “climate change” debate)
What would be the ‘best overal enviromental choise’?
Me keeping my ’04 9-5 Aero another 10 years, driving on premium gas, keeping it in shape with service (oil and fluid changes) and repairs 200,000 km more?
Or buying a new EV? I mean, all metal, plastics, battery parts etc that has to be made and transported? energy cost for producing the new car? Are there any studies on such things? I’m just curious.
(sorry if my English is bad, not my first language)

Red J
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Rikard,
with all the respect, EV’s are not the solution to all the problems of mankind.

To keep your car instead of buying a new one, no matter if it is an BEV, PHEV or ICE-Vehicle, will consume less energy, and it will consume less resources.

On the other side, depending on where you live, and what your driving habits, EV’s may give you a better driving experience, and part of the experience is knowing that you are not causing the smog in your city.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago
Red: Years ago—-I read an article relating to what you just wrote. It was fairly in depth and it made an iron clad argument that keeping your existing car on the road as long as possible is the best possible thing you can do for the Earth—-short of not having a car at all. I wish I could find it again. It talked about what goes into making a new, more efficient car—-everything from mining for materials to delivering it to dealerships—-and everything in between. Measured objectively—-and assuming you’d keep that new car for 10 years—-vs. driving your existing car… Read more »
JerseySaab
Member
3 years 7 months ago
Angelo, the environmental movement is at its roots an anti-human, totalitarian movement. I know this quite well from my own personal experiences in the early movement, and it is evident in many statements made by leading environmentalists over the years, as well as by their actions. One of the more recent comes to us from Ottmar Edenhofer of the IPCC, talking about an upcoming summit: “Climate policy has almost nothing to do anymore with environmental protection… the next world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.” It’s… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Well, at least he’s being honest. Cancun? I’m sure they’ll be at a ritzy resort, sipping frozen drinks with little umbrellas in the glasses—-feet in the sand. Us peasants will pay for that too.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago
Also, the notion that we should pay a carbon tax for driving our cars and heating our homes—-to be collected by our government and a big share going to the United Nations—-who will redirect as they see fit—-tells me that this has precious little to do with trying to reverse climate change or control the weather somehow. It has much more to do with setting the stage for a one-world government body of some sort—-pooling resources and dividing the wealth. They can’t possibly be honest about it—-making it a “tax” that goes to developing nations for their welfare—-so they mask… Read more »
davidgmills
Member
3 years 7 months ago

You are already paying a carbon tax every time you go to the service station now (since gas and diesel are carbon compounds). This is just another kind.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Another KIND or another ONE?

Thylmuc
Member
3 years 7 months ago

It depends. On one hand, Red J is right, as producing a can anew is resource-intensive. On the other hand, you would probably sell your car to someone who will replace an even “worse” car by yours, be that somewhere in the US, or in e.g. Africa, where a lot of European cars end up. Only if you prematurely wreck your car, the resource are truly wasted. Otherwise, they are still “used up”, and by pushing a more environmentally beneficial car into the pipeline, somewhere on this planet, a bad, stinky, fuel guzzling sample is pushed out of the pipeline.

rune
Member
3 years 7 months ago

…alternatively some lucky bugger finally can afford to buy that “bad, stinky, fuel guzzling sample” that he has envied his neighbour for many years.

I think the biggest problem our species face is overpopulation. We should be handing out birth control hand over fist, not waste time discussing trace gases in the atmosphere that all green vegetation on Earth depends on.

phermansson
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Yep, there is about 50% too many humans on this planet

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Well, if the left feels so strongly about reducing the population, they could start with physician assited suicides of themselves. More oil for me.

Red J
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Angelo,
this was a joke too much. At least for my taste.

Lately I saw on TV, that if the whole Chinese population would adopt the western European living standard, we would need a second earth to produce enough resources. So it shows me that we are a tad too many people on the earth. But reducing the population is not an easy endeavour. Here in western Europe people are quite afraid that their retirement pay will be quite low, because the population is decreasing. Too many old people and too few young ones.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago
We have the same problem in the U.S. “Social Security” was a pyrimid scheme that in hindsight, was a mistake. It relied on an ever increasing population and workforce to pay for retirees—-and almost incredibly, it didn’t account for the fact that people would live longer with medical advancements and the like. People should be responsible for saving for their own retirement—-and families should be responsible for their parents and extended family. And absolutely, there should be a safety net for people who are in dire need. But the idea that we’re all entitled to some sort of retirement, to… Read more »
Baver
Member
3 years 7 months ago

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been paying into Social Security my entire working life.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Baver: Me too. But paying in doesn’t begin to cover the total that most people get paid out. If they returned all of the money you paid in during your working life (when you retire) and even included a healthy 7% interest—-it would not match what you’re going to be paid if you live a few years in retirement, particularly with cost of living adjustments. People often live well into their 80s—-collecting social security for 20 years or more.

Red J
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Angelo,
those systems started in Europe in the beginning of last century, where people worked from 10 year of age till the death because there was no way to have some savings for the own retirement or to be able to take care of the own parents. At that time the normal investment was having lots of kids, so some of them could take care of you.

This is not the kind of life I like.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Red: The problem is, it might not be the kid of life we like—-but where is the money going to come from to give everybody everything they want? Equal opportunity should be guaranteed, not equal outcome. Some people are going to have to be very frugal and live a very modest life in retirement. Others will be jet setters, because they were either industrious or lucky. But don’t ask them to pay for all of the others.

davidgmills
Member
3 years 7 months ago

You want to kill me off? Why not start with the bankers?

saabdog
Member
3 years 7 months ago

So, Tim….are you gonna take one for the team and “off” yourself to help with the over population problem? If so, can I have whatever Saabs you now own since you won’t be needing them anymore?

rune
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Was that supposed to be a joke?

Since I was the one who revived the debate on overpopulation, let me just say that advocating the use of birth control (such as condoms which incidentally also helps against serious diseases such as AIDS) as a safeguard against huge overpopulation problems 20-50 years from now is NOT the same thing as culling half the planet’s population. It is precisely the opposite.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Rune: Condoms are widely available, often for free, as are a bunch of other birth control methods. Abstinence is encouraged, along with the use of birth control. Aside from that, how would you mandate this population control idea? Are you going to have me neutered? I’m sleeping tonight with one eye opened.

rune
Member
3 years 7 months ago

AFAIK in many overpopulated corners of the world, there is still a fundamental lack of knowledge about alternatives. AIDS treatment consists of raping the nearest virgin. Catholic missionaries spewing anti-condom propaganda are not helping either (IMO such behavior is a serious crime against humanity). A little education goes a long way to solve this (and related) issues. No neutering required.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Yeah, the church doesn’t want to see life snuffed out by abortions—-but by working against condoms and other birth control methods, they probably are responsible for a good number of abortions. I’m Catholic—-conflicted on it. I’m pro-life, but also pro birth control. Hopefully I’m not a hypocrite.

saabdog
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Yes, Rune. It was a joke. Do you honestly believe I want Tim to “off” himself? But, if he did, I still want his Saabs!…and yes, the line about wanting his Saabs was a joke. What is the old line about having to explain a joke…?

rikard
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Call me ignorant, but I honestly had no idea that it was such a clear cut case keeping the old car vs buying a new. Now I know.
The Tesla is one of the most interesting cars I’ve seen or read about. I’d probably buy one instantly and keep my Aero for the long drives, if I only had the $ for it…

rune
Member
3 years 7 months ago

There was a BBC documentary a few years back claiming that every mobile phone sold had already generated about 80 kg of trash at the time of purchase. (probably much improved now that most phones can be charged through USB)

I think that spending a bit extra for things that last a bit longer is the right way to go. This can be done without compromising the fun and enjoyment factor.

Red J
Member
3 years 7 months ago

But the BBC didn’t tell you, that used mobile phones or computers are a very valuable kind of waste, because of the gold and copper. 😉

Bernard
Member
3 years 7 months ago
” a 6.6 kW fast charger, capable of rapidly recharging a car’s battery in a claimed 15-30 minutes” Is this a typo? For obvious reasons, there is no way that supplying 6.6 kW for 15-30 minutes (=1.7 to 3.3 kW/h) will fully recharge a battery that’s rated at 15 kW/h or more. Think of kW/h as if they were liters. The “tank” takes 15, the pump provides 6.6 in an hour. You’re not going to fill that tank in 30 minutes… A mid-sized electric car may need twice that battery capacity to get decent range (30 kW/h), so we’re talking… Read more »
Red J
Member
3 years 7 months ago

The CHAdeMO fast charging standard is specified at 50 kW, so yes, it is a typo.

Mailr
Member
3 years 7 months ago
50kW is better, but still no cigar. (But 6,6kWh is probably not a typo, as i is 220V/10A 3-phase, and a realistic value for a simple installation.) The Tesla has 85kWh for a 426km (EPA) range, giving 2kWh per 10km, which means that 15 minutes at 50kWh adds only 62km range (EPA). That means recharhing about 1/3 of the time if running at highway speeds. Or about 2 hour for a full charge. Although better than before, I don’t really this cut it as a “fast” charging from a consumer point of view. And it’s quite a bit from the… Read more »
Red J
Member
3 years 7 months ago
The 3-phase AC-charging system is not considered as a fast-charging mode, but yes you are right, this mode has a Power of 6 kW. The DC fast charging mode runs at 500V and 120A, which is about 50kW. This is the current fast charging mode of the CHAdeMO standard, but they as well as the other two organizations in the US and Europe are thinking about modes with a Power of 100 kW or 200kW. Those modes would allow to add 125- 250 km of EPA range to a Tesla S in 15 minutes. But I think that running at… Read more »
Bernard
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Thanks for correcting that.

As a point of reference, most North American houses have two-phase power. Each phase is 110V. Regular plugs run on one phase (110V/15A = max 1.7kW). Big consumers like air conditioning, clothes dryers and water heaters use two phases (220V). These big consumers will typically use up-to 5kW.
A 6.6kW car charger (two-phase, 30A) is within the capacity of current household wiring, but a 50kW charger isn’t.

I’ve read that some newer European houses are connected to three phase power. That will give you more capacity, but not enough for a 50kW charger.

rune
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Fast chargers are not something you will likely be able to have installed in your house. When you manage to arrive at home, chances are good that you want to stay there for a few hours. If you want/need fast charging you’ll make a stop on your way home.

I guess slow charging will continue to be less damaging to the battery’s life expectancy with future battery packs as well.

Alastair
Member
3 years 7 months ago
I read an article in an in-flight mag a few years ago by a leading edge Israeli scientist involved in the pioneering of true EV propulsion and he stated that until the infrastructure and technical capability was there which allowed for your car to be driven into the service station where the ‘Battery Pod’ (interchangeable) would be removed automatically within 57 seconds (the time I believe was comparable with the average fill up now) the discarded pod then re-charged for the next cycle of events. Logistics………………what I cannot take (and I am fully open on the EV development prospects) is… Read more »
saabdog
Member
3 years 7 months ago

I read an article a while back that takes the in-flight magazine idea a step further. Rather than exchange batteries, per se, it exchanges the electrolyte fluids in your batteries much like a standard fill up now. Don’t know how feasible this is, but sounds like it could work. Very similar to a standard fill up performed nowadays.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

I’m wondering though—-if the level of expertise is stiffer one way or the other. Pulling into one of these exchange stations—-would the person need a higher level of training to measure and fill electrolytes and know how to do it vs. disconnecting, removing, installing and reconnecting batteries? I’m not sure.

saabdog
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Maybe swapping electrolytes would bring back gas station attendants — wouldn’t that be great: “Filler Up with Gatorade please, I need my electrolytes!”

Silas
Member
3 years 7 months ago

I’ve thought about the interchangeable batteries too but that would require a standardized battery location and accessibility at more of a service station than a small gas station. This would give you the option to sit and wait for the charge or have a quick change of batter for a slightly higher cost. The fluid change is a great idea too but my favorite is a “Mr. Fusion” on every car to use garbage waste. Who is deveoloping that technology other than Doc Brown?

Carma
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Exactly, Spgeorge, and what about that flux capacitor? We sure could use that one right now! 🙂

Red J
Member
3 years 7 months ago

In Germany in many towns you have a “Mr Fusion” that generates electric energy and heat from garbage.

The funny thing is, you have to pay for the energy, and you also have to pay them to recollect the waste they use to create the energy.

Waste is a precious raw material, we are still paying to get rid of it, but it won’t take long till you will be able to at least get rid of it without having to pay for that.

Bernard
Member
3 years 7 months ago
The battery swap idea comes from Better Place, which is a company that operates partly out of Israel. The problem with that idea is that it tries to adapt the “filling station” concept to electric cars. Traditional filling stations are only needed on long trips with electric cars. Most cars are stationary for all but a few hours per day, within close physical proximity to the electric grid. In other words, owners can charge their cars at home, or at the office. This means that charge time is irrelevant, as long as the car is charged when you need it.… Read more »
GerritN
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Batteries are still very heavy and bulky. To have a car that still handles reasonably you have to mount them low and spread them out. This is why they get stuffed in every nook and cranny of an EV. Very difficult to replace quickly!

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

And here is a response to the response. Seems to me that Tesla’s little dictator is making a little mess into a bigger mess. Stupid indeed. This is doing no favors for EVs in general—-and particularly for the overpriced Tesla. Ridiculous.
http://seekingalpha.com/article/1174231-tesla-magnifying-rather-than-quelling-range-anxiety?source=yahoo

JasonPowell
Member
3 years 7 months ago
Angelo, I don’t know enough about this to give a great response but I did see a printout of the cars computer and the speeds and such the car was doing and if they are true, the reporter did not give accurate findings. I too am not a fan in how this was handled though. On a side note, here in Canada it was announced that our favorite coffee shop Tim Hortons will have charging stations for EV parking… now this could if implemented throughout the country, really help EV drivers. I have also seen charging stations at Mountain Equipment… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Jason: Is it damaging to the batteries to only give a partial charge and not a full charge? In other words, if you stop somewhere for coffee or lunch and plug in—-will it give you a partial charge and help you out to get to another charging station without depleting “memory” or some other aspect of the batteries ability to hold a full charge?

JasonPowell
Member
3 years 7 months ago

You don’t have to charge unless you need it though. My point in Tim Hortons is more that I can’t drive 10 minutes without finding one so a charging place could always be close by.

rune
Member
3 years 7 months ago

It depends on the type of battery used. Some batteries like being topped off all the time, others (e.g. NiMH) should be fully discharged before slowly charged all the way up every month.

Common for most (all?) is that they are partial towards slow charging.

http://batteryuniversity.com/ might be a good resource (I’ve found it useful in the past)

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