Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This is what's wrong with electric cars...

Different Styling, Same Performance.

Well, let's be fair. Same range. Other performance specs probably differ somewhat.

Back in the '90's, when I still had a career, I worked for a major Japanese auto manufacturer. I was their principal technical training developer for the U.S. And so when the company thought maybe it wanted to market its new electric vehicle, I got involved. You can't sell vehicles if the dealership techs don't know how to fix them, and this one would have left them scratching their heads.


It was a minivan, and I must say that in many ways it was a beautiful thing. Zero to sixty acceleration rivaled that of the best gas-powered minivan - which, okay, isn't exactly Ferrari-like, but minivans have their charms in an urban environment. Inside, you'd never have known a difference except that there was no engine noise.

Well, you'd never have known a difference for about the first forty miles. Then you'd notice a major difference - there would be no second forty miles. I was offered a chance to take it home over a weekend, and had to turn it down. The only way to get it home, other than stopping overnight for a recharge, would have involved a flatbed truck.

Oh yeah, and the battery tray cost about $100,000 to replace, and replace it you would in less than 100,000 miles. The honchos came to their senses and never actually marketed the vehicle. I suspect they lost a subsidy bid, but nobody ever came out and told me so.

This is the thing that's wrong with electric cars: The cars are ready for prime time, and they have been for decades. But the batteries are shite, and apparently plan to go right on being so.


Carl-Bear said...

If you could swap those Volt batteries into that old contraption, it would probably go a lot farther than 40 miles. Batteries have improved. Unfortunately, government has "progressed", too. That Volt is a lot heavier (for mandated impact resistance, airbags, etc.), and has a lot more non-motor battery load (mandated lights, blinkers, dials, warning buzzers, etc.)

Then throw in the stupid crap that manufacturers think people should buy (don't recall which car it was, but I saw an ad for an electric car that bragged about its electrically heated seats).

At the rate the government and manufacturers are going, it won't matter if you stick LNS Confederate fusion reactors in cars; they still won't be able to support the mandates and other idiocy.

Craig Cavanaugh said...

Unless they can crank that range up to 500 miles or so, they'll never sell one of those in Texas. Well, maybe a couple Austin hippies would buy one...

Bustednuckles said...

I'd actually like to see them drop electric cars and work on steam powered vehicles, they were the shit way back when where performance was concerned, it was getting the water hot that took the charm out of it.
My parents have an instant hot water dispenser next to the kitchen sink. Turn that sucker into an industrial strength monster and you might be able to use those new fangled batteries for another purpose.

Steam was like electrical in that it had instant acceleration and way back when held several land speed records.

Anonymous said...

I have always been a fan of the concept of the electric car. On the other side of the coin until they build on that doesn't suck and isn't more than a small house finance wise I'll likely never own one more involved than a hyped up golf cart.

Yep, the government stands firmly in the way of making that concept work at all. I'm currently in Manila and the hot new thing was the electric jeepney. Heavy, short range and seriously expensive. They were, I should say, all the rage. Mostly in the media and otherwise a momentary hit with the drivers who were given one as a gift of the rate payers at MERALCO. The range was not as advertised even without any add ons or unnecessary weight. They got about 40Km or so before they needed a charge. That's OK for a family who may all traipse to the grocery or mall several miles away but for a guy who depends of fares and milage to keep the fridge full.....flop.

Nope, until battery life is more in the 500 mile range they won't be very good for the average American personal user considering it's well nigh impossible to one one and a gas auto for long trips. Until they are pushing 1000 miles on a charge they'll not be commercially viable until they can push the charge times to under about 20 minutes.

Good luck with that.

This is like solar and wind in my opinion. They work great on a purely individual purely self realized and customized basis and no other way. Unfortunately the powers that be enjoy tossing out unrealistic mandates that demand technology or personal sacrifice that just isn't gonna happen on their timeline. Kinda like those smart handguns that haven't happened yet despite beaucoup government bux in wasted grant money.


Anonymous said...

The downside to electric cars is, and likely will be for quite a while, the batteries. Until you can make them durable, cheap, long-lasting and with enough amp-hours for a decent range,electric cars will just be an oddity.

Anonymous said...

Batteries have indeed improved. 50 years ago you could power an electric car with half a dozen simple lead acid batteries worth $400 in todays money. Today you can use the super batteries made with rare earth metals that use more energy from hydrocarbons to produce then they will ever be able to store in their lifetime and the cost for those batteries is a mere $30,000. At this rate if batteries improve much more no amount of government subsidy will be able to offset the true cost of this "savings". Where has common sense gone?? Who, in the government or private business, ever thought that subsidizing something this expensive was a good idea??
Today there are NO viable alternatives to the fossil fuels and hydro power we know and love. There may be one someday. But somehow I don't think it is possible that a real true and viable alternative source of energy will ever be found thanks to subsidies. The "free" money attracts con men and subverts our easily bribable politicians. The subsidy then becomes the goal and not the alternative energy or efficiency. Who are the greater fools; we the voters or the politicians we keep electing?