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An Electric Car for Every Garage?

Posted December 18, 2009 8:01 AM

Instead of tailoring electric vehicles (EVs) to meet driving needs of large consumer segments, automakers should design plug-in EVs that meet some needs of some consumers. One consulting firm advocates a shift to mission-specific vehicles, such as for commuting. These would require higher energy storage capacities than cars designed for neighborhood use. Does this sound like a rational approach to encourage EV adoption? Would you purchase a mission-specific EV?

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#1

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/18/2009 8:51 AM

I thought that electric vehicles where already basically limited to being shorter range commuter vehicles because of the well known battery limitations?

So whats the suposed improvement or variation now?

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#3
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Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/18/2009 10:56 AM

With the advancements in batteries and other technical advancements, it is quite reasonable to expect a one charge range of electrical vehicles to exceed 150 to 200 mile range between charges. In fact, one automobile company had a fleet of test electric autos in California which the test drivers loved. However, for an unexplained reason (you can guess the reason) all the vehicles were removed and distroyed even thou the test drivers protested and offered to buy the vehicles. Also, the new batteries can be "quick charged" without over heating and becoming explosive or fire danger.

The Li-FePO4 battery is being placed in Some European all electric cars now. By adding a square meter or larger set of solar cells to the roof of the car, the car can be "charged" while resting in the parking lot of one's workplace, home driveway, and at the shopping centers.

By building the electric motor into the wheels of the vehicle, one can save the drive chain and transmission losses, thus requiring a smaller motor to deliver the same horsepower to the road. This, in turn, will also reduce the weight of the vehicle, which will require less energy to move it.

It is time, today and right now, to demand battery powered electric vehicles.

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#7
In reply to #3

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/18/2009 1:39 PM

You demand it by buying it.

If enough people want them, someone will build them.

I've been through this before, but the reasons for recalling experimental cars and destroying them by any manufacture has nothing to do with conspiracies.

It is standard practice to do that in the industry because of a range of reasons that span from legal liabilities, controlling intellectual property, to operating costs (think about the cost of maintaining parts supplies and service for a few specialty vehicles just to make a tiny fraction of your customer base happy). Finally, only a fragment of the market had any devotion toward EVs. The very much larger market share that GM was serving could care less. Essentially, GM followed the the market like any good business should do, which ties the underwear of some greenies in knots because they feel GM should provide only green cars at or below cost to the world. If they did that they would stop being a corporation and become a religion.

GM did not pursue EVs because they could not make a profit doing so. GM, in my opinion, is also not likely to make a profit on the Volt, but it might open the door years down the road for such cars in the future.

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/18/2009 1:56 PM

you cant buy what does nto exist, one can only invent it. That is the problem with free interprise, someone must have the foresight to invent an item before they can honestly advertise or sell the item.

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#11
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Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/18/2009 5:23 PM

No. Demand will create supply.

That is exactly how my business works. It is called being market centric. I'll go out of business pretty fast if I insist on telling my customers what they want.

If what you were saying was true there would be no commercial built EVs anywhere, but many manufactures are starting to produce the first generation of these vehicles. Even Porsche is working on one.

However, it's hard to gauge the market and manufactures are not interested in building more cars than they can sell. Also, gas prices are low enough that customers do not feel a sense of urgency to push for alternate technologies from car companies and there are overstocks on existing new cars that dealers are blowing out at low prices and near-zero finance rates.

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#12
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Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/18/2009 5:39 PM

Then where is my electric car, many of us have been demanding it for years. So much so that some have taken golf carts and made them street legal. And the people is California demanded them and, for a short while got them, but then, the cars were yanked from then even though the demand to keep them was high. I do believe there was some evil doings going on in California.

I think, too, that for far too many years GM did tell their customers what they wanted and gave it to them. Then, along cam the Japanese, who gave the customers what they really wanted, quality engineering and economy. So now, the Japanese are building electric cars in addition to the quality and economy and the tax payer is having to bail GM out of bankruptcy.

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#17
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Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/19/2009 9:11 AM

"Then where is my electric car, many of us have been demanding it for years. So much so that some have taken golf carts and made them street legal."

I can't help you if your eyes are closed. Look at how many new car sales there are for existing cars just this year (2009 data from Wall Street Journal); 4,976,960 cars, 4,422,657 trucks, 2,624,024 SUVs, and 1,810,209 crossover vehicles. That's 13.8 million cars!

Compare that to the number of EVs sold, which is about 3%. Now, pretend you manufacture cars; which market are you going to target? Hint, the money (profit) is in the 97% market.

Worse yet, the profit margin on a car is higher than an EV. The Volt is projected to sell for $40,000 and they project sales of about 8,000 to 10,000 the first year of production. GM sells more cars in a week than the total projected sales for the Volt in a whole year.

I will bet that your circle of friends contains a lot of like-minded people and that will skew your perception of what the market really is. However, if you did a scientific study you would find that the actual percentage of potential buyers is a whole lot smaller than you think.

EVs will play an important role in the future, but that future is not yet here. We have many hurdles to cross and just because a small handful of people think something should be does not make it a reality and any businessman or venture capitalist worth his salt knows where to invest his money and it is not yet time for the EV revolution, but it is getting closer.

"I think, too, that for far too many years GM did tell their customers what they wanted and gave it to them. Then, along cam the Japanese, who gave the customers what they really wanted, quality engineering and economy."

I agree 100%. I have always said that was the Waterloo for the American car companies, but that happened in the '70s. Today the American car companies no longer drive the market, they follow (albeit, not as well as they should).

"... and the tax payer is having to bail GM out of bankruptcy."

GM (and the rest of the US automakers) suffer from bad management and their negotiations with the auto unions which are crushing the business with debt. GM pays out about $1600 per car in union related concessions. Toyota pays essentially zero. The cost of high wages, pensions, and the over the top perks auto workers and their unions have won are killing their employers. This implosion has yielded an unleveled playing field for the Big Three against foreign competition. Even Toyota and Honda plants in the US using US workers have better profit margins than the union riddles US automakers. In 2006 the UAW's assets exceeded 1.2 billion dollars. The UAW benefits are the envy of the world, but no one can afford it, least of all, the Big Three.

GM problems have nothing to do with the lack of EVs that they build.

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#20
In reply to #17

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/19/2009 9:49 AM

you sound like the scientists hire by the tobacco companies a few years back. It is too bad that the truth is so "inconvenient" for you.

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#21
In reply to #17

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/19/2009 10:39 AM

Lost cause but nice try. Logic just doesn't work sometimes. Conspiracy theory preferred by the masses. Sad.

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#13
In reply to #11

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/18/2009 7:38 PM

Maybe you two are too well educated.

Weapons may figure to get you two on the same page.

Which weapon would you rather have, a 5 shot bolt action Mauser rifle, or a Garand 8 shot semi auto MI rifle?

Great pistol that Lugar.

Fast and far reaching tech wins over the refined, and perfect.

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#18
In reply to #13

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/19/2009 9:14 AM

The M1 Garand is still an awesome rifle.

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#22
In reply to #18

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/19/2009 12:11 PM

Never had a chance myself to fire one. Hear that firing them when standing is pretty tough.

I was myself sort of shocked that the German infantry had as standard issue a 5 shot bolt action.

I am sort of attempting to make a case in comparison. I do believe that the rifle was asked for, and then developed.

This thesis is thin, unless we go back thirty years and imagine where we would be now as far as Electric vehicles, and imagine that the Post Office had asked for an Electric Fleet.

Seems to me that this would have pushed EVs to where now we would like to be. With the current state of the Post Office, I don't know if it is an opportunity lost, or we could make a case that even in the state it is in the mission specific use for the sort of vehicle would be justified as environmentally friendly and or a facilitator of some release from oil dependence.

Who knows, maybe we'll turn around and next see UPS and Fed X making deliveries from an EV truck, for they have specific routes and a specific mission?

As far as your arguments based on percentages and standard business practices in a realistic marketplace context, they are sensible up to a point.

I am reminded of the history of Ross Perot, and EDS, for I recollect that prior to embarking on his business he was told he could only expect 3 percent of the business, to which he replied, "3 percent will be enough."

Certainly I am not the expert you are when it comes to cars. Though I have more than once been a professional driver, once driving a taxi, and the other time driving that Cargostar International for Film and TV Lighting and Grip.

We discussed the Volt as a potential Taxi, and you may well be correct that it is unlikely to meet those demands. Still an EV that did, has a specific mission potential for those fleets, and I would push for R&D to make a vehicle that made something competitive with vehicles that meet that challenge.

(It would appear that CNG powered vehicles are more likely to be able to fulfill the demands put upon taxis.)

There are problems of infrastructure even with CNG powered vehicles sadly inhibiting them at this time.

I am interested in what has been the pivotal vehicle for the relative success of Ford as opposed to GM, which I believe has been the popularity and usefulness of their pickup trucks.

The thing about pickup trucks or vans is that you can make a living more readily from having that sort of vehicle, than if you have only a car.

I think Ford actually has made pickups that will run on either gasoline, or propane?, but has had very miniscule sales of these vehicles.

Still I consider it a move in the right direction.

When it comes to Electric Vehicles I cannot find less than a need for a Grand Plan and end up with puzzling as to how Trucks might be powered.

I have imagined what I have called the Electric Road that Coast to Coast up and down mountains somehow supplied power to run Electric Vehicles supplied from all sources enabling electric motors to replace the IC engine.

I've wondered at the possibilities of it even as a dual use Grid, both supplying power for transport, and other energy needs, and am daunted.

Chrisg288 once presented an intriguing design that overcame some of my worries.

The problems are great, and many of the things we today wish existed already, simply don't. It is not as if they could not be made to exist, but no one seems capable yet of reconciling what we have, with any practical plans and visions for a future that integrates what we need in a future slamming at us, and our children, at an accelerating pace.

To win in a battle you must have superior weapons that are faster, and go further than those your enemy has. We are in a battle for economic security, and it is our transportation system, and how it is powered that is a significant problem to face, and overcome.

We cannot have fast, powerful far reaching EVs without an infrastructure that supports them. Making such an infrastructure is possible, but requires the sort of leadership somebody like Ike provided, and I do not see that sort of leadership on stage today.

-One of my sayings is: To be a great leader, one must also be a great follower.

When Roosevelt got a letter from Einstein, he paid attention for example.

I do love to go around with you AH for our go arounds illustrate the wisdom of another saying I like, "Better to have an intelligent enemy, than a stupid friend."

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#23
In reply to #22

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/19/2009 2:06 PM

Transcendian, I had sever chances to fire one; I am a Korean Veteran. However, my weapon of choice was the M1A1 carbine, after all, I was a medic and already had a rather large loade to carry.

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#24
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Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/19/2009 2:45 PM

Not at all surprised that you were a Medic.

That particular rifle was Audie Murphy's weapon of choice.

During the Viet Nam war when I was up for conscription, I did go to Canada.

I graduated from High School in 1971.

The war there was already lost.

I was born to be a warrior poet, but did not want to waste my life on lost causes.

James Jones, and Joseph Heller I had already read by the time I was 13.

Letters I got from soldiers in Viet Nam warned me as well.

I'd sent them books.

They sent me letters.

Don't come here they said.

So I went to Canada and worked in Rochdale College as Security.

I've seen corruption, and say no-one has a patent on that.

When I put myself in the position of a Leader who might well have to order others to put their lives on the line, and die for the cause and the country, the only war I am willing to endorse, is the one to eradicate weapons of mass destruction.

I'd be prouder of Barack Obama if he ever spoke of the great Black Panther Fred Hampton. What a sweet guy that man was.

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#27
In reply to #22

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/19/2009 8:28 PM

The M1 and the M14 are heavy rifles. The 30-06 and 308 NATO round are a great round for redefining the term cover. Both can penetrate up to 12" of solid oak.

The M1 Garand discharges the metal 8-round clip after the last round is fired. The Germans would wait for that sound, then rush the soldier while he was reloading.

GIs would keep a spare empty clip in their hand, fire a few shots from a freshly loaded rifle and toss the empty clip in the air (they make a bell-like sound when they eject) and the GIs would wait to see who would pop up to try to rush them. Surprise.

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#28
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Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/19/2009 9:01 PM

Funny, but very few or our WWII soldiers fought alone, there were usually in a squad of 9 men, one was usually a BAR man, and often the NCO a Thompson or carbine. In a fire fight, the M1 could be reloaded almost as fast as one could fire off a round. If any Germans would charge when one clip was being reloaded, his chances of survival was almost nil. Also, judging from your picture, you must have been there as a baby. WWII was fought in `1941 to 1945, and Korea ended in 1953 and the M1 was still the weapon of the Infantry. The Thompson and the M1A1 carbine was magazine fed. I carried a carbine with two 30 round magazines taped together. And yes, the Medic in korea were armed if they wanted. And the bit red cross on a white background made too good a target and was painted out. Also, the Chinks look for the unarmed man first, knowing he was likely the medic. or an officer.

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#33
In reply to #28

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/20/2009 8:20 AM

Have you ever reloaded an M1?

Years back I competed in the nationals and cut my teeth on that rifle. It is a fine rifle, but reloading it under stress is not an easy task compared to the M1 carbine, M14, or M16. As a medic I would assume that you had your share of thumbs to repair. ;-)

I was too young to even get into Vietnam, but have a lot of three position competitive shooting under my belt. My rifles of choice are the M1 and the M1a (civilian version of the M14). I never shot the M1 carbine. Although the M1 carbine would qualify as a service rifle in the event, I never once saw one being used. My guess is that the M1, M1a, and M16 are more accurate at 600 yards and the carbine, if memory serves, was a lighter more maneuverable rifle. Probably good for closer in fighting, too.

My M1 was a bit of an odd-ball. Most are a Frankenstein of parts as they were recycled. Mine was produced the last year of WWII and all the parts were original and it had a two-stage trigger. No way to know if that rifle saw service.

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#29
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Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/19/2009 9:10 PM

I've spoken to people who were in actual combat. They tell me that they didn't know much what they were doing and counting shots fired was a wonderful concept, but they just did the best they could hoping the guy next to them didn't run out at the same time.

My great uncle lived through 4 years of combat duty in the South Pacific, and nobody was going to tell him what to do, or how to live his life after that.

I feel like so far I have failed him, for he said he expected something out of me.

I once had a guy who worked for me reveal to me that he had been a Helicopter pilot in VietNam. For a guy who had experienced that sort of combat to give me respect, well, that is something I still hope to fully earn.

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#39
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Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/20/2009 9:19 PM

Is it market centric to refuse to sell vehicles like GM did? They have consistently refused to sell models that they sell everywhere else in the world. Not to mention their electric car. They made a wise move to maximize profit, by withholding alternatives, but we have all paid the price, including blood and tears from being dependent on foreign oil. We have contributed to bakrupting our country. To ignore that fact is immoral. More efficient vehicles, using electricity, natural gas, ethanol etc. , produced by our friends, are in order. Too bad they will be produced in Asia.

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#14
In reply to #7

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/18/2009 10:06 PM

It seems GM is having trouble making a profit on ANYTHING...

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#26
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Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/19/2009 8:02 PM

Are you talking about another Saab story?

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#38
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Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/20/2009 9:07 PM

GM refuses to provide what a lot of consumers want because they want to sell expensive vehicles. We should have let them go down the drain. They sell low cost, small , practical, and multifuel vehicles in other countries. They just want to drain every dollar they can out of wealthier consumers, and not offer the more practical and economical vehicles. They have had microvans available in other countries for decades. They fired the man who designed and wanted to promote them. Tata, BYD, and others will lead the way. The technology is readily available. Just watch the news for the next few years. We need to change our driving habits. If you need a larger vehicle for certain purposes that is fine, but how many pickup trucks do you see with anything in them that wouldn't fit in a smaller vehicle. We should all try to drive smaller vehicles when that is all we need. Keep the big ones for towing, or hauling. Most of us have two or three vehicles that we can choose from. Current electric car technology will give a round trip of at least forty miles. That will get 90% of us home and back with no problems. Anyway we should have small built in generators to recharge the electric vehicles when they need it .

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#2

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/18/2009 10:54 AM

mission: go to the shops

I'm all for it, then we could exclude all large (car and bigger) vehicles from city centres. They could park on the outskirts and scoot in.

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#5
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Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/18/2009 12:42 PM

My wife is handicapped and Medicare bought her an electric scooter. Comfortable seating, 20 mile range, and overnight charging. We use it each time she goes shopping, have car lift for it, tax refund for this, and tax on car refunded because it was needed to have the ca lift installed for her scooter. I am 76 and no longer abot to lift the scooter into the car. Texas does have some good laws on this, all which were pasted befor Bush/Perry took office.

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#4

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/18/2009 12:00 PM

All-electric special-purpose vehicles have been in use for years. Golf carts, fork lifts, etc. If utilized for the designed application, they are quite effective. So, what is new here?

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#6
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Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/18/2009 12:52 PM

Nothing new for that, except the golf carts, as originally built, are not street legal. However, some are n ot being fixed to make the street legal. The problem with golf carts, street legal or not, is that they cannot maintain the 40 mph minimum speed required for use on the freeways.

Now, any of you who want to be inventers: How about applying our new battery technology to lawn mowers, roto-tillers, leaf blowers, adn other garden tools. We have battery powered screw drivers, saws, and the like. These are all with a battery charger to keep their Lithium Ion baatterries charges. But what we need is a universal battery charger that is solar driven to keep quick exchange or batteries fully charge for all the above, including yard and garden tools. In fact, to replace candles, recahrgable batteries could also power such things as camping lights and flashlights. Would it be nice if we could keep abtteries charge for our household lighting, TV's, radios, computers, etc. I bet fur square meters of PV cells and a fist full of "universal" Lithium Ion batteries could do the job. Any takers for the development of such a schema?

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#9

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/18/2009 2:10 PM

As a personal vehicle I'd have a hard time buying a mission specific vehicle with the sort of ranges between charges, and lengthy charge times.

I have often been poor.

On more than one occasion the car, was about all I had, and I remember needing to drive from Fort Lauderdale Florida, to Toronto Canada for work at a different job.

Made that drive in an Opel Kadett. Remember something was illegal about the car, and I bent the edge of the license plate over that displayed that problem.

While during this period of my life I drive very little, if I got a call from people who know I am looking for work, I might need to go out the door, get in the car, and do 600 miles as fast as possible.

The used car that I have might well make it in ten to 11 hours.

('85 Honda Acura)

At current prices that would cost me about 80 to 90 bucks depending on variations in the prices of the fuel between where I am, and where I would have to go. (NC to NYC).

Mission specific vehicles that are all electric and battery powered of course work for fleets of golf carts and forklifts.

They also work for people who are actually able to take another form of transportation using credit cards, but right now, they will not work as escape vehicles.

Possibly the problem is not so much the vehicle itself, but the infrastructure that will enable it.

Imagine what electric vehicle now would allow Okie's to flee Oklahoma as they did during the Depression era Dustbowl?

Whatever electric motored personal vehicle that could fulfill that sort of requirement is the one poor people would buy.

It is no wonder Garthh's Avatar is what it is, and he works on fuels more than vehicle designs.

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#10

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/18/2009 2:46 PM

If I had my way I'd put AH, Chtank, Garthh, C_Warner711 in a room and pay them to pick the winners and losers.

- as far as cars.

For the Electric Road then Chrisg288, and truck trains.

Segment the requirements to long and short hauls, heavy and light, grid and auto.

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More to say, but not today!

Be cheery, all is dreary.

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I'm in outerspace right behind my face...

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#15

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/19/2009 1:15 AM

In my state, the cost of mains delivered electric energy is scheduled to rise 60% over the next three years. Further, our government has factored a road usage tax into the excise they levy on gasoline. Neither of these issues has been considered by them in relation to electric cars.

Worse, we have tightly constrained electric supply capacity. Won't it be fun if millions of people buy an electric car and

1) all plug in to recharge at 6pm when they arrive home from work, same time they cook their dinner and cool the house.

2) gasoline excise revenue drops so low that road maintenance and construction is suddenly unfunded. Differential metering for household and transportation energy may be proposed - then the new crime of applying household energy to recharging the chariot will need to be managed.

3) they travel far to a destination where they cannot recharge while parked. There is no point hoping for gas stations to offer electric recharging outlets unless they also become huge carparks.

When these and other infrastructure issues are addressed, I'll be prepared to worry about a purpose-specific electric vehicle.

Mark Bingham

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#19
In reply to #15

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/19/2009 9:45 AM

Mike, do you mean that everyone will all buy an electric car on the same day, all eat at the same time, have the same work and shopping schedule? Isn't is possible that the transition might happen over a gradual, 110 to 20 year time frame? No one is suggesting that we outlaw the use of fossil fuels immediately, rather, the term most is is "conservation" of our resources. as for recharging, there are many schemes for this, including the use of small engine powered generators such as the one I used after Hurricane Ike knocked out our electric power for two weeks. I still have the 5KW generator and it will fit in the trunk of my car, or would easily fit under the hood if the big engine and transmission were removed. Also, many people are installing PV cells on their roofs. A standard sized roof has enough space to supply over 10KW worth of solar power, enough to run the whole house and have extra to sell back to the power company. If you really want to know what can and is being done, I suggest you take a look at http://www.eere.energy.gov/. Also, for information about what still needs to be done and why, you might look at http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/. While King George slept and cut budgets, our scientists kept right on working for all of us.

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#56
In reply to #19

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/31/2009 10:36 PM

chtank,

No, I'm suggesting the peak recharging period will overload the local grid as presently structured.
No, your concept of PV solar collection will not address the issue of lost gasoline road tax revenues.
No, your concept of home rooftop PV solar collection will not address the issue of remote vehicle recharging during a trip.

YES, I am suggesting that many people will use their vehicles simultaneously. It's called peak hour traffic.

YES, I will consider an electric vehicle when these issues are being addressed, but not while our elected bodies continue to ignore or, like you, deny them.

Mark Bingham
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#57
In reply to #56

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/31/2009 11:50 PM

Most electric cars will be charged at night when demand and cost is lowest. They can be on timers or just turn on the charger before you go to sleep. That is a plus for electric cars. The system can also be set up to use the car demands for the occasional overload demand. Natural gas or propane generators are clean and easy to set up and expand as needed also. Photovoltaic and wind power charging are just pluses.

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#16

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/19/2009 7:56 AM

I am not speaking to the engineering or current limitations and accepted paradigms thereof. I think the answer to the actual question asked is yes, mission specific vehicles would be the best way to go as the one shoe fits all approach has reached its acceptance population and a new direction for acceptance needs to be explored.

Since I need to drive 50% of the time in trips of 250 miles a Prius or something like it is the answer if I am to buy just one vehicle for utility purposes. But because I enjoy just the novelty of it, I may go with two vehicles, one that is long range capable and one that is totally electric for short range tooling around town.

Just planning your vehicle use (having a reason for driving it) will cut down on 25% or more of the avaerage cost of ownership.

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#25
In reply to #16

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/19/2009 7:15 PM

I had the recent opportunity to drive a brand new Prius on a long distance 600+ mile trip. I would honestly say now its not what they claim. The actual highway mileage was about 2 -3 MPG above what my full sized four door Mercury Grand Marque sedan gets, which I normally use, on the same trip. The Prius is half the car with only a few more MPG gained and no where near the comfort for that type of trip.

I will happily pay the extra $25 in fuel for the added comfort and interior room next time!

In town they shine, on the highway they don't!

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#41
In reply to #25

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/20/2009 9:50 PM

I have driven large cars and small ones, and I don't see much difference in comfort. I am larger than I should be, and am happy to drive my Aveo on long trips and save money. If I want to, I can drive my full size van or my minivan. Better to help out the country and use less fuel though. I paid $9,400 new for my Aveo, with auto and air. It would take me at least ten years to get up to the total cost of a Prius. I will be considering a Tata Nano for my next vehicle. If I was taking the family I would take the minivan though. The big van is for camping in. Mission specific thinking is best for families.

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#30

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/20/2009 12:29 AM

The best solution to reducing fuel consumption and encouraging electric (or purpose-specific vehicles) is a fundamental redesign of the typical city. Having residential areas separate from shopping areas separate from work zones is fundamentally energy intensive. I, fortunately, happen to live in a city where everything is within walking distance- my office is downstairs from my residence, the supermarket is within walking distance, and the hardware store, electronics supply outlet and pharmacy are even closer. Acutually, most of our daily food requirements are met by a neighborhood fruit and vegetable stand, and a local mini-grocer with daily fresh breads, eggs and meat. And let us not forget the midnight stroll to the local hotdog stand or ice cream parlor when the urge strikes...A lot of my clients are also within walking distance (although, in the interest of time conservation, I will usually avail myself of public transportation- bus or taxi- when I have a time constraint for a meeting). The airport is a short 5 minute taxi ride from the house (normally, I am carrying too much equipment for walking to the airport to be a viable option!). Socially, those friends and family that do not live within walking distance are easily reached by public transport.

I happen to enjoy walking, but for those who don't, it would be nice to have smaller, golf-cart sized vehicles to cover these short distances, and would require significantly less energy to achieve the same purpose. Unfortunately, my memories of living in the States are such that this life style is totally impractical in that part of the world, a lot as a result of misguided zoning laws. I do not see electric vehicles as a practical solution to what I remember as the lifestyle I experienced in the US...

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#31

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/20/2009 3:34 AM

Golf Carts would serve well for local grocery shopping but the Police will not allow them in the roads around here. Eeryone wants to run 50 mph even going 1/2 mile to their local stores.

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#32

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/20/2009 8:17 AM

Several purpose built EVs ALREADY exist. They may not win any style or coolness contests, but they can be very practical. Example...

http://www.electricvehiclemall.com/productinfo/xb508.htm?gclid=CLHY2Y-O650CFaM45QodcF09Lg

I live in a Northeast city and one of these mopeds (or similar) would be ideal for general commuting from about May through October. The impractical nature of any all electric vehicle during 3 - 4 months of sub-freezing weather while navigating 6"-12" of snow on the roads is obvious to anyone who lives in similar areas. Did anyone see any GM EVs driving around Buffalo NY in the middle of winter? Unlikely.

One GOOD thing about city living is that the public transportation is readily available and very reasonably priced at ALL times of the year.

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#34
In reply to #32

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/20/2009 10:26 AM

I don't think you see many BM EV's anywhere - YET. But are you saying that your gasoline powered automobile's battery fails you in cold weather? That you don't have to make sure your car has the proper level of antifreeze? That in cold weather, your car starts easily and warms up fast? That you would rather ride a bus the four blocks to the local grocery store in knee deep snow?

Of course, I live in Houston, Texas, which has the honor of being the energy capital of the world and the honor of being the most polluted city in the USA. I worked my entire career in the petrochemical and power industry, which included the hated Enron Corporation.

Yes, you are correct, EV's do exist and are on the market. http://www.eaaev.org/ and http://www.ev.com/, to name a few places to look, however, a simple Google search will provide many more resources. The biggest problem is that a very few purposeful built EV exist from the USA auto builders and those few are very limited test models or are just just now coming on the market. However, EV's have been on the market in Europe and in Asia for a while, most with the major "bugs" already work out. In the USA, the EV's on the road today are primarily conversions from gasoline powered vehicles. The primary reason EV's are not on the market in the USA is from the pressure of the Petrochemical Industry. Certain biggies like Texaco-Exxon are totally against EV's and Sustainability Engineering and energy and are the noes who are lobbying so strongly for opening up more drilling. Thank God that more and more Americans are waking up to the fact that we are in an interrelated Economic/environmental/energy/health/fresh water crisis which requires as much effort as was put into putting man on the moon. We have the technology, now we need the will. We cannot continue to ignore the crisis.

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#35
In reply to #34

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/20/2009 11:18 AM

Thank God that more and more Americans are waking up to the fact that we are in an interrelated Economic/environmental/energy/health/fresh water crisis which requires as much effort as was put into putting man on the moon. We have the technology, now we need the will. We cannot continue to ignore the crisis.

I am not sure that self inflicted misery from stupidity and greed counts as a crisis though. It was avoidable from the very start. Where I live is not having any of the continual problems that these supposed crisis subjects relate too.

We have an overwhelming abundance of energy here. We have an overwhelming abundance of ecologically responsible and educated people who make there livings off of the environment. (farmers). We have overflowing lakes and generally above average health here as well. Our educational systems are well rated as well. Oh ya, and we have politicians and local government officials who serve the population before they serve themselves.

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#36
In reply to #34

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/20/2009 11:33 AM

By the way, I do believe the major US oil companies will and have sabotaged Electric Vehicles of most any sort, from buses to cars.

Certainly they are not above doing such things.

Natural Gas, Propane, and CNG are another story.

I believe the batteries used for the EV1 were advanced and that tech was bought up and suppressed, though now I'd have to go back and re watch the movie, or re do research, for I get crammed with info, and start to forget certain details.

Apparently Tom Hanks still has some sort of EV, that his staff still uses.

Last week I visited the BP site and they seem to be moving ahead with alternative energy.

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#40
In reply to #36

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/20/2009 9:41 PM

I don't remember all the details, but GM sold off their battery technology to a company that suppressed it from being used. I have researched this in the past.

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#37
In reply to #34

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/20/2009 3:14 PM

"But are you saying that your gasoline powered automobile's battery fails you in cold weather?"
Yes, my lead-acid car battery DOES get weaker in the cold. Simple chemistry. Ever heard of the CCA rating? Many battery technologies DO have performance problems in sub-freezing cold.

"That in cold weather, your car starts easily and warms up fast?"
Most of the time it does start fairly easily and warms up quickly (small 35+ mpg econo-box). The WASTED energy/heat (~75%) from the little IC engine can be a real benefit in our cold climate.

"That you don't have to make sure your car has the proper level of antifreeze?"
General vehicle maintenance on IC vehicles is admittedly a little more effort. What would be far worse would be an uncertain 30-50% range reduction (for an EV) in cold weather.

"That you would rather ride a bus the four blocks to the local grocery store in knee deep snow?"
I frequently WALK the 4 blocks to my local grocery store through 6"-12" of snow. More people who are able should try it. It's good exercise. Taking my IC vehicle or an EV out for such a short trip would be completely unnecessary (for me).

"However, EV's have been on the market in Europe and in Asia for a while, most with the major "bugs" already work out."
Can you please supply a link to one that is currently in mass production and comes close to the performance/range of a small economy 4 cylinder IC vehicle for under $20K?

Don't misunderstand my position. I am 100% for EVs and renewable energy sources. I conserve and recycle to the maximum extent allowed by my city AND I will be in line to buy an EV for commuting when the technology matures and the COST is within my means. I believe that should happen within the next 2 decades. If you want it to happen sooner, all you need is a big wad of disposable cash.

The GM EV1 was leased only in WARM southern locations. Simple energy calculations show why GM wisely avoided northern leasing. The reduction in battery performance in cold climates and the kW of power needed to defrost and heat the car would have severely degraded performance. I still applaud GMs EV1 effort and believe it was a successful test of technology that was not quite ready for the masses. In business, there is ALWAYS competition. Did major players want to see the EV1 fail? Of course they DID! But the simple truth is that the EV1 was just not ready for mass market. Conspiracy lovers can pounce now.

Tesla's current vehicle performance and range are quite good and are wonderful examples of how the technology is maturing. Low production volume and high cost will keep them out of the mass market for some time. I wish (and I'm sure millions of other Americans do also) that I could afford to spend $100,000+ on an electric car.

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#42
In reply to #37

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/20/2009 9:58 PM

Just watch the Asians fill our needs. The population center is west and South of St. Louis. You bring up good points about colder climes though. Many people do have heated or warmer garages, and use them. The batteries could be insulated and kept ideally heated when plugged in. A simple warmer would do the trick, even outside. Where there is a will there is a way. The infrastructure will be coming. I will be watching Tata, BYD, and Nissan. Most of us can't afford a $40,000 Volt, or have better things to do with our extra money.

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#43

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/21/2009 9:47 AM

Let's see- two ways to get something produced-

1 There is a demand. - Sustainable market

2. The gov't offers irresistible incentives. Large SUV market grew from accelerated depreciation, NEV's take off due to $6000 govt incentives - Temporary market

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#44

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/21/2009 10:51 AM

Wow, just read through this whole thread and see that conspiracy theories and EV mythology abounds.

I would suggest that everyone individually research the total carbon impact of EV's - from manufacture of the vehicle/battaries to the impact of recharging (using fossil fuel electrical generation) millions of these beasties.

I respectfully submit that we work on a more carbon neutral means of transportation. Electric sucks when you look at the total picture.

Hooker

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#45
In reply to #44

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/21/2009 11:36 AM

Hooker, I suggest you look at electric power generation via PV cells, wind turbines, and solid oxide fuel cells. To give you a start, look here: http://chtank.org/. BTW, the total carbon impact of EV's from start to finish is less that the total carbon impact of fossil fueled vehicles from start to finish. The manufacturing techniques for either are essentially the same except the EV's will use a little less metal and a little more plastics, thus lessening the weight considerably. Oh, and the batteries will most likely be Lithium FerroPhosphate; most certainly not lead acid.

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#46
In reply to #45

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/21/2009 12:04 PM

I have looked at your website. Unfortunately I do not buy into what is becoming classical global warming rhetoric. I do not believe it is based on any realistic science, as watching the antics in Denmark has confirmed, IMO.

Also, I have looked at a variety of means of electrical generation, including the ones you list. None of those will be on par to become the infrastructure necessary to power legions of EV's. I'm convinced that a viable mass market auto will be fuel cell, biofuel(algae), or cng, with a supporting infrastructure. Or, alternatively, an electrical grid fueled primarily by nukes (yeah, like that's gonna happen, the greenies have scared the public sh*tless about them).

Lastly, give me a little credit regarding battery technology. Of course, lead acid won't/can't be the battery of choice. But then, again, neither will Lithium Iron Phosphate. Here's just ONE of the many objections to them:

"Rapid charging will shorten lithium-ion battery (including LFP) life-span when compared to traditional trickle charging."

And, the carbon footprint related to resource gathering (ores), manufacturing, transportation, distribution, recovery, recycling/disposal of these batteries is astronomical, and way more ecology disruptive than internal combustion based vehicles.

Hooker

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#52
In reply to #46

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/23/2009 7:59 AM

...the carbon footprint related to resource gathering (ores), manufacturing, transportation, distribution, recovery, recycling/disposal of these batteries is astronomical, and way more ecology disruptive than internal combustion based vehicles.

Not quite sure how you arrive at that conclusion. Although I have often seen it expressed, I have yet to see a realistic justification for the statement.

Essentially, the conclusion reached is a function of assumptions made and method of analysis adopted, hence it always conforms to the bias of the person doing the analysis (or that of his boss!).

As an example, the Li Fe P battery ores. All 3 of these elements are abundant in the earth. If the demand is there, it doesn't take long for efficient means of extraction to be found, if they don't already exist.

As far as EV's are concerned, numerous lines of research are underway and are likely to remove the major obstacle to them, namely energy storage.

The trouble with all that is these developments are still a way from practical realization, which means that useful EV's are "not immediately", except in specialized niches.

Where I live, it is necessary to make 5-20km round trips, with every so often 200-3000km one way trips. On some of the longer trips "towns" (a petrol station combined with a pub - total population about 10) can easily be 400km or more apart.

To have one vehicle fulfill both needs it is not currently feasible to go past a reasonable size IC powered car.

Unfortunately, a trip intended to only be 20km return can turn out to need a quick 800km return trip the same day. (400km is the distance to Townsville, the nearest comparable size city to Cairns).

For the reasonable future, I can't see EV's filling more than a specialist, restricted role.

We do need to continue work to place them in the mainstream.

I can't see major companies deliberately suppressing EV technology. They will make far more money by being first to bring a practical unit to market, than by suppressing new technology.

Enough rambling. Time I went to bed!

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#53
In reply to #52

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/23/2009 9:26 AM

"Not quite sure how you arrive at that conclusion. Although I have often seen it expressed, I have yet to see a realistic justification for the statement."

By studying how we obtain elements like lithium it's not a big stretch to understand that we expend large amounts of energy in the process.

For example, lithium bearing ore is saturated in brine pools where the pure lithium is extracted electrolytically. The largest known ore reserves are in the Andes. Extracted lithium, being highly reactive, has to be isolated from the atmosphere, usually using naphtha or petroleum jelly. One must also have specialized protection when handling the stuff.

Then, the stuff has to be transported. Most airlines (at least American) won't handle it. It's too dangerous. Then it has to be processed and batteries manufactured. I'm just going off the cuff here without references at hand but these batteries are commonly produced in countries that have little, if any, environmental or safety requirements for handling this highly volatile alkali metal. This probably also results in significant amounts of environmental pollution of manufacturing by-products. BTW, the US has no significant volume manufacturing of Lion batteries for obvious reasons.

Then there's more transportation of the product to get it to the user.

Lastly, I'm sure there will be serious carbon footprint issues related to disposing of millions of depleted EV batteries when their useful life is ended, with the same volatile materials to be dealt with.

I'm mostly paraphrasing here, from various articles and studies that I've read about the subject. At the least, this reading has made me vastly more aware of EV concerns than the MSM touches on. IMO, EV are NOT ecologically friendly, even compared to IC vehicles.

Believe it or not, that's an individual choice. I am highly skeptical, to put it mildly.

Hooker

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#47
In reply to #44

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/21/2009 12:34 PM

Chtank is very expert when it comes to these issues.

He even points out that he himself worked some for Enron, which is known to have manipulated the power market.

Why would a company buy up a good battery technology, and then suppress it, unless they had another agenda?

Certainly some people do go overboard with conspiracy theories, but in this case there is a fair amount of evidence.

I myself used to hear some of these things, and go, "Ah, they wouldn't do that.", and then find out they did.

I look at the Interstate Highway system and do imagine electric power available integrated into it to run cars and trucks. Essentially I imagine using what is in place, while recognizing this would be a major engineering feat. I imagine the Electric Road, and the power to feed it coming from renewable sources like Solar, and Wind and Tidal Power.

To justify it, the incredible expense of it, and in recognition of the multiplicity of options that do exist, along with what we can expect to have as old tech and new tech will long vie side by side, such a vision could only come about as a Dual purpose Grid.

Still I imagine such things wondering what the world will look like not, just 10 or 20 or 30 years down the road, but in the 23rd Century... Hell sometimes I wonder why we don't have a couple of passenger cars intermixed with the Freight Train cars too.

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#48
In reply to #47

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/21/2009 2:44 PM

Fine, he's an expert.

I'm just a lowly research machinist/technician who spent mucho time at NASA in the '70's building and experimenting with alternative energy generation systems, including fuel cells, and windmills, and compact fission reactors, and plasma generators, and even a totally electrically integrated stand alone single family home. Oh, and a trash to energy pilot electrical plant.

And the moon landing was staged. I oughtta know. I was there (not on the moon). Well, I was actually vacationing in sunny Southeast Asia in July of 1969, so they decided to pull a fast one while I wasn't looking.

Hooker

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#49

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/22/2009 5:47 PM

Yes, there's no need for a car that drives 10-15 miles per day back and forth to work to need a battery capacity for twice that. Keeping the battery pack small, but allowing for plug-in expansion is much more likely to appeal to a larger number of people. All vehicles should aim for a 35 MPH top speed.

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#50
In reply to #49

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/22/2009 6:26 PM

Actually when I had a job to get to my job was 6.5 miles. Back was the same.

For probably 4 of those miles back and forth if I could not make at least 50, I'd be run over.

When I got to my job, part and really much of my job was picking up and delivering supplies to the crews.

I often ran the T100 pickup 1 to 200 miles a day carrying either in the truck bed significant amounts of weight in the form of lumber or lumber and tools.

When I worked making films I ran a truck that was once weighted at 20 thousand pounds.

To tell the truth, I don't want anything that will not at least do 55 miles an hour.

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#51
In reply to #50

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/22/2009 6:44 PM

A battery pack that would fit inside the spare tire well or the bottom of a trunk would be large enough to power at freeway speeds to where I worked in the old day, clear across Houston Texas, from West to East some 20 miles and again back the same 20 miles, all in the dark, with lights one, heater running, and radio blaring. Of course, the battery pack would be enough without the accessories to go 150 miles. But you are right when you say speed is a killer for electric power, but lights, heat, and radio can be made, with today's technology, very efficient. Weight is another concern, the light the vehicle, the better. One big advantage, at least in Houston, is when one would normally be idling in stand still traffic, a normal situation for many big cities, no energy would be used. Now, if the car has a roof of PV cells and if the workplace had charging stations as well as charging stations at one's home and in shopping centers, then the automobile would be very useful for all one's city-wide uses, even for light delivery services. Think what would happen if businesses went PV along side home PV. We could cut fossil fuel costs to the point that the long trips to visit Aunt Gussie and Grandma Jennings every few weeks to sample their cherry pies and home made ice cream.

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#54
In reply to #51

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/23/2009 4:52 PM

Hooker does raise some interesting points that seem to come from concrete experience.

One question I have that I wonder if you might address is how the newer Lithium Ion Batteries might be recycled, as are Lead acid batteries?

The recycling of lead acid batteries is one of the most successful programs and systems in the US, if not the world, at 99 percent.

What prevents such a system in the case of the Lithium batteries?

I certainly do like your suggestion of the electric motor within the wheel, and wonder what sort of standard motors of that sort exist.

My across the street neighbor built an EV pickup that he drove for awhile but eventually gave to some high school students, and now drives a Volkswagen conventional vehicle.

Ed Witkin is his name. He put in a fairly famous Solar system for Pete Seegars home in NY. Mr. Seegar had or still has a similar pickup that he would drive around at something like 10 miles an hour. This did not endear him to his neighbors.

The electric motor Mr. Witkin had in his pickup looked right heavy to me, and the body was simply a conventional small Chevy pickup body.

I know my favorite all electric vehicle used back long in my past in the early 70s, was a Namco forklift. Great forklift, perfectly suited to its application within a Meat Freezer. It was very manuverable and stayed tight, whereas many propane powered forklifts shake themselves and do not allow for the sort of precision an electric forklift does.

I've seen some Smart Cars around town where I live, and they seem sensible for short commutes and around town, but getting over the mountains in one would likely be pretty tough. The Plymouth Belvedere with its 278, V 8 I drove often at 100 plus had trouble getting up some of the mountains I drove up at more than 45 or 50.

Did some similar trips in an Opel Kadett, and a couple of VW Beetles and 20 to 25 was all she wrote.

Whenever I think of these things I remember driving in the mountains, and then my experiences driving a taxi.

Hence and why I continually return to imagining an Electric Road where all the battery does is get you to that.

P.S. Back in the day, I used to drive around NC at 100 miles an hour since typically the cops drove at 85. That way I was either in front or behind them. Never got a speeding ticket.

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Anonymous Poster
#55

Re: An Electric Car for Every Garage?

12/31/2009 5:20 AM

That would be nice except for there is too much corruption in the system. The government wants too much of the pie and the car makers want crap that they have to fix all the time so they can nickle and dime us to death.

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