1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

200 million from one dude for electric cars....

Post in 'The Green Room' started by webbie, Oct 30, 2007.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,186
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/oct2007/db20071027_825187.htm

    This, in my opinion, is the type of model that we need to see 100X over - and according to some folks in the know, a LOT of money from Silicon Valley is now going into alternative energy.

    "Agassi's company plans on operating much like a mobile-phone service provider. It hopes to sell or lease electric cars to consumers in packages that include monthly service fees. It will also operate networks of charging locations and service stations that replace batteries for people who are on the road. The whole system, called a "smart grid," will be coordinated by networking software developed by Agassi's programmers."

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2007
    Messages:
    1,526
    Loc:
    Hayden, ID
    The problem is electric cars simply aren't a viable alternative unless one of two things happens:

    1) The price of a short range model drops below $7500

    2) The range of an electric car jumps beyond 300 miles.

    I like the idea of electric cars but then again in the scheme of things they actually pollute more in their current form than IC engines. The electricity has to come from somewhere and currently that's coal, oil, gas and nuke plants which have a generating efficiency of 39% (On a good day).
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,186
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    T, he is starting in Israel. On the podcast, he says that:

    1. If you have driven 100 miles in Israel, you are probably lost and going in circles.
    2. 90% of the public there would sign on in a minute to something like this - changing the entire transportation fleet to electric.

    So, you have the short range thing in hand, because Israelis generally don't visit mid-Egypt (by car), and you have the political and popular will.

    There are also solar panels on many rooftops in Israel. And LOTS of extra sun for PV, etc.

    Certainly there are a lot of problems to solve, but it is impossible to solve them all at one time. You have to bring down the cost of one part in order to make the next part worth doing - etc, etc.

    Efficiency in electric generation is not as important with renewables - hydro, wind, sun - because you are not creating the CO2 and other associated mess. You simply are not capturing 100% of the sunlight, but wait 100 years or so and we may!

    I think that it will turn out that electricity is a common denominator, since there are so many ways to create and store it. It will be a long time until we fly in electric airliners (if ever), but for ground transportation, it can free up those precious fluids and also cut emissions.

    No one solution fits all, but attacking the problem in this direction seems like one step in the right direction.
  4. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2007
    Messages:
    1,526
    Loc:
    Hayden, ID
    I guess my point is what works in other places will not work in the US. Being the size that we are as a country makes some very specific challenges that don't exist in places like Europe and other countries.

    To have an actual impact electric cars have to be more efficient than gas ones on top of being cheaper to own and operate, they have to have adequate range. That is a tough combination of challenges in the US.
  5. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,186
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    The neat thing is - it doesn't have to work everywhere here - any oil saved anywhere in the world lessens the demand and the pollution and greenhouse gases. I tend to look at the USA as a number of different countries - we may be "officially" one country, but MANY people never travel more than 25 miles away from their home base...at least very rarely. I had a number of friends from NYC and I was amazed when I went to visit them and their parents....they had NO cars! If they had to go somewhere a couple times a year, they rented a car.

    My daughter (and many others) in the bay area don't have cars....there are short term rentals when they need them, and lots of buses and trains.

    But go to Texas or Idaho and the situation can be VERY different.

    95% of my driving is within a 20 mile radius of my house, even though I live in a semi-rural area. Most "standard" households around here have two cars, so having one with a 100 mile range would be no problem.....

    If you look at the stats, you will see that most americans live in Urban Metro Areas. That's a lot of people, and a lot of energy.

    I guess some of it comes down to whether we want to "sacrifice" and vote with our dollars. Certainly a 20K electric car may not be the best value for the $$, but if we think it is something to set as an example for our kids and will get the mass production stepping up, SOME of us may consider it....somewhat like pellet stoves and wood stoves.

    As far as simplicity, a gasoline powered vehicle is amazing complicated, and it is a testament to engineering that we have been able to make them so cheap and reliable. An electric car, properly evolved, would have a vastly lower parts count.

    I don't think it will all happen in my lifetime, but it would be nice to see it pass the tipping point and continue to head in the right direction.
  6. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    529
    Loc:
    Jackson, MI
    What would a pareto chart of your personal driving look like ?

    I personally do about 18K miles a year in commuting and short trips and perhaps 2 trips a year over 1000 miles.

    As I posted once before in this thread http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewreply/103708/ there are electric vehicles out there now that don't use anything super high tech that have operating costs of 1c/mile. On the other hand, driving in the rain in a little 3 wheeler is not everyones cup of tea, but there are severe restrictions on any kind of vehicle with 4 wheels. Why should that be ?

    The problem we have is mandated airbags and safety systems as soon as a vehicle has 4 wheels. Its downright protectionism on the part of car manufacturers that I don't get to choose the safety features on my car, when I can choose to ride a motorcycle without even wearing a helmet in many states. But by having this legislation, any form of alternative is totally compromised or cannot be cost effective unless one sells hunderds of thousands a year. Getting any kind of market share is something that takes time and so volumes would be low to begin with until market acceptance increases. De-regulation would allow BASIC vehicles to be produced for those who want it inexpensive and with only the features that one needs.

  7. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2005
    Messages:
    917
    Loc:
    Deltaville,VA
    Electric cars are not an alternative!!!!

    Not unless the gas station has no gas to sell and you need something to run around town with... without peddling your ass of in cold rain with two bags of groceries hanging from the handlebars. OK, a twelve pack on each bar.

    Those people that make statements like that were simply not around in the 1970's.... when I waited in gas lines with my father for hours on end. We got out and pushed the car when we were in line, just like alot of other folk.

    Think it can't happen again?

    People will be begging for them.

    Who here remembers that time? I'm 43 and it is clear as yesterday.
  8. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,186
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    I remember. My dad had them bury a 500 gal tank in his yard, and he would pull up and we would crank the pump!

    And so the rich (and smart) survive! He wasn't going to wait in no line.....

    I really suggest that folks listen to the audio from the guy who started Tesla motors - you get the idea that in the end an electric can will be vastly superior to a gas one (someday) - because you can just hook a notebook computer to it and set thousands of parameters.

    Find that audio (and lots of other good stuff)
    http://edcorner.stanford.edu/podcasts.html
  9. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2007
    Messages:
    1,526
    Loc:
    Hayden, ID
    The guy who started Tesla motors also has a severely slanted viewpoint. He's certainly a good advocate for his side but really doesn't present a balanced look at both options.

    The fact is currently there are no pollution gains to be had with electrics over ULEV's and hybrids.

    Gas Car:

    Modern gas engine thermal efficiency 32%, efficiency at the wheels with mechanical & rolling losses 50%.

    Total efficiency 16%

    Diesel Car

    Modern Diesel Engine Thermal Efficiency 44%, efficiency at the wheels 50%

    Total efficiency 22%

    Electric Car:

    Coal, Gas or Nuke Power 39% efficient, Line transmission 95% efficient, Charging 93%, Electric Motor 93%, Mechanical & Rolling losses 50%

    Total efficiency 16%
  10. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,186
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    T, you still don't address the other ways we can turn excess hydro and windmill, etc. electricity into gasoline!
    In other words, if you only look at one piece of the pie, your numbers make sense. But for folks in the Pacific NW or Eastern Canada where most of their electricity comes from hydro - would that not then be - 100% efficient - because there is nothing else you can do with the electrons, then just the last three numbers. And, are the rolling losses as high?

    Even being the same as a gas car is GREAT, for starters, because now we have a true 'flex fuel" vehicle.

    I don't think there is a "side" to this information - it takes experimentation, capital and willing consumers for trials. The proof, as you well know, will be in the market. I think you will be surprised then the Volt and the next gen of other models hit the road.

    The tesla guy is interesting only in that he has taken a gamble that few people would take....and done some or it correctly. As he well explains, there is a reasons people are not running out and starting car companies.....

    Although I think we can adjust safety standards, I would not propose going backwards. When you have highway deaths and injuries going down constantly (as a percentage of miles driven), it makes sense to continue to value life over cost. When your or my kid gets in an accident (and mine all have), we suddenly realize what a small price it is to pay for safety improvements.

    If we used just the price argument, we would all shop at Wal-Mart, pellet and wood stove sales would be cut by 4 to 10x, and we'd all buy 50LB bags of rice and pinto beans. But people are "driven" by much more than price (price being a code for efficiency).
  11. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    529
    Loc:
    Jackson, MI
    I think your 50% drivetrain losses is a little excessive. If you have an electric vehicle, every bit of power one can get out of a photovoltiac system can be put to good use. Its the cart before the horse scenario. PV can't compete for domestic power, unless you have a long run to the nearest utility pole. PV may have a hard time competing with coal fired power in terms of $/kWh but compared to gasoline one is in much better shape. If that wasn't the case, everyone would be running a generator at home and giving the utility companies the finger.

    Using the BugE as an example: Assume that I commute 10 miles to work @ 40mph. Its a 15 minute trip. Also assume I run the motor at its max continuous rating of 3hp all the way (not likely) thus 2.24kW * 0.25h = 0.56 kWh one way. Assuming the same back the other way gives me 1.12kWh of power consumption. Just for information, thats about how much electricity my house uses in 2 hours in summer with the air conditioner running (averaged over a 24 hour period). So it sounds like more power than I may need in the first place. With a tracking mount, 2 Kyocera 200 watt panels will more than likely provide for this requirement, assuming 6 hours of exposure per day. Thats $1900 for the panels + the mount of course. Lets say the mount costs $1300. http://www.emarineinc.com/products/mounts/tracker.html Add in a controller / inverter for battery charging and we'll assume another $1000.

    Lets assume the whole shebang lasts for 5 years (because we're all impatient for new toys, right ?) 10% interest rate and 60 months gives me a payment of $90/month assuming the whole instalation is junk and not worth a dime at that point.

    So, $90 per month for "fuel".... Doesn't sound that bad really. If I get anything beyond 5 years, its "free". Assume 20 miles a day * 22 days a month and it works out $0.20 per mile. Seen that way, of course it is not nearly as cheap as coal station power out the plug, but at the same time it is not exactly going to bankrupt me either. Once I make the instalation, my "fuel" price is locked in. The arabs and the world market and GWB can do what they may. I can scale up the PV instalation to do more mileage and the cost per mile will drop, since I could double the number of cells to 4 without having to replace the mount or the charge controller.

    Obviously this model will not fit everyone. Some folks have longer commutes that they can't avoid. On the other hand, just the difference betwen a truck or SUV and a "regular" passenger vehicle results in a fuel cost increase of more than $1500 / yr. So folks who cling to their "gas guzzlers" are going to suffer more and more in the future.
  12. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2007
    Messages:
    1,526
    Loc:
    Hayden, ID
    Actually it's not. Most of the losses in a car are rolling/drag losses. That's what I was accounting for. Actual mechanical losses are quite small.

    PV's have another serious issue. The sun doesn't always shine. In fact PV panels are only good for about 20% of the country in terms of payback.
  13. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2007
    Messages:
    1,526
    Loc:
    Hayden, ID
    No because hydro does not produce reliably over an entire year. It has to follow load over a year's time and can only produce about 7% of our total electricity.
  14. JohnnyBravo

    JohnnyBravo New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Messages:
    169
    Loc:
    Calgary AB Can
    electric cars are the key. the problem with the current electrical system is the grid, too big. it needs to become localaized. pv panels on houses wind turbines in feilds and short transmision distances. small local grids have inheirent storage problems. you need some place to store this power. why not a battery on wheels? why not a million batteries on four million wheels? 95% of the time your car sits at home, sits at work or sits in the shoping mall parking lot. we cold have a system that measures net charge. you plug in when ever you park and some simple computer system reads net power usage. you can request to keep the car at a certain charge. just think how much power an electric car uses while stoped in traffic for an hour. as stated above efficancy is roughly equal to a current gas car, a gas car uses stupid amounts of energy to sit at a red light. an elecric car is perfect for citys. its going to happen its just a matter of time. the price of wind and solar generation are comming down fast, the price of coal oil and gas are rising just as fast. they are going to cross paths and finaly not for the right reasons we will make the shift away from oil dependacy. noone knows how long but its at least on the horizine
  15. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2006
    Messages:
    781
    Loc:
    OH

    Cost per mile for "fuel" for a gas car getting say, 30 MPG and gas at $3/gallon is 10 cents/mile. An electric vehicle is around 2 cents per mile........ Also, the overall reduction in pollutants is about 15-20% when we use electric. Reason is because it's easier to control emissions from a hand-full of tightly regulated power plants than it is to control emissions from 100 million tailpipes where many people NEVER maintain their cars properly.... So, eventually, electric is the way to go.
  16. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Messages:
    3,437
    Loc:
    Addison County, Vermont
    When I pull out my crystal ball and look 25 years into the future, I see most suburban and rural families with two vehicles - a diesel or diesel hybrid for long trips, and an electric for around town. World demand for oil isn't going down, and supplies aren't going up. I expect the price of short-range electrics will drop as demand increases. Technology will help - nothing like the profit motive to get people to innovate. Range may be extended via better storage technology.

    WARNING: If your mind is already made up about nuclear power and facts do not interest you, don't bother reading or responding to the rest of this post. Please.

    I also expect that a large percentage of our power will come from next-generation nukes. Current nukes are a far cry from 39% efficient - actual efficiency at turning available nuclear energy into heat (forget electricity) is somewhere around 1%. Next-generation (sometimes called fourth generation) plants should be well over 90%. One side effect is much less radioactive waste. In fact, they may be able to recycle some of our current waste.

    Current nukes with 30 year old technology can generate electricity and sell it at $.03/kWh. I know that there are hidden subsidies in there, but that's true of every competing technology as well. I'm not aware of any other technology that has any reasonable chance to meet our energy needs with less environmental impact.



    Subduction zone disposal is one way to safely dispose of the rest.
  17. JohnnyBravo

    JohnnyBravo New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Messages:
    169
    Loc:
    Calgary AB Can
    nuke are a great bandaid that can buy us the much needed time. i don't see them as a solution, in fact there is no one solution just a bunch of little things that will eventualy add up to something.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page