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Savings come slowly for hybrid, electric car owners (Volt pays for itself in 27 years)

Post in 'The Green Room' started by BrianK, Apr 6, 2012.

  1. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    FYI, cars with the highest cost of ownership, and therefore the longest "payback" are Lexus, Mercedes and similar - they cost about double per mile from economy cars...sometimes more....

    If you want to sell 10,000 to 50,000 cars (Volts) a years, you can cheery pick customers who feel that the car pays for itself the very first day!

    When the time comes and you wish to sell 10% or 20% of ALL cars as electric, then you need to be a bit more specific about payback. Nothing in this world starts out in the perfect incarnation - the ipad is certainly better than the Apple I and most of you would never have bought an Apple I.

    So let's hear it for the pioneers!
    pen likes this.

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  2. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Even thoughh many of us have had good luck with our small cars as far as maintenance costs go I have to agree with Dune and the electric cars having less parts to maintain in the long run, I used to work on electric fork lifts and for the most part they were trouble free, you have problems once in a while with the electrical system but a good reliable drive train for the most part. I dont know if I will ever own an electric car (close to retirement) but I think they will work for many people.
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Many said we'd never move from horses.
    Bill Gates said no computer would EVER need more than 640K of RAM (todays computers have 2000X that).

    End of story. Some folks can see forward, others tend to find fault with everything.
  4. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    The only system that really concerns me for maintenance on an electric car is the batteries. When I start looking at my TCO I generally consider keeping a car for 200K miles which in the case of the battery system means I will be replacing it at least once, likely twice. So - as a thought exercise I have tried to see how it compares to oil changes... Going with easy math numbers here: If you assume the battery pack has to be fully replaced each 100K miles (that may be generous), and it costs $10K to do it, then you are looking at $0.10/mile. Assuming you change your oil every 3000 miles, then that would be $30 worth of battery for the same distance - how much are your oil changes costing you? Now the cost to replace the battery pack may be significantly different and you may not get 100K miles out of it... if you get fewer miles and the cost goes up then that would make the 'virtual' oil changes much more expensive.... if it goes the other way (more miles on the battery and/or less expensive change of the battery pack) then you have some money left over to pay for those other ICE tune ups etc....
  5. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Actually that would be a $300 oil change !!
  6. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    This isn't theoretical.
    Electric cars are not new.
    100 years ago, electric cars outnumbered ICE cars 2-1.
    Jay Leno has an electric car from the teens with the original batteries.
    The batteries in the Volt are warrenteed for 8 years.
  7. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    Hmm... thanks for the double check..

    $10,000 for batteries / 100,000 miles = $0.10 / mile
    3000 miles between changes * $0.10/mile = $300

    Guess there is a lot of budget there for a tune up with each of those oil changes eh?

    So the point seems to be well made - if the batteries have to be fully replaced each 100K miles and are anywhere near $10K to replace (net cost) then I suspect this one maintenance cost will more than make up for the 'normal' ICE maintenance schedule expenses during the same 100K mile period.
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Not sure where that figure was pulled from. There are Prius cars out there with lots more than 100K miles on them. Some triple that number.

    http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1023454_toyota-prius-taxi-tops-340000mi-dispels-battery-myth
  9. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    It came from thin air, just like the idea that a car will only need oil changes in 100,000 miles.
  10. sesmith

    sesmith Member

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    Here's a comparison:

    http://www.edmunds.com/toyota/prius/2012/tco.html?style=101420746

    http://www.edmunds.com/toyota/yaris/2012/tco.html?style=101402709


    It evens out more when you buy used (2007):

    http://www.edmunds.com/toyota/prius/2007/tco.html?style=100777218

    http://www.edmunds.com/toyota/yaris/2007/tco.html?style=100689157

    Note the maintenance and repairs categories.

    Interesting is that it really doesn't seem to matter much when you buy new vs used on the lower end car, something I've noticed with my own stuff these days (unless you find a great deal when used shopping). Can't say that with the higher end cars, it appears.

    One thing that's certain for sure. It costs too darn much to drive these days.
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Not sure where they pull those figures either. I pay a lot less for insurance, no financing fees and a heckuva a lot less maintenance still on a 6 yr old Prius. That might also be the same with the Yaris, can't say. But then again, I chose to get the Prius and not the Yaris for the greater interior space, flexibility and economy.
    Dune likes this.
  12. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    The numbers I picked were not quite "out of the air" but I admit they are pretty close. I generally assume that when a warranty is given on something that it should last at least that long. Also in my discussions with my local Nissan dealer who was marginally informed on this it seemed that they were expecting 80% battery capacity after 3 years and a gradual decline to about 50% capacity once it got to the end of the warranty period.

    Now when comparing this performance to a Prius one has to remember that if you are relying 100% on the battery you are going to notice that capacity reduction a lot more than if you are using the battery as a buffer and recharging it as you use it. I do believe these are very different use cases and thus I would expect that the useful service life will likely be much shorter for the pure plug-in electric battery pack. IF I start off with a range of 100 miles, then 3 years later am down to 80 that may be ok, but take it down to 50 and I'm going to be hurting and need to replace the batteries.

    Now as to cost - I've read a bit on this as well. It seems the main counter point being offered by Nissan (and perhaps others) is that you may not have to replace the whole battery pack at once, perhaps just a few cells at a time. I wonder about that answer as it seems it may just be a way of spreading the cost out over time. I have not yet found a clear answer on the cost to replace the full battery pack. However, if the full replacement was $5K instead of the listed $10K, that takes our costs down to about 5c/mile and that 'virtual oil change' is now a mere $150, which is quite the improvement but still rather expensive.

    Don't take this as saying I don't support electric cars - I am eager to own one. I really do hope that the TCO will come down quickly in the next couple years. The battery packs appear to be one of the key components where there is room for rapid improvement. Clearly this has been known for some time, everyone seems to be waiting for battery technology to improve and become more cost effective right?
  13. MishMouse

    MishMouse Minister of Fire

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  14. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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  15. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    IIRC they have already addressed this concern. The battery is guaranteed for 8yr or 100K miles. That covers a lot right there. But a friend said his Nissan Leaf dealer told him that Nissan expects battery technology to improve and will have an upgrade program. And the entire pack is not likely to need replacement at one time. Also, remember, that if the car is kept up well, it's value with a new battery pack will be higher than your average 10 yr old vehicle because there will be much less anticipated maintenance in its next 10 yrs of service.

    http://cleantechnica.com/2011/08/09/nissan-explains-leaf-battery-video/
    http://green.autoblog.com/2011/09/30/nissan-addresses-leaf-battery-life-replacement-costs/
    Dune likes this.
  16. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    So what do you calculate the cost to be for the battery over a 200K mile, 15 year life cycle? I have read these articles as well, but am still not clear based on the "swap the individual cells, not the whole pack for 'hundreds each' as they fail" that it is really going to drive the cost down that much. If this is done by the dealer, how much is the labor markup going to add when they have to diagnose which cells to replace? Only time will tell us whether any of this really matters - thus part of the risk of any new technology of course.
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    If I knew what battery technology would be even 5 years from now I would be a rich man. To predict over 200K and 15 yrs would be folly.

    Note that Nissan designed their battery system as modular. Modules are replaceable, not the individual cells. Their goal is to extend their electric line into multiple electric vehicles all using these modules. That should continue to drive down cost. The diagnosis should be pretty simple, each module is continually monitored. It's just a matter of plugging into the cpu to determine this.
    Dune likes this.
  18. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    There are some nice Electric motorcycles coming to market. Asia is bringing them out big time. A great starting point . Scooters and smaller bikes for a few K . MAny still use lead acid batteries cuz of their cheap prices and universal availability. Razor sells a small electric MC 220LB cap. 10 mile range for $500. Suitable for a smaller person. If you want 60mile range and highway speeds you will need $3K and up
  19. MishMouse

    MishMouse Minister of Fire

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    How well does these all electrics preform in frigid conditions?
    Also, do you have to drive them almost everyday to keep them charged?
  20. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Until it starts to get VERY cold, electric motors don't care. Now cabin heat is a different story.
    Do you have to use your cell phone everyday to keep it charged? (sorry, kind of a snarky comment, but its intent was to demonstrate how the battery tech compares to stuff that we are already use to.)
    Dune likes this.
  21. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Personally i dont want to drive a motorcycle in frigid conditions.My body does not do well in frigid conditions either thats why i love my wood stoves.
  22. MishMouse

    MishMouse Minister of Fire

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    The main reasons why I ask is after a typical winter if a vehicle sat over a month without it being run it needs to be connected to the charger to start even with a fresh battery. Didn't have to do that this year because we really didn't get that 1-2 month period of below zero temps. Typically about now I would be starting to connect the charger to every vehicle that sat in order for them to start. I think I only need to do it for my wife’s ATV and my pickup truck this year.

    The main question is how does the environment (extreme cold/or heat) effect the operation of an all electric or even a hybrid?
  23. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Cold weather is going to be rough on a battery-powerd vehicle. You're going to pre-heat the vehicle as it's plugged in but that's going to be tough at work for the first 20 years. If you park in a garage great but a lot of folks don't. An hour's drive home at 0F is NOT going to sell a lot of electric vehicles.
  24. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not sure if I understand this. I have never experienced a need to connect a battery charger to a vehicle if the battery is up to snuff.
  25. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    My truck sat for 3 months this winter,while i was nursing a broken arm ,started right up. I do have a very good battery,one of those optima $200 jobs.

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