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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. GaryGary

    GaryGary Feeling the Heat

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    Hi,
    I don't know about a full electric car like the Leaf, but were are on our 2nd Prius in SW Montana where it gets down to -20F once in a while. The Prius is parked outside 99% of the time, and we have not had any problems. It has also sat outside for as long as a couple weeks while we were on vacation with no problems.
    The Prius holds up to the cold weather better than I do :)

    Gas mileage drops a bit for short trips in the winter, but long trip mileage does not appear to be effected much.

    As an all around winter car, the only thing I could really wish for on the Prius is a little more ground clearance.

    --
    On the battery maintenance/replacement issue, there are quite are detailed DIY methods out there (one was in Home Power a few months ago) on rebuilding a hybrid battery pack. Basically involved evaluating each cell. Some cells will be OK, some can be recovered with a careful charging process, and a small number will need to be replaced. To me, the process sounded time consuming, but not very expensive. There is an good ebay supply of replacement cells for not a lot of money -- presumably from salvaged battery packs. So, I'd guess, the same sort of thing will happen for full electric cars if the the sales are sufficient.


    Gary
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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The need to charge would depend on car. Some have anti-theft or other devices that may provide a slight drain on the battery. But otherwise I would think that the issue with a zero degree battery would be pretty much the same whether is sat for a week or four.
  3. MishMouse

    MishMouse Minister of Fire

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    Well, it all depends on the temps, get a few weeks where the temps stay double digit below zero and it really sucks the juice out of the battery. Going outside and trying to start a ICE when the temp is -40 really tests the battery power, especially if you do not have the engine heater plugged in and you do not use synthetic oil.

    Though trying to move frozen oil wouldn't be an issue with an all electric and since you would already have it plugged in any loss should be recovered. The system most likely works similiar to a trickle charger once it reached max charge.

    What I would like to see is tests showing the performance of an all electric and or a hybrid in more adverse conditions (Alaska during the winter/AZ during the summer). Which is the main reason why I brought more external conditions into the discussion as they would need to be addressed as they could affect the performace.

    One of my co-workers owned a Prius, but they really didn't drive it in the winter and kept it in a heated garage.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Fortunately those temps are very extreme and rare. Most folks and cars never experience them. It takes lots of prep for cars to work if it's that cold. Some folks bring their batteries indoors overnight. Some have battery heaters and most all have engine block heaters.

    I can't find it now, but I read of a long term road test of a Prius in northern Quebec. It did quite well. The Prius is an ICE hybrid so I don't see why the car would have starting issues any more than a regular car would in -40F.
  5. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    I'm glad I don't have to worry about -40* weather in any case... keep those extreme temps to those who enjoy it or have to deal with it for some other reason. I imagine that if I lived somewhere where my car had to sit out in that temp then being an early adopter on electric cars likely wouldn't be my first concern. Then again, those who grew up there may just take it all in stride....

    I am, however, concerned about the reports from testers (such as Consumer Reports) that claimed the range in the Leaf fell to as low as 65 miles when using the Heat and/or AC. The clip I found from them on the web wasn't very detailed so not really helpful in understanding how they hit that point, but that does concern me as if that was with a new battery and it were 'normal' then take away that 20% that Nissan dealers have told me to expect to lose in the first 3 years, that puts it down to a possible 52 mile range with heater - now we're bumping into my range anxiety for winter commute here if I can't charge during the day (not an option yet, no guarantee it will be there within the 3 years...).

    I sure wish I could afford a Tesla.... They sure seem to have the range thing down (160/230/300mile) as well as many other design questions. Just the cost factor rather smacks me out of the ballpark.
  6. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Starting issues aren't the problem, it’s the lack of wasted energy in the form of heat and the drag on battery performance by an air conditioner. Between cold weather affecting a battery's output and the additional drain from having to heat seats/defroster/cabin I bet trip length is cut down considerably. Those are major power items.

    I guess for short trips electric heat will warm up a lot quicker than an IC but the power to run heating is a byproduct of needed engine cooling. There is no such waste to be scavenged from an electric engine, so you have to fire up the toaster coils and warm up the cabin. A snuggie ain't going to cut it.
  7. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Could always get a personal propane heater to use in the car in the winter. !!
  8. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    On the bright side, if the car is plugged in I do believe that some have the ability to schedule or remotely have the temp adjusted in time to leave so you don't have the drain on the batteries to get the cab temperature brought up or down (as the case may be). Sort of a remote-start for the auto HVAC system. Doesn't do much good if your work parking lot doesn't have a plug for you though...
  9. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    How about some slabs of soapstone - heat them on the stove before you leave, then put them under your feet and pile blankets on top like the old days?
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That is a thought. In cold regions you might be able install a compact diesel heater like an Espar or Webasto. I've seen a few home brew electric conversions that have done that.
  11. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    How about one of those tiny wood stoves? Have to slant the flue out the back I suppose, but what a site that would be to see driving down the road eh? Definitely need a barometric damper I imagine as the draft would go up as you hit highway speeds. Hmm... there are laws in MA about texting and driving, what about feeding your wood stove while driving?
  12. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I can see the new laws now ,No loading the wood stove while driving.
  13. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    If you could sacrifice some trunk space I'm sure a propane or even gas pony motor that could be a seasonal modification would work. Easy enough to add if you needed the extra 20-100 mile range.

    You wouldn't need a full-sized motor producing enough electricty to drive+charge because your destination would be programmed by the GPS. This way the motor would know when to kick on ahead of time to extend the battery and therefore gain extended range from a smaller/lighter motor. 100 miles electric, or 150 miles cogeneration. Something like that, but we'd have to learn to plan ahead.
  14. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I just got a new Beverageair so im getting much better range than i did with cans and bottles (burp) Im going green here im sure ,less bottles and cans to process. signing off for today.......................................................
  15. GaryGary

    GaryGary Feeling the Heat

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    That seems like a pretty slick idea to me.
    The IC engine could be small, light weight, and setup to run at maximum efficiency and constant rpm.

    Seems like an enterprising person might be able to build a prototype of this idea around something like a Leaf?

    If (say) the electric car has a 100 mile range on battery alone and uses 300 watt-hr per mile, then the usable battery capacity is about 30 KWH. If you want to do a (say) 160 mile trip without stopping to charge then how big an IC do you need?
    If you are averaging 40 mph, then the little IC engine has (160/40) = 4 hrs to generate 60 miles worth of range -- about 18 KWH worth of charging -- so, for this case, it would need to be an honest 4.4 KW (6 hp) engine running over the full 4 hours of travel time.

    Another nice thing about this is that you would never be totally stuck. The car would be able to manage some small speed with just the charge that the small IC is putting in, or you could pull over and let the IC charge for half an hour, and then move on some -- you don't have to worry so much of running out of juice at a really bad time, or just a mile short of a charging station.

    It does seem like in order to plan when the IC engine comes on you do need to know not only how far you are going, but how fast you want to get there -- the IC engine has less time to do its thing if you want to get there fast.

    Gary
  16. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Neat. And like you say you can supersize them if they want a bigger engine. It would go farther if we could get rid of some emissions rules. I mean if you're going 70 mi/gallon do we need a catalytic converter, which is really not for an engine running at 100% capacity?
  17. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    I think they're calling this setup a "BEVx".
    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/01/bevx-20120129.html
  18. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I said this before,in the case of the leaf and like cars,why not put a small generator in the trunk. Inexpensive range extender.$300-$500 If you know you will exceed your range for that day, fire up the gen from the get go. IM sure you could push that 8o mile range to well over 100. Just about every large camper and motorhome has one. Make it propane.With remote start.
  19. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Hell, link it to my Blackberry so my car can download my calender and start on its own. Estimate my trips and make reservations at chargi ng stations on the way. I can stop for an hour at a high-voltage charging station, catch up on email/texts, and keep moving. 4X10hour days will give Americans a whole extra day to shop!
  20. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The Ford Focus Electric will have some pretty sophisticated apps and networking that cover a lot of this.
  21. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Im glad ford is jumping into the electric game for us Buy american folks. I still think the prius is a good car but id like to see an american company have as much success worldwide as the prius has enjoyed. And id also like to see the ford and the volt on sale in japan(at a reasonable price) and South korea although im not optimistic of that happening. That said I still have to admire toyota for sticking with the concept even when it was not so popular or profitable.
  22. MishMouse

    MishMouse Minister of Fire

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    I just checked and Mitsubishi has the MiEV that gets 112 MPGe along with an 8 year 100K warranty.

    "Based on independent EPA testing, the Mitsubishi i can travel 62 miles on a full charge, in typical driving conditions. Incidentally, the EPA's MPGe ratings came in at 126 City and 99 Highway for a combined 112 MPGe—making the Mitsubishi i the most efficient electric vehicle in its class.12"
  23. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    Cute little car. Only 4 seat belts so won't meet my needs, cost is listed around $29K (before federal rebate) so it is less expensive than the leaf. For someone with short distance commuting in a city area it may well be nice. If I didn't have to drive 4 kids to school it might almost do for me - my daily drive on normal days is around 40 miles so that is in range... of course I wonder if this battery pack also loses 20% in the first few years and would thus land in the 49 mile zone and then leaving only 9 miles of range buffer for accessory (heat/AC) use...
  24. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I need space for 5 at least. Might be better off getting an SUV converted to electric. I hear toyota is coming out with a RAV4 electric soon. Thats an SUV, At least he current version is
  25. katwillny

    katwillny Guest

    Steven Chu says higher gas prices are a good motivator to get American off of the dependency of fossil fuels and foreign petroleum. Only problem with that is that the average guy has no control over how cars are being designed and hybrid cars are too expensive. Not to get all political just a personal view.

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