The "gotta have it" just isn't there for electric vehicles.
bf sv nation ev stuck in neutral
SAN FRANCISCO--A year from now, we'll be writing that same headline,
I guarantee you. Electric vehicles will still have lackluster sales,
some more car and battery companies will have gone out of business,
and perhaps there will be some scandalous news coming out of
Department of Energy technology grants.
That may seem a bold prediction given that there's still a huge
amount of hype flooding us week in and week out. Recently, for
A research company called Mintel made some noise this week, releasing
a report that indicated EV sales were up 73 percent
EVs could be tapped as backup power, under a pilot
program backed by the Department of Defense.
But reality is this: It's been two years since the Chevy Volt
rolled off the assembly line. GM's still selling Volts, but
slowly. Tesla is building a lot of Model S sedans, but buying an
expensive car is different than making one. Fisker's Karma is
struggling. Battery vendors are falling by the
roadside. That Mintel report seems sexy, but that 73-percent
increase is off a tiny base, and EV purchases are still just 3.3
percent of total vehicle sales. That's like celebrating RIM
Blackberry market share in the smart phone business today.
Stronger headwinds will buffet EVs in 2013. Why? Because of this
"We've gone from the innovators to the early adopters
who are not going to put up with a bunch of headaches. Now we're
in a market where people say, 'This has to work.'"
That's from Stan Sittser, transportation electrification project
manager for Portland General Electric. He was staffing the Portland
International Auto show recently, where he gave
an interview to a local newspaper. ,
The instructive part of his take is we're at a place in the story
where people expect the technology to work. Right now, it
doesn't, in the eyes of the average consumer. It doesn't work
technically, and it doesn't work economically.
The average consumer is reading blog posts and watching TV stories
about lithium ion batteries on fire in Boeing 787s and Chevy Volts.
They're watching YouTube clips of Fisker Karma
campfires in parking lots. Perhaps worse, they're
reading stories about Mitsubishi
recalling nearly 15,000 EVs because of brake problems
unique to electric motor-powered cars. But even the most forgiving
tech-savvy consumer has to stare at the price tag of one of these
vehicles and think there's a year or more of the kids'
private-college tuition in that list price.
The thing about the hybrids is that the battery is merely supplementary. The NiMH battery will inherently accept more charges than Li-ion. However, the real advantage is that they keep the battery out of the range where there's significant degradation. Because the battery is only supplemental, it doesn't need to go to the extremes of charge, where most battery degradation occurs. The systems are designed to operate between 40-75% of charge, and by doing so they can last exponentially longer. Hybrid car owners call it the "Sweet Spot". I helped my folks set up their new laptop, and it did come with a setting to keep the battery in the middle of the charge range to maximize battery life. They didn't want it because they wanted to be able to draw down the battery and get maximum use on battery power.
The issue with an all-electric or plug-in hybrid is that one really wants to get as much range as possible. A regular hybrid only has a battery and electric motor to supplement the ICE (slow speeds and to boost acceleration) as well as recapture energy via regenerative braking.
I have heard stories of hybrid car drivers finding that they ran out of fuel. These cars have a "limp" mode where they will run on battery power only enough to get to a place to refuel. I've heard of cases where the driver decided to drive it home this way, the battery was fully depleted, and the battery life went south quickly. It was not covered under warranty because the electronics captured this "abuse".
That being said, the batteries are covered under emissions warranties, although that's only 7 years and 100K miles in California.
I have 2kW of PV that generates not all, but over half the power my LEAF uses, or about 6500 miles/yr solar. That's the one of the two key takeaways from EVs! One is more efficient propulsion; the other is flexible fuel sources from a variety of cleaner and cheaper fuels. ICE's are limited to fossil fuel or biofuels, which may be just as bad and are actually a very weak and inefficient form of solar energy.
When I'm in an ICE with someone else I like to ask what that gawd-awful noise coming from the front of the car is. And that wonderful "free" ICE heat in the winter? It's very expensive and being generated just as much during the vast majority of time when you don't need it.
I've had a Leaf for almost 2 years. I really enjoy its smooth and strong acceleration and quiet ride. One of the things that takes a while to get used to is the complete silence at a traffic light. What are those other cars doing?!?
Price may not be as much of an issue. Our GMC/Buick dealership recently accepted delivery of a real rarity: a completely base, six-cylinder, regular cab, pickup truck, priced under $20,000. Most of our pickup truck inventory is $40k plus, with quite a few in the $50k to $60k plus range. Yes, we do sell them. Many of them.
Comparing that with my experience developing and promoting EVs for a small mfg. What we have are two markets, where those who are most interested and stand to benefit most from EVs are lower income folks. The upper income folks can easily afford today's production EVs if they want to.
GM, using their resources, could build and sell ours for $15k, at which price they would fly off the lot. If we had one-tenth of one percent of the recent EV stimulus money, so could we...
According to what I've heard, the amount of solar panel space you need to keep a typical electric car fueled is about the size of a carport. Pretty silly to burn coal when the sun delivers power to your driveway for free.
I see Nissan Leafs all the time. Such a quiet, welcome change from all those noisy, smelly gas hogs destroying the planet.
The Volt is not an electric car. It's a hybrid car. It's not fair to besmirch the electric car market just because the market has decided that a Prius (mid-size or compact) is a better hybrid value.
But then, as Ed Begley Jr said in "Who Killed the Electric Car": "Electric cars aren't for everybody. They can only satisfy the driving needs of 90% of Americans."
In the defense of carmakers - they are saddled with the obnoxious burdens imposed by the NHTSC to sell a new car for on-road use. This burden is also why all models of vehicles are running $thousands more than they should.
I'm not an EV fan, but with the scope of regulation on new car OEMs, we are converging on vehicle designs that none of us will be happy with. A business model like Local motors that skirts the federal regs or an outright kit is the only soution left.
Where did you hear that? Toyota BHEV NMH batteries are going much longer than 100K and owners have reported no noticeable degradation. You can also lease a LEAF now for $219/mo. and then let it go. Fuel cost per mile: less than half that of the best BHEV (Prius), and even less when gasoline prices spike. I haven't needed to open the hood of my LEAF for ANY maintenance in almost 2 yrs. So where is the EV takeover? ;)