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Why Electric Cars Are Safer
9/9/2013

Tesla Model S's lithium-ion batteries are placed low in the vehicle, dropping its center of gravity. 
(Source: Design News)
Tesla Model S’s lithium-ion batteries are placed low in the vehicle, dropping its center of gravity. (Source: Design News)

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Bert22306
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CEO
Re: electric is the future.
Bert22306   9/9/2013 5:39:11 PM
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I have to say, I absolutely cringe at the oohs and aahs of the faithful gathered, in the video. Please!

Someone should take a look at how many cars go through gas sations, say along a busy interstate. And then calculate what volume and weight of batteries that gas station would have to be handling, per day, compared with the volume and weight of gasoline. And factor in that the gasoline car would make perhaps 1/3 to 1/10th as many fuel stops as the battery-powered electric.

Vehicle roll-over was a minor issue, until those swine SUVs became so popular. A battery-powered electric SUV, where the battery sits above the separate frame, would most likely also be more prone to rollover, than a low slung car. The only thing that matters here is to see where the wheel hubs are located, compared with the center of mass. Vehicles meant to ride over rough terrain HAVE to locate their frame well above the wheel centers. Instead, "modern" cars, as of the 1930s or so, have their frames and bodies wrapped AROUND the drivetrain, to lower the center of mass. This is all there is, to the rollover issue. A Tesla is not the same as a big pig of a Ford Expedition.

junko.yoshida
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Blogger
Re: electric is the future.
junko.yoshida   9/9/2013 7:52:53 PM
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I agree, Bert. The audience's reaction to that video released by Tesla is a  bit too much.  I, too, cringed.

Just to be clear, that system, shown in the video, doesn't charge batteries quickly. It simply takes out a depleted battery and replaces it with a fully charged one.

And when it comes to charging, although Tesla is rapidly reducing the charging times, Tesla Model S relies on a network of "supercharging" stations designed exclusively for Tesla. While technology advancements Tesla is making commendable, creating its own network of charging stations doesn't seem to advance the EV agenda as a whole...

Bert22306
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CEO
Re: electric is the future.
Bert22306   9/9/2013 8:01:05 PM
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About charging batteries, I figured they weren't being instantly charged, Junko. So my comment was, assuming people think this would be a viable large scale solution, just how much heavy lifting and bulky object moving around is going on, behind the scenes? A whole lot.

As you say, a Tesla-only solution like this is not very credible, as a solution to battery shortcomings. If battery powered electrics have a future, it has to be based on a standard approach shared by everyone. So that was the point of my comment. This doesn't seem to be a large scale solution, when you get beyond the marketing gimmick of the battery swap video. I don't want to be one of the "ooh aaah" crowd.

daleste
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Re: electric is the future.
daleste   9/9/2013 9:31:23 PM
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It is impressive to just swap batteries instead of charging.  That would make the electric vehicle comparable to a gasoline vehicle in the time to refuel.  I'm not sure how they would handle end of life of the batteries.  Would the refueling stations bear that cost?  Also, you would have to be careful not to get any undercarriage damage.  It could ruin the battery.

junko.yoshida
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Blogger
Re: electric is the future.
junko.yoshida   9/9/2013 10:08:52 PM
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I totally agree -- how they keep those bulky batteries for swapping uses alone is indeedvmind-boggling.

betajet
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CEO
Re: electric is the future.
betajet   9/9/2013 11:02:10 PM
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I look forward to the day when I'll never have to go to a refueling station.  The whole idea of having to go somewhere to refuel is so 20th Century.  IMO it's like having to walk to the post office to pick up your e-mail.

EmbeddedSteve718
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Rookie
Safe? Think Again
EmbeddedSteve718   9/10/2013 8:08:29 AM
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Most of the posts I would agree with, but with the following caveats:

1.  Gas vs. Toxic chemicals - Most newer cars have Li-ion batteries.  Though they are the best bang for the buck these days, they are also an environmental disaster.  Very toxic  So, being marred by burns cause by gasoline, vs. dying a horrible death from toxic poisioning - you pick.

2.  So you're driving around in this big battery in a metal car.  Hmm, get in an accident, and something shorts out - you think EMS will have the necessary gear (rubber insulated gloves) to exricate you from your 400V DC "cage" - Hmm. . . Think about it next time you take your Pirius for a drive in the country side. . .   Maybe in the big city you'd survive. . .


The one surprising note:  Given that most vehicles (especially Tesla) have to be re-designed specifically to be E-cars, to get the crash rating they do at this point in their "life" is truly amazing.  Hopefully, in 10-20 years, "all" cars will be much safer.  Of course, that depends much on the driver, which is still the weakest link in the chain. . .  

Whatever happened to fuel cell?  Chrysler worked on them years ago (even had a F-1 car IIRC) - but there's not been much to do. . .   Sure, talk about safety here - but where are all the NASA engineers?  How about a "next-gen" fuel cell:  Pour in water, get power out, emit only water/steam. . .  Now THAT would be truly wonderful.

And while were at it, can we ditch the wheels and go verticle?  Traffic these days is murder!

 

Caleb Kraft
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Re: Safe? Think Again
Caleb Kraft   9/10/2013 9:05:12 AM
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1. yes, the batteries are a toxic mess. However, the petrolium industry isn't without its toxic messes either. Burning isn't the only concern with gasoline.

2. It doesn't really work this way. There is a much greater risk of battery failure, fire, chemical leaks than shock. Just because the vehicle is electric doesn't mean that shock is a concern.

Jack.L
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CEO
Re: electric is the future.
Jack.L   9/10/2013 9:10:50 AM
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Bert22306,

 

There are several flaws in your argument:

- Vehicles like the Tesla-S have ranges and others likely with swappable battery packs will have ranges of 250+ miles or on the order of 1/2 to 1/3 of the majority of todays cars.

- You do not need to store a days worth of batteries, only enough for the (Peak car rate) / (Charging time).  If your charging times are on the order of 60-90 minutes, then the storage will be reasonable.

- Battery swap may be the exception, not the rule. Most of the time you will recharge at home, work, etc. Your interstate comment is correct. It is for long haul trips that the swaps will be needed.

Jack.L
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CEO
Re: electric is the future.
Jack.L   9/10/2013 9:13:05 AM
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End of life of the battery is really just an economic issue built into the pricing structure for the swap. No doubt there will be systems for a "deposit", etc.

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