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Robo-car Early-Birds Flock Together

9/11/2017 11:31 AM EDT
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realjjj
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Re: ...fully EV when???
realjjj   9/15/2017 2:11:21 PM
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The trailer would have a battery that fits its size and the solar array- was imagining how a modern trailer could look like and not a DIY solution. In 10m2 you could fit a 2kW array for a larger trailer.

With AV i am assuming we transition to car as a service. AV will lead to a larger cabin as comfort and convenience will be where the value is. With car as a service the cost of the vehicle is less relevant and from a marketing perspective , folks will race to do better than the other. So even a sedan should have first class airplane like seats and allow for comfy long trips.

Robots that charge the car are being explored, Tesla has shown a snake robot cable and VW a mobile robot charger. Given the charging rates required , maybe all chargers will be automated. Maybe a platform under the car that can also provide additional cooling if needed. With car as a service ,swapping the battery works too , if necessary - there was a report yesterday on Daimler investing in StoreDot, a startup trying to make batteries that charge in 5 minutes , maybe they succeed. Tesla is showing its semi truck next month, will be interesting to see how they charge it as they need either 1MW chargers or battery swap.

The future should be interesting and costs will be favorable with CaaS. The way I like to put it is that CaaS does for transportation what the smartphone did for computing. Cars have never been affordable at a global level but that's about to change.

About sleeping in the car on the horizontal, wonder how that can be enabled when some humans are still driving. A safety belt doesn't quite work and no safety belt is too dangerous. Maybe a sleeping bag/safety belt/airbag combo that somehow doesn't strangle you or break your spine in case of a crash - just came up with this solution, don't yet know how realistic it might be.

Greg504
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Re: ...fully EV when???
Greg504   9/15/2017 1:25:42 PM
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Just what you need Elizabeth.

http://workhorse.com/pickup/

elizabethsimon
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Re: ...fully EV when???
elizabethsimon   9/15/2017 11:50:40 AM
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@realjjj

I fear that we are wandering off topic here....

My current camp trailer is on the small end of the range and I can easily keep the battery charged with a small portable solar panel. At least when I'm not using my ham radio a lot. A lot of people have much larger camp trailers with AC, microwave ovens etc. That would be a bit more difficult to power using solar. I recently camped near a friend who had two 2kW generators set up in parallel in case he had to run his AC. For him to run off solar would require a lot more planning and expense. 

I like the idea of an EV in a van form factor with solar roof. Especially if it was an AV. For my usual commute and around town errands, I might not even have to plug it in most days. For longer trips, I could start out in the evening, tell the car where to go and go to sleep while it drove me there. Of course I'm assuming that it could hook itself up to a charging station as necessary along the way... I'd love to have something like that.

realjjj
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Re: ...fully EV when???
realjjj   9/15/2017 12:28:33 AM
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Don't know anything at all about camp trailers, what they offer ,what they don't, sizes, costs but solar should be feasible and more than sufficient today.

In theory you can even make a solar car that is self powered 90% of the time (ok I am pushing a bit LOL) and cars require quite a lot of energy. If average mileage in the US is around 40 miles per day and about half that in Europe, that's not a lot.

If you take as an example Alta Devices, they claim some 260W per m2 with their thin-film solar cells, depending on cell configuration. Let's say 1 mile of range per m2 to keep it simple. The capacity factor will reduce that by maybe 4 to 10 times depending on cell placement. If you have 5m2 at 20% capacity factor that's 24 miles per day, in ideal conditions. Maybe that's doable with just roof and front hood with many cars. If you also add cells on the sides, cost per output increases but would add a bit of range. A funny idea would be to use the air suspension to tilt the car and track the sun when parked, it's crazy but zero cost, all in all likely too weird. A more straightforward solution would be to have deployable solar but that's costly and requires substantial mechanical volume. Microcells and/or micronlenses that track the sun could work in some years.

So , as i see it, the key would be keep it simple, don't aim higher than necessary (no need to add 200 miles of range per day) and maybe  to find a cost effective way to improve the capacity factor. The most important part is body panel integration.  Maybe use polycarbonate instead of metal and it could work well from a cost and weight perspective. The cells are not that costly, if one makes an effort to properly integrate with the body panel. If the cost is additive, it doesn't work well but it doesn't have to be. Looks would be problematic too, if cells are placed anywhere but the roof so that also needs solving.

For folks that don't have a parking spot with a plug it would be worth it and ,if done well, it could even reduce overall costs for such customers. But it's all too much work so i'm not counting on anyone making much of an effort to solve this. Some cars will have solar roofs, Toyota Prius Prime is offering it as an option in Japan and likely a few others will follow. Something like the new Nissan Leaf would work well with a solar roof as it's a pretty generous area. https://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/nissan-leaf-2018-2.jpg?w=738


With a camp trailer, you could have cells on the roof easily but there are opportunities for a lot more than that and some easy to do solar tracking. Something designed with this goal in mind , could feed quite a lot of energy to the car as the energy used by the trailer is little ( i assume). 4m2 on the roof  x 250W at 20% capacity factor, is 4.8kWh per day. Add arrays on anything that swings up to provide shade and it gets even better.

elizabethsimon
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Re: ...fully EV when???
elizabethsimon   9/14/2017 5:44:12 PM
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Good point on the EV powering the camp trailer.  I hadn't thought of that.  I still might need a generator of some sort as I doubt that solar panels would provide adequate charging capacity for camping off grid.

Maybe by the time we have suitable EVs and AVs, solar panels will be efficient enough to charge an EV that is parked in the sun all day. This would also help a bit with the range...

All very interesting to contemplate.

realjjj
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Re: ...fully EV when???
realjjj   9/13/2017 10:15:35 PM
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Never considered range when towing, good point. EVs could help power the camp trailer and the other way around when necessary, maybe there are some opportunities there. And then AVs need to be comfortable enough to sleep in so the lines get blurred a bit, the car could attach itslef to the cam trailer and become an extra room.

Something like the VW ID Minibus would work nicely paired with a camp trailer. Minibuses and vans are a favorable form factor for the electric powertrain. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70vGWq1NguU

elizabethsimon
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Re: ...fully EV when???
elizabethsimon   9/13/2017 11:25:47 AM
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@realjjj

I agree, horsepower is not a concern. After all, trains run on electric power. The two big issues are the range when towing (and the infrastructure for quick recharge on the road) and that the affordable EVs do not have the capacity. I'm sure that both of these issues will be addressed at some point.

I'm not opposed to EVs or AVs. All I'm saying is that we're not there yet.

realjjj
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Re: ...fully EV when???
realjjj   9/12/2017 6:56:37 PM
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You have to watch this (just 3 mins starting from 3.22) https://youtu.be/ib-02b2ooLY?t=197

Not suggesting you should buy a $100k car (Model X can tow 5,000 pounds) but don't underestimate EVs. EVs with sizable batteries can offer a lot of horsepower.

realjjj
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Re: ...fully EV when???
realjjj   9/12/2017 6:44:25 PM
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This is the main problem with EVs today, people are not informed and that's OK, even the executives in the industry are utterly clueless.

EVs do require much faster charging and that will come. Today a Tesla needs an hour to fully charge at a Supercharger, in a couple of years a Porsche Mission-E will require 15-20 minutes to charge from 0 to 80% and in 10 years from now, it might be 5 minutes. Because of this , we won't need for every parking spot to have a plug, we can just transition from gas stations to charging stations.

Given that US drivers average maybe around 40 miles per day and EU drivers about half that, the ability to charge at home/work/school does reduce the requirements for infrastructure. If anyone wanted to, for folks that don't own a garage, an electric car could be 90% self powered with solar cells integrated in the body panels but that's another topic. In remote areas , electricity could be produced and stored locally with solar/wind+ batteries.

The infrastructure is lacking today but the transition is easy and accelerating. Tesla has a network that is decent and growing fast https://www.tesla.com/supercharger. The interesting part is that Tesla has a fleet of less than 200k vehicles today in the US. In a year from now, the size of their US fleet will triple, in 3 years from now it should be around 1.5 million vehicles. This growth gives them the opportunity to greatly expand the charging infrastructure. But that's just Tesla, other car makers are starting to invest, gas stations are starting to convert.  The infrastructure is not going to be an issue, at all.

Forgetting to charge is somewhat difficult when you charge every day and the car will warn you when you are in danger of running out of fuel and suggest charging locations. If you are likely to forget to charge, there will be vehicles that offer wireless charging. Cars are going connected too and getting smarter so they will learn your behavior and can better assist you, this kind of problem is avoidable.

A tow truck could bring you a charge and it's likely that modern tow trucks will have to acquire that capability. Likely the tow truck will be electric too so it will already have a large battery.

How green EVs are. The EV powertrain is much more efficient than ICE, that's important no matter how green the electricity is. As for electricity production, it is becoming greener and greener.http://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-reichmuth/new-numbers-are-in-and-evs-are-cleaner-than-ever  Customers that do care, usually have options to buy green power, most utilities do offer such options and there is no premium. Going forward ,electricity is going green, renewables are cheaper and cheaper, there is no going around that.

Rooftop solar is too costly for now, I agree on that but many folks are installing such systems anyway. The problem is that installation costs are very high in developed nations, in developing it's much better. For your farm , ground solar with tracking would likely work best from a cost perspective but you can always wait a few years and buy at half the cost.

Negatives for EVs:
- not everybody has access to a parking spot with a charger
- longer trips slightly less convenient
Can be addressed with much faster charging and slightly larger batteries.


Negatives for ICE
- air pollution  that causes a few millions premature deaths every year
- global warming
- noisy and smelly
- lazy, not as smooth and less fun of a ride since it lacks instant torque
- can't refuel at home, can't generate your own fuel
- a lot less efficient so higher fuel costs
- much more complex powertrain thus less reliable and with higher maintenance and repair costs
- less freedom for aerodynamics and aeroacoustics
- less freedom in managing the mechanical volume
- will slowly become socially unacceptable but this is a long term thing
- higher depreciation once EVs mature

There is no contest but you have to look forward not backwards. Maybe an EV doesn't fit your needs today but it will fit the needs of most Americans in 5 years from now and all Americans in 10 years from now while being much much better than an ICE competitor. At least with ownership as the bulk of the market will migrate to car as a service with autonomous electric vehicles by then.

If you look at the US market, the average new car is some 34k$ and trending up so when it comes to revenue share, EVs will be able to address the bulk of the market in a very compelling way very soon.

elizabethsimon
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Re: ...fully EV when???
elizabethsimon   9/12/2017 6:40:49 PM
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@sixscrews

I agree, the infrastructure isn't here yet for an EV outside urban areas or for long distance travel. And I suspect it's going to be quite a while before we see an EV that can tow a camp trailer so I'm going to hang on to my ICE pickup truck for the foreseeable future.

I'd love to have an AV but that's likely to be a while as well. Especially since I'd really love for it to replace my pickup truck while towing my camp trailer.

I'm hopeful that I'll see it in my lifetime and would really like to see CaaS before I becomer unable to drive.

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