EV batteries won't have to exactly reach the range and energy density of a tank of gas, but they'll have to meet a few pretty hard requirements to be successful.
A good analogy might be the smart phone. Before smart phones, we might expect a week out of a single phone charge. With a smart phone, we have to live with charging every day. However, the increase in functionality made the trade off worthwhile (mostly).
An electric car will need to do a similar thing. It has to have a big enough benefit - something that liquid fuel cars don't have - to make the trade offs worthwhile. I don't see that on the horizon any time soon.
a 200 mile range is good for a commuter car. That's enough range to be able to make a daily 50 mile (total) commute without fear of running our of battery power. It's not realistic, however, in my opinion, for anything other than around town use.
Some of the promising new anode materials like silicon nanowires could make this an achievable goal by providing 4-5x the charge storage in the same battery volume.
The biggest challenge is not range, but charging time. Those future batteries with 4-5x the capacity will also require 4-5x the charging current to charge in the same amount of time as today's batteries -- and that charging time is already too long for EV purposes.
You've got a good point. I'd agree that the biggest challenge is charging time, but range certainly ranks up there. Fast charging would offset some of the problems with limited range, but at some point, range becomes too short to be practical. That's where thos 4-5X batteries will come in handy - if we can shove that many electrons around fast enough.
I may be off topic a bit here, but the bit in the article about the national media got me thinking about the EV radio commercials I've been hearing. What no one seems to be addressing is where the electricity will come from? Aren't we just trading one problem for another here? Feel free to set me straight...
Depends on where you live. Hydro and wind are more than capable of supplying energy for many areas. Unfortunately, we don't have great ways to transport that power to areas that don't have access (from what I'm told).
As GM and Ford not producing gasoline, EV batteries should be made by battery manufacturers with open interface, mounting styles and charging standard. They will push battery evolution much better than the effort from each individual EV maker.
One standardization example is the EV charging interface, by nature the interface should be DC and leave the AC capacity and PFC issues to outside commercial/home charging station.
Another standardization example is the battery safety. We know Li-ion battery could explode under impact. A bottom mounted style (such as in Tesla) should not be allowed, because an explosion by bottom impact could cause casualty for people in car. The bottom impact is rare, but very possible when a car run off the road.
Yes, it depends where you live. EETimes had a story not long ago -- with a link to an article in another publication -- about the equivalent mpg of EVs in each of the 50 states, which varied depending upon the means by which electricity was generated in those states. Some with lots of hydo & nuclear power, like Vermont, had huge numbers, upwards of 2000 mpg. Others, where coal was more dominant, had much smaller numbers.
The point has also been made about the inadequacies about the transmission infrastructure. I remember reading that during the big east coast heat wave this summer, a wind energy farm in the northeast was directed to turn down its output -- at a time when electricity demand was the highest -- because the transmission infrastructure couldn't handle it.
Still, there are those who have successfully argued, with supporting data, that even with today's electricity generation methods & aging distribution infrastructure, that EVs are still more efficient than gasoline combustion engine vehicles.
It's no accident that automakers are looking beyond the knee-jerk battery storage solution, for EVs. I agree that EVEN IF the range is extended to where the hype says, which if it holds true at all, it's only under the most ideal conditions of 73 degree F days, level roads, and light breezes, the time to recharge is a still a big obstacle.
We need to get some press coverage of more credible alternatives, so people can move beyond just the battery-electric solution.
@JanineLove: to a large extent, you are correct, we are mostly trading one problem for another. A truly renewable source of energy (Solar & Wind for now) when used to charge EV's can further enhance the green-ness of EVs. But there is also a large component of materials used in the operation of EV's are not efficiently recovered (like Li Ion batteries) so the problem compounds.