April 01, 2009
If The New Cars In Storage Were Electric

So I'm reading this Wall Street Journal article on surplus cars in storage and the thought occurs to me: If only these cars were all electric they could be used for grid load balancing while they were waiting to be sold. All those batteries could shift electric power from night to day.

Practically every small car in the market is stacked up at dealerships. At the end of February, Honda Motor Co. had 22,191 Fits on dealer lots -- enough to last 125 days at the current sales rate, according to Autodata Corp. In July, it had a nine-day supply, while the industry generally considers a 55- to 60-day supply healthy.

For other models the supply situation is even worse. Toyota Motor Corp. has enough Yaris subcompacts to last 175 days. Chrysler LLC has a 205-day supply of the Dodge Caliber. And Chevrolet dealers have 427 days' worth of Aveo subcompacts. At the current sales rate, General Motors Corp. could stop making the Aveo and it wouldn't run out until May 24, 2010.

Got any ideas on how to put Chevy Aveos to constructive use?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 April 01 07:56 PM  Energy Electric Cars


Comments
Fat Man said at April 1, 2009 8:45 PM:

"Got any ideas on how to put Chevy Aveos to constructive use?"

Building blocks for an artificial reef off Florida.

"If only these cars were all electric they could be used for grid load balancing while they were waiting to be sold. All those batteries could shift electric power from night to day."

No they couldn't. They would be wasting their life cycles. Besides, if batteries are used for grid load balancing, they will be NaS batteries the size of Hummers, not little batterires for cars.

sexyrobot said at April 2, 2009 9:01 AM:

beat them into ploughshares?

David Govett said at April 2, 2009 10:14 AM:

Once we all drive electric cars, the air will be full of toxic (not to mention radioactive) materials freed by burning coal. The only solution at present: nuclear power. Or "nukes" as the scientifically illiterate are wont to say.

JAY said at April 2, 2009 10:31 AM:

Melt them down and make SUVs. People like SUVs.

Randall Parker said at April 2, 2009 7:15 PM:

Jay,

You made me laugh.

sexyrobot,

You inspire me: convert Aveos into mini-tractors for small farm fields.

David Govett,

It really is possible to burn coal and not emit heavy metals or particulates. We just lack the will to force more thorough scrubbing of coal plant emissions.

Patrick said at April 3, 2009 2:37 PM:

wait, I don't get it, I thought that the whole reason Detroit went bankrupt was that they kept making those stupid big huge things that no-one wants anymore...

oh of course

...those stupid big huge things that no-one at a major newspaper or any of their five friends wants anymore. How silly of me to forget about contextualism and motive in the critical interpretation of texts ;)

Jerry said at April 3, 2009 2:44 PM:

"If only these cars were all electric they could be used for grid load balancing while they were waiting to be sold."

One problem is that if you do that, they are no longer new cars. They are used cars. They would have much lower value to buyers.

Beryl said at April 3, 2009 2:52 PM:

Jerry;

"One problem is that if you do that, they are no longer new cars. They are used cars. They would have much lower value to buyers."

Well, right now their value to buyers is > 0. Future value? Hmmmm....

T J Sawyer said at April 3, 2009 2:52 PM:

"One problem is that if you do that, they are no longer new cars. They are used cars. They would have much lower value to buyers."

And since batteries have a lifetime of x cycles.

And your idea would use up n of those cycles.

The ultimate buyer might find she is buying a new car with no battery. Where do these batteries go when they die, anyway? Chinese landfills?

KevinF said at April 3, 2009 3:36 PM:

Aside from ruining the value of a "new" car-thing that's a swell idea. Except you're forgetting one other thing. First we need to make an investment of, what, a trillion dollars or so to build the smart grid infrastructure to hook up and meter every scattered unsold imaginarily-electric car on every dealer lot and storage area.

But really though, if the whole battery-load balancing thing is a good idea utilities will be doing it anyway with purpose-built batteries that are not glued to four wheels and a car body, which means it will never be a good idea to do this with car batteries, ever, period.

Locomotive Breath said at April 3, 2009 4:14 PM:

It really is possible to burn coal and not emit heavy metals or particulates. We just lack the will to force more thorough scrubbing of coal plant emissions.

Now that it's clear it's possible to burn coal without emitting heavy metals or particulates, the greenies lost their argument for not burning coal. So they had to invent anthropogenic global warming and invent CO2 as a pollutant so they could still have an argument against burning coal.

JorgXMcKie said at April 3, 2009 4:45 PM:

You know, T J, I've been asking what they do with worn out Prius batteries ever since one of my friends first started blowing about how good Priuses were for the environment when the Prius first came out. I *still* haven't found a good answer except that they must be recycled. I also haven't found a good number on how much a replacement battery costs. If you battery goes bad do you have to junk the body and the gas engine?

Finally, I asked my friend to look up what it did to the environment to *make* all those Prius batteries, and what the cost to the environment would be to make about 15 million of them a year. He kinda quit talking about how wonderful the Prius was. (I do think he's still sniffing his own f*rts, though.)

Carl Pham said at April 3, 2009 5:07 PM:

Ah ha ha. Run the numbers. To even out electricity usage in California, you need to store about 8000 MW for 12 hours, a total of nearly 100 million kW*h. The Tesla roadster, a $100,000 superduper electric car, has a battery capacity of 50 kW*h, roughly, so you need 2 million Teslas for California alone. Just imagine the cost of hooking them all up...fancy protection circuits...idiot-proof high-voltage connections...step-up and -down transformers to get to the high voltage you need for long-distance transmission...then there's that whole AC/DC conversion problem, as in, batteries are DC and the power company deals entirely in AC.

You weren't serious, were you?

Randall Parker said at April 3, 2009 6:28 PM:

Carl Pham,

Partial solutions are useful.

Tim said at April 3, 2009 10:06 PM:

Help out the dumb guy here. What is grid load balancing?

therandombystander said at April 3, 2009 10:31 PM:

Tim -- The idea is to rapidly bring alternate power sources online in areas close to where demand increases are present, and to take it back off the grid in areas where there are surpluses. There is a theoretical energy efficiency increase because power is delivered into the grid near the location where it is needed and then absorbed back out over time, reducing some of the long-haul transmission and distribution losses and reducing the need to cycle large-scale generation sources up and down, which is less efficient and expensive. Large numbers of widely distributed batteries can do this, given a suitable smart interface into the power system, but as others have noted this would remove cycles from the batteries, and their ability to be cycled is limited.

Hence the utter infeasibility of doing it with vehicles on a sale lot. The buyer of a new car doesn't want to buy a vehicle that has been driven 15k miles while it was waiting to be sold, and the buyer of a used vehicle will adjust their perception of value according to what is printed on the odometer. The smart buyer who sees his/her "new" vehicle feeding power into the grid will devalue said vehicle in similar fashion.

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