December 18, 2010
First Nissan Leaf Owner Reports On Battery Range

Olivier Chalouhi can only get the claimed 100 mile range at lower speeds.

After picking up his car on Dec. 11 and taking it to a press conference at San Francisco City Hall, Chalouhi said he brought the Leaf home and plugged it in -- the battery was running low. He said the car's mileage varies wildly. Chalouhi said he can get 100 miles per charge in slow city driving, but only 50 or 60 miles at 75 mph on the freeway.

Still, even if you commute 25 miles each way at high speeds the car would still work for you if you could charge it every night. If you are commuting more than that you have my sympathy.

Ford's electric Focus, coming in late 2011, is supposed to have a 100 mile range too. The Leaf has a simpler battery pack than the Focus. The active cooling and heating of the Ford Focus battery will reduce range degradation in more extreme temperatures and therefore the Focus should achieve closer to its range more of the time. Yes, if you want to be among the electric car cognoscenti and drive a better one you will have to bone up on battery chemistries and active cooling and heating systems.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 December 18 07:03 PM  Energy Electric Cars


Comments
Wolf-Dog said at December 19, 2010 7:38 AM:


Nissan and Renault will have their cars manufactured in such a way that the battery will be swapped by robots in less than 60 seconds at "gas" stations. It would cost two weeks of imported oil to build these gas stations where batteries can be swapped. But it would cost 1 year of imported oil to put charging pods in every street.

http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/energy/23526/
http://www.betterplace.com/

Meanwhile, within a few years batteries will be much better and cheaper, but in all cases, the charging infrastructure and battery swapping stations must be built before any kind of electric car is popularized. The oil industry lobbies will do everything possible to prevent the government to build the charging infrastructure, but private funds can be found for just the battery swapping stations. If enough stations are built, then maybe electric cars can be popular. Agassi (CEO of Better Place) says that by the end of this decade both Israel and Denmark will have closed 90 % of their gas stations and that within a few years they will have already installed the battery swapping stations.

Engineer-Poet said at December 19, 2010 11:16 AM:

People with PHEVs won't be forced to use charging infrastructure, but people who are used to plugging in at home will form a market for charging pods at work, at the mall, at public parking structures, etc.  That kind of trend can feed on itself pretty quickly, and once the pods are there the BEVs will follow.

Mike McDaniel said at December 19, 2010 12:11 PM:

Electric vehicles like the Leaf, and pseudo-electric vehicles like the Volt are, and likely will remain for the foreseeable future, solutions to non-existent problems. Even if such a vehicle had a completely reliable 100 mile range at highway speeds between charges, it would not be a viable alternative for enough of the American public so as to relegate it to a very small, non-profitable niche indeed. Cars of the future? Only if the future contains enormous leaps in battery technology far beyond those currently scientifically possible. Or, of course, if Mr. Obama gets his fondest wishes and is able to bankrupt America and make energy prices "necessarily skyrocket." But unfortunately, that wouldn't work either, as another of his fondest desires is to completely destroy our capacity to make electricity by means of coal fired plants while simultaneously preventing oil and natural gas exploration and production and the construction of unclear plants. So much for overnight charging. Oh well. Such vehicles may at least keep the rain off driveways.

Kevin said at December 19, 2010 12:17 PM:

Well, 75MPH is obviously higher than the reference speed and air resistance goes way up at those speeds. Pretty much expected that the range would suffer. This is a city-commute car and a poor choice for constant highway use. To those that say the problem it solves is non-existent, feel free to drive in Los Angeles.

bill said at December 19, 2010 12:18 PM:

Compare the energy desity of gasoline and any battery....electric cars are the technology of the future, and always will be.

megapotamus said at December 19, 2010 12:21 PM:

There is no serious virtue to electric cars over hydrocarbon fueled cars unless the electricity is not produced by hydrocarbons. And charging stations will not be as universally applicable as gasoline or even CNG stations because the various batteries will have various requirements and nearly always those requirements will include hours at least to get anything like a full charge. The battery swapping regime may be viable for a fleet but for the general consumer it would mean a single battery model for everyone or expensive parallel development. Shall we go with VHS or Beta? There was an alkaloid swapping scheme years ago that might have been viable but it is far from cheap and the toxicity of the brew was much greater than petrochemicals. The bottom line is that absent a serious breakthrough in battery performance (the motors are already pretty efficient) electric cars are a novelty and an expensive one at that. The Leaf is a subsidized boondoggle and no balm to the presumed "problems" of our transportation habits.

Pickersenior said at December 19, 2010 12:45 PM:

First – Where does the battery charging power come from? From utility companies like , PG&E, SCE, Con Edison, Duke Energy, and many other power companies all over the place. They burn fossil fuels in their generation mix, and affect the atmosphere just like any other power company. This will increase with the Electric vehicle population. By the way, this power is not free. These utilities love it because it improves their revenue stream. Government loves it because it increases their tax revenues from the power companies. Since batteries have finite lives, battery makers and support industries love it. A lot of money making opportunities here.

Second – What happens if we drivers run out of battery power? If we have a Chevy Volt, plug in Toyota Prius, or other type of hybrid vehicle, we can continue with the fossil fuel engine which needs fuel like any other vehicle. If we have a Nissan Leaf, Tesla, or other type of all electric vehicle, we stop and have to recharge, which may not happen at a convenient time. This is a boon to the towing and recharging unit manufacturing companies like GE, etc. A lot more money making opportunities here.

Third - If one looks at the new CAFÉ standards for emissions, mileage figures, initial costs, etc., and does the math, they can conclude:

The only plug-in electric vehicle that can honestly claim parity, much less superiority, to a conventional fuel powered vehicle, is one that's equipped with a dedicated wind turbine, Generation Plant, or dam.

inspectorudy said at December 19, 2010 12:52 PM:

No batteries will not get cheaper if we use any of the precious metals now in use. China is one of the largest supplier of Lithium and is going to "Cut" back production. Duh! Can you guess why? They are going into the electric car business and to have an inside track on the metals to make the newest batteries gives them a huge advantage. Also, the aftermath of mining these metals is very toxic and has enormous consequences to the land nearby. At this moment in time electric cars are a rich persons toy to make them feel green, what ever the hell that means. If you are a commuter it may make you feel special to drive using no fuel but the coal or nuke plant that supplies your charging power is still doing the same thing it has always done. And for the guy above who stated that we should compare gas to battery power, I say go right ahead. It takes one gallon for most of these little cars to go 35 miles at 60 mph and the fuel weighs about 7 pounds/gallon. The same amount of battery power weighs about one thousand pounds and cannot be refueled in five minutes at any station in the country.

WuzzaDem said at December 19, 2010 12:57 PM:

Origins of the manufactured word Prius: pious, prissy, pompous, preachy, pissy ...

JamesB said at December 19, 2010 1:27 PM:

These poor range numbers for highway speeds are not surprising. If you remember, the original Chevy Volt design was to run the electric wheel motors from the car's generator (when the battery was depleted) at *all* speeds, city or highway. But I think they found in real-world conditions that highway speeds put too much electrical load on the system, because at some point they quietly redesigned it to a more traditional hybrid setup where the gas engine can directly drive the wheels. Based on GM's lack of innovation over the last 10-20 years, it was hard to believe that Toyota and Honda would not have discovered and already implemented a system a decade ago where a car can get 50MPG+ running on an electric generator driving electric motors for the wheels. So when GM said that's exactly what they were doing, anybody who wasn't skeptical should have stopped sipping the kool aid. The fact that the Volt's original design was with a gasoline generator, and not a diesel generator (the gold standard for small generator fuel type) should have told you something. I am a computer scientist, I love technology, but no one company has had the guts or the innovation yet to take the best of all tech and assemble it into one place. Small turbodiesel car engines are ridiculously efficient and still powerful, and if Volkswagen could make a decent car to put around it they'd be winning right now. Hybrid electrical drives make sense for city driving where fuel-based engines are constantly wasting energy to get moving only to stop again, but fully electric vehicles with long ranges spend a lot of cost/weight on batteries. Continuously variable transmissions allow cars to operate at precisely their peak power/efficiency RPMs for the current driving conditions. So when will we see a TDI Hybrid with a CVT transmission?

swift boater said at December 19, 2010 1:48 PM:

Inspectorudy,

I dont think you got "Bill's" little comment:

'electric cars are the technology of the future and always will be'

meaning that the technology will never be there to make them feasible. While I am always hesitant to say 'never', his point is made.

Greg F said at December 19, 2010 1:55 PM:
Chalouhi said he can get 100 miles per charge in slow city driving, but only 50 or 60 miles at 75 mph on the freeway.
And that is in a warm climate. Electric vehicles have a long way to go before they will be even marginally useful in the northern latitudes.
Bruce said at December 19, 2010 8:31 PM:

Would you drive an ICE car if you had to take it to a filling station EVERY day fearing that you would run out of fuel if you didn't?

JEM said at December 19, 2010 9:59 PM:

I won't get into the EV-or-not-EV argument, as far as I'm concerned there's room for both (I lose no sleep over burning hydrocarbons as long as we have access to sufficient friendly sources for the foreseeable future, and we DO if we had the political will to make use of them.)

It was clear from early on that Nissan was compromising the pack design to keep the cost down, and that we'd find out sooner or later what the operating-experience cost of that was. And so now we see it.

When the EPA came out with their 73-mile number I hit the Nissan folks with that and their response was that they stood by their 100-mile claim. Based on this one data point, the EPA number looks quite accurate.

In any case, that's less than the old EV1 got in NiMH and Panasonic form, though admittedly the EV1 was only a two-seater. The EV1 was also noticeably faster.

My guess is that the market for an EV with a 60-mile useful range (based on a typical commute of 1/3 urban 2/3 freeway) is about 1/3 that of the market for an EV with a 100-mile useful range. It certainly falls below the threshold at which I'd pony up.

Greg F said at December 20, 2010 2:28 AM:
I won't get into the EV-or-not-EV argument, as far as I'm concerned there's room for both ...
There wouldn't be an argument if the government wasn't taking money out of our pocket to subsidize hair brain solutions.
agathis said at December 20, 2010 6:08 AM:

This is no surprise, given what we knew about the Leaf and the inevitable tendency of car companies to overstate any stats that will help sales. I tend to agree that the electric car is a solution to a non-existent problem. Unless someone can deliver a car with a 200-mile range that can be charged quickly (or batteries switched out quickly), and sustain highway-level speeds, people will not buy it in large numbers. The idea that people will change their driving behavior when cheap, abundant fossil fuels (even at their currently-high prices) are available is completely ridiculous. There are hardly any virtues in the current crop of electric vehicles.

Don't get me wrong: I'd love to see an EV that actually delivered on its promises, but I'd much rather see an EV that actually fulfilled consumer demands. Right now, these cars can't even deliver on a *fraction* of the range and capabilities that the market demands. Someday, maybe. But it's pretty clear that very significant advances in battery technology will be necessary *as a first step* toward doing that. There is a very long list of technological and engineering challenges that need to be overcome before any of this will be a practical alternative to conventional fuels.

TOBY FLENDERSON said at December 20, 2010 8:46 AM:

bill said at December 19, 2010 12:18 PM:

"Compare the energy desity of gasoline and any battery....electric cars are the technology of the future, and always will be."

A gallon of gas weighs about 6 pounds. How far will YOUR car go on one gallon? 50 miles...30...10?? (The Hummer gets about 10 miles to the gallon!)


This article says the Leaf battery pack weighs 660 pounds:
http://www.hybridcars.com/news/13-key-questions-and-answers-about-nissan-leaf-battery-pack-and-ordering-28007.html

This article says the Leaf batter weighs 440 pounds:
http://www.allcarselectric.com/blog/1033848_2011-nissan-leaf-batteries

Using the low figure of 440 pounds, 440 pounds of gasoline is about 73 gallons. Times a miserable 10 miles per gallon is a range of about 730 miles. And the Leaf is thumping its chest about a 100 mile range?

In California there is a mandatory smog check every two years to insure that all vehicles are emitting properly, so the emissions from gasoline are tolerable. Honda has an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle program for years now (see here: http://automobiles.honda.com/accord-sedan/environment.aspx)

Being able to refuel anywhere anytime makes a gasoline powered car (and by extension a diesel powered car - I understand VW sells a diesel Golf in Europe that gets 73 miles per gallon) the only realistic choice for Americans.

If I am going to be tethered to only a few miles from my house the price of the vehicle has to reflect that inconvenience, say sub $7K or so. At 8 hours or so to recharge, the usefulness is extremely limited.

The hysteria over petroleum based fuels (and for the record they are NOT "fossil fuels" as the Russians proved in the 1950's. See here: tech-know.eu/uploads/Oil_is_NOT_a_Fossil_Fuel.pdf) is more phony enviro bullcrap. There is so much oil seeping up out of the San Andreas fault running along the California coast that coastal hotels have signs posted pleading with guests not to track tar into their rooms!

Let the free market decide if there is interest in electric vehicles, Where are the enviros demanding we build nuke plants to power these electric cars??

richardb said at December 20, 2010 9:17 AM:

$33,000 for a car that can go 50 miles per day. Only a lunatic would pay it.
$33.000 for a car that can go 100 miles per day. Only a fanatic living in the city would pay it.

For that I could get a V8 Mustang convertible that can drive all day and night and go from zero to 60 in about 5 seconds, or less.
For $33,000 I could buy a BMW motorcycle that gets 50 mpg and a Honda Civic gas that gets in the 30's mpg.

As the Audi North American CEO said about the Volt "there aren't enough idiots" to buy it. Same goes for the Leaf. Sorry.

JEM said at December 20, 2010 12:17 PM:

richardb - actually, I might consider $33K for something that can go 100mi reliably and refuel overnight in the garage if the operating costs are low enough.

I wouldn't spend $33K on a Mustang, but there is a lot of hardware out there that it'd buy. You can get two used '05ish CTS-Vs for that. Or a Honda Fit and an old Suburban and cover both ends of the spectrum. A new Jetta TDI and a nice vacation?

Engineer-Poet said at December 20, 2010 10:54 PM:

I like a lot of Glenn Reynolds' stuff, but I hate to say that one can tell in an instant when an Instalanche has hit Futurepundit because the bulk of comments suddenly become 100% ideological/0% thoughtful/0% logical.

Electric vehicles like the Leaf, and pseudo-electric vehicles like the Volt are, and likely will remain for the foreseeable future, solutions to non-existent problems.
Perhaps the problem of acute collapse of the economy due to $4+/gallon gasoline is beyond Mr. McDaniel's memory, being in the distant past of 2008.
Compare the energy desity of gasoline and any battery....
Whereas the gasoline tank is useless without an engine to burn the gasoline, and the weight of most engines is a large fraction of the weight of current battery packs for vehicles of similar size. "bill" should have his own "desity" checked.
There is no serious virtue to electric cars over hydrocarbon fueled cars unless the electricity is not produced by hydrocarbons.
In the immortal words of Tom and Ray, this statement was obviously produced by someone "unencumbered by the thought process".  It's easy to come up with several such virtues without breaking a mental sweat:
  1. The electric car can use hydrocarbons which don't fit easily into a vehicle-sized tank (e.g. methane).
  2. The electric car can use very efficient heat engines which are too big or complex to be put on a vehicle (e.g. combined-cycle gas turbine, integrated gasification combined-cycle coal plant).
  3. The electric car can use hydrocarbon fuels which are in relative abundance domestically, displacing imports and providing energy and economic security.
  4. The electric car moves the major sources of pollution out of city centers.
Yada, yada, yada.  Break some sweat on that skull and you can come up with more.
By the way, this power is not free. These utilities love it because it improves their revenue stream. Government loves it because it increases their tax revenues from the power companies.
Pickersenior hasn't looked very hard at the economics, because the amount of money changing hands remains about the same at $3/gallon prices.  Roughly 75¢/gallon equivalent goes for electricity, and the rest for batteries; utilities come out on the short end.  What changes mostly is that the money doesn't leave the country right away for imported fuel, so the economy benefits.
No batteries will not get cheaper if we use any of the precious metals now in use. China is one of the largest supplier of Lithium and is going to "Cut" back production.
Lithium is a very small part of battery prices, and there are very large deposits in Bolivian brines.  The Salton Sea geothermal complex yields about 16,000 tons per year of elemental lithium, and the Salton Sea itself has about 200 ppm.
Would you drive an ICE car if you had to take it to a filling station EVERY day fearing that you would run out of fuel if you didn't?
Would you buy a car if you could fill its tank to the top every night in your own garage and had no worries about fuel prices spiking suddenly?
Unless someone can deliver a car with a 200-mile range that can be charged quickly (or batteries switched out quickly), and sustain highway-level speeds, people will not buy it in large numbers.
It's a commuter car, a perfect second car.  Give it a connection for a trailer-mounted generator, and it's an only car too.
This article says the Leaf batter weighs 440 pounds:
The Chevy 4.3 liter V6 weighs about 425 pounds.

Etc.  You can find enough illogic and blind-to-fact positions among Reynolds' readers to make lefty moonbats look sane some days, and that's just plain sad.  (If you don't like it, fix it; don't waste time flaming me for pointing out your own ignorance.)

Bruce said at December 20, 2010 11:03 PM:

EP: You gotta love coal burning cars --- oops. EV's.

EP: "Would you buy a car if you could fill its tank to the top every night in your own garage and had no worries about fuel prices spiking suddenly?"

I have no garage, I park on the street. I'm pretty sure its not legal to run an extension cord from my house, over the sidewalk to the car.

Greg F said at December 21, 2010 4:06 AM:
I like a lot of Glenn Reynolds' stuff, but I hate to say that one can tell in an instant when an Instalanche has hit Futurepundit because the bulk of comments suddenly become 100% ideological/0% thoughtful/0% logical.
You forgot "and EP spews copious amounts of hyperbole".


Engineer-Poet said at December 21, 2010 6:51 AM:
You gotta love coal burning cars
Yes, actually, you do.  Especially because they become natural gas-burning cars or nuclear-powered cars without changing the car.
You forgot "and EP spews copious amounts of hyperbole".
Illogic and hypocrisy too.  A bad combination.
Bruce said at December 21, 2010 9:53 AM:

EP: " Especially because they become natural gas-burning cars or nuclear-powered cars without changing the car. "

Coal will supply over 40% of the USA's electricity at least for 30 more years. So those EV's will ALWAYS be coal burning cars.

richardb said at December 21, 2010 10:42 AM:

So true believers, the Leaf takes a minimum of $10,000 in taxpayer money(car subsidy + home charging equipment subsidy) to make the Leaf a $33,000 car.
For that $43,0000 I get a car with a range of about 50 miles in real world driving conditions. In city driving with relatively flat surfaces it is nearer to 100 miles in slow mode. I can charge it at home for 16 hours or with the 220 volt charging station do it in 8 hours. Either way, in practice, this car has a 50 to 100 mile range per day centered from the owners house. Who would buy it? City dwellers that live and work close together. Rural and suburbs, forget it. Who lives and works in a city? Typically affluent people that can afford the high city costs. Cities like San Francisco, LA, New York, Chicago, San Jose, Boston, etc are prime candidates. Whether those cities can afford the astronomical costs of building charging stations in high enough numbers to extend the real world range beyond the owners home is increasingly doubtful since cities are broke by and large.

Affluent city people, please knock yourself out and pay $43,000 for it. If $43,000 is too much for you, don't buy it or cut your family's budget to make room for it. Just stop the free loading on the rest of society.

Clearly in the real world the Leaf and Volt are uneconomic. It will remain uneconomic for years to come given the costs for the batteries and charging stations.
I understate the cost of the Leaf since I don't include the borrowing costs to the governments for their $10,000 subsidy nor do I include the costs of building charging stations on public property, again with borrowed money. Without huge government subsidies neither the Volt or Leaf would come to market. Given how broke governments are right now, it's not likely the subsidies will remain. With the new Congress much more Republican and representing people not likely to be Leaf buyers, I expect these subsidies to end as soon as next year's federal budget.

Greg F said at December 21, 2010 10:52 AM:
Illogic and hypocrisy too. A bad combination.
Yea EP, insults are always a large part of your weak argument.
Whereas the gasoline tank is useless without an engine to burn the gasoline, and the weight of most engines is a large fraction of the weight of current battery packs for vehicles of similar size. "bill" should have his own "desity" checked.

All the above is meaningless babble. The Leaf is built on a modified Versa frame. The Leaf weighs in at a bit over 3,300 lbs while the Versa is a bit over 2,500 lbs.

Perhaps the problem of acute collapse of the economy due to $4+/gallon gasoline is beyond Mr. McDaniel's memory, being in the distant past of 2008.

Blaming the “acute collapse of the economy” on gas prices aside, perhaps EP is tied too much to ideology to actually make an argument. The Versa MSRP is $10,000 while the distance challenged Leaf is $33,000. How much gas will $23,000 buy? What the heck, let’s go for $5/ gallon. So for the additional $23,000 we could buy 4600 gallons of gas at 5 bucks a gallon. The Versa gets 26/31 mpg. Going with 26 mpg you could drive 119,600 miles on just the purchase price difference. Throw in the $2,000 docking station and break even grows to 130,000 miles. Add in the opportunity costs as well as the money spent on charging the batteries and you have a big looser. I am sure that EP has a Leaf on order cus you know it makes so much economic sense.

Bruce said at December 21, 2010 1:12 PM:

Greg F, I hate to correct you, but as richarb said the Leaf is a 43,000$ car without subsidies. Thats 33,000 worth of gas for a ULEV. 6600 gallons. 171,000 miles. My guess is that the Leaf would wear out long before the break even point.

Greg F said at December 21, 2010 8:39 PM:

Bruce,
Not a problem. It doesn't surprise me the government is hiding the subsidies.

Engineer-Poet said at December 21, 2010 10:21 PM:

It's fascinating to watch the lies and disinformation put forth by the "conservatives" here.  I put the word in scare quotes because a real conservative knows that the truth is where they want to be, even if they're mistaken about where it lies; an ideologue or propagandist doesn't care about the truth.

The above comments provide a wealth of examples:

the Leaf takes a minimum of $10,000 in taxpayer money(car subsidy + home charging equipment subsidy) to make the Leaf a $33,000 car.
The Leaf is $32,780 MSRP, plus $2200 for a charger.  That's about $35,000 all told, no subsidies.
I can charge it at home for 16 hours or with the 220 volt charging station do it in 8 hours.
A full charge from 220 V takes 7 hours, not 8.  The charger is not required; the Leaf can charge from a standard 110 V 15 A circuit, but this is not recommended as the primary charging mode.  The Level III quick charger can charge the car in as little as 15 minutes.

The idea of using only 110 V charging is interesting.  If a commuter had an available outlet at work as well as at home, the car could be plugged in as much as 22 hours per day and the battery would always be at full charge before a drive... without a penny spent on chargers.

If $43,000 is too much for you, don't buy it or cut your family's budget to make room for it. Just stop the free loading on the rest of society.
Whereas all the wars to protect OPEC oil supplies should be paid for by income taxes, not gas taxes?  Hypocrite.
I understate the cost of the Leaf since I don't include the borrowing costs to the governments for their $10,000 subsidy nor do I include the costs of building charging stations on public property, again with borrowed money.
Estimated cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is as much as $3 trillion.  That's enough to give a $10,000 subsidy to replace every single light-duty vehicle in the USA with some left over, and we're still not done with the wars yet.
Without huge government subsidies neither the Volt or Leaf would come to market.
Without huge government subsidies for oil, nobody would be driving anything that got less than 50 MPG and electrics would be all over the place.  Have you already forgotten the enormous tax subsidies the Bush administration gave to guzzler-buyers as "economic stimulus"?  You're both economically and historically illiterate; some "conservative" you are, you have no clue about what's conservative and what's risky and profligate.

Engineer-Poet said at December 21, 2010 10:23 PM:

And continued with the next comment, which (to be fair) isn't quite so bad:

The Leaf is built on a modified Versa frame. The Leaf weighs in at a bit over 3,300 lbs while the Versa is a bit over 2,500 lbs.
You don't compare the options of the base Versa and the base Leaf.  Options add weight.  What's the difference between equivalent cars?  The Versa with the CVT costs $16,900.
The Versa MSRP is $10,000 while the distance challenged Leaf is $33,000. How much gas will $23,000 buy?
Do you think the people who'd buy a Leaf would be in the market for a base-model Versa?  They are not comparable vehicles.  The Prius might be comparable, depending on the intended use.  Look at the different Versa option and trim levels here.
the Versa is a bit over 2,500 lbs.
The 1.8 Versa is rated 2722 lb curb weight with the auto trans, not 2500.  The Leaf battery pack itself is only 440 lbs, so the bulk of the extra weight has to be from structural reinforcements and (probably) other enhancements.
I am sure that EP has a Leaf on order cus you know it makes so much economic sense.
I doubt I'll have anything on order for another 5 years minimum.  I usually drive my cars into the ground before replacing them, and I'm barely started with this one (only 6 years and 130,000 miles).  When 2016 rolls around, I'll see what the various PHEV offerings look like.

BBM said at December 22, 2010 7:47 AM:

Every dollar we don't have to send overseas to the middle east is a huge bonus. Not funding those areas has value in itself to me that I'm willing to pay extra for.

In some ways, electrification can be thought of as a luxury good. We spend lots of money on such goods and never expect them to "pay for themselves" the way people suggest that a Leaf or Volt should (eg leather seats, navagation, premium sound system, sport package etc).

Eventually the technologies will get cheaper, and then it will be a no brainer. But until then, a strong argument can be made to be an early adopter.

I'm a conservative and I'm sick of spending US money on stabilizing the Mid East and Persian Gulf to provide benefit to the whole world while the rest of the nations free-ride of off our efforts, treasure, and blood.

Electrification gives the mid-east a big middle finger and reduces our exposure to economic risk in the long term.

richardb said at December 22, 2010 10:46 AM:

EP misses the obvious. The MSRP is about 32K AFTER THE 7,500 subsidy from state and federal governments. The $2000 charger is also subsidized by the governments. Its all there on the Leaf website. That website also says subsidies for charging stations could be as much as $50,000 for the public stations.

EP, you make straw man arguments because you have nothing accurate to say. Nobody is talking about wars except you. This is a discussion of the merits of a car.

The merits of Leaf all hinge on huge subsidies. Around $10,000 per car. Why should I be taxed to give someone else the ability to buy a specific vehicle? If that is fair and proper, then someday a politician could institute $20,000 subsidies to buy V12 hot-rods from GM or Ford in the name of supporting jobs in America.

CT said at December 22, 2010 11:25 AM:

To all of you who are griping about the tax subsidy: How much of your
Tax dollars go to supporting the military whose sole function seems
to be fighting for control of oil regions? 50%! But I don't ever see any of
you complaining about that.

BBM said at December 22, 2010 12:11 PM:

richardb,

EP's point is that oil is also the recipient of invisible "subsidies" that hide its true cost.

The US has to expend a lot of money, effort, and blood to stabilize the Middle East, keep open the sea lanes of communication for oil transportation etc. The oil dollars have also enriched radiacls like the Saudis who have funded the world wide exportation of Whabi inspired madrassas and mosques. These are great at radicalizing muslims and destabilizing Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Egypt, and are proliferating in Europe.

All of these things produce costs not reflected in the price of oil. Costs that are disproportionately born by the US taxpayer. Most other rich countries free ride. China gets a HUGE benefit from our policing of the Mid East.

Wouldn't it be great to interrupt the flow of funds, even a little, to the Mid East?

Oil is a great fuel... it really is too bad that the major reserves of the world are in such an unstable region.

Bruce said at December 22, 2010 12:18 PM:

EP and BBM, good luck trying to buy rare earth metals from China. Pretty soon the USA will have to fight China for EV raw materials.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/25/business/global/25minerals.html?_r=2

However, Shale NG is so huge, that the USA could convert to NG and just rely on Canada and the USA for oil.

BBM said at December 22, 2010 12:40 PM:

Bruce,

1. You don't need rare earth metals to make electric motors (although they are very useful).

2. You referenvce is from Sept 24th. China threatened to stop RE exports but they have renewed trade on rare earth metals (beacuse they were afraid that it would stimulate other countries to develop their own rescouces.

3. The US is set to ramp up mining of our own RE metals:
http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/26980/?p1=A1

4. There are other exploitable sources not controlled by China.


I agree that shale Natural Gas is huge for the US. I'd love to have a PHEV that has a CNG range extender.

Engineer-Poet said at December 22, 2010 2:51 PM:

I wouldn't mind having an EV with a trailer hitch and a high-power socket above the bumper so I could bring along a generator only when I wanted one.  I could rent one that ran on gasoline, LPG, or had a zinc-air cell depending on my trip and the price.  Try THAT with a conventional car.

As for richardb, all I can say is that the man's a liar.  He keeps repeating the lie that the Leaf costs more than $40,000, after being told time and again (with references!) that the MSRP is $32,780 and federal and state rebates come AFTER that.  Total price with a 220 V charger is about $35,000, and federal rebates come to $9500 for the car and charger.

I'll say it again:  richardb, you're a liar.  Now have a nice hot cup of STFU.

Nick G said at December 22, 2010 3:38 PM:

E-P,

If someone is really cost conscious, there's no reason they can't charge on 110V power. 14 hours of charging at 16A (80% of a 20A circuit) would give you a full charge. A full charge gives you 60-140 miles, which is way more than the US average daily miles of 35.

anonyq said at December 22, 2010 4:04 PM:

Cars are a lot less useful without the interstate highway system and that is massively subsidised with the tax money of gas not used on the interstate

Randall Parker said at December 22, 2010 5:27 PM:

anonyq,

Yes, EVs should pay a tax for their road usage. Hybrids also underpay their tax because they go more miles per gallon and hence lay less gasoline tax per mile driven.

The gasoline tax is not a long term viable way to fund road construction and maintenance. Usage taxes exacted other ways are needed.

Bruce,

Regards rare earth metals: The Chinese are trying to walk a fine line of not forcing prices up so high that other countries will open mines while at the same time making more from their metals.

According to what I've read there are plenty of good candidate mines outside of Chia to source most of those metals from.

BBM, E-P,

Why not just rent a vehicle for longer trips? Trailers seem like an added burden for the driver to worry about.

Nick G,

Agreed on the fast rechargers. Lower range drivers do not need them. But the kind of person who regularly commutes longer ranges will need fast chargers at both ends. So it depends on the use case.

Some people do not have a practical way to charge at home. I do not have a driveway and most of my neighbors have such a narrow driveway that they have to park at least one car on the street. Very few park in a garage. So this depends heavily on the neighborhood. Apartment dwellers are even less able to charge overnight.

Engineer-Poet said at December 22, 2010 6:13 PM:

Renting a vehicle means a fairly long transaction at a rental agency.  You could buy your own generator; if not, I'm sure renting could be made a lot simpler and faster.  If you have an account with the local U-Gen, it might even be an automated deal:  you make your reservation on line, swipe your membership card at the entrance, receive a ticket with a bay number, find your trailer in the bay as its garage door rolls up, hook it up and drive off.  In this respect, it would be a little like the Better Place battery-swap system.  Besides, a trailer can be sized for cargo in addition to the generator.  This may be largely a marketing gimmick, but being able to plug an EV as "The Only Car You Need", able to handle the construction materials and camping trips with a change of accessories, would be a huge coup.

I'm not sure why a long-range commuter would need two fast chargers.  The standard 220 V model does the job in 7 hours.  A 110 V cord would deliver more than a half-charge in 9 hours, so the people needing more than one Level II charger would already be at the extremes.

Roughly 3/4 of the apartments I've rented had carports or garages for rent, and I can only think of one that didn't have some kind of electric power already supplied (though for lights and openers, not vehicle power).  Reserved on-street parking could have charging outlets too.  That's probably the biggie, because anything that involves city jurisdiction is going to add costs and delays.

Engineer-Poet said at December 22, 2010 6:15 PM:

Incidentally, anyone complaining about low range in an EV while driving it at 75 MPH needs a treatment with a clue stick.

Ronald Brak said at December 23, 2010 4:58 AM:

Thanks for clearing up some misconceptions, Engineer-Poet. I expect electric cars and plug in hybrids to gradually penetrate the market here in Australia. They have a few advantages here. Firstly, along with most of the rest of the world, our standard household current is much heftier than in the US annd this allows overnight charging of electric cars without special chargers being required. Also, our fuel prices are higher, leading to shorter pay back periods. (But to some extent our higher than US average fuel efficiency will reduce demand for electrics.) I believe the majority of households here have two or more cars which makes it easy for one to be a short range electric. Our obsession with home ownership results in most cars being kept in garages with power points at night and high labour costs in Australia mean that the reduced maintenace requirements of electric cars save a significant amount of money. I expect it will be several years before many electric cars are sold here, but one area where they could quickly come to dominate are taxi services in areas where battery swapping services are built. The lower running cost of electrics per kilometer will probably result in their replacing current taxis fairly rapidly. This will have the advantage of pushing our current LPG powered taxi stock onto the second hand car market which will help reduce our CO2 emissions.

Bruce said at December 23, 2010 10:48 AM:

When it comes to rare earth metals, the price will be going up up up. If you think an electric car is expensive now, it will only get worse.

"China, which supplies more than 90 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals, will raise the export taxes for some elements to 25 percent next year, the Ministry of Finance said.

The move is an increase from the 15 percent temporary export tax on neodymium, used in batteries for hybrid cars including Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius. Lanthanum, also used in hybrids, and cerium, used for polishing semiconductors, were not taxed in 2010, and will be taxed at 25 percent in 2011, the ministry said yesterday, without giving a reason.

The price of neodymium oxide, also used in magnets in BlackBerrys, has surged more than four- fold to $88.5 a kilogram from $19.12 in 2009 because of rising demand and reduced supply from China"

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-12-16/china-raises-export-taxes-of-some-rare-earths-to-25-.html

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/94616/20101222/rare-earth-market-trends-2010.htm#

Bruce said at December 23, 2010 10:56 AM:

Wind Power threatened:

"The GWEC’s prediction indicates the generation of an additional 250.5 GW of wind energy will require 167,000 tonnes of rare earth metals.2 To put that in perspective, China, which currently produces 95 percent of the world’s rare earth elements, only produced 150,000 tonnes of rare earth metals in 2009."

http://www.altenergystocks.com/archives/2010/12/rare_earth_element_shortages_threaten_global_wind_power_development.html

And 2010 production was 40% down from 2009.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69S29520101101

Engineer-Poet said at December 23, 2010 7:09 PM:

Bruce, are you unaware that it's quite simple to make alternators (even brushless units) without any permanent magnets at all, thus eliminating the rare-earth issue?  Until fairly recently, induction generators (using only iron, aluminum and copper) were the standard for most wind turbines.

Bruce said at December 23, 2010 9:12 PM:

“These are things that some folks in the industry refer to as 'technology metals'," said Jeff Green, a Washington lobbyist trying to coax Congress to make it more affordable for US companies to get back into the mining of these rare earth materials. "These are things that make magnets stronger, make electronics smaller and things move faster, so they are really the next generation of high performance metals. Without these, things like your iPhone wouldn’t be as small as it is and wind turbines wouldn’t produce the power that they do.”

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/Lack-of-Rare-Earth-Could-Cause-Major-Problems-103898893.html

"To make the most efficient, lightest weight, lowest service wind turbine generator of electricity takes one ton of the rare earth metal, neodymium, per megawatt of generating capacity." (Jack Lifton, 5/07/09)

"Let's take a look at wind turbines. In certain applications, two tons of rare earth magnets are required in the permanent magnet generator that goes on top of the turbine. If the permanent magnet is two tons, then 28% of that, or 560 lbs, is neodymium." (Mineweb, 5/13/09)

http://seekingalpha.com/article/159155-chinese-rare-earth-rationing-shouldn-t-sink-wind-power-sector

Go ahead EP ... who is making wind turbines without rare earth metals?

Engineer-Poet said at December 23, 2010 9:26 PM:

If you did even a cursory search for wind turbine induction generators, you'd hit ABB very quickly.

See also Doubly-fed induction generator.

Bruce said at December 23, 2010 11:35 PM:

EP: How many pounds of rare earth metals per MW? And how much per MW?

PS T Boone Pickens is giving up on wind to focus on NG:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40612094/ns/business-going_green/

Engineer-Poet said at December 24, 2010 4:49 AM:

I keep telling you:  induction machines don't have permanent magnets and don't need rare earths.

As for the cost, they were one of the least-cost options for a long time and were widely shipped.  If RE supplies are constrained, they'll be right back there again.

Bruce said at December 24, 2010 9:36 AM:

"induction machines don't have permanent magnets and don't need rare earths."

Really. Where does anyone say that no rare earths are needed?

"As for the cost, they were one of the least-cost options for a long time and were widely shipped. If RE supplies are constrained, they'll be right back there again."

Ahhh. Too expensive.

Engineer-Poet said at December 24, 2010 8:40 PM:

Oh, they're plenty cheap; induction motors are the cheapest, most rugged things you can get.  They wouldn't have been adopted by all makers of diesel-electric locomotives if they weren't inexpensive and solid as rocks.  They're just relatively heavy and don't lend themselves to the direct-drive schemes now becoming fashionable.

Alternatives include retaining the gearboxes and going back to induction generators, wound-rotor synchronous generators (with either PM or electromagnetic exciters), superconducting rotor magnets, or my pick for the dark horse, variable-displacement hydraulic power couplings to constant-speed generators.

Nick G said at December 25, 2010 1:22 PM:

E-P,

To shorten rental times, I like zipcar.com - It's very cheap and convenient. Rent what you want, by the hour - just reserve online and walk up to the car with your smartcard. In some places, like NYC, Chicago and San Francisco, they're viable alternatives to owning a car. The only Michigan locations are East Lansing and Ann Arbor, unfortunately.

Randall,

You could try zipcar at UC Santa Barbara.

I think zipcar may be the solution to needing multiple vehicle types, and help with maximizing utilization of EVs.

Bruce said at December 25, 2010 4:19 PM:

Randall, from your link: "Worldwide demand for rare earth elements was 125,000 tons in 2010 and is expected to rise to 225,000 tons by 2015."

"By 2012, the revamped U.S. mine is expected to produce around 20,000 tons of rare earth materials per year."

So, demand is rising 20,000 tons a year ... and only 1 new 20,000 ton mine will be coming online?

Ooops.

"No company in the United States currently has the technological capacity, or the necessary intellectual-property licenses, to make neodymium magnets."

Double ooops.

" estimates the total rare earth reserves in the United States at 1.5 million tons. But the report says it's unclear how much of these reserves can be mined economically."

6.5 years supply.

I think Natural gas is a better answer don't you Randall?

PS EP ... you are a fantasist. Wind farms are grossly inefeecient now. Wait unil the rare earths run out.


PEAK RARE EARTH METALS!!!!

Already here.

Randall Parker said at December 25, 2010 10:19 PM:

Bruce,

Lynas Corp is also scaling up RE metals in Australia and 2 other Australian mining companies will probably follow. I expect still other mines to open as well in the latter part of the decade.

Engineer-Poet said at December 25, 2010 10:25 PM:

When the bulk of the wind industry was essentially REE-free until recently, Bruce's insistence that China's monopoly is a major issue is the fantastic claim.

BBM said at December 26, 2010 8:36 AM:

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-11/limited-deposits-rare-earths-surface-eyes-turn-seafloor

Other sources will become economically viable.

NG will be important. Nuclear will be important. Wind will be important.

Advances in superconducting materials may also provide solutions to RE bottlenecks.

Bruce said at December 26, 2010 5:05 PM:

Randall, Lynas is aiming for 22,000 tons per year by 2012. So thats 42,000 tons a year coming on stream and demand is going up 100,000 tons a year.

“There’re only two genuine new companies coming on-stream that can offer a meaningful level of production and that’s Molycorp in the States and Lynas in Australia,”

Not good enough.

Bruce said at December 26, 2010 5:12 PM:

EP:

"Earlier versions of wind turbine technology relied on electromagnets, which use copper coils fed with electricity from the generator itself. While effective, these generators were bogged down with excess weight. Companies such as Siemens (SI) and General Electric (GE) later developed turbines that use direct drive generators using permanent magnets. The motors turn at the same speed as the rotors and therefore have to be much larger to develop the same power. Yet the weight of the larger unit is significantly less. By using neodymium in the magnets, the weight of the generator can be further reduced. According to experts at Holland's Delft University of Technology, a 15-mm-thick segment of permanent magnets can generate the same magnetic field as a 10- to 15-cm section of copper coils."

http://strategicmetalstocks.resourcestockdigest.com/rare_earth_metals/index.php?&content_id=497

http://www.naturalnews.com/028028_rare_earth_elements_mining.html

"Jack Lifton, an independent commodities consultant and strategic metals expert, calls the Prius "the biggest user of rare earths of any object in the world."

Each electric Prius motor requires 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of neodymium, and each battery uses 10 to 15 kg (22-33 lb) of lanthanum. That number will nearly double under Toyota's plans to boost the car's fuel economy, he said."

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE57U02B20090831

th said at December 26, 2010 5:39 PM:

The electric car industry is just greenie theater, it's doomed before it gets started faced with resource constraints that are worse than oil. All of a sudden they got the Julian Simon religion with respect to lithium. It'll take 75 years of current annual lithium production to replace all cars worldwide, the industry actually only expects to replace 3% by 2020, as long as the subsidies stick around, it's another ethanol scam. An alternative battery is already in the works to lithium, vanadium redox, another example of why the west is primarily bankrupt, they never recognize the blueprints for failure they created.

th said at December 26, 2010 5:55 PM:

Poet, did you actually read this BS article..."Estimated cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is as much as $3 trillion.", their burden of proof is to them.." trust us, we did the math" not much else in the way of substantiation, I wouldn't expect more from a pair of ivy league fluorescent bulbs, try this one...
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf

Ronald Brak said at December 26, 2010 6:03 PM:

Let's see if I have this straight, rare earth metals production is increasing rapidly, therefore we have reached peak rare earth metals.

Randall Parker said at December 26, 2010 7:17 PM:

It is easy to find reports about how mining capacity is going to expand for the RE elements outside of China.

Other sources. North America has abundant sources in the US mountain states and also the Canadian Northwest Territories and the Quebec region. Numerous efforts are underway to develop those resources. Avalon Rare Earth Minerals and Great Western Minerals Group are two companies with plans to open mines in Canada. Significant deposits also exist in Australia, Malaysia, South Africa, Brazil and other countries although those deposits tend to be of the lower grade Monazite ores.
Bruce said at December 26, 2010 7:42 PM:

"rare earth metals production is increasing rapidly"

If you need 100,000 more tons per year within 4 years and only will bring online 40,000 more tons per year for the next decade, then I would not use the term "rapidly". Fantasists may use that term.

Randall, from your link:

"Demand is expected to rise to 180,000 tons by 2012 and more than 200,000 tons by 2014 while Chinese production is expected to top out at 160,000 tons".

"By 2012 or earlier China's internal demand will exceed their production."

That means ZERO EXPORTS Randall. ZERO.

"Each hybrid Toyota Prius is reported to contain 66 lbs of REEs"

How many Prius's can you build in 2012 with ZERO Chinese REE?

" For the next 3 to 5 years until new sources come on-line, expect significant shortages of these essential elements. In all probability prices will continue to rise and shortages may hamper production and product development. Many times these elements are used in small quantities within components and materials that you may not be aware of. Pay particular attention to display technologies, ceramics and any product that contains magnetics or motors."

And Randall, the list of possible new mining sites involve pretty small amounts of REE, plus they are low quality or mixed with radioactive Thorium.


China has the world by the short and curly's and won't be helping anyone out of the coming REE disaster that is looming.

Natrual gas is the USA's hope, not electric cars and not windmills.

Nick G said at December 26, 2010 8:07 PM:

"...funding for Iraq, Afghanistan and the Global War on Terror could total from about $1.56 trillion to about $1.88 trillion for FY2001-FY2020 depending on the scenario."

Summary page, http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf

Only includes $6.3B for VA;

estimate ends in July 2020;

and excludes interest. Not far from $3T.

How much does non-Federal security spending add up to?

Engineer-Poet said at December 27, 2010 3:17 PM:

Bruce:

According to experts at Holland's Delft University of Technology, a 15-mm-thick segment of permanent magnets can generate the same magnetic field as a 10- to 15-cm section of copper coils.
But how much backing iron?  The field strength of Nd magnets is about 1.1-1.2 T, but the saturation field strength of iron is 2.1 T.  A switched-reluctance rotor can be simpler, cheaper and even lighter than a PM rotor.  The major difference is the power electronics, which are getting cheaper by the day.  You can do similar things with induction generators, though they do require windings.

How many Prius's can you build in 2012 with ZERO Chinese REE?
Both the Tesla and GM's BAS II system (used in the new LaCrosse) have induction motors.  No REEs in the motors, Chinese or otherwise.

Harping on REE's is a diversion tactic, probably taken straight from an oil-funded think tank.  It's about as relevant as talking about how we'll all be in the dark because of a lack of whale oil.

th said at December 27, 2010 3:32 PM:

From chu on the electric car at cancun.....

"...And what would it take to be competitive? It will take a battery, first that can last for 15 years of deep discharges. You need about five as a minimum, but really six- or seven-times higher storage capacity and you need to bring the price down by about a factor of three. And then all of a sudden you have a comparably performing car; let's say a mid-sized car which has a comparable acceleration and a comparable range."
Now, how soon will that be? Well, we don't know, but the Department of Energy is supporting a number of very innovative approaches to batteries and its not like its 10 years off in the future, in my opinion. It might be five years off in the future. It's soon. Meanwhile the batteries, the ones we have now, will drop by a factor of two within a couple of years and they're gonna get better. But if you get to this point, then it just becomes something that's automatic and I think the public will really go for that...."

"You need about five as a minimum, but really six- or seven-times higher storage capacity and you need to bring the price down by about a factor of three." That's 1000kwh/kg, and lithium prices aren't going down, no way he's talking about lithium as the solution. Which leads us to Obama and his gang of participants in the lithium-ion subsidy scam, Bob Lutz, former CEO of Exide battery and GE's Immelt, the maker of the battery charger, and the chavez-like maneuvering of GM into the UAW, all big party liners enjoying life under the well-dressed President "chance the gardener" Obama.

th said at December 27, 2010 3:50 PM:

"funding for Iraq, Afghanistan and the Global War on Terror could total from about $1.56 trillion to about $1.88 trillion for FY2001-FY2020 depending on the scenario."

So by 2030, if everything goes right, the washington post is dead on the money.

Ronald Brak said at December 27, 2010 5:07 PM:

Bruce, trust me, my fantasies don't involve rare earth metals production.

Randall Parker said at December 27, 2010 6:40 PM:

Nick G,

The VA has a much bigger budget:

www.va.gov
  • 2010 Budget:  $112.8 billion (total including collections) – $55.9 billion in discretionary funding (including collections) and $56.9 billion in mandatory funding
  • Enacted 2009:  $97.7 billion (total including collections)  -- $50.4 billion in discretionary funding (including collections, not including ARRA funds) and $47.3 billion in mandatory funding

To honor America’s veterans and expand the services they receive, the Fiscal Year 2010 budget increases funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs by $25 billion over the next five years.  The budget includes an 11 percent increase in resources for a discretionary funding level of $55.9 billion.  The budget increases health care funding for veterans, enabling the VA to provide timely, high-quality care to 5.5 million veterans, develop Centers of Excellence, and enhance access to mental health and cognitive care.  It also restores health care eligibility for modest-income veterans, steps up investment in technology for the delivery of services and benefits to veterans, and provides improved benefits for veterans who are medically retired from active duty.  The budget provides for a collaborative pilot program with non-profit organizations to help veterans avoid homelessness, and for the timely implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill to Americans who have served the country though military duty.

In fact, the VA's budget alone is bigger than the military budget for any other nation in the world except for China.

The United States can no longer afford an empire just like it can no longer afford a gold-plated retiree health system or really high public sector retirement benefits. I digress but I am predicting state government bankruptcies.

Randall Parker said at December 27, 2010 6:49 PM:

Regards funding and what we can afford, we have now gone beyond the Bernholz warning limit on fraction of spending funded by debt. Historically, countries that breach this limit suffer from hyperinflation.

In his famous book, Monetary Regimes and Inflation: History, Economic and Political Relationships,  Bernholz demonstrated that hyperinflations resulted whenever 40 per cent or more of government expenditures were financed by money creation (resort to the printing press). In 2009, approximately 42 per cent of US government expenditures were financed by some form of credit.  So the prospect of hyperinflation, however remote that may appear to be at the present time, cannot be ignored.
Bruce said at December 27, 2010 8:42 PM:

EP: "Harping on REE's is a diversion tactic, probably taken straight from an oil-funded think tank."

Touting future possible breakthroughs (ie magic) as a solution for todays shortage of REE means you watched too many episodes of Star Trek. You can't just reverse the polarity ....

Engineer-Poet said at December 28, 2010 7:29 AM:

Typical of Bruce to claim induction motors (demonstrated by Nicola Tesla in 1883 and some of the most common devices manufactured) are "magic".

Nick G said at December 28, 2010 10:41 AM:

Randall,

If you (someone else) has an estimate of the VA spending (past and future) that could be allocated to the M.E (esp the current wars), I'd be interested.

I'll have to take a look at Bernholz's book. Are you sure that borrowing from ME and Asia (or from savers in the US) is the same as financing by money creation (resort to the printing press)?

Nick G said at December 28, 2010 10:56 AM:

E-P,

I believe the Nissan Leaf also uses an induction motor. The EV-1 was induction. I've seen claims that the Volt is induction, but most descriptions say that it is permanent magnet. Have you seen good info?

Engineer-Poet said at December 29, 2010 5:05 AM:

I'm not too concerned about the technology used by the Volt powertrain (as opposed to the batteries), as it's a pretty blatant kludge and I expect a radical redesign in a few years.

Nick G said at December 29, 2010 2:22 PM:

I was interested to see a comparison of the gears/clutches in the Volt with a conventional transmission: the writer concluded that the overall Volt design was substantially simpler.

What would you like to see in a next-gen Volt? A pure design, where the generator never mechanically connects to the wheels? What other problems do you see with the design?

Engineer-Poet said at December 30, 2010 8:36 AM:

A truly revolutionary Volt II would go to individual motors and no differential, like the EV-1; of course it would be a pure series hybrid.  The 0.99 liter Fiat Twinair has more power than the 1.4 liter Volt sustainer; cutting that I-4 in half is in order, and going to the Atkinson cycle.  Eliminating the mechanical connection to the wheels means that vibration can be isolated much better, and a relatively imbalanced 2-cylinder can still provide good NVH.  The next major change after that would be in-wheel motors at all 4 corners and moving most of the batteries between the engine compartment and firewall, improving performance and weight distribution while increasing interior space.

Nick G said at December 31, 2010 8:17 AM:

I wonder if a larger motor doesn't make sense. A substantial part of the energy consumption of an ICE is internal friction. Smaller motors reduce that, but an alternative strategy is to run a larger engine only part of the time - that's the primary hypermiling technique: accelerate a bit, turn off the motor, coast for a while, repeat.

I think that the 1st-gen Volt avoids this to reduce the number and depth of discharge cycles, but if GM gains confidence in the battery, that could change.

Engineer-Poet said at January 1, 2011 8:23 AM:

The ideal size for the sustainer appears to be the maximum continuous power demand; this minimizes battery cycling.  The overall energy consumption of a PHEV is affected by weight, and the less the engine is needed the more it's merely cargo.

Lotus has a sustainer engine in the works which has 2 operating points, 15 kW and 35 kW.  15 kW is roughly road-load for an average car at 60 MPH, so the battery cycling would appear to be minimized; it could use 35 kW for hills and sprints.  It's fairly low torque (about 70 ft-lb), so I suspect it's using the Atkinson cycle.

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