September 12, 2014
Thinking About Electric Car Range And Recharging Stations

Even with high current it still takes about 1 minute per 3 miles of driving range to recharge a Tesla S.

Home charging of a Tesla is still a commitment at 58 miles per hour of charge. The Tesla Supercharger stations, on the other hand, get 170 miles in 30 minutes.

Think about that 30 minutes per 170 miles. Drive 3 hours on a highway and stop for a half hour to recharge. The Tesla S has a range of 265 miles. So you can go longer than that. But you can't use the full range because air conditioning or high speed could cut into your range. Probably more limiting is the frequency of charging stations. If you've driven 200 miles, you see you are coming up on a charging station, and the next charging station is 70 miles away then you've got to stop. Really, if the next charging station is 50 miles away it is too risky of count on reaching it. So you still have to stop. You can't use the full range in most cases.

On a 600 mile drive you are going to stop at least twice for recharging. If the recharging stations are near restaurants and lavatories some of that recharging time isn't wasted. But electric travel is slower than gasoline-powered driving.

When battery costs go down and battery size and driving range go up what will happen to charging time? Even if it stays at 3 miles per minute of charging you'd still get a reduction in time waiting for charging. At the end of a trip you can plug in and let the car charge while you do activities you want to do at your destination. A 500 mile range EV would let you go 450 miles on most trips and plug in when you get there.

Over 90% of US Christmas holiday trips are made in cars. Over half are at least 100 miles away. A substantial fraction of those trips would require a recharge en route if you were driving a Tesla S.

The average Thanksgiving long-distance trip length is 214 miles, compared with 275 miles over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday. For the remainder of the year, average trip distance is 261 miles.

I think there is going to be a market for providing activities for people who are waiting for their EV to charge. How about co-locating restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters, and wireless access points? Shaded picnic tables would be good too.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2014 September 12 09:21 PM 


Comments
bob sykes said at September 13, 2014 2:49 PM:

And for this you get 35 mpg (gasoline equiv) and higher CO2 emissions. And what is the battery life?

Wolf-Dog said at September 13, 2014 5:44 PM:

So far Tesla is only selling luxury cars in order to establish itself. Once cheap batteries and affordable electric cars become a reality, the national charging (and perhaps batter swapping) infrastructure will also be built very quickly. It would cost just one year of imported oil to build a charging network. But more importantly, if everybody starts driving an electric car, the national power generation will also have to expand by 10-20 %, which is not difficult if we expand the power grid by only 1 % per year during the next 20 years.

But the batteries are key, and here is a detailed study about the anticipated prices batteries that Tesla will manufacture in the future, by the year 2025. The Alderman report :

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2014/09/anderman-report-on-teslas-battery-prospects-with-the-gigafactory.html#more
EXCERPT:
"
Anderman thus suggests that the price of the 2017 new model will be in the range of $50-80k—the market segment of sporty mid-luxury sedans such as the BMW 5 series.
However, a pack cost much below $200/kWh is unlikely before 2020, Anderman concludes. This would bring the proposed 70-kWh pack for a 200-mile D class EV cost to (or above) $14,000—or 40% of the proposed Model-3 vehicle base price of $35k. While Tesla could offer an entry-level version with 50 kWh (at close to $10k per pack), such a vehicle would not quite attain 200 miles per charge, Anderman concludes.
“Tesla-Panasonic’s current cell offers specific energy 50% higher than the competition. This is primarily due to the use of highly reactive NCA cathodes and high-density electrodes. The gap will shrink to 20-25% in the next 3 years.”
If the Gigafactory does realize 35 GWh or production, Anderman’s assessment finds that pack pricing for the 2025 time scale could be as low as $167/kWh—i.e.,$11,700 for a 70-kWh pack.
"

-----

Thus, if the price of a 200 mile battery can be brought down to $11,700 by 2025, this would also imply a decent evolution because of the following two reasons:
1) A minimalist bare bone pure electric car without battery, can be manufactured for $10,000 because an electric vehicle has a lot less components than an internal combustion car: electric cars don't need complicated transmissions, gear boxes, radiators, air filters, exhaust systems, engine oil, etc.
2) An electric car would be far more durable than an internal combustion car, since it would have a lot less moving parts and very few components, and the cheaper and smaller electric motors can be swapped very easily. Furthermore, electric cars would need a lot less servicing and repairs per year. So the long term cost of owning an electric car would be significantly less than an internal combustion car.

The best way to calculate the true price of a battery, is not the sticker price of the battery, but to divide the annual cost of owning the battery by the number of years the battery lasts, while calculating the price of the car without battery: this is because if the annual cost of owning the battery is considered part of the annual cost of fuel,, then we get a much better economic picture. If a $10,000 battery lasts 10 years, this would be $1,000 per year to be added to the cost of electricity, and so it already starts to look competitive with the price of gasoline because a bare bone minimalist electric car without battery can be manufactured for $10,000, and such cars would last at least 20 years with a lot less maintenance costs than internal combustion cars.

Thus, by 2030-40, if a 300 mile battery is available for $7,000, this will change the whole economic picture, and a decent charging network would then be built. Currently Tesla builds luxury cars for demonstration only, just to get started. The world still has enough oil for another 25 years.

Randall Parker said at September 13, 2014 10:36 PM:

bob,

I actually think that the Tesla is a really cool car. By many reports the quality of the driving experience is excellent. For commuting and bopping around within 100 miles of home someone who is going to spend big bucks on a car ought to consider getting a Tesla.

At the same time, the car isn't for every high income person. If you don't have (and can't get) recharging stations at the office and can't recharge at home due to apartment life it becomes much less attractive.

Wolf-Dog,

Even if the battery depreciation cost hits $1k per year part of that cost is a substitute for maintenance costs on a internal combustion engine. I'd like to know what the 10 year maintenance cost is for an EV versus a similarly equipped ICE vehicle.

Wolf-Dog said at September 14, 2014 12:33 AM:

Randall Parker, according to this article, the annual maintenance of an electric car is a third cheaper than an ICE car:

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1080925_electric-car-maintenance-a-third-cheaper-than-combustion-vehicles

In this article it is mentioned that over a period of 8 years, assuming that an electric car and an ICE car are driven $5,000 per year, over the period of 8 years, the ICE car maintenance cost is $4,770, while the corresponding figure for an electric car is $3,071. Thus the annual maintenance costs for an ICE car and an electric car are $596 and $383 respectively, meaning that the maintenance of an electric car is $213 cheaper than an ICE car.

But the latter study is only based on the fact that electric cars have a lot less moving parts and components that wear out. In addition, an electric car without counting the battery would be inherently more durable due to its simplicity, probably at least an average of 20 years instead of 10 years, because the cheap electric motors can easily be swapped and the rest of the components are very simple. In this case, the cost of owning an electric car would be half the cost of owning an ICE car when we divide the sticker price of the car by the number of years the car can be owned. Thus, before even we start comparing the annual maintenance and fuel or electricity costs for electric and ICE cars, the annual cost of owning an electric car without battery, would be half the price of owning an ICE car.


If the average citizen drives 15,000 miles per year at 35 gallons per gallon, assuming that the price of gasoline is $2.5 per gallon, than the annual cost of fuel would be $2.5 X ( 15,000 / 35 ) = $1,071.

By a similar calculation, the annual cost of electricity for an electric car that is driven 15,000 miles per year, making the conservative assumption that the equivalent of a gas mileage for an electric car is like 70 miles per gallon at the current prices of gasoline of $2.5 per gallon, would be $535 = $2.5 x ( 15,000 / 70 ) , which is half the $1,071 per year that the hypothetical ICE car could need just for gasoline.

But the annual cost of a $10,000 battery that lasts 10 years, when combined with the annual cost of electricity to consider the battery itself as part of the "fuel" of the electric car (based on the same assumptions in the above paragraph), would increase the annual "fuel" cost of the electric car to $10,000/10 + $535 = $10,000 + $535 = $1,535.

Thus, from the above assumptions, the difference between the annual "fuel" costs of an electric car and an ICE car is only
$1,535 - $1,071 = $464.

Now, if we combine with the annual costs of "fuel" for electric cars and ICE cars, the annual maintenance costs (mentioned above), we see that the annual cost of fuel plus maintenance for an ICE car is $1,071 + $596 = $1,667 while the annual cost of fuel (including the annual cost of owning the battery calculated above) plus maintenance would be $1,535 + $383 = $1,918.

Thus, so far the annual cost of electricity (including battery) plus maintenance for an electric car, is still more expensive than the corresponding cost of fuel for an ICE car, by $1,918 - $ $1,667 = $251 per year, because we have added the cost of the battery that will cost $10,000 that lasts 10 years.

However, taking into account the fast that an electric car (without battery) would last at least 20 years as opposed to an average ICE car that lasts 10 years, the additional surcharge of $251 of driving an electric vehicle calculated above, would be amortized by the longevity of the electric car. But this calculation was based on the assumption that without battery, a bare bone minimalist electric car would cost no more than an ICE car. In fact, such a minimalist electric car without battery can be manufactured for less than an ICE car, and the longevity of the electric car, when combined with the cost of driving, would make them more economical than driving ICE cars.

We can argue that the efficiency of ICE cars will also improve in a few decades, but in this case, the cost of batteries will decline as well, and so electric cars seem to have a bright future.


Separately, the oil component of the trade deficit, is a hidden expense because the trade deficit actually lowers the quality of life in the long run (although this is not noticed by the upper class, but the lower classes know this because their inflation adjusted purchasing power is much lower than what it used to be many decades ago.)


Ronald Brak said at September 14, 2014 1:54 AM:

For someone who thinks recharging during long highway trips would be a chore, a plug-in hybrid would be an obvious choice. And for now at least electric cars are often going to be a second car in a two or more car family. Just as families currently optimise their driving behaviour to maximise convenience and fuel savings, families will use their electric car for the bulk of their around town kilometers and use their internal combustion engine, hybrid, or plug-in hybrid car for long highway trips. But yes, people will spend time recharging. I'm not sure if new businesses and quickly visted attractions will spring up as a result. As long as there is a good internet connection people might be happy with sitting in their cars and fiddling with electronics. And if automated vehicles take off people might just step from one automated taxi to another.

destructure said at September 14, 2014 2:07 AM:

I enjoy reading about new technologies (though batteries and electric motors have been around for a century) but I've no interest in actually using most of it. In fact, early adopters irritate me. I only buy it when I have real need or it saves me money. EV's are neither no matter how much people claim they are. I'll probably go through at least 2 or 3 more gas cars before they are. That it irritates greenies is a bonus. :)

However, when EV's finally become practical it won't be because of advancements in electric motors or batteries. It will be because 3rd world demand has increased the cost of gas until gas is no longer affordable. That won't be an improvement in our standard of living but a decrease. In fact, I expect major increases in the cost of many things due to rising 3rd world demand.

Since EV's and auto-driving cars are often mentioned on this blog I'll point out something I haven't seen mentioned. In order to have an auto-driving car you have to have a GPS. That means the government will have almost total control of you're whereabouts. That's great if your car is stolen. But when you combine it with all the online tracking, face recognition, computerized sales, computerized records, etc it raises some serious privacy issues. More importantly, these reams of data will finally give governments the information to manipulate people in ways never before possible.

destructure said at September 14, 2014 2:11 AM:

Why wouldn't every gas station simply add a recharging lane as well? Even more, why bother recharging at all? Simply buy a "subscription" to swap batters at the stations. It would be faster than pumping gas.

Randall Parker said at September 14, 2014 11:33 AM:

Wolf-Dog,

My guess is that the average number of miles driven per year by EV owners is less than the average number driven for ICE cars. Therefore the amount of money saved by not using gasoline is much less than your numbers suggest.

Also, the EV is competing with PHEV and HEV cars. Someone who drives a lot on long trips would be better off with an HEV or a diesel.

destructure,

Electric cars stay at their recharging station for many minutes longer than ICE-powered cars and therefore reduce the throughput of a refueling station. It makes more sense to put EV recharging stations in locations with lower real estate cost. The busy corners where gas stations get placed are too expensive.

Early adopters fund the technological development that enables later adopters to get the benefits. I'm glad they are willing to do it because, as you correctly point out, gasoline availability is going to decline as rising demand from developing countries (and rising extraction costs) make gasoline more expensive for us. Yes, our living standards will drop as a result.

We are in a race between depleting oil fields and technology developed to replace ICE cars. So far I do not expect the tech needed to do substitution is going to mature fast enough.

Ronald Brak,

I expect autonomous vehicle tech will make EVs more practical. EVs will be able to take themselves somewhere to get recharged at high speed.

Wolf-Dog said at September 15, 2014 12:28 PM:

Randall Parker: It is true that currently the average EV owner drives a lot less miles per day than the average owner of ICE cars, but given that the gas-equivalent mileage of electric cars is at least 70 mpg, as soon as the battery prices decline sufficiently, there is no question that electric cars will be economical. The article above seems to scale the maintenance costs accurately even though the electric cars are driven less often, and if we add to this calculation the fact that electric cars (sold without battery) can be made significantly cheaper than ICE cars, plus the fact that electric cars are also inherently more durable than ICE cars, then it follows that electric cars will be more economical when the battery prices decline sufficiently. How fast the battery prices will decline is the question. If by 2040 the battery prices decline by 70 %, this will probably be sufficient to make electric cars economical.

In any case, there is no question that the lower maintenance costs and the longevity of electric cars (considered without battery) significantly improve the economic value. If a $15,000 electric car without battery lasts 15 years while an ICE car that also costs $15,000 lasts 10 years, then the annual cost of owning these cars would be $1,000 and $1500 respectively, so that the electric car's annual price already offsets the annual cost of the battery by $500 per year. This means that a 10-year battery gets a hidden discount of $5,000 in total. Thus, if the 2020 anticipated price of a 200-mile 10-year battery will be $14,000, the assumed longevity of the electric car in the latter calculation would actually be equivalent to offsetting economical price of the latter $14,000 battery all the way down to $9,000. Thus, by 2040, if only the price of the 200-mile 10-year batteries decline to $7,000, then the longevity of electric cars will make the EVs sufficiently competitive even if the gas mileage of ICEs improve to 50 mpg by 2040.


Separately, two hidden benefits of electric cars are:
1) Getting rid of the oil component of the trade deficit will significantly improve the incomes of the average American (and European), indirectly adding to the economic benefits of electric cars,
2) Thanks to reduced pollution, the health of the average citizen will improve and this will significantly reduce medical expenses while improving the worker productivity (hence average income), indirectly making electric vehicles more economical.

Wolf-Dog said at September 15, 2014 12:50 PM:

In the above calculations, I have assumed that an electric car would last 15 years while an ICE car would last 10 years, but so far I have applied this assumption (which I am sure is reasonable), only to compare cheap electric cars (without battery) that cost $15,000 to ICE cars that also cost $15,000. But what if we apply the same reasoning to more expensive that cost $20,000 which is the price range of the middle class? Then the annual cost of owning an electric car will be $1,333 while the annual cost of owning an ICE car will be $2,000, so that the annual cost of owning a 10-year battery will be offset by $6270. Now if we further increase the prices of both the electric car (sold without battery) and the ICE car to $25,000, then with the same assumption that the electric car (without battery) will last 15 years while the ICE car will last 10 years, then the annual cost of owning the electric car will be $1,666 while the annual cost of owning the ICE car will be $2,500, so that a 10-year battery will benefit from a hidden discount of $8,340.

On top of this, if we assume as in the above article that an electric car's annual maintenance is $200 cheaper than the maintenance of an ICE car, then within 10 years this would also offset the cost of the battery by another $2,000.

Thus, if the battery prices decline by another 50 % by the year 2040, electric cars will definitely be more economical than ICE cars.

Engineer-Poet said at September 16, 2014 5:41 AM:

There's also the certainty that petroleum prices will rise in the long run.  At $4/gallon and 25 MPG, the ICEs fuel cost is $2400/year for 15,000 miles.  It won't take long to pay off a $10,000 battery at that rate.

I think much of this is missing the point.  People who drive frequent long trips will own a PHEV or rent an ICEV.  People who have reasonable commutes are already candidates for vehicles like the i-MiEV as the second car.  One big niche that's currently not being served is the kid-and-grocery hauler, which could benefit substantially from going hybrid or PHEV-20.

Brett Bellmore said at September 17, 2014 2:15 AM:

Why wouldn't you just have a diesel generator on a trailer? It could be quite compact, and, when you need to go on a long trip, you just plug it in, and go.

Engineer-Poet said at September 17, 2014 7:43 AM:

AC Propulsion had a 250 cc motorcycle engine on a trailer back in the late 90's.  Tesla doesn't want anything to do with range extenders, and I'm not sure the Model S even allows a trailer hitch.

Brett Bellmore said at September 17, 2014 1:46 PM:

Yes, compromising the utility of their vehicle, for the purity of their vision.

Nador said at September 17, 2014 2:41 PM:

I do not think a 200 miles range is necessarily more than a slight inconvenience for many. Most trips (of most people) are rather short e.g. commuting to work. One could just rent an ICE car for those few occasions when he needs to go further. Some electric car manufacturers already offer such rental options - I believe one gets to rent a conventional car for two weeks a year if he buys a BMW i3. And of course range extenders could also work. Batteries are too expensive to buy a large pack for a long range at the moment though so I expect the first economically rational adopters will be short range commuters in urban/suburban areas - probably somewhere with denser population and higher petrol prices than the US.

Brett Bellmore said at September 17, 2014 3:00 PM:

I have a 20 mile round trip commute to work, and on rare occasions drive much, much longer distances. An electric vehicle with even 50 miles range would be a feasible choice for me, if it had an optional ICE range extender which could be used for really long trips, and just parked in the garage most days.

If it also doubled as an emergency generator for the house, in the event of blackouts, that would seal the deal.

Brett Bellmore said at September 17, 2014 3:01 PM:

I have a 20 mile round trip commute to work, and on rare occasions drive much, much longer distances. An electric vehicle with even 50 miles range would be a feasible choice for me, if it had an optional ICE range extender which could be used for really long trips, and just parked in the garage most days.

If it also doubled as an emergency generator for the house, in the event of blackouts, that would seal the deal.

Randall Parker said at September 20, 2014 12:10 PM:

E-P,

How high do you guess oil prices will go? Post-peak when oil production is dropping 1, 2, 3 million barrels per day every year will substitution and economic contraction prevent sustained $200 per barrel prices?

Wolf-Dog said at September 20, 2014 8:00 PM:

Another factor is the constantly improving fuel efficiency of ICE cars. By 2040 most ICE cars might have 50 mpg efficiency, which would delay much higher oil prices until electric cars are ready. Already some small ICE cars have 40 mpg efficiency.

Engineer-Poet said at September 21, 2014 11:27 AM:

I'm not sure how high prices can go (they're limited by economic contraction).  The US has ways to shift demand (e.g. medium and heavy trucks going CNG/LNG), but the NG supply is also limited and a return of $8/mmBTU prices will drain cash out of other accounts like home budgets.

We already saw that $140+ prices caused a collapse of the credit system, as creditors didn't see how they could get repaid when borrowers were in the hole on current expenses.  The limit for the US, at least, is substantially less than that.

Post a comment
Comments:
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
URL:
Remember info?

                       
Go Read More Posts On FuturePundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright ©