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Old 01-04-2009, 09:08 AM   #21
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Interesting threads about the Prius and the mileage its gets, then upgrading it to a plug-in and how the cost can't be justified. Lets go back to the original cost of the Prius. I understand the cost of the hybrid is $4000 over the standard car. At 40 mpg and gas at $4/gal you would have to save 1000 gal of fuel to break even on the hybrid. Gas at $2/gal you have to save 2000 gal. That's a lot of gas. I don't think anyone really buys a Prius just to save fuel. It's a mindset. I have a little Ford Escort 5-speed (1998 model) -purchased used for $1800 that gets 30 mpg. Thats getting a payback.
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Old 01-04-2009, 09:10 AM   #22
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We're sort of between a rock and a hard place with this stuff. Right now it's not economically feasible to mass produce this stuff pending more (costly) R&D on battery technology and production facilities... but if we wait until it becomes obviously cost effective, we'll be screwed for several years waiting for it to hit the market.
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Old 01-04-2009, 09:21 AM   #23
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This makes me wonder once again if GM still doesn't get it with their Volt,

... They talk as if it's their future, but it looks like another miscalculation on their part. I hope I am wrong...
And the (not so) 'funny' part of this is that the govt and the greenies are talking like the VOLT is *the* future. Just because they like the sound of 'plug in hybrid', but they ignore the facts of cost, plus - we don't know what the price of gas will be in two years. It may gain a loyal following, but it is not going to be mainstream at those prices.

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It''s not easy to find info, and the U.S. figures are likely different, but the average distance for a car trip in Sydney Australia is less than 11 kilometres. A small electric car dedicated to this sort of trip would likely be incredibly economical.

Haven't read the article, be nice if CR did a study based on the most common car usage.
But that is a bit misleading - kind of like the old joke about the 6 foot tall statistician that drowned in a pool with an average depth of 5 feet.

When you need to take that longer drive, and can't use that electric vehicle, it lowers the value of it for you. Some people will have access to another vehicle, but either way, the utility value of that electric is reduced if you can't use it the same as other vehicles.

edit/add - and another thing - with present battery technology, an all-electric vehicle of limited range will *not* be a cheaper car to buy. There is a relationship between the power you need for decent acceleration, and the power you need for extended range. Right now, if you have enough battery power for decent performance, you also have enough for decent (short commute) range. If you do the math on the VOLT - that is exactly why the range is 40 miles, not because they shot for that as a goal, it is what you get when you have enough batteries for decent performance. Same with the Tesla - when you get 200 mile range, you also have enough burst power for 4 second 0-60 times, and a small group of people will pay $100,000 for that.


I think people are forgetting that any hybrid is a stop gap, band-aid type measure. If you need to carry an engine around with you in your electric vehicle, that is added weight and that is a negative factor for total energy use, space usage, cost, and complexity. It is what we need for the next few years to get the range we want, but a full EV has to be the goal for these vehicles.

I've said it before - hybrid technology makes a heck of a lot more sense for high usage, stop-and-go vehicles like delivery trucks, busses, taxis, mail trucks, etc. Yet, we have not seen wide scale adoption right where it could have the highest payback - why is that?

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Old 01-04-2009, 09:24 AM   #24
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And the (not so) 'funny' part of this is that the govt and the greenies are talking like the VOLT is *the* future. Just because they like the sound of 'plug in hybrid', but they ignore the facts of cost, plus - we don't know what the price of gas will be in two years. It may gain a loyal following, but it is not going to be mainstream at those prices.
Well, I think PHEVs are likely to be one critical phase of the future. But the first hurdle is creating a suitable battery for shorter trips that is cost-effective and competitive with existing mainstream automotive technologies.

At that point I think the PHEV will be the bridge between the traditional gas-powered engine and pure electrics. The latter can't become too relevant until they can get more than 50 miles in a charge and they can (at least mostly) recharge with an amount of time not much longer than it takes to fill a gas tank.
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Old 01-04-2009, 11:14 AM   #25
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Somewhere along the line, the issue of generating enough electricity to keep a fleet of millions of electric cars charged inexpensively and without pollution has to be brought up......

Imagine LA on a hot August afternoon. Brown-outs are threatening due to high air conditioner use. Then, 335,986 folks plug in their electric cars to charge.
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Old 01-04-2009, 11:29 AM   #26
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Somewhere along the line, the issue of generating enough electricity to keep a fleet of millions of electric cars charged inexpensively and without pollution has to be brought up......

Imagine LA on a hot August afternoon. Brown-outs are threatening due to high air conditioner use. Then, 335,986 folks plug in their electric cars to charge.
Hey it solves a bunch of problems at once: power plants trip offline, hence no air pollution. Cars with dead propulsion (plug in only) can't move...no traffic congestion.

Years ago I had similar arguments with some engineers advocating flywheel energy storage in cars. Overnight spin up flywheel, travel, plug in for a spinup. My argument was that the grid can't handle the load of all plug in cars added, along with the existing demand.

Reading this prius thread, they seem just an expensive "green" statement. For a (very short) while I considered getting one eventually, when price is right, but reading about the PITA headlight business, they seem like an expensive video game on wheels. I'm definitely passing on them. Well maybe for 500 bucks ?
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Old 01-04-2009, 11:30 AM   #27
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Somewhere along the line, the issue of generating enough electricity to keep a fleet of millions of electric cars charged inexpensively and without pollution has to be brought up......

Imagine LA on a hot August afternoon. Brown-outs are threatening due to high air conditioner use. Then, 335,986 folks plug in their electric cars to charge.
It has been looked at extensively. They are looking into some standards so that the electric company could communicate with your car and turn off/reduce charging when needed (obviously could be some high cost override for this if you absolutely needed charging). Conversely, those plugged in EVs could SUPPLY power to the grid during a peak, and recharge again at night when the peak has passed.

In general, Time-of-day metering will be implemented, and that will encourage people to charge at night. The EC's would love to sell more electricity at night and get better utilization of all that capital tied up in plants and grids.

It'll take 10-20 years before electrics make up a big % of vehicles. They have time to plan for this.

As far as pollution - it depends largely on the source. I've seen numbers that say an ICE is cleaner than an EV if it is coal fired. The nice thing about EVs is they can be charged from any source, nuclear, coal, hydro, solar, and no change to thew car is needed - the ultimate 'flex-fuel' vehicle!

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Old 01-04-2009, 11:34 AM   #28
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Years ago I had similar arguments with some engineers advocating flywheel energy storage in cars. Overnight spin up flywheel, travel, plug in for a spinup. My argument was that the grid can't handle the load of all plug in cars added, along with the existing demand.
The grid has a HUGE capacity at night. Remember, it has to be sized to handle the PEAK, usually a hot summer day. That capacity is only used for about the highest 5-10 days per year, and maybe just 6 hours of those days. The rest of the time it is just idling.

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Old 01-04-2009, 11:52 AM   #29
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It'll take 10-20 years before electrics make up a big % of vehicles. They have time to plan for this.
Yeah, I guess you're right. Look how the planning for today (that started 10 - 20 yrs ago) has worked out.

It'll be interesting to watch natural gas prices as those gas burning mini-plants currently only on-line to meet peak demand periods crank up and let 'er rip 24X7!

Also, if we're going to be counting on night time electric generation capacity for charging automobiles, we better do some re-thinking about solar.
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Old 01-04-2009, 11:54 AM   #30
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The grid has a HUGE capacity at night. Remember, it has to be sized to handle the PEAK, usually a hot summer day. That capacity is only used for about the highest 5-10 days per year, and maybe just 6 hours of those days. The rest of the time it is just idling.

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I realize the grid has excess capacity, though i don't know how much excess is left. No new grid (High Voltage interconnect) transmission lines have been added in the last ten or so years that I know of. But a hell of a lot of houses have been built. Each of course is air conditioned, networked, and homogenized.

Recently (started about 8 years ago) there was an attempt by Allegheny power to run mega kilovolt line through southwest PA through Maryland. There still is a pi$$ing contest with landowners environmentalists etc. to get construction permits. At this point it is i think close to abandonment.

With everyone's 52" plasma TV running from 6 PM to oh dark thirty hours sucking up power along with all the conveniences of modern households (plus wall warts by the dozens) all the low power factor switching supplies and so on, I'm sure the grid reserve is less than say 15 years ago.

Much fodder and hot air has been expanded about wind power. Their primary problem is, not enough grid capacity to wheel power to where it is needed, when it is needed. The nature of of beast is, you can't store the stuff. Just ask Pickens, T Boone that is
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Old 01-04-2009, 12:20 PM   #31
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There is no need for all this hybrid foolishness to go 70 miles on a gallon of gas. Fiat has done it, and now VW:
VW Polo BlueMotion Tops 70 MPG | GreenCar.com

We really need to cut ourselves a little slack in the US and promote Diesel cars. Consumer vehicles have been pushed well beyond the point of diminishing returns on emissions while industry gets away with murder. My 2, anyway.
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Old 01-04-2009, 12:55 PM   #32
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My main use for the Prius is to disqualify its owner from having her ideas considered seriously.

"What do you drive?" "Prius." Next!

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Old 01-04-2009, 01:34 PM   #33
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And the (not so) 'funny' part of this is that the govt and the greenies are talking like the VOLT is *the* future. Just because they like the sound of 'plug in hybrid', but they ignore the facts of cost, plus - we don't know what the price of gas will be in two years. It may gain a loyal following, but it is not going to be mainstream at those prices.



But that is a bit misleading - kind of like the old joke about the 6 foot tall statistician that drowned in a pool with an average depth of 5 feet.

When you need to take that longer drive, and can't use that electric vehicle, it lowers the value of it for you. Some people will have access to another vehicle, but either way, the utility value of that electric is reduced if you can't use it the same as other vehicles.

edit/add - and another thing - with present battery technology, an all-electric vehicle of limited range will *not* be a cheaper car to buy. There is a relationship between the power you need for decent acceleration, and the power you need for extended range. Right now, if you have enough battery power for decent performance, you also have enough for decent (short commute) range. If you do the math on the VOLT - that is exactly why the range is 40 miles, not because they shot for that as a goal, it is what you get when you have enough batteries for decent performance. Same with the Tesla - when you get 200 mile range, you also have enough burst power for 4 second 0-60 times, and a small group of people will pay $100,000 for that.


I think people are forgetting that any hybrid is a stop gap, band-aid type measure. If you need to carry an engine around with you in your electric vehicle, that is added weight and that is a negative factor for total energy use, space usage, cost, and complexity. It is what we need for the next few years to get the range we want, but a full EV has to be the goal for these vehicles.

I've said it before - hybrid technology makes a heck of a lot more sense for high usage, stop-and-go vehicles like delivery trucks, busses, taxis, mail trucks, etc. Yet, we have not seen wide scale adoption right where it could have the highest payback - why is that?

-ERD50
It's not like the "truck" companies aren't doing something. My nephew is a engineer for Eaton Corp. They make the big 14 speed transmissions for over the road trucks. Their hybrid technology resides inside the transmission, where they have placed the electric motor. They have a fleet of Fed Ex trucks currently on the road and he makes frequent trips to see how the trucks are doing and to troubleshoot.
Seems like every company is working on some fix for the energy "crisis". My company is still working on the hydorgen fuel cell. Do you know that Iceland is betting all their marbles on hydrogen? They have a mandate that by 2020 (don't quote me on this date) there will be no more oil consumed in their country (at least fuel). They are converting all their gas stations to hydrogen as I write.
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:40 PM   #34
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Yeah, I guess you're right. Look how the planning for today (that started 10 - 20 yrs ago) has worked out.

It'll be interesting to watch natural gas prices as those gas burning mini-plants currently only on-line to meet peak demand periods crank up and let 'er rip 24X7!

Also, if we're going to be counting on night time electric generation capacity for charging automobiles, we better do some re-thinking about solar.
My comment actually had less to do with our admittedly poor ability to plan, as it did with the fact that if every car sold from today forward was an EV, there would still be a lot of old ICE cars on the road ten years from now. Couple that with something a bit more realistic (but still optimistic), of say 10% of sales over the next few years, and maybe 50% of sales in 5-10 years, and there will still be a lot of legacy cars/trucks on the road. It just cannot happen overnight, so there is time to react to the change in electrical demand.

RE: Natural Gas - yes, I am a bit concerned about what that could do to my heating bill!

re-think solar for night time charging? Actually, not a problem at all. Solar is providing peak energy just when it is needed most - during hot, sunny weather with A/C load. Present baseline power stations can provide plenty of juice for charging at night.

People get hung up on solar and storing the energy, but it is non-issue for 10-20 years at least. You don't have to store something that you don't have an excess of. We would need a lot of solar installed before we have an oversupply of it anywhere. And, if that oversupply only happens by a few percent, and only a few weeks a year, it probably would not be cost effective to store it at all. That storage would sit idle for 90% of the time. You just can't cost justify it, unless we develop some really cheap system. But anytime you talk bout storing huge amounts of energy, it just can't be done cheaply. Pumping water uphill and then using it to generate power during a peak is probably as cheap as you will get. There are also plans to pump air pressure into underground caverns.

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I realize the grid has excess capacity, though i don't know how much excess is left.
I'm not talking about grid capacity in absolute terms. I'm talking about (since the question was charging EVs at night), the *relative* capacity available at night versus day.

Blackout/brownouts are still relatively rare events in the USA, and generally only occur during hot weather. So we have a reasonable amount of capacity for even high demand days. And that demand goes way down at night, so there is plenty available for charging EVs.

I listened to a podcast about this a few months ago (Sci Fri, or To the Point maybe...) and reps from the Power companies were saying this was the case.

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Old 01-04-2009, 01:52 PM   #35
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It's not like the "truck" companies aren't doing something. My nephew is a engineer for Eaton Corp. They make the big 14 speed transmissions for over the road trucks. Their hybrid technology resides inside the transmission, where they have placed the electric motor. They have a fleet of Fed Ex trucks currently on the road and he makes frequent trips to see how the trucks are doing and to troubleshoot.

Seems like every company is working on some fix for the energy "crisis". My company is still working on the hydorgen fuel cell. Do you know that Iceland is betting all their marbles on hydrogen? They have a mandate that by 2020 (don't quote me on this date) there will be no more oil consumed in their country (at least fuel). They are converting all their gas stations to hydrogen as I write.
You are correct, I have heard of the Eaton/FedEx trial. I think they also had one with an oil-pump drive, and stored compress air to push the oil around. Could be more robust than batteries. What I was getting at is that these are trials, you don't see many on the road - yet, Prius and Insight have been on the road for years, in an application that saves few gallons of gas in absolute terms. A single stop/go, high mileage truck converted to hybrid would probably save more gallons of gas than 100 Prius hybrids.

And since the delivery companies don't already have a bunch of these on the road, it makes me wonder if it is cost effective at all at this point. FedEx strikes me a s a pretty aggressive, modern company, yet they are still in the 'investigate' stage with this, while a whole bunch of people are driving hybrid cars every day.

Iceland has a lot of geo-thermal energy. So they are probably looking at turning this into electricity, and then forming hydrogen, so that the energy can be used in vehicles. I think it would make more sense to go electric vehicle. The infrastructure is already there (charge at night), you skip the whole hydrogen conversion/storage step. Even though EVs can't replace all vehicles, they (and plug-ins) could still offset a large amount of fossil fuel.

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Old 01-04-2009, 01:56 PM   #36
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All good points ERD50, but they don't really change mine..... Which is that when/if hybrid or all electric vehicles become viable due to either improvements in their technology or skyrocketing petroleum prices, demand for electricity will increase. Even if we only allow charging at night, we'll still burn more coal and natural gas to keep generators normally idle in the wee hours crankin' away 24X7.

I'm sure we'll figure something out. It's just that I discuss electric or hybrid cars with folks who somehow forget that electricity has sources beyond that outlet on your wall! That seems to go over the head of lots of folks, not you, of course!
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Old 01-04-2009, 02:07 PM   #37
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We're sort of between a rock and a hard place with this stuff. Right now it's not economically feasible to mass produce this stuff pending more (costly) R&D on battery technology and production facilities... but if we wait until it becomes obviously cost effective, we'll be screwed for several years waiting for it to hit the market.
No, if we wait for it to be obviously cost effective we won't have wasted billions of dollars trying to get the country behind every energy storage fad out there until the one that's actually cost effective is built in someone's garage but it'll be twenty years before they can get it to market if ever because Big Government has squeezed them out by subsidizing windpowered pogosticks.
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:23 AM   #38
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If you haven't driven a Prius then you just don't understand. While I agree with those who say that you'll never pay back your price premium, just make sure your cost assumptions include lifecycle maintenance as well. The Prius' electronic controls do a lot of good things to avoid engine & brake wear.

Those interested in a detailed discussion of Consumer Reports' PHEV evaluation and the Hymotion mod would get less misinformation at PriusChat.com.

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Also, if we're going to be counting on night time electric generation capacity for charging automobiles, we better do some re-thinking about solar.
Except there might be a payback here. We've been keeping an eye on PHEVs for an island where 50 miles is a big trip and where most of our kid's daily driving (up the hill to school, over to work, down the hill to home) is under five miles and could all be easily done on battery. A PHEV would be my perfect excuse to add more solar panels to recharge the car overnight using the electricity dumped into the grid during the day from our array. Our net monthly electricity & fuel bills would be close to zero. I'd have to add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank...

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Also read the same Consumer Reports Article.
IN my local newspaper, "Road show section", (about car things), A person complained it cost almost $ 900 to replace 2 burned out headlights!
Labor was $ 200. This number sounded crazy until other writer's verified they had similar cost's replacing the Pirus headlights.
Happy new year.
I can't remember the last time I had to replace an auto headlight, but some Prius drivers have had trouble with the high-intensity-discharge lights. I wonder if these were factory lights or upgrades.
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:38 AM   #39
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Like I said in my post, most people buying a Prius do not sit down and do a return on investment. It is a mindset that includes the environmental issues. I'm in the dark about the warranty. Is there anythng special from Toyota regarding battery replacement or maintenance? I hear that most owners don't have the proper technique to driving one. I think I saw that the mileage in town is greater than that on the highway. I guess the trick would be to avoid the jack-rabbit starts--and other things to keep the gasoline engine from engaging. I've spoken to an owner (at a gas station of all places) who admitted it's like driver training to get the hang of eeking out the best mileage. He loved the vehicle but was not getting the mileage he expected.
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:43 AM   #40
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The EPA drove the car 'normally' to get the 46mpg rating. Nothing special is required for that.
If someone drives more aggressively than the EPA testing, then some adjustments would be needed to reach the EPA efficiency.
Some people strive for more, which requires more attention to get the hang of.
Toyota has a warranty for the battery. I believe it is 8 years, and 10 in California. Many people have reported getting much more than 100,000 miles on the battery.
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