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Old 04-04-2010, 03:30 PM   #41
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Look at some examples:

- I remember that VCRs were $1800 when they first came out. People who had to have the latest thing bought them at that price. No govt subsidy to the buyer.

- I remember when mobile phones were $4,000 (and high per minute rates). People who could afford them or felt they had a need for them bought them. No govt subsidy to the buyer.

- Computers, Laptops, iPods, GPS, and on and on and on. No govt subsidy to the buyer.
These analogies don't make sense to me.

  • When VCRs were $1,800, there was no cheaper alternative way to record TV. So the early adopters didn't buy them just because they were neat. We currently have viable and cheap alternatives to electric cars.
  • Early cell phone adopters didn't have any alternative to a $4,000 mobile phone. In addition to possible snob appeal, they felt the real advantage of being able to call from anywhere was worth the added expense.
  • Ditto for Computers, Laptops, iPods, GPS, and on.

Even most early adopters are unlikely to spend an extra $8,000 for a car that currently has few advantages (to them personally) over a Prius. Some early adopters will buy an electric, rightly or wrongly, to save money on gas. That will only make sense if the car isn't more expensive. No one bought an early VCR, cell phone, or iPod to save money.

Also, there was no advantage to the country as a whole if people bought more VCRs, cell phones, or iPods.

In other words, if we were all currently riding horses, then your analogies would be spot on.
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Old 04-04-2010, 03:47 PM   #42
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Remember that the $7,500 credit goes to the buyer. The only thing the manufacturer gets out of that $7,500 is one more incremental sale. Do you really think that producing one more vehicle at marginal profits provides anywhere near the equivalent of $7,500 of development investment? If the govt was to spur development, why not just give the company some small fraction of that $7,500? It really seems like a waste of our tax dollars. It lets my neighbor buy some technology that he finds interesting, but isn't cost effective, on my dime. I (we) don't need that.
That's a very good point. However, I can think of some advantages to giving the credit to the buyers. One advantage is that the market will be deciding who benefits from this infusion of cash, not the government. Would you really rather have the government decide who gets the R&D money? Can you imagine the forms and procedures? Or would you like the cash spread out among all the car makers and car maker wannabes? This way the manufacturers are competing for the money.

Saying "one more incremental sale" spins it as inconsequential, but a credit that makes an electric car cheaper than an alternative gas car could easily double sales.
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Old 04-04-2010, 06:16 PM   #43
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Also, there was no advantage to the country as a whole if people bought more VCRs, cell phones, or iPods.
US productivity (and therefore the country as a whole) benefited tremendously from cheap computers, ubiquitous cell phones, cheap and reliable GPS, etc. I'd bet any one of these technologies contributed more to GDP, or even to other less objective measures of happiness or contentment, than will electric cars.
The thing that's different about all these other things vs the electric car is that these other things had enough benefit to the individual user to prompt their eventual widespread adoption. The user could see that paying the price for them was better than the alternative (or doing without, if there was no alternative). The electric car has no particular advantage over the very viable alternatives for the average user. It's more expensive to buy compared to cars of similar utility (and more expensive over its lifetime, unless a tremendous amount of miles are driven), has shorter range, takes longer to refuel, has less payload capability, and will be less safe than a similarly priced ICE car. It has advantages to such a small population of consumers that it cannot be economically developed and produced without forcing others to sweeten the pot.
What's the best marginal utility for those government dollars? Is this really it? For the subsidy offered for each car we could put a kid through Head Start for a year. Or, maybe we could let taxpayers hang onto their money and decide for themselves how to spend it.
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Old 04-04-2010, 08:26 PM   #44
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In addition to the excellent points that samclem has made....
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
These analogies don't make sense to me.


Even most early adopters are unlikely to spend an extra $8,000 for a car that currently has few advantages...
Then they shouldn't. And I don't want to chip in for them to get the $8,000 to feed their personal desire to own something that has fewer advantages than they are willing to pay for. If it isn't good to enough for them to spend their own money on, why should it be OK to spend MY money on it? That makes no sense to me.

There was a point in time when PV panels costs thousands of dollars per watt, so they were only used for very niche markets (satellites, isolated off-grid areas). Subsidizing the difference between that and a more reasonable $1/Watt would be a very poor use of taxpayers money. If something isn't competitive, it isn't competitive. It does not make sense to invest dollars in it. Shifting the cost to someone else does not modify that equation.

Even before there were $1,800 VCRs, there were (I'm guessing) $50,000 VCRs used in commercial studios. It is all a progression, based on technological advancement. That might be pushed (or hindered) by govt subsidies, but it sure seems like a poor ROI to me. Far too indirect.


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However, I can think of some advantages to giving the credit to the buyers. One advantage is that the market will be deciding who benefits from this infusion of cash, not the government. Would you really rather have the government decide who gets the R&D money?
But this is exactly part of my opposition. The govt *is* deciding. How come hybrids and/or EVs get a subsidy, or use of special lanes or parking spaces when a higher mpg non-hybrid does not? A van with 6 people in it is using energy far more efficiently per person than a hybrid or an EV with one person in it.

You need to ask yourself - what problem are we trying to solve here (if any)? Then, if we think there is a need, try to solve that problem. I know we've been around the loop on this one before - if you think we should be using less fossil fuel, then tax it and let the market figure the solutions. There is a difference in an EV powered by coal versus one powered by hydro or nukes - so let that be reflected in the market choice, rather than some overly-simplistic - 'it's electric - it doesn't use gasoline!' (but it does use coal).

Let the market compete for the most optimum solution per passenger mile after those taxes are in place - then any solution can compete, it doesn't need the 'blessing' of Congress. And that solution is different for different people ( the soccer mom routinely driving 6 kids around, the construction supervisor who occasionally needs extra capacity, the city commuter, etc, etc,) which is tough to accommodate with one-size-fits-all legislation.

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Saying "one more incremental sale" spins it as inconsequential, but a credit that makes an electric car cheaper than an alternative gas car could easily double sales.
OK, double sales. No change from my intent. If that means 100,000 extra vehicles, then we are talking about 100,000 x $7,500 - and that is a lot. And we still don't have a clear idea of how much of anything was saved after going 3/4B dollars deeper in debt. . How many are bought by Hollywood stars to be seen driving to some PR event, and sit in the garage for weeks or months unused? No way to measure the savings, but it's OK to throw around $7,500 per vehicle? I just don't think that makes sense.

I do appreciate the challenge to my viewpoint, but I must say that in this case, you have only strengthened my resolve. These subsidies are stupid, and I resent the govt using my money this way. And yes, I've written my congress people and have received stupid answers in return.

OK, I just took a deep breath - life is good! But the subsidies are still stupid!

-ERD50
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Old 04-05-2010, 06:44 AM   #45
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A little off topic: Nissan LEAF operating cost versus Conventional Corolla.

For me, gas price has to be $5/gal or higher to justify the purchase of the Nissan Leaf. What's your take?
By the same reasoning, there is no reason to buy a car with power windows, a sunroof, or CD/DVD player. As these options will NEVER pay for themselves.

In addition, your assumptions MAY be correct, but also may be very wrong.
You also did not take into account:
A. Lower costs due to no oil changes or other ICE related maintainance which an EV will be free of.
B. Lower costs to society based on us becoming more energy independant.
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Old 04-05-2010, 06:47 AM   #46
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Anyone plan on buying one of the new electric cars?
Yes, I plan to buy one. Either a Leaf or a conversion if I can get one soon AND I am satisfied with the company's handling of warantee issues for the electric engine.
When our plug-in Prius dies, it may be replaced with a Volt or a Tesla Model S (max range option which is currently projected at 320 miles I think?).
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Old 04-05-2010, 06:54 AM   #47
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I agree with EDR50 about subsidizing people's purchase of a $30+K vehicle. It's just nut!
I agree with you as long as you feel the same way when the government subsidizes people purchase of $40+K "work" SUVs.
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Old 04-05-2010, 07:03 AM   #48
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I still recall thinking when CARB rules came out: Eventually, the gummint (Federal or in this case Calif.) will come up with a mandate that the car companies will just say "forget you!". GM played the game and lost with the EV-1. All the others said "forget you!" It was kind of funny to watch - in a perverted sort of way. I think everyone thought that Honda or Toyota would come up with the mandated 0% pollution car and eat GM's lunch. Turns out GM ate it's own lunch while Honda and Toyota just sat and watched.

All the mandates in the world don't change physics and economics. You can't fool mother nature.
Incorrect, Honda and Toyota both had EVs at the time for the CAFE rules.
Toyota had the RAVev. These vehicles are very sought after and still carry a nice price.
There was also high demand for the EV1, up until last year I would have bought one if it had a 100 mile range.
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Old 04-05-2010, 08:18 AM   #49
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By the same reasoning, there is no reason to buy a car with power windows, a sunroof, or CD/DVD player. As these options will NEVER pay for themselves.
OK, but don't ask me to subsidize your purchase of power windows, a sunroof, or CD/DVD player either! You want 'em, you pay for 'em. You want an EV, you pay for it!

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B. Lower costs to society based on us becoming more energy independent.
My point to T-Al on this is - if this is the goal, then find a far more direct and measurable way to achieve it. What do taxpayers get for their $7,500 per vehicle? What if the guy that buys it lives in Hawaii - 76% of their electricity comes from diesel? He still gets a $7,500 subsidy to 'become more energy independent'? Not making sense to me at all, I'd love to see some numbers that demonstrate that this is a reasonable way to use our tax dollars to achieve energy independence (and I won't even ask you to justify the benefits of energy independence - it is arguable, but we can leave that to a different thread).

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I agree with you as long as you feel the same way when the government subsidizes people purchase of $40+K "work" SUVs.
I do. But do you really agree? You seem to be trying to justify the subsidy for EVs?

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Incorrect, Honda and Toyota both had EVs at the time for the CAFE rules.
Toyota had the RAVev. These vehicles are very sought after and still carry a nice price.
There was also high demand for the EV1...
Yes, Honda and Toyota had CARB EV entries. How are their sales with all this 'demand'? If they are so sought after, why don't they sell them for high prices un-subsidized, which is what a high demand will fetch?

I keep hearing these claims of 'high demand' from the pro-EV crowd. Again, just not making sense to me. Clearly, 'high demand' in the US would translate to a much higher demand in Europe with higher fuel prices and drives that better match the EV capabilities. So why aren't Toyota, Honda, and GM selling EVs like hotcakes in Europe. I understand that GM could use sales, hard to believe they would turn this away.

There are some greenies that would buy EVs at just about any price. Fine, sell them to them. But that demand is different from the demand required to support an industry with more competitive alternatives.

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Old 04-05-2010, 10:23 AM   #50
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By the same reasoning, there is no reason to buy a car with power windows, a sunroof, or CD/DVD player. As these options will NEVER pay for themselves.
Completely out of context. See T-Al excellent argument above about VCRs and Mobile phone.

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In addition, your assumptions MAY be correct, but also may be very wrong.
You also did not take into account:
A. Lower costs due to no oil changes or other ICE related maintainance which an EV will be free of.
B. Lower costs to society based on us becoming more energy independant.
No I did not. But that was in FAVOR for the Leaf EV.

A. Electric motors fail a lot sooner than the ICE. Alternators, starters, power window regulators, power antennas...

B. The required energy needed to make those batteries would most likely exceed the energy saved for the life of the batteries.
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Old 04-05-2010, 10:28 AM   #51
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I agree with you as long as you feel the same way when the government subsidizes people purchase of $40+K "work" SUVs.
At last something we can agree on.

But I can't help feeling the same way as ERD50 "But do you really agree? You seem to be trying to justify the subsidy for EVs?"
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Old 04-05-2010, 11:04 AM   #52
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In a world of subsidies, I see no reason to NOT have one for solely one type of technology. Even the playing field and I am fine with it, I would prefer that actually.
But while we are giving SUV and other unneeded subsidies, any new tech will have a tough time competing without them.
I also agree with ERD that it would be FAR preferable to simply have a carbon tax and let the market take care of it.
However, since that is not happening, and I don't see any of our political 'leaders' having the fortitude to impliment such a carbon tax, the subsidies are what is left.
I disagree that electric motors of the size and build quality for EV's will be failing sooner than the ICE components. However, I only have what I have heard about their longevity. Do you have any data?
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Old 04-05-2010, 12:06 PM   #53
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But while we are giving SUV and other unneeded subsidies, any new tech will have a tough time competing without them.

Wait a minute - as far as I know, the 'government subsidizes for $40+K "work" SUVs' are there regardless of the power source. So build an expensive "work" SUV that is battery powered and you get the same subsidy, right? So how is that favoring one technology over the other?

As I understand it, that subsidy was to boost small business by making their work trucks more affordable. I also think that is a stupid way to go about it, as it is indirect and has unintended loopholes and consequences, and favors businesses that use trucks, which isn't every small business. But I don't see it creating an unlevel playing field for EVs.


I'm also not so sure about any problems with longevity of the motors (my guess is just the opposite), but again, this will come to light in a free market as either a positive or negative.

edit/add - I just have to say that anything near $7,500 per vehicle just strikes me as so far outside of any expected return, that I just can't support throwing good money after bad, just because we may live in a 'world of subsidies'.

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Old 04-05-2010, 01:35 PM   #54
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If I have my way, I would abolish all forms of subsidies and replace them with charities when appropriate. By simply changing the terminology, it makes it difficult to provide charities to richer people... But that's another subject, another thread.
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Old 04-13-2010, 07:37 AM   #55
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Kewl!
Whole Foods has installed a charging station at their mother ship store here in Austin.
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Old 04-13-2010, 08:30 AM   #56
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The negative to this though, is that that charging will be done near peak times. I imagine the last thing Austin Texas needs is a bunch of people charging their EVs on a scorching hot summer day where the A/C demand is already strianing the grid.

We really want people charging cars overnight, as there is plenty of unused capacity on the grid at that time, and some power plants actually idle at higher output than is used. If an electric car uses this waste energy, I guess you could actually call it zero-pollution?

Maybe better than this would be small swappable battery packs. Chevy VOLT gets 40 miles on a 375# battery, so roughly 10#/mile. So a 20 mile trip home on 'empty' would require 200# of batteries - If there were a rack in the trunk to hold 10 batteries of 20# each, and an easy, safe connector system, maybe just rent the batteries? Those batteries could be charged overnight at the slow charge rate.

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Old 04-13-2010, 12:41 PM   #57
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Maybe better than this would be small swappable battery packs. Chevy VOLT gets 40 miles on a 375# battery, so roughly 10#/mile. So a 20 mile trip home on 'empty' would require 200# of batteries - If there were a rack in the trunk to hold 10 batteries of 20# each, and an easy, safe connector system, maybe just rent the batteries? Those batteries could be charged overnight at the slow charge rate.-ERD50
I like it.

We could make them cylindrical like flashlight batteries and just pop 'em in a port on the side. E cells.
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Old 04-13-2010, 11:48 PM   #58
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Maybe better than this would be small swappable battery packs. Chevy VOLT gets 40 miles on a 375# battery, so roughly 10#/mile. So a 20 mile trip home on 'empty' would require 200# of batteries - If there were a rack in the trunk to hold 10 batteries of 20# each, and an easy, safe connector system, maybe just rent the batteries? Those batteries could be charged overnight at the slow charge rate.

-ERD50
Why would I want to rent 200lbs in order to drive 20 miles? The Volt runs on gas too, right? Why not just spend 1/2 gal of gas to achieve the same result? It's got to be cheaper and much quicker than renting those batteries.
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Old 04-14-2010, 07:23 AM   #59
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Why would I want to rent 200lbs in order to drive 20 miles? The Volt runs on gas too, right? Why not just spend 1/2 gal of gas to achieve the same result? It's got to be cheaper and much quicker than renting those batteries.
You wouldn't if you had the VOLT. I just used the Volt as a reference point for # of battery per mile. You also wouldn't use a charger like the one in the post by IP for the Volt, that is what I was referring to. The swappable battery pack would apply only to a full EV.


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Old 04-15-2010, 05:47 PM   #60
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I don't expect to ever be able to use a 100% electric vehicle. The affect of -40 degree temps on the efficiency of any battery plus the need to heat the interior as well as drive the car would make the available range so small it would be useless.
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