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Old 03-30-2010, 03:36 PM   #1
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electric car

Anyone plan on buying one of the new electric cars?

I'm a little puzzled. The Nissan Leaf gets 100 miles on a fillup and the GM gets 40 with a little gas powered motor that kicks on after that. The old GM Ev1 got up to 150 miles on a charge. My neighbor had one and loved it. He got over 125 on a full charge. He said it was so fast and nimble he stopped driving his high dollar Benz. He spent $1000 to have a special charger put in which gave him special low rates to fill up during the evening when system usage was low. He said it only cost him a couple of dollars to fill up. Is there something funny going on here. Newer cars with less function?
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Old 03-30-2010, 03:55 PM   #2
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Is there something funny going on here. Newer cars with less function?
No, not in my view. The most expensive component in an electric car is the battery. I think Nissan wants the car to be affordable so they install a "medium size" battery.

At this time, most people buy electric car for daily commute. For that purpose, the 100 miles range should satisfy at least 90% of those commuters.
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Old 03-30-2010, 04:32 PM   #3
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I live in a condo with no personal garage of my own. But I'd think something like the Nissan Leaf would be great as a second (go around town to run errands) car. (As long as one doesn't forget that only 100 miles to a fillup). It would be neat to be able to run errands during the day, park and charge it up at night again and again.

While driving the other day, I did see a plug-in Prius (I knew as it was labeled as such on the car) that is supposed to get about 100mpg.
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Old 03-30-2010, 05:05 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Pete View Post
?
I'm a little puzzled. The Nissan Leaf gets 100 miles on a fillup and the GM gets 40 with a little gas powered motor that kicks on after that. The old GM Ev1 got up to 150 miles on a charge.

Newer cars with less function?
You have to remember that the EV1 was not 'marketable', as such. The amount of batteries they had to carry to get the 150 mile range simply cost too much. That is one reason GM never sold them - they leased them. That is the same reason you have not seen them all over Europe - with their higher petrol prices and shorter commutes EVs should be very popular there, but they are not. That fact alone pokes a huge hole in the 'GM killed the electric car' theory.

GM offered EVs in CA because under CARB rules, they would not be allowed to sell cars in California at all if they did not deliver 2% (IIRC) of the CA fleet as 'zero pollution' vehicles. So while GM could not afford to sell them, they could not afford to not sell them either - hence the lease. If they would have sold them at a price that 2% of the population would buy, people would be stripping them for the batteries and selling them for parts. Pssst, hey fella, wanna buy some lead-acid?

BTW, the 40 mile range on the Chevy Volt before switching over to gasoline has nothing to do with range, per se. They needed to have enough batteries to provide decent performance (acceleration). Turns out that once you have that many batteries, they will take that car 40 miles. It was a result, not a design goal.

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Old 03-30-2010, 05:28 PM   #5
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A little off topic: Nissan LEAF operating cost versus Conventional Corolla.

Assumptions:
constant gas price of $3.00/gal
constant electricity price of $0.10/kwh
real world Corolla mpg = 30mpg
LEAF charging efficiency = 80%

10 years, 100,000 miles cost:
Corolla
Corolla Total = $10,000 fuel

Nissan Leaf
Electricity (fuel)
(24kwh/0.8) * $0.10 = $3.00/100 miles. $3,000 for 100,000 miles
Battery replacement at 100,000miles: $10,000
Nissan Leaf total = $13,000

Plus the Leaf costs $8-$10K more than the Corolla and can not be use for long distance travel.


For me, gas price has to be $5/gal or higher to justify the purchase of the Nissan Leaf. What's your take?
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Old 03-30-2010, 05:34 PM   #6
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More discussion on the Leaf:

MarketWatch.com

In the future, if they had the charging stations available at filling stations, that would make having one much more practical. A 20 minute break (coffee anyone?) to charge up is not bad.
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Old 03-30-2010, 05:44 PM   #7
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Anyone plan on buying one of the new electric cars?
I'm intrigued, and we might buy one after two or three more years. Almost certainly before 2020. But we think we can go down to a single-car family (Prius) and a plug-in hybrid is way better than an EV for just one car. My hope is that EV production will drive down everyone's plug-in hybrid prices.

An EV can make a great second car or commuter beater on Oahu. We rarely drive more than 40 miles in a day and the vast majority of it is on roads at 50 MPH or less. (During rush hours, everything here is less than 30 MPH!)

I think GM was concerned about EV1's battery life. One of the biggest problems with lead-acid EV conversions is the short battery life. One of the biggest problems with Li-Ion conversions is the high cost, and back then it wasn't proven technology. Even Prius didn't really get in the hybrid swing until 2004, nearly seven years after starting assembly-line production.

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Originally Posted by Sam View Post
A little off topic: Nissan LEAF operating cost versus Conventional Corolla.
constant electricity price of $0.10/kwh
10 years, 100,000 miles cost:
Battery replacement at 100,000miles: $10,000
For me, gas price has to be $5/gal or higher to justify the purchase of the Nissan Leaf. What's your take?
Lemme nitpick a little.

First, inflation is commonly ignored during photovoltaic and power-generation paybacks. Yet even 3% inflation over 10 years is over a 30% price rise. If the calculation is going to go out that far, 30% seems like a significant error worth taking into account.

Second, there's no indication that a Prius requires a battery replacement after 10 years. They've been in Japan since 1997 and many American Prii (especially fleet vehicles) have over 100K miles even though they're well short of 10 years. The current battery failure/replacement rate is a hassle if it happens to you, but it isn't a significant factor in the cost calculation any more than having to factor in the car's accident rates or depreciation or lightning strikes.

Now lemme whine a little: I'd love to buy electricity at 10 cents/KWHr, and neighbor islands hit $4 gas during 2008. EVs make no sense for many American road-trip lifestyles, but they're practically tailor-made for small islands with isolated power grids who import all their oil. In Hawaii, the govt is happily paying local commercial PV power providers 30 cents/KWHr fixed for 20 years, even though HECO's current rates are regulated at 23 cents/KWHr. Our cheapest gas is currently around $3.10/gallon, and that will probably rise at least 3% per year. Neighbor islands are 30-45 cents/KWHr and $4-$5/gal gas.

Plug-in hybrid & EV costs are compelling for us. Over the last eight years this ER family has burned between $1000-$1400/year on gas. In our case, our 3300-watt photovoltaic array will have paid back its initial cost in tax credits & kilowatt-hours by September. (Yes, I am a nuke. I log our monthly production and HECO's monthly rates on our spreadsheet.) Even by the most conservative opportunity-cost accounting (assuming we'd invested the original cost in late 2004 in a fund compounding 6% APY, hah!) it'll overtake a 6% APY investment by 2015. My back-of-the-envelope calculations indicate that recharging our EV would probably take the output of another entire 3 KW PV array. I can confidently bottom-fish the inverter and panels from eBay and manufacturer's seconds at less than $15K, maybe even less than $12K, build our own racks from scrap metal on hand, assemble it all again with DIY labor, immediately take approx $7800-$9750 in state/fed tax credits, and save at least $1000/year on gas.
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Old 03-30-2010, 06:00 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Sam View Post
A little off topic: Nissan LEAF operating cost versus Conventional Corolla.

Assumptions:
constant gas price of $3.00/gal
constant electricity price of $0.10/kwh
real world Corolla mpg = 30mpg
LEAF charging efficiency = 80%

10 years, 100,000 miles cost:
Corolla
Corolla Total = $10,000 fuel

Nissan Leaf
Electricity (fuel)
(24kwh/0.8) * $0.10 = $3.00/100 miles. $3,000 for 100,000 miles
Battery replacement at 100,000miles: $10,000
Nissan Leaf total = $13,000

Plus the Leaf costs $8-$10K more than the Corolla and can not be use for long distance travel.


For me, gas price has to be $5/gal or higher to justify the purchase of the Nissan Leaf. What's your take?
Yep, about right. No reason to buy one unless it's for emotional reasons.I'm Green!
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Old 03-30-2010, 07:13 PM   #9
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First, inflation is commonly ignored during paybacks photovoltaic and power-generation paybacks. Yet even 3% inflation over 10 years is over a 30% price rise. If the calculation is going to go out that far, 30% seems like a significant error worth taking into account.
True, but I ignored inflation for both cases (Leaf and Corolla).

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Second, there's no indication that a Prius requires a battery replacement after 10 years.
I believe you. But here's my take: The battery on the Prius is not utilized the same way as one on a laptop computer or an EV. The battery on the Prius is rarely (relatively speaking) used to store large amount of electricity. On a laptop or an EV, all energy are either going to the battery or from it. I have never seen a Li-ion battery that is capable of holding more than 60% of its original capacity after three years of daily use. I don't exactly know Nissan battery's technology, but even Nissan executive acknowledged the 10year/$10,000 life/cost of the Leaf battery. And normal user might not be patient enough to wait for 10 years before replacement. Let's assume that after 5 years, the capacity has already decreased by 30% (optimistic). That means the range is now only 70 miles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
Now lemme whine a little: I'd love to buy electricity at 10 cents/KWHr
Now lemme brag a little: Here are my actual electricity (Entergy) cost in the past few months, cents/kwh
2009: Jul 9.7 Aug 8.4 Sep 8.5 Oct 9.5 Nov 11.6 Dec 11.5
2010: Jan 8.4 Feb 8.5 Mar 9.5


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
Plug-in hybrid & EV costs are compelling for us. Over the last eight years this ER family has burned between $1000-$1400/year on gas. In our case, our 3300-watt photovoltaic array will have paid back its initial cost in tax credits & kilowatt-hours by September.
I am with you 100%. It makes sense only because of the government involvement. By themselves, hybrid and EV cannot stand their own ground. They will maybe in 10 years.

Sam
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Old 03-30-2010, 07:20 PM   #10
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Remember that Nords lives in the middle of an island that is only 35 miles wide.
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Old 03-30-2010, 09:47 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
More discussion on the Leaf:

MarketWatch.com
From that link (bold mine):

Quote:
WSJ's Kate Linebaugh talks to Stacey Delo about Nissan's new Leaf electric car and its $32,780 price tag. While that's almost 50% higher than Toyota's rival Prius hybrid, the price falls to $25,280 when a $7,500 tax credit is applied and even lower when factoring in state tax credits.
Actually, the price doesn't change one penny. The only thing that changes is who pays for it. I can't think of any good reason why I should help pay for someone else's $32,780 car. If they like the car, they should buy it.

Especially considering the Cash for Clunkers deal actually penalized me for buying a fuel efficient car 10 years ago. I should have anticipated this.

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Old 03-31-2010, 04:32 AM   #12
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Actually, the price doesn't change one penny. The only thing that changes is who pays for it. I can't think of any good reason why I should help pay for someone else's $32,780 car. If they like the car, they should buy it.

Especially considering the Cash for Clunkers deal actually penalized me for buying a fuel efficient car 10 years ago. I should have anticipated this.

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Good points. I suppose one can make a case for the gummint acting as a catalyst to hurry technology along but I've never seen it that way. Still, I can't blame anyone who takes advantage of what the gummint offers. I'd rather the gummint would stay out of the way and let the market drive technology. But, it is what it is. I find the technology absolutely fascinating. I'm looking for the day when the paint on your car is photovoltaic and charges the battery when the car is outside. Totally cool.
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:08 AM   #13
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Good points. I suppose one can make a case for the gummint acting as a catalyst to hurry technology along but I've never seen it that way. Still, I can't blame anyone who takes advantage of what the gummint offers. I'd rather the gummint would stay out of the way and let the market drive technology. But, it is what it is. I find the technology absolutely fascinating. I'm looking for the day when the paint on your car is photovoltaic and charges the battery when the car is outside. Totally cool.
Agree on all points except for the PV paint. Unless that PV paint gets really, really, really cheap and takes near zero environmental impact to produce, it will always make more sense to put a PV panel where it will be in full sun all day at the optimal angle. That will never happen with a car, so it would waste the PV potential. By the time we PV gets there, we will probably be running our DeLorean's on banana peels

Specifically on this comment:

Quote:
I suppose one can make a case for the gummint acting as a catalyst to hurry technology along but I've never seen it that way
You got me thinking about this a little more. Just think, EVs are NOT taking off in Europe, where petrol is what, 4x what it is here? And shorter commutes on average, and smaller cars? If those conditions are not acting as a catalyst for EVs, then what good is our govt doing by throwing money at it here in the US? They are just throwing money into a not-ready-for-prime-time technology. It's a waste, not a catalyst.

The govt pumping money into ethanol from corn didn't make it attractive. It just wasted money. Products become attractive because they meet needs. If they can't do that w/o a subsidy, then they are not meeting needs, and the subsidy does not change that.

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Old 03-31-2010, 09:15 AM   #14
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I believe you. But here's my take: The battery on the Prius is not utilized the same way as one on a laptop computer or an EV. The battery on the Prius is rarely (relatively speaking) used to store large amount of electricity. On a laptop or an EV, all energy are either going to the battery or from it. I have never seen a Li-ion battery that is capable of holding more than 60% of its original capacity after three years of daily use. I don't exactly know Nissan battery's technology, but even Nissan executive acknowledged the 10year/$10,000 life/cost of the Leaf battery. And normal user might not be patient enough to wait for 10 years before replacement. Let's assume that after 5 years, the capacity has already decreased by 30% (optimistic). That means the range is now only 70 miles........Sam
I think the issue of battery life in an all electric car is a valid concern. I have an Escape hybrid and have anxiously watched to see what the real world risk is of having to replace the battery on my dime. As Nords has pointed out, the risk is low (some Escapes have logged 300,000 on the original battery in taxicab service). However, as Sam has pointed out, the batteries in hybrids are coddled by keeping full charge and discharge rates within a narrow band and temperatures carefully controlled. In a fully electric vehicle one would expect to exercise the battery from a full charge to nearly full discharge - repeatedly.

I do think that a market will quickly develop for rebuilding / repairing batteries and very few customers will just ante up $10,000 for a new battery on a regular basis, just as people don't replace engines when a cheaper repair will suffice. The laptop analogy is a worrisome one as the price for even an after market laptop battery still is high enough that it is often better to just scrap the laptop.

The next few years should prove interesting with both the Leaf and the Volt hitting the market. Maybe the more hybrid like strategy of the Volt will payoff in terms of extended battery life.
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:34 AM   #15
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In a fully electric vehicle one would expect to exercise the battery from a full charge to nearly full discharge - repeatedly.
No, that is not the case. The EVs also need to keep the charge/discharge points within a fairly narrow range to extend the working life. This is why they get so expensive.

Chevrolet Volt - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Quote:
It will only be allowed to charge to 85% of full capacity and to discharge only to approximately 30% SoC before the engine cuts in and maintains the charge near the lower level. When the vehicle is plugged into a charger the battery SoC is restored to 85%.
And the all-electric Tesla is very similar to this. It is just what you need to extend battery life, hybrid or not.

Quote:
I do think that a market will quickly develop for rebuilding / repairing batteries and very few customers will just ante up $10,000 for a new battery on a regular basis, just as people don't replace engines when a cheaper repair will suffice.
I remember reading on the Tesla site, that they are looking for secondary uses for the battery packs. There are plenty of applications where a pack that has degraded to 60% of its original capacity would still be useful (non-mobile use, or on the back of a pickup truck for remote power), as long as the price was right.


Quote:
Maybe the more hybrid like strategy of the Volt will payoff in terms of extended battery life.
I think the VOLT concept has the most potential (no pun intended) over the next 10 years. It isn't reliant on batteries for extended range, so you don't need to put a bunch of extra batteries in for range. You only need enough to provide performance while in EV mode. So as batteries improve in performance, the VOLT can actually use fewer of them and further reduce costs. That 40 mile range really is good enough for most trips, really no need to extend that (diminishing returns). Even 30 mile range would keep most people off gasoline most of the time. As batteries evolve, the range will also increase at that performance/price point. As they approach that point, they can just start offering models w/o an ICE at all. It makes for a very natural progression. Good design, IMO.

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Old 03-31-2010, 10:10 AM   #16
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You have to remember that the EV1 was not 'marketable', as such. The amount of batteries they had to carry to get the 150 mile range simply cost too much. That is one reason GM never sold them - they leased them. That is the same reason you have not seen them all over Europe - with their higher petrol prices and shorter commutes EVs should be very popular there, but they are not. That fact alone pokes a huge hole in the 'GM killed the electric car' theory.
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Let me see if I get this right... In 1996 GM enters the market with the EV1 that has cheap lead acid batteries that got 75 miles per charge. The Japanese improve the batteries for them a few times and get 150 miles per charge. That's too expensive so they trash them. They then redesign and rebuild another car 14 years later that only gets 40 and has the complexity and cost of having an on board combustion engine.

Probably a little simplistic an explanation and I'm no engineer but.... I guess I shouldn't wonder why GM had to be bailed out.
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Old 03-31-2010, 10:41 AM   #17
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... and to discharge only to approximately 30% SoC before ...
End Quote

Discharging to 30% SoC definitely qualifies as "nearly full discharge" in battery terms. At that discharge level, voltage has already dropped so low that the remaining charge is almost useless.

I agree with EDR50 about subsidizing people's purchase of a $30+K vehicle. It's just nut!
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Old 03-31-2010, 11:18 AM   #18
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Let me see if I get this right... In 1996 GM enters the market with the EV1 that has cheap lead acid batteries that got 75 miles per charge. The Japanese improve the batteries for them a few times and get 150 miles per charge. That's too expensive so they trash them. They then redesign and rebuild another car 14 years later that only gets 40 and has the complexity and cost of having an on board combustion engine.

Probably a little simplistic an explanation and I'm no engineer but.... I guess I shouldn't wonder why GM had to be bailed out.
Those 'cheap' lead-acids were not cheap when you put together enough for a 75 mile range. Again, if that were so, why isn't Europe full of these things, made by Benz, or Toyota, or Honda, or.....? The whole economics of the thing was warped by the CARB mandate. GM didn't kill the electric car, CARB caused it to be stillborn.

It isn't a technological problem, it is an economic one. The Tesla gets > 200 mile range, but it costs $100,000+. And you can reverse-engineer the technology/marketing approach on that one too. It takes $xx,xxx worth of batteries to get a 200+ mile range. Not enough people will pay that price for that range. But, once you have enough batteries for that range, you have enough batteries for the kind of high-end sports car performance that people pay > $100,000 for. So, they made a high-end sports car that people would pay > $100,000 for. That covers the cost of the batteries.

The 40 mile range of the VOLT is t get around the expensive battery problem, It is actually an elegant solution to the battery problem. At this point, adding an ICE is cheaper than adding enough batteries for that kind of range. Plus, you don't need to wait for a charge. It really is that simple.

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Old 03-31-2010, 11:24 AM   #19
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Quote:
... and to discharge only to approximately 30% SoC before ...
End Quote

Discharging to 30% SoC definitely qualifies as "nearly full discharge" in battery terms. At that discharge level, voltage has already dropped so low that the remaining charge is almost useless.
You *may* be confusing SOC with battery voltage. I'd have to dig through their numbers a bit to be totally certain, but I'm pretty sure that 30% SOC means getting to within 30% of the 'standard' cut off point of the battery (not within 30% of the range to zero volts). That cut off point does not represent 'dead', it represents a point where the lifetime of the battery drops off a steep cliff. There still could be a lot of power there.

For example, when your laptop says you have just 1 minute of use left, it is the laptop that shuts off (to protect the battery). There is still juice in the battery. But draining it further would be really bad. But to you, it 'looks' like the battery died.

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Old 03-31-2010, 11:25 AM   #20
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Nissan Leaf
Electricity (fuel)
(24kwh/0.8) * $0.10 = $3.00/100 miles. $3,000 for 100,000 miles
Battery replacement at 100,000miles: $10,000
Nissan Leaf total = $13,000
More nitpicking: Sorry, you don't get to include the $10,000 cost of battery replacement in your 100,000 mile fuel cost. You already bought the car with its OEM battery for the first 100,000 miles. If you buy a second battery, that gets counted toward fuel for the second 100,000 miles. After all, you didn't need that second battery to drive the first 100,000 miles.

Now, if as you say the Leaf costs $8000-10,000 more than the Corolla, I'll allow that probably represents the original battery cost, and you could count it toward the first 100,000 mile fuel cost.
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