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High Battery Cost Curbs Electric Cars
Old 10-22-2010, 05:59 PM   #1
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High Battery Cost Curbs Electric Cars

High Battery Cost Curbs Electric Cars - WSJ.com

This article reflects what I've been saying that subsidies are not going to speed up Electric Vehicle development much at all.

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"Economies of scale are often cited as a factor that can drive down costs, but hundreds of millions to billions of ... [battery] cells already are being produced in optimized factories. Building more factories is unlikely to have a great impact on costs," the Academies report said.
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The U.S. Department of Energy has set a goal of bringing down car-battery costs by 70% from last year's price by 2014.
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Jay Whitacre, a battery researcher and technology policy analyst at Carnegie Mellon University, said ... "it will be a decade at least" before that price reduction is reached.
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"The cost reductions aren't attainable even in the next 10 years," said Menahem Anderman, principal of Total Battery Consulting Inc., a California-based battery research firm.
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Unlike with tires or toasters, battery packs aren't likely to enjoy traditional economies of scale as their makers ramp up production, the scientists and engineers say.
I just can't see what we get from a $7,500 subsidy for people to buy an EV. That incremental sale isn't going to get you $7,500 worth of development. It would be better to just spend even half that on battery development directly, if that is the goal.

-ERD50
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Old 10-22-2010, 06:00 PM   #2
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battery longevity, performance, and costs have always been the driving issue (stupid pun intended ) with electric cars.
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Old 10-22-2010, 06:19 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post

This article reflects what I've been saying that subsidies are not going to speed up Electric Vehicle development much at all.
I just can't see what we get from a $7,500 subsidy for people to buy an EV. That incremental sale isn't going to get you $7,500 worth of development. It would be better to just spend even half that on battery development directly, if that is the goal.

-ERD50
I still think Obama should have tapped you to head the DOE.
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Old 10-22-2010, 06:36 PM   #4
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I still think Obama should have tapped you to head the DOE.
Naaaah. During the vetting process, someone would have come across the ER board and would realize ERD50's first act would be to fire all the DOE workers. His second would be to set up a nice pension for himself and then resign.
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"The electric car is ready. The world isn’t. "
Old 10-22-2010, 08:02 PM   #5
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"The electric car is ready. The world isn’t. "

Electric Mini left this driver drained - The Globe and Mail
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Old 10-22-2010, 08:08 PM   #6
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After reading this article, the Volt seems more and more like a good transition strategy.
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Old 10-22-2010, 08:11 PM   #7
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Naaaah. During the vetting process, someone would have come across the ER board and would realize ERD50's first act would be to fire all the DOE workers. His second would be to set up a nice pension for himself and then resign.
Hmmm, that's got the wheels turning - sweet govt pension, yeah, baby! Note to self: secure pension first, THEN fire all the workers!

Well, I really wasn't meaning this for the political forum (I was really trying to take a break from the SS and pension topics!), but I doubt that the $7,500 subsidy has anything at all to do with 'energy', it's all about buying votes. OK, done with that.

It's a shame really, because I love the idea of electrics. But I really don't think they are going to be cost effective for a long time yet. City or other short-haul uses will hit first.

-ERD50
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Old 10-22-2010, 08:26 PM   #8
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After reading this article, the Volt seems more and more like a good transition strategy.
From a design standpoint, I think the GM VOLT is doing just about everything right. Even most of the marketing is great - to differentiate it from the other "hybrids", they call it an Extended Range Electric Vehicle. Technically, the Volt is a "serial hybrid" and the Prius is a "parallel hybrid" - not great marketing terms.

Yet, they are under similar battery cost constraints. The Volt has an advantage though - they only need enough batteries for decent acceleration under full EV mode. It really doesn't matter much if the EV range is 40 miles or 30 miles or 25 miles (the current 40 mile range is a result of having enough batteries for acceleration). Many people could still be using mostly electric power for their daily trips, plus the ability to take a long trip (using gasoline) if they need.

So if batteries with higher "burst power" but not such great total energy become cost effective before batteries with more total power, the Volt can take advantage of that. And there are some signs of that happening.

-ERD50
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Old 10-22-2010, 08:46 PM   #9
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From a design standpoint, I think the GM VOLT is doing just about everything right. .............
-ERD50
I'm curious how they protect the engine / fuel system from potentially very long periods of non-use. If you lived just a few miles from work you could potentially not run the engine for years, which I would think would cause all kinds of problems, not the least of which would be stale gasoline. Maybe it is like a standby generator and exercises itself every x days or weeks if not run.
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Old 10-22-2010, 08:59 PM   #10
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That e-Mini still hits our driving habits right between the demographic eyeballs. I'd love to know what the charging problem.

Many of the electric pickup truck DIY converters put a Honda gasoline generator in the back just in case.

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I'm curious how they protect the engine / fuel system from potentially very long periods of non-use. If you lived just a few miles from work you could potentially not run the engine for years, which I would think would cause all kinds of problems, not the least of which would be stale gasoline. Maybe it is like a standby generator and exercises itself every x days or weeks if not run.
Fuel stabilizer?

We haven't had our Altima out of the garage for over a week, but it starts every time and runs fine.
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Old 10-22-2010, 09:01 PM   #11
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I'm curious how they protect the engine / fuel system from potentially very long periods of non-use. If you lived just a few miles from work you could potentially not run the engine for years, which I would think would cause all kinds of problems, not the least of which would be stale gasoline. Maybe it is like a standby generator and exercises itself every x days or weeks if not run.
Exactly - I found this, but I didn't see anything specific as to how often the maintenance mode would kick in, but I suspect most drivers would end up taking a longer trip often enough for it to be a rarity. Sounds like it is an algorithm of time, temperature and other factors, like the oil monitors in newer cars.

from wiki:
In order to
Quote:
avoid maintenance problems caused by the same gasoline stored in the tank for months, the production Volt has a sealed and pressurized fuel tank to avoid evaporation, and as a result, the fuel filler has to be depressurized before opening the tank. Also the engine management system monitors the time between engine running and it is programmed to prompt the driver to run past the 40-mile all-electric range before recharging in order to consume some gasoline. If the driver does not run on gasoline, the system will automatically run the maintenance mode which starts the engine to consume some of the aging fuel and circulate the fluids within the engine.[55]
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Old 10-22-2010, 09:21 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
High Battery Cost Curbs Electric Cars - WSJ.com

This article reflects what I've been saying that subsidies are not going to speed up Electric Vehicle development much at all.
-ERD50
I did some research recently on all batteries - and it doesn't take long to realize batteries are a TERRIBLE way to run anything. They very expensive and store only minute quantities of energy. Plus they need to be replaced often.

Other alternative energy sources (hydrogen fuel cells, natural gas, etc) are much better for storing energy, lower cost, and replace cost.

From a policy standpoint and a personal purchase standpoint, anything with a battery isn't "green", it is a yellow lemon
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Old 10-22-2010, 10:39 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
From a design standpoint, I think the GM VOLT is doing just about everything right. Even most of the marketing is great - to differentiate it from the other "hybrids", they call it an Extended Range Electric Vehicle. Technically, the Volt is a "serial hybrid" and the Prius is a "parallel hybrid" - not great marketing terms.
With the new revelations about the Volt's layout, it appears to be both a serial and a parallel hybrid, depending on conditions.

Page with GM press release.

From that page:
Quote:
Unbolting the Chevy Volt to See How it Ticks (MotorTrend.com)
“On paper, the Voltec drivetrain has more in common with a Prius (and other Toyota, Ford, or Nissan Altima hybrids) than anyone suspected. Each system employs a single planetary gear set, a gasoline-powered piston engine, and two electric motor/generators. But the way Chevy connects them is entirely different, and – if you ask me – superior.”
Chevy Volt Surprise (Automobilemag.com)
“To trump both the Prius and the Leaf, Volt combines their merits in one handy advanced-technology sedan. It employs cheaper and cleaner electrical energy drawn from the grid. It provides efficient electric drive without the usual compromises. It uses gasoline intelligently in a supporting role. It is a pure electric, a series hybrid, and a parallel hybrid all rolled into one.”
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Old 10-22-2010, 11:29 PM   #14
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With the new revelations about the Volt's layout, it appears to be both a serial and a parallel hybrid, depending on conditions.
Yes, I just saw that info as I was googling for this thread - that was news to me, everything I had read earlier was that it was a pure series hybrid. The source I saw (didn't save the link) mentioned connecting the engine directly for highway speeds.

Makes sense - at that point you are just wasting energy using gasoline to run a generator to run a motor. If you need acceleration, it would kick bak to EV mode/boost.

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Old 10-22-2010, 11:35 PM   #15
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The source I saw (didn't save the link) mentioned connecting the engine directly for highway speeds.
I've seen that, too, but I think it was a misinterpretation of what is happening. According to GM, there's no direct mechanical connection between the IC engine and the wheels.

I gotta think it's gonna be a real treat to troubleshoot problems with this car.
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Old 10-22-2010, 11:45 PM   #16
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With the new revelations about the Volt's layout, it appears to be both a serial and a parallel hybrid, depending on conditions.
So the 1.4L engine is sufficient to power the 3,790 lbs Volt. I hope wonder if GM is going to market a conventional version of Volt? That is ditching all batteries, all electric motors, all the sophisticate computers. May be they will end up with a conventional Volt that weighs in at around 2,500 lbs, and achieves 40+mpg highway, and sells for less than $15,000. Now that would be a real breakthrough.
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Old 10-22-2010, 11:59 PM   #17
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So the 1.4L engine is sufficient to power the 3,790 lbs Volt. I hope wonder if GM is going to market a conventional version of Volt? That is ditching all batteries, all electric motors, all the sophisticate computers. May be they will end up with a conventional Volt that weighs in at around 2,500 lbs, and achieves 40+mpg highway, and sells for less than $15,000. Now that would be a real breakthrough.
But it would probably take 45 seconds to accelerate to 60 MPH and wouldn't be able to pass a golf cart if going uphill.

As I understand it, the battery stands ever-ready to provide juice for acceptable off-the-line acceleration. The IC motor won't provide enough power for high electric surge demands.

At typical cruising speeds on level roads, a normal sedan uses less than 20 HP. Cars need bigger engines only to go up hills and to accelerate at a safe rate. In the case of the Volt, the IC engine will provide enough power to keep the car going at this speed with some left over to slowly charge the batteries.
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Old 10-23-2010, 12:09 AM   #18
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But it would probably take 45 seconds to accelerate to 60 MPH and wouldn't be able to pass a golf cart if going uphill.
Isn't that how the current Volt is behaving right now? Let's say you have traveled about 50 miles (so the battery is depleted) and now you are about enter a long mountain pass. In fact, I think the current Volt will perform even worse than my "hypothetical conventional Volt" in this scenario due the serious weight burden.
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Old 10-23-2010, 12:28 AM   #19
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Isn't that how the current Volt is behaving right now? Let's say you have traveled about 50 miles (so the battery is depleted) and now you are about enter a long mountain pass. In fact, I think the current Volt will perform even worse than my "hypothetical conventional Volt" in this scenario due the serious weight burden.
Well, no one really knows how the Volt works, as GM is still not releasing all the info. But here's what I'd guess: Like the Prius and all other hybrids, the battery is never truly exhausted. It is discharged only to a certain level (say, 50% just for discussion's sake) in order to help the battery have a much longer service life. In the case of the Volt, the IC motor then turns on and it provides the electricity to drive the wheels. If, however, the driver puts the pedal to the metal, the battery is still available to help out and the 15-20 seconds of surge time won't significantly hurt it. When the surge is over the IC engine continues to provide juice to drive the car and maybe also to slowly recharge the batteries for the next time a surge of power might be needed.

Because of the ability to generate this surge electricity from the batteries, the Volt would be able to get by with a smaller IC engine than would otherwise be safe. This smaller engine is more efficient than a larger IC engine would be at producing a given amount of HP (due to lower pumping losses, lower heat losses from the smaller cylinder walls, etc). Becasue of the smaller engine, the Volt (in theory) might get better MPG if driven all day on gasoline than a pure gasoline car of the same size and weight (because the motor int he second car would have to be bigger). In real life the Volt is heavier due to the batteries and there are losses from energy conversions that a conventional car doesn't have. But, at least according to the hype, the Volt still gets better MPG than a similar conventional car when driven long distances (that is, after the batteries aren't providing much power to drive the car).
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Old 10-23-2010, 12:35 AM   #20
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Well, no one really knows how the Volt works, as GM is still not releasing all the info.
My guess is that the info will hurt sales. Once people really understand the true operation of the Volt, they'd realize it's more hype than actual real life advantage.
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