Battery-powered Vehicles Not Ready for Prime Time

Has anyone given any thought to what nonsense battery powered vehicles really are and to why they won’t really save anyone anything for years to come? No, sadly, the hype has overtaken common sense and millions of dollars are going to be wasted chasing this silly dream. Here are some facts that you might want to consider if you are thinking of taking the plunge into electric-powered vehicles.

1. The batteries most likely are not going to last the 10 years currently being promised. Do you own any device with a rechargeable battery that has lasted 10 years? I didn’t think so. Good luck with this one.

2. Are you even aware that most of the battery packs on electric vehicles being sold today can not even store the equivalent power that one gallon of gas can hold?

3. Are you wondering how car companies are going to try to get the 10 years promised life out of the battery packs? You should. They are going to make sure that the packs are never discharged more than 50%, so you are going to pay for twice as many batteries as you really need and you are going to haul around twice the battery weight that you really need. The Chevy Volt’s battery pack is $16,000 and weighs 400 pounds. Half of that is never going to be used by you or the car, but you are going to pay for it and pay to haul it around for 10 years. Make sense?

4. The new Mini E Cooper seems really cute. It only costs $850 a month to lease, will never travel more than 100 miles on a charge, will require a 24 hour charge time on 110 volts, and has a 573 pound, weight-saving battery pack. What fun.

5. The Chevy Volt will only go 40 miles per charge, and each charge will cost $2.00 – $3.00. Is this any different than a Honda Civic getting 40 miles to the gallon? Oh, and I almost forgot, you can buy two Honda Civics for the price of one $40,000 Volt and keep one handy for a spare. And you will have money left over for your first year’s fuel costs.

6. Where will all the new electric power come from to charge these miracle vehicles? From utilities that primarily use fossil fuels for power generation. Nothing has been saved or gained, with the possible exception of our coal vs. someone else’s oil. For many parts of the nation those plug-ins are going to take thousands upon thousands of extra tons of coal burned each and every night. What fun.

One could continue to discuss the liquid cooling systems needed for the batteries and the engines, which further reduce efficiency, the fact that there are no charging stations anywhere when your batteries run down, that you will still be using an evil gas engine most of the time you are driving, that no one has figured out how we are going to recycle all the depleted batteries, that the electric cars are so quiet as to be a safety hazard (some companies are installing all-weather speakers on the outside of the car and playing car sounds through them), that electric vehicles suffer severe performance constraints in very cold weather and very hot weather, etc., etc., but that wouldn’t be fair.

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Posted by at 03:29 | Posted in Measure 37 | 19 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • jim karlock

    We are still waiting for a good battery to make the electric car practical.

    It’s been a 100 year wait so far.

    (just like the long wait for peak oil.)

    Thanks
    JK

  • Tim Lyman

    Batteries are also adversely affected by cold. Electric cars require battery heating to operate in sub-freezing temperatures. You pretty much need to keep them plugged in to supply electricity to keep the batteries warm when not driving for most of the winter.

  • valley person

    Luddites. New technologies take some time. If you were evaluating the first computer you would never have predicted the PC as a practical household device. You would have dismissed Kennedy’s moon shot as pie in the sky. Think of it this way, if you want to continue to waste gasoline, you should be encouraging others to buy battery driven cars so they leave more petrol for you.

    Change is coming with or without you Jerry. You will learn to adapt even if it is on the back end.

  • jim karlock

    *valley person* Luddites. New technologies take some time.
    *JK:* It’s been over 100 years now.

    *valley person* If you were evaluating the first computer you would never have predicted the PC as a practical household device.
    *JK:* The first electronic computer was in the 1940’s for code breaking. So that didn’t happen so quick either.

    To translate that into a cheap mass-producible item took a number of key inventions, with no clear path to small, cheap & powerful. And nobody wanted one, because they hadn’t even figured out how to use it in business.

    The path to a practical electric car is clear: better battery. We have all of the other key elements: efficient motors and controllers.

    *valley person* You would have dismissed Kennedy’s moon shot as pie in the sky.
    *JK:* Wrong. We had all the technology and Hitler’s best rocket engineers. It was just an applied engineering problem, not a basic science problem.

    Unfortunately, the green idiots cannot tell the difference. (And still haven’t figured out that nu-clear power will be required.)

    Thanks
    JK

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Oh peak oil! peak oil! I love peak oil. Makes me kinda nostalgic, back in the seventies when guys like Paul Erlich were making all sorts of predictions about running out of everything by like ten years ago. You know, those doomsday guys did generate a climate for some really cool movies too, Soylent Green, Silent Running ( although one did have to overlook the Joan Baez soundtrack ). Oh boy those were the days.

    You know, I love to goof on the peak oil crowd. Anytime oil prices go up, like last summer, I always hear from them. Well, if they truly believed in peak oil, then they would believe the uptick was part of a trend, not simply a market spike. Do any of them ever invest all their money in oil futures then? Nope. Gives you a real good gauge how much the see peak oil as a reality rather than a political game.

    • valley person

      “if they truly believed in peak oil, then they would believe the uptick was part of a trend, not simply a market spike.”

      If you actually read those who write about peak oil, they describe it as a series of ups and downs, not a steady price rise.

      By the way, how do you explain $5 a gallon gas last summer?

      • Rupert in Springfield

        Well, I guess this is a little better than the pathetic late night insults glad to see you have gotten the tone control adjusted within the more reasonable realm.

        >By the way, how do you explain $5 a gallon gas last summer?

        My saying an explanation is untrue, or suspect because its proponents do not seem to act on what they insist is unarguable truth does not require me to offer an alternative. Trying this sort of diversion ( DW2 ) has never worked well with me, I am suprised you still attempt it.

        Anyway, you seem to be saying you believe in the peak oil theory. Thus you should have a stack of buys from last summer, which you say was a peak, or from last month, which would be a trough, to show me that you bet on what you maintain is true.

        If you do, then I would be impressed, you clearly feel “peak oil” to be so true you will bet your money on it.

        If you don’t then I would laugh in your face, as it is simply would confirm what I am saying, “peak oil” is not really anything anyone believes, its just simply a propaganda talking point.

        Obviously I would be stunned you had bet as in the former case. Lets just call it a hunch based on past performance.

        Well, that and the fact that you use the “petrol” affectation which I find really funny.

        I have yet to meet an average Joe “peak oiler” who actually could show me any sort of investment pattern that would provide proof positive that he was putting his money where his propaganda was. Sure, there might be some big wheels out there who do it and talk up the market with peak oil stuff so as to affect the worth of their investment, but an average greenie who could show me a Schwab statement that proves they act on their contention? Nope.

      • Bad Boy Brown

        As a collector car owner I NEVER PAID $5.00 for gas anywhere last summer – and we were in four states – California, Nevada, Washington and Oregon. Take your head out and get a clue – LIAR!

  • jim karlock

    * By the way, how do you explain $5 a gallon gas last summer? *
    Commodity speculation and cartel.
    It certainly wasn’t demand increase.

    BTW, those world oil production curves that you paranoids love are actually demand curves. They produce to the demand.

    Thanks
    JK

    • valley person

      “BTW, those world oil production curves that you paranoids love are actually demand curves. They produce to the demand.”

      A finite resource can’t be infinitely tapped Jim. Oil production in the US has been steadily declining for decades, as was predicted by Hubbert. North sea oil production is now in decline as well. Middle East oil production will hit the same wall sooner or later.

      Remember, you are not paranoid if they are really after you.

      • Pete

        Unless, of course, the earth MAKES oil in its very bowels.
        Some say it might be doing just that.
        The decay of plants and animals to make oil is a just a bit far-fetched.
        However, it sure sounds romantic.

      • valley person

        “Anyway, you seem to be saying you believe in the peak oil theory.”

        Is that what I seemed to be saying? Let me say it more plainly for you. Fossil fuels, including oil, are by definition finite. Demand for these fuels appears to be infinite. As long as more oil can be found at prices people are willing and able to pay, not a problem. But it is inevitable that this situation can’t last forever. Its a question of when, not if. And a question of whether we choose to make investments that will take decades to find alternatives, or just wait until we are priced out. I prefer to plan ahead, and there are reasons other than peak oil to do so.

        “Thus you should have a stack of buys from last summer,”

        Perhaps, if I were an investor or speculator. But I am neither. Does that disqualify me from having an opinion about our nation’s energy policy?

        “If you don’t then I would laugh in your face…”

        Fortunately for both of us you are not near enough my face to do so.

        “Well, that and the fact that you use the “petrol” affectation which I find really funny.”

        So happy to provide your amusement.

        “I have yet to meet an average Joe “peak oiler” who actually could show me any sort of investment pattern that would provide proof positive that he was putting his money where his propaganda was.”

        2 points here Rupert. First, I don’t know how many peak oilers you have met. Some may have tin foil hats on their heads for all I know. But I doubt that you have met a representative sampling, and I doubt you have spent much time studying the issue. Hubbart predicted quire accurately teh decline in US oil production. North sea oil is in decline. There are new finds all the time, but in remoter and remoter locations. The earth is only so big. Do the math.

        Second, believing that supplies of a finite resource will eventually run short of demand seems like the only logical conclusion a reasonably sane person would make. Predicting precisely when these supplies will run short requires access to data that few outside of Saudi Arabia or the CIA would have. So placing a bet based on skimpy data may not be the wisest choice, even if one accepts that we will inevitably run wells dry at a faster rate than new ones are drilled.

        So you can wait for “greenies” to invest in oil futures rather than in bicycle carts or hemp bags., butI would say you are looking for the wrong market signals. $5 a gallon gas was a merket signal. It may have been an anomoly or it may have been a signal of what is coming sooner rather than later. Time will tell, regardles of what hippies invest in or what you or I think about it.

        • Rupert in Springfield

          >Is that what I seemed to be saying? Let me say it more plainly for you. Fossil fuels, including oil, are by definition finite.

          Sure seemed it. I’m not really sure what your point was jumping in on peak oil then. If it was to go on about something being finite, big deal, you have lurched into the obvious. I can’t really think of anything that isn’t finite.

          >Perhaps, if I were an investor or speculator. But I am neither. Does that disqualify me from having an opinion about our nation’s energy policy?

          No, but it does indicate the weight that should be leant to your opinion. We do know you are not a betting man Dean.

          >Fortunately for both of us you are not near enough my face to do so.

          Well, fortunate for you maybe, however I do love a hearty chuckle, so, it is my loss, lose, loose.

          >But I doubt that you have met a representative sampling, and I doubt you have spent much time studying the issue.

          Well, I don’t know why you doubt it given that I have clearly devoted some time to developing a BS detection method for the issue.

          I guess you just felt the need to throw in something here to puff yourself up.

          However, given that I probably hang out with a hell of a lot more greenies than you, I find this statement kind of silly.

          >Hubbart predicted quire accurately teh decline in US oil production.

          Hey, you get a million monkeys typing predictions and eventually someone will spit out something correct. My point is Rupert Truth of Life Number one, there will always be someone making a real good living predicting the end of the world. More people have been wrong making predications about the oil supply than have been right. Do the math.

          >Predicting precisely when these supplies will run short requires access to data that few outside of Saudi Arabia or the CIA would have.

          Well, this is entirely where you are wrong, thus probably why it is good you do not invest or speculate. Predicting the current supply accurately, or even having knowledge of the current supply would have zero impact on predicting when we would run out. The reason being that it does not take into account changing technology for extraction. Estimates of current supply only take into account that which we are able to extract with current technology. This is one major reason why the Paul Erlichs of the world tend to be so consistently wrong.

          >$5 a gallon gas was a merket signal. It may have been an anomoly or it may have been a signal of what is coming sooner rather than later.

          Well, you don’t know. Energy prices are among the most volatile in the market. I don’t wait for greenies to invest in energy futures to see which way the market is going anyway. I only use a greenies investment portfolio as a means of gauging whether they actually believe the bilge water they are pumping.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      Hey, I wonder if Paul Erlich is really rich?

      He predicted falling oil supply back in the seventies. He was kind of the Al Gore of his day. I mean he made a killing off his doomsday scenario books and the lecture circuit. He could predict all sorts of commodities running out.

      I bet he bought futures on those, since he could predict the future, and got really really rich.

      Oh wait, oil supplies went up.

      OOOppppsss, collective sigh for poor Paul Erlich.

      If he was honest, and bought puts on oil futures, he was made penniless, but at least honest enough to stand by his predications.

      I guess its like an ID card for integrity. If you claim you know the future, then you’d better be prepared to show me you’re investing on this incredible insight. If not, please be satisfied with rewards of laughter for you efforts.

      • valley person

        “No, but it does indicate the weight that should be leant to your opinion. We do know you are not a betting man Dean.”

        Gee Rupert, you exceeded my low expectations. It took you only 2 exchanges to attempt to dismiss my argument with a lame attempt to insult me once again. Congratulations.

        “Well, fortunate for you maybe…”

        Trust me on this one Rupert. It is fortunate for both of us. Enough said.

        “However, given that I probably hang out with a hell of a lot more greenies than you…”

        I don’t know how you know who I hang out with or don’t. But then you seem so confident in things that you don’t know much about.

        “Hey, you get a million monkeys typing predictions and eventually someone will spit out something correct.”

        So M King Hubbert was one of a million monkeys because he predicted something accurately that you dismiss? But Julian Simon was a genius because he predicted accurately something you agree on? It must be convenient to categorize those you dismiss as monkeys and those you agree with as geniuses. A reflection on your own genius no doubt.

        “More people have been wrong making predications about the oil supply than have been right.”

        Show me your data.

        “Estimates of current supply only take into account that which we are able to extract with current technology.”

        You know, as someone who dismisses wind and solar energy as useless because current technology is less than perfect, I find this statement mildly amusing. Yes, technology does improve, and that allows more complete extraction of previously inaccessible reserves. But it does not put more fossil fuel in the ground and all the new technology in the world has not led to any increase in US oil production since the 1970s. It is helpful but not sufficient.

        “Well, you don’t know. ”

        Correct, and neither do you. Hubbert’s theory is that world oil production will peak when we have tapped out 50% of what is out there to tap. No one has shown him to be wrong. Are we there yet is a good question. If we are not, it is logical to assume we are close.And it is logical to see $5 a gallon gas as a signal that this may be the case. Unless you can come up with a different explanation for that price run up.

        “I only use a greenies investment portfolio as a means of gauging whether they actually believe the bilge water they are pumping. ”

        No Rupert. You use a make believe non investment portfolio of non investors based on a non representative sample to make a useless point about whether it makes sense for your nation to plan ahead and invest in alternative energy sources and new means of getting ourselves around. Its a classic straw man argument, only in this case you have invented a straw non investor.

        Now you can try some more lame personal insults to get yourself out of this, pat yourself on the back, and move on.

  • Joe

    Remember, peoples, that Malthus guy was all over this stuff. We are going to run out of everything real soon now.
    Don’t forget – I told you so.

  • Jinny

    Hi there,
    https://www.oregoncatalyst.com to GoogleReader!

  • John in Oregon

    Jerry you have hit another nail on the head.

    Steeping back a bit for a longer view. Our present transport system is based on liquid chemical combustion. That is we take an extracted commodity, crude petroleum and convert it to a useable transportable energy form, gasoline or diesel.

    As Jerry pointed out, batteries are simply a different method of energy transport. The present electrochemical battery can store only about 10 percent of the energy of refined petroleum. Worse batteries are pushing the technological limits of improvements that engineering or production refinements can provide. Batteries simply can’t get a lot better.

    The current electric power grid generates power as needed, transports it via transmission lines to be consumed by users real time. There is no storage mechanism available.

    Thus the downfall of T Boon’s wind farm. T Boon needed to transmit the huge amounts of power generated at the whim of nature to be consumed everywhere. Without the power lines his project is dead.

    So the scope of the problem is simple. We need an electrical power storage system. One that can transport power and store wind and solar power that is provided only when nature is willing.

    What is on the horizon?

    Currently the only foreseeable storage system is Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage SMES. Electrical power is stored in a superconducting ring until needed. Demonstration projects up to 10 MW have been done although large scale plants depend on so called warm or room temperature superconducting materials.

    Basic research.

    Super cooled superconductivity has been known for some time. Cold, not quite super cooled superconductors have recently been found. Warm superconductors are still in need of basic research to be found. With the push for “green” energy no government basic research money can be found here.

    As an aside, warm superconductors would also vastly improve transmission line efficiency. The ultimate electric power conservation.

    As Jerry said, electric cars are not ready for prime time.

    Peek Resources.

    I notice the discussion of peek resources here. As in running out of _…….…_ Fill in the blank for your favorite thing we are running out of.

    valley person tells us > *Second, believing that supplies of a finite resource will eventually run short of demand seems like the only logical conclusion a reasonably sane person would make.*

    VP states what seems so obvious. On its face finite resources will deplete, no further consideration is required.

    That’s the position of Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren (Obama’s science advisor). Wealth is limited and some get rich only at the expense of others becoming more poor.

    BUT, on further consideration is peek resources really true?

    This is where Julian Simon and Bjorn Lomborg enter the picture. It turns out those two had the effrontery to conduct further consideration. That is, they went and looked at the actual data. What the data says, hundreds of year worth of data, is there is no such thing as peek resource or resource depletion.

    In the 1990s this question pitted Simon in one corner against Ehrlich and Holdren in the other. The match was in the form of a commodities bet which Simon won hands down.

    So when we, like valley person, speculate that > * Predicting precisely when these supplies will run short requires access to data that few outside of Saudi Arabia or the CIA would have.* The actual answer is known. We won’t run short.

    Interestingly Holdren makes this same point in his Scientific American attack on Dr. Lomborg. Holdren stated Lomborg was “asking the wrong question” because environmentalists had known for decades that there was no danger of energy being in short supply. He further faulted Dr. Lomborg for not paying enough attention to the reasons that there could be future problems with energy supplies.

    But Holdren didn’t stop there as he precipitated a direct attack on the academic standing of Dr. Lomborg. The ultimate attack on the messenger

    Holdren was correct in one respect when he asked if there could be future problems with energy supplies. That answer is yes, via Government intervention. Locking away resources which would make the United States a net energy exporter and restricting the energy sector with cap and tax are two examples.

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