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View Diary: Who's Killing The Electric Car Again? (Part II) (48 comments)

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    •  I'm impressed. (6+ / 0-)

      This is too good for Kos, should be on Autoblog Green.

    •  the question is not "Who?", (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bigjacbigjacbigjac, linkage

      the question is "what?" . . . and the answer is "reality".  There are some minimum levels of performance, utility and safety that must be met in the car market, and they must be met competatively.  When they are then, and only then, will the electric car "succeed".  The Aptera as presently conceived is a toy, not a car . . . and whether (or not) it succeeds in the toy market has little to no bearing on the electric car market.

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 12:12:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In what manner do you make that assessment? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KenBee, bigjacbigjacbigjac, linkage
        •  To elaborate... (9+ / 0-)

          There are some minimum levels of performance, utility and safety that must be met in the car market, and they must be met competatively.

          Performance: The vehicle has a 0-60 of under 10 seconds.  The version demoed at TED was under 8 seconds.  A Prius does 0-60 in 10 seconds.

          Utility: While it only seats two passengers (like a smart, like a sports car, etc), it has a massive trunk in the back, almost like a small pickup truck.  It's not so much a small vehicle as it is an unusually shaped one.  The great length behind the seats means a lot of trunk space.

          Safety: As initially developed, it had over 4x the roof and door crush strength as FMVSS requires for cars (Paul's team weakened it, but it's still extremely strong).  It has a full complement of airbags, a long crumple/deflection zone, a low CG, a wide track, and a whole host of other safety features.

          So, please, elaborate on what your issues are.

          •  simple things, like (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bigjacbigjacbigjac

            can I drive it to San Jose (and back) from Berkeley, or to Santa Rosa, or to Santa Cruz or Mendocino or Yosemite?  Can I drive to CostCo and come back with a couple bales of paper towels or TP and a case of (bottled, Mexican) Coke and a bag or two of cat food (you say the trunk is "massive", but it does not appear so in the pictures).  Can I toss my mountain bike into or on it and drive to any of the nearby trail heads where I might ride (up to 30-40 miles for some, with significant hills)?  Is it warm in the Winter and cool in the Summer while doing the above?

            I do all those things with ease in my $17,000 Scion xB (at 31mpg overall) . . . if I can't replace its functionality completely I have to keep it, and any partial replacement is just a (expensive) toy.

            As for safety, well, hard to say without some real-world experience, but I'd want air horns at least if I were going to drive it on the Nimitz or in San Francisco.  There's a lot more to safety than handling and airbags (and "crush strength" means nothing if a semi drives over it).

            Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

            by Deward Hastings on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 01:06:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Simple things (8+ / 0-)

              can I drive it to San Jose (and back) from Berkeley

              Yes.  Without recharge.

              or to Santa Rosa

              Yes, without recarge so long as you keep the speed under 75mph-ish.

              or to Santa Cruz

              There and back and there again without recharge at 75mph.

              or Mendocino

              With a full charge halfway, yes (2-3 hours on 220V, or overnight on 120V).

              or Yosemite?

              With a full charge halfway, yes (2-3 hours on 220V, or overnight on 120V).

              Also: since all of these issues are about range, if you're actually a person who cares about this (not everyone does -- no need to try to make a single car fit everyone on the planet's needs), then you could get a 2h (plug-in hybrid) or 2g (gasoline).  Neither are range-limited.  Also: if you're "close" on being able to reach a place, you don't have to do a full charge to get there.  A 10 minute bathroom break would do the trick.

              Can I drive to CostCo and come back with a couple bales of paper towels or TP and a case of (bottled, Mexican) Coke and a bag or two of cat food (you say the trunk is "massive", but it does not appear so in the pictures).

              Yes, you can.  It's huge.  It's something like ~6 feet long, ~4 feet wide, and tapering down from ~2.5 feet high.

              Can I toss my mountain bike into or on it

              "In", yes, so long as the handlebars meet the height requirement.  "On", though, would be pretty tough to do.  The top is very smooth, rounded, nothing to lash onto, and you'd ruin the drag.

              and drive to any of the nearby trail heads where I might ride (up to 30-40 miles for some, with significant hills)?

              That should not be a problem.

              Is it warm in the Winter and cool in the Summer while doing the above?

              Yes -- unlike with most EVs, the range figure is for with the AC running, headlights on, 75mph, 2 passengers, 250lbs payload.

              but I'd want air horns at least if I were going to drive it on the Nimitz or in San Francisco.

              What do you mean by "air horns"?  It has a car horn, if that's what you're asking.

              There's a lot more to safety than handling and airbags (and "crush strength" means nothing if a semi drives over it).

              First off, what are you referring to?  The two most important elements to passenger safety are crush strength and the length and quality of the crumple zones.  If a semi damns an Aptera, any other vehicle would be doubly damned (or more).  Secondly, it's an abnormally difficult vehicle to "drive over", as the tail is quite elevated (hard to get over), and the nose is a downward slope (and designed to fold upward, furthering the deflection force).

              •  of course range is an issue (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                bigjacbigjacbigjac, linkage

                Like, (I suspect) most people most of my time in car is spent in city driving, but most of my mileage is accrued on "long" trips.  The irony is not lost on me of a highly streamlined (useless in urban driving) car without the range (long trips at highway speed) to gain much advantage from the low drag.  The box shape of the Scion is immensely convenient in town . . . despite the disadvantage of reduced (32-34 mpg) mileage on the road.  And the bike fits in it upright (on front axle clips).

                Since there are few opporunities to re-charge "on the road" the options would have to be hybrid or an on-board gen set . . . and there, I suppose, goes the cargo space.  And the cost.  If it's intended to be primarily an "around town" car then ditch the streamlining and make it a convenient box.  If it's intended for longer trips (to capitalize on streamlining) then it needs more than a 100 mile range.

                The Scion was $17,300 out-the-door . . . tax, license, registration fees . . . and as far as I can tell it does everything the Aptiva does, and some, or perhaps most, things better.

                That's what's killing the electric car . . .

                Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

                by Deward Hastings on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 05:06:45 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Range (8+ / 0-)

                  Like, (I suspect) most people most of my time in car is spent in city driving, but most of my mileage is accrued on "long" trips.

                  The average trip length in the US, if I recall correctly, is 42 miles.  That includes both short and long trips.  I'd wager that the average person drives over 100 miles perhaps 3-4 times a year.

                  To put this another way: earlier this year, I needed to transport a furnace from Missouri to Iowa.  My car can't carry a furnace.  So, I rented a cargo van for the trip.  I need a cargo van or pickup perhaps once or twice a year.  Does that mean that I should own a cargo van or pickup?  And then drive it around as my daily commuter vehicle?

                  Of course not!  Most people would agree that'd be idiotic, and that it makes more sense to borrow or rent for those rare occasions.  So why don't people apply that same logic when it comes to range?

                  Anyway, again, the 2h and 2g have no range limitations, so to each their own.

                  The irony is not lost on me of a highly streamlined (useless in urban driving) car without the range (long trips at highway speed) to gain much advantage from the low drag.

                  Not true.   First off, it's not true that drag is irrelevant for city driving (unless you define "city driving" down to under 25mph only); it's just not usually the largest factor.  And second, how do you propose to go 100 miles at 75mph in city driving?  That's probably more like 130 miles at 50mph.

                  Since there are few opporunities to re-charge "on the road"

                  Oh, not at all.  Even if you're not in a place with charging stations (which are springing up like weeds in some areas, and are already all over SoCal, but are very regionally concentrated), there are power outlets all over the place that you can use.  To pick a random example, RV parks (240V, 50A).

                  the options would have to be hybrid or an on-board gen set . . . and there, I suppose, goes the cargo space.  And the cost.

                  No.  There goes the range.  The battery pack is reduced, not the cargo.  As for cost, in some cases, going PHEV decreases the cost, while in others, it increases the cost.  It's a balance between the cost of the higher power chemistry and the genset vs. the higher Wh capacity.

                  If it's intended to be primarily an "around town" car then ditch the streamlining and make it a convenient box.

                  If it's intended to be an "around town" only car, why 100 miles range at 75mph?  How do you go "around town" for 100 miles at 75mph?

                  and as far as I can tell it does everything the Aptiva does, and some, or perhaps most, things better.

                  It certainly consumes energy better.  And costs 10x as much per mile in energy costs.  Pollutes better.  And requires a lot more maintenance (EV hardware is famously low maintenance due to the low number of moving parts).  It'll rust better, too.  Hurt its occupants in an accident better.  Has less trunk space (although two more seats).  

                  Also, it's "Aptera".

                  •  sorry about the name (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    pHunbalanced

                    also sorry about how you can't bring yourself to admit the price (which is what kills it).  Even if electricity were free (which, according to my PG&E bill, it isn't) the Scion would win on TCO.  And, by the way, I do read the EV list . . . "low maintenance" they are not.  I do not see "maintanence and bodywork included" on the Aptera web site . . . you're on your own getting one fixed in Turlock.

                    Of course aerodynamics doesn't make any significant difference in city driving at 25 mph, or at 35 either.  But the flexibility of "seat down" for cargo space and "up" for a couple more passengers is very convenient.  And while I don't mind renting a truck (or having it delivered) if I want a yard of gravel I have exactly no interest in having to rent a car every time I want to go more than 50 miles from home, or take some friends out to dinner.  It wouldn't take too many times doing that to pay for all the gas I will ever use in the Scion.

                    Every car is a compromise . . . one gives up some things to get others.  The problem with the Aptera (and most electric offerings to date) is that it compromises the wrong things . . . and fails to well satisfy the most common needs.  As a town car it's too expensive and less practical than inexpensive ICE equivalents (although as a town car is where electric should shine) . . . as a road car, where its efficiency has some advantage, it lacks range and flexibility.  It might be just the thing for someone with a 40-50 mile commute . . . but not everyone lives in Santa Rosa and commutes daily to SF.  And there are, again, much cheaper alternatives if they do.  It is just so obvious that it was designed, like the Tesla "roadster", to be a toy, not a practical car . . .

                    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

                    by Deward Hastings on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 07:36:27 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  All depends on what you need. (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Odysseus, Ashaman

                      As Rei commented, there's the hybrid version--which is what I have a reservation on (though I expect, at this point, to be yanking it from the escrow fund it's in, sooner or later--assuming darling Laura's not found some way to violate it already).

                      I was planning on the round trip, San Diego-Phoenix, on just a gallon (or was it two; one each way? I can't recall) of gas. Sure, the fact that it's a two seater is a limiting factor, but my youngest is turning 16 this coming year. We could plausibly replace the minivan and car with two Apteras and be able to haul all of us and our stuff to most things we do.  Not that that was the plan; the car would go and we'd keep the van a couple more years, waiting either on the rumored 4+ seater Aptera was undoubtedly starting to plan... or someone else's version.

                      The notion that a highly inefficient vehicle like the Scion is the benchmark for the future is just nuts. Things are going to get tighter, and you're going to have to make efficient choices.

                      You went from wanting to get your mountain bike in (very likely) to being able to put it in upright just like you do with the shoebox you're diving in now lets you.  Doing that would piss away the aerodynamics that are at the heart of what lets the Aptera be so extremely efficient.  When gas is $5... or $10... a gallon, things will look a lot different. And that day's coming relatively fast.

                      "The human capacity for goodness makes democracy possible, but it's precisely the human capacity for evil that makes democracy utterly necessary." Gary Dorrien

                      by ogre on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 08:59:51 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  that "highly inefficient" Scion (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        pHunbalanced

                        gets better mileage than the vast majority of cars on the road, and on the market, today.  The same box with a hybrid engine (and some plug-in assist) would be an excellent town car, with full highway capability, albeit at little better than 35-40 mpg on the highway because of its relatively high drag.  I've driven my plain old ICE to Washington and back at an average 34 mpg.  It does help to keep the speed at 65 or below.  But in town it would do as well as the Aptera, since in-town mileage is only trivially drag related and the loaded vehicle weight is not much greater . . . and it's a proven convenient package.  

                        Oh, and I've been driving it for three years now . . . how long have you been driving your Aptera?

                        I looked at Prius when I bought the Scion . . . the better mileage is obviously attractive.  But estimating based on an average price of gasoline at $5/gallon the lifetime TCO of the Scion was still cheaper . . . so far (with gas below $3.00) I'm way ahead of the game.  I suspect that the same arithmetic would favor the Scion over the Aptera, but that's harder to know, because there are no real mileage figures for the Aptera in daily use, and no market price for it either.

                        Ps.  I don't mind putting the bike on its side (although it's far easier to damage wheels and shifters that way) . . . I mentioned the upright position possible in the Scion only to indicate the much greater useable space.  I can carry lots of other stuff along with the bike that probably wouldn't fit under or over it in an Aptera.

                        For the electric car to be a success it has to be a practical alternative, not a toy.  That means looking at utility and TCO, not just to bragging rights about mostly unused highway mileage.  And as Rei would say, if you want to go to Phoenix once a year don't buy a car just for that . . . take a train.

                        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

                        by Deward Hastings on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 10:50:36 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  TCO (4+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Odysseus, Ashaman, Calamity Jean, TKO333

                          Please present your TCO math.  The Prius frequently comes up as one of the most long-term cost-effective vehicle purchases.  I've never seen the Scion xB on such a list.

                          Oh, and I've been driving it for three years now . . . how long have you been driving your Aptera?

                          Blame Paul for that.

                          it has to be a practical alternative, not a toy

                          You keep saying that, deliberately being offensive to people who like EVs.  But guess what?  Lots of people do like EVs.  People went to jail to try to stop GM from repossessing their EV1s (a much more primitive EVs).  With a 100 mile 75mph range, your range arguments only apply to a few trips a year.  You don't drive a large pickup around as your daily commuter because your Scion can't haul a large load of gravel or whatnot that you need a couple times a year, and are perfectly fine with cargo capacity limiting you a couple times a year, yet you stubbornly insist that if range limits you a couple times a year, that's a dealbreaker.  

                          And furthermore, the most frustrating part is that you're acting as though what applies to you must automatically apply to everyone else as well.  If you think it doesn't meet your needs for whatever reason, fine.  But calling it a "toy" when it absolutely meets huge numbers of peoples' driving needs is inflammatory, insulting, and wrong.  And all the moreso because of your insistence on pretending that the only model being worked on was the 2e.

                          •  If most people (0+ / 0-)

                            only drive over 100 miles a couple times a year (drive mostly in town or in traffic) why do they need an aerodynamic car in the first place?

                            By the way, I do like EVs . . . but I want one that's practical, and cost effective, not a toy.

                            Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

                            by Deward Hastings on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 11:33:14 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Highway Commuting (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Odysseus, Calamity Jean, TKO333

                            Around Atlanta, there are a huge number of people that drive 30-60 miles daily, but they do most of that at 70mph on the highways. We've got a fairly wide suburban sprawl, and you can approach the city on a fast limited access highway from 8 different directions. The highly aerodynamic Aptera would be a perfect vehicle for such an environment, and you'd never need to challenge the 100 mile range limit.

                            And the limits of an all-electric vehicle are mostly meaningless if you are a 2-car family. One car is available for trips and cargo, the other is used strictly for commuting and local errands.

                    •  Price, etc (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Odysseus

                      also sorry about how you can't bring yourself to admit the price

                      What about it?     New tech is always more expensive than old tech.  However, does your Scion get you thousands of dollars in tax credit and save you $1k a year in energy costs and a lot in maintenance?  Your scion will be a pile of rust when a composite car still looks nearly new.

                      Aerodynamics doesn't make any significant difference in city driving at 25mph, or at 35 either

                      Actually, it starts becoming relevant by 35mph.  It's not the dominant factor yet by then, but you also have to remember that rolling and braking losses are greatly reduced in a vehicle like the Aptera series as well, so what once wasn't much loss suddenly becomes relevant.

                      while I don't mind renting a truck (or having it delivered) if I want a yard of gravel I have exactly no interest in having to rent a car every time I want to go more than 50 miles frmo home, or take some friends out to dinner

                      1. It's 100 miles, not 50.   That's some major range.  What sort of life do you live that you go that far, that regularly?  Or are you talking 100 miles to some place with no power outlet?
                      1. If you tend to haul lots of people around and don't have a second car, then YES, the Aptera 2-series is not for you.  That is not the case for everyone.   But the "long trip" argument is a big red herring for most people, since those are generally only "a few times a year" things.
                      1. For the Nth time, range is only an issue for the 2e, not the 2h or 2g.

                      Your only valid argument is seating, and that only applies to your case, not everyone's.  The range arguments make no sense, since such range-exceeding trips are so rare that the rental cost is small.  And you're pretending like efficiency, petroleum independence, longevity, corrosion-resistance, structural strength, and operations costs are irrelevant.  While you may believe that, as may most people at Free Republic, most people here will strongly disagree with you.

                      •  a 100 mile range (0+ / 0-)

                        (using a case of CostCo flashlight batteries to get you the last mile home) just barely gets you to the beach and back from Berkeley.  They don't have outlets in the parking lots at Point Reyes or San Gregorio.  And you'll probably be coming home in the dark (another use for those CostCo batteries, to keep your headlights lit).

                        What did you say this toy was going to cost?  I seem to have missed that . . .

                        Ps.  I've seen plastic cars and plastic boats . . . it's true they don't rust, they crumble. First the gell coat chips and flakes, then the fiber starts to delaminate and get "hairy" . . . they get ugly in their old age.  Got any examples of Apteras that have sat in the sun for 10 or 20 years?

                        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

                        by Deward Hastings on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 11:46:32 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Have you looked? (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Odysseus

                          Once you start actually looking for power outlets, you find them everywhere.  For example, every rest area I've checked into around here has them in spades.  

                          What did you say this toy was going to cost?

                          You know, the more you use phrasing like that, the more I (and others) want to ignore you, right?

                          The price is $25 to $40k, depending on powertrain and options.

                          Ps.  I've seen plastic cars and plastic boats . .

                          I assume you mean composite, not plastic

                          First the gell coat chips and flakes, then the fiber starts to delaminate and get "hairy" . . . they get ugly in their old age.  

                          That's primarily due to the action of water.  Esp. if it's polyester resin, the most common kind.

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