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There have been a few diaries about the death of the electric car, and a movie now in limited release.

Tonight a start up company introduces their new electric car with lithium ion battery technology.  Tesla Motors is unveiling an upper end roadster that they claim will go 0 to 60 in 4 seconds, top out at 130 mph, and go 250 miles on one charge.  The price numbers are about as high as the performance numbers  - roughly $100,000 per car.  That's out of reach for most people but sounds like one way to get the technology out there, and hopefully it can then filter down to more middle of the road cars to follow.

Ed Schultz had a guy from the company on this afternoon, and Ed sounded pretty excited about it.

Originally posted to Tod on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 03:17 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (29+ / 0-)

    'Cause somebody lost all my mojo.

    The guy on Ed's show said that the battery currently cost about $22,000 but they are expecting the cost to come down fast because Lithium Ion batteries are so common in cameras and notebook computers.

    Having someone who hates Government run the Government is like having someone who hates medicine do brain surgery.

    by Tod on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 03:14:10 PM PDT

    •  When the cost of the batteries comes down (6+ / 0-)

      will they be able to put multiple batteries in the same car?  Since charging takes several hours (as opposed to filling up with gas), I think the important hump for public support of electric cars will come when you can go 500 or 750 miles without needing a charge.

      •  I Agree. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marlyn, dougymi, Hamish in CT

        I keep saying that people have to figure out how to do two things that the gas car does well.

        First, gas cars can store enough energy in a space the size of a gas tank to go 300-400 miles, or more.

        Second, gas cars can recharge their energy supply in a couple of minutes, instead of hours.

        It sounds like we are making real progress on item #1, but not on item #2.  Tesla claims they can fully recharge in about 3 hours, which is real progress, but it's still not 5 minutes.

        What about fungible, slide out, replaceable batteries?  You pull into a gas station, they pull out the old battery, give you a fully charged one, and then put your battery in the charger to give to the next guy.  Tough to standardize, and hard to work out when the battery costs $22,000, but I don't know how else to transfer a lot of stored electrical energy that quickly.

        Or, what about a third rail mechanism to transfer energy to cars on major highways, so they are charging rather than running on battery power as they go.  That's a lot of infrastructure, but seems technically possible.

        Having someone who hates Government run the Government is like having someone who hates medicine do brain surgery.

        by Tod on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 03:39:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  about this... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tod, Marlyn

          What about fungible, slide out, replaceable batteries?  You pull into a gas station, they pull out the old battery, give you a fully charged one, and then put your battery in the charger to give to the next guy

          Not without a complete change in battery technology.  Batteries age, even  lithium ion.  What do you do if you trade a brand new set from a recently purchased vehicle for a 2-3 year old set with a vastly reduced range on it. From experience in battery powered vehicles in industrial settings, I can tell you that the things do wear out.  Still got a long way to go before we can think about that.  

          We should be looking at some fast charge method instead. At GM I could charge two sets of 4 batteries simultaneously in roughly an hour and a half with one charger (440 v).  I think that can easily be beaten with better technology.  

          As far as the continuous charger you describe, I think there are possibilities there except how do you determine who pays for the charge?     Can people drive in a straight line well enough to capture a charge?  How do you handle passing and different rates of speed?  Lot of questions there too.

          "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness." Mark Twain

          by dougymi on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 03:58:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The charging capability is out there (4+ / 0-)

          Rich Rudman builds chargers that'll put juice in an electric car as fast as the battery can stand to get it.  He's even got a consumer grade line of PFC chargers for electric car drivers on typical residential power.  But, Mr. Rudman is a special case; most of us just don't have a 400amp 480volt three-phase electric service like he does.

          The rest of us have residential electric service that compares to his like a straw compares to a gas hose.  That electric car takes so long to charge from your residential electric outlet because the outlet is only wired for 20amps at 110 volts.  It'd be like refueling your gas car through a drinking straw.

          this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

          by horsewithnoname on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 04:04:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I think this is the way to do it (5+ / 0-)

    Toyota showed off a concept supercar that is hybrid and gets great mileage, and I think the lust factor is essential to developing the brand and image.

    Sending out underpowered subcompacts for urban families may be the ultimate goal, but it damages the reputation of the technology as being wimpy.

    •  Solar Hydrogen (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peeder

      The technology is at least 50 years old, but it's just starting to become viable/acceptable.

      http://www.humboldt.edu/...

      I hope I got the link right, but if not, just google solar hydrogen.

      Solar hydrogen, use the power of the sun to seperate H20 into Hydrogen and Oxygen, burn the hydrogen and , after burned, the hydrogen reconnects with the oxygen in the air to produce, gasp, water.

      A completely closed loop.  I hope that it's as good as it sounds.

      I just recently ran across this idea.  I know that I have a lot of learning to do on the subject, but it's just such a riveting idea that I wanted to pass it along.

  •  Well, it's a start. But we still have to figure . (4+ / 0-)

    ...out how to generate the electricity needed to power all those cars. If the Chinese go for the U.S. ratio of 3 cars for every 4 people over the next 25 years, there will be 1.2 BILLION cars in that country alone. That is a helluva lot of power plants (not to mention pavement), and whether the car gets the equivalent of 135 mpg and goes 150 mph or 55 mph won't be the biggest issues.

    •  Maybe we need (4+ / 0-)

      to return to advocating public transportation.

      The downside that I can think of to "clean"-fueled/electric cars is that they replicate a society of isolated, alienated monads.  Not only is this inefficient, but it does little to foster a sense of belonging.  I think the success of social democratic models in Europe owes, in large part, to the sense of common purpose reinforced by networks of public transportation.  

      But, old habits die hard, and we've been told since the 1950s -- if not since the 1920s -- that we're entitled to our nuclear-family lifestyle of tract developments, single-family passenger vehicles, and big-box stores. This would be probably one of the hardest sets of public assumptions to overcome.

      Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of nonthought. -- Milan Kundera

      by Dale on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 03:37:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Barring a major development in energy (0+ / 0-)

        generation/capture technology, the ravages of simple economics will do all the advocating necessary.

        Best to just prepare (and invest!) accordingly. The country was built to an unsustainable plan, which will be forcibly corrected as resources run out.

        •  I'm always one for shielding people ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peeder, yoduuuh do or do not

          ...as much as possible from the ravages of simple economics they had little or no part in creating. Forcible corrections - like those we are seeing with globalization - are extremely painful along class lines.

          •  It's interesting (0+ / 0-)

            because minorities are often in better position currently to weather these changes than e.g. rural whites are. They live in greater density and are already heavily served by public transportation etc.

            So there may be an equalizing factor...but unfortunately, most likely it will just be reversed via gentrification anyway.

            •  how you going to get food/services (0+ / 0-)

              into these centralized urban environments?

              the time has come the walrus said, to speak of many things....

              by farmerchuck on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 05:51:51 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  This month's Harpers (0+ / 0-)

                has a big article on Peak Oil that describes meetups where people discuss how to set up their own sustainable survivalist communes, and how to defend them when the inevitable chaos, mayhem, and exodus happens from the big cities.  Most people at these meetups are liberals, but none are too wedded to traditional liberal stances on gun control.

                If the Peak Oilers are right, a forceful economic shift to public transportation might be the most rose-tintedly optimistic scenario one could imagine over the next fifteen years.

                Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of nonthought. -- Milan Kundera

                by Dale on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 07:43:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  well you have taken (0+ / 0-)

                  care of the last 25 miles of a 1500 mile chain...

                  the time has come the walrus said, to speak of many things....

                  by farmerchuck on Thu Jul 20, 2006 at 04:18:42 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  A chain built on wasting oil (0+ / 0-)

                    And that is a chain built on wasting oil.  There is nothing more absurd than putting a truck on a road and driving halfway across the country, but because of the way that the subsidies pan out, even when rail is more cost efficient on a full-cost basis, trucking is often cheaper on a cost-to-buyer basis.

              •  railroads (0+ / 0-)

                Rail has tremendously greater space-efficiency than road transport.

    •  i don't think the chinese will go for that (3+ / 0-)

      level of american suburban lifestyle, if just because of rising costs of oil and the existence of mass transit options in chinese urban centers. my guess is that they'll look a lot more like japan in the eastern urban cores, and any other developing country inland.

      the same economic forces that are racing up to smack us upside the head are present in china as well. their advntage is that their government is not as economically tied into the auto and oil industry as our own, and tends to respond to problems when they get massive enough.

      the person who can cook up a cheap, nonpolluting electric/biodiesel/hybrid pickup truck, scooter or autorickshaw will make a mint, though. for you venture capitalists out there, take my advice and look for cheap fixes catering to developing nations. ditto to cheap, mass-produced wind and solar microgenerators. there's a fortune waiting to be made.

      crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

      by wu ming on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 03:47:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're no doubt right ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wu ming

        ...about China's direction in this. Indeed, there's already some indication that China's leaders are catching on to the environmental issues, although they have a very very long way to go, including probably trillions of dollars of clean-up to deal with. I certainly hope you're right, because otherwise I see a landscape dotted with nukes.

        Microsolar is a better venture capital bet than microwind because of the law of squares. (That is, wind power is proportional to the square of turbine blade length. Little ones just don't do much.)

        •  that makes sense about wind (0+ / 0-)

          so macro wind farms and microsolar, then?

          microsolar would really be a no-brainer in so many developing economies, as they are usually located in places with a surfeit of sunshine, and the infrastructure is often creaky enough that producing power closer to the point of use is a lot of help. then again, it isn't as profitable for government-connected contractors as massive public works projects with long transmission lines...

          if the stars align, places like china and india will realize the benefit of decentralized power production in the way that they've already used cell phones to leapfrog over crappy telephone infrastructure. if we get really lucky, we'll be as smart in this country, although i have more hope for the chinese leadership belatedly recognizing the need to abandon bad policies than i do our own.

          crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

          by wu ming on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 04:17:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Law of squares (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meteor Blades, gmoke

          what you're saying is true for horizontal axis windturbines. (Like traditional windmills)  But for vertical axis microturbines, there's a degree of scalablity, so that power production is able to be increased in discrete units.

          Think like this planned project for the Golden Gate Bridge.

           

      •  Transportation in the developing world (0+ / 0-)

        The Honda Super Cub is the biggest selling vehicle ever made, 50 million since 1958, not counting the counterfeit knockoffs.  
        http://www.gizmag.com/...

        You see scooters running around when the weather's nice, but overall I think Americans are too attached to the air conditioning and weather protection of their cars. Here's a video of a street from India.
        http://youtube.com/...

        •  that's tame traffic, for india (0+ / 0-)

          walking across streets there and elsewhere in asia can be fun, if rather risky. for all its chaos, there is a sort of orrder in it, based on giving way when one has to, instead of insisting on one's right of way and drilling cross traffic.

          crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

          by wu ming on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 04:51:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I've got a big car diary (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, ManfromMiddletown, Tod

      That I've been holding off for a week until the cover comes off that darn thing.

      Figure an increase of between 50% and 60% of current electrical supply if you want to move cars to batteries.  However, the alternative is to continue providing power in the form of complex hydrocarbons.

      Frankly, I'd rather address the electrical issues and go with the batteries.


      Theobromine -- does that come in chocolate?

      by Mark Sumner on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 03:54:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Looking forward to your diary. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marlyn

        I thought it was a little strange just giving a link to a car cover.  Another diary tomorrow when we have a lot more information will be great.

        Having someone who hates Government run the Government is like having someone who hates medicine do brain surgery.

        by Tod on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 04:08:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Off-peak is important (0+ / 0-)

        We currently have excess capacity on the grid at night, which is when people would be plugging cars in. I'm sure you know that, actually -- I look forward to the diary.

        I for one think it's insane we all drive around in vehicles powered by rapid explosions under a hood. All with seperate emissions systems etc. It makes more sense to centralize the power generation or at least work at a local or neighborhood level.

        If we'd thrown what got thrown into fuel cells into battery driven cars, we'd be there by now. Fuel cells are a ruse to put off the furture we can have today.

    •  We use stationary power plants (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tod

      If we all switched to electric cars and build coal plants to supply the power, we'd still be dumping fewer pollutants in the air than we are now.  That's a testament to how much easier it is to regulate and clean 4,000 power plants than it is to clean the exhause of 300,000,000 cars.

      Power plants are allowed to be heavy in a way that cars will never be.  Exhaust scrubbers used on a power plant can easily outweigh and entire car.  For a power plant, that's OK.  A power plant doesn't have to move.

      this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

      by horsewithnoname on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 04:07:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Microturbines. (0+ / 0-)

      There's an array of micro wind turbines that are just beginning to become available.  And there's a lot of potential from urban windpower.

      Think of all the flat, high roofs in cities that could be fixed with vertical axis wind turbines.  So places like schools, and large stores, not to mention homes could be producing 20-25% of the nations electric needs.  It's a challenge, but in economic terms renewable energy sources are the low cost choice for electricity.  And these cars are going to be charging during the night when the load on the power grid is lowest.  So maybe not so big a problem.

      I'd really like to see an American made plug in hyrid.  Because that could really cut consumption.  And as much as everyone wants to have th lowest use in absolute terms car.  I think that the greatest marginal gains are to be had on SUV's, and demand for these vehicles is inelastic, so basically the price doesn't have the same impact on demand as on  other types of vehicles.

  •  How is the electricity generated? (5+ / 0-)

    Whether an electric car makes environmental sense are not is partially determined by how the electricity is generated.  

    A powerful car like this still consumes a lot of energy.  If that's coal fired electricity, does this care make environmental sense?  

    •  Probably does. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marlyn

      I think the issue is what you compare it to.  Coal fired plants are pretty dirty compared to hydroelectric, but compare them to the internal combustion engine and it's a different story.

      I don't have a link, but I heard somewhere recently that you could power electric cars with the dirtiest coal fired power plants around and you would still generate a lot less pollutants than you would with the same number of cars using gas engines.

      Having someone who hates Government run the Government is like having someone who hates medicine do brain surgery.

      by Tod on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 03:44:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Think of it as the ultimate in flexible-fuel (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tod

      Flex-fuel cars are typically those that can run gas or ethanol in any ratio up to E85.  But with an electric car, your energy source can be gas, or ethanol, or solar, or wind, or coal, or natural gas, or hydro, or damn near anything.  Anything you can make electricity out of, you can run your car on.  And every single source in that list can be done more cleanly than an internal combustion car, by putting the electric generation in a large stationary power plant.  Once the power plant is stationary, you no longer have to worry about the weight and mobility of the pollution control system.  Catalytic converter?  PCV valve?  Pah.  Such systems are for fools who carry their gasoline around town with them.

      this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

      by horsewithnoname on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 04:12:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tod, here's an interesting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tod, yoduuuh do or do not

    article about some reseach from CMU


    Power Up: CMU team develops technology to make the energized bunny run farther

    Dr. Prashant Kumta, professor of materials science and biomedical engineering, said a team he heads has developed a new material to make electrochemical capacitors that can boost the power supply for everyday electronic devices and upgrade electric-automobile technology.

  •  Why a roadster? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tuba Les

    Very few people own roadsters.  They're impractical, except as second cars.  They carry neither passengers nor cargo in quantity the way, say, a compact sedan does.

    I want to see them do this with a MINIVAN.  Then again, I smell a great deal of bullshit around this marketing ploy.

    "True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence."
    -FDR

    by Leggy Starlitz on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 04:15:16 PM PDT

    •  Roadsters are GreatFantasies (0+ / 0-)

      And I have never had one! Can't haul a tuba or a string bass in them!

      Democrats want better government, government that serves real people and not just those with power and influence. Nevada Appeal, Carson City NV

      by Tuba Les on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 04:54:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sure you could. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marlyn

        It's a convertable.

        Having someone who hates Government run the Government is like having someone who hates medicine do brain surgery.

        by Tod on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 05:17:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Rain? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tod

          Not if it rains. Plus the width of the hips on the string bass makes it very hard to shift. While I would love a roadster, it could only be an alternate car for me.

          Democrats want better government, government that serves real people and not just those with power and influence. Nevada Appeal, Carson City NV

          by Tuba Les on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 05:58:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  First, they have to sell some pricey cars (0+ / 0-)

      Before the minivan comes the big bucks to build the plant to build the minivan.  That means they need to start with a car they can sell to people who have big bucks.  And by and large people with big bucks, who are willing to pay big bucks for what amounts to an expensive toy, aren't in the market for minivans.

      You, my friend, are not the initial market.  Until positive cash flow arrives, you are still way over the horizon.  Until repayment of initial investment comes, you are over the horizon.  Perhaps on accumulation of working capital you and your minivan appear on the horizon, as a gleam of possibility crystallizing out of the ether of dreams.

      The initial market is people rich enough to spend $85,000 for the priviledge of accelerating from zero to sixty in four seconds, without ever having to stop at a gas station.  That function is not minivan, and so it dictates a form that is also not minivan.

      Patience, grasshopper.  You must have either patience or big bucks, take your pick.

      this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

      by horsewithnoname on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 05:08:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not an electric car (0+ / 0-)

    The Smart Car uses gas.  It's quite popular in Europe and Canada, and is going to begin being marketed in the US.

    Problem is, Americans tend to like their cars BIG.

    I'm a Librarian. Don't make me shush your ass! -5.13, -5.23

    by Marlyn on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 04:59:30 PM PDT

  •  Looks like a Lotus Elise under there (0+ / 0-)

    Definition - Liberal (author unknown): A long extinct group of people that could think for themselves and were a danger to the collective.

    by exconservative on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 05:54:06 PM PDT

  •  Vehicle Design Summit (0+ / 0-)

    Students at MIT have organized an eight-week summer program building five or more versions of a 300 mpg vehicle:

    "Fuel Cell:  Harnessing the power of free hydrogen, the fuel cell car is a promising source of power.  California's proposed "hydrogen highway" will lead the way in a nationwide hydrogen infrastructure.

    "Biofuel:  Harnessing the power of crops allows truly renewable energy.  Biofuel combustion doesn't add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, because photosynthesis used to create the energy takes it up at the same rate.

    "Human/Solar hybrid:  Human power and solar power, which run both the Tour De France and the World Solar Challenge, come together to create a vehicle completely free from fueling stations.

    "Retrofit:  Make no mistake, car manufacturers are very good at what they do.  But when their safe, comfortable designs are combined with our lightweighting and efficiency expertise, the result is a car that is the best of both worlds.

    "Think car:  True innovation cannot be predicted.  That's why we're making a design unrestricted by expectations.  All that we can say for sure is that it won't look like your grandfather's automobile.  Then again, maybe it will!"

    Here's their full presentation
    http://www.vehicledesignsummit.org/...

    The most interesting thing to me is that these 50 students are getting together and doing it open source.  They are hacking the transportation system from the ground up, as a hack.  The Vehicle Design Summit isn't a competition but an open, collaborative design process.  These people are working together to build what they'd like to see on the road.  The more we have of this kind of activity, the we will be building an open source operating system for hardware, Linux for the concrete infrastructure if you will.

    I'd like a human powered vehicle that I can ride safely and keeps my feet dry yet is light enough to be carried up three flights of stairs.

    Maybe a wheelchair tricycle with pedals and hand controls, a collapsible fairing or weather skin, something light, secure, safe to operate, and protective in a crash.  Regenerative braking, electricity generating for battery assist as well as battery switching, grid and network interconnect.

    Or maybe just some kind of egg or chrysalis on wheels.

    "the only war that matters is the war against the imagination"
    Diane Di Prima

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at http://solarray.blogspot.com/2006/03/solar-video.html

    by gmoke on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 06:42:11 PM PDT

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