R-Squared Energy Blog

Pure Energy

Electric Vehicle Update

In 2009 and 2010 we should see a lot of hybrids and fully electric cars hitting the roads. I spent a little time this weekend reviewing the potential offerings. Here is where some of the more frequently-mentioned offerings stand.

1. The Aptera 2e

The Aptera 2e

This is probably the most unusual offering. I first mentioned the Aptera in a story last year, and the roll-out is still on target for Q4 of this year. It is a 3-wheeled vehicle, made of light-weight composites. The shape is very aerodynamic to minimize wind resistance. The batteries recharge in 8 hours, and the car reportedly has a range of 100 miles. The cost is going to be in the range of $30,000, and the company reports that they already have deposits down for 4,000 vehicles.

The company has put together a veteran team, and by all appearances they are building an impressive car. Road and Track recently got an exclusive look:

Exclusive: Aptera 2e

Some excerpts:

The business model looks sound; nearly 4000 deposits have been placed (Robin Williams among the clientele), enthusiastic investors are locked in, and co-founders Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony have assembled a team that balances Detroit low-volume niche-production experience with California “anything is possible” attitude. Chief engineer Tom Reichenbach was formerly vehicle engineering manager for both Ford GT and Shelby GT500 programs; and CEO Paul Wilbur has a storied history at Ford, Chrysler and ASC. And Fambro, a biotech engineer and private pilot intrigued by his aircraft’s composite construction, and Anthony, a composites specialist with a background in boat design and fluid dynamics, seemed predestined for this partnership.

There’s a large hooded digital speedometer and bar-graph battery state-of-charge indicator, along with a central infotainment screen that offers mind-boggling possibilities. Leg- and head room were surprisingly generous for even my 6-foot-3 frame. And safety is preeminent in the Aptera’s design — the final version will have both frontal and side airbags. And if there was any doubt about the strength of the composite construction, it was quelled as eight Aptera employees stood on the roof of a development shell. And that was after the shell had gone through government roof-crush testing!

The car will initially be available only in California, but I will be watching closely to see how well it sells. Will it be accepted by the public? I have given thought to how I would feel about driving one around. I think the police would pull you over a lot, thinking the car isn’t street legal. Regardless, I am certainly rooting for it to be a success.

2. The Ford Fusion

The big news over the past week is that the Ford Fusion has been put to the test, and three major publications concluded that it was the best hybrid yet built. Yes, better than the Toyota Prius, which has been the most popular hybrid for many years. USA Today writes:

The 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid is the best gasoline-electric hybrid yet. What makes it best is a top-drawer blend of an already very good midsize sedan with the industry’s smoothest, best-integrated gas-electric power system. It’s so well-done that you have to look to the $107,000 Lexus LS 600h hybrid to come close.

U.S. News and World Reports says:

If you’re in the market for an ultra fuel-efficient hybrid that makes a convincing family sedan, your best choice has always been a Toyota — until now. Toyota’s Camry Hybrid and Prius have been the only realistic alternatives for many. Most American-built hybrids simply haven’t matched their fuel economy, and the Nissan Altima Hybrid remains rare and hard to find.

The Fusion Hybrid qualifies for a federal tax credit of $3,400 until the end of March, but few of the cars will reach dealerships by then – if you’re in the market, you might want to consider ordering yours before the credit disappears. If any Ford product has your eye, you should be aware that Ford is offering some of the deepest discounts we’ve seen in years this month.

Finally, Car and Driver had this to say:

Ford has pulled off a game changer with this 2010 model, creating a high-mpg family hauler that’s fun to drive. That achievement has two components: First, the machinery is unexpectedly refined—call it Toyota slickness expressed with car-guy soul. Second, the electronic instrument cluster involves the driver, invites you into the hybrid game, and gives you the feedback needed to keep increasing your personal-best mpg number.

I have to say this is quite an exciting development. I am now in my 12th month without a car, but it may be time to go ahead and purchase one. Given that I could get the tax credit if I order by the end of March, I may go ahead and pull the trigger.

3. The Chevy Volt

GM’s Chevy Volt

First announced in 2007, the Chevy Volt looks to finally make an appearance in late 2010 (although 2011 won’t be a surprise). Per GM’s website:

The Extended-Range Electric Vehicle that is redefining the automotive world is no longer just a rumor. In fact, its propulsion system is so revolutionary, it’s unlike any other vehicle or electric car that’s ever been introduced. And we’re making this remarkable vision a reality, so that one day you’ll have the freedom to drive gas-free.

Chevy Volt is designed to move more than 75 percent of America’s daily commuters without a single drop of gas.(2) That means for someone who drives less than 40 miles a day, Chevy Volt will use zero gasoline and produce zero emissions.(1)

Unlike traditional electric cars, Chevy Volt has a revolutionary propulsion system that takes you beyond the power of the battery. It will use a lithium-ion battery with a gasoline-powered, range-extending engine that drives a generator to provide electric power when you drive beyond the 40-mile battery range.

So it isn’t a purely electric car, but does have a pretty good battery range for a full-sized car. Plus, there are apparently provisions in the auto bailout that make the Volt eligible for a $7,500 tax credit. But there are certainly skeptics that the Volt will ever live up to the hype.

4. The Tesla Roadster

Speaking of hype, the all-electric Tesla Roadster reminds me of some of the more exotic and overhyped biofuels. We have heard about it forever, but the costs keep going up and the roll-out date for mass production keeps getting pushed out. The price is now up to $109,000, and even though performance reports of the handful that have been built are very impressive, there are serious questions as to whether this experiment will ultimately be successful.

Based on a Lotus platform, and assembled at the Lotus factory in Hethel, England, the Tesla has been mired in controversy throughout its short history. The latest setback was that Tesla lost a legal ruling to up and coming competitor Fisker Automotive, themselves creating a worthy competitor to the Roadster in the Fisker Karma. The Karma is an extended range hybrid that can go 50 miles before the gasoline engine has to kick in. (The Karma is expected to hit the road in 2010).

By all accounts Tesla is building a car with impressive specifications, and they plan to follow the Roadster up with the Tesla Model S that will be quite a bit cheaper than the Roadster. But Tesla has had cash flow problems and has been forced to lay off people. From the various accounts I have read, I don’t expect the Tesla to be in the race in the long run. One website got so tired of the hype that they turned their ‘Tesla birth watch’ into a ‘Tesla death watch.’ Still, I think the company is to be commended for their innovation, and I hope they get the problems worked out. (On an amusing personal note, former CEO Martin Eberhard has reportedly read this blog, and got a kick out of my tangles with Vinod Khosla).

5. Plug-in Toyota Prius

I wanted to limit this list to 5 cars, and there were a number of contenders worth a mention. But I would be remiss not to include the next generation Prius among the list of offerings. While at least one private company has already been modifying the Prius to be a plug-in hybrid, Toyota is working furiously to be the first to put large numbers of plug-in hybrids on U.S. roads. Initially announced for 2010, Toyota has moved up the schedule for the plug-in Prius and plans to have the first 500 on the road by the end of 2009 (150 in the U.S.). The downside is that the first prototypes can only go about 7 miles on battery power alone, which is well-short of the average person’s commute. So you can expect the plug-in Prius to run on gasoline most of the time.

Other Contenders

There are a number of other electric offerings worth a mention. Nissan has announced plans to put electric cars on U.S. roads by 2010. BMW has begun producing all-electric versions of their popular Mini Cooper, and so far can’t keep up with demand. ZAP is putting a sporty 3-wheeled electric car out (the Alias), along with offerings such as an electric truck and sedan. The Alias can reportedly go 100 miles on a charge.

Finally, Toronto-based Zenn Motor Company says they will put an electric car on the roads in 2009. This one is particularly noteworthy because of their intention to use EEStor’s ultracapacitor to power the vehicle. EEStor claims that their ultracapacitor is 1/10th the weight and volume of conventional battery technology. While potentially a game-changer, many feel that EEStor is a classic case of vaporware, and many capacitor experts say that it will never see the light of day. In response, Zenn says that their electric vehicles are not contingent upon the success of the ultracapacitor. And in fact, according to their website I can buy an all-electric Zenn vehicle here in the Dallas area right now. There are two dealers to choose from in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and one of the dealers claims a 260 mile range on a single charge. I think I will try to make a trip down to see if they really have something in stock.

Conclusion

Based on the large number of electric offerings to be rolled out over the next two years, I would be surprised if some don’t stick around for the long run. A return to $4.00 gasoline should accelerate public acceptance of electric vehicles. The Aptera looks like a winner, provided buyers embrace the futuristic design. The Ford Fusion hybrid also looks like it is ready to make major inroads into the market share of the Toyota Prius. And don’t be surprised to see lots of electric Mini Coopers showing up on the roads soon. Now I just need to figure out if I am ready to be a part of the experiment and buy one of these vehicles.

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February 16, 2009 - Posted by | Aptera, Chevy Volt, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Prius, Tesla Motors

36 Comments

  1. R-Squared,You’ve got an old image of the Volt. That was the concept car. The production version looks different: Volt ~ Production ModelYou also missed this one ~ the Chrysler Peapod NEV: Chrysler Peapod

    Comment by Wendell Mercantile | February 16, 2009

  2. Musk shot himself in the foot by not using the lotus shells unmodified.

    Comment by robert | February 16, 2009

  3. I think it is very interesting that BEV’s appear to be getting the “ZEV” (Zero Emission Vehicle) tag. I’d like to know what the NOx emissions are from the Chevy Volt on a g NOx per kWh of work produced (help me out and assume coal as the source for now). The cleanest diesels today are on the order of 0.25 g/kWh (or lower).

    Comment by SamG | February 17, 2009

  4. I was looking up NOx emissions from power plants and there is a wide range of emission numbers reported.It looks like the range is up to about 2 g/kWh. This probably a plant without abatement. Unfortunately, they’d have to do better than 90% conversion to get to 0.25 g/kWh (which they MIGHT be able to do).Of course not all of the kWh’s make it to the vehicle battery…….I’ll have to dig on this one a little more….surely I’m not being pessimistic? 🙂

    Comment by SamG | February 17, 2009

  5. I would have to ride a bicycle for 3 years — without eating — to fit into one of those things.

    Comment by Fat Man | February 17, 2009

  6. The question never has been — is it possible to build an electric car? That question was answered in the affirmative about one hundred years ago.The question has always been — is it possible to build an electric car that is fully competitive with gasoline?The discussion of prices and tax rebates suggests that the answer is still quite definitely – No.This is not to downplay the long-term value of putting mass production electric (or semi-electric) vehicles on the road. But why should ordinary people be forced to provide tax subsidies to the wealthy few electric car buyers?

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | February 17, 2009

  7. I have colleagues who are working on batteries for vehicles. (note: I do not work in any of our energy labs) They tell me that the Tesla battery is a joke. Laptop batteries are not car batteries, no matter how many of them you hook together.As far as converting a Prius to plug in electric, I would not do it. The reason the Prius battery lasts, is because the state of charge is monitored very closely. I think it is always about 40 to 60% . Never higher, never lower. Going outside of this range will shorten the battery life.What I would recommend is what I have. A cheap electric assist bike from Wal-mart. They claim a 12-15 mile range, but with my 200+ lbs. and a slightly hilly ride, it starts getting weak at about 5 miles, especially when going into the wind. When the lead acid battery starts to go bad, I can buy a new one for less than $100.

    Comment by Dennis Moore | February 17, 2009

  8. Fat Man-Get the bike, and eat a little for the next three years. You’ll be glad you did. I am in the same fight, man. Kinu: As a matter of national policy, we should encourage PHEVs. I prefer gasoline taxes. But for reasons of foreign trade, national security and clean air, I am all for a push to PHEVs.The price machanism is a thing of beauty. But it does not capture every cost.I come back to my fave theme: In the brief window of high oil prices, look what automakers have wrought. PHEVs promise to permanently damage global oil markets. What if China, a fiat state, mandates PHEVs? India? Suddenly, the stories about 100 mbd of demand could be history. Maybe thw world will need 50 mbd in 2030.

    Comment by benny "MOAG" cole | February 17, 2009

  9. I had an expensive electric assist bike with a twenty mile on hour range until the lithium battery caught fire. My wife won’t let me buy a replacements. For trips of 5 miles or less, I can pedal.

    Comment by robert | February 17, 2009

  10. “Chevy Volt will…produce zero emissions”What nonsense! All they’re doing is shifting the point of emissions from the vehicle to the power-generator.

    Comment by Mike | February 17, 2009

  11. All they’re doing is shifting the point of emissions from the vehicle to the power-generator.No, the overall “well-to-wheels” result with electric vehicles – even with coal-fired electricity – is a significant reduction in emissions.See Sherry Boschert’s 2008 technical summary (PDF) of PHEV, EV, conventional, hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles.

    Comment by Darrell Clarke | February 17, 2009

  12. With electric cars you probably will reduce emissions but definetely wont bring them to zero. I would like to ask about the typical engine characteristics that are used to compare cars, where are they? What engine power, torque, acceleration we get on all these. It would be nice to have a neat table to make easy comparisons!

    Comment by Anonymous | February 17, 2009

  13. I’d be interested in some performance specs -like: How long do the batteries last before they need replacement?what is battery replacement cost? Compare to cost of ownersjip for other types of vehicles.How does the heater work for cold weather climates, and does it (cold weather) degrade performance, mpc (miles per charge) or battery lifetime?Do we have enough raw materials to mass produce batteries for fleets of EV? What about recycling of those materials?

    Comment by Anonymous | February 17, 2009

  14. Yes, these also are very good points anonymous! Glad you asked them. Hope someone can give us a clue and add them into a nice comparative table!

    Comment by Anonymous | February 17, 2009

  15. You’ve got an old image of the Volt.Thanks Wendell. Now updated.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | February 17, 2009

  16. 20 years down the road we’ll have an all-electric infrastructure without cords(witricity),and advanced geothermal(clean and reliable) will provide the juice. Even then,”big oil” will be a good investment. They have the technology needed to make advanced geothermal a reality.

    Comment by Maury | February 17, 2009

  17. The question has always been — is it possible to build an electric car that is fully competitive with gasoline?The discussion of prices and tax rebates suggests that the answer is still quite definitely – No.I would certainly agree with that. The answer to why GM killed the electric car in the first place is pretty easy: Electric cars are unlikely to compete with gasoline on equal footing until oil depletion has pushed prices up much higher. I often use Europe as my metric. When gasoline here is $8/gallon, do we see cars powered by biofuels or electricity hitting the roads? No. If that price point is sustained, then it may be a different matter, but the point is that it’s going to take more than $4/gal in the U.S. to make these vehicles cost competitive. But, we need to develop options for the future, and we are going to be able to produce electricity – from a wide variety of sources – for much longer than we will have cheap oil. So I am glad to see progress being made. But they are going to have to get the price of these vehicles down to the $20,000 range – and hope for a return of high gas prices – if these vehicles are going to stick around.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | February 17, 2009

  18. Surprised no attention given to what we can do now with gasoline engines–small cars that easily get over 50 mpg. The new Suzuki Lappin and Daihatsu Mira–both Japanese Micro Cars–get over 50 MPG, and are absolutely ideal for urban/inner suburban driving. The cost? Our Mira Gino, fully loaded with airbags, power steering, air-con, and a few extras was a whopping $12,000. 9 years later and we have yet to replace a single part, except for usual wear and tear. The technology to make 50 mpg PLUS vehicles has been around a long time now, but the political will hasn’t. Would you, the urban dweller buy a car that takes you and three others down the highway at 50-60 mph with ease, is easy to park, gets 50 mpg AND costs far less than ANY hybrid will for a long time? Millions would say yes but there lacks a political will to build such cars in North America. Sad stuff. Perhaps when the Japanese get their micro cars up to 70 mpg, America will take notice. Or will it take gasoline at $10 a gallon and a public desperate for personal transportation?

    Comment by stuck in Shizuoka | February 17, 2009

  19. i beieve the newer offerings[aptera,fiske, tesla, zenn, et al], if they overcome technical problems and obtain financing capital for production, face three huge marketing obstacles.purchase or lease finance–terms and conditions will be unfavorable for an unknown piece of collateral. it is doubtful the manufacturer can provide financing. a situation will occur similar to the big three following WWll–giving rise to GMAC, et al; big insurance companies followed once the path was cleared by big auto finance. how will finance occur for the required production volumes? assumeing we get thru the current economic turmoil.insurance– cost and availability for large consumption volumes may become problematic. insurance is assessed against risk of knowns/unknowns. again, the unknowns prevail? leading to very high rates.buyer acceptance due to “different”, “newness”, “comfort[physical/mental] level”. because of the first two obstacles, the market of “well healed” who could afford these offerings, may be turned off by this third.maybe that’s why[these reasons] many “newbies” have not succeeded in this highly capitalized commodity market called AUTOS.when and how we emerge from the current economic mess may shed light on which “established” autoconglomerate has a successful offering.fran e

    Comment by Anonymous | February 17, 2009

  20. If you’re going to have the Fusion Hybrid, don’t forget the Saturn Vue 2 mode hybrid coming out in March. Usable V6 power, towing capability, and excellent mileage for that type of vehicle.

    Comment by Anonymous | February 17, 2009

  21. Oil tanking hard today. $20 oil in March? We will see.I love these PHEVs and the Ford Fusion. But they may be 10 years early.

    Comment by benny "MOAG" cole | February 17, 2009

  22. RR,Not sure what criteria you used to put your shortlist together, but it seems to be all over the place:1. Aptera 2e: You want to tell me that you are seriously considering buying one of these… insects? Trying to make a statement? In Dallas, TX? Rather you than me!2. Ford Fusion: You are going to let a bunch of breathless copywriters (who depend on the automaker for much of their ad revenue) swing your decision? Why risk it? I’d wait a year or two – let Consumer Reports and other more objective voices comment on the matter. Also, this is just a hybrid, even if it is a good hybrid…3. Chevy Volt: Call me when this thing comes into showrooms. I doubt GM can deliver anything close to the hype they are generating. But hey, that’s just my opinion…4. Tesla Roadster: OK, here we have something: an actual production electrical vehicle. Too bad they are churning them out at a rate of 2 (count ’em) a month (assuming they are up to FULL production by now). Nice collector’s item for people with more than $100K burning a hole in their pocket.5. Plug-in Toyota Prius: Toyota is clearly doing this for bragging rights. Why would you want to get yourself caught in the middle of that?On the whole, I think your list serves to illustrate that electric cars are still very much on the fringe, and not a real option for the buyer with a limited budget for transportation.

    Comment by Optimist | February 17, 2009

  23. In the brief window of high oil prices, look what automakers have wrought.You mean the way they are lining up for federal bailouts (your tax dollars at work)? Or did you mean the hype they have been putting into electric cars? Impressive, yes, pity I’m paying for it…PHEVs promise to permanently damage global oil markets.Sure – maybe 50 years from now. Until then, I wouldn’t get to attached to $30/bbl…What if China, a fiat state, mandates PHEVs? India?Yeah! And if hell freezes over we will have solved global warming!Easy, hey?

    Comment by Optimist | February 17, 2009

  24. 1. Aptera 2e: You want to tell me that you are seriously considering buying one of these… insects? Trying to make a statement? In Dallas, TX? Rather you than me!Car = phallic symbolBigger = betterBut you only think that because marketing people tell you to.

    Comment by bc | February 17, 2009

  25. You want to tell me that you are seriously considering buying one of these… insects? Trying to make a statement? In Dallas, TX? Rather you than me!You can’t get one in Dallas anyway. But as I said, I suspect you would get a lot of unwanted attention in one of these, especially in Texas. First, you would pose a traffic hazard because of all of the people staring on the highways. But second, you would probably get pulled over every day because the cops didn’t think you were street legal.Still, it looks like a pretty solid car. They have quite a few buyers already lined up, and they have a veteran team working on this thing.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | February 17, 2009

  26. Optimist has a few good points actually. Its not all about the size its about having a large enough vehicle to transport your family, your friends, your shopping, stuff, etc. Even with European standards vehicles like the Aptera are a great downsize. You can buy a reliable KIA or Hyundai small 4-seater car, with about 5 liters per 100km /thats about 50mpg consumption for well under 10,000 Euro. So if you travel say 10,000km a year thats abouyt 2,0000 liters of gas a year. At 1Euro per liter (5$ per US gallon in current prices)that means 10 years of use is 20,0000 Euro. So total cost for 10 years transportation comes to under 30,000E. No hybrid or other electric vehicle can beat that! You can even buy the damn things let alone pay for the gas/ electricity/batteries you’ll use. Another important point, in Europe urban fabric is denser so its very common to do less than 10,000km a year. (my 18 year old car has about 90,000km clocked i.e. thats 5,000km per year!)

    Comment by Anonymous | February 17, 2009

  27. Optimist-The Ford Fusion appears to be a solid, production car, commercially viable. I understand skepticism, but it appears Ford has done a solid job. Don’t let skepticism become cynicism!A very tough auto critic for the LA Times managed to get in excess of 50 mpg with this car. Every one of these cars on the road, if they replace a 20 mpg car, is minutely contributing to “permanently” damaging world oil markets. And, when the Fusions wear out? 75 mpg models? GM is a troubled company. But that does not mean they don;t have smart guys working on the GM Volt. Sadly, the timing will be off. At $6 a galllon, the Volt might be a winner. At $1 a gallon (coming in 2010) the Volt will be a difficult sell. But that does not detract from a terrific effort by many talented engineers. Personally, I think the look of the car is a dud, and that is a big mistake. All that aside, the Volt may prove it is possible to produce a car that get 40 miles on a charge and then 50 mpg on the motor. That is a terrific accomplishment, a lot harder to do than sniping from the sidelines. I confess it may seem unlikely from our vantage point that China mandate PHEVs. Environmental stewards they have not been. But things can change quickly–a new generation is growing up in China. It is a fiat state, and they make PHEVs there. Maybe they decide the flip the tables on the global warming debate by mandating PHEVs, Now what say you Yankees? Or maybe China decides they do not want to pay oil import bills–it is a marcantile nation. I cite the example of a China-mandate on PHEVs to show how global oil markets could actually become soggy for decades, for than just a few more years. Many doomsters cite continuous growing demand for crude oil from China as integral to their projection of global crude oil shortages (expecially since crude demand has been falling in Europe for decades, and is falling now in the US). What if the demand from China never materializes? And Europe and US demands keep shrinking? The PHEV makes such a scenario not only possible, but perhaps likely. Oil may spike again. It may also be a last hurrah. The Polaroid camera comes to mind.

    Comment by benny "MOAG" cole | February 17, 2009

  28. I have seen a lot of people talk about the need for EV’s because of the rising cost of gasoline. People who buy EV’s based on that assumption will have a rude surprise when they get their monthly electricity bill. Most utilities bill electricity on tiers, so when you add an EV to your house you are adding anywhere between 10 to 50 kW-Hr a day to your usage. This will bump you into the higher billing tiers which will result in your cost/mile being similar to a gasoline car with gas over $4/gallon. A common response to this is criticism is that people will charge their cars at night when the rates are low. There’s a couple of problems with that. One is that most people are not on TOU metering that gives them the lower rate. And the ones who are typically have a solar system installed. But even in that case the tiering still applies (at least it does here in the San Francisco Bay Area). The only way you can keep the rates low is if you size a PV array on your house that takes into account the charge needed for the EV resulting in very large installations which will cost them a lot more money. I am not saying EV’s are a bad idea. I think they are needed to reduce our CO2 emmissions but I see a lot of people glossing over the issue of operating costs.

    Comment by Terry | February 17, 2009

  29. Benny,I wish Ford all the best with the Fusion Hybrid. I just had to point out that a few rave reviews don’t necessarily mean a winner.I just wish GM would stop hyping the Volt, already. Shut up, build the car, and then let’s see – like Toyota did with the Prius.If you go that route, the results speak for themselves. By hyping the Volt as much as they do, GM soon won’t be able to match the expactations they created themselves.As they say: underpromise and overdeliver…And, don’t worry, I’m still the Optimist, just not about everything.

    Comment by Optimist | February 17, 2009

  30. Just as I thought. BEV only exist in the mind journalists at USA Today. BTW, Darrell Clarke you should know Sherry Boschert’s is a journalist selling a book. RR wants me to be nice but let me remind him that calling a journalist a journalist is not a insult. Let me make the point that Shizuoka made. A Toyota Corolla like mine is a very nice car at a reasonable price. That is why so many cars like them are sold. It is hard to believe very many will buy much more expensive cars just for a marginal, if any, improvement in environment performance. Carnegie-Mellon did a study of the effects on the sources of electricity based on regulating CO2. Not much will change. The most ugly coal plants may run less and the the most ugly natural gas plants may run more. The net result of BEV is ugly power plants running longer each day. This is good for electric generators. Go team!!!

    Comment by Kit P | February 18, 2009

  31. Optimist:Well, now is the time for optimism. By all means, stay optimistic. I find it is a great elixer for life. When it comes to man’s technical achievements, I am wildly optimistic. When it comes to the ability to beat swords into plowshares….to develop safe, civil nations….okay, some rain falls on my little Sunnybrook farm. Good luck to all, is all I can say.

    Comment by benny "MOAG" cole | February 18, 2009

  32. Say you’re paying $0.20/kWh for high tier electricity which is a real high price. Say you get 4 miles per kWh. So the price of electricity is the same as $2 gasoline for a 40 mpg car. That doesn’t count replacing the batteries.

    Comment by robert | February 18, 2009

  33. Yup, we have really high prices for electricity in PG&E territory in California. http://www.pge.com/tariffs/tm2/pdf/ELEC_SCHEDS_E-1.pdf$0.247/kWh if you use 131% to 200% of the "baseline usage". If your extra electricity usage for your electric car pushes you into 200%-300% of "baseline usage", it's up to $0.354/kWh. Over 300% is even worse. "Baseline usage" is about what an average household uses.

    Comment by Clee | February 18, 2009

  34. Like Robert, I frequently make the European argument against hybrids. It they don’t work there where gasoline is $6 per gallon or more then why do we think they will work here. Benny – I said I “would consider buying” the Ford Fusion, not that I WOULD buy it. At least conceptually I think the Fusion Hybrid is brilliant. Ford didn’t go for a single killer technology but rather integrated known technologies where the whole exceeds the sum of the parts: 16 valve, 2.5 l Duratec engine (I have the 2.3 l Duratec on my Ranger – great little engine)Continuous Variable TransmissionThrottle-by-wire with auto fuel cutoffVariable voltage controller Revised Li-ion battery pack Well designed driver display If you get one before 3/31 you can qualify for the $3,400 tax credit. That puts it at $24,000. If I were in the market for a 4-door sedan, that would be very tempting.

    Comment by KingofKaty | February 18, 2009

  35. King of Katy said Like Robert, I frequently make the European argument against hybrids. It they don’t work there where gasoline is $6 per gallon or more then why do we think they will work here. Two answers to that one; 1) $6 gasoline will hurt Americans FAR more than it does Europeans. Now think about $10 gasoline and people driving two hour-long commutes to work. Ever been to Germnay? Most houses in what Americans would call “the suburbs” have access to nearby mass electric transit. You drive your car to the station and then go to work. Americans are usually in a very different situation. 2) They may not work now. The future though presents a very different scenario. America is trying to get off its dependence on foreign oil AND keep their auto companies in league with their foreign competitors. While Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Renault etc, zoom ahead with BEV and PHEV, what can American car companies do but at least keep up. Put the rationale behind both reasons together and you have a future—coming soon, I might add–that makes electric vehicles a far more logical solution in a country where distances and expensive transportation than you may think. Add American’s general sense of self-entitlement to personal transportation and I think you may need to rethink your opposition. Then again, I think that the safety standards should be changed and CAFE standards raised waaay above where they are now, and a incremental increase in gasoline taxes so that Micro-cars become a very viable option for American motorists. Think they would balk at a little car that gets 60 mpg, cruises nicely on the highway and costs around 15,000 US? Let us revisit the Beetle. What….20 million units sold?

    Comment by Stuck in Shizuoka | February 20, 2009

  36. Many self powered electric cars, boats and airplanes have already been built. A car has driven over 12,000 miles, a boat powered across the Altlantic ocean, and a plane has flown across the United States, all without plugging in or using any fuel.See a growing list of these at Self Powered Electric Vehicles

    Comment by davidluc | February 28, 2009


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