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General Automotive General automotive discussion. This is intended to be a discussion about other not VW and Diesel cars you may have or interested in.

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Old January 8th, 2010, 00:30   #1
TornadoRed
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Default Plug-in or Full-Electric Vehicles? bad idea

Here's a link to an article in Auto News about the batteries for the Chevy Volt. "GM, government backers show off first Volt battery"

http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dl...01079953/1186#

But what is especially interesting is a post in the comments section by Thomas Kucknicki. He reposts an article by John Peterson, a stock analyst for battery and alternative energy companies. It is worth a read, IMO.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Plug-in Vehicles, Unconscionable Waste and Pollution Masquerading as Conservation

Posted: 06 Jan 2010 03:51 AM PST

John Petersen

For eighteen months I've been blogging about the energy storage sector and discussing the current and potential markets for batteries and other manufactured energy storage devices. A recurring theme that I've discussed many times is the unrecognized but undeniable truth that while plug-in vehicles masquerade as conservation measures at an individual level, they're incredibly wasteful at a societal level. The conclusion is counter-intuitive and my articles on the subject invariably draw heated criticism from self-anointed defenders of the faith. Their arguments, however, do not change the inescapable truth that plug-in vehicles are one of the most wasteful concepts ever foisted on gullible government officials and an unsuspecting public.

Today I'm going to do my level best to simplify the numbers and expose the plug-in fraud for what it is. If you want to delve into more detail, you should visit my article archive at Seeking Alpha.

On December 31, 2009 Forbes published an opinion piece titled "System Overload" that questioned whether the lithium-ion battery industry was overbuilding global manufacturing capacity. The third paragraph said:

"By 2015 the new factories will have the global capacity to produce 36 million kilowatt-hours of battery capacity, enough to supply 15 million hybrid vehicles, or 1.5 million fully electric cars, says Deutsche Bank."

The article then went on to question whether there would be buyers for all those vehicles. I firmly believe that every battery manufacturer that brings an automotive battery to market within the next few years will have more demand than it can satisfy. That being said there is no denying the fact that fully electric cars and plug-in hybrids are unconscionably wasteful.

In America, the average car owner drives about 12,000 miles per year. To power a car for that distance, he'll need about 400 gallons of gasoline for a conventional internal combustion engine; 240 gallons of gasoline for a Prius class HEV; and no gasoline for a fully electric vehicle. The eco-religious among us are beside themselves with glee over the appealing but patently absurd idea that fully electric vehicles are the best way to slash dependence on oil imports and protect mother earth. The numbers tell an entirely different story.

If we stick with the Deutsche Bank numbers quoted in the Forbes article, 1.5 million fully electric cars would save 600 million gallons of gasoline per year. That's a very impressive number until you realize that 15 million Prius class HEVs without plugs would save approximately 2.4 billion gallons of gasoline per year. In my book, the difference of 1.8 billion gallons of gasoline per year is subsidized waste on a massive scale.

While the gasoline consumption comparisons are miserable, the CO2 emission comparisons are nothing short of tragic.

Each gallon of gasoline used in an internal combustion engine releases 20.35 pounds of CO2. While fully electric vehicles are cleaner, they're not CO2 free because the power plants that generate the electricity release a national average of 9.68 pounds of CO2 per gallon of gasoline equivalent. Returning to the Deutsche Bank numbers, 1.5 million fully electric cars would cut annual CO2 emissions by 2.9 million tons, another very impressive number. In comparison, 15 million Prius class HEVs without plugs would slash annual CO2 emissions by a whopping 24.4 million tons. In my book, the difference of 21.5 million tons of CO2 emissions per year is subsidized pollution on a monumental scale.

The final nail in the coffin comes from purchase price comparisons. Toyota's (TM) base sticker price for a 2010 Prius is $22,400. In comparison the base sticker price for the planned GM Volt will be about $40,000. While Federal tax credits of $7,500 are expected to reduce the end-user cost of the Volt to $32,500, it will still cost the consumer $10,000 more than a Prius. The last time I checked, a $10,000 purchase price difference is important to the average consumer, particularly when study after study reports that the Volt is not expected to pay for the price difference in fuel savings.

On a micro-scale, fully electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are feel good eco-bling for the emotionally committed and the mathematically challenged. On a macro-scale they use more gasoline, emit more CO2 and are more expensive than established HEV technology. At this point I have to wonder, does anybody in Washington DC have a calculator?

I'm a lawyer, a battery guy and a policy geek. I know that six billion people on our planet would like to have a piece of the lifestyle that 600 million of us have and take for granted. I also know that as a result of the information technology revolution, about half of the 6 billion have access to electronic data and understand for the first time in history that there is more to life than subsistence. Even if we assume that they will only become consumers at 5% to 10% of purchasing power parity, the increased pressure on water, food, energy and every commodity you can imagine will be immense beyond imagining. The big challenge will be creating enough room at the table so that we can avoid the unthinkable consequences of inaction.

I love HEV technology because it minimizes waste of both gasoline and other natural resources. I'd love it even more if it were tied to a compressed natural gas fuel system that would eliminate dependence on imported oil, but that's a different discussion. I'm also a big fan of micro- and mild-hybrid technologies that use less robust electric motors and simpler batteries from companies like Johnson Controls (JCI), Exide Technologies (XIDE) and Axion Power International (AXPW.OB) to reduce waste for drivers who can't afford to upgrade to a Prius class HEV. I am offended by the P.T. Barnum class hucksters at Ener1 (HEV), A123 Systems (AONE), BYD Company (BYDDF.PK) and others that use the false promise of fully-electric vehicles to maintain bloated market capitalizations and lead investors down a garden path that will almost certainly end in massive losses once the market understands the true costs and illusory benefits.

Disclosure: Author is a former director of Axion Power International (AXPW.OB) and has a substantial long position in its stock. He also holds a small long position Exide Technologies (XIDE).
(end of Auto News comment post)

The complete Forbes article can be found here: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/01...-heads-up.html
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Old January 8th, 2010, 05:11   #2
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This article quotes a figure very confidently:

"Each gallon of gasoline used in an internal combustion engine releases 20.35 pounds of CO2. While fully electric vehicles are cleaner, they're not CO2 free because the power plants that generate the electricity release a national average of 9.68 pounds of CO2 per gallon of gasoline equivalent."

On what basis was this calculated?

Gasoline engines are what, 25% efficient?
Electric motors are something like 92% efficient at converting electricity to motion.

It's not hard to find some articles of this type. Many people want to cling to the past when petroleum seemed unlimited with no possibility of shortages or contending with other nations for the dwindling supply. Did this author take into account the huge flow of petroleum from Canadian Tar Sands where the CO2 released during extraction is 3 times that of pumping petroleum out of the ground? This is due to the huge amounts of natural gas used to cook the tar from the sand.

Our petroleum based transportation will draw down to an end. Along the way, the switch to other forms of energy can either be planned and less painful or... we can deny reality until we are simply forced to switch, which will be more painful. The choice is ours as a society.

I love my diesel (almost 7 years and over 130,000 miles) but I want my next ride to be electric drive. For those that don't like the idea of electric drive, I'll be expecting them to propose a viable alternative to fossil fuels for transportation. The very name is should give us a clue; "fossil" fuels.
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Old January 8th, 2010, 05:43   #3
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What's the opposite of "fossil"?
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Old January 8th, 2010, 05:56   #4
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The US needs a redo on it's power grid. Regional power grids powered primarily by nuclear power plants is the only "green" solution. The uber small plug in vehicle is the future, especially for big city dwellers and ball-less politicians that do not understand that 20 pounds of potatoes cannot fit in a five pound sack.

GM cannot be taken for anything other then a failure in automotives. The volt is just another chapter in their continuing saga of fail. What Honda and Toyota does or can do is of more interest to me.
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Old January 8th, 2010, 06:47   #5
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You can do some math based on web pages like this. http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/energyexpla...t_energy_units How dirty you are depends on where your power comes from (oil, coal, hydro, wind, solar, nuclear and whether you consider a pound of nuclear waste to be pollution. Would you store your nuclear fuel waste you consumed in your back yard?) and if you consider how dirty the manufacturing of your car is. Also factor in how dirty your existing car is and how much more pollution was made to make your new car.

So that leads me to this question. Is your house energy efficient? Do you have low E windows? Do you highly insulated walls and ceilings? Do you have a geothermal heat pump? Do you live in house big enough to live in or do you have a Gore mansion? Do you go on far from home vacations or do you stay at home when you have time off? What if folks had a huge energy surcharge for all the energy they use? Would it cause any people to reduce their energy consumption in all aspects of their life? In the US many if not most folks never seem to look at the energy impact of their home choice. Few insist or know what an energy efficient house is. Now I know some folks will start their rant about dirty indoor air from over insulated and sealed houses. That can be addressed if the house is properly built.
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Old January 8th, 2010, 09:12   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lug_Nut
What's the opposite of "fossil"?
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Old January 8th, 2010, 09:18   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thebigarniedog
...GM cannot be taken for anything other then a failure in automotives...What Honda and Toyota does or can do is of more interest to me.
Really? Nihongo dekiru mono desu ka? Gohan wa skui no?
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Old January 8th, 2010, 09:20   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ikendu
...Electric motors are something like 92% efficient at converting electricity to motion...
Yeah, but what does it take to make the electricity?
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Old January 8th, 2010, 09:58   #9
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I believe that electric cars will not do well until fuel cell technology (or some other new tech) will allow the electricity to be generated IN the car. The big weakness in current (and future) all electric cars is range. Americans do not want to have to own two cars - one for short range commuting, and another for long range travel (like vacations). Hybrids overcome this limitation by using a motor to drive a generator to keep the batteries recharged, but an all electric car's range is limited by their battery capacity. I fear we will see a lot of older electric cars dead on the side of the road, because their batteries are getting old and losing capacity. This will not be good for the electric car business. You can always add more batteries, but this also adds weight and adversly affects performance. This is the big compromise that all electric cars must currently live with.

This reminds me of the old joke about the guy who claimed to drive an electric car from California to Florida for only $0.50 worth of electricity, however it cost him over $100.000.00 for the extension cord.

IMHO, for an all electric car to make it in the real world, there MUST be some efficient (and clean) electricity generating capacity on board, and this technology is still too experimental and expensive.

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Old January 8th, 2010, 10:08   #10
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Open your mind and forget about batteries.....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electri...ayer_capacitor
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Old January 8th, 2010, 10:37   #11
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I do not much care about the carbon dioxide issue, so I won't be drawn into any debates on that.

Forbes is a reputable publication, so I suspect the numbers in the article are somewhat reliable -- enough battery capacity to build 15 million hybrids or 1.5 million fully-electric cars? The resources to build even more batteries must come from somewhere, there must be even more mining of copper and lead, or else lowered production of other products that use these resources.

I am not interested in subsidizing the purchase of a $40,000 Volt by my neighbor. Even for you, Ikendu. But, I heard the other day that animal shelters are seeing more horses being dropped off because their unemployed owners can no longer care for them. So there's a non-polluting transportation alternative (well, except for the occasional methane emission).
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Old January 8th, 2010, 10:44   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Powder Hound
Really? Nihongo dekiru mono desu ka? Gohan wa skui no?
Saying that you want a spanking in Japaneese slang is really not relevant to this conversation . FWIW, I don't do that sort of thing .
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Old January 8th, 2010, 11:20   #13
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I believe his math is intentionally misleading. There is no reason for Forbes to check or be responsible for those numbers. His only valid point is that if batteries were in short supply they would be better used in Prius-class hybrids.
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Old January 8th, 2010, 11:33   #14
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If you want to have some fun, Google "China" and "rare earth metals"...

Those are the winners in the battery game, not us who have to pay for the batteries, the car, the electricity and the extra taxes.
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Old January 8th, 2010, 18:06   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lug_Nut
What's the opposite of "fossil"?
Not sure if this is a serious question or not... if serious:

Fossil fuels: Hydrocarbons made from captured sunlight millions of years ago (with no hope of a new shipment of such fuels to Earth anytime soon).

"Fuels" that aren't "fossil"?

Solar (based on fusion in the Sun)
Wind (driven by solar)
Geothermal (driven by radioactive decay in the Earth's core)
Tidal (based on the gravity interaction with our moon)
Wave (based on winds)
Biomass or Biofuels (based on solar)
Nuclear
- Fission (based on high concentration uranium ore... 40 yrs left?)
- Fusion (been just around the corner for decades now)

There are other nuclear sources: Thorium, Plutonium based breeder reactors (also just around the corner for decades with no working models that I am aware of), etc.

All of the fossil source eventually become scarce.

Look at wood. It used to be how people heated their homes. Once demand began to outstrip supply, people had to switch to something else (coal, natural gas and electricity).
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