Posts tagged “Electric Car”
When I built my electric bicycle back in 2007, I had been waiting for a battery that was less volatile than what had been available. I didn’t want to risk having a fireball under my seat. Tesla traded volatility for power density.
I think electric cars are great for all kinds of reasons, which is why I bought one in 2011. But like any car, they are not created equal, and as marketers begin the process of differentiating them to get us to buy them, that inequality will grow and diversify as it has for conventional cars. And for any fellow electric car enthusiasts out there who think electric cars are going to make a significant dent in carbon emissions in the foreseeable future, read Robert Rapier’s article on that subject. Even a strongly biased study by the UCS shows that electric cars, on average, presently produce about half of the emissions of conventional cars in a cradle-to-grave analysis. Eliminating fossil fuels instead of nuclear from our energy mix will improve that over time. CONTINUE»
[Updated 5/4/2015 to delete potentially incorrect information about storage space and battery size.]
Nissan recently released the results of a five year study that found 99.99 percent of its battery packs are still operating as warrantied (battery not having less than 80 percent capacity after five years). Using that information, a study conducted by Warranty Direct (an independent British insurance specialist) found that the Leaf drive train is 0.255/0.01 =25 times more reliable than internal combustion engines. This is, however, somewhat misleading because today’s conventional cars are amazingly reliable, especially compared to a 1973 Pinto. They found that out of 50,000 conventional cars aged 3-6 years old, only a quarter of one percent “had an issue that led to an immobilization of the internal combustion engine.” This finding appears to have led Glass’s (Britain’s used car guide) to conclude:
“They [Leafs] are good enough that, as an expert in this field, we will be looking again at our residual value forecasts for LEAF and probably revising them upwards. Long-term battery life has been a definite concern for used EV buyers but the new figures from Nissan effectively remove this worry.
“Really, Nissan has gone through a process with the LEAF similar to Toyota with the first generation Prius several years ago, where the cars had to be proven in real life conditions before used buyers could feel confident. Now, the Prius enjoys excellent residuals and the LEAF should start to find a similar level of market acceptance.”
Has anyone else noticed how much a Tesla Model S looks like a Jaguar XF (pictured below)? One of my neighbors drives a Tesla Model S. I was following him down the street a few weeks ago and heard his tires squeak three times in two blocks. Adequate acceleration to maneuver in traffic can enhance overall safety but too much acceleration potential can be dangerous, especially in the wrong hands. Not sure I’d want that temptation.
Tesla is dead on with their promotion of fast charging stations. The ubiquitous 240 volt chargers are next to worthless simply because they take too long. A high voltage fast charger can provide a significant charge in a matter of minutes. I recently deliberately drove my Leaf beyond its range because we needed two cars to get supplies to a wedding. My plan was to stop at a charge station on the way home for a few hours to get enough charge to finish the trip. The rest of the family came home in our Prius.
The thinking behind producing a car that is destined to be sold at such a loss is GM’s attempt to infiltrate what it obviously sees as a lucrative future market as the world transitions to the use of alternative fuel sources, according to analysts, but many doubt the automaker’s ability to ever make money with the Volt.
Some test drive reports for the electric Ford Focus are out–fake radiator grill, optional leather seats, looks like a regular car, blah, blah, blah. Other than superficial appearances, it’s almost indistinguishable from a Leaf in performance, and costs a few grand more. One was used as the pace car at the NASCAR Sprint Car Series race last week in Richmond so at least they are marketing the thing and the Leaf really could use some competition. Then again, I also thought the Prius would have met some stiff competition from American hybrids by now. The latest episode of the sitcom 30 Rock was about an American engineered couch that was so uncomfortable the government bought them to torture terrorists …I think I have one of those couches.
Updated Charging Technology
An email recently came in from Blink telling me they want to install a new card in my electric car charger. New technology always involves a learning curve. If any discipline should be a science (other than science), it is engineering but even engineering involves a lot of trial and error. The first jet engines were unbelievably primitive by today’s standards.
The new Leaf will have a more efficient heating system that will extend the range in cold weather. Not sure what they are up to but hopefully it is one of these heat pumps. It will also come with a charger that is about twice as fast as the one on my car. Oh well. Obsolete already.
Li-ion, Not Your Father’s Battery
This Tesla-to-brick story first appeared in the Understatement blog, authored by Michael Degusta. Some rich guy, too busy to read his owner’s manual, parked his six-figure sports car in a garage for six weeks while his home was being remodeled.
From the Tesla owner’s manual:
“Keep in mind that when the vehicle is left unplugged with a full Battery, the initial rate of decline can be significant. When fully charged, the Battery’s charge level can drop as much as 7% a day and 50% within the first week. When the Battery’s charge level falls below 50%, the rate of decline slows down to approximately 5% per week. Over-discharge can permanently damage the Battery.”
That equates to a ruined battery in roughly 11 weeks. In other words, for this Tesla to be damaged in six weeks, it was likely parked with a mostly discharged battery. Ouch.
I am back home in Hawaii, and over the next few days hope my schedule settles down to normal. I am aware of some lingering technical issues that need to be resolved on the blog (e.g., some of the comments have not been successfully imported from the old blog – but they will be). I imagine that a fair number of new readers linking in here over the next week or so will be doing so in response to a report on electric cars that was released while I was in New Zealand. I am listed as an advisor on that report. So I want to discuss my role, and ultimately how this exercise has influenced my views on electric… Continue»