Electric Cars

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Electric Cars

Post by gillyflower on Sun Oct 04, 2009 8:27 am

All of the sudden, we are getting the Green Channel! Yay! Last night they aired the special "Who Killed the Electric Car?" which was fascinating. I think it will be on again in November. If you haven't seen it, try to catch it.

I started thinking about my driving habits and needs and I think that an electric car would do very well for me. I don't take long trips that often and if I can't bully someone else into driving, I could rent a small car if need be. The only hurtle for me is that the car MUST go freeway speed (I have one near my house that whisks me in minutes to everything and I'm not giving that up) and it can't cost a huge amount. Is anyone else thinking electric?

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by John T Mainer on Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:37 am

I live in British Columbia, routinely must drive five to ten hours to remote locations, park in the bush a few days, and come home.

I can't even use LP or NG vehicles as gasoline and diesel are the only things that I can count on getting. Hybrid vehicles may be a possibility when the tech gets more mature, and costs start to come down.

Thank the gods for military research. While the powers that be may want oil as the new gold standard, the non-nuclear navies of the world still have to work with problems of submarine endurance. Their quest for quiet less fuel and air intensive power, and longer more efficient battery systems have given us quite the peace dividend.

If military logistics goes hybrid like the US Army has asked, not only will it drop consumpion by the worlds largest single petroleum user, but it will provide the large number of users, large parts inventories, large numbers of trained hybrid mechanics to bring the cost down for the same and spinoff technologies in the civilian sector. Its increase in the tactical flexibility and strategic readiness of the military is the selling point to get green accepted in the halls of congress.

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by Ebon on Sun Oct 04, 2009 3:30 pm

A few thoughts:
1) Big Oil killed the electric car. Widespread use of electric cars (or even hybrids) would put a huge hole in Big Oil's bottom line. Some countries that rely almost exclusively on oil exports (i.e. Saudi Arabia, Venezuala) have a lot to lose as well. Other nations which have large oil exports but could survive without them (i.e. Canada) are less bothered.

There's nothing especially magical about oil in this application. You can convert cars to run on all kinds of stuff like peanut oil, cooking oil, even gunpowder if you're brave enough. The reason those technologies never get developed to mass production level if that there's a lot of people with a lot of money invested in making sure they don't. Ditto hydrogen fuel cells.

2) The current pinnacle of electric cars can run about 40 miles on a single charge. After that, the gasoline engine kicks in. Now, for someone who lives in the back of beyond like Mainer or my mother, that's useless. But for someone like me who lives in a city (I actually don't drive) or my father (who drives 5 miles to the rail station, rides into London and gets around all day by Tube), that's plenty.
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Re: Electric Cars

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Sun Oct 04, 2009 3:43 pm

It's a neat concept, I suppose, if/when the technology gets there. Not something I would personally do. Now bear in mind, I believe we're going to run out of oil at some point, because it's a nonrenewable resource. That's going to be a really sad day for classic car lovers. Something else will *have* to be done.

What worries me with electric cars outside the performance issue is the cost of electricity... will they really be affordable to drive? If we run out of petroleum will we run out of coal for the coal power plants too? Dependancy is still a factor; self-sustaining cars, such as solar-powered, would be awesome. As far as I understand it, the techology doesn't exist to make those feasible.

I saw a hybrid in Wired mag (Gilly, if you don't get Wired, you should... it's right up your alley) that got something like 480 mpg. It was fantastic.

As my minister says, we're a bunch of fossil fuel addicts getting ready to quit cold turkey.

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Sun Oct 04, 2009 3:45 pm

I have a feeling carriage-makers may be in high demand in so many years. Best to learn the art now! Very Happy

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Sun Oct 04, 2009 3:51 pm

To add: At this time last year, we had a gas crisis in this part of the country. No gas, nowhere, for hundreds of miles. Businesses had to shut down. Employees couldn't get to work. Schools shut. Grocery stores and restaurants couldn't get food. We in the hotel industry slept at work. Tourists/motorists passing through were stranded for over a week. There were assaults and shootings as gas pumps. Attempted robberies. People were selling gas if they could find it like liquid gold. People were raiding things in mobs. I had a guy shot at in the gas station parking lot by work.

I don't usually get nervous or frightened but these people scared me when they ran out of gas. They went absolutely rabid and that was only a small taste of what WILL happen if and when 'gas' really does run out across the nation. I plan to hole up with 50 boxes of ammunition and just try to stay alive. It's not going to be pretty, and a lot of people will die.

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by Ebon on Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:27 pm

TigersEyeDowsing wrote:What worries me with electric cars outside the performance issue is the cost of electricity... will they really be affordable to drive? If we run out of petroleum will we run out of coal for the coal power plants too? Dependancy is still a factor; self-sustaining cars, such as solar-powered, would be awesome. As far as I understand it, the techology doesn't exist to make those feasible.

The technology exists but it's not production level yet. Electricity can be generated by any combination of wind, solar, hydro, geothermal (again, that one's not at mass production level yet), nothing special about coal. Here, since Britain is a small and windy island which is mostly coastline, we generate large amounts of electricity from wind turbines and hydro power. Directly solar-powered cars are unlikely for decades, purely because of the size of the equipment required. What might well happen is that you have solar cells on the roof of your house which you plug your car into. When I was a teenager, we briefly lived in a house which used solar cells to heat an outdoor pool. It wouldn't be that difficult to convert solar cells so you can plug your car into them. Right now, that kind of technology is expensive and difficult to maintain but it'll get cheaper, it always does.
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Re: Electric Cars

Post by Ebon on Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:30 pm

TigersEyeDowsing wrote:I have a feeling carriage-makers may be in high demand in so many years. Best to learn the art now!

I learned to ride horses as a child. I can also brew beer, cider and applejack; fletch arrows; hunt and fish. I'm no bowyer but I can make a half-decent bow too. I'll barter for a horse Smile
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Re: Electric Cars

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:34 pm

Hopefully it can be cheap and available before people go berzerk. I would love to see horse and buggies come back into common useage, personally. Very Happy

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by Ebon on Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:37 pm

TigersEyeDowsing wrote:Hopefully it can be cheap and available before people go berzerk. I would love to see horse and buggies come back into common useage, personally.

Me too actually, for much the same reasons as I prefer to travel by train. It's so much more civilised than sitting in a fume-spewing metal box.
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Re: Electric Cars

Post by MaineCaptain on Sun Oct 04, 2009 5:52 pm

Me too, ME too, I love horse and buggy, I love horses. And the train, I wish they had not pulled most of the train lines up in Maine, it will be a night mare to ever put them back.

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by tmarie64 on Sun Oct 04, 2009 6:16 pm

That whole "big oil" crap is just that... Crap.
Big oil would not be hurt, and they know it. Automakers make the cars so damned expensive that people don't want them. So, don't blame "oil" blame automakers.
80,000 mile battery? PLEASE I have 74,000 miles on my work car right now. That car is used only by me, for work and to drive Chuck to the allergist (50 miles round trip) once a week.
On top of that... There are a bunch of people like me, we don't buy new cars. I won't buy anything that loses nearly 20% of its value JUST because I've signed the final paperwork.
The hybrids start at roughly 22grand. I have NEVER paid 22k for a car loaded with everything I want. I damn sure ain't payin' that for a car that has nothing but the very basics.
Ok.. I lied.. my Ford 500, a luxury car, was 22,000. Why would I pay 22k for a husk of a car that is less than half the size of my Ford?
Hybrids don't get phenomenal mileage over 50 mph. If you do over 50 regularly, they are just a very expensive compact car, no better mileage than my 2002 Cavalier.

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by Ebon on Sun Oct 04, 2009 6:33 pm

I much prefer to travel by train. I can get up, I can walk around, I can read my paper, I can have a cup of coffee. Up until recently, I could smoke. So much more civlised than sitting in a stinking metal box.
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Re: Electric Cars

Post by Ebon on Sun Oct 04, 2009 6:44 pm

Tmarie, are you seriously telling me that Big Oil, who stand to lose billions a year if electric cars become standard, aren't going to express an opinion on that technology? Insurance companies stand to lose far less and you can already see the collosal amounts of money they're pouring into killing reform.
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Re: Electric Cars

Post by gillyflower on Sun Oct 04, 2009 8:00 pm

Ebon wrote:A few thoughts:
1) Big Oil killed the electric car. Widespread use of electric cars (or even hybrids) would put a huge hole in Big Oil's bottom line. Some countries that rely almost exclusively on oil exports (i.e. Saudi Arabia, Venezuala) have a lot to lose as well. Other nations which have large oil exports but could survive without them (i.e. Canada) are less bothered.

There's nothing especially magical about oil in this application. You can convert cars to run on all kinds of stuff like peanut oil, cooking oil, even gunpowder if you're brave enough. The reason those technologies never get developed to mass production level if that there's a lot of people with a lot of money invested in making sure they don't. Ditto hydrogen fuel cells.

2) The current pinnacle of electric cars can run about 40 miles on a single charge. After that, the gasoline engine kicks in. Now, for someone who lives in the back of beyond like Mainer or my mother, that's useless. But for someone like me who lives in a city (I actually don't drive) or my father (who drives 5 miles to the rail station, rides into London and gets around all day by Tube), that's plenty.

Actually there are electric cars today that do better than that. You might check out treehugger.com for the electric cars that are in the pipeline.

The other thing besides Big Oil that was "guilty" was the car companies themselves. It turns out that they make a great deal of their income through supplying parts and oil changes, etc, and electric cars don't need the upkeep that gas engines do or the parts, according to the special.

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by tmarie64 on Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:26 am

Ebon wrote:Tmarie, are you seriously telling me that Big Oil, who stand to lose billions a year if electric cars become standard, aren't going to express an opinion on that technology? Insurance companies stand to lose far less and you can already see the collosal amounts of money they're pouring into killing reform.

I didn't say they wouldn't express an opinion. I SAID that the whole "big oil is responsible for it all" theory crap is just that... Crap.
If it were JUST big oil those cars would not be so exorbitantly priced. As Gilly said, the automakers make a FORTUNE off repairs, etc. It's not just one industry. We all know that ONE sector can't really stop completely anything, it takes cooperation among several.

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by gillyflower on Mon Oct 05, 2009 8:22 am

It was also a Californian board that was deciding the fate of the electric car there whose leader was also sitting on some hydrogen car board at the same time and he wanted hydrogen to win over electric cars. The problem is that hydrogen has another 20 years to go before it *might* be viable while electric cars are possible now.

And of course, consumers are also to blame to some extent, the special made that clear. People might be willing to buy an electric car but only under certain conditions - if they are a two car family, if the cars don't cost much, if they know that there would be repair facilities available, if they could charge the car quickly and cheaply on trips or at work - in other words, if it doesn't change their lifestyle in any way or cost them extra. I'm guilty of that.

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by tmarie64 on Mon Oct 05, 2009 10:31 am

That's not changing their lifestyle, Gilly. A lot of people can't get financing, and don't have that kind of money lying around.
I can afford a $60,000 car, but why should I pay 60 grand when the 22k car will get me to the same places in the same time, the same comfort?
Most people don't have a lot of time to sit and wait for something to charge.
We have jobs, band practices, doctor/dentist/optometrist appointments. I can't afford a car, no matter how cheap, that requires a wait time before I can get in it and go.
I will NOT buy a car that I can't find repair facilities for. That would be stupid. I really, really, really, really, really want a Volvo. But the nearest dealer (and repair/maintenance) is an hour drive away. I won't buy one because I don't have the time to drive an hour away every time I put 3500 miles on my car.

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by gillyflower on Mon Oct 05, 2009 10:54 am

I think you will be able to get them for a lot less than $60,000:

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/07/17-electric-cars-overview-2005-to-2008.php

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/reel-impact/electric-car-speak-mind.html

I know around here you can get an old light car with a stick shift converted to an electric car for $16,500.

France is going to spend $2.2 billion on electric car charging stations:

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/10/france-invests-2-billion-in-electric-car-charging-stations.php

Our government needs to step up to the plate too.

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by John T Mainer on Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:29 pm

As I said before, let the military get onboard and give us factories producing thousands of spare parts, thousands of trained mechanics, and in a few years people outside of the major urban centers can hope to get these vehicles repaired.

Right now there is nobody who could repair them for me. I will not tie my families independence to a vehicle that cannot leave the town, cannot be repaired in the town, and whose parts are not only unavailable in a timely fashion, but ten times the price even when you fly them in.

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by tmarie64 on Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:47 pm

From the first link... Tesla is just out of the question... 5 seater for 60k.
The BYD car... 186 miles? My mother in law is over 700 miles away. My brother is 300 miles away... This car wouldn't get me there.
The XS500... 30,000 dollars. Not a bargain. On top of that "a range of 120 miles"...
The i Miev... Look at it. My husband is 6'4" tall, my oldest daughter is 5'11". Where is a family of 4 or 5 supposed to put anyone or anything in that little postage stamp?
The electric minis? There's just not enough money in the world to make me get ANY mini. I think they are horrid little matchboxes.
Oh, and if anyone ever wants to convince me to do something...Holding up the French as an example is not the way.

I agree completely with John. I cannot and will not tie my life like that. I don't live in a place that has good public transportation and I NEED my cars.

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by gillyflower on Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:09 pm

Well, hopefully there will be other people in a better position (the urban centers) to support electric cars than you are, John. Early adopters will certainly have challenges to overcome and that lets many people out because of their financial or family's needs.

I really think the early adopters will live in urban areas. I am in a position where I can keep my old car as back up, if necessary, and so the decisions I make about a car affect no one besides myself.

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by gillyflower on Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:26 pm

Tmarie, should I have held up the Germans as an example of governments that are installing electric car charging stations? They made their announcement in September 2008. It's called e-mobility Germany and is part of their environmental policy.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10034960-54.html

If it was not pointed out in this article, the majority of Europeans (80% I think) live in urban areas so electric cars make more sense there.

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Mon Oct 05, 2009 3:59 pm

Financially speaking, a car is a financial liability, not an asset. (See: The Millionaire Next Door.) They depreciate, until they're only worth the money you can get from the steel (I've had two of mine crushed for about $200 a pop). Of course they're necessary but what you're paying for eventually you have to throw away, unlike homes and land which hopefully retain their value or even appreciate with time.

I simply cannot justify giving away $20,000, roughly 3/4 of my year's salary after taxes, for something that I'll eventually have crushed. Someone threw out a number of 60k, which is two years of every penny I make. $60k is more than I paid for my house and 2 acres of land! No happenening. I went above-and-beyond what I'd normally allow myself this year and got a $5,000 classic car, because I really loved it. I might pay $5,000 for an electric car assuming that it worked just like a good gas car, but I don't see those prices anywhere on the horizon.

I'm poor, and I'm cheap.

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Re: Electric Cars

Post by gillyflower on Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:17 pm

That's fine. I see an automobile as a oil guzzling carbon dioxide emitting pollution machine. To me a car is not an investment. It is a way to get from here to there.

Many Americans are unwilling to pay the higher costs for gas that the Europeans and people in other countries do or change anything about the way they drive or what they drive. If it is going to hurt, we won't do it. I don't expect that to change.

I hope to be a in position to be an early adopter - and I have many, many times over my lifetime thanked early adopters for buying new technology at top dollar so that it is in demand, more companies enter the field, improvements are made and prices come down for everyone else. Several members of my family have bought hybrids and been very happy with them. They were early adopters. If I can, I'll do my part by buying an electric car. I can't take the money with me, after all, and my kids don't expect they'll get much. Smile

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