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When will we see an affordable electric car ?


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If you look at the production capacity they are talking about for batteries it is far far higher than what anyone else is doing.

Ok. That is something so we will have to wait and see.

Also, one could easily have made the same argument about how could an upstart like Spacex make launch vehicles any cheaper than a big established player like the ULA. And yet they did.

I don't see the comparison. Large companies who fight for market share in a competitive market. There was no market for space rockets until NASA decided to contract the work out. That said, in markets subject to a myriad of safety and pollution regulations incumbents have huge advantages that mitigate the advantages of a smaller innovative company. Edited by TimG
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I'm more interested in: what if Tesla creates a bubble for solar/electrical/batteries. Then what?

Is it like a housing bubble where you have excess supply which is great for certain people? (Would have been greater had it not been accompanied by a debt bubble which made/makes it a bummer).

Is it like the tech bubble which left scads of fibre optics and networking behind?

That is, if Tesla goes broke letting someone else pick up the pieces at pennies on the dollar, will this lead to tremendous revolution or, at least, punctuated evolution for this market?

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On a related note to my previous post, how about the debt monster that has created cheap oil?

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cfmveg5UAAAY-fP?format=pjpg&name=large

If the bankruptcies start rolling does this benefit electric cars and solar/wind generation?

Or will it lead to other companies picking up the pieces at pennies on the dollar and a way to keep oil in the $40 to $60 price range for the next several years if not decade?

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On a related note to my previous post, how about the debt monster that has created cheap oil?

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cfmveg5UAAAY-fP?format=pjpg&name=large

If the bankruptcies start rolling does this benefit electric cars and solar/wind generation?

Or will it lead to other companies picking up the pieces at pennies on the dollar and a way to keep oil in the $40 to $60 price range for the next several years if not decade?

...but isn't the current low price of oil a result of deliberate policies by major producers of "easy" oil to maintain their market share by rendering new sources of more expensive energy unprofitable? I recall reading recently that the Saudis were trying to get the other producers to join them in cutting back production to drive the price up again. It turns out that low oil prices have not been that big of a hit in Saudi Arabia, as low revenues from oil have prompted them to introduce austerity (!) measures on government spending and create government initiatives to diversify the economy.

I wouldn't assume that low oil prices are here to stay. I would think that these investments that were made in oil infrastructure during high prices will probably be valuable assets in the long term that would probably be scooped up by people with patience.

-k

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I wouldn't assume that low oil prices are here to stay. I would think that these investments that were made in oil infrastructure during high prices will probably be valuable assets in the long term that would probably be scooped up by people with patience.

-k

Yes , if these assets are scooped up by people who pay 20, 30 cents on the dollar they will certainly turn in fantastic investments.

But that will just keep the price of oil range bound at lower prices for years.

So it can encourage the introduction of a carbon tax (easier to do with low prices than high).

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Whether that is good or not depends on whether Telsa is making money selling each car. My understanding is the Telsa business model depends entirely on its ability to sell 'credits' to other automakers who need to meet California's fleet requirements. What I would like to know is how much Telsa makes on each car without including these subsidies.

It is also worth noting that the other jurisdictions like Singapore do not rig the fuel economy ratings to favor EVs and instead base their ratings on science. Under a fact based model Telsa's cars are not that environmentally friendly.

My understanding of the situation in Singapore is that they assume that all the electricity is generated from coal and they input large inefficiencies in the movement of the power from the power station to the vehicle.

The Road and Track reporter who wrote the story strongly implied that the government there was being prejudiced against Tesla since other electric cars there get subsidies.

http://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/news/a28417/singapore-government-fines-tesla-model-s-owner/

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I am skeptical given the high costs of operating a manufacturing facility in California. Reno would be better but my understanding is Telsa does not have any new battery tech and they are only building what Toyota and others have been building for a decade or more with hybrids (i.e. if Toyota has had trouble getting the price point down given the scale and expertise of Toyota then why will Telsa fare any better?)

Because the US govt is becoming increasingly protectionist, and will oblige foreign/domstic builders with US factories(and those will surely grow in number as they close Canadian and other plants) to source US parts. Like expensive batteries from Tesla Corp.

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Scanned through this thread and was surprised there was no mention of graphene based supercapacitors. A capacitor holds a charge, but it is very different from a battery. A battery relies on a chemical reaction to generate electricity, and to charge it the electricity reverses that chemical reaction. The drawback of batteries is that the chemical reaction is slow (although improving with new technology), and there is a degradation of the materials over a relatively small number of recharge cycles (again improving with new technology).

A capacitor on the other hand stores the charge in the form of static electricity on the surface of the material. Capacitors can operate in the kV range, and charge very quickly (seconds, instead of hours). The main challenge with capacitors is to increase the charge, and that is where graphene based supercapacitors come into play. Graphene can be made extremely thin (1 atom thick), and therefore sheets can be manufactured that increase the surface area dramatically and increase the charge held. There have been experimental supercapacitors manufactured that hold several times the charge of any battery technology per unit weight. Of course ramping that up into production level manufacturing will be a challenge. Capacitors will also degrade over charge cycles, but they are way better than battery technology.

Another challenge with capacitors is long term storage. Both batteries and capacitors will lose their charge over time without a load connected to them (ie. when the car is off). Capacitors will do it much faster than batteries by about an order of magnitude (ie. the power lost in a capacitor over a couple of hours would be similar to the power lost in a battery over a day, similarly a day compared to a week, etc.). One of the avenues being explored to address this issue is a hybrid solution combining both capacitors and batteries. The obvious disadvantage is cost and weight, but the clear advantage is fast charge time and long term storage. You plug in your car for a 2-4 minutes and receive a full charge. If you are doing distance driving then you will be essentially discharging the capacitor until the next charge station. If you are doing short term commuting, then when you shut off the car the capacitor will slowly discharge and top up the battery.

**add** Two important points I forgot to mention is the charge/discharge profile of capacitors vs. batteries, and heat. Capacitors have a fairly linear profile of charge/discharge over time, where batteries allow for a more steady charge and discharge cycle with rapid drop off. That is an obvious disadvantage for capacitors in similar circuits where the usable charge out compared to the charge in will be lower (ie. less efficient), but I expect new circuits will be developed to utilize more of the charge and improve that efficiency. Similarly there is a big efficiency disadvantage to batteries as much of their charge/discharge cycle is wasted in heat. If anyone has seen any study on the net efficiency combining these different issues, I would be interested in the link.

Edited by ?Impact
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  • 2 months later...

Another possibility is accepting the reduced lifespan and swapping out aged batteries for new ones, and having the aged batteries be refurbished by the manufacturer.

I'm going to be buying a new car in the next 6 months and I'm eyeing different electric models.

Given my lifestyle, I'm not too concerned about the range, but it seems like buying an EV is more like buying a computer than a car - it depreciates fast since today's technology will be obsolete in a few years. It's still worth it for environmental reasons (and HOV lanes!), but as someone who considers future value of things, I've been reluctant for that reason alone. I've considered just staying with a hybrid for a few more years.

I've also considered leasing, but I wasn't aware that in the future the possibility exists to just swap the battery and keep the car. Your post was helpful. Thanks.

Edited by BC_chick
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I would expect that considering the state of the various technologies involved, the battery technology will improve leaps and bounds faster than the other technologies involved in an electric car. Electric motors and electric generators are mature technologies... computer processors improve by increments... and firmware is upgradeable. But battery technology is advancing rapidly. The limited lifespan of batteries, and the necessity of replacement, is something that everybody is aware of, and something that has to be designed into an electric vehicle. I would hope that the electric vehicles and battery packs are being designed such that buyers of today's electric vehicles can benefit from tomorrow's advancements in battery technology.

-k

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But battery technology is advancing rapidly.

It is? Everything I've read says that the biggest problem with most alternative energy modalities is that the battery technology is improving at a much slower rate than pretty much anyone expected by this time.

Edited by Bryan
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It is? Everything I've read says that the biggest problem with most alternative energy modalities is that the battery technology is improving at a much slower rate than pretty much anyone expected by this time.

Battery storage technology might not be improving as fast as people wish it was improving, but it is improving rapidly year-over-year. And when you replace the batteries in your current Volt or Tesla S a few years down the road, it seems reasonable to expect that the replacement batteries are going to be significantly better than the batteries that the car came with.

-k

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Kimmy, I was talking about the salvageable value at the end of the term when I compared them to a computer. I know the technology is improving at a much faster rate.

Just saying that the manufacturers know that the batteries will wear out a long time before the rest of your car and have already planned for their replacement. And also that it's quite possible that the replacement batteries you get in a few years are going to be better than the ones your car had when you bought it.

-k

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Battery storage technology might not be improving as fast as people wish it was improving, but it is improving rapidly year-over-year.

Depends on what you mean by improving. The cost has been coming down and smarter control circuits help increase battery lifetime but the underlying chemistry has not changed at all (Lithium-Ion) in a decade or more. This means there is a theoretical upper limit on any improvements. New battery chemistries could be found but they would need to match LiIon on cost/reliability before they would be practical. The leap to new battery chemistries is not guaranteed and even if we did make the leap we are talking about 30-40% improvement (base on the currently known 'future' chemistries) which is something but not enough to suddenly make EVs the first choice for consumer vehicles.

On top of that we are living in a world awash with oil but filled with politicians determined to inflate the cost of electricity as much as possible which further undermines any business case for EVs.

Edited by TimG
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There will be more electric cars on the road as time goes by,but that also means there will be much more demand for electricity.Wind turbines and solar panels cannot produce energy on demand so the question is,what will produce all that electricity?More nuclear?Coal?

There is still the problem of charging time too.

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but the underlying chemistry has not changed at all (Lithium-Ion) in a decade or more.

That's crap. Lithium-ion isn't a chemistry, it's an umbrella name for a whole family of chemistries that are seeing continual change and development. If you've looked at the name on the letter head and said "it was lithium-ion 10 years ago and it's still lithium-ion so nothing has changed", you've clearly missed the boat, my friend.

-k

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There will be more electric cars on the road as time goes by,but that also means there will be much more demand for electricity.Wind turbines and solar panels cannot produce energy on demand so the question is,what will produce all that electricity?More nuclear?Coal?

There is still the problem of charging time too.

Even disregarding the growing capability of non-fossil electrical sources, it's also worth pointing out that burning fossil fuels in electrical generating plants is more efficient and cleaner than burning it in your car. Some complain that "you're just moving the tailpipe", but you're not just moving the tailpipe out of city streets (which is in itself not a bad thing) you're also connecting the tailpipe to a much more efficient engine. Internal combustion engines in cars are pretty lousy in efficiency due to the need to continually change speed and move out of their peak efficiency ranges, plus the inherent friction and losses associated with internal combustion engines. Burn the fuel in a power plant, and you get to use more efficient topologies (ie, big efficient steam turbines instead of piston engines) and you get to run the generators in their optimum RPM zone all the time.

Plus you get to put emissions scrubbers on your power plant and possibly carbon sequestration technology in the future.

Plus we can add non-fossil electrical sources to the power grid.

Plus, electrical engines whip ass on gasoline engines in every aspect except the ability to carry enough fuel to go very far. Once energy storage technology advances far enough, there'll be no further point in driving gasoline.

-k

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Lithium-ion isn't a chemistry

Without getting into irrelevant discussions on terminology the fact is all LiIon batteries are based on well understood chemical process that has inherent limitations. Engineered materials such as carbon nanotubes or different types of polymers could provide improvement in some performance characteristics but there is no clear path to constant improvement. That is why Tesla is spending billions on a massive factory to get 'economies of scale'.

The batteries that Tesla has been using, sourced from Panasonic, for its Model S electric car are mostly likely a lithium-ion battery with a cathode that is a combination of a lithium, nickel, cobalt, aluminum oxide. The battery industry calls this an NCA battery and theyve been aroundand made by Panasonicfor many years.

http://fortune.com/2015/05/18/tesla-grid-batteries-chemistry/

IOW - Telsa is sticking with the tried and true while doing R&D in the hope of finding a game changer.

Edited by TimG
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  • 2 weeks later...

Just saying that the manufacturers know that the batteries will wear out a long time before the rest of your car and have already planned for their replacement. And also that it's quite possible that the replacement batteries you get in a few years are going to be better than the ones your car had when you bought it.

-k

Well, no. It's not that obvious. They all plan to/want to, but at this point in time it's pretty much just maybe a notch above wishful thinking.

As it stands, the future is uncertain and an electric car has the potential to be completely useless or hold its value well above a gas car.

IOW, it's still a total crap shoot.

PS, we're still going to buy one, but my point is that it's still a much bigger gamble than a gas car.

Edited by BC_chick
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PS, we're still going to buy one, but my point is that it's still a much bigger gamble than a gas car.

If you're in the city, and plan to be for sometime, do it...........but lease (don't buy) a cheaper one like a Volt or Leaf etc.....stay away from the higher end ones, including Tesla.....not worth the money (My wife owned a Tesla S).

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If you're in the city, and plan to be for sometime, do it...........but lease (don't buy) a cheaper one like a Volt or Leaf etc.....stay away from the higher end ones, including Tesla.....not worth the money (My wife owned a Tesla S).

Oh no, we're thinking a totally opposite direction. We've looked at about 5 different EV's (including Volt and Leaf which you mention) and I don't really like any of the cheaper ones. Tesla is a bit more than I'd want to spend but I think we're leaning toward buying a BMW i3. Leasing is a good option but right now with all the rebate incentives I think I would like to own that $5K as opposed to merely reducing payments.

It drives beautifully and the EV range is a lot higher than the others. It also has a backup gas generator if needed.

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Oh no, we're thinking a totally opposite direction. We've looked at about 5 different EV's (including Volt and Leaf which you mention) and I don't really like any of the cheaper ones. Tesla is a bit more than I'd want to spend but I think we're leaning toward buying a BMW i3. Leasing is a good option but right now with all the rebate incentives I think I would like to own that $5K as opposed to merely reducing payments.

It drives beautifully and the EV range is a lot higher than the others. It also has a backup gas generator if needed.

The BMW actually looks kinda interesting (I had to look it up).........if the Tesla had an internal gas backup we'd probably have kept it, as it stands, living in a rural area (not Tesla's fault mind you) where we always seem to loose power (sometimes days on end) the Tesla became a nonstarter (pun) for us my wife.......that and service/maintenance, a real pain in the ass, but I do understand its getting better in larger cities.

We probably won't be in the market for another electric anytime soon, but the BMW does look like the perfect little car for the city.......and I don't even like German cars..... :)

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Oh no, we're thinking a totally opposite direction. We've looked at about 5 different EV's (including Volt and Leaf which you mention) and I don't really like any of the cheaper ones. Tesla is a bit more than I'd want to spend but I think we're leaning toward buying a BMW i3. Leasing is a good option but right now with all the rebate incentives I think I would like to own that $5K as opposed to merely reducing payments.

It drives beautifully and the EV range is a lot higher than the others. It also has a backup gas generator if needed.

Quite an interesting car but who would have believed BMW could have built something that ugly

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Derek, who doesn't like German cars??

The only thing about the BMW that's holding us back is it's not really a family vehicle. Tiny trunk, small cabin, suicide doors in the rear.

But does it ever drive nice... we just might have to deal with the rest.

Edited by BC_chick
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