Electric Lemons

Lemon_on_wheels


Insight: Electric cars head toward another dead end

Recent moves by Japan’s two largest automakers suggest that the electric car, after more than 100 years of development and several brief revivals, still is not ready for prime time – and may never be.

In the meantime, the attention of automotive executives in Asia, Europe and North America is beginning to swing toward an unusual but promising new alternate power source: hydrogen.

The reality is that consumers continue to show little interest in electric vehicles, or EVs, which dominated U.S. streets in the first decade of the 20th century before being displaced by gasoline-powered cars.

Despite the promise of “green” transportation – and despite billions of dollars in investment, most recently by Nissan Motor Co – EVs continue to be plagued by many of the problems that eventually scuttled electrics in the 1910s and more recently in the 1990s. Those include high cost, short driving range and lack of charging stations.

The public’s lack of appetite for battery-powered cars persuaded the Obama administration last week to back away from its aggressive goal to put 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015.


But wait! There’s more!

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said it “remains to be seen in the future” whether about $16 billion in available U.S. government loans to develop alternative- technology vehicles will be disbursed.

Providing money for electric-vehicle development was a component of President Barack Obama’s goal of having 1 million plug-in vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015, a number well above current forecasts.


I know! Let’s pass a law requiring that there be 1 million transporter booths in the U.S. by 2016! That will make cars completely unnecessary! Woot!

Seriously, this should be a lesson on the limits of government power. We can call it the King Canute rule. For those of you familiar with the tale, King Canute ordered the tide to stay back but the tide didn’t obey.

History shows that money spent on research always pays off – eventually. But it doesn’t always pay off the way you expect. You simply cannot place the invention of new technology on a timetable.

But there is another issue here. “Green” technology isn’t all that green. The manufacturing of solar energy panels requires rare metals and uses some highly toxic processes. It uses a lot of energy too.

Electric cars are not cheap to make. The batteries are the hardest part and making them requires a lot of toxic substances. But once they are produced they have to be recharged. That requires electricity. If lots of people start driving electric cars, that will require lots of electricity. There is simply not enough “green” electricity out there to even meet the current demand.

Green advocates don’t like nuclear power. They don’t much care for hydroelectric, natural gas or coal-fired plants either. And none of the green methods of producing electricity is price competitive on a large scale.

The Vile Prog answer has (as usual) been more government. More government spending on research. More government loans for green industries. More government mandates. More government subsidies. More government taxes on successful technologies to make green technologies more attractive. More Solyndras.

But the tide keeps refusing to obey.

This is not to say there is no place for green technology. There is a niche for electric cars too. Pollution is a bad thing and we need to keep the environment hospitable to human life. We don’t want to waste resources either. But being smart doesn’t require more government.


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About The Klown

I support same-sex marriage and voted against Proposition 8 but I will no longer use Firefox nor any other Mozilla products. Tolerance is a two-way street.
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51 Responses to Electric Lemons

  1. votermom says:

    Great post!
    Love that “Dam you thermodynamics poster”

  2. votermom says:

    myiq will get a laugh out of this video

  3. swanspirit says:

    http://www.livescience.com/26508-peugeot-hybrid-compressed-air.html

    Better Than Batteries: A Hybrid Car That Runs on Air
    Those in love know the sensation of walking on air. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the romantic French would develop a car that gets amazing gas mileage by running on air.

    French automaker Peugeot Citroen’s latest automotive innovation — named “Hybrid Air” — operates on compressed air, gasoline or a combination of the two, DigitalTrends.com reports. At speeds above 43 mph (70 kilometers per hour), the car uses a standard three-cylinder gasoline engine with an automatic transmission.

    But when the driver slows down below 43 mph, as in typical city driving, the car uses compressed air to power a hydraulic motor, allowing the gasoline engine to shut down. When climbing a steep hill or accelerating, the two powertrains work together to give the car the extra oomph it needs, according to MotorAuthority.com.
    This unique hybrid system will give the passenger car a whopping 117 mpg (2 liters per 100 kilometers), according to the Daily Mail.

    What makes Peugeot’s car greener than your average Prius is a technology known as “regenerative braking,” DigitalTrends.com reports. In regenerative braking, the car’s compressed air storage tanks are refilled with air by harnessing the energy created every time the driver brakes — energy that’s usually just dissipated as heat.

    And because the car uses no heavy batteries to store electricity, it’s lighter than many hybrid cars offered today. Peugeot’s Hybrid Air car is currently a concept vehicle, but the company expects to have the vehicle available for purchase by 2016.

    • Somebody says:

      Wow that’s very interesting Swan thanks for sharing that.

      • swanspirit says:

        Well just proves how precarious it is for the government to invest in any technology . Before you know it , no matter how great one alternative is , another one can come along and make it obsolete. Private funding is aware of these risks , but with government investing taxpayers money , the taxpayer takes the loss .Government is playing with money that doesn’t belong to them .

        Ok , am going back to watching the RAVENS celebration party in Baltimore ;) Woooohoooo GO RAVENS!!!

    • insanelysane says:

      Well, there surely will be plenty of hot air in 2016.

    • r u reddy says:

      I would have thought that Prius would have regenerative braking ( or ” decel regen” as Bob Stemple called it) to recharge its battery. If they don’t do that, they are partly missing the point of a hybrid gas-electric powertrain. ( Surely the Volt has decel regen . . . ).

  4. DeniseVB says:

    Ha ! My grocery stores have plastic bag recycle bins for what you don’t need for home use (small trash can liner, picking up pet poop, etc) they send out to melt down to make more plastic bags or other stuff.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-04/the-disgusting-consequences-of-liberal-plastic-bag-bans.html

    • votermom says:

      We rely on those small plastic bags for our trash bags.

      Even at the warehouse club I always use the small bags they have in the meat/fish section, then the meat/fish goes into a big cooler-type bag.

      The idea of putting a package of meat/fish etc straight into reusable bag is gross.

    • Constance says:

      Here in Seattle it is not legal to have plastic bags at all or to give paper bags to customers businesses have to charge people for all bags and customers are supposed to bring their own reusable bags. So you see people coming out of Macy’s with a bunch of random stuff like socks, underwear, shirts etc piled up in their arms because they were too cheap to spend a few pennys on a paper bag and forgot their canvas bags in the car. Its a real pain in the butt.

  5. DeniseVB says:

    Electric cars are too quiet and killing too many pedestrians and bicycle riders !!!! How about banning them!? /s

    http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-20110209-48/prius-artificial-engine-noise-demonstrated-explained/

    • Mary says:

      Not to mention that we don’t have the grid for a million electric cars. Or the time to wait for an open station , or wait for how long it may take to recharge.

      Images of rolling black outs…….. sheesh

    • Constance says:

      I love my Prius though. I bought it used and it’s 7 years old. I put about 9 gallons of gas a month in it and drive it 20 miles a day to and from work alone.

      • votermom says:

        I’m always curious about 2nd hand Prius sales. How long is the battery expected to last?

        • Constance says:

          I don’t really know, I have had some loser used cars but the Prius has been a very resilient car. I drive it 12 miles to work and 12 miles home through rush hour and not on the freeway so that is probably the most efficient use of that sort of car. I bought it with 6000 miles on it and it was 3 years old. That is pretty suspicious so it might have had 106000 miles on it. I had to replace the battery that runs the lights and the radio and that was $300. because it isn’t a standard size. If the batteries that run the car go I think the car would be totaled.

      • myiq2xu says:

        How much is your electric bill?

        • Constance says:

          Electricity is cheap in Washington because of hydroelectric power. But the Prius doesn’t plug in it charges it’s own battery while driving.

      • DeniseVB says:

        One of my “conservative” friends bought a Prius to “save” money. When I rode in it, I freaked out. Too quiet. After years of owning clunkers, a silent motor was a stalled motor. Sorry, it’s a PTSD thing with me. Never rode with her again.

        • Constance says:

          Too true. The first day I drove the Prius it shut down the gas engine while I was trapped in traffic, which is what it is supposed to do. I freaked out and it took me a good month to get over freaking out when you hear the gas engine quit in traffic.

  6. votermom says:

    How very 1984, or should I say 1939 Berlin?

  7. votermom says:

    How long until they are declared a rogue terrorist city…

    • DandyTiger says:

      Yup, that’s my town. I’m sure the feds and Obama are shaking in their boots. FYI: 95% voted for Obama.

      • DeniseVB says:

        Yes, C’ville is very blue thanks to UVA and Professor Sabato. This should be national headlines ! In the meantime, down here in coastal master jet base city, Va Beach, we (city council) just whines about bringing in the tourists. ;)

  8. Mary says:

    OT: New CBO numbers today re Obamacare:

    President Obama’s healthcare law will push 7 MILLION people out of their job-based insurance coverage—nearly twice the previous estimate.

    “If you like your helathcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan.” Uh-huh

    • DeniseVB says:

      I learned today on my “walkies with Rush”, 4k/year for each family member for Obamacare insurance. Or pay the penalty. I thought who wouldn’t want to just pay the penalty? Then I found out, you’re still not insured ! Penalty means nothing, you get nothing.

  9. votermom says:
  10. yttik says:

    The best way to save our environment is to shrink government. Seriously, they’re the biggest polluters out there. They have to cut a whole forest down just to print the regulations for growing cabbages. Congresscritters and lobbiests fly around in private jets. They spend 7 million dollars on self cleaning toilets. They mandate mercury filled squiggly light bulbs. Government waste and pollution is legendary.

  11. 49erDweet (D) says:

    It’s Peugot. You know, French? In France “concept” means “silly stuff meant to fool Yankees”. Those that like this idea might also be interested in investing in my perpetual motion machine.

    • Jadzia says:

      My BIL and SIL, both engineers, have worked their butts off at Peugeot ever since they finished university. I don’t get the hate just bc it’s a French company. Lots of concept cars in lots of countries don’t end up working out.

  12. DeniseVB says:

    Ok, speaking of Lemons, what is this about both the Dems and GOP teaming up to kill the Tea Party ? Both planning to take out attack ads against any tea party supported candiates in 2014 and 2016 primaries.

  13. Before leaving the topic couldn’t resist sharing this factoid: Transport for London runs about 7000 buses, mostly double decker. A few years ago they tried out some electric (via battery) coaches and were considering making them required replacements over the next umpteen years, Then someone in maintenance figured out it would take all the power generated in England, Wales, Scotland, France, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands and Scandinavia each night to recharge the fleet. Leaving nothing left over for the hotels and nightspots, /shakes head/ Another great idea shot down by reality.

  14. Kim says:

    There really is free, infinite energy, and Tesla proved it in 1931.

    Nikola Tesla took the gasoline engine from a new ’31 Pierce-Arrow off the assembly line and replaced it with an 80-horsepower alternating-current (AC) electric motor with no external power source. Nothing else about the car’s basic design was altered.

    At a local radio supply shop he bought 12 vacuum tubes, some wires and assorted resistors, and assembled them in a circuit box 24 inches long, 12 inches wide and 6 inches high, with a pair of 3-inch rods sticking out. Getting into the car with the circuit box in the front seat beside him, he pushed the rods in, announced, “We now have power,” and proceeded to test drive the car for a full week, often at speeds of up to 90 mph. His car was never plugged into any electrical receptacle for a recharge. There were no batteries involved. Tesla’s materials for the modification cost $12.

    Tesla used the collection of vacuum tubes (also called a valve amplifier), wires and assorted resistors to build a radio wave receiver/amplifier 24 inches long, 12 inches wide and 6 inches high, with a pair of 3-inch rods 1/4” in diameter sticking out. The pair of rods that Tesla pushed in were used to close (complete) the circuit – like an on/off switch. The rod ends were most likely the positive and negative leads (connections) between the car antenna and and the radio wave receiver/amplifier. By pushing them into the box containing the radio wave receiver/amplifier the connection was completed allowing the radio waves that were received from the air by the antenna to flow through the receiver/amplifier to the electric motor.

    Voila- a running vehicle with no gas, no emissions, no plugging in. Infinite, free, clean power. Tesla also used this technology for the lights in his lab. Visitors were amazed to see him pick up working lights that had no batteries or wires and move them wherever he needed them.

    Now, why wasn’t this obviously viable technology explored further? Good question, eh? Maybe no angle for making boatloads of money? Maybe a threat to the power of the oil industry? Maybe free energy would be just too damn…freeing for the average person?

    BTW, when Tesla died in 1943, the FBI seized all of his research papers, lab notes, etc and they were locked away by the Office of Alien Property–even though Tesla had been an American citizen since 1891.

    FBI documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that microfilm of Tesla’s documents were made available for use by the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force. And the official line is that in 1952 all of Tesla’s materials were shipped to his home country of Yugoslavia. However, Tesla’s nephew noticed that many technical documents and a particularly important black notebook were missing.

    And here we are in 2013 still pumping gasoline and burning coal.

    Do your own research on this before you dismiss it as crazy tin-foil hat stuff.

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