230 mpg!

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MaddHatta
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230 mpg!

Post by MaddHatta »

New GM Volt = 230mpg (In CITY)! Scheduled for late 2010 @ $40,000 minus a $7500 tax credit.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124998537270122333.html
The Volt is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, with a range of about 40 miles, that can be recharged through a traditional power outlet. For longer drives, a small gasoline engine takes over, powering a generator that creates electricity to run the car's motors. The Volt's expected total range on one tank of gas is more than 300 miles, GM said.

Frederick "Fritz" Henderson, GM's chief executive, said at a media event that owners who charge the Volt daily could go days without the gas engine firing up. The U.S. Transportation Department says 80% of Americans commute less than 40 miles a day.
Madd
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DRiP Guy
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Post by DRiP Guy »

I have not investigated it thoroughly, but at first blush, this appears to be a ridiculous claim, and GM should be ashamed, if they are doing what I think they are doing:

As I understand it, this is a PLUG-IN hybrid; that is, some of the energy to be consumed over that 230 mile city 'loop' where one gallon of fossil fuels will also be consumed, came from an EXTERNAL POWER SOURCE.

So, with that as the benchmark, why not just turn the hybrid motor on ONLY once per day for just a few seconds, and then claim 10,000 miles per gallon!

Sure, it is not really helping with powering the vehicle, and is not keeping the Li battery recharged either, but so what -- it makes for a terrific marketing claim!!!!!

Actually, I am VERY glad GM is trying this BS, because it points up the need for all vehicles to have an overall efficiency rating that can be meaningfully compared, whether it is a full electric, hybrid electric, diesel, hydrogen, or whatever.

Without that rating, the public is like a bunch of tadpoles ready to be gobbled up by the hungry piranhas.

[Edited to add links]

Apparently, I'm not the first to cry 'foul':
http://www.thebigmoney.com/blogs/shifti ... olt230-mpg

Guess they figured mileage like they calculated costs:
http://adage.com/article?article_id=138244
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Post by fluffyistaken »

They did say it'll consume 25 kWh per 100 miles on the electric ( 4mpkWh :) ) but it was probably way too tempting for them not to stress the "230 mpg". And hey the press did eat it up. At ~10c/kWh being able to go 100 miles for $2.50 is still pretty nice.
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Post by DRiP Guy »

fluffyistaken wrote:They did say it'll consume 25 kWh per 100 miles on the electric ( 4mpkWh :) ) but it was probably way too tempting for them not to stress the "230 mpg". And hey the press did eat it up. At ~10c/kWh being able to go 100 miles for $2.50 is still pretty nice.
Ah ha -- thanks for info.

And absolutely, the cost of off-peak mass produced electricity should make any relatively efficient full electric a compelling choice, once range is addressed...


Well, maybe not at $40k price, versus 20 K for a Prius... what is the payback on that, about 10 or 15 years????

:shock:
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Post by MaddHatta »

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090811/ap_ ... lt_mileage
Henderson (GM CEO) said charging the Volt will cost about 40 cents a day, at about 5 cents per kilowatt hour.
40 mile range on a single charge.

Madd
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Post by Flashes1 »

You can't keep American ingenuity down forever. Yea USA!
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Post by DRiP Guy »

GM claims it used draft EPA guidelines to determine the Volt’s supposed fuel efficiency; the guidelines were developed for extended range all-electric vehicles and assumes it will not be used on the highway.

Given that assumption and the Volt’s battery range, GM said if the Volt travels less than 40 miles the gas engine will not kick in – meaning the car would use no fuel.

GM has not released its estimates for the Volt’s highway fuel efficiency. The EPA itself has not conducted its own testing of the Volt. In a statement, the EPA said, “we cannot confirm the fuel economy values claimed by GM."
http://www.tirereview.com/default.aspx? ... item=15307
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Post by Mr Bear »

What, was the test car falling off a cliff?
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Post by IL Int Med »

I guess it depends on how much you drive at a time. From what I've read, you don't burn gas until after the first 40 miles. So if their test doesn't have them drive over 40 miles at a time, then in theory you can get even higher than 230 mpg. I'd be interested to see the testing conditions they used.
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Post by MaddHatta »

Mr Bear wrote:What, was the test car falling off a cliff?
Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.
-(unsure)

Madd
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Post by fluffyistaken »

Somewhat off-topic but does it look to anybody else that the front overhang on the pre-prod Volt is rather long and low? I don't think it would make it onto my relatively tame driveway without scraping.

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Post by MaddHatta »

fluffyistaken wrote:Somewhat off-topic but does it look to anybody else that the front overhang on the pre-prod Volt is rather long and low? I don't think it would make it onto my relatively tame driveway without scraping.
Thats the volt running on gas! When it is running on electric, it actually hovers a good foot off the ground...

Madd
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Post by fluffyistaken »

MaddHatta wrote:
fluffyistaken wrote:Somewhat off-topic but does it look to anybody else that the front overhang on the pre-prod Volt is rather long and low? I don't think it would make it onto my relatively tame driveway without scraping.
Thats the volt running on gas! When it is running on electric, it actually hovers a good foot off the ground...

Madd
sneak peek:

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Post by DRiP Guy »

MaddHatta wrote:
fluffyistaken wrote:Somewhat off-topic but does it look to anybody else that the front overhang on the pre-prod Volt is rather long and low? I don't think it would make it onto my relatively tame driveway without scraping.
Thats the volt running on gas! When it is running on electric, it actually hovers a good foot off the ground...

Madd
heh heh


and, YES, that is a lot of overhang, at a very low height. Obviously great for economy, but terrible at speed bumps, driveways, etc.
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Post by Zook13 »

MaddHatta wrote:
Mr Bear wrote:What, was the test car falling off a cliff?
Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.
-(unsure)

Madd
Never got that one...

If you shoot for the moon and miss you are light years away from a star...It should be the other way around...
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Post by kakapo »

Zook13 wrote:
MaddHatta wrote:
Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.
-(unsure)

Madd
If you shoot for the moon and miss you are light years away from a star...It should be the other way around...
yes, it is a ridiculous statement. suffice it to say, that the apollo astronauts are very thankful it wasn't NASA's adage back in the day.
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Post by gtaylor »

Bah, any electric car will find it easy to get over 100mph using the usual conversion math. The problem is always one of range, and bolting on a high-maintenance Honda generator (or the Detroit equivalent anyway) is sort of a lame solution. They were able to stop including sails on steamers quite some time ago, you'd think they could get there on electric cars someday.

The better number is the '4 m/kWh' mentioned earlier, or 250Wh/m. For comparison, look at the Tesla roadster's equivalent numbers, they actually have a graph up of this number at all speeds in this <a href="http://www.teslamotors.com/blog4/">blog post</a>. The main difference is that the car has a much bigger battery and therefore goes at least 150 miles per charge, not 40. It is probably also somewhat more efficient in the same test, as it is a smaller vehicle. But this is not entirely clear.

For the current efficiency winner of highway drivable cars, see the three-legged <a href="http://www.aptera.com/">Aptera</a>. These will supposedly ship this year. Of course, if you thought the Prius made an over the top "Look at me--I'm green!" statement, wait 'till you see Apteras!
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Post by tetractys »

I think what we need is "open source" for car design and engineering. It's working great for advancing computing technology. After all as the saying goes, "two heads are better than one." And of course a head in this case would be a company, a university, or another group or team focused on the goal. -- Tet
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Under the "230mpg" hood

Post by Eric White »

I'm a pretty big Volt supporter because I think Extended Range Electric Vehicles (E-REV) are an important bridge to the future.

Most importantly, they tackle the largest problem for lower lifecycle cost and emissions vehicles: battery cost. Batteries run ~$1000/kwh. The Volt reduces the range to 40 miles with a 16 kwh battery to keep the cost out of the stratoshere (~$16k). As a result, to reduce range anxiety, they add the combustion engine. Nice to have for extended trips after work (e.g. food shopping), long trips, etc.

The problem with full electric vehicles is that to minimize range anxiety they have to have a beefy battery (>40 kwh) and subsequently large price tag (>$60k) or battery leasing, all of which means the lifecycle cost is unreasonably high until battery pricing reduces via competition or technology evolution.

The lifecycle value of potentially eliminating gas usage is probably ~$12,500 ($3/gal * 24mpg * 100,000 miles). The lifecycle electricity cost is ~$2,400 (40 miles with 8 kwh = 5 mpkwh; 100,000 miles / 5 mpkwh = 20,000 kwh * $0.12/kwh). The net lifecycle savings is probably ~$10k.

If you drive less than 40 miles a day, this car has potentially significant reduced lifecycle costs for you. If you drive more, then the benefits decrease accordingly. Just recognize the distinction and be rational about your claims. So I'd disagree with DRIP's assessment that it's all smoke and mirrors.

Here's how I think they got to the 230 mpg assessment:
100 miles (standard distance)
74 AER (must allow recharging across 2 days; 37 miles/day after reductions for air conditioning, etc.)
28 miles (distance driven with gas after AER depleted)
60 mpg (required efficiency using gas EREV)
0.43 gallons (used during EREV)
230 mpg

This is actually much better than I was expecting. They have an average reduction of only 3 miles range due to comforts usage and 60 mpg while using gas. I don't know how else the 230mpg could hold up.

My commute is 26 miles (like 80% of all other Americans), so I could effectively eliminate gas usage for our commuter car. It's a nice option to hedge against rising oil prices, help the domestic economy, and reduce air pollution for your kids.

Cheers,
Eric
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Post by MaddHatta »

kakapo wrote:
Zook13 wrote:
MaddHatta wrote:
Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.
-(unsure)

Madd
If you shoot for the moon and miss you are light years away from a star...It should be the other way around...
yes, it is a ridiculous statement.
I'm sure the author tried to crunch the math on prevention of an unstable elliptical orbit and how to avoid burning up in the earth's atmosphere on the off chance he missed the moon... His lack of a time constraint and overall velocity, however, may save him. Regardless philosophical statements are dead... :lol:
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Taxes

Post by brianH »

It's worth noting that a good chunk (20% currently) of the cost of gas is federal/state highway taxes. There have been news reports of people with bio-diesel vehicles getting a large tax bill once the gubmint found out.

When the electric cars become more popular, a new method of taxation will be required to make up the shortfall.
-The average # of miles driven is: 15,000/yr
-The average MPG is: 20.8MPG
-The average state+fed tax per gallon is about: $0.50

So, the expected tax per vehicle is somewhere around $360 a year. As the electric cars start getting taxed, the savings doesn't look as good.
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Post by Adrian Nenu »

Two main problems: cost and range.

Cost: about $40k according to GM

Range - about 60 miles

You can go out and buy a similar gas car for about 15k and 6x the range.

Adrian
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Post by kpanghmc »

tetractys wrote:I think what we need is "open source" for car design and engineering. It's working great for advancing computing technology. After all as the saying goes, "two heads are better than one." And of course a head in this case would be a company, a university, or another group or team focused on the goal. -- Tet
Yes, but who do you sue if/when a "bug" is introduced into the car's design / engineering?
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Post by MaddHatta »

What will the lifespan of these vehicles be and how expensive are they to fix? Will the volt last longer then say a civic due to it running on electricity?

Madd
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Post by mudfud »

Nissan Leaf mocks Volt's claim:

“Nissan Leaf = 367 mpg, no tailpipe, and no gas required. Oh yeah, and it’ll be affordable too,”

http://features.csmonitor.com/innovatio ... hevy-volt/

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Post by fishndoc »

The lifecycle value of potentially eliminating gas usage is probably ~$12,500 ($3/gal * 24mpg * 100,000 miles). The lifecycle electricity cost is ~$2,400 (40 miles with 8 kwh = 5 mpkwh; 100,000 miles / 5 mpkwh = 20,000 kwh * $0.12/kwh). The net lifecycle savings is probably ~$10k.
But... I would contend that the average life of a new Corolla or Civic, properly maintained, is closer to 200,000 miles, and also the milage would be closer to 30MPG if driven carefully.
Add in the cost of needing to replace batteries at least once, and also the likelihood of a new tax to make up for lost revenue, and the cost of use is not so different - not to mention the significantly higher initial purchase price.

Pollution? Probably a significant difference there, but have to remember you will likely be using coal electric generating plants, so more pollution there.

I'm not saying the electric car is not a good idea, and costs should drop with time and improved technology, but it's not as big a "win" as many would have us think.

Wayne
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Post by SamB »

fluffyistaken wrote:Somewhat off-topic but does it look to anybody else that the front overhang on the pre-prod Volt is rather long and low? I don't think it would make it onto my relatively tame driveway without scraping.
It looks remarkably similar to the new Honda Civic I just bought. The Civic has 16-in wheels, but I cannot slide underneath the car to inspect unless I use a ramp, which is also a problem. My old Subaru has 14-in wheels, but has much more ground clearance. Both the Civic and Volt will be terrible in snow.

Don't try to roll over the curb when you park.

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Post by mark500 »

[Two main problems: cost and range.
Cost: about $40k according to GM
Range - about 60 miles
You can go out and buy a similar gas car for about 15k and 6x the range.


That is the range running on the battery only. Chevy claims that with the engine running to recharge the battery, the range is over 600 miles. The Volts range extending engine is expected to get 50mpg in the city in the charge sustainng mode.
I don't really care about CO2 emissions. I care about reducing the USA's dependence on oil.
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Post by FrugalInvestor »

DRiP Guy wrote:I have not investigated it thoroughly, but at first blush, this appears to be a ridiculous claim, and GM should be ashamed, if they are doing what I think they are doing:.....

It is my understanding that the Dept. of Energy is developing standards for reporting gas mileage of plug-in hybrids and that GM has used the close-to-finalized testing standards to calculate the 230mpg number. I've heard them state that they actually expect that number to end up higher when the DOE does their own final testing. They are just playing by the government's rules and we all know that the government's role is to be an advocate and protector of the consumer. :wink:

The fact is that "gas mileage" on these vehicles isn't as meaningful as with an all-gas powered vehicle. To those who drive 40 miles or less per day it will be totally meaningless. They would want to know the electricity cost per mile. To those like me who would drive the car long distances on the highway, the actual gas mileage and range on a tank would be most meaningful. And then there are all the other cosiderations others are discussing here. No matter what the government number is or what the advertisements say, I'll make my own judgment as to the appropriateness of the vehicle for me and I'm guessing (hoping) others will consider their own circumstances and do the same.
Last edited by FrugalInvestor on Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by DRiP Guy »

Awesome thread, guys. I have learned a ton by reading your informative responses -- obviously (as has become usual, but is still always pleasing) Bogleheads show that they have a wide assortment of interests and specialities, and don't mind sharing their expertise.

Thanks!
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Post by woof755 »

re: low clearance--those 1,000 pounds of batteries have to go somewhere, and boy, do they take up some room!
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Post by FrugalInvestor »

woof755 wrote:re: low clearance--those 1,000 pounds of batteries have to go somewhere, and boy, do they take up some room!
In the Volt I believe they take the space out of the passenger cabin....under the center console, the 'hump' on the rear floor and then tee off under the seats.
Last edited by FrugalInvestor on Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by scuttlebuttrp »

Listening to the radio awhile back in a story about electric vehicles, they pointed out that if you live in an apartment building or condo, etc.. anywhere where your car is not secured in a garage or near an existing outlet, it will be very difficult to charge your car.
They need to fix this issue if they want people to drive them more. Same thing stopping more use of alternative fuel vehicles. Where you going to get your juice from?
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Post by Wabbit »

Can't you also modify your Prius to be a plug-in hybrid? Does anyone know if the Volt offers significant advantages over this route?

I do like the idea of electric cars in general. It decouples the power source from the vehicle. So, even if most of our electric power in the US is generated from coal / natural gas today, we could still drive while we search for better / cleaner power sources.

As this link points out, also don't over look the most erratic-performing part of the car: the nut behind the wheel!
As I wrote for Forbes, one person can coax more than 99 mpg out of a modified plug in Toyota Prius, while a pedal-to-the-metal type who forgets to plug the thing in at night will get less than 40 mpg.
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Post by FrugalInvestor »

scuttlebuttrp wrote:Listening to the radio awhile back in a story about electric vehicles, they pointed out that if you live in an apartment building or condo, etc.. anywhere where your car is not secured in a garage or near an existing outlet, it will be very difficult to charge your car.
They need to fix this issue if they want people to drive them more. Same thing stopping more use of alternative fuel vehicles. Where you going to get your juice from?
There is a company installing "charging stations" all around the Seattle area...with the assistance of Federal stimulus dollars, of course.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/l ... rs06m.html
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Post by FrugalInvestor »

Wabbit wrote:Can't you also modify your Prius to be a plug-in hybrid? Does anyone know if the Volt offers significant advantages over this route?
The Chevy Volt's technology is much simpler which could result in lower cost of manufacturing and maintenance as well as reliability. Instead of the car's computer having to constantly vary the mix of power from the electric and gas motors which operate in concert to power the vehicle (hence the name Toyota 'Synergy Drive) the Volt runs only on electricity from the batteries. When the Volt's batteries start to run low on power the motor starts and recharges them. So yes, at least in theory there is an advantage. Only time will tell how that translates into the real world.

When the Prius was designed it could not work like the Volt because the battery technology was not advanced enough. The Volt has been designed for quite some time just waiting for battery technology to catch up.
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Post by tetractys »

kpanghmc wrote:
tetractys wrote:I think what we need is "open source" for car design and engineering. It's working great for advancing computing technology. After all as the saying goes, "two heads are better than one." And of course a head in this case would be a company, a university, or another group or team focused on the goal. -- Tet
Yes, but who do you sue if/when a "bug" is introduced into the car's design / engineering?
I suppose it would be like open source software: You use it at your own risk, report the problems if it suits you, and take satisfaction in knowing those problems will get fixed real fast.

But free upgrades? No, but probably real cheep part swap-outs. I can imagine a truly stylish, drivable, and efficient utilitarian vehicle that saves huge costs through long term standardization. Think implementation of standard rubber mounted truck tail lights, fixed geometry, mountings and shell parts, etc.

It could happen. -- Tet
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Post by LH »

fishndoc wrote:
The lifecycle value of potentially eliminating gas usage is probably ~$12,500 ($3/gal * 24mpg * 100,000 miles). The lifecycle electricity cost is ~$2,400 (40 miles with 8 kwh = 5 mpkwh; 100,000 miles / 5 mpkwh = 20,000 kwh * $0.12/kwh). The net lifecycle savings is probably ~$10k.
But... I would contend that the average life of a new Corolla or Civic, properly maintained, is closer to 200,000 miles, and also the milage would be closer to 30MPG if driven carefully.
Add in the cost of needing to replace batteries at least once, and also the likelihood of a new tax to make up for lost revenue, and the cost of use is not so different - not to mention the significantly higher initial purchase price.

Pollution? Probably a significant difference there, but have to remember you will likely be using coal electric generating plants, so more pollution there.

I'm not saying the electric car is not a good idea, and costs should drop with time and improved technology, but it's not as big a "win" as many would have us think.

Wayne
Yeah, I think the key is to get the technology going. At some point, we will run out of oil, or it will become strategically difficult to get, or economically too expensive. Its good to have ethanol, electric, and such as possibilities. Shale oil is there too at some point in theory, buts its great to see things we can use now. Brazil cars basically do 85 percent ethanol now, and we could drop sugar cane barriers, and get even cheaper ethanol here in a pinch. I just wish we would get more nuclear plants, wind and solar are nice, but baring some breakthrough, I just do not see them as doing much percentagewise of usage with present technology. Nuclear, plus electric cars, could really help out now if things got bad in the near to midterm future, but we gotta build the nuclear plants, and that does not seem to be happening.

Electric cars, will have to see how they are, but its GREAT to see them being in production for sale. The stuff I was reading about the battery issues in the past several years, they seem problematic, maybe they have got a lot of that ironed out.

That 230 thing is goofy though.
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Post by stevewolfe »

fishndoc wrote:But... I would contend that the average life of a new Corolla or Civic, properly maintained, is closer to 200,000 miles, and also the milage would be closer to 30MPG if driven carefully.
I have a 2009 Corolla which spends 90-95% of the time on the highway commuting. With a little over 20k miles on the odometer, I frequently have tanks which I average a little over 45 miles per gallon. In the summer it's hard to get under 42 MPG now that I have my driving style down and know the commute so well.

That said, at $40k with a $7,500 subsidy, I'd be interested in the volt gen 5 or 6 in 10 years when I put my Corolla out to pasture (the last one lasted 11 years and 239k miles and was working fine when I sold it, it's still on the road doing college commutes now).
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Post by Valuethinker »

LH wrote:
fishndoc wrote:
The lifecycle value of potentially eliminating gas usage is probably ~$12,500 ($3/gal * 24mpg * 100,000 miles). The lifecycle electricity cost is ~$2,400 (40 miles with 8 kwh = 5 mpkwh; 100,000 miles / 5 mpkwh = 20,000 kwh * $0.12/kwh). The net lifecycle savings is probably ~$10k.
But... I would contend that the average life of a new Corolla or Civic, properly maintained, is closer to 200,000 miles, and also the milage would be closer to 30MPG if driven carefully.
Add in the cost of needing to replace batteries at least once, and also the likelihood of a new tax to make up for lost revenue, and the cost of use is not so different - not to mention the significantly higher initial purchase price.

Pollution? Probably a significant difference there, but have to remember you will likely be using coal electric generating plants, so more pollution there.

I'm not saying the electric car is not a good idea, and costs should drop with time and improved technology, but it's not as big a "win" as many would have us think.

Wayne
Yeah, I think the key is to get the technology going. At some point, we will run out of oil, or it will become strategically difficult to get, or economically too expensive. Its good to have ethanol, electric, and such as possibilities. Shale oil is there too at some point in theory, buts its great to see things we can use now. Brazil cars basically do 85 percent ethanol now, and we could drop sugar cane barriers, and get even cheaper ethanol here in a pinch. I just wish we would get more nuclear plants, wind and solar are nice, but baring some breakthrough, I just do not see them as doing much percentagewise of usage with present technology. Nuclear, plus electric cars, could really help out now if things got bad in the near to midterm future, but we gotta build the nuclear plants, and that does not seem to be happening.

Electric cars, will have to see how they are, but its GREAT to see them being in production for sale. The stuff I was reading about the battery issues in the past several years, they seem problematic, maybe they have got a lot of that ironed out.

That 230 thing is goofy though.
Just on wind, 20% of US electricity from wind is possible within current technology. The DOE under the previous administration did a very good report on it. That is achievable by 2030.

The main issue is extending the grid. The US has a weirdly balkanized interstate grid-- countries of the US size and technological sophistication generally have a much more integrated grid. With long distance DC power lines (again widely used in Russia, Latin America, Africa, Quebec) you eliminate most of the power loss.

Solar is, I agree, not competitive except in specific situations under current technology. (solar water heating is competitive in most localities in the US, but that's a different issue: heat is a relatively low quality type of energy compared to electricity, in terms of what you can do with it).

On nuclear the problem is the scale of the subsidies.

First 4 new reactors will received $18.5bn of loan guarantees between them. Already the utilities are saying that is not enough, so one or more will drop out.

Now the US has 104 power reactors, producing about 20% US electric power.

Suppose these are all replaced over 20 years, which would be a titanic feat given the order time for the pressure vessel is 4-5 years at the moment (only 1 French company, and 1 Japanese, can make them) and the first 'new nuke' won't be operational before 2016 (the Finnish one, using the same technology is 2 1/2 years late). The problem is that the resources of skilled labour and the component manufacturing capacity just don't exist, worldwide, any more.

So 5 reactors a year, gives us 105 by 2037. That's a similar completion rate to what was experienced in the mid 70s (I think the peak was 12, but the average about 5). They will have, on average, 60% higher capacity than the existing fleet BUT electricity demand will be higher so it should be about a 20% share of US electricity production in

If they are each subsidized by government loan guarantees, that is a minimum guarantee, unless something changes, without inflation of $500bn.

Note there also has to be an electricity subsidy or price guarantee-- otherwise no utility would take on the financial risk: it's just too big. The new reactors (the first ones) will receive a per kwhr subsidy under current legislation.

Now costs per kwhr estimated for the 'nuclear revival' have doubled since 2001, to around 12 cents/ kwhr wholesale (to get to retail you would need to add 4-5 cents, typically). That's actually more expensive than the best sited wind plants now. This may fall a bit (say to 10 cents, but ignoring inflation) as we get more experience building the 3rd Generation.

When you add up the numbers, the investment simply to keep US nuclear capacity at the same level is titanic (no existing reactor is likely to be operating post 2040ish).

And then there is the unsolved nuclear waste, locational issues etc. Water supply has become a massive issue: during the 2003 heat wave, the French were shutting down reactors because the rivers were too low.

The French haven't solved the waste repository situation either.

It's not to say it is impossible, but it is somewhat unlikely.

I expect the US nuclear revival to reach c. 8% of US electricity consumption: ie c. 40 new reactors built over the next 20 years or so.

By contrast the unit size in wind (1 turbine) is relatively simple. So you can build the things incrementally IF you can get the grid access. You do need big grids (in case the wind isn't blowing in your part of the Continent) and you need gas fired power station backup. 'smart grid management' can help a lot: my parents have a tariff which lets the utility turn off heavy energy users (air con) for 30 minutes in any 2 hour period.

The link in to electric cars is that the utility will 'lease' your battery back to you. When it needs power, it will draw on your car battery, and will reciprocate by charging you very cheaply.

If you put a reasonable price on carbon emission, then wind (and nuclear, if everything goes right in the construction of what is one of the most complex things known to man) is competitive with gas and coal fired power stations.

Beyond about 20% penetration by wind, grid stability can become an issue. But we don't know: on some days, 50% of Spanish electricity production comes from wind.

The problem wind and nuclear have is they are not 'despatchable' ie they cannot be summoned by the grid operator to meet demand instantaneously. Coal and gas fired stations can be 'on demand', firing up in seconds for gas, and as little as 30 minutes for coal out of 'spinning reserve'.

The US happens to have the best onshore wind resource in the world in the Great Plains (along with Scotland and parts of China). It would be a shame to waste it.

On solar, I think the breakthrough will be very cheap solar cells 'thin films' that are lathered over every building and rooftop.

If I had to sketch US power production in 2035 say, I suspect it will look something like:

5-7% hydro
15% or so wind
10% or so 'other renewable' eg cogeneration, biogas, solar photovoltaic
15% or so nuclear

the other 50% or so will be fossil fueld, but fossil fuel with some form of carbon capture and storage.

You could leave an 'x factor' for new technology: cheap solar roof tiles, domestic fuel cells etc. Up to 20%.
Valuethinker
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Re: 230 mpg!

Post by Valuethinker »

MaddHatta wrote:New GM Volt = 230mpg (In CITY)! Scheduled for late 2010 @ $40,000 minus a $7500 tax credit.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124998537270122333.html
The Volt is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, with a range of about 40 miles, that can be recharged through a traditional power outlet. For longer drives, a small gasoline engine takes over, powering a generator that creates electricity to run the car's motors. The Volt's expected total range on one tank of gas is more than 300 miles, GM said.

Frederick "Fritz" Henderson, GM's chief executive, said at a media event that owners who charge the Volt daily could go days without the gas engine firing up. The U.S. Transportation Department says 80% of Americans commute less than 40 miles a day.
Madd
I think electric cars are a classic 'disruptive technology'.

They don't compete with existing transportation solutions, they don't offer the same features and power. So no one can see the point.

But they meet a new consumer need, and they eventually become a huge market, because they solve a problem the existing incumbent technology just cannot solve.

For example, when the PC was invented no one had thought of the spreadsheet. The uses of a PC over a mainframe computer were entirely unobvious.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_technology
gkaplan
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Post by gkaplan »

Given the attention span of many American automakers, I wonder how long it will be before GM engineers abandon this venture and revert to designing cars with bigger and better tail fins.
Last edited by gkaplan on Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
Gordon
fishndoc
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Post by fishndoc »

gkaplan wrote:Give the attention span of many American automakers, I wonder how long it will be before GM engineers abandon this venture and revert to designing cars with bigger and better tail fins.
Yes, and then they could sell them on eBay:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/10/business/10gm.html :roll:

Wayne
" Successful investing involves doing just a few things right, and avoiding serious mistakes." - J. Bogle
fishndoc
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Post by fishndoc »

Probably many on this board are aware already, but "R-Squared Energy Blog": http://i-r-squared.blogspot.com/
is an excellent site for discussion of many of the issues mentioned in this thread. The author is a petroleum engineer who is passionate about alternative energy, and the issues involved in our country moving away from oil dependency.

Wayne
" Successful investing involves doing just a few things right, and avoiding serious mistakes." - J. Bogle
Valuethinker
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Post by Valuethinker »

Wabbit wrote:Can't you also modify your Prius to be a plug-in hybrid? Does anyone know if the Volt offers significant advantages over this route?

I do like the idea of electric cars in general. It decouples the power source from the vehicle. So, even if most of our electric power in the US is generated from coal / natural gas today, we could still drive while we search for better / cleaner power sources.

As this link points out, also don't over look the most erratic-performing part of the car: the nut behind the wheel!
As I wrote for Forbes, one person can coax more than 99 mpg out of a modified plug in Toyota Prius, while a pedal-to-the-metal type who forgets to plug the thing in at night will get less than 40 mpg.
You void your warranty if you modify your Prius so-- I think the cost is about $10k from a kit.

Toyota's view is they cannot guarantee the battery life.

Yes electric cars will come (that and compressed air) but the nature of 'car' will change. I think a fleet of urban vehicles, where you just find one on your mobile device, reserve it, follow the map to it, type in your PIN number, insert your credit card (and maybe thumbprint inside) and drive off.

It won't be primarily about speed (30-35mph will do it for urban driving) or range (again, around 40 miles). Major challenges will be the heating and air conditioning systems (small enough yet effective).

They are doing something like that with bicycles in Paris now, and it works a treat.

This is bigger than just 'car'. A car is a system: oil pipelines and refineries, gasoline tankers, gas stations, repair shops, car lease finance, car dealers etc. etc.

Similarly electric cars will be a system.

Personally I have a passion for steam cars, and I think they could be made to work. The Dobie and the Stanley Steamer (see Jay Leno's collection) were fantastic vehicles, in many ways superior to the petrol driven cars of the time. But I don't see anyone investing in the technology on the necessary scale.
Valuethinker
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Post by Valuethinker »

gkaplan wrote:Give the attention span of many American automakers, I wonder how long it will be before GM engineers abandon this venture and revert to designing cars with bigger and better tail fins.
On fuel efficiency, the best diesel cars are roughly comparable to hybrids. However there are air quality issues. The current hybrid is in something of a technological box (the Volt may not be).

Changing the motive means of 600m + vehicles already in existence will be the work of decades, never mind the billion or so net new cars the world will have by, say, 2030.
scuttlebuttrp
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Post by scuttlebuttrp »

gkaplan wrote:how long it will be before GM engineers abandon this venture and revert to designing cars with bigger and better tail fins.
If they were smart they would attach a small turbine fan hooked to a generator so you could charge the battery while driving. This would of course be hidden under an awesome looking hoodscoop. That would make your car totally awesome looking, while taking advantage of 2 emerging technologies. :D
Royce.
Valuethinker
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Post by Valuethinker »

fishndoc wrote:Probably many on this board are aware already, but "R-Squared Energy Blog": http://i-r-squared.blogspot.com/
is an excellent site for discussion of many of the issues mentioned in this thread. The author is a petroleum engineer who is passionate about alternative energy, and the issues involved in our country moving away from oil dependency.

Wayne
Thank you, yes, he is excellent.

He took on Vinod Khosla (famous Silicon Valley investor and a founder of Sun Microsystems) on ethanol and got so much the better of the debate that Khosla started ignoring him.

So Robert R is both a highly knowledgable enthusiast about alternative energy, and an informed critic of some of the wilder claims.

http://www.withouthotair.com/

'Sustainable Energy without the hot air' is by a Cambridge Professor (of physics I think) and uses the UK as a model to figure out what is actually possible with alternative energy.

I don't agree with all his calculations (eg on wind power*) but he talks sense, and backs it up with hard numbers.

* on wind, he ssems to make the assumption that we won't simply stake out 2000 square miles of the North Sea, and build a huge wind farm there-- sharing the power between UK Germany Netherlands Norway. Which, of course, we will do at some point. And the same with solar panels in the Sahara.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
Valuethinker
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Post by Valuethinker »

fishndoc wrote:Probably many on this board are aware already, but "R-Squared Energy Blog": http://i-r-squared.blogspot.com/
is an excellent site for discussion of many of the issues mentioned in this thread. The author is a petroleum engineer who is passionate about alternative energy, and the issues involved in our country moving away from oil dependency.

Wayne
PS I flew over a big windfarm in the Irish Sea one time, in a climbing airliner.

They are stunning beautiful, it has to be said. Even more so than a really big dam.
Ricola
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Post by Ricola »

I like the idea of an electric that recharges itself, however I'll believe GM when I see it, wish them the best of luck :)

GM Chevy Volt Fails
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h5AOWL0fRE
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