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When will we see an affordable electric car ?


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We live in a small town in Southern Ontario. We retired to this area many years ago for a variety of reasons - one being the small town atmosphere with very short distances between most of the different places that we frequent daily. Many families have 2 vehicles.

In our case, if the local by-laws would allow, we would use a golf cart as the second vehicle for most of our daily needs. Our first vehicle is a standard highway vehicle capable of getting us to the major Ontario cities when required. Most daily trips are of short distances - visiting friends, shopping, local social events etc. We have been looking at a small (smart car like) vehicle for local travel but these are still very expensive.

I believe that if some car manufacturer developed a cheap electric car that could travel 50 km. on a charge, charge from a regular wall outlet and have just enough room for 2 people and some groceries then they would have a winner. We represent a growing demographic of people looking for a second car for only local trips.

At the moment, the typical 2 vehicle household around here has a pick up truck and a compact car. The compact car can easily be replaced by a smart car like electric vehicle.

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Hamster power

A better alternative to consider in the meanwhile would be natural gas powered vehicles, as they would emit considerably less CO2 per mile than gasoline.

Again, storage is a problem. Compressed natural gas just doesn't give enough range for the amount of storage space required. A friend of mine once put a compressed natural gas system on a 1/2 truck with two storage thanks mounted horizontally, one above the other just behind the cab. The truck ran fine but he ended up removing the system because he was constantly having to fill it up.

LNG must be stored at very low temperature to remain liquid. Vehicle LNG tanks can only go for about 5 days before they have to start releasing gas. This makes LNG suitable for fleet and other high use applications but you couldn't leave your vehicle sitting in your garage for a week without risking the place blowing up.

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Series hybrid is the answer, i came across a bmw unit a few months ago that looked like the right idea. An electric motor drives the vehicle via the battery pack for a range of 160 km. A generator charges the battery when needed to extend range and can therefore be used to provide heating that would otherwise shorten your range in the winter.

This to me sounds like the best short-term compromise as well. You get the performance possibilities and efficiency of an electric motor, combined with the energy density and easy use of chemical fuel.

I believe that using chemical fuel to drive an electric generator is considerably more efficient than using chemical fuel to power the drive-line directly, especially when things like using engine-braking to charge the battery are added to the mix.

I also believe that there are more efficient ways of using chemical fuel to generate electricity than the reciprocating piston engine. Once upon a time Chrysler did some research and built some experimental vehicles using gas turbine engines, and found that while the engines were smooth and powerful and quite efficient, they found that they sucked when it came to operating at different speeds... ie, they like to stay at one RPM range and don't change speed well and don't perform well outside their optimum range. But if you're driving an electric generator, that ceases to be an issue. You can have the engine running in its optimum range.

Electrical storage and charging technology will get there eventually... but to me the idea of using chemical fuel to boost the range of a car sounds like a good compromise.

-k

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I have been waiting for this for 20 years now.

Give me a car,where I don't need gas,runs well in the winter,is all electric,and

I can refill the power without having to go 50 miles to get refill.

And if this exists then why are we still using gas ?

Those cars already existed. The GM EV1 was the perfect example of an affordable electric car, 20 years ago. GM killed the car off, and in some cases had issues getting the leased cars back from the owners.

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Those cars already existed. The GM EV1 was the perfect example of an affordable electric car, 20 years ago. GM killed the car off, and in some cases had issues getting the leased cars back from the owners.

Even though the EV1's lease rate was based on a $34,000 vehicle cost, in fact they were a very aggressive engineering exercise that cost GM between $80,000 and $100,000 per vehicle to build, depending on who you ask. The EV1 wasn't economical at all but you can bet a lot of what they learned from it made them go the Volt route instead of a pure electric. Given today's state of the art, the Volt makes a lot more sense to me as an all round vehicle than a pure electric.

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A while back we discussed electric cars and you said the idea of gasoline backup, like in the Volt, was the most practical thing. The more I think about it the more I think you're right.

I think the potential of gasoline fuel-cells like these...

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/426252/gasoline-fuel-cell-would-boost-electric-car-range/

http://newenergyandfuel.com/http:/newenergyandfuel/com/2014/06/17/a-fuel-cell-directly-fueled-with-jet-fuel-or-gasoline/

...to convert gasoline to electricity without using a combustion engine would make it an even more attractive combination.

All the advantages of electric engines, plus the ability to leverage the existing, ubiquitous gasoline infrastructure, plus the ability to use gasoline in a more efficient, cleaner, vibration-free, noise-free, lightweight, compact package.

-k

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I agree, outside of major cities, the gas backup electric system makes sense. Pure electric outside of a major city makes no sense.

I disagree. We live in a small town (pop 17,000) in Southern Ontario. 95% of the time we spend in a car is driving within 30 km. of the center of town (other small towns and local events). Show me a cheap electric car ( 100 km range, max speed 60 k) and you have yourself a sale.

Many of my neighbors have motorcycles as their second vehicle - not so good in winter and poor weather.

Edited by Big Guy
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I disagree. We live in a small town (pop 17,000) in Southern Ontario. 95% of the time we spend in a car is driving within 30 km. of the center of town (other small towns and local events). Show me a cheap electric car ( 100 km range, max speed 60 k) and you have yourself a sale.

Many of my neighbors have motorcycles as their second vehicle - not so good in winter and poor weather.

OK... but it sounds like your driving is a lot like the driving habits of a city commuter. Most of the time, I don't see that happening outside of a city. Maybe you're the exception.

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OK... but it sounds like your driving is a lot like the driving habits of a city commuter. Most of the time, I don't see that happening outside of a city. Maybe you're the exception.

Perhaps you have forgotten that in most small communities there is no public transit. You walk, bike, drive or get driven. Seniors without cars are in trouble.

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Don't forget that the price of electricity is rising too.I can't say electric cars won't play a big role in our future,but they won't be cheap.I suppose after the environmentalists have killed off all fossil fuel cars they will go after electric cars(batteries in landfills),that sort of thing.

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A while back we discussed electric cars and you said the idea of gasoline backup, like in the Volt, was the most practical thing. The more I think about it the more I think you're right.

I think the potential of gasoline fuel-cells like these...

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/426252/gasoline-fuel-cell-would-boost-electric-car-range/

http://newenergyandfuel.com/http:/newenergyandfuel/com/2014/06/17/a-fuel-cell-directly-fueled-with-jet-fuel-or-gasoline/

...to convert gasoline to electricity without using a combustion engine would make it an even more attractive combination.

All the advantages of electric engines, plus the ability to leverage the existing, ubiquitous gasoline infrastructure, plus the ability to use gasoline in a more efficient, cleaner, vibration-free, noise-free, lightweight, compact package.

-k

Could be. You would still have CO2 emissions from burning a carbon based fuel and it would depend on the relative efficiency of the fuel cell vs IC engine driving a generator and the cost of the fuel cells. Engineers feel that IC engines can still be made at least 20% more efficient than current engines.

Vehicles like the Volt would be easy to convert, you could just swap out the IC generator for the fuel cell, the rest of the system would be the same.

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Those cars already existed. The GM EV1 was the perfect example of an affordable electric car, 20 years ago. GM killed the car off, and in some cases had issues getting the leased cars back from the owners.

It was way under priced for what it cost to make. Also low range and ugly as sin. GM cancelled it, likely because they knew nobody would buy it at a price to be profitable.

Don't forget that the price of electricity is rising too.I can't say electric cars won't play a big role in our future,but they won't be cheap.I suppose after the environmentalists have killed off all fossil fuel cars they will go after electric cars(batteries in landfills),that sort of thing.

Most likely yes. I can't even tell what environmentalists want anymore. Many of their actions seem counter-productive to the goal of preserving the environment.

Edited by hitops
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Tomorrow we get to see the mass market Tesla Model 3 that will have a 200 mile (320km) range and sell for $35k before any potential subsidies and/or incentives. There is speculation that an optional larger battery will deliver 300 miles or 480 kms. GM will soon be offering the Chevy Bolt with similar specs. It seems the affordable and very usable mainstream options will be arriving soon.

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Tomorrow we get to see the mass market Tesla Model 3 that will have a 200 mile (320km) range and sell for $35k before any potential subsidies and/or incentives. There is speculation that an optional larger battery will deliver 300 miles or 480 kms. GM will soon be offering the Chevy Bolt with similar specs. It seems the affordable and very usable mainstream options will be arriving soon.

Still a little bit more expensive than a golf cart.

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The future of Tesla is riding on the Model 3 but the long lines of people wanting to buy a car they know nothing about and this leaked photo make me think it's going to be a smash hit. Zero emissions, 320km range, $35 grand, and it's sweet looking! http://blog.caranddriver.com/tesla-model-3-now-you-see-it/

The batteries will be made at a gigafactory in the US, by American workers, using solar power. The scale of the operation is expected to reduce battery costs by near 30%. That is how to do things right.

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Tesla booked $7.5 billion in Model 3 orders in 24 hours. Here is a video tour of the car:

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.

Edited by TimG
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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.

Even with those credits, Tesla operates at a considerable net loss (though much of the net loss has been driven by R&D expenditures that have mostly consisted of developing the Model 3). That said, the credits are becoming a smaller part of revenues over time. Tesla's plan is to make the Model 3 profitable to sell through cost savings in battery production at its new Gigafactory as well as greater volume at its Fremont factory.

The unique thing about Tesla is it's got enough fans to sell every car it can possibly produce for at least the next 5 years. So unlike other companies that have to think about marketing and demand, all Tesla needs to do is ramp up production capacity and work on continuing to reduce per car costs, at least for the next several years.

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Tesla's plan is to make the Model 3 profitable to sell through cost savings in battery production at its new Gigafactory as well as greater volume at its Fremont factory.

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?) Edited by TimG
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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?)

If you look at the production capacity they are talking about for batteries it is far far higher than what anyone else is doing. From what I read it's supposed to be about equal to all current worldwide Li ion battery production in the world, all combined in one place. This suggests additional benefits from economies of scale.

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. The cost savings and enhanced ability to innovate quickly in a relatively small, focused, agile company compared to a gigantic bureaucracy with decades of legacy costs is not insignificant.

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