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The Future of Batteries and Electric Vehicles

Steve Levine, author of “The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the World,” joins us in studio to discuss the current status of batteries and the impact they could have on the energy market over the next 10 to 20 years.

Electric cars have been on the horizon for years now, but what will it actually take for a majority of the world’s vehicles to be powered by batteries instead of combustion engines?In this week’s Industry Focus: Energy, Tyler Crowe interviews Steve Levine, author of The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the World, about the fascinating geopolitical situation surrounding batteries and EVs. Tune in to hear where the technology is today, which two breakthroughs to really watch out for, some unexpected ways the takeoff of EVs could affect the world, and more.

hael Lewis’ stories, or Greg Zuckerman’s The Frackers, which is a book that we’ve talked about with him on the show before — is you took it and kind of personalized it around the people who were actually making it happen, most particularly two companies and the people who were involved in it, one private start-up by the name of Envia, and the other one is the Argonne National Lab just outside Chicago. What was the major role of those two, and why were those two the center of the story for you?

Levine: The first thing was that, although geopolitics was my hook, that’s what appeals to me, I didn’t want to tell the story from a 50,000-foot view. And I personally was interested in, “OK, this is happening, it’s going to happen, where do I want to be? How do I want to tell this story?” So, I wanted to be with one group of scientists, I hoped the American team that was in this great battery race, and watch them as they attempted to make this big breakthrough. So, I started looking around. “OK, if I was going to do that, who would that be?” And I very quickly came to Argonne National Lab, the first national lab in the United States.

And I went out there, I met Jeff Chamberlain, the lead character in the book, the other main characters in the book. Their stuff is in the Chevy Volt. So, it’s a lab where they’re attempting to make this big breakthrough, but there also are the inventors of one of the lead chemistries that’s already been commercialized. So, I knew that the characters were strong, they were accessible, and in addition, they had heft, they already had gravitas. They had the credibility so that I wasn’t just talking about some company, some lab, some place. I asked them, “What would you think about an author hanging around your lab for one year?” And it was kind of like that, this pause, “Did you just say one year?” It ended up being two years. And they said yes in principle right away. It took me a year to negotiate that.

And then, I’ll just finish this one point because you asked about the other company, too. So, Envia, the start-up, licensed the NMC. So, it was natural to then segue from Argonne to a small company, Silicon Valley, a wiry, full-of-themselves, want-to-make-a-billion-dollars company, using the same material.

Crowe: Yeah. Just, for a quick brief of the technology, NMC is, would you say, the current, most popularly used technology out there today? I believe it’s a lithium battery that uses nickel, manganese, and cobalt, hence the NMC name. It seems to be the most popular thing that people have been tweaking for quite some time. One of the things, I think, for our readership, that’s most fascinating about this book, and something that if me as an investor is really looking at this, the core theme for me that made it interesting to me is the concept of the valley of death. When you have a major developing technology, like something like a major energy storage breakthrough with batteries, there is always that initial excitement, that idea that we’re going to ride this great wave of battery technology to upend the oil markets, and everybody gets really excited, and money just gets poured into it.

And then there’s this long, long slog of just trying to figure it out and start-up companies going bankrupt, and that initial excitement wearing off until the real development takes place. And I think Envia is actually a great example of that. Maybe you could kind of give a quick detail a little bit? You don’t have to give away the whole thing, because obviously, we want people to read the book about it. But just an idea, what were some of the challenges that Envia faced?

Levine: Sure, that’s a good question. This period, the bubble period, the frenzy period, was about 2009 to about 2012, 2013. And this was — all you had to do was to say, “I can work on batteries,” or “I’ve got an idea about a battery,” and literally, in Silicon Valley, the VCs [venture capitalists] would throw money at you. There are a ton of stories of just having an idea on paper and getting $2 million, $3 million, almost no questions asked.

Crowe: I’m sure it helped that, right around that time, we were just coming off the peak oil theory of 2008 when we were seeing prices in the $140-, $150-per-barrel range, that kind of thing. If anybody can say something was going to disrupt oil in any way, anybody’s going to get money at that sort of price.

Levine: That’s one of the dynamics working. The other one was, it’s right after the financial crash. And there was kind of a hope out there, a deep yearning, to find a real economic, a real technology, a real business, a real industry. So, you had the one thing, this desire for clean energy, and then you had this second thing: “What’s the next new thing?” And batteries just slid right into that. So, Envia, it’s an immigrant from India, Sujeet Kumar, a very, very talented electric engineer, who had worked through a bunch of start-ups. And looking through the catalogs that are out there of patents, he came across the Argonne patent for the NMC. Just, amazingly, no one — I mean that, no one, no one commercially had come across that patent and realized how valuable it was. So he knocked on the doors of Argonne. He persuaded them to give him the license for really a throwaway fee, $100,000.

Crowe: And that’s the technology that we’re pretty much using today.

Levine: Right. And, then, he went, with this technology, created a bunch of slides, and started knocking on doors with VCs. The very first VC whose door he knocked on, it was actually someone he kind of knew, because this man went to school with his wife, and he went to him for some advice. “How should I try to sell this?” And the guy says, “What do you mean, how should you try to sell this? I’ll buy it.” And he laid on him $3.2 million.

Crowe: I’ve got to imagine that there are a lot of start-ups in Silicon Valley that wish that they had that sort of success rate. [laughs]

Levine: Oh, yeah. I mean, it’s amazing, when you think about that. And the idea was, the conceit, and really, the next stage in this, you had that NMC in the bold, but what you’re really looking for is the superbattery. You need to get from 38 miles on a single charge, which is not enough — it’s not enough to lift electric cars from a green niche into the mainstream. You need a superbattery so that a car will go 200 miles, 300 miles on a charge. And that’s the quest that Envia is after, and that’s also the quest that you’re following in Argonne.

Crowe: And, in your two years that you were there — we don’t need to get into the super detail-y nuances of the chemistry or anything like that — but like you said, it’s a niche product. We’re starting to see some emergence of a commercial aspect, like you said, the Chevy Volt will be coming out, Tesla‘s (NASDAQ:TSLA) coming out with their Model 3 pretty soon, Toyota‘s making their own push with — sorry, actually, I believe Toyota’s actually doing hydrogen fuel cells.

Levine: Fuel cells.

Crowe: Little bit different. But, in your two years you were there, observing and seeing, what are the biggest challenges to batteries right now, that takes them from going from that niche product to being that mass-market product that is going to be competitive with traditional internal combustion engines?

Levine: They’re running up against physics. The challenge is to pack more energy in a small space at a very low price. And they need to take these batteries — the Volt and the Model 3 go a long ways. They’ll go 200 miles on a single charge. And that car they’re going to produce — which, we’ll see the Volt by the end of the year, and Tesla is going to unveil the Model 3 on March 31. Those will go on sale in 2019. But the challenge is that the current pathways to getting there, to that superbattery, is electrochemical pandemonium. That everything goes haywire in the battery, how do you arrest that? Or, there’s another pathway that catches fire. This is a red line, no one is going to drive an electric car if they think it’s going to catch fire.

Crowe: It’s a weird stigma, though, because, I mean, we’ve been driving around with giant fuels of gasoline under our tanks for years, that could catch on fire. But for some reason, that doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue.

Levine: You’re right, you’re right.

Crowe: Perhaps it’s something we’re just used to now, I guess.

Levine: Yeah. And then, this other pathway that’s out there that people talk about, silicon, putting silicon into the battery. Swells. When you put silicon into the electrode of the battery, it swells to four times its size, it shatters the battery, it short-circuits. Anyways, all of this is to say, in a very short sentence, that nothing currently works to get to the real superbattery. But, these new cars that are coming onto the market this year in 2016 are the beginning of the second stage. We are in the valley of death. However, sort of the other side is within sight.

Crowe: OK. And, actually, on that, as somebody who’s seen it quite a bit as of late, studying it for those couple years, and watching how the industry is going: If Argonne National Lab or another start-up were to make an announcement in regards to a change, what would be… so, say you were to explain it to a layman, “This is something you should watch.” If this were to happen, some breakthrough, where you would be like, “Wow, this is really worth talking about or writing about?”

Levine: Yeah. So, somebody is going to become as rich as Bill Gates, and the way that they’re going to do that is they’re going to figure out how to do one of two things: They’re going to figure out how to make silicon work in a battery. If you come across an announcement where a start-up, a lab or whatever, has really figured out how to put a silicon anode into the battery. Or, the second pathway: how to use pure, metallic lithium. This is a holy grail. These are what will make an electric car side-by-side competitive with the internal combustion engine. And whoever does that — and, incidentally, there are a lot of battery liars out there. The field is full of exaggerators and hypesters and hucksters. When that happens, whoever does that is just… it’s going to be like Microsoft.

Crowe: Mm-hmm. It’s really fascinating to think about that, because, like you said, in the book, there are so many challenges on things like, the battery degrades over time, how do they fix that sort of thing. And that’s kind of going along the lines of, if they can effectively use silicon or pure metallic lithium versus some of the, I guess you could say oxides that they’ve been working with over the past couple of years.

So, like you said, we’re on the precipice. We’re still in that valley of death, but you could almost say we’re seeing the light a little bit at the end of the tunnel. And there’s been a lot of themes popping up lately in your work, some stuff been going on at Bloomberg and other media outlets that have been touting the rate of adoption of electric vehicles, and their ability to completely upend the oil market. In your book, you talk a little bit about that valley of death and how batteries for automotives are in the valley of death. But are we coming to the end of it? And when do you foresee that rate of adoption of electric vehicles really starting to take off?

Levine: This is actually the uncertain thing. We know that all the major carmakers, over the next five years — so, starting now, starting January 2016, the beginning of this year, and running until the middle or the end of 2019 — so, this period of years — every major carmaker starting with GM (NYSE:GM) is marketing a mainstream electric car. The question is, will they be bought? Will people be willing to pay $30,000 for the Chevy Volt? And will they be willing to do it in large numbers? When Elon Musk comes out with his Model 3, he also says his car is going to cost $35,000, and after the subsidies, into the $20,000s. I have my doubts about that, but this is what he says. Will that be bought? And when we say large numbers, we mean hundreds of thousands of units. That’s the end of the valley of death.

Crowe: That’s one of the things I think is really underestimated when we talk about the adoption rate of electric vehicles. We see numbers like, “Oh, they sold… ” what was it, the Nissan Leaf is probably doing in the 30,000-40,000 a year range, compared to something like the F-150 pickup truck from Ford (NYSE:F), which I think is doing well over 100,000 a month.

Levine: Yeah.

Crowe: So, these rates of adoption that we’re talking about, these are much, much larger scales than we are really kind of talking about on days like today.

Levine: Well, they are. I think, Tyler, that another signal that we’re heading out of the valley of death is when we see electric or plug-in hybrid SUVs, large SUVs and pickup trucks. The carmakers are all going to have to go into that market, because CAFE standards, mileage standards, we’re right on the cusp in 2018, they start zooming up. And in 2025, they have to be double what they are now. Americans prefer SUVs and pickup trucks. Therefore, if the carmakers are going to comply with the regulations, they have to manufacture plug-in hybrids, electric pickups, and SUVs.

I’ve done anecdotal… I know on Twitter, when I floated this idea, I got, “No way, that’s never going to happen, you don’t understand pickup truck drivers.” Well, I went to college in Fresno, California. This is a pickup-driving place. I was just there two weeks ago, speaking at the college, I was asked to come back to speak. And I road-tested this idea. And they sort of looked at me quizzically, “Why wouldn’t we drive an electric pickup truck?” So I kind of think that Ford — Ford is going to lead the way, by the way. Ford has said publicly, “By the end of the decade, we will have electric pickup trucks.” I don’t know if it’s going to be the F-150, but they say they’re going to do it.

Crowe: We shall see.

Levine: Yeah.

Crowe: And we kind of brushed on it at the beginning here, on the idea of it completely upending the geopolitical… I guess you could say, the current structure of energy and the geopolitical interaction that happens because of energy. As you see battery tech, it seems like it’s going to be that game-changer in these sorts of things. When you are looking at the geopolitical forces that are involved with this, how do you foresee the battery story playing out on the world stage?

Levine: When you look at technologies, the biggest technologies of our days — so the transistor, of course, microprocessors, smartphones, laptops, tablets — they seem like they burst onto the market immediately. Like, the iPhone came out in 2007. All of these technologies had about 20-year runways. The iPhone is not the first smartphone. That came out 20 years ago. And by runway, I mean, until they were adopted by more than 50% of the population. So, if you used 2009 as the start of this new battery age, this new electric car age, then we’re talking 2029 is sort of that line after which you have mass adoption on some level.

Crowe: On some scale.

Levine: Right. So, is it 30%? Is it 40%? Of new-car sales. Because there are already a billion cars on the road, 250 million in the United States. So I think people are going to buy these cars. The carmakers have to sell electric and plug-in hybrids. They’re going to make vehicles that people will want to buy. Elon Musk is going to lead the way. I think the runway begins about 2019, where they start to take off slowly, start to get picked up. But as we’re getting into the mid-2020s and toward the end, they’re all over the place. And consumer taste will change. The people who are now 16 years old, or, my daughters, who are, my eldest daughter is 13. When she buys her first car, I have a feeling she’s going to reject any vehicle that doesn’t have some form of battery in it. Young people will not be comfortable being in a car that’s just pure combustion.

But I think, as a window into what we’re going to be looking at geopolitically, look at how the plunge of oil prices has ricocheted through the economy. Yes, it’s affected all of the oil economies — OPEC, Russia, Venezuela may collapse. But it’s caused emerging markets to go into recession. It’s caused Europe, Europe is going to go into recession. It’s ricocheted through the economy in ways we didn’t expect. This is what’s going to happen with batteries, too. So, yes, you will have those same kind of impacts on OPEC, on Russia. Oil companies, suddenly demand for oil will drop. They will have a lot of trouble. But also carmakers. The same way that we’ve seen oil companies, the fact that they’re having so much trouble, really cause problems for economies on a large scale, what is it going to mean when Google, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Tesla are the new car companies of the world? When Apple is producing the Titan? When Google —

Crowe: Supposedly.

Levine: Yeah, supposedly. Tim Cook, just by happenstance, hired a thousand new engineers to work on this car.

Crowe: Just a coincidence.

Levine: Yeah, “We’re just messing around with technologies, you know, we just do that.” Google has got its autonomous driving technology. What happens when Silicon Valley meets Detroit? I think this, again, will be something that ricochets through the global economy. It’s going to hit carmakers hard.

Crowe: That also brings up a fascinating question. Like you said, when we look at some of the Silicon Valley early entrance into this, like 2009-[20]10 times, one thing that Silicon Valley hasn’t exactly been over years is been the most patient when it comes to VCs trying to get their money back and things like that. When it comes to developing a battery, or developing a major industrial product like a car, it’s not like an app. It’s not like a smartphone. And one of the things that’s always been a weird question for myself has been, do the people in Silicon Valley have the patience to have something like this actually develop? Because, like you said in the book, there is an immense, immense opportunity, greater-than-Bill Gates sort of opportunity here. But does anybody have the patience to ever go all the way through it?

Levine: Yes and no. The VCs don’t. But that’s because they’re driven by these fast profits. They would like to be in and out within five years.

Crowe: Right.

Levine: So, generally speaking, they don’t. But the folks at Google, the folks at Apple, they think a little bit differently. So, yes, they’re out for the almighty dollar and all that. But they’re also mission-driven. So, these are folks, especially Google, that would like to change the world. And this is a world-changer. It’s a game-changer. It fits right into their mental framework. “What can I do,” for example, “to solve climate change?” And this is the way they see it. So, because of that, I think they do have the patience. And I think we are going to see an electric car out of Apple.

Crowe: All right. Well, I do want to shift gears a little bit. The book is The Powerhouse. Anybody who’s interested at all in the battery technology should check it out. But as I also said, you are a reporter for Quartz, among various other things, and one of the big topics that you’re always talking about — I read your stuff a lot — is the geopolitics of oil, energy, and the machinations of that right now. And so, I wanted to shift gears and get your opinions on that as well. One of the first questions that came to me was, in the world of oil, what to you is the most fascinating story right now that has the potential for long-term change? Aside from electrics, of course.

Levine: We’re watching it before our eyes, and that’s the impact of shale. But not just shale, oil around the world. And this prospect that we’re in a very long period — and by very long, certainly the rest of this decade, maybe the next half-decade — in which oil prices may rise no higher than $70. And when you look at the fiscal breakevens of almost all of the Middle East oil-producing countries and Russia, that’s too low. That’s too low for them.

Crowe: Right. Provided that they don’t make any significant changes to the way that they’re currently structured.

Levine: Right. All things being equal, it’s too low for them. So, Putin especially, but also the leaders of the GCC — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, and also Khomeini in Iran — they’re kind of putting on this brave face, of, “We’re prepared to wait this out, we’re going to stick with the strategy, we have the lowest-cost oil in the world, it’s going to the other players, the shales of the world and the Brazils and the Canadians, they’re going to have to blink, they’re going to have to cry uncle and shut down their wells, we’re going to keep our market share. And we’re going to tinker around the edges, but by and large, we’re going to be just fine.” Especially Putin is this way.

This, to me, is just so much theater. So, I don’t know when, but, as long as relatively low oil prices are sustained, the harder it is for these places. There is some point at which Putin, Russia can go no longer. Everyone knows their own comfort zone, their own breaking point. They don’t telegraph what it is, but really, the most interesting thing for me to watch is how low oil prices could shift geopolitics, and I mean power in Russia and how countries are governed in the Middle East, relatively soon. Is it next year? Is it the year after that? Is it 2019? iI’s very interesting. What is the hard-and-fast rule of politicians everywhere all around the world? They want to stay in power.

Crowe: Right.

Levine: It doesn’t matter if you’re the dog catcher or if you’re the president of Russia. So, at some point, Putin is going to understand — his people aren’t going to give up on him. Of course, they’ll stay. But the country is just, the finances are going to go to hell. So, he’s going to have to institute reforms. And the kind of reforms he would institute would be positive. And I think they’d be positive for everyone.

Crowe: Well, certainly, there’s a lot of American oil companies that are very excited to get involved with Russia again. In your previous book, The Oil and the Glory, it’s kind of highlighting the Caspian Sea oil boom that went on back in the mid-’90s, early 2000s, and the development up to that, trying to get involved with that. And it’s had some mixed results. We have projects like the Kashagan project in Kazakhstan that has not quite turned out for the players like ExxonMobil. But, certainly, with the potential that is available left in Russia, I can certainly think that there’s a lot of companies who are still really itching to get involved there.

And, last two questions to wrap up here — you’ve written books, like I said, The Oil and the Glory, the Gold Rush or Oil Rush of the Caspian Sea. You also wrote a story of basically life in Putin’s Russia, highlighted by various people in the country, and now batteries. So, with that rather diverse swath, what is really piquing your interest right now for the next big story?

Levine: Of course, I’m following the American presidential election. It’s incredible. But just in my own space. I’m very interested in — you’ve heard, we’ve all heard and read about how geography impacts geopolitics. Where you are geographically and the seas around you and so on. I’ve become very, very interested in how geology affects geopolitics. It’s a long story, it’s too long to explain in a few minutes. I wrote a little bit about it last year, but the Fukushima earthquake, the oil story that we’re watching right now, is frameable as a geology story, that Saudi Arabia has declared war on American geology. It’s a war between Saudi geology and American geology. And, by the way, Saudi Arabia has pivoted, and its pitted its geology against Iranian geology. It’s sort of a very deep-seated framework, where you can kind of understand what’s the strength of a country, and what’s the weakness of a country, too.

Crowe: That does sound very interesting, and hopefully, maybe sometime, when we have another book on it, we’ll have you back in here for that. Last question: This is actually pulling from a famous investor, Peter Lynch, one of the things he always did when he talked with management and things like that, he always asked who were some management people that they really look forward to. But since we’re in the journalist, writer, author realm, I’ll shift it. When you’re reading or developing stories here, or maybe just trying to better understand what’s going on in your own world, who are some of your favorite authors, journalists, maybe publications that you’re really looking at?

Levine: As you might suspect, I read the majors every day. I read The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. They’re so superb and just thick with stuff. And I think some of the writers at those publications — Ed Crooks from The Financial Times, for example; Izabella Kaminska, who writes on the FT Alphaville blog, is very good. And, I use Twitter, I go through my feed and… I get completely caught up by going through there. I think The New Yorker is very, very good. Authors: Robert Caro, in my opinion, is hands-down the best nonfiction author that we have. I read everything that Michael Lewis reads.

Crowe: Definitely a Motley Fool fan here, Michael Lewis. He’s been actually been in the office a couple times.

Levine: Yeah. And you know where I’m getting a big kick right now? Science fiction. I read this story about how, in Silicon Valley, that the technologists out there, generally, regard themselves as world-beaters when it comes to engineering and all of that, but, creatively, zeros. So, they’ve started to hire science fiction writers to be on their staffs.

Crowe: Whoa!

Levine: And they provide them a framework, sort of a way to think, about the future. “In your imagination, what are you thinking, where is technology going? Where should it go?” And it kind of gives them a piece that they’re missing, and the added advantage in that very, very competitive environment. And I’m finding that this genre of fiction is inspirational, in terms of writing, but also just in terms of loosening yourself, myself up, in terms of understanding what I’m looking at, and being willing to be a little bit more risk-taking in terms of where I think things are going.

Crowe: Awesome! Well, Steve, thank you very much for your time today. That was Steve Levine, he’s the author of The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the World. I always get titles messed up when I say things like that. Thanks very much for being in here today.

Levine: Thank you.

Crowe: If you have any questions for The Motley Fool, you can always contact us at Just like always, we love your questions. And, as in every other podcast, The Motley Fool may or may not have formal recommendations for or against any companies that were mentioned on this, although there weren’t many today. Thanks for listening, we’ll see you next week.

47 Comments on "The Future of Batteries and Electric Vehicles"

  1. Rick Bronson on Tue, 22nd Mar 2016 7:51 pm 

    Recently Samsung introduced 94 Ah battery which has the same size as the previous 60 Ah battery. So this is more than 50 % improvement and BMW plans to apply this battery in their i3 Electric car and now that model will go 120 miles / charge compared to 80 miles / charge in the current model.

    What a wonderful development in just a few years.

    We don’t know about the cost and weight of the new battery. But certainly it will be only slightly higher which still increases the range without significantly increasing the cost.

    Meanwhile China’s electric vehicle sales are surging and Europe is also closely following. Hope USA will catch up.

  2. eugene on Tue, 22nd Mar 2016 8:33 pm 

    Climate is changing. Arctic Ocean is on the way to ice free. Ever increasing wild fires in arctic regions around the globe. Weird weather everywhere. Millions of climate refugees. Nation in debt beyond comprehension. New developments are solving our energy problems ie more expensive, difficult oil to replace easy cheap oil. And holy shit an EV that’ll go 120 miles on a good day.

    For all of you believers, I’ve got this bridge I’ve been trying to sell. And I can sure spin a sales tale.

  3. PeterEV on Tue, 22nd Mar 2016 9:32 pm 


    “Airplanes crashes” — need to give up on aviation????
    “Business can’t make a go of it” — need to give up on business???

    It we don’t try to develop solar and good batteries, what will people turn to to cook with in a world with scarce fossil fuels. One alternative is wood and there are not enough trees in the forest….

    GM just announced that production of their Bolt will commense this fall. It has a purported range of 200 miles. Refueled directly or indirectly by the sun ought to cut down on fossil fuel usage over time and keep our skies from becoming clogged with smoke.

  4. twocats on Tue, 22nd Mar 2016 10:54 pm 

    PeterEV –

    just because you have the desire to cook doesn’t mean you’ll be able to cook.

    The whole supply chain is dependent on fossil fuels, so there isn’t going to be food in the grocery store while people are trying to use wood to cook with.

    The timelines they are talking about, “2025 it really starts to blast off” or whatever, well, we only get to 2025 and not be well on the downside of peak is by an economic mini-depression (similar to 2009).

    Well, people aren’t going to be thinking about dropping $30k on a new car considering the auto-sub-prime bubble will leave plenty of 3 to 5 year old cars on the market at dirt cheap prices.

    It’s not a question of “giving up”, makati is saying the economics and physics simply won’t support the transition.

  5. makati1 on Tue, 22nd Mar 2016 10:57 pm 

    PEV, very simple. They will do without and probably die. Of course the option is to eat it raw, as they will, or starve.

    You obviously have no grasp on reality or total systems or you would see the Grand Canyon sized hole in your assertions. You need to do some hard research on the ENTIRE system that makes even a simple AAA battery possible. It entails thousands of people and a lot of oil energy along the way from the mines to your toy.

    Bolt is another money loser for a dying corporation. All electrics are toys for the techie indoctrinated/brainwashed. Nothing more.

    The collapse is underway and gaining speed. If you cannot see or accept that then you will be unprepared when you are faced with a totally new world devoid of techie toys except as junk in the basement. Good luck!

  6. GregT on Tue, 22nd Mar 2016 11:52 pm 


    “Modern industrialism destroying one and only planet” – need to maintain modern industrialism???

  7. twocats on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 12:12 am 

    i know my approval doesn’t mean much to you, but good one gregt.

  8. Keith McClary on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 12:26 am 

    “Crowe: It’s a weird stigma, though, because, I mean, we’ve been driving around with giant fuels of gasoline under our tanks for years, that could catch on fire. But for some reason, that doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue.

    Levine: You’re right, you’re right.”

    The difference is, gasoline needs to be mixed with a lot of air to burn. Batteries have the fuel and oxidizer in close proximity in the cell.

  9. GregT on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 1:02 am 

    Not true twocats,

    My apologies for my recent attack. There’s a certain individual who has pushed my buttons for far too long. I hope you understand.

  10. twocats on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 1:57 am 

    That’s good to hear and I absolutely do understand.

  11. Davy on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 7:29 am 

    It is not technology we should be giving up on it is all about attitude at this point. We already went through the technology and knowledge door and that door is closed. Some on the board just expect people to die. In fact some relish it to satisfy their resentment and hate. The idea of people paying for their sins is intoxicating for these people. These people don’t believe in a god but they believe in divine retribution. That is some seriously warped thinking.

    Technology is clearly not our answer long term but in the immediate we cannot leave technology completely. We must adapt technology in a power down. It is attitudes that are the primary problem with a power down of consumption and a rebalance of population per normal carrying capacity. Technology is not the killer it is the bad lifestyles of technology. We allowed technologies that were bad to develop. We should never have eaten that apple because it has become our collective Pandora’s Box. It is now clear humans are not capable of handling technology and should never have gone there. It is likely our evolutionary dead end but in the mean time of the here and now we have the challenge of survival. We are here and have no choice now but to embrace technology at least in the process of getting from here to there.

    Since the global establishment status quo is not interested in a power down or any idea of degrowth we must hope good technologies like solar and great batteries develop and survive. There are some in the establishment status quo who want a power down but it is a green thAng and the degrowth that is part of their meme is not realistic. They want the complexity and energy intensity without the damage from pollution and destructive development. In this sense solar and batteries are not an answer and are in reality just another bad aspect of the destruction that technology causes. The interest in solar and batteries for maintaining the status quo is misplaced and a waste.

    Solar and great batteries are better than new mass market consumer toys of all kinds or new development with no future. Putting solar and great batteries in this context of a ranking of bad technologies they have a low (bad) rank and have duel good uses where many other technologies clearly have no use and are nothing but destructive entropy. They are decaying our system and contributing to a waste stream that is already exposing us to dangerous disruption to our ecosystem. These highly destructive technologies should be our focus of criticism not solar and great batteries. If we have some kind of collapse either slow or fast, long or short, stair stepping or tumbling it will be those technologies like solar and batteries that may give us some tools to mitigate and adapt to lower economic levels within population overshoot.

    Ideally solar and batteries would be applied to the basics of food, water, and shelter. They are self-contained long term power supply. Fossil fuels, while generally more dense in energy and efficient are not resilient and sustainable in a collapse. If resupply fails the whole energy system fails. We need to make our basics of food, water, shelter more robustly resilient to shocks. This of course is an ideal it does not represent reality of our current predicament of an establishment of insanity.

    Our predicament is a systematic existential one of a physical world but it is also a predicament of attitude and lifestyles. We are conditioned and adapted to a life with no future. Changing that conditioning and adapted attitudes will only happen by a forced crisis that breaks down our discretionary embrace of reality. Once we are forced into change this will be destructive. We will not have options to create a new world. We will have to salvage and scrape an existence from what is left of industrial man and the relearn old pre industrial ways. This relearning of the old ways is in itself a predicament because we have embraced modernism so fully that we have discarded old knowledge, education, and technologies that offer hope for many. Solar and great batteries will be around in the coming descent for their lifecycle of many years but not forever. Lots of other technology and products will not have anything to offer in fact they will have horribly dangerous end cycles. Nuk is one example.

  12. paulo1 on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 9:03 am 

    Good battery info and article, however, I go back to my oft presented idea. We need a very simple and very light-weight ICE powered car/small truck for personal transportation needs. 100/mpg is not unrealistic. Coupled with a tax levy to raise fuel prices to $10.00/gal, and using the tax money for mass transit and revamped train travel infrastucture along with massive airport user fees….then we’ll make some progress. We need less complex solutions, not more complxity.

    Good comment Greg T!!

  13. Kenz300 on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 9:08 am 

    Climate Change is real….. we will all be impacted by it……

    Exxon’s Climate Change Cover-Up Is ‘Unparalleled Evil,’ Says Activist

    Electric cars, bikes and mass transit are the future…..fossil fuel ICE cars are the past…………..

    Think teen agers vs your grand father………………….

    cell phones vs land lines…….

  14. penury on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 9:24 am 

    Now if we can only extend BAU for another ten years, a miracle will certainly happen and life as we know it will continue forever. Oh. thank you god of tech.

  15. PracticalMaina on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 11:16 am 

    Why would we need an ultra efficient ICE car and not an ultra efficient electric?

    You cannot easily regain lost energy in an ICE motor, without a large heavy flywheel. And good luck getting 100mpg on the highway doing 75mph unless you are in a 12 speed tear dropped shape coffin I think you are not going to get there.

    So a high tech ICE motor is not continued BAU and destruction to the planet but an electric one is? I am confused.
    Did you know, the best supercapacitor in the world can be made out of hemp, or that coal extraction and train delivery to power station is often done with primarily electric power (other than those dump trucks) ie large drag bucket excavators and electric freight trains. Or that there is a solar powered plane that can circumnavigate the world.

  16. PracticalMaina on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 11:22 am 

    The tech is already there, we had electric trolleys dominating public transportation before anyone on this board was alive. There is probably better battery tech out there than lithium, I think the whole concept of everyone having a personal vehicle is stupid. I think automated cars that could coordinate with each other to get very close for drafting purposes would be one possible solution.

  17. PeterEV on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 11:24 am 

    Whether you like it or not, EVs and long lasting powerful batteries are coming. This should decrease use of fossil fuels over the long run.

    I pointed out in a previous news article that the USA is more likely to become “energy independent” by developing solar and using the output for transportation instead of relying on gasoline. The numbers work out by looking at the cost of gasoline versus the cost of retail electricity to power a vehicle the same amount of distance.

    This does several things: 1) it reduces our dependence on a substance that is detrimental to the climate, 2) it lessens the impact of “Peak Oil” on the citizenry, 3) it provides for a more drawn out transition to whatever comes next without creating civil unrest, 4) it provides a way for transporting food, goods and services to where they are needed (with the emphasis on food).

    I’m embracing solar primarily because the numbers are there and the technology keeps improving on a cost per unit of energy. To me, it beats burning cities and chemical factories, nuclear meltdowns, and citizens at each other’s throats any day.

    The world came to its sense over nuclear proliferation because we realized that nuclear war causes “nuclear winter” and the same effect could come about by mass world wide civil unrest.

    I’d rather try the solar/ EV route first, warts and all.

  18. dave thompson on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 11:43 am 

    PeterEV you say “Whether you like it or not, EVs and long lasting powerful batteries are coming. This should decrease use of fossil fuels over the long run.” How do we then build the cars and maintain the rest of industrial civilization based on driving electric cars? Steel concrete, all types of metals for that matter, plastic you name it COMES from burning FF. When wind turbines, solar panels, and the like, power All aspects of building industrial civilization including powering transportation hell might freeze over.

  19. orbit7er on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 11:55 am 

    The private electric car cornucopians are barking up the wrong tree. We will need shared Green public transit to survive Peak Oil and Climate Change. The problems of Auto Addicted 2 ton transport vehicles per person requiring a football field of asphalt for every 5 cars are not solved by just changing the fuel source. Where do we get the asphalt to keep all the roads going forever? It takes the energy to power a small house for a private car and we cannot even get solar down in Florida. Plus there is the issue of the humongous infrastructure required for hundreds of thousands of charging stations. And there is, as pointed out in “Transit Revolutions”, the problem that battery powered vehicles lose 30% of their energy right off the bat using batteries rather than grid controlled direct electric. The true niche for electric battery powered vehicles is for electric buses or shuttles to connect to electric Rail / LightRail/ Trolley stations. This fits into Green Transit with way more efficiency than energy wasting, land devouring private 2 ton cars AND allows charging stations to be at the end points of the buses or shuttles not everywhere at huge expense.
    It ia amazing to me how the alleged “visionaries” are still stuck in the myopia of endless Auto Addiction.
    That era is over…
    It turns out already there are signs that the US auto market temporarily goosed by subprime auto loans is already going to hit problems as the subprime auto market is following subprime housing down the skids. And this is WITH cheap gasoline!

    “…Last week, it appeared the chickens had come home to roost for some subprime auto lenders and investors, with Fitch Ratings warning that delinquencies in subprime car loans had reached a high not seen since October 1996. The number of borrowers who were more than 60 days late on their car bills in February rose 11.6 percent from the same period a year ago, bringing the delinquency rate to a total 5.16 percent, according to the credit rating agency….”

  20. Q on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 12:06 pm 

    Electric cars: electric engines for a given torque and power are much cheaper than ICEs, can run longer, and have cheaper maintenance. Electric car batteries still expensive but costs are falling rapidly – estimated to around $125/kWh by 2020 (Tesla gigafactory) following an evolutionary path. Revolutionary inventions could make it fall a lot more.

    Sales of PHEV+EVs in China ( )
    2013: 18k
    2014: 75k
    2015: 331k

    Norway: Tax rules make EV price-competitive with ordinary ICEs. This has boosted sales, leading to a PHEV+EV 23.4% (!) market share of total car sales. ( )

    Currently, there is a rather limited selection of EVs. However, numerous new attractive models will come in the coming few years. I think there is a chance that EVs will spread quicker than most think, even quicker than the 60% annual growth scenario in

    I can imagine that driving an ICE car in the 2030s will be a bit like using a horse in the 1930s.

    My question is: if it becomes obvious or at least likely by let’s say 2020 that the rise of EVs will significantly reduce future oil demand – then when will huge and expensive offshore projects, arctic explorations, tar sands, and similar expensive oil projects stop being developed?

  21. energyskeptic on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 1:05 pm 

    I read Levine’s book “The Powerhouse”, and in this interview he says: “there are a lot of battery liars out there. The field is full of exaggerators and hypesters and hucksters.” Well, in his book, the company he follows, which he thinks will come up with the next great battery turns out to be one of these huckster companies (though anyone who has said this online or in book reviews has been sued by this huckster company). Levine also mentions in this interview how hard it will be to come up with a superbattery that goes 200 miles because “they’re running up against the laws of physics”. Yet he is still a true believer in a technofix, despite batteries not being much better than they were 200 years ago!

    The best possible battery would be lithium-flourine battery with a pathetically low 6 volts, and these batteries have never come close to working despite over 40+ years of research.

    Levine and others also don’t report on the problem that the Battery Management System (BMS) will suck up 50% of any improvements made. The BMS keeps the batteries from catching on fire or being destroyed by heat, and other energy-sucking functions. This makes the BMS so heavy that the car needs 1.5 additional pounds of structural support for every pound of BMS, which in turn makes it hard to achieve a longer range, since the more a vehicle weighs, the more energy is required to move it. The “invention” of the Tesla was not a better battery, it was a better BMS system. Which is why Tesla will ultimately fail and probably not be able to reduce the price of their cars as much as they claim they will (and other reasons as well). An electric vehicle with a 300 mile range can weigh 3 times more than a conventional car.

    And what evidence does Levine have that people will buy electric cars? Quite the opposite: since oil prices began falling over a year ago, large SUVs and trucks have been bought in record numbers, REDUCING CAFE STANDARDS. Today’s NYT reports that “Cheap gas prices are prompting more consumers to buy trucks and sport utility vehicles instead of small cars, hybrids or pure electric vehicles.”

    At current rates of transition from gasoline to all-electric cars and trucks, with 123,000 electric vehicles sold in 2014, it would take over 2000 years to replace the nation’s fleet of 253 million vehicles), and require 980 TWh of electricity (25 % of 2008 generation) taking about 15 years to build. Cost is not a minor impediment. The average income of an electric car owner is $148,158, and of a new gasoline car $83,166, far above the median household of $51,929.
    But he mainly fails in having a big picture view. Who cares about electric CARS?
    Civilization ends when trucks stop running, and trucks can’t run on batteries because they’re too heavy (93% of the cargo weight, 25% of the cargo space), and an all-electric truck fleet would require thousands of new power plants. So although Wall Street can endlessly come up with new financial products to skim the wealth of the middle class, scientists have to work within the laws of physics and thermodynamics. Which is why even a car battery is not likely to ever pan out.
    My book “When trucks stop running” has a more up-to-date version of my post on batteries (“Who killed the electric car?”), and also the latest information on electrifying trucks and locomotives. And perhaps more importantly, why it may be impossible to have an 80 to 100 percent electric grid that depends on renewables. So we face not just a fossil fuel shortage, but an electricity shortage, which will strike once natural gas declines to the point it can’t keep the grid balanced. Since natural gas is very local (the US has few LNG terminals), this may come sooner than expected. Despite the hype about 100 to 200 years of energy independence promised by many economic pundits, Patzek in his lifeitself blog makes the case that there may be only 3 to 7 years of shale gas in the Barnett, Fayetteville, Haynesville and Marcellus shales. The decline of conventional natural gas was at a crisis point in 2004 and conventional gas has continued to decline since then, shale gas temporarily has hidden the crisis soon at hand.


  22. peakyeast on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 2:11 pm 

    “Levine and others also don’t report on the problem that the Battery Management System (BMS) will suck up 50% of any improvements made. The BMS keeps the batteries from catching on fire or being destroyed by heat, and other energy-sucking functions.”

    I really dont understand why this is true. Controlling the Voltage and Current in and out of the battery should not get linearly larger with the battery – actually I would have expected the BMS to be roughly the same all the time (physical size).

    Could you elaborate why the BMS increases in they described?

  23. Q on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 3:27 pm 

    energyskeptic: “… how hard it will be to come up with a superbattery that goes 200 miles because “they’re running up against the laws of physics”. ”

    Tesla is already way past that. The range of Tesla S85D is 270 miles EPA.
    For the S90D the range is 6% longer, i.e. 286 miles.

    energyskeptic:”An electric vehicle with a 300 mile range can weigh 3 times more than a conventional car.”

    Again, this is incorrect. The weight for a Tesla S85D is 2188 kg. ( )
    The weight for a comparable ICE car, Porsche Panamera is 1970 kg ( ). Length/width/horse power are almost identical for these cars.

    Thus, the electric car is only 11% heavier — not 300% as stated in your writing.

    energyskeptic: “trucks can’t run on batteries because they’re too heavy”
    Surely, the development of electric trucks is behind that of electric cars, but of course it is possible and it is just a matter of time. For example, the weight of an Volvo FH16 engine + transmission + fuel tank is about 3 tons — you can get quite a lot of battery with that weight. Also, it is only a fraction of the total weight, which is up to >60 tons ( ). In fact, it might even be that it is easier to make electric trucks a commercial success —

    energyskeptic: “despite batteries not being much better than they were 200 years ago!”

    This is again incorrect, see for example


  24. brianr on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 4:36 pm 

    It is not only illuminating, but sobering to read EnergySkeptic’s article entitiled “Who Killed the Electric Car”.
    It may well be that batteries are like the Neanderthal: an evolutionary dead end.

  25. ennui2 on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 4:53 pm 

    “How do we then build the cars and maintain the rest of industrial civilization based on driving electric cars?”

    This quote pretty much typifies the doomer stance. Perfect is always the enemy of good, so just heckle green-tech.

  26. qenergy on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 5:08 pm 

    energyskeptic: “… how hard it will be to come up with a superbattery that goes 200 miles because “they’re running up against the laws of physics”. ”

    Tesla is already way past that. The range of Tesla S85D is 270 miles EPA.
    For the S90D the range is 6% longer, i.e. 286 miles.

    energyskeptic:”An electric vehicle with a 300 mile range can weigh 3 times more than a conventional car.”

    This is incorrect. The weight for a Tesla S85D is 2188 kg. ( )
    The weight for a comparable ICE car, Porsche Panamera is 1970 kg ( ). Length/width/horse power are almost identical for these cars. Thus, the electric car is only 11% heavier — not 300%.

    energyskeptic: “trucks can’t run on batteries because they’re too heavy”
    Surely, the development of electric trucks is behind that of electric cars, but of course it is possible and it is just a matter of time. For example, the weight of an Volvo FH16 engine + transmission + fuel tank is about 3 tons — you can get quite a lot of battery with that weight. Also, it is only a fraction of the total weight, which is up to >60 tons ( ). In fact, it might even be that it is easier to make electric trucks a commercial success —

    energyskeptic: “despite batteries not being much better than they were 200 years ago!”
    This is incorrect, see for example


  27. John Kintree on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 5:50 pm 

    From the Earth Charter:
    7.d.Internalize the full environmental and social costs of goods and services in the selling price, and enable consumers to identify products that meet the highest social and environmental standards.
    I know. Doing this in the current political environment is a non-starter. Bummer.

  28. makati1 on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 7:20 pm 

    Love how the deniers refuse to look at total systems and how BAU is absolutely dependent on them. Not one of the above deniers even mentioned the mines-to-your hand system of even a simple AAA battery. Not one. Why? Because to look at the TOTAL system would mean to accept that their dreams are vapors, not reality.

    Those are the people that will be adding to the suicide numbers when the SHTF and all of their toys turn to expensive junk. Couldn’t happen to a better crowd. Bring it on!

  29. twocats on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 7:38 pm 

    Okay, so when I say it greenies get all uppity, so how about when one of the High Priests of Your God Tesliac says it,

    “In urban areas like New York City, where multifamily homes are common, home charging may not be easy, and in many places where public charging is available, it can be hard to access or to use.

    “I think one of the biggest challenges facing the industry is how to get charging infrastructure,” said Cal Lankton, director of global EV infrastructure for Tesla Motors, speaking at the EVs and the Grid Summit in Los Angeles last week. “The challenges we face in driving sales—multi-unit dwellings, driving habits and infrastructure needs…”

    and of course, scientific american, should be neutral enough for the cornies. Right?

  30. GregT on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 8:15 pm 

    “and of course, scientific american, should be neutral enough for the cornies. Right?”

    Not if they keep telling the truth.

  31. twocats on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 8:17 pm 

    energy skeptic,

    great article:

    and peaky, if you are interested in the battery “size” heat issue, here’s one place to start from the article:

    “Lithium batteries can generate up to 3.8 volts but have to use non-aqueous electrolytes (because water has a 2 volt maximum) which gives a relatively high internal impedance.”

    and that right there is going to be a heat issue. If you just have one in series, not a big deal, but if you need to get up to whatever 375 – 400 volts that the Teslas have, well, you aren’t going to have impedance without heat. and if you start spreading around the batteries too much you are just going to get batteries that are too large, wire resistances and weird capacitances springing up. So you gotta pack-em in there. I imagine that might be a large part of the heat issue.

    Also, Teslas have a lot of horsepower, and with only 400 volts available that’s gonna mean a lot current – current makes things warm.

  32. twocats on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 8:22 pm 

    *one in series – doesn’t make much sense, how about “a couple in series” 🙂

  33. peakyeast on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 9:08 pm 

    dont worry twocats – I am an electrical engineer although I’m specialized in digital data collection – I do understand. 😉

    I will look further into the heat issue – and perhaps even post a full explanation here when I am done – at an appropriate time and place.

  34. peakyeast on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 9:10 pm 

    @twocars: ooops forgot: Thanks for giving me the necessary push to want to examine the problem. 🙂

  35. twocats on Wed, 23rd Mar 2016 11:08 pm 

    hey, peaky, whoops my bad… you mean you didn’t want an AC/DC 101 refresher?! 🙂 50% losses do seem rather high to me, so a more in depth look at the issue could be informative. If you find anything please let us know. again, sorry for accidentally insulting your intelligence, completely undesired result!

  36. Apneaman on Thu, 24th Mar 2016 2:07 am 

    Efforts to curtail world temps will almost surely fail

    “Just considering wind power, we found that it would take an annual installation of 485,000 5-megawatt wind turbines by 2028. The equivalent of about 13,000 were installed in 2015. That’s a 37-fold increase in the annual installation rate in only 13 years to achieve just the wind power goal,” adds Jones.”

  37. Davy on Thu, 24th Mar 2016 7:02 am 

    Global efforts to do anything other than the attempt to grow is all we will likely see that will be successful in being unsuccessful. We are going to be successful with focusing resources on the denial of end of growth. We will talk about the problems and predicaments but do nothing because there are no solutions.

    We are in a catch 22 trap. We are a self-organizing adaptive system at its furthest extension with a destabilizing pseudo-stasis. We are in a turbulent equilibrium of a status quo that cannot continue on indefinitely. We do not know the break point and we do not know how that process will unfold but we can see plenty of markers for descent. Since we are in a predicament of limits and diminishing returns with a population in overshoot all we can do is talk.

    You cannot get out of a trap whole. You can eat off your leg but that may kill you. That is the catch 22 we are in so instead we talk the “extend and pretend jive”. We can make an effort at the individual and local level but the global system is doomed. Technology and knowledge at the levels we are at are doomed. Our population levels are doomed. We have likely unleashed dangerous climate instability that will decimate our food production abilities. We may have a few years so in the meantime we can talk and rationalize away the decay, destruction, and death itself.

  38. Kenz300 on Thu, 24th Mar 2016 8:18 am 

    100% electric transportation and 100% solar by 2030

    Electric cars, bikes and mass transit are the future…..fossil fuel ICE cars are the past…………..

    Think teen agers vs your grand father…………………

    cell phones vs land lines…….

  39. energyskeptic on Thu, 24th Mar 2016 2:55 pm 

    Read my book and the cited references if you want to know more about batteries, battery management systems, electric trucks, and so on. Read the free article on who killed the electric car at my website. I cannot explain in a soundbite of a comment such a huge topic.

    The 2015 BMW 328d goes 675 miles and weighs 3460 pounds (3460/675 = 5.13). The model S Tesla goes 270 miles and weighs 4647 pounds (4647/270 = 17.2). A gas car can weigh 3 times less in terms of miles per pound of weight as an electric car such as the Tesla.

    All Tesla has done is build a larger 85 kWh 1,200 pound battery pack that is bigger and heavier than its competitors so that it can go more miles. The Tesla battery is 3.1–5.3 times larger than in other vehicles that travel 62–93 miles on 16–27 kWh batteries and which cost from $25,700 to $43,300 (plugincars 2015).

    Most of the increases in the driving range of all-electric cars come from the use of lightweight materials, aerodynamics, and tires with less rolling resistance. NOT THE BATTERY. Tesla has the most aerodynamic car on the market (though that was in 2015, I don’t know if that’s still the case with 2016 models).

    The reason the battery management system is so heavy is: Battery packs consist of modules with batteries overseen by a battery management system that uses energy to monitor and cool cells down. Elaborate control systems prevent a shorter battery life by making sure all cells have the same thermal history and protect against too fast charging or discharging. Each cell’s voltage, temperature, and internal resistance is monitored. The cooling system prevents thermal runaway or fatal destruction of cells at temperatures over 120 °F. Further energy is drained by air-conditioning, heating, lighting, dashboard displays, music, and GPS, all of them reducing the range. Lithium is famously flammable, but many battery types can catch on fire, so the battery pack is encased in steel for protection. A significant amount of weight and volume also come from the monitoring and cooling systems.

    I’ve done a huge amount of work on where electric trucks stand now, and the batteries weigh so much, and take way too long to recharge sucking up huge amounts of energy. Electric trucks now cost 3 or more times as much as an equivalent diesel truck (up to 100 times more than a used diesel truck), and have no distribution infrastructure to recharge them, and so on.

    If the battery weight is 93% of the max cargo weight that a truck is allowed to carry on the road, how can you say that an electric truck is viable?

    The Port of Los Angeles explored the concept of using an all-electric battery drayage (short-haul) truck to transfer freight between the port and warehouses, but rejected them because they could go at most 100 miles a day before needing to be recharged, half of the minimum 200 miles needed. The short range was due to the need for a 350 kWh battery that weighed 7700 pounds and reduced payload too much. The 12 hours or more to recharge the battery was another deterrent.

  40. PracticalMaina on Thu, 24th Mar 2016 6:54 pm 

    That is a cherry picked car for your comparison, my cheapo can ways a bit more than 3000 range and has a terrible mileage per tank probably 300 ballpark. Underpowered for highway speed and not overly aerodynamic. The tesla also has more horsepower. And a battery management system is a semi conductor tech so I would expect significant gains in size and efficiency, similar to PV.
    The port of la should have gone with electrified rail.

  41. PeterEV on Thu, 24th Mar 2016 9:07 pm 

    There are wells that have been pumping oil since the mid 1800’s. Why do you think that oil production from recently drilled conventional oil wells will suddenly cease and there will not any more fossil fuels?

    I see the cost of drilling going up to the point that commoners will not be able to afford it but I do see EV’s taking their place whether it be an electric bike or electric pickup truck.

    All I see here are forecasts spanning a wide range of possibilities and with the negative forecasts, there is no room for innovation. “I man was meant to fly, Mother Nature would have born with wings.”

  42. GregT on Thu, 24th Mar 2016 11:23 pm 

    “I’ve done a huge amount of work on where electric trucks stand now, and the batteries weigh so much, and take way too long to recharge sucking up huge amounts of energy. Electric trucks now cost 3 or more times as much as an equivalent diesel truck (up to 100 times more than a used diesel truck), and have no distribution infrastructure to recharge them, and so on.”

    Without all of those trucks supplying our JIT delivery systems, the commoners that PeterEV refers to above won’t be at all concerned with personal transportation.

    Plenty of room for innovation Peter. Innovate ways to grow enough food for the masses (including yourself) without fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and modern industrial fossil fuel powered machinery. When basic human needs for survival can be met, then would be a good time to focus on the unnecessary niceties. Personal transport is not a necessity.

  43. antaris on Thu, 24th Mar 2016 11:58 pm 

    The only electric pickup trucks you are likely to ever see are the Chevy S10’s people were converting to electric 6 to 10 years ago.

  44. makati1 on Fri, 25th Mar 2016 1:08 am 

    Anyone who has ever seen a 20 story high power shovel used in mining, would understand why electric will NEVER power anything large enough to matter.

  45. peakyeast on Fri, 25th Mar 2016 4:42 am 

    @energysceptic: Thanks for your elaboration. Its a good read and very interesting with lots of points to read more out from.

    Thanks again.

  46. Davy on Fri, 25th Mar 2016 7:50 am 

    Good work Energysceptic

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