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Chu was in Dearborn, Michigan last Thursday attending one of a series of D.O.E. workshops designed to recruit scientists, engineers and businesses so that US firms can sell plug-in vehicles that are cost competitive with conventional automobiles—without subsidies. Chu said that today's plug-in vehicles are too expensive for the average American family. “Realistically, we think a plug-in hybrid at 340-350 miles [of range], or a car at double the Nissan LEAF range can satisfy a lot of needs,” he said. “And there, we think, the price point of $25,000 is a very real price that we can maybe achieve in a decade.”
Chu said the Nissan LEAF is roughly $10,000 too expensive to be considered affordable. The fact that Chu specifically called out plug-in hybrids suggests that he believes that plug-in cars with relatively smaller batteries, and a back-up gas engine on board to extend range, might be a more feasible way to bring down costs.
Reducing the cost of batteries is the key to reducing the price of EVs. Chu said the U.S. will have the capacity to make 500,000 batteries a year by 2015—and that prototypes using breakthrough battery technology will be ready for testing by 2020. The Department of Energy is also working on supporting advances in power electronics, motors, lightweight materials and fast-charging infrastructure technology.
Last time Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk made a bet, with journalist Dan Neil about several aspects of the Model S, he won it.
That same confidence and ambition has now led him to make another--that by the late 2020s, more than half of all new vehicles being manufactured will be electric.
If you're raising an eyebrow right now, you aren't alone. Elon's ambitious prediction hugely eclipses that of market analysts, who do predict a rise in the number of EVs by 2020, but not to the extent where they account for more than half the market.
Beyond that, predictions are less clear--so Musk might be on to something.
Speaking on Friday, as he was handing over the keys to the first Model S buyers, Musk said: "In 20 years more than half of new cars manufactured will be fully electric... I feel actually quite safe in that bet. That's a bet I will put money on."
Electric cars have arrived, but the pace of adoption will be slow.
There are several different types of cars that plug in, and their electric ranges vary.
In the early years, most charging will be done in garages attached to private homes.
You have to consider where and how you use your car(s) if you consider buying electric.
Electric cars are cheaper to “fuel” per than gasoline cars, and they have a lower carbon footprint too—even on dirty grids.
Last year, roughly 17,000 plug-in cars were sold in the United States—more than were sold in any year since the very early 1900s. But to put that number in perspective, total sales in 2011 were 13 million vehicles, meaning that plug-in cars represented just one-tenth of 1 percent. Sales this year will likely be double or triple that number, but it remains a stretch to reach President Obama’s goal of 1 million plug-ins on U.S. roads by 2015.
Both the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt sold more units last year than the Toyota Prius did in 2000, its first year on the U.S. market. But 12 years after hybrids arrived in the U.S., they now make up just 2 to 3 percent of annual sales—and about 1 percent of global vehicle production.
Automakers are understandably cautious when committing hundreds of millions of dollars to new vehicles and technologies. They worry that a lack of public charging infrastructure will make potential buyers reluctant to take the chance on an electric car. Moreover, each factory to build automotive lithium-ion cells—an electric-car battery pack uses dozens or hundreds of them—costs $100 to $200 million. Battery companies will only build those factories if they have contracts in from automakers, who will only sign contracts to boost production if they can sell tens of thousands of electric cars a year in the first few years.
Eight to 10 years from now, most analysts expect plug-ins to be roughly where hybrids are today: 1 to 2 percent of global production, with highest sales in the most affluent car markets (Japan, the U.S., and some European regions). That translates to perhaps 1 million plug-in cars a year. There are, by the way, about 1 billion vehicles on the planet now.
The adoption of increasingly strict U.S. corporate average fuel-economy rules through 2025, however, will spur production of electric vehicles. And California has just passed rules that require sales of rising numbers of zero-emission vehicles, on top of the Federal regulations.
(2) There are several different types of cars that plug in, and their electric ranges vary.
The new generation of electric vehicles (EVs) have recently been rolling out here in Minnesota. We caught up with early adopter Stuart Rauvola of Stillwater, MN to learn more about his experiences.
Joel Haskard: What initially got you interested in owning an electric vehicle?
Stuart Rauvola: I received an email from Nissan over two years ago asking me if I would be interested in placing a $99 deposit down on an all-electric vehicle. I figured, why not? I had not done any research on electric vehicles, but I knew I would own one someday. I added solar photovoltaic panels on my roof and had a ground-source heat pump installed—both within the last five years—so I thought maybe an electric vehicle would be a natural next step to carbon-neutral or net zero energy life. I did not expect the wait would be over two years, but the wait was worth it.
Joel: What vehicle did you buy, and where did you buy it?
Stuart: 2012 Nissan Leaf. Comes with cold weather package and quick charge port. I bought it at Kline Nissan in Maplewood. They me that had an allotment of six Leafs in the initial rollout carefully orchestrated by Nissan HQ.
Joel: What has been your experience so far?
Stuart: Much better than expected. Instrumentation is an electrical engineers dream. Range of 100 miles was overstated, but I have not run it out of juice yet, so I really donlt know what the absolute range is. It fits perfectly with my drive to work and all errands. My employer is installing a 240 outlet for me to charge at work if I need to drive to job sites or meetings.
Joel: Has there been anything surprising?
Stuart: The acceleration is amazing! Ride is really good for a small car, mainly because the batteries are located under the seats and that makes the center of gravity low. It is really fun to drive. Also, when it is connected to “shore” power, you can set it to preheat or precool the cabin for 10 minutes to lessen the climate control load on the battery.
This year has been pretty rough for electric vehicle advocates in the United States, with grim predictions for sales, concerns over battery-related fires (concerns that have turned out to be ill-founded) and a shifting political climate. So, I read with interest some new information published by Pike Research that suggest sales of plug-in electric vehicles will ramp up substantially after 2015.
The report, "Plug-in Electric Vehicles," doesn't offer all that much optimism in the next several years. Fewer than a half-million electric vehicles are expected to hit the road in the United States between 2011 and 2015 (the prediction is for 410,000 to be more precise).
In the United States, Pike doesn't expect plug-in electric vehicle sales to reach 1 million until 2018. Globally speaking, annual shipments of electric vehicles should hit 1 million somewhere around 2017, the research firm predicted.
UK researchers have made a key step in development of a lithium-air battery, a device that promises three to five times as much energy per unit mass as the existing lithium-ion.
Once built, such a battery could allow you to fly cross-country flights with a functioning laptop, or talk for a week without charging your mobile phone or even a take a 800-kilometre journey in an electric car.
The experiment by Professor Peter G Bruce at the University of St. Andrew's in Scotland, and colleagues was published today in online journal Science Express. It describes a chemical reaction that allows the battery to be recharged without degradation of the battery's electrode.
"We have demonstrated that sustainable cycling is possible," says Bruce. "That is the real step here. We haven't solved all the practical problems and it's not a solution, but it does demonstrate this critical reaction can be sustained and cycled."
Scientists are pushing to develop a lithium air battery because they use air as the cathode and lithium metal as the anode. Oxygen is both cheap and light. It doesn't require the battery to be built with heavy casing to contain the electrodes.
Under the bill, electric bicycles and motorcycles will be eligible for a 10 percent federal tax credit of up to $2,500. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon (home of Brammo, an electric motorcycle manufacturer) introduced the amendment to reinstate the 2009 tax break that was part of the $800 billion federal stimulus package.
The new bill would end an existing EV tax credit for golf carts. “There’s no reason to have a credit for a golf cart,” Wyden said after the passage.
Logic wrote:So Plant, what was the cause?
Do you think it more likely the EV part of the car or the ICE part?
Plantagenet wrote:More bad Karma.
Another Fisker Karma, the $103,000 PHEV, set itself on fire---this time in California. The act of spontaneous combustion occurred while the car was parked and the owner was shopping for groceries.
Another Fisker Karma sets itself on fire
The car costs $103,000. If you want to add a fire extinguisher, you have to drill out the car body and bolt it onto the outside yourself
Plantagenet wrote:Logic wrote:So Plant, what was the cause?
Do you think it more likely the EV part of the car or the ICE part?
The fire marshall hasn't issued a report yet.
Logic wrote:...how unreliable/dangerous EVs are...
Logic wrote:... nice bit of selective editing there Plant.
Logic wrote:ICE vehicles are much more fire prone than BEVs.
Envia Systems’ breakthrough battery is one step closer to commercialization after a public vote of confidence last week from the CEO of General Motors (GM), Dan Akerson. ITIF has previously blogged about the battery, which performed at an energy density of 378-418 watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg) in independent tests. In contrast, conventional electric vehicle batteries possess substantially lower densities – the battery of the high-end Tesla roadster, for example, has an energy density of 121 Wh/kg, while the Nissan Leaf’s is 79 Wh/kg. GM is conducting further tests on the battery, but its CEO expressed hope that it could be installed in an electric vehicle in just two to four years. “These little companies come out of nowhere, and they surprise you,” Akerson remarked in regard to Envia. “I think we’ve got better than a 50-50 chance to develop a car that will go to 200 miles on a charge. That would be a game changer.”
Hopefully, automakers like GM will be able to commercialize breakthrough batteries like that of Envia and make electric vehicles that are genuinely cost and performance competitive with conventional gas cars a reality. If GM’s CEO is to be believed, that reality is potentially a mere two years away.
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