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Who Killed The Electric Car

Gregg Bolinger
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    6

I watched this over the weekend. Has anyone else seen it? What did you think?

http://www.whokilledtheelectriccar.com/


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Joe Ess
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    8

Meh. The GM EV1 had an estimated MSRP of $34k and a range 70-100 miles. In my mind, it was not economically viable and GM did the right thing by putting a bullet in it.
Hybrids like the Prius and Insight that cost around $20k and get around 50mpg are flying off the shelves, and that flies in the face of many of the arguments the film makes (i.e. that auto companies, the gov and big oil conspired to keep people in gas guzzlers).

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Chris Baron
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VW had a 3 Liter car (3L/100 km or 78 mpg).
It was typical: everybody found it was great. But only for the others of course and almost nobody bought it. It was a total flop. The price was to high (and Birkenstocks where obligatory, somehow).

I'd find it great if there where more electric vehicles on the road, but i wouldn't buy one. Diesel motors are so clean and economical today. That's where the development will continue to go in my opinion. Maybe Diesel/electric but just electric-only is simply impractical.
Gregg Bolinger
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    6

The GM EV1 had an estimated MSRP of $34k and a range 70-100 miles.


Hm, I think the film actually made a point to say that consumers were worried about how far they could travel on a single charge when in reality they didn't need to be able to go 300 miles a day. Only an average of like 40-60. And considering they weren't even using the best battery....So let's forget about how far you can go and how much it costs ($35K doesn't seem that much to me considering the technology at the time) and just think about it in terms of clean air. And just look at the fact that GM wouldn't even let the existing leasers buy out their lease and keep the car. I think their is more to it than just it not be economically viable. The film is biased and I'm sure paints a much more gruesome image of what happened. But at the same time these cars were on the road using ZERO gas emitting ZERO pollution making nearly no sound, and their drivers were happy.

Hybrids like the Prius and Insight that cost around $20k and get around 50mpg are flying off the shelves


These cars at these prices didn't exist when the EV1 was being sold. So I'm not sure it is fair to say that their success has anything to do with the death of the EV1. And I fail to see how it debunks the video. Obviously there is no way of knowing but if the EV1 was still available, would the hybrids be flying off the shelves or would the EV1? I guess we'll never know. ;)

Chris makes a good point about diesel. However, in the states, diesel costs more than gas. You might get better MPG's but you pay more for it. Also, it's cleaner, but not clean, not like NOT using oil based fuel. I'm just pissed that watching that video was the first time I had heard of the EV1 and now I can't even give one a try.

I'd find it great if there where more electric vehicles on the road, but i wouldn't buy one


Why?
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
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Joined: Aug 16, 2005
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  20

I haven't seen that movie.

But the next time I buy a car, I want at least a hybrid. I just bought a car at the beginning of this year, so I'm not planning to buy a car anytime soon.


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Chris Baron
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Why? Because if think electric-only is impractical. Yes, i am commuting and it's under 35 mile daily. Maybe a range of 70 miles would be plenty for the most occasions. But i am no robot and i wouldn't like to have the remaining charge of my car permanently influencing my mobility and life. I have a car because i can commute AND make a trip with it. Visiting friends in a town just 300 miles away would require 4 stays in a hotel on the way. Ok, i could take an Intercity-Express but trains don't bring me to the house door in a unknown town and then, i've paid for my car yet. Another point is that live in a city and don't have garage.
Joe Ess
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    8

Gregg Bolinger wrote:And just look at the fact that GM wouldn't even let the existing leasers buy out their lease and keep the car. I think their is more to it than just it not be economically viable.


GM would have been on the hook for servicing the vehicle, which probably had no parts in common with other GM offerings:
GM has potential legal obligations under laws that require automakers to maintain parts and service infrastructure for consumer vehicles for a period of no less than 15 years.

Wikipedia


Gregg Bolinger wrote: these cars were on the road using ZERO gas emitting ZERO pollution making nearly no sound, and their drivers were happy.


Well, they are consuming gas (or coal or uranium or NG) and producing pollution. Just at the power plant and not in their vehicle.

Gregg Bolinger wrote:
So I'm not sure it is fair to say that their success has anything to do with the death of the EV1. And I fail to see how it debunks the video.


My point is that the movie tries to make it look like some grand conspiracy or at least confluence of forces that aligns against new products and technology. The hybrid cars I mention have been very successful, which contradicts the film's assertions.
Chris Baron
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Gregg Bolinger wrote:However, in the states, diesel costs more than gas.

Hmm, this sounds more like a conspiracy than the death of the electric car.
Normal fuel is much more costly to refine than diesel.
Do you have a higher tax on it in the states?
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
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    6

Chris Baron wrote:
Gregg Bolinger wrote:However, in the states, diesel costs more than gas.

Hmm, this sounds more like a conspiracy than the death of the electric car.
Normal fuel is much more costly to refine than diesel.
Do you have a higher tax on it in the states?


It's not a conspiracy.

http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/why_does_diesel_fuel_cost_more_than.html
Pat Farrell
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    5

Joe Ess wrote:Hybrids like the Prius and Insight that cost around $20k and get around 50mpg are flying off the shelves


Its not clear that the purchase price of the Insight and Prius reflect their cost. There is a difference. Toyota and Honda could be buying some good will by selling the hybrids below cost. Good for the corporate image, etc.

Its unclear what the real dirt to dirt cost of the current generation hybrids are. We know how terrible gas/diesel cars are, we just don't have the experience to know with battries. Sometimes different is not better. The big battery packs in hybrids and more-so in pure plug in electric cars are open ended. How long to they really last? How do you dispose of them? They are full of evil chemicals, how do we get rid of them? If the plug-ins need to be recharged, where does that power come from? What air polution does burning the coal cause? What damage does mining the coal do?

I'm not saying that I know the answers, or that one is clearly better than the other. But the greens have adopted hybrids and plug-ins without looking at the whole picture. If we need more nuclear power plants to generate power for the plug-ins, will they still be considered green cars?
Joe Ess
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    8

Pat Farrell wrote: Toyota and Honda could be buying some good will by selling the hybrids below cost.

Both are supposedly profitable.



Pat Farrell
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    5

Joe Ess wrote:Both are supposedly profitable.


So was Enron. I don't trust stores where these is serious pressure to make something that is good seem like good business.

And without the true costs end-to-end, including the manufacture and disposal of the batteries, there is too much room for creative accounting. And if they cars count against the CAFE standards, there can be many more hidden costs. Sell a hybrid, get to sell two overpowered gas guzzlers....
Joe Ess
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    8

Pat Farrell wrote:So was Enron. I don't trust stores where these is serious pressure to make something that is good seem like good business.


I think your tinfoil is too tight. And even if they were dumping hybrids on the market (something that regulators would probably raise the red flag on), it doesn't change the whole reason why I brought up hybrids in the first place: their success in the market points to flaws in the arguments made in the film.
Gregg Bolinger
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    6

Joe Ess wrote:
Pat Farrell wrote:their success in the market points to flaws in the arguments made in the film.


Can you mention of few?
Pat Farrell
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    5

Joe Ess wrote: And even if they were dumping hybrids on the market (something that regulators would probably raise the red flag on).


Please. what regulators have done anything recently? It would be political suicide, the greens love hybrids. Even if you are not an official green, burning less imported oil is a good thing. Less need to invade oil rich countries, etc.

Joe Ess wrote:it doesn't change the whole reason why I brought up hybrids in the first place: their success in the market points to flaws in the arguments made in the film.


Marketing success proves nothing. See Monster Cable.

Read what I'm writing carefully, I am not saying that hybrids are evil. They are cool technology and work amazingly well in city traffic. What I am saying is that as an engineer, their birth-to-life energy saving, and the manufacturing and disposal issues are not trivial questions.

There are other small cars that get impressive mileage. And there are many more in the world that can't be sold in the US (small diesels) Almost all of the good fuel economy of hybrids on the highway is because they are small, not because they are hybrids.

The movie was entertainment and more than a little propaganda. Facts are not important when telling a story.
Joe Ess
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    8

Pat Farrell wrote:Read what I'm writing carefully


And I will ask that you do the same
The movie posits that there are entrenched interests (big oil, big auto, the government) who want new technology like electric cars to fail in order to protect their influence and profit.
I submit that the success of the Prius and the Insight, fuel efficient cars that would piss off big oil made by foreign manufacturers that would piss off big auto using an technology (hybrid drive) that was not what the US government wanted (hydrogen), contradicts the film's assertion.
I agree with you that there are questions about hybrids and that they have flaws glossed over by the promise of "being green", but I don't think those questions have a bearing on the above argument.
Gregg Bolinger
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    6

I think an argument could be made that the hybrid sits in that sweet spot market of just good enough to make consumers feel like they are saving the earth but still require enough fuel to appease "big oil". Yes, tin foil hat. Just bringing a different perspective to the conversation though. Look, we can talk disposal of batteries and coal plants all we want. The fact is that hybrids cause the same concerns. Yet, they are allowed to thrive. Why is that? Because you can drive 300 miles? Maybe. Because they also burn oil? Maybe. Again, I think they hit a sweet spot for both consumers and "big oil".

I'd also like to note that the first round of hybrids were all made by non-US auto companies (Honda and Toyota). Ford was the first US company to release a hybrid and guess what, it was an SUV.
Gregg Bolinger
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    6

Oh, and the Ford Escape hybrid MPG? 34 mpg city/31 mpg highway. Sure, that's better than my Journey's (non hybrid) 25 but come on.
Pat Farrell
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    5

Joe Ess wrote:The movie posits that there are entrenched interests (big oil, big auto, the government) who want new technology like electric cars to fail in order to protect their influence and profit. I submit that the success of the Prius and the Insight, fuel efficient cars that would piss off big oil made by foreign manufacturers that would piss off big auto using an technology (hybrid drive) that was not what the US government wanted (hydrogen), contradicts the film's assertion.


I think the movie is entertainment. Its fiction.

I reject the conspiracy that big oil and the car companies plotted to make us drive huge cars.

All companies want to amortize their engineering costs over lots of units. The foreign companies make small cars in volume. The Big Three made trucks in volume. There is a tiny market in the US for fuel efficient cars, mostly because our fuel taxes are too low. If Ford/GM/Chrysler wanted to amortize their costs, they have to sell more trucks, since they sold no small cars. Nissan, Honda, Toyota, VW and others make tons of small cars (some very nice).

America is big, Americans are big people, they like big fast cars. When the government outlawed fast cars, there was a loophole that allowed trucks to not be subject to CAFE. So American's started buying trucks to use as big fast cars. Its very stupid, and perhaps immoral to use a Suburban to carry one person and a briefcase, but that is what sold, and in a capitalistic society, what sells is what gets made.

It was not a conspiracy that killed small cars and the EV1. The votes are counted every day in the dealer's showrooms.

The EV1 was a crappy car that cost over a hundred grand a copy. It deserved to die. It was the F22 of cars.
Paul Clapham
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Gregg Bolinger wrote:I'd also like to note that the first round of hybrids were all made by non-US auto companies (Honda and Toyota). Ford was the first US company to release a hybrid and guess what, it was an SUV.


I used to thumbs-down on the idea of hybrid SUVs too, until I read the advice on a Java forum about optimizing your program. It said to profile the application and find out what the worst-performing parts of it were, then to work on improving them first. Good advice, right?

Well, if you apply that reasoning to North American vehicles, you'll find that SUV's are worst-performing in terms of gas mileage. So improving them first is the right thing to do.
Pat Farrell
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    5

Paul Clapham wrote:you'll find that SUV's are worst-performing in terms of gas mileage. So improving them first is the right thing to do.


Depends on how you use them. For one guy and a briefcase, yes, they are terrible. But to take five engineers out to a building site, with gear, they are very efficient.

All generalities are false, including this one.
Chris Baron
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Jeremy Clarkson, unconventional as always, shows that a BMW M3 can be more economical than a Toyota Prius.

Henry Carver
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"$35K doesn't seem that much to me considering the technology at the time"


You must be making a lot more than I do. 70 to 100 miles may be practical for some people but looking at the highway with thousands of people driving up to 30 miles into the city sitting in traffic, I think that isn't nearly enough. And my cell phone is dead because I forgot to charge it last night. I can live without my cell phone. It would be hard to get to work without a car.
Gregg Bolinger
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Henry Carver wrote:
"$35K doesn't seem that much to me considering the technology at the time"


You must be making a lot more than I do. 70 to 100 miles may be practical for some people but looking at the highway with thousands of people driving up to 30 miles into the city sitting in traffic, I think that isn't nearly enough. And my cell phone is dead because I forgot to charge it last night. I can live without my cell phone. It would be hard to get to work without a car.


I don't understand the sitting in traffic logic. If it's 30 miles to work it doesn't matter how long you sit in traffic. It's different than a gas car because when the electric car is idle, the batteries aren't being used. So to say 70 to 100 miles means 70 to 100 miles. Regardless of how long you "sit".
Gregg Bolinger
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    6

Interesting that we should care about the disposal of batteries in electric cars but we don't think twice about all the other electronics we own and their batteries.
Frank Silbermann
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Pat Farrell wrote:
Paul Clapham wrote:you'll find that SUV's are worst-performing in terms of gas mileage. So improving them first is the right thing to do.


Depends on how you use them. For one guy and a briefcase, yes, they are terrible. But to take five engineers out to a building site, with gear, they are very efficient.

I don't see any advantage of an SUV over a minivan, unless you're camping in the wilderness.

The reason SUVs replaced minivans in popularity is that the SUV has an aura of sport and play, whereas a minivan has a connotation of family domesticity. I think it is a black mark against our society that family domesticity should be considered unprestigious -- especially in comparison to hedonistic dissipation.

Whatever happened to the honor of being a family's Papa?
Pat Farrell
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    5

Frank Silbermann wrote:I don't see any advantage of an SUV over a minivan, unless you're camping in the wilderness.


Minivans are driven by moms. SUVs are driven by real men.

Actually, something like a Suburban has a lot more room for people and stuff than a minivan.

The "sports UTS" sold by Lexus and every other brand are just station wagons jacked up to handle badly. They have no practical value at all. But the CAFE standard outlawed station wagons, so nobody likes them anymore.
Frank Silbermann
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Pat Farrell wrote:
Frank Silbermann wrote:I don't see any advantage of an SUV over a minivan, unless you're camping in the wilderness.


Minivans are driven by moms. SUVs are driven by real men.

Actually, something like a Suburban has a lot more room for people and stuff than a minivan.

So the rejection of minivans in favor of SUVs is sexist! Minivans are associated with children, and being with children is considered "women's work."

Most SUVs are much smaller than the Suburban, and have no more room than a minivan. The Suburban has maybe 25% more room but gets only half the mileage. (And we could carry more people in any car if we could only get them with the three-person bench front seats that once were standard.)
Andrew Monkhouse
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  94

People keep bringing up the fact that there is a limitation on how far you can drive a battery operated car on a single charge. However there is a limitation to how far you can drive a gasoline powered car on a single tank of gas as well. While battery powered cars may not currently have the range of fossil fuel cars, that may change. Just think of the improvements in cell phone batteries over the last 20 years as an example.

It is also short sighted to claim that battery operated cars are limited by how far they can travel from home base, or that the driver would have to cart a charger around. This is not a limitation - this is an opportunity for entrepreneurs. We are already seeing companies looking at setting up locations where you can pull up in your battery powered car and swap your batteries for fully charged ones. So no different than refueling really. These are being looked at in China, Israel, Denmark, San Fransisco and Australia. The article on the proposal for Australia is interesting in that it talks about a complete system whereby you can recharge at home and near the office or you can swap batteries if neither option suits your needs for a particular trip. It is also interesting to note that the petroleum companies are looking at how they can move into this potential market instead of trying to pretend it doesn't exist or attempt to kill it off.

Pat Farrell wrote:... the CAFE standard outlawed station wagons

Really? So it is illegal to sell the 2009 Mercedes-Benz E Class Wagon or the 2010 Subaru Legacy Sport Station Wagon in America? How bizarre.


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Pat Farrell
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    5

Frank Silbermann wrote:So the rejection of minivans in favor of SUVs is sexist!

Such a harsh word. SUVs are stylish, Minivans are so 80s.

The death of bench seats drives me nuts. One of the big claims when the car companies pushed front wheel drive was eliminating the driveline hump, allowing for more room in the interior. Yet every car sold today has a big stack of switches and radios and GPS and other stuff in a big think console that runs from the base of the windshield down to the shifter, and back towards the rear seat.

Why does a car need a shifter on the console? Why does it have a console at all?

My 64 Plymouth had push buttons to select the transmissions, and even then, the only ones you ever used was "park, drive and reverse"
Mommy vans with Ferrari style exposed shift patterns. Why, for style.
Pat Farrell
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    5

Andrew Monkhouse wrote:People keep bringing up the fact that there is a limitation on how far you can drive a battery operated car on a single charge.


While there is a limit for petrol fueled cars, its typically 250 to 300 miles and you can recharge it in under 5 minutes. There is no way to recharge any battery that quickly. Proper battery life requires careful control of the charging rate.

Andrew Monkhouse wrote:Really? So it is illegal to sell the 2009 Mercedes-Benz E Class Wagon or the 2010 Subaru Legacy Sport Station Wagon in America? How bizarre.


Illegal station wagons. OK, back in the 70s, a huge percentage of American cars were station wagons. They all went away. Why? CAFE.

The imported brands simply pay the CAFE fee, looking at it as a tax, which is exactly what it is. For some reason unknown to mortals, the Big Three feel that they can not have their fleet fail the CAFE rate. So they stopped selling station wagons, and stopped making big cars. They make big trucks, and sometimes they make station wagons and call them SUVs.

The Miinivan was invented by Chrysler because of a CAFE loophole. They were considered "trucks" and not part of the CAFE standard. They quickly had as many features as a car, but did not count for the mileage. In the early 90s, minivans fell out of style, but SUVs were invented (by marketing folks, not engineers) as an alternative.

If we simply had a $3 a gallon tax on petrol, we would be driving smaller cars, and would have the trucks we need when we really need one. But trusting the market, or raising taxes to pay for common goods, is not how we do things these days.
Henry Carver
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 26, 2009
Posts: 8
"I don't understand the sitting in traffic logic. If it's 30 miles to work it doesn't matter how long you sit in traffic."


Sitting in traffic maybe but that isn't how traffic works. Energy is lost due to the constant breaking required in traffic. Some of that energy can be regained with a regenerative braking system but that adds a lot to the cost of the vehicle.

"People keep bringing up the fact that there is a limitation on how far you can drive a battery operated car on a single charge. However there is a limitation to how far you can drive a gasoline powered car on a single tank of gas as well."


Perhaps, but it doesn't take me 9 hours to fill up my car at the gas station. Driving from NYC to Miami is a 1 day trip (well it is for a car load of college guys going to spring break). In an electric car it would take a minimum of 5 days.
Pat Farrell
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    5

Gregg Bolinger wrote:Interesting that we should care about the disposal of batteries in electric cars but we don't think twice about all the other electronics we own and their batteries.

We should. Batteries are made of stuff that we should not just dump into landfills. The Lithium in Li-On cells, the Cadnium in Ni-Cad and the lead in lead acid are all pretty evil things to do to mother nature
Frank Silbermann
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Andrew Monkhouse wrote:People keep bringing up the fact that there is a limitation on how far you can drive a battery operated car on a single charge. However there is a limitation to how far you can drive a gasoline powered car on a single tank of gas as well. While battery powered cars may not currently have the range of fossil fuel cars, that may change. Just think of the improvements in cell phone batteries over the last 20 years as an example.

It is also short sighted to claim that battery operated cars are limited by how far they can travel from home base, or that the driver would have to cart a charger around. This is not a limitation - this is an opportunity for entrepreneurs. We are already seeing companies looking at setting up locations where you can pull up in your battery powered car and swap your batteries for fully charged ones. So no different than refueling really. These are being looked at in China, Israel, Denmark, San Fransisco and Australia. The article on the proposal for Australia is interesting in that it talks about a complete system whereby you can recharge at home and near the office or you can swap batteries if neither option suits your needs for a particular trip. It is also interesting to note that the petroleum companies are looking at how they can move into this potential market instead of trying to pretend it doesn't exist or attempt to kill it off.
I see a few problems with the swap-battery approach:

(1) Batteries deteriorate with age. Would you want to swap an new battery for an old one? (I suppose the batteries could be _owned_ by the exchange stations, with the user merely paying a deposit for the first one.)
(2) Suppose an entrepreneur sets up a swapping system, and the very next year someone invents a better battery that sharply reduces the need for swapping. Whoops! There goes his investment! (So battery-swapping has to be something an existing gas station can do without significant additional investment.)
(3) Of course, when we have batteries that _rarely_ need swapping, the gas stations may go out of business completely. So swapping batteries has to be something that can be done by a business whose prime income does not depend on the volume of business it gets from automobile travelers.
(4) How long will it be until medical researchers discover that our frequent close proximity to powerful magnetic fields generated by electric automobiles causes brain tumors and cancer?

I hope the problems are solved, though. The petroleum-based transportation system was so harmful even before China and India began their economic development.
Pat Farrell
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    5

Frank Silbermann wrote: The petroleum-based transportation system was so harmful even before China and India began their economic development.


I agree partly with this. The costs to mankind of relying upon oil (or anything else) from unstable areas of the world is bad. Its not unexpected that the Indians and Chinese want to improve their standards of living and get access to some of the energy intensive things that are common to the West.

But gasoline and diesel are not bad as transportation fuels. They are dense, fast to move, and well understood. All this froth about electric cars could be a fad. Its not clear that having plug in electrical cars using power from coal fired plants is a net win. Coal is very destructive not only when we burn it, but when we harvest/mine it.

Modern diesel cars are very efficient and do not cause nearly as much pollution as they are blamed. Yes, they burn carbon, and emit carbon dioxide, but if you look end-to-end, they are competitive with the alternatives.

If the alternatives were more fission plants, or better, fusion plants, we would have a different discussion. But from a save the world viewpoint, its not clear that we wouldn't be better off with higher taxes on petrol and diesel, and stop using so much coal.

I am convinced that all the froth about fuel cells and hydrogen powered cars is purely dreaming. Ignoring the technology of the fuel cells themselves. Where is the power coming from? More coal burning plants? Is this a win? Hydrogen fuel cells are more accurately considered as batteries with different chemistry. The power still has to come from somewhere. Hydro, fission, fusion, coal, clinker oil, perhaps a bit of wind. The problem stays the same.
Frank Silbermann
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Posts: 1387
Chris Baron wrote:Jeremy Clarkson, unconventional as always, shows that a BMW M3 can be more economical than a Toyota Prius.

Let's see. The cars were not frequently slowing down and speeding up, so the Prius' hybrid system had no braking energy to recapture (which would have been wasted by the BMW).

The Prius was going as fast as possible, and therefore its engine was spinning at a high RPM, which is inefficient. The BMW, designed to travel much faster and therefore having a higher top gear -- drove at a much lower RPM at that speed.

The Prius was traveling in front, at high speed, so it had to plow through a great deal of wind resistance. The BMW followed closely behind, benefiting from the draft behind the Prius.

The only lesson is not to drive a Prius for long, steady driving at top speed. And whatever you're driving on the highway, try to follow a large truck as closely as is safe. (Perhaps we need automatic breaking systems that mimic the braking of the car in front so we can safely tailgate nearly bumper-to-bumper at high speeds.)
Pat Farrell
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    5

Frank Silbermann wrote:Perhaps we need automatic breaking systems that mimic the braking of the car in front so we can safely tailgate nearly bumper-to-bumper at high speeds.


This could be a big win, and all it needs are some wireless radios and some software. So perhaps someone on JavaRanch could invent this and make a zillion dollars (or more if its rupes).

There was an interesting comment about planes that ties in here. In the news a week or two ago was a commercial jet that flew past its destination by 100 or more miles because the pilots were distracted (or asleep or drunk or ...) and forgot to land. The comment was that we have people flying planes with computers checking up on them. Most of flying is really boring. Perhaps this is all wrong. Perhaps we need the computers to fly the planes, and have humans check up on the computers.

A lot of the driving that I have done is really boring. Both droning along an Interstate with no traffic, or slogging through 40 minutes of rush hour bumber to bumber traffic, its no fun. All you want to do is be done. No reason a computer couldn't handle 95% or more of the driving, and have the human just verify that its doing it properly.

With GPS, Wifi or zigbee in the cars, a mesh network, some suitable programing, it would be straight forward.
Chris Baron
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Joined: Mar 21, 2003
Posts: 1049
Frank Silbermann wrote:
Chris Baron wrote:Jeremy Clarkson...
Let's see. The cars were not frequently slowing down and speeding up, so the Prius' hybrid system had no braking energy to recapture (which would have been wasted by the BMW).

The Prius was going as fast as possible, and therefore its engine was spinning at a high RPM, which is inefficient. The BMW, designed to travel much faster and therefore having a higher top gear -- drove at a much lower RPM at that speed.

The Prius was traveling in front, at high speed, so it had to plow through a great deal of wind resistance. The BMW followed closely behind, benefiting from the draft behind the Prius.

The only lesson is not to drive a Prius for long, steady driving at top speed. And whatever you're driving on the highway, try to follow a large truck as closely as is safe. (Perhaps we need automatic breaking systems that mimic the braking of the car in front so we can safely tailgate nearly bumper-to-bumper at high speeds.)

You are right and it's known that Clarkson hates the Prius. But it was fair that he didn't compare it to a a normal car, say a Ford Focus or a Vauxhall/Opel Astra with a diesel motor, but such racer like the M3. And he points out at the end of the video why he made this comparison: you can get good mpg with a normal car too.
paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20586
    ∞

Just a friendly note from the trailboss

While a lot of this conversation is quite healthy, there are a few bits that make me less than comfortable.

I would like to remind folks to not suggest that anyone on JavaRanch is anything less than perfect. This includes comments about the quality of their statements. Suggesting that a statement is flawed is suggesting that the author may also be flawed. Instead, I hope that you point out that you have a different view. Or maybe that you have found some interesting information.

Thanks!


permaculture Wood Burning Stoves 2.0 - 4-DVD set
Frank Silbermann
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 06, 2002
Posts: 1387
Chris Baron wrote:
Frank Silbermann wrote:
Chris Baron wrote:Jeremy Clarkson...
Let's see. The cars were not frequently slowing down and speeding up, so the Prius' hybrid system had no braking energy to recapture (which would have been wasted by the BMW).

The Prius was going as fast as possible, and therefore its engine was spinning at a high RPM, which is inefficient. The BMW, designed to travel much faster and therefore having a higher top gear -- drove at a much lower RPM at that speed.

The Prius was traveling in front, at high speed, so it had to plow through a great deal of wind resistance. The BMW followed closely behind, benefiting from the draft behind the Prius.

The only lesson is not to drive a Prius for long, steady driving at top speed. And whatever you're driving on the highway, try to follow a large truck as closely as is safe. (Perhaps we need automatic breaking systems that mimic the braking of the car in front so we can safely tailgate nearly bumper-to-bumper at high speeds.)

You are right and it's known that Clarkson hates the Prius. But it was fair that he didn't compare it to a a normal car, say a Ford Focus or a Vauxhall/Opel Astra with a diesel motor, but such racer like the M3. And he points out at the end of the video why he made this comparison: you can get good mpg with a normal car too.
I don't think _either_ car got good mileage in that test. All it proved is that you can drive in such a way to get lousy mileage even with a Prius.
 
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subject: Who Killed The Electric Car