By on February 16, 2013

Note the date of publication is 1914, not 2013

While following the he said he said back and forth between the New York Time’s James Broder and Tesla’s Elon Musk, over Broder’s unsuccessful drive from New York to Boston in a Tesla Model S, it seemed to me that one important factor affecting consumer acceptance of EVs is being obscured by all the Sturm und Drang of the NYT and Musk both working this story for maximum bad publicity for their respectless enterprises. That factor, ironically, is why Tesla set up the media road trips in the first place, the fact that EVs will need a publicly accessible charging infrastructure if they are going to be seen as anything other than town cars. The Model S press trips from DC to Beantown were supposed to demonstrate Tesla’s expanding network of locations equipped with Tesla’s “Supercharger” quick charging stations.

That need for public charging stations has been obscured by other issues in the discussion of electric cars, which it seems to me have been focused more on range than anything else. Tesla is not unwise to create it’s own charging infrastructure for its customers because the simple fact is that if you could recharge an EV as quickly and as conveniently as you can refuel a gasoline or diesel powered vehicle, and if you could find a charging station within your EV’s range, range becomes more of a non issue. Let’s face it, how many owners of gasoline cars really consider range on a single tank of gas when buying a new car? As long as you can get ~300 miles between fill ups, the vast majority of car consumers don’t really care about range. Gas mileage yes, but I’d bet that total range is only important to a minority of gas/diesel drivers.

This is nothing new. Like 3D photography and movies, this is not the first go-round with EVs. Electric cars and were marketed more than a century ago, at the dawn of the automotive age and soon enough electric car companies, electric component makers, trade organizations, tire and battery companies, and publishers rushed in to help EV owners find a charge.

The EV side of the auto industry understood that drivers of EVs would need public charging facilities at the same time that it promoted electric cars as suitable for touring. The Electric Vehicle Association of America even published a charging station guide to the Lincoln Highway, America’s first attempt at a coast to coast road. Since the longest distance between charging stations was about 120 miles, well beyond the range of any contemporary electric car, it’s doubtful than any early electric automobilists completed the entire route, but the EV industry did what it could to dispel the image that electric cars could not be taken on long trips. Tesla is doing the same today.

The fact that the Electric Vehicle Association agreed on a standard charging plug that was used by most EV makers made things a little easier. In the photo above, the charging port on a 1922 Milburn Light Electric is being held open so you can see the terminals in the photo above. The photo below shows a similar charging port, though closed, on a 1914 Detroit Electric runabout.

By 1912, the Detroit Electric Car company, the most successful of the first wave of EV makers (it has only been in the past year that the Nissan Leaf surpassed the Detroit Electric as the most successful EV ever, in terms of total sales) had both standalone charging garages as well as combined sales branches and charging stations in Detroit, Manhattan, Chicago , Boston, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Cleveland, Evanston, Kansas City, and Minneapolis.

In 1914, the New York Electric Vehicle Association, in conjunction with Automobile Blue Books started publishing route guides for “electric touring”, that mapped the locations of charging stations and provided suggested touring routes.

The guide was updated, apparently annually. In an emergency, drivers of electric cars could get a charge from electric streetcar or trolley wiring – as this Tom Swift story relates.

While General Electric sold  mercury arc rectifier based residential chargers to EV owners, the majority of the more than 14,000 chargers that GE sold a century ago were sold to public facilities like hotels and parking garages.

The Exide battery company, perhaps the major EV battery maker in the early days of the automobile, set up its own storage and charging garage (many city dwellers didn’t have residential parking for their cars) and “battery depot” in New York City.

In addition to public charging facilities, taxicab companies that operated electric cabs set up their own charging garages and had chargers installed for their drivers’ use at hotels they serviced.

As was shown 100 years ago, broadscale consumer acceptance of electric cars needs a publicly accessible charging infrastructure. It’s unfortunate that the war of words between Mr. Musk and the New York Times is obscuring rather than illustrating that need.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

 

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48 Comments on “Plus ça Charge: Electric Touring...”


  • avatar
    Monty

    Thank you, Ronnie. Your posts are always interesting and informative. Your point about a charging infrastructure is lost in the chatter surrounding the Musk vs. NYT kerfluffle, yet is probably the single biggest factor in the general overall acceptance of EV’s by the driving public.

    An electric vehicle would suit my needs perfectly, with the exception of weekend jaunts further afield. I drive a maximum of 500 kilometers (300 miles), or approximately 12 miles a day, during weekdays in a month, but weekends we’ve traveled upwards of several hundreds of kilometers. If I had access to quick-chargers during excursions, then range-anxiety is no longer a fear. It’s the single biggest factor why we haven’t considered a Leaf. At the price of electricity here in the Great Frozen North, an electric vehicle makes a lot of sense, given the presence of quick-charging stations.

    Again, thanks for the great history lesson.

    • 0 avatar
      chris724

      Yes, this was an excellent article. Thanks Ronnie! I think Tesla’s problems in NY were due to the low temperature. I wonder if the battery actually ran out, or if the charge estimator just miscalculated? Either way, Californians don’t do cold. Maybe they should add a propane fired heater to the thing?

      • 0 avatar
        RedStapler

        Exactly.

        Air Cooled VWs used a supplementary gas fired heater for winter in colder areas.

        They could re-purpose an Espar style Diesel Fired Block and Bunk Heater used on Long Haul Semi Tractors and Heavy Equipment. There is plenty of room in the Frunk. Figure a 2 gal tank is good for a week of driving.

    • 0 avatar
      chas404

      This article rocks. I had known about electric (and steam) cars during this era. Puts the current hybrid/EV trend into perspective. Saw a restored electric car on Velocity channel was kinda neat.

  • avatar

    I can’t wait to see Tesla’s supercharger network up and running. They should put em next to Walmart’s, BJ’s and Costcos so people can charge and shop simultaneously – helps the charge time go by quicker.

    Maybe even movie theaters and other long-time venues.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      This makes sense at first, but the venues you mention aren’t frequented by people who would actually need the Supercharger – long-distance travellers.

      Long-time venues are frequented by people with home chargers who just want to run some errands. People driving 300 miles don’t typically stop anywhere for an hour or two.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        There’s always restaurants.

        For families, playgrounds, mini golf and old-fashioned roadside attractions seem like great placed to recharge.

        Ever since having a kid, we have to stop for an hour now and then anyway. Plus, my road trips are less frequent now, so that extra couple of hours costs me less.

        EV road tripping isn’t going to ideal for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be. If it only works for a fraction of the population, it can simultaniously deploy cool new technology for those of us who value that, and also extend the oil party.

        Conventional vehicles are better for the traveling salesman duty cycle. I used to drive that much (and I was able to justify the payment on a VW TDI based on projected fuel savings at the time), I don’t drive that much anymore. Most people never drive that much.

    • 0 avatar
      oldfatandrich

      Hey, big truck, I bet there will be so many Wal-Mart and BJ’s shoppers liining up to charge their Teslas that we’ll need extra police details to control the traffic. It’s reassuring to know that we live on different planets.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Quick-chargers are not needed at Walmart … they’re needed at motorway rest stops!

      And overnight chargers are needed at hotels.

      That, at a minimum – and cost reduction! – is what’s needed to make an EV with the range of a Tesla practical for most people.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      It’s always ironic whenever EV charging stations and Costco are mentioned since they actually had them installed as far back as 2006, but then had them all removed two years ago, citing lack of usage:

      http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/17/citing-a-lack-of-usage-costco-removes-e-v-chargers/

      Although the plugs of the older Costco chargers were virtually obsolete, an EV charger manufacturer (Clipper Creek) would have upgraded them with the new, universal J1772 plug at no cost, but Costco determined they didn’t want them anymore.

  • avatar
    David Hester

    One of the largest hurdles that I see that must be overcome before EVs will ever be fully accepted as mainstream alternatives to ICE vehicles is the charging time. An hour for a “rapid” charge to gain 300 miles of drving range will not be acceptable for the vast majority of motorists when you can brim the tank in a mid- size sedan in under five minutes. Trickle charging an EV for eight hours at night while you sleep is great for use as a daily commuter vehicle, but for EVs to reach mainstream acceptance, they have to perform as good or better than their ICE competitors with no compromises when it comes to convenience.

    Consider the worst case scenario that many of us have faced or will face at some point in our lives: a family member who lives two or three states away struck gravely ill and a phone call in the middle of the night asking you to rush to their bedside. If my ICE car has only a quarter tank of gas, it’s no big deal because I can still hit the road, stop at the nearest service station and fill up on the way out of town with little delay in my journey. When the tank gets low, I pull into another 24 hour service station, fill up again, and keep moving.

    If my only vehicle is an EV and I only have a quarter of a charge when I get that midnight phone call, then I’m stuck for several hours until the batteries recharge. Even if I take off and go to a rapid charger, then I’m still delayed for an hour until the rapid charger “fills” up the batteries.

    Now, obviously such a scenario is blessedly rare. But it does happen. If the answer to the question is that I should have a second ICE powered car, then we’re admitting that EVs are ultimately niche vehicles with restricted capabilities. There’s nothing wrong with that. Ferraris are niche vehicles too and the world would be a poorer place without them. But the Federal government isn’t pushing a Ferrari in every garage and betting billions of tax dollars on making them viable as mainstream transportation for the masses.

    Just out of curiousity, what were the charge times at these early 20th century recharging stations? I’m wondering if we’ve really made any great leaps forward in terms of EV viability. An hour long recharge time might also have seemed reasonable when the horse and buggy was still a viable and mainstream competitor to the horseless carriage. Until EVs can be used without any compromises of covnvenience, then they will always be the car of the future, waiting just around the corner.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Agreed 100%. Infrastructure is not the problem; speed of refills is.

      Tesla has already shown that range is no longer a problem.

      If EVs could be filled as quickly as gas/diesel cars, you could easily fit every gas station with EV chargers alongside the gas pumps, since the power is already there.

      But alas, battery technology hasn’t advanced to this point. You’d need about a 300x improvement in fillup time to be on par with gas, and I don’t see that happening soon.

    • 0 avatar
      sbunny8

      What if you get that midnight phone call on the day your ICE car is in the shop for repairs? What if the midnight phone call comes on a night when your spouse drove your ICE car out of town? What if your ICE car had a flat tire? What if you’re one of the millions of Americans who don’t own a car at all because they live in a place like New York City?

      You’d probably borrow a car from a friend/neighbor or you’d call a car rental company. Or maybe you’d take a taxi to the Greyhound station.

      Don’t get hung up on what the car can’t do. There’s limitations to everything. Nothing will cover 100% of situations you may face.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      Three hundred miles is about the most that I’m likely to drive on a trip without taking a meal break. That’s four hours of driving at a constant 75 MPH. So, if I can recharge somewhere where I can fuel up my stomach too, and a recharge takes no more than an hour, an electric car with 300-mile range won’t feel any different from what I do now.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      @David Hester:

      Yes, gasoline-like charging would be great for EVs.

      But the EV isn’t, and doesn’t have to be, all things to all people. For people whose household needs exactly one car that has to do everything, gasoline is the right tool for the job.

      My household fleet contains two principal vehicles: a Prius and a Sienna minivan. While the Prius is a competent trip car, we like the van better for road trips. It could easily be replaced with a Leaf. The only reason we haven’t is because it’s hard to justify replacing such a reliable car just ’cause. I agree that the limitations of EVs are real and make them unsuitable for everyone, but multi-car families who own gasoline-powered minivans are an ideal situation for an EV like the leaf, and a pretty big part of the population.

      Use the EV for daily commuting, and the minivan for hauling heavy objects, big groups, and the unexpected. Done. Use the right tool for the right job, and save a ton of gasoline (literally) every year.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        “For people whose household needs exactly one car that has to do everything, gasoline is the right tool for the job.”

        Nobody NEEDS “one car that has to do everything”. I NEED a minibus for those half-my-son’s-team-to-a-soccer-match rides; and I NEED a tiny car (could be electric), the smaller the better for ease of parking, for downtown work and shopping rides; and I NEED a luxury sedan for those long vacation Finland-to-Italy road trips; and I NEED a big 4×4 to tow the boat I’m going to have to and from the cabin I’m going to have; and I NEED a little one- or two-seat roadster to have pure fun with; and I NEED…

        What you can afford, though, is another question.

        (Oh well, at least not being able to afford that boat and cabin obviates the NEED for that big 4×4. “Always look on the bright side…” :-) )

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    After about a year and a half of life with public and private charging, I find that “opportunity” charging for this generation of vehicles really should be located at places where people can expect to leave them to charge for at least 2 hours. Best candidates are office parking garages (ideally with 120v sockets that can be used with the car’s own charger during an 8+ hour workday), movie theaters, shopping malls, airports (with 120v sockets for long-term parking). Supermarkets and street parking don’t really offer enough time to get a useful charge.

    Charge times with the 120v charger and my Volt overnight are perfectly fine for weekday commuting. On weekends, it would be nice to have a 240v at home for local trips and quick recharges between them. I would like a 6.6kW or greater charger even with the smaller Volt battery for even faster charges (2h for a full charge at 7.2kW would be doable).

    If battery tech gets to the point where a $50k car can have an 85KWh or greater battery and a 200kW motor (which is doable, if LiS/Envia/nanotech advances with 400Wh/kg or greater density come out), I would have that as my only car, and save long road trips for my motorcycle or a rental vehicle.

    IIRC the Tesla home charger will work with up to 100A, which is kind of ridiculous, though I could probably get it up to 70A on a subpanel if I’m not running my home’s ovens and stove burners along with the well pump (200A service). I certainly hope the start adding Superchargers to I35 and I10 in Texas, maybe at Buc-ees!

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Excellent article, Ronnie.

    One detail missed by most accounts of this story:
    1. I don’t think the Supercharger is recommended for daily use.
    2. Battery life is compromised by 100% filling, but Tesla recommended it for this stunt to be successful.

    In 4 months, I’ve charged my Leaf to 100% maybe 3 times.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The 80% charge recommendation in the Leaf’s owner’s manual is one of the things that drove home its limitations when I drove it.

      Still, I loved the car for its NVH, its stop-sign busting low-end torque, and happy disposition. If I were slightly richer (about $8k) one would be in my driveway right now. If I get a bonus at work, it’ll happen.

  • avatar
    sbunny8

    About half the time, I don’t bother to plug in my Mitsubishi i Miev at all because it has plenty of charge left at the end of the day. On the days that I do plug it in, I usually just drive home and plug in the Level 1 slow charger overnight; it’s either full or almost full the next morning. This actually EASIER than going to a gas station.

    About once a week, my spouse drives it to the local community college where they have a free Level 2 charger in the parking lot, plugs it in on arrival and it’s either full or almost full in the afternoon. Again, EASIER than going to the gas station.

    Maybe once a month I need to drive more than 50 miles in a single day and that’s when I need the Level 3 fast charger. It gets me from 10% to 80% in only 19 minutes.

    I’ve seen people wait in line longer than 19 minutes at the Costco gas pump just because they wanted to save 10 cents per gallon. I think I can wait 19 minutes to save the planet, especially since it only happens about one day per month.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      I’m quite happy your nuclear and coal-powered vehicle works for you, but please don’t delude yourself into thinking you’re saving the planet. You’ve moved the energy requirements to big power stations – mostly nuclear and coal in North America.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        Moved, yes, but not necessarily worsened the energy requirements.

        http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1072943_are-electric-cars-really-bad-for-the-planet-simple-math-says-no

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        It’s still an improvement. Even if his local generation mix is 100% coal, the emissions are still slightly better than a Prius.

        Saving the planet, no. Reducing his climate impact on the planet and the military expenditure required to support his lifestyle, yes.

        Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the pretty good.

      • 0 avatar
        sbunny8

        Here in Oregon, 48% of our electricity comes from renewable sources like wind, solar, and hydro. Some of the places where I charge up use 100% renewable energy. My EV’s net CO2 output per mile is less than 1/10th that of the average ICE car.

        I’m aware that the phrase “save the planet” sounds pretentious but I thought it was good prose because I had just used the verb “save” earlier in the sentence. A more accurate phrase would have been “drastically reduce my carbon footprint and help transition to an economy which will be more flexible when world oil production inevitably begins to decline”

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        Like refining gasoline from crude oil requires no electric power? I’ll bet nuclear power stations quiver in fear every time a Leaf pulls up to charging point…

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @sbunny8: I’ve never even seen a Level 3 charger here in western PA. I just use my Level 2 charger at home.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      There was an interesting article which stated that pure EVs (Battery Electric Vehicles or BEV) like the i-MiEV, Leaf, Focus Electric, et al, are actually the most infrequent users of charging stations. It makes sense in that owners of those vehicles map their routes very carefully in a manner which does not depend on having to use a charging station to prevent running out of charge. They plan their trips with plenty of charge to make it back home from their destination without having to resort to the nail-biting search and lengthy wait for an available (and working) charge station.

      The most frequent users of charging stations are actually the drivers of Plug-in Hybrid EVs (PHEV) like the Volt, Plug-In Prius (PiP), and C-Max Energi. All of those vehicles have an ICE main propulsion unit (or, in the case of the Volt, ‘range extender’) making them much more conducive to opportunity EV station charging to ‘top off’ their batteries.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        As a Leaf driver, my own behavior confirms this.

        Over 4 months’ time, I’ve only used two public chargers. I got 1 mile from one once, and the other I’ve used a few times for a total of maybe 25 miles.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    Ronnie,

    Great article and I’ll read it again to make sure I didn’t miss anything. An EV would fit fine into our two car family and for the half dozen times (annually) we go farther than 50 miles locally…a little prior planning might be worth it. That being said…with the US possibly soon being an energy exporter and China’s rapid growing middle class..makes me wonder where auto power is going. If China mandated EV’s in cities to control pollution, then we’d see an even more rapid development. If rapacious demands for fossil fuels drives fuel prices up over the next 10-20 years, IC’s might benefit. But demand for coal or NG turbine power plants might drive electrical prices up too. Here in the PNW we tend to have higher than national fuel prices and way lower than national electrical prices. I’m seriously considering a plug in hybrid as another vehicle…but I’m also concerned about resale value given battery life (plug in or EV). I sure enjoy watching the tech evolution!

    • 0 avatar
      360joules

      In the PNW Pacific Northwest of the USA) are salmon-chewing federal dams, a few coal plants and tax supported natural gas power plants, one aging tax fiasco nuke plant, tax supported wind farms (that piggyback on the dam transmission lines. PNW gasoline is expensive because there are only a few refineries & more importantly extremely high gas taxes (Washington State gas taxes are high in part to subsidize the state ferry system on the Puget Sound). All cars depreciate, the software to protect the batteries is pretty good, the tax subsidies are generous so go for it if the electric car pencils out for you.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        If you buy your power from Puget Sound Energy, one-third of your electricity comes from the coal-fired power plants at Coalstrip, Montana. Most people would be very surprised to find this out, even though the insert in last month’s bill laid it out very clearly.

        And the aging nuclear power plant (in Richland, operated by Energy Northwest) is doing just fine, thank you very much. It just got a brand-new heat exchanger, and also received an extension on its operating license through 2043.

      • 0 avatar
        JaySeis

        As most of the Columbia watershed that has significant snowpack is in Canada, the US pays Canada (through treaty) for the privilege of early water release to run the dams. The big ones are either fed or county owned (Chelan county owns Rocky Reach as I recall). Smaller ones on tributaries are a mix (some public utilities). End result is fed subsidized (capital construction) cheap power. There is a gas turbine generation facility upriver of us about 60 miles with a second proposed. 80% of the power in my house is hydro based with the balance a crazy mix as noted above.

        The west simply did not have the population base in the 30′s to justify much private utility investment, thus the federal rural electrification program and massive projects such as the Columbia Basin project created an irrigation, power generating, navigation system collussus. Such infrastructure made Washington (state), Oregon less so. TVA, Intercoastal Waterway, Mississpi flood control (debatable) are other examples of fed capital investment (FYI, the first salmon fishing collapse occurred by 1890 as a consequence of over fishing).

  • avatar
    Kevin Jaeger

    Great article, Ronnie. It drives me nuts when people talk about electric cars as if they were some type of new leading-edge technology. There is nothing remotely new about them – they were tried and they lost their place in the market because gas powered cars were simply better suited for all of the variety of uses people use cars for. Better range, easier refueling, ability to provide heat, lights and AC without significantly compromising range, more energy stored in less weight and space, etc.

    Electric vehicles have been used where suitable indoor fork lifts, golf carts, etc. There is absolutely nothing new in this round of trying to bring out EVs and they will only be suitable for a minority niche of the market for the same reasons as a century ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      By your reasoning, my neighbor’s Model A should be able to keep up with every car on my street at the drag strip!

      Show me a 100 year old battery that can move a Leaf 72 miles, and you’ve got a point.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Great article, well thought out. But I think you meant ‘sturm und drang.’

  • avatar
    Stein X Leikanger

    Well, I’ll do my touring in a Porsche.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lohner-Porsche

    Ideally, the battery-pack should be owned by the recharging facilities, and should be standardized, for quick swaps. A Better Place is finding out that ideal and real world are far apart.

    Which means we have to consider whether today’s EVs will cover our automotive needs, and what needs won’t be relevant.
    Some years ago, we did a study of U.S. car ownership patterns (nr. of cars, types, usage, etc., in households).
    It became clear that for a sizeable portion of U.S. households, having an EV in the garage would cover 90% of usage needs, and that the remaining 10% were a variety of special cases (heavy and long hauls, very long trips).
    But most usage could be covered without a recharge, and the average daily mileage trotted up by a U.S. driver was actually far below guesstimates.

    So it comes down to practicalities: is electricity cheap where you live; are there charging stations; do you face major elevation or climate challenges that could impact range?

    That said, I’ve been told of a guy close to where I live who did a daily commute in a Tesla Roadster to Oslo, winter and summer, of a total of nearly 220 miles, roundtrip. He likes to drive. Charger at home, charger at work.

    In cities, EVs offer tempting advantages: cleaner air, lower noise levels, getting to use fast lanes during drive time. (For as long as that lasts – cities are also reserving prime parking space for EVs, with free charging).
    Here, families are buying one (or even two) city-runner EVs, while keeping a larger 4WD ready in the garage for the trip to the mountain or sea-side cabins.

    I see EVs everywhere, in mid-winter, and they are zipping along just as fast as ICE vehicles, believe it or not. Whether they are freezing behind the wheel I can not tell. Maybe.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    This article clearly illustrates that the electric car has had its chance and blew it. Now if we come across new battery technology, or some breakthrough way to store electricity, it would make sense that the electric car got a new resurgence. But none of that happened, so the poor EV is forced to compete with fully mature and well developed internal combustion unit. I think all efforts currently spend on “forcing” people to go EV would be better spent on research to get that battery technology breakthrough. Can’t have the chicken without the egg first.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Yes, but oil is infinite resource on human timescales.

      We’ve already burned the really cheap-to-get oil, and we’ll probably hit the halfway point on the worldwide oil reserves in my lifetime, and my son will have to deal with the “economic restructuring” which that event will bring in the prime of his career (one way or another).

      So, what’s a guy to do? I’d like to support alternatives and avoid being part of the problem on a personal level. I’ve driven the Leaf and found it to be a car I’d be happy to drive every on its attributes as a commuter car, and everyone who has driven the Model S seems to be wowed by its attributes as performance/luxury a car, so I can probably have my cake and eat it too. And, as someone who lives a mainstream American lifestyle by choice, I like cake. :-)

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    Who killed the electric car? I blame JP Morgan.

  • avatar

    Thanks to everyone for the kind comments.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    Most people don’t appreciate the amount of energy they carry around in the 18 gallon gas tank of their car. If you look up “energy density” in Wikipedia, you can see that gasoline has an energy density of ~46 MJ/Kg. (mega-joules per kilogram) while a lithium ion battery (of the type used by Tesla, has an energy density of 0.72 MJ/Kg. Also, the rate at which you can transfer energy in a three minute fill up at the pump is staggering, if you were convert the energy transfer in to electric power terms. I won’t bother with the math, but at 240V, it would be a massive amount of current.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem with alternative energy for transportation is that gasoline is an outstanding fuel. And to think that John D. Rockefeller’s refineries used to throw the stuff away (his business was primarily selling kerosene for lighting).

      I don’t know how historically reliable the recent Men Who Made America miniseries on the History channel was (it got some stuff about Henry Ford very wrong), but it said that after electric lighting caught on, Rockefeller was casting about for another product and settled on gasoline, and that Rockefeller helped foster the market for gasoline by converting his refineries from running on steam engines to running on stationary gasoline engines.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Yes, E46, energy density. If more people understood the basics, a lot less tax money would be wasted on “alternate energy” schemes.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        For a full understanding of the energy density, you need to account for the Carnot cycle losses experienced by the ICE car. An EV doesn’t need to do the heat to movement energy conversion onboard, so it needs about 1/3rd the energy storage to do the same job.

        This is also why a 34MPG car like the Volt gets over 100MPGE. It’s because of the way we do energy accounting and financial accounting. You pay for the energy when it enters the car, not when it leaves the ground. So, most people feel that its fair to count then physical energy consumed this way.

        In wheel-to-wells terms, EV and really efficient gasoline cars (like the Prius) are fairly comparable in terms of energy usage, if you run completely on coal/nuclear/NG power plants (Houston). At least until you consider the fact that EVs are agnostic about what pushes the electrons, and you realize its a way to trade 3 or 4 big problems for 1 giant problem. Plus, it’s cool geeky tech that I always wanted to play with.

        There is a LOT to see down this rabbit hole. A lot PD it takes the luster off of what people assume about green technologies. But these technologies are still a win by my standards, even if they aren’t what people wish they were.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Speaking of electric touring, apparently seven Tesla owners took to the road this weekend to retrace the Broder trip:

    http://www.mercurynews.com/cars/ci_22610702/teslaroadtrip-participants-tout-their-model-s-sedans-and


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