By on June 11, 2008

george-w-bush-tries-the-ford-edge-plug-in-hybrid-as-alan-mullay-dick.jpgPlease read before screaming. Earlier today our man Wilkinson posed a very good question. Can our (in many cases) ailing power grid cope with EVs? Now, I'm lucky. I live in Los Angeles where DWP supplies the juice. DWP's union (wisely) refused to go private when out-on-his-ass former Governor Gray Davis was using Enron to help privatize most of California's electrical production. Long story short, LA has power to spare and was one of the only counties unaffected by the rolling blackouts a few years back. So, I'm confident us Angelenos will be able to handle plug-ins, capacity-wise. But where the hell do we plug 'em in? I live in a classic LA hill home. It's four flights of stairs up me. Meaning street parking. Short of running 200 feet of extension cord down a hill and across a street, I can't charge an EV. Hundreds of my neighbors are in the same outlet-less boat. That's just in my 'hood. In other words, if I had an EV, I wouldn't know what to do with it. Would you?

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56 Comments on “Question of the Day: Who Here is Ready For an Electric Car?...”


  • avatar
    Juniper

    Bring em on! I’m ready. Easy garage acces,More than willing to set a timer for off peak charging.
    Second larger car for long trips etc. I can even see the smoke stacks of the nasty coal fired power plant from my roof. At least it is domestic power. doesn’t do much for the CO2 thing but it does help. That power plant is at least more efficient than an IC engine.

  • avatar
    doug

    Hack into the lamp post?

  • avatar
    Steve_K

    I am ready, as are most people who own their home and have a garage. Apartments are tricky though. One why around it could be to wire a charging port into your apt’s electric meter. This would have to be secured, naturally, to prevent others from usurping your spot and electric bill! I suppose they would have to issue a charging box key along with your mail key. They could also install card readers (at great expense) to identify which car is being charged at that spot, in which case all the usual card hacking techniques come into play.

    The same people who are currently stealing catalytic converters and drilling tanks to siphon gas will be digging for electrical lines to splice. Fortunately they can be badly injured doing this.

    Too bad electrics cars won’t be ready for ME until I can get one that goes 200 miles on a charge and cost $10k or less.

  • avatar

    As far as access at my house, no problem. But I love internal combustion, and am not anxious to switch to electrics for that reason. I also would want to have a much better range and quicker charging, unless I became a family with two cars. (And even then, I’d prefer the second car be a Cayman or a Miata.)

  • avatar
    menno

    I’m ready for a commuter car such as I understand Nissan, Subaru and others may have for introduction in the United States by 2010 (there’s that date…) or 2011. Except that, if these companies just “think inside the box” (called “California first/only”) then I won’t get a chance.

    Swing the introduction to nation-wide and I’m ready when they are.

    Except for us fools who live up here in the north and for whom 6 months of the year, we require demisting/defrosting and heat, I’m not sure how things will work out. Will there be gasoline heaters and a small gas tank on these rigs?

    That’d be ironic.

  • avatar
    seoultrain

    The cost of early adoption simply doesn’t make it worth it for most people. Once the technology matures (improving in efficiency, weight, and cost), I’d be ready to look at an electric vehicle. I’ll always have an IC-engined car around for when I want some fun, though.

  • avatar
    Buick61

    Ready, willing, and able. Bring on the Volt!

    I already had an electrician come by to see if there was an even more accessible place to put an outlet on the outside of the house for just this use. I may be a few years early, but I want to beat the rush.

  • avatar
    sean362880

    I wouldn’t know what to do an EV for an entirely different reason. I have a garage in which to charge the EV, but I occasionally drive more than 200 miles in a day, on highways. There’s no EV which can claim that kind of range and mean it.

    We need to ask for more from our cars than battery-based electrics can offer. Til then, they’re just glorified golf carts. Maybe I’d consider using an alcohol-based fuel cell EV in 20 or 30 years, but til then I’m sticking with internal combustion.

  • avatar
    C. Alan

    If it has a 200 mile range (including a 2,000 vertical climb), seats 4, and cost under $20K, then yes, I would buy one.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Sure, something basic for around town or short trips. A second vehicle…give it a small open cargo area and that would be even more ideal as a second vehicle.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I buy value. I am not prejudiced against electrics, and think they will likely offer cheaper maintenance. So, sure, let me have one.

  • avatar
    AKM

    Add outlets to parking meters and you’re set. This way, you could even pay for the electricity using said parking meters!

  • avatar

    Give me freeway speed, heater, mid teens price, and a true 50 mile range and I’m go for an EV. I’ve got a garage and a 32 mile round trip commute, which I share with my wife. We could easily get down to one conventional car and an EV.

    I’m not holding my breath, though…

  • avatar

    Sign me up.

    So long as it looks more like a Tesla Roadster or Volt than a Prius.

    The “Grid” is soooooo 20th century. Free your mind, people!

    Never pay another electric bill…

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    I’d be down to lease one on attractive terms in a few years. I would not want to own one for the 1st 3-4+ years of production until any battery longevity issues are revealed.

    My commute is ~18mi with 1500ft elevation change. As a 2nd car an EV1 type vehicle with 80mi (flatland) of range would rock.

    Until EVs gain more than 5-10% market share they would not be taxing the grid. Most would be charged off-peak between 10pm and 6am when there is idle base load capacity in the system.

    In parts of CA that have muni power like LA(DWP) or Sacramento (SUMD) you can install a solar system and get a nice arbitrage between peak and off peak rates.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Los Angeles, hillside home, DWP power, street-level garage…sure. As a secondary or tertiary vehicle. If like many you don’t have this arrangement, serial hybrids make sense. You get an electric drivetrain but if you aren’t able to charge, you still have quite efficient mobility and no range issues.

    Phil

  • avatar
    KixStart

    We have 3 cars for, nominally, 2 people, we don’t live in the boonies and work within 7 miles of home. Certainly, one car could easily be a short-range electric.

    But I’m not willing to spend a lot of money on a short-range two-place electric vehicle, especially when I can get a 50mpg Prius for $23K.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    How long would that extension cord last before somebody liberated it for themselves? Big City’s where even home owners typically don’t have a garage, SanFrancisco comes to mind, present a big problem for EVs. In terms of infrastructure, you woudl need assigned street parking and some secure way of limiting the access to the street outlet, the car plug in, and the wire in between so only you use your electricity. Not as simple as installing plugs along the curb, and what about the situation where the amount of street parking is less than the number of tenants? Will you have to show proof of car ownership to be assigned a spot and a plug? What if the next tenant has a car and the prior tenant didn’t? Sorry, no electricity/parking spot for you; I guess you’ll have to sell your car if you want to live here. Somebody want to propose a way this will work in an urban setting?

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I’m ready for an electric car. The awesome torque is appealing and the change in packaging requirement could drive some interesting styling trends. Of course, I too live in a city and would have problems charging. Still, there are ways around this problem. I envision electified rails in the ground, like a slot car track but without the restrictive slot and with some fancy pedestrian electrocution protection.

    I’ll never give up (volutarily) driving my sweet I6 powered Bimmer though.

  • avatar
    veefiddy

    Since I already have solar panels making 1/2 my ‘lectricity, sure, bring it!

  • avatar
    doug

    @Lumbergh21
    For the apartment/condo dwellers, urban or not, you could have managed parking garages with electrical outlets. One could charge a premium for that.

    Most “homes” I’ve seen is San Francisco actually do have garages. Even the densely packed town houses tend to have a garage under the rest of the house.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Ready, willing and able.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    @ doug :

    Do you realize how friggen expensive it is to park in garages in major cities already? There are parking spaces in Boston for sale for $75K and normal, non reserved garage spaces run ~$300/month.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    Ready. I have a 12 mile commute each way and the average speed is 36-37 mph. Short burst to 60 required for a 1 mile bridge segment to avoid being run over. Otherwise suburban stop and (mostly) go.

    From the comments, it seems that you could sell enough cars with a limited range to make it worthwhile. How is that different from selling sports cars to people with families who also have one or more other ‘real’ cars? Last I checked Porsche and Corvette are doing OK, but price needs to be lower than either of those.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Pure electric? Will consider when they are ready for me.
    No short range commute only niche market stuff. Has to be real world capable. Similar day to day, all typical use capability to an IC or hybrid at a resonably competitive price.
    Looks like that will be a while.

    Plug in? As above, rather sooner but price still a question.

    Hybrid? Sure, if I was looking midsize now a Prius would be on the short list. (BTW, I’m conservative, non-tree hugger and don’t give a hoot about the “Image”) It makes great economic sense (unless you pretend it’s a compact).

    Bunter

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    I don’t even have a garage, but I can wire anything up to at least 200 amps. I’ve already run a conduit of shop air 100 feet out to a chuck by the driveway, so I can make like Nascar Dad when it’s time to change three cars’ worth of snow tires every December and April, but what a silly boy I’d be to own an EV plus a 13-mpg carbureted 911 that is a Superfund Site…

  • avatar
    jaje

    I’d be up for one as a commuter. 4 seats but small car with decent room for cargo (groceries). I just bought a used pull behind kid toter for my mountain bike so that I can now bike the 3 miles to the grocery store.

  • avatar
    mel23

    Yes. Get power from the coal plant owned by the nearby town. Live 3.5 miles from Walmart/Kroger & 10 miles from the vet. Budget & Enterprise will bring me whatever else I might need 3-4 times a year. But in order for me to dump my van, this electric thing has to have room for a big dog cage. Something like a Honda Step Bus or maybe one of Toyota’s concepts might do. As an available accessory, how about some solar panels I can set up or attach to my roof.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    My great-grandmother owned an electric car before WWI. I won’t and I doubt that my children or grandchildren will.

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    No way in hell I can use an EV. I have a 40km one way commute to work on the highway, at night. I do have an outdoor outlet, but it won’t help when I run out of juice halfway home.

  • avatar
    Samir

    If performance were all that mattered, no one would drive a 1967 muscle car that gets taken at a stoplight by a V6 Camry.

    I just can’t see electric cars being as wild, thrashy, insane, noisy as good ol’ ICE cars. And I’m not sure I can live with that.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I could do it. I have a garage, and I purposely bought a home within 10 miles from work. I also telework a couple of days a week.

    When I prepare for athletic competitions, then it’s probably a 50-80 mile day.

    I am planning for a modest roof-mounted PV system sometime in the next several years. With one inverter at maximum capacity, I think I can decrease my current electric bill by about half. I need to check and see if I can get a discount for off-peak electric usage…

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Samir :

    I just can’t see electric cars being as wild, thrashy, insane, noisy as good ol’ ICE cars. And I’m not sure I can live with that.

    Until we (the people) have the will to elect politians with the will to explore, drill, and refine, you may have to learn to live with that.

    If the economy continues to tank, we ALL may have to learn to live with it.

  • avatar
    doug

    @guyincognito
    Who ever said it was cheap to live in the city?

  • avatar
    1138

    I would love one!

    When I was a kid my dad bought me an electric corvette car! It was cool and fast, for a kid anyway! It made this really cool whrrrrr sound and it would run really fast! I though by the time I’m an adult we would all be driving electrics! What the hell happened????

    As for charging, if the tech improves, all charging stations could be charged by solar panels. The parking meters here in New York all work with a solar panels on top. I could imagine charging stations someday with solar panels attached all separate from the actual electrical grid!

    If I owned a house I would put a solar panel on my garage and just plug my car in when I am home!

    I’m 30 now so who knows when these cars would come out. When the EV1 came out I thought we were on the way! And then they disappeared!!! I thought I was going to buy one out of college! Damn you GM for taking my electric car away!!!!

  • avatar
    dhanson865

    I’d be willing to use one as my daily driver if you gave it to me and I only had to pay for the electricity not the initial cost or maintenance.

    The good news for me is that I only pay about 8 cents a kw/h after taxes and fees.

    I like the idea of an all electric car I just don’t think they are cost effective and I can’t afford to walk the walk on that concept if it costs more to do so.

    I’m currently in an apartment but assuming the cord is bog standard I have a plug right inside my door and I can park 8 feet from the door. I’d say a 12 or 16 ft extension cord would do the trick so long as I can charge on the weekend only or between 7pm and 10pm so I feel comfortable sitting around near the power cord enough to hear somebody mess with it and stop them.

    Of course in the long term I’d buy a house and just charge in the garage.

  • avatar

    Either we go electric or we can wait for the price of gasoline to go back down. Say…when was the last time that happened?

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Either we go electric or we can wait for the price of gasoline to go back down. Say…when was the last time that happened?

    Well, in real dollar terms, from 1981 until circa 2000 we didn’t wait, we lived gasoline going “back down” almost continuously.

    Phil

  • avatar
    oldyak

    would Elvis drive a EV?

  • avatar
    Howler

    If my EV could recharge itself during nightly government induced lightning storms I might consider it. A flux capacitor would help a little. The electric motor would need to be manufactured to create a nice sound.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    Pure electrics are not the solution. Plug in hybrids (of all sorts; that is, the Volt counts and so does a plug-in Prius) are. People who can plug them will; people who can’t, won’t. Plus, if you need/want to go on a long trip, you can. All bases covered. Also, I’m sure once plug-in hybrids become common, many apartment buildings will wire their parking lots and garages for power to attract tenants.

    Of course, the Volt will only succeed if it matches the Prius in real-world practicality. Namely, it needs to be a midsized car that seats five with four doors (it’s a two door compact, although I think it does have a back seat of some sort (I don’t know if it seats four or five)), and cost the same price as the Prius (it’ll probably cost double). So, the Volt itself will fail. But a future Volt-like vehicle that meets those requirements may succeed.

  • avatar
    mdf

    Howler: “The electric motor would need to be manufactured to create a nice sound.”

    That’s the sound of inefficiency. I can’t wait to prowl around in a silent car myself.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Too bad electrics cars won’t be ready for ME until I can get one that goes 200 miles on a charge and cost $10k or less….

    Too bad there isn’t ANY new car that meets this criteria.

    If performance were all that mattered, no one would drive a 1967 muscle car that gets taken at a stoplight by a V6 Camry.…

    NOT. At least not any true musclecar with modern tires. Traction was the great limiter with the sixties cars. Still, that either proves how far cars have come or how wasteful appliance class cars have become. i don’t see too many Camry drivers using all that power.

    As for electrics, a two car household could easily use one electric, at least for most people. Obviously city dwellers and rural users would have serious logistical problems with range and recharging…

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Doug:

    And, many of those garages have been converted to living space due to the astronomical cost of housing in SF. It’s not that unusual either for a home owner to rent out a room. So, even when they are environmentally correct, 1 car per family, and they have a garage still available for parking “a car”, where does the renter park their car. When I was in college and sharing a three bedroom apartment with two other guys, we each had our own car. How would that work in a typical apartment complex where the tenants can well outnumber the parking spaces?

    Slow recharging of electric cars can work for many, maybe even most, people; but the development of either a method of quick charging cars or something else entirely will be needed before we can switch over to electric cars entirely and maintain anything near our current mobility.

  • avatar
    Wolven

    I’m experiencing a big case of deja vu’ here… Didn’t we just have this QOTD a week or two ago? As in “Would you buydrive an electric car?”

    How many times are we going to beat this horse?

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    Plug-in hybrid, yes, in a heartbeat, at a right price. Pure EV doesn’t have the necessary support infrastructure yet.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Wolven, you’re right, dead horse-wise. But one answer would be for _you_ to suggest a better Qotd, which I don’t doubt you could do.

    Goforit.

  • avatar

    Wolven, you’re right, dead horse-wise. But one answer would be for _you_ to suggest a better Qotd, which I don’t doubt you could do.

    Goforit.

    Uh, I’m not sure how JL will feel about that. However, I AM looking for more “Ask the Best and Brightest” questions. Send those to [email protected], please.

  • avatar
    rtz

    I’ve never purchased a new car or even a car from a dealer. If that electric Mitsubishi Eclipse was available and about $20,000; I’d buy one today.

    If the Volt was offered now in a full electric version, and about $20k; I’d buy one(I’m not real interested in the gas/electric version; I hate ICE maintenance).

    If I could buy a full electric Escape, I’d buy it.

    If the Tesla was cheaper; that would be my commuter.

    When is one of these car makers going to step up to the plate and offer a full electric version of one of their existing models?

    We’ve had the Rav4EV, and factory electric Rangers and S10’s. Not to mention some other obscure models. Hybrids are really close to being a full EV.

    It’s not rocket science to build these things.

    Why not offer it in two or three range models with prices to match?

    I only need 50 miles. Some of you might want 100, 200, or 300. Even 500 miles for some money.

    Why can’t some existing kit car company offer some “factory” electrics? Electric Lamborghini or Ferrari?

  • avatar
    John Horner

    No problem for me, I have a garage. Anyone who has the capability to garage their car shouldn’t have a problem setting up for EVs. I have no idea what fraction of the population uses their garage to park the car, but it seems like in our part of California the majority of non-apartment dwellers have a garage.

    High density cities are not the application for EVs or hybrids as mass transit already takes care of most routine trips. If a secure place to park your car is a big problem than you probably don’t need a commuter car.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    YES!!! Give me the RAV4-EV made by Honda and I’m in business. I mean to say sell it to me at a reasonable price…

    If they don’t start building them pretty soon, I’m considering building one.

    Plenty of turnkey electrics out there but they don’t get alot of press…

    http://www.worldclassexotics.com/Electric%20car%20conv.htm

    I want 100 mile range out of a five door hatchback be it a modern VW Rabbit or a CUV.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    http://www.acpropulsion.com/technology/prices.htm

    Throw some advanced batteries in with that system and you’ve got a neat very suable car. The best part is that the driveline (motor and controller) would last a long, long time. Something you could move from chassis to chassis.

    Need one of those Chevron held NiMH batteries. The Lithium batteries are good too but still new…

  • avatar
    Garak

    I’ll buy an EV when it can withstand Finnish winter conditions. That’s not going to happen soon – or most likely ever.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Boy, you can tell it’s Spring when you folks think about going all electric. I have a 15 mile commute each way, which would be fine during good weather.

    However, when it’s minus 15 degrees Celsius in early February, the snow’s still falling, and I need to heat that windshield and rear window (to keep ’em clear) and my freezing feet, and need to get to work, and the last thing I need is max torque at zero rpm, I think electric is a bust. 8kWh of juice will be gone before I leave the driveway after shovelling away the plow’s wall of snow.

    Same thing applies in reverse for A/C in Houston in summer.

    What about traffic jams? You want extra stress wondering whether the juice is going to last?

    A solar power panel on the vehicle’s roof would make about enough juice to run the DRL’s during a trip through Death Valley at high noon. Oh, and you want a sunroof too?

    The local electric company bought electric Chevy vans for meter readers 15 years ago. Big ads, blah, blah, blah. I know all about ’em, ’cause I worked there at the time. Experiment lasted about 3 months. Kaput.

    I’m not ready for all electric, and neither are very many other people. Of course there are amateur kits out there to convert your current pride and joy to electric. Easy to do. Good luck if you try it. Just don’t short out any batteries in your enthusiasm, because the result isn’t much different from flicking that lighter to see if there’s any gas left in the tank. And if you think that doesn’t happen, let me tell you about a friend who appeared at school one day in winter with a huge red sunburned face and no eyebrows.

  • avatar
    Zeitgeist

    Samir
    I just can’t see electric cars being as wild, thrashy, insane, noisy as good ol’ ICE cars.

    Look at this.

    Stephan Wilkinson
    suggest a better Qotd

    “What kind of stickers are on your car? Why?”
    I predict 150 answers.

    oldyak
    would Elvis drive a EV?

    Would Elvis read TTAC? Wouldn’t it be ElVis?

  • avatar
    zenith

    I’m ready. I’ve been ready for a long time but the manufacturers have told me that I won’t like the 100-mile range so they haven’t offered me one.

    I drive 28 miles round-trip to work,and have an ornamental lamp post

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