Changing the way you think about electric vehicles

Posted on March 17th, 2009 in Automotive News,Driving Emotion,Economy,Electric vehicles,Global Warming,Opinion by Julian Edgar

Today’s AutoSpeed article on electric vehicles is, as the box in the article states, based on a seminar given by Dr Andrew Simpson.

Dr Simpson produced the paper that we used as the foundation for the Assessing the Alternatives article we ran about a year ago – it’s amongst the very best of articles you’ll find in deciding which fuels vehicles should be using.

Andrew Simpson has just returned to Australia from four years in the US, where he worked at the US Government National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado, and then was a Senior R&D engineer at Tesla Motors.

I found his seminar quite riveting: it changed my views on a host of subjects relating to electric cars.

As described in the article, the advances in lithium ion battery technology and the use of ‘smart’ battery recharging, where electricity utilities can make use of low-load periods to remotely ‘turn up’ electric vehicle recharging, are both potential paradigm shifters.

But – almost in passing –  Andrew also made another point that I thought was nearly as important. Part-way through his presentation, he took his mobile phone out of his pocket and held it up.

“Here’s how we’ll be buying electric cars,” he said. “Like we currently do mobile phones.”

The uptake of mobile phone technology has been driven almost entirely by the way in which phones have been marketed – customers pay a relatively small amount upfront and then pay it off over years through the monthly bill, that comprises both call fees and capital cost repayment.

Put the ideas together of using the mobile phone marketing model with remote controlled smart recharging – and the obvious vendor of electric cars becomes the electricity utilities.

The electricity supply company can make enormously increased sales of power, all without building new infrastructure like power stations, substations and supply cabling. To encourage this increase in sales, they make available electric cars at a low upfront cost, with the monthly bill including both power charges and paying-off the cost of the car. Integration of the cost of battery replacement (should that even prove necessary) can be part of the deal.

The consumer is presented with an unbeatable offer – a new car for little money up-front, a weekly saving in motoring costs, lower greenhouse gas emissions, etc.

The electricity utility far better utilises their existing infrastructure to sell lots more power, scores ‘green’ brownie points, and diversifies their interests.

The reduction in reliance on oil and immediate environmental benefits mean government should create appropriate incentives.

Taking this approach immediately removes the requirement for consumers to be persuaded to outlay large amounts of cash on new technology of which, understandably, they will be initially suspicious. It instead uses a marketing model with which they are familiar, and – unlike mobile phones – the product (a car) is universally well recognised and understood. (If the latter seems an odd point, I can remember when people wondered why you’d ever need a mobile phone!)

I think these points are important enough to, over a relatively short period, completely alter the make-up of our car fleet.

46 Responses to 'Changing the way you think about electric vehicles'

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  1. Richard said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Sounds reasonable… the novated lease I suppose is similar in its effect that low cost monthly payments had on new car sales from the start of this century.

  2. Tom said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    I think that the thought that Synergy Energy here in the West should be responsible for charging my commuter vehicle overnight is hilarious.

    We can’t even turn on our air-conditioners simultaneously during “the peak”, so I can just imagine what it would be like when thousands of people plug their EVs in to charge overnight.

    We would need an investment in a new power station instead of stupid ads on TV telling us to only turn the aircon on to 24 degrees (mine is so old it doesn’t have a setting).

  3. Julian Edgar said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Tom, I don’t think that you read the article.

  4. Dean said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Perhaps your getting a little excited too early at these prospects. Consider your article published almost a year ago today, Note that coal fired electricity generation plants, very common in this country, produce worse environmental figures that a standard oil source petrol powered car. While I agree electric cars will be the way of the future, the net reduction of emissions, given the current generation methods, will not immediately happen. However, the greater demand for green electricity with elec cars may be a forceful driver for power generation change.

    The mobile market is a different animal, where innovation is occurring at a much faster rate, where a phone 2 years old is well and truly outdated. In the car market, a 2 year old model may have only had a face lift. The car market is also heavily weighed with second hand sales, with cars being on-sold perhaps 2 times within their life times. A fraction of mobiles are only ever on-sold. If electricity ‘plans’ are sold with cars, I can see cars becoming disposable as more consider totally renewing their cars (and may make more financial sense to), and the unloved cars going to landfill.

  5. Julian Edgar said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Dean, have a good look at the article. Even if electric cars are adopted right now in Australia, there are greenhouse gas benefits.

    I am always happy to change my views if good evidence that suggests I should change them is presented.

  6. Dean said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    You state their are benefits, however the “Assessing the Alternatives” states otherwise. I agree in the future the benefits will be there, but going by the “Assessing the Alternatives” article, if I buy an electric car, and recharge that from electricity generated by a coal powered plant, I’m generating more emissions than the comparative oil sourced petrol powered car. If that electricity source is from wind powered generators, then it’s no contest on emissions. The question is, are we at that point where the electricity generation mix provides the energy that in net, is cleaner than petrol?

  7. Julian Edgar said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Well, Dr Andrew Simpson suggests we are – again, it’s in both the article and his presentation!

    Can people please actually read the cited article before commenting? At least we’re then on the same page.

  8. Glen said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    MOST of our pollution is created by coal fired power stations?? why would you want to increase it?

    Natural gas in Australia is the way to go…. we have heaps.

    coal fired power stations should be the target…

  9. Glen said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    another article on power stations…..

    this is a (un)believable report from 07…cars produce 12% of total greenhouse gasses????where is the other 88% go…power and animals…the argument for electric cars is a stop gap to real energy producing alternatives?

  10. Andrew Simpson said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Hi Dean,

    While you’re correct that “Assessing the Alternatives” showed a marginal increase (<20%) in emissions for a 500km EV from coal, in this latest seminar I showed that a 200km range EV beats the petrol car on emissions. But these details really miss the point of the article…

    Today in Australia, their emissions are roughly the same. In other countries, the EVs already win easily (less coal). However, the production lines for EVs are only just getting started producing a couple thousand EVs each year. In 5-10 years time when EVs really go mainstream (millions of cars), the technology will have further improved and the emissions balance will strongly favour EVs – even in Australia. Meanwhile, the grid keeps getting cleaner, and oil production will get worse.

    I think it would be short-sighted of us to stifle this technology based on its marginal emissions difference today, when it will make such a massive impact in future. The key is to give the technology and industry the support it needs to ramp up in time.

  11. Glen said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    i agree that technology is increasing everyday and to increase the new technology’s “market” share decreases its cost and increases its viability…not arguing that point…the point i think needs to be address before we start making massive changes to the automotive world, maybe we need to start looking at the power producing stations…IE. actually upgrade them once a decade, much more gains to be had in a lot less time….

    1% reduction in cars pollution is not as much of a gain as 1% reduction of pollution in coal fired power stations..yet the latter can be achieved much more easily….

  12. Andrew Simpson said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 5:38 pm


    You’re right about the leverage we get from improving coal power stations. The govt is investing huge dollars in carbon-capture schemes, gas-fired generation, renewables, you name it. However, to meet our emissions goals we can’t target electricity alone – it’s not enough. We need to target transport/automotive systems as well.

    If you read the details of Julian’s article, you’ll see how EVs can actually improve the economics of the utility industry and help finance some of these changes on the supply side. We’re looking for win-win solutions here – not trading-off different sectors against one another.

  13. Glen said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    i just don’t understand how the infrastructure is there to increase the load on current handling abilities…..when they haven’t upgraded many stations for up to 20 years??? IE. yes there is a “valley” but how quickly would that said “valley” fill?

    the efficiencies of these places are terrible..but as you say if we start paying them more money, they may start fixing them

  14. Andrew Simpson said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    The article cites a recent study that said it would take 160 million EVs to fill the “valley” in the US. Similar studies are being done for Australia, but that’s an awful lot of cars before the valley fills.

    It is assumed, however, that charging these vehicles will occur in a coordinated manner – haphazard charging could cause issues on the grid. Fortunately, utilities are already deploying smart grid schemes for dispatchable loads (e.g. A/C, hot water) and real-time pricing. Intelligent charging is readily achieved via these systems.

  15. Glen said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    the US is ten times our population, so the comparison is void……when they use Australian data, from an independent source then argue that point..

    i think my point has been missed, to increase the use of inefficient power seems illogical?? so to remove a fuel system and replace it with a less efficient system that takes a very long time to implement…then to rely on power companies(and there great reputations) to upgrade them to an acceptable level of efficiency to counteract the initial cost and environment impact seems dumb(to use a simple word)…

    then on top of all this..expect most people to only be able to charge(refuel) there vehicles during “off peak”??

    attack the source of the problem first(power supply)….i will quite happily sell my v8 and buy a electric car…if the power company’s are forced to use the extra cash to actually SHOW the improvements….not just say they will.

    its the same as expecting the fuel stations to improve efficiency, but ignoring the oil drilling companies?

  16. Andrew Simpson said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 6:51 pm


    Ok, so you’re skeptical about scaling the US conclusion to Australia. I’m confident the result will be proportionally-similar in Australia since our grid load profiles have a similar “valley”. 16 million EVs would be a lot on Australian roads.

    I don’t understand why you think the grid-EV system is less-efficient than the oil-petrol car system – every study I’ve ever seen concludes the opposite, and the oil system is only getting worse, while the grid keeps getting better.

    Nobody’s forcing people to charge off peak – we’re providing systems and incentives for people to charge when it’s best for the utility, and that will lower the cost for people who cooperate. Have you ever wondered why utilities give people compact fluorescent bulbs for free?? It’s certainly not because they want to sell less power…

    Sure, parts of the grid are old and need upgrading, but those assets are also underutilised and operated inefficiently too…and that’s as much to do with the grid load profile as it is the technology – the grid rarely gets to operate at its optimum point.

    We’re talking about an approach that will improve grid asset utilisation, enhance grid operating efficiency and provide a compelling financial incentive for the utilities to reinvest in a cleaner and smarter grid. I don’t see what’s dumb about that.

  17. Glen said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    i guess we will have to agree to disagree….one point though is you stated the oil system is getting worse…can you post up your reports on in fact (to note the end user as most have been pointing in this direction) engines have become far more efficient, where they lose is in fact the weight of the mod-cons, vehicle safety add-ons etc.. as i stated earlier, I’m not arguing the value, just the approach..

    and the point of “16 million EV’s” is our system the same as the US, then it is also the same liner values as china, europe…..WHICH IT IS NOT. so to use the US as an example is ludicrous, i would use the European states instead (much more efficient over there;) ) in your basis argument.

  18. Ben said,

    on March 18th, 2009 at 4:49 am

    I’m not sure the argument was about the US system being clean, but (for lack of an easier description) the the shape of the graph of power usage over time (ie 24 hour graph) is likely to be similar from country to country.

    Ie most people are at work, with the air-con on, their computers running, all interior lights on, etc from 9am-5pm. At about 7-9pm the majority will have their heaters/stoves/TV’s/hot water running for their dinner/relax/showering. And from then till about 7am (when the breakfast cooking and cleaning ritual starts) the power grid is pretty much unutilised. It’s also when most cars are in the garage and capable of being charged.

    As for the pollutant difference being neglible at the moment, that’s true. We are moving pollutants from a cars tailpipe to the power plants. But the power plants get greener all the time with all of them having to comply with new regulations quickly. So every power station could be said to be close to current emissions specs.

    That situation is completely different to cars. As older models aren’t forced to be as green as new models, the emissions of the average car are probably at a level that was acceptable, in the mid 90’s.

    I hope that cleared up a little of the argument. I personally love the idea of the electric car. I do about 120km a day, and as long as the car can do that (with enough juice left to climb the hill to my suburb at the end of the day) it suits my needs. If I could have a car that could do that for $5000 I would…

  19. Leigh said,

    on March 18th, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Can we go to electric now? No. Are there any cars available now that I can buy, no. Is there anywhere I can stop and charge my non existent electric car now? No. Can I and will I be able to within the next 5 to 10 years fill my car in under 5 minutes? No. Is Australia going to stick with coal. Yes. You say the ever increasing green of the power industry, yes you’re right, there are more wind generators….but there are more and more migrants coming into Australia using more electricity. Do you really think that all the migrants and for that matter current residents are ticking the 100 percent green box on their power company form. No. I made the decision to choose 100 percent green. Only one other person I know also does that.

    You are on the wrong band wagon mate, hydrogen is the way to go which is a form of electricity. But it generates it’s own using it’s own on board fuel. Hydrogen or powerpoint electric? What do you think people will choose? They will choose something that does not involve them having to turn their home air conditioners off so that they can chrage their cars.

  20. Ken said,

    on March 18th, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    I would like to add that even if there where 3 million electric cars in any city there will not be 3 milion cars charged every night! If I drive 10km to work every day and my EV has a range of 200km, then I’m not plugging it in every night. There is a lot of ppl who drive less than 200km a week.

  21. Julian Edgar said,

    on March 18th, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Leigh, what is the source of the hydrogen you speak of?

  22. Ben said,

    on March 18th, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Leigh, I have looked into cars running on hydrogen, and at best hydrogen is a battery (using fuel cell technology), and at worst it is physically impossible (a self sustaining hydrogen burning internal combustion engine). The only way that I am aware of for hydrogen to be truly useful is when you use it as a supplemental fuel with gasoline and/or diesel.

    And I’m having issues developing enough gas to make a difference to an engine, even though my hydrogen generator is a relatively efficient design chewing upwards of 70 amps (at 12 volts).

  23. Andrew Simpson said,

    on March 18th, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    For Leigh’s benefit:

    Can we go to electric now? Yes. Are there any cars available now that I can buy? Yes, and the OEM products are arriving this year (Mitsubishi MiEV). Is there anywhere I can stop and charge my non existent electric car now? Yes, look in your garage and see if you have any power outlets. Can I and will I be able to within the next 5 to 10 years fill my car in under 5 minutes? Yes, do some research and discover this has already been demonstrated. Is Australia going to stick with coal? Yes, but we’ll use it more efficiently and integrate it with an increasing share of renewables.

    Your migrant comment sounds a bit racist.

    Renewables are being driven by their reducing cost and low carbon signature (heard of the ETS?), not because people are ticking boxes – even though there are many who do.

    I’ve been working on EVs since well before the hydrogen bandwagon started playing their tune, and then went strangely quiet. Show me an economical source of hydrogen, an infrastructure to deliver it, and a vehicle that uses it efficiently without costing >$250,000 bucks, and we can discuss hydrogen. Meanwhile my money’s firmly on EVs.

    If you think outside the box a little, you might even come up with a scheme where your EV can help keep your airconditioner running during the times your utility would prefer to switch it off… now wouldn’t that be nice?

  24. Ben said,

    on March 18th, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    you mean powering the house a/c with the high voltage car batteries and then charging the car again when the a/c isn’t required but is allowed to be on?

    Oh, and the neccessity to charge the car in 5 minutes is only valid when you don’t have the car stopped for an average of 20 hours a day at a point where electricity is available. In the circumstances where such a thing is needed, a battery exchange station could be utilised. Perhaps such a thing could fit under the mobile phone pricing scheme mentioned in the blog post.

  25. Richard said,

    on March 19th, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Surely plug in hybrids are a viable option in the short term?

    For instance… place a lithuim ion battery pack in the spare wheel well of a VE Commodore (they can place a lpg tank in there!). Use some of the GM “Volt” tech and instantly you have a large car that gets small car fuel economy or EV lack of emissions for small trips.

  26. Ford Man said,

    on March 20th, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    I don’t believe current battery cost, life and vehicle range are anywhere near the optimistic figures presented in this article.

    To date electric vehicles have been limited to expensive short range city cars or very expensive sports cars. The limitation is the battery. This has not changed.

    If the data is right – why can’t I buy a decent EV? Why does a Prius battery cost $3000+? All this talk of leasing is used to obscure the fact that electric vehicles still don’t make financial sense.

  27. Julian Edgar said,

    on March 21st, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Ford Man, Andrew Simpson is describing what the situation is NOW, now 3-4 years ago when the mainstream car manufacturers were planning and designing the models about to be released.

    The data that has been presented is referenced: if you disagree with it, you need to look at the original sources and disagree with those.

    To say “the limitation is the battery, that has not changed” is a bit odd when the data shows that li ion batteries have fallen in price a by a factor of four at the same time as their capacity has doubled.

    You need only to have been causally monitoring domestic li ion batteries to know those figures are in the right ballpark.

    Leasing? I thought the point was that it would tie in so well with elec utility companies doing the leasing – there’s no conspiracy to hide long-term costs.

  28. Ford Man said,

    on March 21st, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Hi Julian, I disagree with how the referenced data has been misused to draw erroneous conclusions. You and Andrew have failed to take into account the real world factors that limit the application of these wonder batteries.

    If the information was correct – why is GM having so much trouble getting the Volt working? Why hasn’t the price of the Tesla dropped? Are you sure all the wonderful battery characteristics described can all be found in the one, automotive reliable, cell?

    I guess we will know the answers very soon. If in the next couple of years EVs become big sellers then you will have been proved right. My prediction is that they won’t because in the real world battery life and capacity still aren’t anywhere near good enough.

    Andrews comparison to Commodore size vehicle is misleading. Perhaps using the Prius as a reference point would have shot down the EV arguement? If an EV can drive 400,000kms on its original battery pack anytime soon I’ll be absolutely staggered.

    Why does leasing the vehicle work better if an elec utility does it? Rather that just providing the electricity on a plan?

    Time for a bit of critical rethink.

  29. Stewart said,

    on March 23rd, 2009 at 8:17 am

    advances in Lithium ion batteries are great and all, but what about charging? when we get a battery that takes the same amount of time
    to charge as it does to “fill a tank”
    then we’ll talk.

    also, i train to and from work most days and go offroading on weekends. i would love to be able to fill some 20L jerry cans with electricity to invrease the range of my vehicle.

    not relevant you may say? win these arguements and you have won your cause…….

  30. Richard said,

    on March 23rd, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Pruis have been used as taxis in NSW and the USA. You could quite easily find out from those organisations about battery longevity and overall economy. From what I could quickly find on the internet one Prius taxi got 200,000 miles on a battery pack.

  31. Ben said,

    on March 24th, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Fill some 20l cans with electricity? Sure, just have a gen set in the boot. A series hybrid is probably not the most efficient way, but if the generator has an *electrical* output of 10kw or more you might be able to keep the battery charged during off road use.

    I can’t figure out how to charge a car in 5 minutes without some kind of battery exchange program, but as I implied before, if you have a power point available in your garage you trickle charge overnight. And it would be a sad workplace that wouldn’t let you charge your car at work if you kicked in for power (assuming they had a covered carpark and a power point).

    Incedentally how do you do bold lettering on here? I have seen you use it Julian, but how?

  32. Jason said,

    on March 24th, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Closer than we think now….

    Dunno about the $70,000 price tag though……

  33. Ford Man said,

    on March 24th, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Someone needs to tell the maker of the electric Mazda2 that batteries are cheap now!

  34. Ford Man said,

    on March 24th, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    The EVme seems like great achievement in regard to performance and range. I am curious about the claimed 10year/100,000km battery life. Is that the warranty period?

    According to the fuel cost is only 2.4c/km vs 6c/km for a Prius. Seems compelling to trade off potential driving range for lower running costs, if the purchase price, and battery life could be matched to the Prius.

    Of course in Australia a Prius converted to LPG could equal the EV cost per km while winning on durability, interior space, range and purchase price.

    No question EV’s are improving, but there is a lot of work to do to match the IC vehicles already available.

  35. Andrew Simpson said,

    on March 25th, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Ford Man,

    Since I helped design, test and homologate the Tesla Roadster, I’m going to claim I know quite a bit about real-world limitations of automotive batteries.

    The Tesla battery cost is not as large a fraction of the price as you might think. There are a lot of other exotic components and materials in the Roadster, like in any sports car. That aside, why would Tesla lower their price when their order book is full for at least the next year? Think basic economics…

    GM is struggling with Volt requirements because PHEV dictates a completely different breed of battery compared to what’s required for a pure EV…e.g. drastically higher specific power and cycle life. Cost per unit for this battery is at least 2-3X, and the packaging is very difficult, since you’ve already got an engine in place.

    Similarly, the Prius battery is not an appropriate point of reference because the chemistry is different and they limit discharge within a narrow range – it’s an entirely different application of batteries. I will grant you, however, that hybrids would also appear very attractive in my economic comparison – I’m not trying to hide that. The point, of course, was to show that EVs are also attractive compared to incumbent technology.

    The cost data I cited is at least two years old, and things have already improved further. Also, if you check the reference, you’ll see it was based on a survey of the automotive manufacturers and their suppliers. You may doubt me, but do you doubt them?

    The only reason why today’s off-the-shelf EV batteries are more expensive is because nobody is manufacturing them in quantities that capture the economies of scale – not yet at least. Companies like Tesla and evMe only build a couple of hundred packs a year, and they also have little bargaining power with their suppliers. These are not relevant datapoints for an industry that manufactures millions of vehicles in total. Obama is investing US$2B to scale-up manufacturing, the Chinese are investing even more, and I contend that today’s technology will fall to the claimed costs at those volumes. You may argue this will never happen, but every OEM except Honda has a production EV in the pipeline and their volumes will be substantial. So I agree, let’s wait and see what happens in the next 3 years, but I wouldn’t be saying this stuff if the industry wasn’t already building the factories to make it real.

  36. Ford Man said,

    on March 26th, 2009 at 10:57 am

    You are right. The car industry is investing heavily in EV technology, (on Saturday my supplier pointed out the extension on the Panasonic battery plant in Hamamatsu).

    I am just not sure why. Perhaps all the government money? For Australia the CO2 benefits are small possibly negative. The running cost benefit is small. And the costs are still very high with doubtful durability. Maybe volume is the answer? There has been huge volume in batteries for hybrid cars for the last decade and they are still expensive.

    Why is the Volt more demanding on batteries than a similar weight EV?

    What happens to battery life in cold weather and with the cabin heater running?

    What happens to battery life with the AC on in hot weather?

    Goodluck with your research, I think you and Julian are a little ahead of the curve on this one.

  37. Andrew Simpson said,

    on March 27th, 2009 at 9:31 am

    The Volt range is 40mi, whereas an EV might have 100mi. That means the Volt battery will be discharged more deeply and frequently than the EV battery, so it needs to endure more cycles. Similarly, since the Volt battery is smaller, it needs to pump out a lot more power per unit of energy.

    The movement to EVs is happening because we’re at a turning point, a confluence of events.

    The oil spike of 2008 scared a lot of people – especially govts who win/lose elections based on the price at the pump. Yes, you can drive a hybrid which uses less fuel, but you still have to fill it up at the pump and increasing number of people hate this – they still have no choice. Many people want to get off oil altogether.

    Climate change is a concern for many, and the GHG benefit of EVs is compelling TODAY in many markets, even if it’s marginal in Australia. Plus the Oz grid is improving…

    Urban air pollution from emissions is still a massive problem in big cities. Public health costs from this are astronomical.

    Lastly, the batteries have reached a point where we can make EVs that work well enough for many people. Perhaps petrol or hybrids still beat EVs on some attributes, but EVs win on others.

    The point is there are enough people out there who want to drive an EV today. Take a look at Tesla’s order book – >1000 orders sight-unseen and without a test drive. The manufacturers have noticed this and they’re confident there will be growing demand for EV products, and they think they’ve ironed-out enough engineering issues to bring them to market. Yes, the A/C and cold weather and heater might impact performance, but these are engineering issues that improve with time, and people are still willing to buy them anyway.

    It’s quite simple really – there is a large fraction of the market who wants to drive electric. That’s why it’s happening.

  38. Ford Man said,

    on April 1st, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Hello Andrew,

    All the points you make are reasonable but still don’t add up to make buying an EV worthwhile right now. The orginal article on autospeed stated:

    “Andrew Simpson’s modelling has shown that, right now, electric vehicles have lower running costs than conventional petrol-powered cars. And that takes into account battery replacement costs!”

    When the truth is that no vehicles can actually be bought in Australia that match your model. Plus the Prius would finish way ahead.

    And the article was headlined

    “Electric Cars Now!
    The arguments against electric cars are now so weak they’re effectively gone”

    When there are many strong arguements against buying an electric car now. $70,000 for an EVme? Laughable. Battery warranties? Who knows?

    It seems like autospeed has fallen for the breathless electric vehicle hype.

  39. Julian Edgar said,

    on April 1st, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    It seems like autospeed has fallen for the breathless electric vehicle hype.

    [shug] Just like we “fell” for the hybrid hype. When we starting writing positively about hybrids (our first story was 7 years ago), there was an almost universal view that hybrids were silly, a fraud, pointless, hopeless, etc. Now, every major car maker in the world has a hybrid in development or already on sale. We were right!

    I don’t think the electric vehicles story is 7 years ahead of its time – perhaps 6 months, and in a global context, perhaps just a few months. Perhaps you need to look at the electric cars about to go on sale from major manufacturers very shortly?

    To be honest, I actually didn’t think anyone would so literally take the thrust of this story as to think, here in Australia, they could visit their local car showroom now – today, this minute – and buy an electric car that’s competitive with current conventional offerings. If that’s how you read the story, then sure, it’s not correct. But it will be very shortly, and there’s no longer any technical reasons why it cannot be true now – that was the point I was trying to make.

  40. Ford Man said,

    on April 2nd, 2009 at 11:43 am

    I guess the truth is in actually experiencing the vehicle. I was a skeptic about the prius/hybrids until reading the articles on autospeed prompted me to hire one. You were right. Achieving 4.5lt/100km was easy, something that co-workers said was impossible.

    Will the same process now occur with electric vehicles? I’m still dubious about the battery economics, battery life and GHG savings, but look forward to driving/hiring an EV as soon as they are available.

  41. frozenpod said,

    on April 6th, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Electric cars are not only the present they are the passed.

    Have a look at the EV1 this was proof that a 100% electric powered vehicle was possible.

    Sadly in Australia we do have power supply issues in both generation and transmission.

    We are despirately in need of a major upgrade and a new plant was supposed to be installed about 10 years ago which still doesn’t exsit.

    On a global scale renewable energy sources are required and then combined with electric cars we will see some positives for the environment.

    As to the length of battery life, a lot depends on the depth of discharge. The deeper the discharge the less cycles they are capable of which isn’t always taken into real world situations accurately IMO.

  42. BG said,

    on April 6th, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Hi Frozenpod how do you think EV’s will impact on power infrastructure? Some see them as very valuable ways of improving grid reliability and accelerate the installation and viability of renewable energy.
    I’ve been aware of the interdependence between cycle life and depth of discharge in battery use for 15 years, I dare say that anyone who has made an EV (whether home-made or automotive giant) is aware of the real world implications between DOD and cycle life.

  43. Leigh said,

    on April 7th, 2009 at 8:08 am

    My comment about migrants was not intended to be racist. Quite the opposite, the comment included current residents of Australia as well. The comment was intended to highlight the fact that Australia has a very high population growth due partly to migration. With this population growth, has not really came the proportionately cleaner energy to service all new and existing Australians.

    I drive a 12 second Falcon which I enjoy immensely, if there were a 12 second electric car which carried 5 people and a boot load and loaded trailer….if I could get it for $30000 or less. But I don’t drive far so, I choose green electricity to make up for my petrol head ways. What happens to the petrol heads of the world? The only way to make your car quick is to replace the motor and battery to make it quicker? This is simply saying EVs are not for everyone.

    Anything is possible now, with enough dollars and cents. But the world has no money right now. GM, Ford all need handouts just to survive. Not small handouts, billions of dollars. It’s not just a matter of, my garage has a powerpoint, so what every house does. The matter is will GM for example be in a position to offer an electric alternative to every current vehicle it produces, no it cannot possibly do that, it doesn’t have the money. Just like people right now don’t have the money to buy a new car. New car sales are very low.

    As for Hydrogen, Honda are manufacturing a car right now and selling it right now in California, check out their website. Shell servos are selling Hydrogen as well. Right now if you live there (and only there) you can fill up in only 5 minutes and beon your way. What sort of current are we talking to charge an EV battery in 5 minutes?

    Cars should be green, but they should not be too cheap. The reason is very simple, there is not a major city in the world that can handle current peak traffic loads. People should be on trains and trams which are already running on electricity. You make cars too cheap everyone will be getting in their cars. When oil prices went up to $1.50 here, people opted for public transport, when it went down they got back into their cars. Again it’s not just about a powerpoint, it’s about infrastructure, roads, car parks and power generation.

    One question though, many inner city people might want an EV, where do they charge their car when they don’t have a garage and more often than not have to park 50 metres from their home? They need their car to produce it’s own electricity don’t they.

  44. Leigh said,

    on April 7th, 2009 at 8:33 am

    One last note, when I travel I always try to hire a hybrid where possible due to the savings of a Prius running at 4.5 l/100km. I think the hybrid car is an excellent start to greener motoring, but not the answer, hence why developement continues on hydrogen and EV.

    There are many sceptics and I am one for EV, but show me the same convenience as a current oil powered car in an EV and I wil be converted. In my opinion, more developement needs to be done prior to making the statement, we are ready now. That is an overall statement, yes, SOME people in some situations are ready, NOT all. May I mention taxis and couriers where time off the road, 5 minute charging may be possible but as far as my limited knowledge goes not available to deploy NOW. If the world made a concerted effort to make the infrastructure to support EV, it could happen. BUt NOW with a one size fits all I just can’t see.

  45. Leigh said,

    on April 7th, 2009 at 8:37 am

    This is not the answer either right NOW, but again with the right infrastructure it could be possible. THere is no reason why EV and Hydrogen cannot live side by side.

  46. frozenpod said,

    on April 14th, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    BG I wrote a response and for some reason it is no longer shown. Julian any ideas on this??