Sunday, October 25, 2009

Electric vehicles are charging up the automotive industry: Mainstream Media takes heed

Now that we're in the last year prior to the release of several EVs and plug-in hybrids, the mainstream media is beginning to cover the story. The LA Times' Ken Bensinger wrote in Sunday's business section a fair and thorough account of the trials and tribulations we'll encounter as the cars begin to roll out this time next year.

I'd take issue with the comment about replacement batteries costing so much they'll "wipe out the entire cost savings of having a hybrid in the first place," according to a hybrid owner having to replace a battery after 9 years. All one needs to do is consider how much gas will cost in 9 years, or how much battery costs will go down in the same period.

SCE's Ed Kjaer makes a good point saying, "Plug-in cars are not for everybody at this point." He went on to explain that not everyone currently has access to electricity where they park their cars at night. It's also true that the number of EVs and PHEVs will only be in the tens of thousands the first two years, so we're not talking about a lot of cars for some time to come, plenty of time to get the public charging going.

We're used to having minimal public charging for our RAV since it can only use a proprietary inductive charger. We can't even use the ubiquitous 120V plugs that are everywhere. For us, this has not been a big problem. The thousands of charge stations planned for installation over the next couple of years will be more than enough for the early adopters. My wife, Zan, says "people ought to take Prozac to get rid of their range anxiety. It's just not a big deal." She's right.

The print edition had great photos of a dozen cars coming within the next two years, some of them, like the Coda, starting next summer. You can access them on line here. For a more thorough compendium of the coming plug-ins of all types, see Plug In America's vehicle tracker.

Paul
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16 comments:

  1. The article didn't mention that initially, these new electrics will be a second or third family car, like for the socker mom who can drive around town all day on a charge. Or for a person ( like 80% of the population) who can drive to work and back on a charge. Neither did it mention that many people are not only hoping to save on fuel, but also because they are concerned about the environment and about the tremendous lopsided balance of payments to foreign oil producing countries. Bruce Feddersen

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  2. Thanks Paul. Zan is so right about the range anxiety thing. But I find it hard to convey to others, how I feel about that. That it's just not a problem for me. It's just how you choose to look at it. I have more anxiety about being tied to the gasoline monopoly. Back in the EV1 days, I loved the feeling of using my own homes power to get around town. Cheap and I felt more free. It was inconvenient to go to a gas station. And most of the time when you charged somewhere else, it was free. Electricity is so much cheaper than gas that not many cared about charging you any money for charging your car. I know that will change when more for-profits get involved. But if I'm making power at home with solar for free, how could I charge my neighbor to top off his electric car? This business of daily charging is just more of an exciting challenge for me than a real deal-breaking issue. Driving you car for free has some trade-offs. Some of those trade-offs make you live your life in a better way. Like when you go to visit your friends and relatives you make a plan that involves staying longer and actually socializing a little longer whale the car charges.
    And guess what you talk about? They want to talk about how much better electric cars are and you are teaching the kids something new and valuable and the list goes on. Yes, you can quickly gas up your car and drive 300 miles, but what are you doing? Having a happy new experience? Making a difference in our world? Slow down, charge your car, and enjoy your day.

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  3. It's disappointing to me that the solar EV/PHEV synergy barely gets a mention in this L.A. Times story. With a strong and growing green movement in the U.S. you'd think that the fact that you can run EVs off of solar and wind energy would be a bigger story. Instead, it's completely buried. The fact that what should be the lead is buried by the mainstream media is why I created SolarChargedDriving.Com (http://solarchargeddriving.com). Of course, how I can get the mainstream media to pay attention to the message of the site is another story. For instance, two reporters I personally know at The Denver Post completely ignored me when I suggested a story on the solar-EV/PHEV synergy.

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  4. The entire EV discussion is plagued by the gasoline vehicle paradigm. After 120 years of gas cars, people have no idea what it is like to live with an EV so they project their current experience onto EVs. Now, I do not have a gas station in my garage, when I get an EV I will have - the plug. New technology developments take 5-10 years to show up in gas cars and in some cases, like gas mileage, we have seen worse numbers in the last 15 years. With EV's the first few years will bring dramatic changes in drive systems and energy storage systems. EEStor's Ultra Caps and advanced manufacturing techniques for Lithium Air being developed by IBM point to just two of the fantastic innovations coming. Charging stations will be nice, but to draw customers, fast food and coffee chain stores will install charging stations. The new SAE charging standard for EVs will bring us 480 volt charging allowing 3-10 minute recharge times. EVs just 5 years from now will be entirely different and the "if's" will be replaced by "remember whens".

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