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Old 27th March 2012, 11:42   #1
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Default Why don't car companies design a decent Electric-Vehicle?

I was just watching a documentary "Who killed the electric car ?"

If you haven't then do watch it.
Who Killed the Electric Car? - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Quote:
The film deals with the history of the electric car, its modern development, and commercialization. The film focuses primarily on the General Motors EV1, which was made available for lease mainly in Southern California, after the California Air Resources Board passed the Zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) mandate in 1990 which required the seven major automobile suppliers in the United States to offer electric vehicles in order to continue sales of their gasoline powered vehicles in California. Nearly 5000 electric cars were designed and manufactured by GM, Toyota, Honda, Ford, Nissan, and Chrysler; and then later destroyed or donated to museums and educational institutions. Also discussed are the implications of the events depicted for air pollution, oil dependency, Middle East politics, and global warming.
The movie also shows how the electric vehicles are better than the hydrogen fuel cell ones. How GM stopped research on battery development by buying controling stake in the battery making company and later selling it to a oil company(chevron).

Even i was under the impression the Fuel cell cars are the future, but how this fuel cell thing was introduced to delay the whole shift to emission free vehicles. And how the Oil companies will again benefit from the hydrogen fuel station, where in the case of electric vehicles there will not be such requirement and they can be refueled(recharged) at home.

Is this conspiracy from the oil companies ? even the auto companies, who are saving buck on research and development of EV cars. Also they are making money on engine oils, spark plugs, filters etc engine parts which are part of regular maintenance of a IC engine.

How difficult it would be to design a EV car which can do 150kms in single recharge ? Or they really don't want to design it ?
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Old 27th March 2012, 13:38   #2
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Default Re: Why the car companies can't design a decent EV, or they don't want to ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahulkool View Post
I was just watching a documentary "Who killed the electric car ?"

If you haven't then do watch it.
Who Killed the Electric Car? - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The movie also shows how the electric vehicles are better than the hydrogen fuel cell ones. How GM stopped research on battery development by buying controling stake in the battery making company and later selling it to a oil company(chevron).

Even i was under the impression the Fuel cell cars are the future, but how this fuel cell thing was introduced to delay the whole shift to emission free vehicles. And how the Oil companies will again benefit from the hydrogen fuel station, where in the case of electric vehicles there will not be such requirement and they can be refueled(recharged) at home.

Is this conspiracy from the oil companies ? even the auto companies, who are saving buck on research and development of EV cars. Also they are making money on engine oils, spark plugs, filters etc engine parts which are part of regular maintenance of a IC engine.

How difficult it would be to design a EV car which can do 150kms in single recharge ? Or they really don't want to design it ?
Well, there are enough electric cars in the world today, just none of those big ones in India- though we have the first one REVA.

Hybrids are a good start though. GM themselves went full electric with Chevrolet VOLT and Opel Ampera. Nissan Leaf, Fiskar and numerous other brands are good step in that direction. Last I heard some company funded by GM has been able to increase the Enerrgy density by three folds. Sign of good things to come in future.

Last edited by anu21v : 27th March 2012 at 13:42.
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Old 27th March 2012, 13:43   #3
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Default Re: Why the car companies can't design a decent EV, or they don't want to ?

I think it's the initial investment required in the R&D of such vehicles coupled with Govt. policies that don't encourage it that makes manufacturers vary of experimenting it.

Make the atmosphere conducive for research and promote such vehicles and there'll be a market.

The no. of Revas sold are testimony to the fact that there indeed are a lot of environment conscious people who look at environmental benefits over luxury and brand image.
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Old 27th March 2012, 14:48   #4
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Default Re: Why the car companies can't design a decent EV, or they don't want to ?

The biggest limitation is battery limitations. Advancements in battery technology has run into a wall:

They are heavy and not easy to package

Too much time to charge

Limited range

All the above mentioned reasons are huge drawbacks when put to automotive use. Nowadays cars like the Volt use range extenders, i.e. small engines that recharge the battery. But then it raises a question why cant the engine simply drive the car in the first place.

Adding a battery,electronic management, circuits, motors etc. to turn a car into a hybrid makes it heavier and more expensive.

Then the big question of the environment, batteries are not exactly environmentally friendly, their production process is not exactly carbon friendly, it does not have the life span of an IC engine, they cannot be easily recycled like all metal engines, they are highly toxic and cannot be disposed of easily.....I can go on!!!

A good modern diesel easily proves to be more practical, environmentally friendly and a far cheaper option compared to the likes of Volt, Prius etc...
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Old 27th March 2012, 15:24   #5
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Default Re: Why the car companies can't design a decent EV, or they don't want to ?

No idea how far the info in the attachment is true.
Elektro-Autos11.pdf

Last edited by Ashley2 : 27th March 2012 at 15:27.
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Old 27th March 2012, 15:44   #6
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Default Re: Why the car companies can't design a decent EV, or they don't want to ?

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Originally Posted by anu21v View Post
Well, there are enough electric cars in the world today, just none of those big ones in India- though we have the first one REVA.

Hybrids are a good start though. GM themselves went full electric with Chevrolet VOLT and Opel Ampera. Nissan Leaf, Fiskar and numerous other brands are good step in that direction. Last I heard some company funded by GM has been able to increase the Enerrgy density by three folds. Sign of good things to come in future.
Reva is an excuse for a car. There are EV cars i am not denying that but they are not marketed properly neither they are practical. It feels like auto makers are just making these for the heck of it, or to just show that they care about the environment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
I think it's the initial investment required in the R&D of such vehicles coupled with Govt. policies that don't encourage it that makes manufacturers vary of experimenting it.

Make the atmosphere conducive for research and promote such vehicles and there'll be a market.

The no. of Revas sold are testimony to the fact that there indeed are a lot of environment conscious people who look at environmental benefits over luxury and brand image.
Thats what i am talking about, car companies and govt are trying not to promote these alternate energy vehicles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shortbread View Post
The biggest limitation is battery limitations. Advancements in battery technology has run into a wall:

They are heavy and not easy to package

Too much time to charge

Limited range

All the above mentioned reasons are huge drawbacks when put to automotive use. Nowadays cars like the Volt use range extenders, i.e. small engines that recharge the battery. But then it raises a question why cant the engine simply drive the car in the first place.

Adding a battery,electronic management, circuits, motors etc. to turn a car into a hybrid makes it heavier and more expensive.

Then the big question of the environment, batteries are not exactly environmentally friendly, their production process is not exactly carbon friendly, it does not have the life span of an IC engine, they cannot be easily recycled like all metal engines, they are highly toxic and cannot be disposed of easily.....I can go on!!!

A good modern diesel easily proves to be more practical, environmentally friendly and a far cheaper option compared to the likes of Volt, Prius etc...
I don't think the battery technology has limitation but auto companies are not interested in it. How laptop, phone batteries are getting more powerful and smaller each year. You have to replace battery once in 5 year or so.

Batteries can be recycled. What about the engine oil, gear box oil etc in IC engine how toxic are they ?
But the point here is not only the battery power cars but the alternate energy powered cars in general, in which proper reseach is not being done because of big money involved in oil industry.
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Old 27th March 2012, 15:55   #7
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Default re: Why don't car companies design a decent Electric-Vehicle?

I believe it is a buyers market. Car companies will make the shift if the buyer demands it. Currently some things that go against EV's.
1 - Distance to Charge.
- In the US sometimes the distance travelled is higher. How do you charge it?
- In India, erratic power supply plagues almost all cities and rural areas.
- The current EV's do not cover good distances before requiring a recharge. Also the recharge time is higher.
2 - Speed. - EV's (not counting experimental ones) are not fast enough for roads (US - 60 mph?). There is a speed vs distance tradeoff.
3 - Overall cost.
- The cost of replacing the battery is high (probably volumes will bring it down).

Also, EV's are not 'Non - polluting' entirely. The electricity comes from Hydel, Gas, Coal, or Nuclear plants. Except for the Hydel (and wind, solar) almost everything else is polluting in someway or other. The batteries are made of non bio degradable material. The lead in 'lead-acid' type batteries is one of the most dangerous of pollutants. The Cadmium in NiCd type batteries is known to be a carcinogen. Etc. To dispose these materials you will need to use other 'machinery' which will add to the carbon footprint.

Last edited by torquecurve : 27th March 2012 at 15:57.
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Old 27th March 2012, 15:57   #8
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Default Re: Why the car companies can't design a decent EV, or they don't want to ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by shortbread View Post
The biggest limitation is battery limitations. Advancements in battery technology has run into a wall:

They are heavy and not easy to package

Too much time to charge

Limited range

All the above mentioned reasons are huge drawbacks....
Answer to all that is a Battery Switch Station (where the actual battery pack of the CAR is replaced with another one).

Like Auto LPG, it should start small, cover major cities first, move on to tier 2 cities, till we have a wide network.

But fact is; it did take off too well in areas where it was first implemented. I think in Europe.

Concept wise it was good. You stop your car at the Charging station (you have to sign a deal to use a particular providers facility across the country) when your battery pack glows yellow. It is car wash like facility, once the your car is on the roller the machines take it in, opens a panel at the bottom (not screws, retractable) robotic arm pulls the battery out, replaces with a fresh charged one, closes the panel and rolls the car out. All in matter of few mins.

There are a few videos, reports here. Should give a fair idea Multimedia | Better Place
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Old 27th March 2012, 16:14   #9
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Default re: Why don't car companies design a decent Electric-Vehicle?

I don't know how much money would a manufacturer have to spend to develop a battery that would last for 150km instead of 50km. Maybe it is prohibitively high.

Even if you have a 150km range, it's only about a third of what most non-electric cars can offer. So, even a range of 150km would mean that the electric car will still be mostly a city car, just that you have to charge it less often. How many more people (who can afford just 1 car) would buy the electric car because it can run 150km instead of 50km - I don't think very many.

Then again, electric cars have poor range even though they are without most of the features offered in non-electric cars. Once you put the features in, the range would probably drop drastically. And without creature comforts, how many people would prefer to take an electric car on the highway?

Last, but not the least, electric cars are not cheap to buy. And cost of running may not be too different either. You have to spend on electricity - and my friend who owned a Reva, had to replace the batteries after 4-5 years at the cost of 60K. For a city car that might maybe do 25 or 30K in 5 years, that's a huge cost.

EDIT: To answer the question in the title of the thread - yes, I think car companies don't want to build a decent EV. Because there seems to be no business case for it. Too much money for too little returns.

Last edited by StarrySky : 27th March 2012 at 16:41.
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Old 27th March 2012, 16:28   #10
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Default re: Why don't car companies design a decent Electric-Vehicle?

99 % of the ppl use cars to just to go to home ,to office to get groceries. The range is less than 100kms .Even if I get 100 kms thats enough .But the main constraint is cost .Rev costs more than 3 lakh rupees . They should offer the same at 1.2 or 1.5 lakh, every one will start buying .
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Old 27th March 2012, 17:25   #11
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Default re: Why don't car companies design a decent Electric-Vehicle?

I think the simple answer would be what Johan de Nysschen of Audi USA had to say about the Volt -"There are simply not enough idiots to buy it... these vehicles are for the intellectual elite who want to show what enlightened souls they are".

The massive subsidies offered to develop hybrid technologies that mostly shift emissions from the tail pipe to the chimney of a coal fired plant is the kind of policy favoured by green activists. Car makers would invest money in hybrid if there was an actual demand for it, right now the market wants fuel efficiency, some OEMs have lobbied the government for handouts to reduce their R&D, hence we see models like the Volt which wouldn't see light of day without the muscle of legislation.
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Old 27th March 2012, 17:26   #12
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Default re: Why don't car companies design a decent Electric-Vehicle?

couple of other EV threads:

Electric car survey - can you help?

Electric cars get subsidy booster of upto 1.0 lakh rupees

Time for an Electric car !

Who will win the EV race
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Old 27th March 2012, 17:27   #13
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Default re: Why don't car companies design a decent Electric-Vehicle?

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Originally Posted by black12rr View Post
99 % of the ppl use cars to just to go to home ,to office to get groceries. The range is less than 100kms .Even if I get 100 kms thats enough .But the main constraint is cost .Rev costs more than 3 lakh rupees . They should offer the same at 1.2 or 1.5 lakh, every one will start buying .
100km range is enough for the city. Even 50km may be enough for city use. But what about a highway trip?

I make ~70km Cochin-Thrissur trip during weekends. In the current scenario, a Reva's charge would not last one-way. It would probably take me 50% more time to make the trip given the Reva's speed, or lack of it. I can also listen to music and travel with AC on in the my current car. A Reva with those features will probably not last 30km. There is probably no comparison in seating comfort between a Reva and a normal car. So, a person like me cannot buy Reva as my only car, even if my daily usage is mainly within the city. That's why it doesn't sell.

Even reducing the Reva's price to 1.5L may not help much. The extra 1.5L investment could buy me enough petrol to last ~30K km, even better with diesel. So, why should I buy a second car (Reva) and pay for its maintenance as well (increased electricity bill, tires, battery)?
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Old 27th March 2012, 17:58   #14
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Default re: Why don't car companies design a decent Electric-Vehicle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by black12rr View Post
99 % of the ppl use cars to just to go to home ,to office to get groceries. The range is less than 100kms .Even if I get 100 kms thats enough .But the main constraint is cost .Rev costs more than 3 lakh rupees . They should offer the same at 1.2 or 1.5 lakh, every one will start buying .
I believe (and hope) Reva NXR will be that first step towards practical EVs in India.

Anand Mahindra has tweeted a while back that NXR will be a game changer. And he's definitely someone who can bring a game changer.

It won't be cheap. Forget 1.5 Lakh price points. But if it's good enough to be your only car, people will be ready to pay around 4-5 Lakhs. Current Reva can hardly satisfy the conditions for being the single car in a household. Hence people are not ready to pay 3.5 Lakhs for it.

Another likely contestant is the Indica/Manza EV. It ticks most of the boxes like looks (well, to some extent), space, practicality etc. Only question is about range, the car being pretty heavy for an EV.
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Old 27th March 2012, 18:46   #15
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Default re: Why don't car companies design a decent Electric-Vehicle?

A counter argument – taking into consideration the infancy of the battery technology/industry as it stands today – is that manufacturing an electric car can produce higher net emissions than an equivalent gasoline powered vehicle does by combustion, if the energy consumed in creating the batteries for an EV is brought into the equation.
The Australian reports:
  • An electric car owner will have to drive ~129,000 kms (~80,000 miles) before producing a net saving in CO2 over petrol engines.
  • As of today, most electric-only cars haven’t shown that much of driving life.
  • Even those elective vehicles driven 160,000 kilometers (about 100,000 miles) would save only about a ton of CO2 over their lifetime.
The study was commissioned by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, which is jointly funded by the British government and the car industry.
  • It found that a mid-size electric-only car would produce 23.1 tons of CO2 over its lifetime, compared with 24 tons for a similar petrol car.
  • Emissions from manufacturing electric cars are at least 50 percent higher because batteries are made from materials such as lithium, copper and refined silicon, which require much more energy to be processed.
Many electric cars are expected to need a replacement battery after a few years.
  • Once the emissions from producing the second battery are added in, the total CO2 from manufacturing an electric car rises to 12.6 tons, compared with 5.6 tons for a petrol car.
  • Disposal also produces double the emissions because of the energy consumed in recovering and recycling metals in the battery.
My addendum to this is that we are still not in a situation where the oil reserves of the world are running short of the demand for oil. There is plentiful oil left in the world, (world price of oil has no bearing whatsoever on amount of oil reserves left in the world.....this industry runs on speculation and when there is speculation, there is a rip-off). Add to this the fact that battery technology is still up and coming. It is nowhere near its maturity (we do not have the perfect battery yet). To me it means that until alternative power becomes as cheap as or cheaper than petrol manufacturers are not going to make the dive for it.


For Ford or GM to have 20/30% of their vehicles sales in EV’s, the supporting battery manufacturing infrastructure should be able to produce and ship half a billion high-grade batteries (hypothetical number, just for arguments sake). This in turn would mean mining and shipping for rare earth elements (Nickel, Cadmium, etc) will have to increase many fold all over the world. We are talking of a massive new logistical exercise. The oil industry has a benefit in its fairly well set logistical infrastructure…tankers moving back and forth, pipelines laid down for thousands upon thousands of miles, trucking in place, gas station outlets literally 2 to a mile etc.


Mankind has used up 500 Billion barrels of oil to date…and there are established reserves of 2 Trillion barrels at this point of time. Oil is not a dwindling reserve. Truth be told, if the oil industry senses competition from the alternative power sources, it can very easily lower the price of oil to a level where batteries and electricity will not be able compete. It takes 51 cents to extract oil today. Oil is selling at $100 in the US as I write this. It can very easily be manipulated to 75 or even 50 overnight at the whim of the OPEC nations, if batteries were suddenly to be sold for half the price they sell for today.


Batteries are still not a viable and sustainable option for manufacturers. Yes, we will always see fad cars like the Tesla's and Nissan Leaf's running around and Hollywood celebrities will drive extreme hybrids to show their concerns for the environment, but to expect half of mankind to run its vehicles on electric/battery power even 10 years from now, is still a tough ask. There is just to much to happen before that can become a reality. What will surely happen is manufacturers will make vehicles that use oil-fuel more frugally (hybridization, partial electric engnines, multi-fuel capable engines etc). Oil and electricity are still a bit away from being equally alternate options.

Last edited by NinadJoshi : 27th March 2012 at 19:14.
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