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Old 27th September 2009, 10:26   #16
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This is a very encouraging sign. Speaking from personal experience, and something I'm sure is shared by all city commuters: driving in city traffic in a conventional geared, petrol/diesel car is no longer a feasible option. Its a sheer waste of resources with 1st/2nd gear start/stop driving and not to mention the toll on mental peace/health.

I am personally waiting for a reasonable/practical electric car that will free me from my current burden of driving a geared and petroleum car in city traffic. My wife thinks I must have inhaled something, but to me, the current stress/grind of city traffic is no longer acceptable.

Conventional cars are increasingly suited to long distance usage due to the complete degradation of traffic hygiene in a city.
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Old 27th September 2009, 10:27   #17
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Originally Posted by anjuna mark View Post
So what type of batteries do these cars use?
Because my impression was that they used good old 1910 lead acid battery technology; and that after 2 years or so, these batteries need replacing.
Latest technology? green-wash I fear. But hey, we have to start somewhere, so here's wishing the venture success!
i think they are now using lithium ion batteries!!! anyone to confirm that??
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Old 27th September 2009, 11:00   #18
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Originally Posted by Bumblebee86 View Post
i think they are now using lithium ion batteries!!! anyone to confirm that??
Not all, most use nickel-metal-hydride . Some are moving to Li-ion based as they are lighter, more charge packed for their size and charges fast too.

The new REVA has a quick recharge option which will give it a range of 40kms.
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Old 27th September 2009, 20:37   #19
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Originally Posted by jkdas View Post
Not all, most use nickel-metal-hydride . Some are moving to Li-ion based as they are lighter, more charge packed for their size and charges fast too.

The new REVA has a quick recharge option which will give it a range of 40kms.
But what batteries are the Indian Reva going to use?

a lithium ion battery pack will cost around 10- 20 lakhs, and last [they claim] 1000 charges. My laptop batteries never give this much though.

Lead acid batteries are no better, are also much heavier [per Kwh], and have long recharge times [overnight], for a full charge.
"quick charge", up to 60-80% can be done quicker, at around 10% per hour.

I don't mean to pour cold water on everyone's clean green dreams, but I've been waiting for the electric car for 35 years. And it's only slightly closer now than it was in 1972.
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Old 28th September 2009, 10:13   #20
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Excellent move by GM!

At the same time the proposed car should solve all the inherent problems of a basic electric car (like Reva).

In today's scenario the challenges to use an electric car are:

1. Practical difficulty to drive long trips and in highways
2. Hassles in battery re-charging.
3. Low power and speed

The solution is a "Hybrid car" which uses both petrol and battery power. The car automatically switch between the power sources according to the driving conditions. Already the concept is tested and marketed by Toyota (Toyota Prius).

A hybrid car is an answer for all the above challenges:

- Practical difficulty to drive long trips and in highways : No worries to be get battery drained out while driving, especially in a highway. There is always a fuel backup.

- Hassles in battery re-charging : Other than mains, the battery is equipped to charge while the engine is operated. Thus the battery need not be charged frequently from an AC outlet.

- Low power and speed : Lots of power is required to move a car from the state of rest to state of motion. For this, an engine works better than a motor. Once the speed got gained, the power source will be switched automatically from fuel to battery to sustain the speed.

Thus a hybrid car gives :
a. better fuel efficiency
b. low pollution
c. reliable for long trips
d. no hassle to recharge the car every trip.
e. enough power and speed

If GM take this forward and price the car rightly, spark is going to be true killer for all its completions.

Last edited by sunil8089 : 28th September 2009 at 10:25.
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Old 28th September 2009, 10:53   #21
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Default Very Encouraging signs with a small hitch

With all the short-hop and start-stop driving that we Indians do constantly this will be the perfect car for our city needs...with one hitch. Our electricity infrastructure is so poor that even in cities like Pune (IT hub) there are power curtas for 3Hrs a day. In view of such a lack of electricity what will happen if thounsands of new cars will add to the electricity load? This needs to be really thought thru
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Old 28th September 2009, 11:14   #22
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What? When did GM announce they are making a Hybrid off the spark. An Electric, Yeah. And expertise of Reva on electric Power trains. Thats a joke. Its more like manufacturing capacity of Maini now and close to zero cost on GM.

GM made an electric car named EV1 years back that ran a 160km and was available pretty cheap on lease for every one, I am sure every one knows that. They themselves have far more expertise now with Volt and several other electric drivetrains. heard of GM Trains? Actually i have read about Reva in California in a few EV1 blogs, when it was designed and being tested.

And What is a practical Electric car? Every one here says Reva is not Practical. But surprisingly many people in UK and many other European nations find it practical enough. The same car technology coming from GM now became more practical? Now did GM say the spark will go 200kms on charge?

And yeah when are we going to move away from Lead Acids. The lead acids used in Reva cars dont last more than 2 years because they cant take more than 500 cycles of charging, thats a life time of a lead acid.

A lithium ion can be made very cheap(as low as Rs.90k, head about ABC batteries US?) if we were not trying make a 16500 cell based car battery pack but stuff like used in Nissan Leaf(indigenous battery packs). But we have to remember that Lithium is not available in India. Its one of the more important reasons Nepal became a very important country for China. There are several other battery technologies not researched on fully. I would consider it amazing if we could get a battery pack out of the resources available locally. I dont even see Maini trying to grow local manufacturers for Lead Acid cells. Could help bring down the price.

But leaving all that behind this can save the day for Maini, because Spark body is mass manufactured. GM can manufacture a rolling stock of the Spark at less than half the cost of Maini manufactured Reva Rolling stock. A deal with Maini now can get GM to sell about 1000-2000 odd rolling stocks of the Spark, in total. This is likely to grow to about 5-6k units in say 5 years time.

To the end user it means we will get an electric car safety tested, with more commercial options like power steering, power windows, AC, Audio system, looks cute, Seats 4, sold and maintained by GM(more showrooms and easier to maintain).

The e-Spark will be atleast 200 KGs heavier than the Reva, requiring a much more powerful motor, so no Reva motor or battery pack. The controller might be shared though. GM's target price on this car would be in the range of 4-5L. GM might give really nice offers for people who already own a GM car, or even give superb packages for exchanging your small car in too.

On the other hand Maini might try to get this car branded and sold in countries like UK where they hold a larger customer base, which they are loosing slowly because many pointed out its not safe. They still hold the bunker thanks to the price. With GM made spark you can be assured of atleast a safety passed car.

Overall its a good move, but i dont think its going to change anything about the way people feel about electric car in this side of the world. But if Maini works it out right lots of sales for them in the coming years. The electric age is coming and is here to stay. Thanks to Maini, we wont be 10 years behind for this technology at least.
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Old 28th September 2009, 14:02   #23
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Hybrid cars are hybrids of compromises;
If widely adopted, they would reduce traffic pollution in cities tremendously.
However, the total climate impact of hybrid cars is less than impressive. They are very costly to build, in terms of money as well as energy and material.
The batteries are tremendously heavy, which defeats the primary purpose of improving fuel efficiency. In fact, the most efficient turbo-diesel cars out perform hybrids for performance and fuel efficiency, cost less to build, and are easier to recycle at the end of their lives.
The extremely expensive hybrid cars sold in the west also need their extremely expensive, massive, environmentally unfriendly, battery blocks changed after a few years.
In short, these cars do not fulfill their promise of a climate solution, even at their high prices.

As we have for decades, we wait for The Battery; cheap, light, powerful, and reliable. When, if, it comes, it will change not only motoring, but all energy use.
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Old 28th September 2009, 19:35   #24
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Diesels cheaper than Hybrids? It all depends on the perspective. Most people talk from the perspective of Europe/US. None of that apply to India.

> If you look at countries more developed like in Europe/US you dont see too much of hour long traffic jams. But In our country we drive in Traffic Jam all the time. There might only be a few hours without a jam. Hybrids does save fuel in a jam and at sub 35kmph by switching off the engine and also by recapturing atleast 10% of the energy on breaking.

> The more developed nations have high traffic speeds, so the car runs the most parts at about 60kmph. But in our country we drive most parts at the lower side of 40kmph.

> Batteries in many Hybrids coming up are lithium based. Most lithium batteries come from China and cars assembled in Japan or US. So the energy cost of extraction + energy cost of transportation is way too high. Solution use locally avaiable materials to make batteries.

>The battery pack in a hybrid car weights about 40-50kgs and add all the hybrid hardware it can add a total of 100kgs to the car, which similar to the weight difference between a diesel and a petrol. More over Diesels are on an average 25% more efficient than the petrol equivalents but Hybrids are close to 50% more efficient in City conditions.

> Hybrids like Prius even with the engine running gives about 21kmpl on average in city. Its about the size of Corolla which manages a 12 in our country. If introduced in our traffic ridden cities it will save close to 50% fuel easily. The Infamous Suzuki Twin could manage close to 35kmpl almost a decade back. On the other hand the Diesel smart manages close to 33kmpl now.

> An Charge-At-Home(Plug-ins) like the Volt can totally avoid you from burning fuel in City conditions and it can easily blend into the upcoming electric car infrastructures.

> There are various types of Hybrids in the world. Infact the technology is so nascent that almost every manufacturer has their own version. Some are better at low speeds, some are better with high accelerations, some are better with high speeds etc. A normal ICE engine is not better at any of that, its best at constant speeds, low or high depends on the size.

> The same reason that it is nascent, its quite costly as of now but likely to become cheaper over the years. The first car made was not for every one to drive until Ford introduced the T. The first CRDi engine did not come in Swift but in Cars that did nothing by saving fuel. This is no reason to reject a technology. And Cheap batteries wont come by chance unless there is a need. The demand has to go up for production to go up and as production goes up lots of innovation will come in. So even if you wait for a decade the prices will stay there, unless it is used. But Lithium ions will show you that batteries are starting to become cheaper, unless you start using it. They are not costly because of precious materials(like Fuel Cells) or process but because they are not available in the right form factor, so manufacturers have to assemble them. The Tesla's car uses 16500 cells which are about the same size of your AA Cell, to build the battery pack. The same is true with Ford Hybrids. This is very complex in terms of monitoring and maintaining the pack. Larger packs are in Making and will be pretty cheap and will become cheaper with numbers.

> Saving 10Lts of fuel a month is reducing dependency on Oil. Oil is a very weak link to any nation. And as number of cars go up our dependency on oil too goes up in magnitude. Oil pricing can weaken all the economies in the world at one go significantly. Also stuffs like siphoning, curing and shipping(over 10,000kms) 10 lts less oil, is going play a lot of role on Carbon Emissions.

What is un-attractive of Hybrids is the fact that
> We dont have full exposure of the knowledge on these technologies. We just want to believe what ever the big company heads are saying.
> Hybrids from the likes of Honda and Toyota are costly for India because they are not made in India and neither are designed/tuned for our country. They really need an Asian Version of these cars and I see India/Thailand as the best base for this kind of stuff. Also with many nations entering pacts selling stuffs across Asian nations may be far easier than in European ones in the coming years.
> There is no cool factor in a Hybrid, most hybrids save fuel and does not do a sub 10 sec 100 times or pump out a 100+BHP. This will not save the day in a country full of young people. 10 years down the line Hybrids will start looking a lot more attractive for people of this nation. But in a City condition a car tuned for heavy low speed acceleration can easily outrun its petrol sibling thanks to motors pumping 100% of its torque even at 0 RPM.
> Hybrids add secondary drive train to the cars making design and manufacturing a lot more complex action especially from procuring the spare parts and assembling point of view. Compared to Diesels sharing most of the components with its petrol siblings. So Hybrid versions of petrol cars don't work economically. A Hybrid has to be designed as one from ground up. Thats where the chance of public acceptance comes in.
> The two drive trains means that its a complex system involving not known to public maintainance. Which is going to be difficult sell, like Fuel Injection in our bikes.
> Today Segments that are super hot in our country are around 4-7L and is fast moving up. Most cars are sub 4M but sadly there is no car that is already designed which is sub 4M or in this price range. A total new design is more than what capacity we have here only Tata or Maruti stands a chance as they have some design happening here.

Last edited by arunmur : 28th September 2009 at 19:50.
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Old 28th September 2009, 19:52   #25
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Originally Posted by arunmur View Post
GM's target price on this car would be in the range of 4-5L.
It seems unlikely to me that a car like that could be sold at such a low price point. Consider that Reva uses a smaller, more basic battery pack than one that would be needed to power a Spark & that the cost of manufacturing the body of a Reva is surely lesser too. Also considering that the Reva now retails at 3.5 (basic) - 4.5(top-end) lac, and assuming that Maini is not including a fat margin or anything in the price (assumption seems reasonable, for easy-to-see reasons)
, how could a Spark offer more than what the 'so-called basic' Reva, with a more powerful battery pack included be priced at anything even comparable to 4.5 lac??

Common news is that Reva itself is in the process of developing & commercialising a Li-ion battery car. The battery alone costs as much as a petrol Spark, and its improvement over the lead-acid ones is limited to marginal advancements in the charging & range departments. So thinking of a decent battery powered Spark would ask one to think of nothing less than 8 lacs at the least, looks like.

Corrections welcome.
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Old 30th September 2009, 13:54   #26
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A few years ago, someone bought a Reva electric car near where I was living.
It was a sensation; free [almost] driving! Someone asked me what I thought.
ďIn two or three years, the batteries will be junk.Ē I said. Sadly, I was right.
The owner was so disgusted at the cost of a new battery pack; it was more than he would have spent on fuel, that he bought a petrol car instead, and put the Reva in storage.

Batteries also require energy and new raw materials to manufacture or recycle. Thatís why theyíre expensive.
Lithium-ion batteries will remain expensive even if sourced entirely within India; itís simple, if they get cheaper than those than china sells, then the Indian ones will get exported, until the prices are [more or less] equal.

Arunmur makes a good point about the different driving speeds between east and west. Iíve often thought that the cars and trucks built and sold in India were designed for other countries. But there are highways now [I hear].
I think that argument lends itself to electric cars, not hybrids. That is, if there were only reliable batteries.
The Indian climate takes a toll as well, the high temperatures reduce battery life a lot. I imported some, and they only did slightly better than good quality local ones.

And you might save some petroleum, but you still use electricity, and quite a bit of it too [which is mostly generated from fossil fuel in India]. The charger for a battery like youíll have in a car will draw 1 to 5 KW, and usually are only around 60% efficient [unless you get the new high tech high cost inverter type, rare even in the west]. Youíll have to beef up your power supply, and remember that there is already a shortage of power nationally.

Of course you could buy solar cells to charge your car; that would cost 5-10 lakhs, and of course you could only use the car at night, as it would need to be at home charging during the day. And since manufacturing solar cells uses huge amounts of energy, they will only recover that energy if used continuously in full sunlight for years. In other words, unless the factory that makes them is powered by atomic energy, the net fossil fuel savings will be nil.

Synopsis; I believe hybrid and electric cars have a role to play, but they are not fulfilling the promises or the hype that they generate. They save little [if any] expense for the owner, and little [if any] carbon emissions on a cradle to grave basis over a fuel efficient ICE vehicle. This may improve in future of course.

Traffic jams in the cities; well, I hate to disillusion you, but they have those in the west too, every working day at rush hour, just like India.
Once, in a 5 day period, I got stuck in rush hour traffic in 4 capital cities; Madrid, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. The large cities [Madrid and Paris] were similar to Indian cities Iíve been stuck in. yes, hours. Yesterday I was stuck in Lisbon for several hours too.
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