Electric cars: here we go again

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Dec 2, 2003
Metro Detroit
Check out this CNN/Business 2.0 article. This guy has apparently created an all electric super sports car that can supposedly beat Porsches and Ferraris. The article touts all the super high tech features of this car, but never discusses the reason electric cars won't ever be practical without major advances in electricity storage: the car's range. They mention briefly at the bottom of the article that it's only 100 miles. It takes 500 lbs. of batteries to achieve that, too. Come on guys. Don't you think that electric cars would have come out a long time ago if it they could be made to be practical? The article itself points out that electric cars preceded gas powered cars. Besides, you need fuel to produce electricity. Why not use that fuel to directly create propulsion? I'd like to see how long this venture will last.
Are any of you old enough to remember before there was about to be a break through in batteries and electrics would take over? I am 62 and it has been that way as long as I can remember.
Originally posted by Matt_S: Why not use that fuel to directly create propulsion? I'd like to see how long this venture will last.
That's the reasoning behind fuel cell research.
fuel to produce electricity
At the 2004 annual meeting of the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, it was stated that the expected growth in electricity demand in this area is going to be made up for by burning natural gas.
From the Wikipedia:
Robert Anderson of Scotland invented the first crude electric carriage, powered by non-rechargable Primary cells. http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aacarselectrica.htm By the 20th century, electric cars and rail transport were commonplace, with commercial electric automobiles having the majority of the market. Electrified trains were used for coal transport as the motors did not use precious oxygen in the mines. Switzerland's lack of natural fossil resources forced the rapid electrification of their rail network. Electric vehicles were among the earliest automobiles, and before the preeminence of light, powerful internal combustion engines, electric automobiles held many vehicle land speed and distance records in the early 1900s. They were produced by Anthony Electric, Baker Electric, Detroit Electric, and others and at one point in history out-sold gasoline-powered vehicles.
I think most people agree that reducing pollution and noise in urban areas would be a positive thing. Electric cars could be recharged at parking meters and range would not be an issue for that type vehicle. Sure, the power has to come from somewhere, but at lest the source of pollution would not any longer be bound to the location of the vehicle. PS: What about micro-nuclear power generators as power source? [Wink]
Electric car is easy to build and design, but the cost/weight of battery and the charging time is the problem. Are you willing to wait 3 hrs every 100 miles you drive to charge up the battery? Are you willing to haul 500lb of battery everywhere you go and have to replace it every 8 years? I was hoping that LiPol will one day be cheap enought and charge fast enough that we can use it as our main "fuel". Or rather, why don't we design buses with auto hooks that will snap onto the nearest electric line hanging along the major routes? Then they can pass each other and won't get un-hooked ever. With this, we can convert all the urban garbage trucks, UPS trucks, school buses, etc into electric. Why not just use the grid for routine tasks?
Hybrids are the economical answer ..but not the expensive junque that they sell now. You could have a 18hp small diesel provide all that power you need to move a fairly comfortable vehicle down the road @65 mph. You ditch the trans in favor of electric motor ..which is also a generator to recharge your batteries. The batteries would provide the surge power. There's no reason why 100 mpg isn't possible. I think a guy did this with a VW diesel (the old Rabbit engine). Most of our hp is a waste beyond getting us up to speed.
Gary, I've wondered the same thing. Why not build a car in the same fashion as modern locomotives, the diesel engine drives a generator. Then you use 2 or 4 electric motor/generators to provide AWD power. A diesel engine so it can run at a constant RPM to provide maximum efficiency, perhaps even displacement on demand (if they could do this with a diesel) when the generator load is lighter. I guess the displacement on demand could be a variable geometry turbo on a very small engine capible of insane boost. Probably easier to vary the boost than to turn off and on cylinders. You also get the benefit of being able to use a smaller diesel engine. Of course, electric motors are pretty heavy, so I don't know how practical a 4 motor setup would be. Traction control could be integrated into the motor controllers so only the wheels getting traction would recieve current to drive the motor.
I remember reading something similar about five years ago... an electric car that had a relatively fast 0-60, decent top speed, and decent range for $15K in volume production. Basically it matched all the parameters of a gasoline car, yet it never made it to market. You gotta believe that they just don't tell the whole story, or are lying. The reason for going with indirect fuel, especially electricity and hydrogen, is because it is a single technology and design that can use many different fuels as the primary source, i.e., solar, nuclear, wind, or oil, to produce the electricity or hydrogen.
In the early 1900s many inner cities had trucking fleets that used batteries. The old story back then was "really good - long lasting batteries are about 5 or 10 years away...". I guess that is still true to this day!
The old story back then was "really good - long lasting batteries are about 5 or 10 years away...". I guess that is still true to this day! There's always the assumption that technology will solve any problem that we encounter. That it's only a matter of time to allow us to crack some secret combo of stuff and a magic box will arrive. Now I used to subscribe to the theory that there is no problem without a solution. Now I realize, as I'v matured, that sometimes the solution is just not to do what you were doing before. That's the way I think this is going to play out.
Yes, we've been holding our breath for quite a while, waiting for that breakthrough in battery technology. Still hasn't happened... still waiting.
Originally posted by PandaBear: Or rather, why don't we design buses with auto hooks that will snap onto the nearest electric line hanging along the major routes?
One potential problem with that is that any short circuit or other fault is probably going to result in a huge meltdown. The protection on those circuits is sized for a load much higher than what an electric trolley (or Metro car, or whatever) would draw. And, of course, when the protection DOES kick in--blackout. For everything on the circuit. Another potential problem is that the voltages are likely way too high. The highest voltage in use for electrified railways is about 3kV. Typical distribution lines as you may find alongside the street are about 7.2kV to gound. As you know, higher voltages increase the chance that an arc will occur. Getting a reliable ground would be another problem.
The trains that used to come up the mountains to here (3000' climb) used to be in part balanced by the trains heading down regeneratively braking back into the system. Hybrid without the weighty batteries. It's all been disabled, as it's "too complicated", and "the market is too competetive". Energy is still too cheap.
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