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View Full Version : Who Killed the Electric Vehicle?



DemonD
01-15-08, 02:33 AM
Documentary, 90 minutes long, regarding GM's EV1 program that seemed promising and was literally crushed. Very much environmentally biased, (almost a slogan: buy an electric car!)

They do hit a lot of tinfoil hat type issues, with some pretty solid evidence, most of which I think everyone here is aware of. Republicans, Bush, Big Oil, political bribery, the House of Saud, the American Consumer - all indicted in the death of the electric car.

I know many or most of you won't watch this (hell i rarely watch videos here), but I highly recommend you play the video at this time index: 51:10 - 51:53


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"It's a big day for Iraq, and there's a feast to celebrate. Sheep stuffed with rice, and a host of other good things. But that's only the first of the good things that will to come to Iraq, thanks to oil."

Ugh, the so-called "phd" spokesman for the oil industry is more slimy than a snake bathed in oil.

Also I liked the hypothesis that hydrogen is a long-term plan by oil companies to keep people hooked on mobile fuel as opposed to building out an electric infrastructure for electric vehicles.

GRG55
01-15-08, 01:13 PM
Documentary, 90 minutes long, regarding GM's EV1 program that seemed promising and was literally crushed. Very much environmentally biased, (almost a slogan: buy an electric car!)

They do hit a lot of tinfoil hat type issues, with some pretty solid evidence, most of which I think everyone here is aware of. Republicans, Bush, Big Oil, political bribery, the House of Saud, the American Consumer - all indicted in the death of the electric car.

I know many or most of you won't watch this (hell i rarely watch videos here), but I highly recommend you play the video at this time index: 51:10 - 51:53


<EMBED id=VideoPlayback style="WIDTH: 400px; HEIGHT: 326px" src=""http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=5977085690337730430&hl=en type=application/x-shockwave-flash flashvars=""> </EMBED>

"It's a big day for Iraq, and there's a feast to celebrate. Sheep stuffed with rice, and a host of other good things. But that's only the first of the good things that will to come to Iraq, thanks to oil."

Ugh, the so-called "phd" spokesman for the oil industry is more slimy than a snake bathed in oil.

Also I liked the hypothesis that hydrogen is a long-term plan by oil companies to keep people hooked on mobile fuel as opposed to building out an electric infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Conversion to electric transportation systems, including electric cars, will no doubt be part of the slow evolution of transportation systems. But I do find it hilarious that California, for all its green credentials and all the electric car experts/conspiracy theorists it has recently spawned, can't even solve its electricity supply problem for homes and offices (rotating outages in summer becoming accepted there). Can you imagine what would happen to the grid if there was any appreciable electric car market penetration in that state?

DemonD
01-15-08, 03:51 PM
Can you imagine what would happen to the grid if there was any appreciable electric car market penetration in that state?

We'd be spending so much less on gas we could probably afford to build upgraded electric grids. Besides which it's the extreme heat that really messes us up, along with corporate fraud, not the grid itself. Imagine the power drain that would be lifted from the grid if we took every single gas station off line?

GRG55
01-15-08, 08:46 PM
We'd be spending so much less on gas we could probably afford to build upgraded electric grids. Besides which it's the extreme heat that really messes us up, along with corporate fraud, not the grid itself. Imagine the power drain that would be lifted from the grid if we took every single gas station off line?.

You can't upgrade the grid (or anything else) in that wonderful utopia called California because you can't get the public support to do anything, anywhere, anytime, anymore. Why else would PG&E be promoting a project to buy wind power from British Columbia for gawd sake.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the petrol stations.

Jay
01-15-08, 11:03 PM
Thanks for the vid, I knew little of the EV before yesterday.

First of all, I think it is amazing how well those electric cars functioned considering they were thrown amongst the gas powered car economy with its 100+ year efficiencies already worked in. It shocked me actually.

This is no hydrogen dream, these electric cars could be on the streets in months if corporate america and their political sycophants decided it so.

The most effective mitigating factor for "peak oil" is conservation, whatever your feelings are on the subject. And it doesn't matter whether you fall into "the end of easily accessible oil" camp or not, conservation is key. Implemented, these electric cars could conservatively take a few percentage points off of world oil use, which would change oil depletion times drastically as it affects a logarithmic scale. If the increase in MPG in the 1970's pushed peak theory back a few decades, I don't see why electric cars wouldn't shove it back 100 years.

GRG55
01-15-08, 11:57 PM
Thanks for the vid, I knew little of the EV before yesterday.

First of all, I think it is amazing how well those electric cars functioned considering they were thrown amongst the gas powered car economy with its 100+ year efficiencies already worked in. It shocked me actually.

This is no hydrogen dream, these electric cars could be on the streets in months if corporate america and their political sycophants decided it so.

The most effective mitigating factor for "peak oil" is conservation, whatever your feelings are on the subject. And it doesn't matter whether you fall into "the end of easily accessible oil" camp or not, conservation is key. Implemented, these electric cars could conservatively take a few percentage points off of world oil use, which would change oil depletion times drastically as it affects a logarithmic scale. If the increase in MPG in the 1970's pushed peak theory back a few decades, I don't see why electric cars wouldn't shove it back 100 years.

So we are to believe that corporate America and their political sycophants are the only thing in the way of widespread availability of electric cars?

So why is it that places as crowded as Japan, with automakers like Toyota and Nissan, and places like Germany, France and the UK, with advanced economies and industries as well as $8.00 fuel, have never embraced and developed electric cars in a big way? Did Big Oil, GM and powerful Washington interests extend their reach that far too? Ya, and Jim Garrison was right...the CIA killed JFK.

DemonD
01-16-08, 01:16 AM
So we are to believe that corporate America and their political sycophants are the only thing in the way of widespread availability of electric cars?

So why is it that places as crowded as Japan, with automakers like Toyota and Nissan, and places like Germany, France and the UK, with advanced economies and industries as well as $8.00 fuel, have never embraced and developed electric cars in a big way? Did Big Oil, GM and powerful Washington interests extend their reach that far too? Ya, and Jim Garrison was right...the CIA killed JFK.

GRG, all you have to do is look at the white house of the US for the past 8 years and it doesn't seem all that implausible. And who was in control in the 1980s, and the fact that the Clinton regime played along with big oil too.

Have you checked out the market caps of oil companies recently?

In any case, I believe that it might not be too far off when EV cars come back in vogue not just with consumers but with companies. See www.teslamotors.com .

BTW I indeed think that GM did not see electric cars as anything more than a low margin niche vehicle, which is not what they do. Then again I wonder if Sony and others thought that the first ipod was a niche item and wouldn't compete with their walkman or discman?

GRG55
01-16-08, 02:27 AM
GRG, all you have to do is look at the white house of the US for the past 8 years and it doesn't seem all that implausible. And who was in control in the 1980s, and the fact that the Clinton regime played along with big oil too.

Have you checked out the market caps of oil companies recently?

In any case, I believe that it might not be too far off when EV cars come back in vogue not just with consumers but with companies. See www.teslamotors.com (http://www.teslamotors.com) .

BTW I indeed think that GM did not see electric cars as anything more than a low margin niche vehicle, which is not what they do. Then again I wonder if Sony and others thought that the first ipod was a niche item and wouldn't compete with their walkman or discman?

Exactly! The US car companies haven't seen themselves as designers and manufacturers of good transportation vehicles for a long time - they've been too busy making themselves over as finance companies in drag. Although GM can still make a decent vehicle when they put in the effort (my wife owns one of their better results) they spent most of their time managing earnings from lending businesses like Ditech, to satisfy the quarter by quarter appetite of Wall St analysts. Breakthrough innovation is something that has eluded them, and their peers, for some time.

You have an excellent point...in the same fashion as a computer company (Apple) dethroned the long time consumer electronics leader in personal music players (Sony), the breakthrough technologies for vehicles could come from somewhere other than the major car companies.

I have been a member of the Wisconsin based Experimental Aircraft Association for 23 years. Every time I have attended the huge convention and airshow at Oshkosh I notice that the most innovative stuff in aviation (materials, propulsion, airfoils, you name it) is coming out of small, private companies (like Scaled Composites in Mojave) and people working in their garages and basements - not Boeing, NASA, or Cessna.

Spartacus
01-16-08, 03:18 AM
Clayton Christensen, "Innovator's Dilemma".

He convinced Andy Grove to start an offshoot of Intel to build & market stripped-down processors, because Intel would never pursue the low-end market- all the margin is in the high end. This is one reason Digital Equipment Corp and others like it died - Christensen traces the same kind of business logic through the transistor vs vacuum tube industries, various portions of the auto industry and a couple of others. I think there's some TED talks with Christensen and Tim OReilly.

In an earlier age Robert Townsend (in "Up the Organization") called this type of activity "Pissing in the stew". But apparently what a great businessman proclaims to be a POS idea in the 70s is Gold-standard consulting advice from Harvard Business School in the naughts.


Exactly! The US car companies haven't seen themselves as designers and manufacturers of good transportation vehicles for a long time - they've been too busy making themselves over as finance companies in drag. Although GM can still make a decent vehicle when they put in the effort (my wife owns one of their better results) they spent most of their time managing earnings from lending businesses like Ditech, to satisfy the quarter by quarter appetite of Wall St analysts. Breakthrough innovation is something that has eluded them, and their peers, for some time.

You have an excellent point...in the same fashion as a computer company (Apple) dethroned the long time consumer electronics leader in personal music players (Sony), the breakthrough technologies for vehicles could come from somewhere other than the major car companies.

I have been a member of the Wisconsin based Experimental Aircraft Association for 23 years. Every time I have attended the huge convention and airshow at Oshkosh I notice that the most innovative stuff in aviation (materials, propulsion, airfoils, you name it) is coming out of small, private companies (like Scaled Composites in Mojave) and people working in their garages and basements - not Boeing, NASA, or Cessna.

BiscayneSunrise
01-16-08, 07:44 AM
Spartucus, You took the words out of my mouth. The innovators dilemma is not only about resistance to pursuing low margin business; but often times with the introduction of a new innovative product, a company's best customers say that they are not interested and only want the old tried and true product with its' known capabilities, costs and depreciation schedules.

A buyer going over budget on an unknown product puts his job at risk, or as the old saying went, no one ever got fired for buying an IBM mainframe.

That's why the innovative products are paid for by the early adapters, the affluent people, buyers, companies who want the coolest toy and don't care whether it is expensive, unreliable or is a technological dead end.

EJ
01-16-08, 10:19 AM
I don't usually comment on the videos but I have a degree in this area and this is something of a pet peeve of mine and I'm working on an article for a Green publication, so here's a draft that addresses this issue.

What killed the pure electric car this time is the same set of problems that has set pure electrics back since they first hit the market in the 1830s (http://www.speedace.info/electric_vehicle_history.htm).

Pure electrics that are nearly as convenient as liquid fueled cars are impractical today in all but a small range of climates. That means there is a small market that large auto companies cannot economically address. Here's why.

Batteries are chemical reactors. Energy output is a function of temperature: low temperatures mean less energy, less power, less range. Even the most modern batteries lose a lot of output especially as temperatures approach zero centigrade. That means in most climates pure electrics must be parked in a heated environment. If operated for any length of time in a cold environment, the batteries must be kept warm using their own power for heating, at the expense of range.

Heating and cooling of pure electrics is also problematic. The average automobile air conditioner produces enough cooling to cool a house. This can be mitigated to a degree by reducing surface exposure to the sun and increasing the reflectivity of surfaces. Park a pure electric in a mall parking lot in Arizona in summer and running the A/C to cool it will cut diving range substantially. Parking and operating a pure electric in hot climates reduces range.

Petroleum liquid fueled cars use the waste heat off the engine for heating. Pure electrics for all practical purposes either short out the batteries to heat an element to heat the car, with a serious negative impact on range, or if powered by hydrogen fuel cells consume hydrogen fuel directly for heating. Pure electrics 100 years ago addressed this problem by requiring owners to add fuel to a separate liquid fuel heater, an inconvenience that petroleum liquid fuel powered cars did not have.

Finally, if you're driving a car that has to be recharged before you can drive it, you have to plan use. Most drivers do not plan car use and do not want to. They want to jump in the car and drive. Hydrogen fueled cars can address this problem if thousands of hydrogen fueling stations were to appear all across the nation. Obviously the thousands of millions of dollars required is not economical for any automobile manufacturer to undertake, and the cost of running the stations is today far in excess of the cash flow that can be generated by the handful of hydrogen fuel cars that exist on the road. These stations would not only cost billions to build and keep fueled, they'd have to be run at a loss for many years.

These apparently minor inconveniences add up to one massive and unacceptable inconvenience: car buyers don't want a car that won't go as far in hot or cold weather as during room temperature days, needs to be kept warm, needs to be kept out of the sun, and so on. The owner needs to worrying about planning how far they're going to get depending on a number of environmental factors outside their control before they have to pull over to recharge for a few hours or get back to a hydrogen fueling station. There is a tiny market for a car with all these limitations when drivers are used to jumping into the car and going as far as they want whenever they want. If they are running out of fuel, they pull over into a nearby station to refuel and are immediately on the road again.

Pure electrics have never been able to come close to this level of convenience and offer this degree of freedom. That has relegated them to commercial fleets with set routes where limited daily range, in spite of unpredictable weather dependent variability, is not an issue.

It should be clear to anyone reading this that for electric cars to replace liquid fueled cars, two things have to happen:

1) Gasoline has to become so expensive that the convenience of liquid fueling is negated by unaffordablility; if the only way to continue to enjoy most of the freedom of movement afforded by personal transportation is a pure electric, then they will work. This can be accomplished long term by market factors or short term via government tax incentives.

2) Massive government spending is needed to build the fueling infrastructure and fund the operating losses to enable automobile manufacturers to sell quantities of cars at a profit.

Until these two conditions are met, pure electrics may expand from delivery trucks and buses to use as rental cars for daily use in cities, but that's about it.

DemonD
01-18-08, 02:33 PM
Finally, if you're driving a car that has to be recharged before you can drive it, you have to plan use. Most drivers do not plan car use and do not want to. They want to jump in the car and drive.

I will definitely concede this point. I can't even begin to count the amount of times my ex-girlfriend couldn't use her cell phone because her battery would run out.

And also a good point on the temperature, I've run into that problem myself trying to take pictures while snowboarding, or using batteries while camping in colder weather.

I am fairly excited to see what happens with tesla and others though.

DemonD
02-01-08, 09:07 PM
Eric, I have delved a bit more into Tesla. To address a few of your concerns:

In terms of charging, Tesla has an on-the-go power charging setup that can be used with any US power outlet.

I was thinking the biggest problem with range would be road trips. While I think this is an eventual issue that will need to be resolved if the country goes to EV's exclusively, for right now I would suggest just looking at the roadster. It's not built for family vacations or camping, so I think this issue, at first at least, would be minimal.

But the vast majority of driving that we do in this country is day-to-day from home to work and daily chores. For example in the video above, the hydrogen cell car owner disliked it because he preferred the plug-in ease of his GM EV-1, as opposed to having to go somewhere to get the fuel. I like the comparison to a cell phone - plug it in when you get home, use it all day. Now that is some easy convenience. I can easily imagine the average 2 car family, one with an EV and one with gas.

Also, I've read other sites that have hinted at a solution: sort of a reverse hybrid. Instead of having a gas car with a big battery (like the honda and toyota hybrids now), you would have an EV car with a small generator to recharge the battery for long road trips.

As far as the cold weather problem, I've come to learn that the battery has a climate control system. In the worst possible scenario, the battery needs to warm up for 15-20 minutes. This is of course unacceptable to most people who want to get in and go, but I would imagine in a cold weather city, this warming could be triggered by remote. So if it takes you 20 minutes from the time you wake up in the morning to shower, eat, etc, you could just hit a button and it wouldn't be a problem. I could not find any info on battery performace in cold weather, but it certainly does work, and work well in cold weather. See the video below:

http://www.teslamotors.com/display_data/3768med.mov

Also, I listened to the conference call from their website. Production on the retail cars begins 3/17, company is well-funded, looks like hopefully production delays have ended.

Wouldn't electric vehicles also fit in the world of alt-energy as has been proposed for the next bubble?