Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Electricity Killed the Petroleum Car

There was a time when an electric car had it's rightful place - On The Moon.

But here on earth, dwindling fuel reserves and increased fuel prices have driven the need for alternative energy sources for daily travel.

Toyota started the trend with the oddly shaped and eventually trademark "electric car", the Prius. Toyota set the standard before the fuel crisis began... but it hardly has the market cornered.

Tesla motors is creating a vehicle that makes the Prius look like a hippy-mobile, and will likely leave the Prius to the same fate that befell the VW Vanagon... A funny looking vehicle that sparks nostalgia in our Woodstock Friends. Tesla's Roadster is 100% electric, high performance (0-60 in 3.6), and gets over 200 miles to the charge. Unfortunately the cost makes the Roadster a playtoy for Playboys.

Meanwhile, the American Automaker, General Motors, has made an announcement that could signal the death of the Internal Combustion vehicle as we know it... at least for SUV's.

General Motors has announced that it will begin suspending production of their SUV's, selling off the Hummer division, and making the staple "American Made American Car" the Chevrolet Volt. The volt is an E85 / electric hybrid, with the potential for fuel cell upgrades as technologies advance. The primary power source is an electric motor, which can travel 40 miles before a charge is required. The internal combustion engine will run as a generator only, powering the charge of the batteries... it will not be used for propelling the vehicle directly.

GM is betting the bank on this move, and I think it will work!

I recently posted a blog about electric cars, and how solar cells on rooftops could be used to provide for the core of our national energy supply, if implemented properly. Electric cars need to also mean that we are getting off of oil and coal burning power sources. Unless we do this, we are still at the mercy of "Big Power".

The Internal combustion vehicle may be a thing of the past... But the future never looked so sweet!

1 comment:

  1. Some have questioned the effectiveness of a plug-in hybrid like the Chevy Volt, which is actually achieving more than 40 miles of electric driving range from a relatively new battery pack
    (it will achieve 40 miles at the battery pack's endpoint, or 10
    plus years down the road). Some have thrown out the claim that
    the Volt's liquid fuel requiremnts will result in 150 MPG, but
    such claims are not possible. At least not in general, since one
    must know the frequency distribution of trip distances (and the VOLT's MPG while using liquid fuel - which is 50) in order to perform the calculations, and no such distribution exists. But there DOES exist knowledge of U.S. commuting trips, available
    from the DOT. Using them, some very simple calculations provide
    a fairly reliable estimate of what could be accomplished by a
    commuting fleet of Volt-like plug-ins. The results are astounding
    and refute the nnotion that all-electric, or battery-only electrics are significantly more effective than hybird plug-ins. Commuting requires a very large portion of total U.S. gasoline consumption,over 50%, I believe.
    Every block of 100 cars engaged in daily commuting travels 2700
    miles, or 27 per vehicle round trip to commute, and uses 158 gallons of gasoline doing so, averaging around 17 MPG.
    If one looks at a 100-vehicle block of Volt-type hybrid vehicles,
    you would find that it would require approximately 7.3 gallons of fuel daily, and achieve a commuting mileage of 370 MPG, reducing liquid fuel requiremnts by over 95%. At this level,current ethanol production could supply more than twice the liquid fuel required by U.S. commuters.
    If just 1/4th of those commuters could recharge at their workplace,then the fleet's mileage jumps to 670 MPG. If a half could recharge, it achieves 971 MPG, each 100 cars needing but 2.8 gallons, or less than 2% of their previous daily requirements.
    At one recharge per day, a Volt could potentially provide over 16,000 miles per year of grid-supplied electric driving, but there isn't anything to prevent a Volt owner from recharging more than once per day. Recharging
    using a household 220 volt/40 amp circuit available in any residence can do a full recharge in less than 3 hours, and a half recharge in one hour.
    One can assume with confidence that recharge stations will appear at public businesses, etc.wherever the customer might be expected to park for more
    than an hour, such as shopping malls, grocery stores, theaters, etc.
    At this point, it's abundently clear that the Volt's only potential obstacle (the performance of a li ion battery pack) does not exist and
    that consumers are ready to pay more for an electric propulsion vehicle.
    There is, however, one potential bombshell waiting in the wings which would turn the entire electric car technology on its ear - the EEStor storage devices. From their descriptions of those who should know, these
    devices are the holy grail that electric car builders have been looking for for over 100 years. They are due for commercial production before the end of the year, to be used by ZENN Motors for a new car they are having
    built by an existing OEM, and for a car conversion business in collaboration with EEStor. If they work as claimed, all other car batteries become instantly obsolete, as well as the plug-in hybrid technology, whose
    viability always depended upon the concept of impractical battery technology.
    Stay tuned to see which technology emerges as the current day undertaker of the petroleum based transportation system. At least the private one.