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Electric vehicles reached 2M cars in 2016 (iea.org)
103 points by doener on June 7, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 69 comments

Norway is planning to phase out petrol/diesel cars by 2025 https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/norway-phase-out...

I suspect this is where we are headed.

However an EV car takes the same space up as an ICE car. EV cars do not solve congestion and if you move from a policy of maximising traffic flow to maximising road capacity you very quickly realise that the fundemental problem is the private car. So the conclusion is to ban the car https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/dec/09/car-free-city...

I believe Copenhagen now has only 9% of people commuting by private car and 62% by bicycle.

I agree. So we'll just sit in the same traffic in our electric car for an hour, each way to work?

I could see traffic a being a lot better with fully autonomous cars. Still, public transportation and more bike lanes seem like a much better investment and way to go.

I'd be surprised if private autonomous cars will be allowed into cities, whereas public ride share autonomous mini-buses with dynamic routing AI will be the way forward.

I think people like their privacy too much for that, as efficient as it may be. It seems more likely to me that private (or public single-occupant) autonomous cars will become smaller. Something like a Smart car size autonomous EV -- small enough to minimize costs, large enough to be useful for the single rider.

A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transport — paraphrased from Enrique Penalosa, former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia


I think privacy is something that is a function of cost benefit. When road pricing becomes ubiquitous (as it will given the march towards EV), people will begin shift to public transport.

Perhaps the solution for Americans will need to be different to that of the rest of the world.

Prepare to be surprised

There are already congestion charging schemes. I doubt it will ever get to a ban (and you can wouldn't want that) but I think it will be expensive. You could actually just charge a flat fee for road space, so a bus carrying 70 people is 3 times as long as a car, so only pays 3 times more. And maybe a separate charge of minimum standard to discourage nitrogen or particulate air pollution.

I suspect that the move to EV will eventually create a revenue hole from reduced fuel taxes necessitating the move to road pricing. Politically unpalatable but I think a necessary step.

I'd be a bit scared to sit inside a public autonomous vehicle. I mean, how hard could it be to tamper with the thing before I get in? I'd be surprised if it didn't run WiFi, Bluetooth AND cellular at the same time.

It'd be best if the software on it was open source, came with a nice tasty bug bounty and had an occasional audit from a third party secu- oh god it's never happening is it

I can understand worries about some kind of remote mass hacking, but in-person tampering with one vehicle? Just slit the brake line. In other words, not a new issue.

People could also tamper with non-autonomous transit like disabling the breaks.

> So we'll just sit in the same traffic in our electric car for an hour, each way to work?

On the bright side, electric cars don't pollute emissions or noise when idling. It's an incremental improvement, but one I happily embrace.

Modern ICE vehicles with stop-start which is available even on mid-range vehicles don't pollute while idling, so then the problem with heavy traffic is limited to moving slowly, which electric vehicles still seem better at.

CO2 causes climate change. Buying oil empowers authoritarian, barbaric regimes.

EVs full speed ahead.

EV cars do not solve congestion

Autopilot cars can do a lot for congestion. If every driver implemented the "stay halfway between" algorithm mentioned in CGP Grey's "The Simple Solution to Traffic" video, there would be far less congestion.


EVs would also enable simpler tunnel construction and better tunnel economics. This is a part of Elon Musk's new proposals.

The car that drives you 60 miles between cities should look different to the car that drives you 2 miles across a city and while EV's are a great start to cleaning city air I believe it will be autonomous features that will change city congestion. The form factor possibilities will allow for far higher traffic density through reduced size, less car ownership and correspondingly less humans using cars as a performance indicator.

As someone already pointed out, I think advances in auto-pilot will help a lot with congestion as vehicles begin communicating with other nearby vehicles and traffic lights.

One thing you don't hear discussed much though is the reduction of noise that I assume will become quite noticeable once most vehicles are electric. Living close to a busy road or highway should become a lot more bearable.

I personally do not think auto-pilot will help with congestion at all unless they are used as carpool vehicles to pick up and drop off people on route. Once you have auto-pilot, you have another group of the population that don't drive now that will start using auto pilots. I'm mostly referring to old people who don't drive but there are many others who don't drive due to limitations.

Or simply people who don't like driving in traffic, its boring and annoying but you still have to pay attention and can't do much else except listen to a podcast or music. If the car drove itself you could work just as you can in a train or as a passenger. This would make a 1h commute much more tolerable. I can see many more people who don't want to drive deciding to use private autonomous vehicles over crowded/dirty public transit.

It's interesting to me that Norway is such a leader in deployed EVs simply because of their Sovereign Wealth Fund getting so much of its revenues from Oil interest. That would be like Saudi Arabia having 30% EVs, seems crazy.

The other fun number is that the US was only 160k out of the 2M vehicles. Much more in line with the US population proportion to the world. A signal perhaps of the US's waining global leadership. Perhaps in the next ten years America will shrink back into a regional superpower.

I doubt it has to do with the US's waning global leadership and more to do with the fact that Americans drive longer distances per year than people in any other nation. There are HUGE parts of the US where you literally couldn't get an electric car to without putting it on a flatbed or using standard 15 amp house outlets for days. I work from home and travel through rural parts of the US all year long and there is no way people who live >100 miles from an urban center would EVER think about buying an electric car because of range anxiety even with the new 200+ mile ranges that aren't really available outside a handful of cities.

The US is a large country with lots of empty space in it.

Yeah, having driven across the US twice I don't think people realize how much empty space there is. There's a whole lot of nothing out there.

Don't get me wrong, much of it is great and beautiful. It's also really, really big. We probably have stretches of uninhabited land larger than some countries.

plenty of places in the country where you can drive for 5 hours and not pass a town with over 1k living there

"there is no way people who live >100 miles from an urban center would EVER think about buying an electric car because of range anxiety"

What percentage of the US population regularly commute that far?

I was under the impression that most of the US population (and the rest of the world's population as well) lived in cities.

Yeah and there's nothing wrong with that, I don't think EVs should be forced on areas where they don't work.

That said I live ~50mi from the nearest major metro area and have had no issues with EV ownership for the last 2.5 years. I've got a 250mi operating radius from my house(charging overnight) and there's at least 2-3 superchargers in each direction with that kind of range.

A 100mi round trip range is no problem for the modern evs, but the fact is that there just isn't enough money to lay out type2 chargers everywhere.

A type 2 50v charger can push my Chevy Bolt's battery from 25% to 80% in well under an hour, making it sort of perfect for errands. That takes me from a 80 mile range to a 232 mile range, approximately.

If these could be deployed in wider numbers, there really is no part of the US that isn't in range except perhaps the most intensely mountainous regions. I'm actually very surprised we aren't starting to see franchises sprouting up offering a renewable power source, a large power storage solution, and a series of type2 50v chargers in an array. It seems to me like a massive potential market if you could literally turn solar and wind into fuel for cars and charge people for parking in the same go.

>The US is a large country with lots of empty space in it.

Yea, and so are Russia and China. The problem is the US chooses to hose its taxpayers by subsidizing rural living.

Just as an example, if we had Japan/Korea's urbanization rate, that's another 30+ million Americans in cities and out of the boonies...

On the other hand car commuting is much more common in the US, which is where EVs excel. If you're driving 50 miles a day into and out of work, an EV is perfect as a second car, which you can charge up in a suburban garage. That scenario must match a large proportion of US demand.

> there is no way people who live >100 miles from an urban center would EVER think about buying an electric car because of range anxiety

Counter point, my wife's family owns a farm roughly 80 miles from any sort of 'urban center' (and 300+ miles from the big city).

They were first in line for the Nissan Leaf, and had to make special arrangements to have it delivered. They love it for driving into their nearby small town, and they cannot wait to replace their other cars with electrics. (Sadly, there are not electric farm trucks yet.)

Seems like plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt could be really popular in the US.

Enough electric power to cover 90+% of daily scenarios, but an ICE that can be 'recharged' at a fuel pump in 60 seconds for long road trips.

You're obviously adding a lot of complexity to the car by having both systems, which is a drawback.

They're growing in popularity as the price falls, for sure.

Why not? With a massive charging station network and plenty of places to charge up.

Norway and Tesla sales: http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2014/03/11/288611696/n...

Norway's fund has actually start to divest from fossil fuels in a large way : https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/05/norways-...

I think guimarin meant that the fund is mostly from the sale of the oil from Norway. Since Norway is making money from selling oil, it does makes sense to diversify and invest in other industries.

"electric cars on the roads around the world rose to 2 million in 2016" vs "160,000 total EVs sold in the United States in 2016". Doesn't take away from your point, and the article clearly states China is leading, but those numbers are not directly comparable (cumulative total vs 2016 sales).

You're absolutely right. Totally missed that nuance (damn word ordering). It does change my point to be a bit less strong, but I guess I'd say that I'm still happy that the number is large in the rest of world. This is a global problem.

Norway also gets cheap renewable electricity from hydro. I believe they use more electric home heating than many other countries for that reason.

(Similarly, oil states in the gulf are investing in solar, as it's simply cheaper).

I paid for my Volt with some oil rights I inherited. Sure, I'm way net carbon polluting on that deal. But the Volt is sweet.

The less oil Norway uses domestically the more they can sell on the market

Are you an economist? This is not how economics works. It's frustrating to see overly-simplistic statements passed off as facts by supposed "experts" on HN.

The actual economics is way more complicated.

Some thoughts to ponder:

1) Why don't other countries oil-producing nations try to minimize their own oil consumption in a similar way?

2) Why don't other countries do the same with whatever natural resource they have an abundance of?

Yeah, its a moral thing, and also to a degree an economic diversification policy. Saudi is actually doing a similar thing, trying to encourage non-oil industry.

They aren't having much success though, the curse of oil and all that stuff.

because most oil producing countries can't have the luxury of also having hydro power. When they do, the comment you called a liar is very true.

Headline seems almost meaningless, and doesn't do justice to the importance of the story. It would be like saying "World population has another record year". What sort of disaster would have to befall the industry for the number of electric cars on the road to actually decrease from last year?

Hypothetically, I could envision growth declining or accelerating in any given year, both of which would be news worth pointing out. (And in a mature market like conventional gasoline cars with lots of near end-of-life "clunkers" out there, I could see absolute number decreasing, which would be worth knowing). But an increase in absolute number of EVs is so nearly certain as to just be noise.

It seems that EV are on the verge or climbing the hockey stick curve. That is hugely important.

Exponential growth in renewables is the only real solution to climate change.

More cars is not a solution in any way to climate change, no matter what they are. It helps such a tiny amount, and will probably add more problems as people switch over.

how dare you criticize consumerism!

think of all the poor rich people trying to feel good about their imense investment on a disposable toxic ton of battery. How insensitive.

Agreed. That should be the headline. That's my point.

(I've edited my original comment a bit to make this clearer.)

I think electric buses are really interesting. They are often perfectly suited to the task, really improved air quality (and noise) and also the ride experience is vastly better without a 8L diesel engine banging away.

London has a few routes with them on now and I wish TfL would invest more in it. The air quality on main streets is horrible here.

It's going that way. The only problem is double decker buses have only just been released as electric. TfL have trialled then as they've become available, I think they're doing what they can.

"Still, electric vehicles only made up 0.2% of total passenger light-duty vehicles in circulation in 2016."

The breakthrough will come when Beijing goes electric-only. Already, it's much easier to get a Beijing license for an electric car.

I think bikes are going to be bigger than electric cars.

Especially e-bikes are gaining a lot of momentum. They take away the sweat factor of regular bikes while still having massive health and congestion advantages over car commutes (and within the city are often faster than cars due to congested streets).

People hurt themselves on E-Bikes, I can see it being a fad when people realise it's a relatively dangerous way of travelling.

In the EU ebikes are quite limited. If you're going to hurt yourself at 17mph on an ebike a normal bike isn't going to safe either, as soon as you go down a hill. American ebikes seem to be crazy powerful.

People hurt the planet with cars, I can see it being a fad when people realize it's a relatively dangerous way of traveling.

People also hurt other people with cars. What was it again? You are more likely to die from a car accident than in an airliner?

I was in my local bike shop [1] yesterday and probably a quarter of their bikes on display were electric. They are mainstream now.

[1] http://www.bike-zone.co.uk/

Digging up millions of tons of earth to get a few pounds of rare earth metals to make batteries in order to charge those batteries using coal -- how environmentally thoughtful.

It's actually complicated, and how efficient it ends up being depends on how power is produced where you live:


What kind of rare earth metals exactly? And can you give some indication as to why an EV using electricity generated from coal is worse for the environment than a ICE?

That isn't really a great analysis. It is only counting at the known deposits. When demand increases, price will rise and it will kick off more discovery. (It will also make us use the lithium more efficiently, but that is tangential.)

Take a look at this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abundance_of_elements_in_Earth...

Lithium is #33, estimated at 20 ppm of the crust. We presently mine 64000 tons per year. It is more common that lead, which is #37 and only 14 ppm. Yet we mine 4.8 million tons of lead per year. Now examine boron. #41, 10 ppm and 9.4 million tons per year. Are these unsustainable? Are we on the verge of peak boron and peak lead? Probably not. We have twice as much lithium so we probably aren't going to run out of lithium even if demand increases by a hundred-fold.

I am not a geologist, so maybe much of this lithium is more inaccessible than I'm assuming. But thinking that the known deposits are the entire world supply is silly.

So in short, if we change half the worldwide vehicle production to electric (with similar batteries as Tesla's current lineup), we have enough lithium deposits on earth for about 20 years (give or take a few).

That is a problem to keep in mind, but I am optimistic that before we reach even half that production capacity, the massive amounts of money that will be poured into battery research will produce good alternatives that don't rely on lithium. As production scales up so do R&D budgets, and there is a lot of promising alternatives.

Note that if the lithium price rises, we'll have more reserves -- reserves only count if they're economically-extractable at the current price.

said everyone of oil 100 years ago.

Can't wait for our fluvial polution with all those tesla batteries in a dumb, waiting to be recycled after a huge lithium reserve is found and make recycling unattractive.

its a lose-lose scenario. Either no new reserves or recycling not economically viable.

We can have both. Aluminum is recycling-friendly and also has vast reserves. The more important factor is the difficulty of recycling, and it's possible to overcome that with fees on production/sale that get paid out to recyclers.

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