Hybrids were a mediocre half-measure and hydrogen was a worse solution to the problem. Tesla proved this model despite constant criticism even after wild success.
It's not a huge surprise Toyota is throwing their weight around to try to cheat out some legislative relevance rather than compete on product. Many companies being disrupted do that (see recent viasat story, US car dealerships, etc.)
I hope they lose, imo they deserve it.
The hydrogen station situation is a joke. Not only are there few of them, most of them are offline. Right now, not one hydrogen station in the South Bay is working.
Personal story, when I tried to lease one they wanted me to share my social media info because they only wanted to lease them to “influencers.” Seemed like a bizarre way to run a business, and since I’m not an influencer I looked elsewhere.
Just like with battery-electric-vehicles, there's a chicken and egg problem: no one will buy a car if there's nowhere to charge/fuel it, but no one will build fueling/charging stations if no one has that type of car. If Toyota was serious about hydrogen, they should have done what Tesla did, and built a countrywide network of hydrogen stations.
There isn't a path for hydrogen to build out like that - you need the entire infrastructure at once, there isn't a real path to success there. Failure was obvious imo based on this alone (there are other issues too).
I'm not even sure Toyota really expected anything other than failure? Based on the attention they gave it, it mostly seemed like something they could point to for marketing and then ignore with some justification that their own failure is evidence people don't want non-gasoline alternatives.
Even with lots of money, I think that’s a story of how to go bankrupt.
It was built out over time while early adopters had the ability to charge at home. It explicitly didn’t require being built up all at once because people could charge at home.
> Even with lots of money, I think that’s a story of how to go bankrupt.
Well on a pure product/market basis they probably never should have made these hydrogen cars at all.
I'd think Iridium satellite phone is a great example of this. Motorola spent $5B to setup a constellation of satellites to sell $3k phones. It failed. turns out spending a ton of money to create a market is a huge gamble and the market can move in unexpected ways.
Zune, Windows Phone, Betamax, HD-DVD - maybe not perfect analogies, but there are lots of examples of people throwing lots of money at something to try to force widespread adoption and failing because the market doesn’t want it.
The other two don't work as well as infrastructure analogies.
I think it's rare for something without adoption to get taken up just because a larger player tries to use funds to force it to against the way the market is already going. I think Windows Phone is a pretty good example.
Hydrogen adoption had a lot of issues of which infrastructure was just (a big) one.
Listing it alongside actual failures like HD-DVD is disingenuous.
"The first drive-in filling station [...] opened to the motoring public [...] on December 1, 1913 [...]. Prior to this, automobile drivers pulled into almost any general or hardware store, or even blacksmith shops in order to fill up their tanks."
So gas stations have actually not been built in a large upfront effort, but existing infrastructure was used to distribute gas.
Other sources of Hydrogen simply can't keep up with power generation or transportation needs.
That's not necessarily true. Several years ago I have read somewhere that industrially water is not split by electricity (at least directly) but by heating metal plates to >1500 degrees Celsius and spraying water on them, or something like that. That's tremendous heat, but nowadays it's possible to reach so high temperatures by just using solar energy .
The technology is not yet feasible, but who knows, where it will be in 10 years... It also took some time for solar panel manufacturing to reach today's efficiency numbers .
It's easy enough to produce hydrogen at home. Compressing it to 70 MPa and then storing it would be expensive though.
No it isn't. The key difference is that Telsa picked the right technology and Toyota didn't.
Tesla could build its own infrastructure because the grid exists already and building chargers is not that hard.
Toyota couldn't because building hydrogen infrastructure is insanely incredibly stupidly expensive. Even had they tried, it would have been a gigantic money shredder.
Building fuel-cell cars is really expensive, in addition the the infrastructure they are also losing money on each car.
So basically, your asking Toyota to spend billions to build infrastructure that loses money, and more billions to build cars that lose money.
The right technology choice matters!
(Their hybrid cars are cool but for many years after introducing them, Toyota was actively hostile to any attempts to charge the batteries independently of the onboard ICE generator.)
No. The vast majority of Tesla charging sessions are done at home (and it cost little to charge at night, for most people). Toyota cannot compete with that if they continue to sell hydrogen (which they promote it as being green while 99% is produced from natural gas). They just don't competition and one of the two is dead on arrival. Hydrogen may have a future, but certainly not on the road.
If the carbon-containing part of the production was sequestered, it could reduce the carbon intensity of the fuel greatly, couldn't it? Still has to be extracted and stuff of course.
And they have a charging infrastructure.
Big Auto has:
- locations to put chargers (dealerships that are often in busy commercial areas close to highways)
- lobbying power (to get buildout incentives)
- a lot of money, at least right now
- lawyers and negotiating power
Remember, the grid already exists. A "charging infrastructure" is some last mile wiring and plopping down charger ports, ok, and maybe some review/planning/negotiation with the local power companies.
As soon as major companies are all-in (GM, VW currently), then Electrify America won't be able to get away with their crappy service, will build out, and the dealerships will provide a lot of expansion.
I believe GM could make a usable near-worldwide charging network in less than a year with their dealerships. I know the dealerships have been a massive foot dragging barrier for EV adoption outside of Tesla, but GM does have some power with them, and the writing should be on the wall.
You move to EV, or you are a shady used car lot.
They might try, but I wouldn't be surprised if dealers parked cars in the spots for charging, had them in locked off areas, had them turned off or otherwise inaccessible, etc. I may be misremembering, but I think this was the case with existing infra at Nissan dealers and the leaf? Might have been GM and the volt? I remember seeing complaints online.
I suspect they'll fail to adapt the same way most large companies fail to adapt when a startup disrupts their existing customer base.
In this case, there's the added element that car manufacturers are also harmed by their legacy dealership relationships.
That has caused me a few anxious drives in my Spark EV, finding charging at dealers that was available on the way there but blocked on the return trip. Also, sitting in a car dealer lot for half an hour is not anyone's idea of a good time.
Usually hydrogen delivery trucks, but they list them as explosions “at the plant” in what I guess is a trick to hide the fact that these trucks that are driving around city streets can explode. Then also some at retail filling stations.
Hydrogen fuel cells make way more sense for semi-trucks and I'd love to see the whole Trans-Canada Highway done up with regularly spaced stations, but whether it makes sense in the city is a harder sell. It's a matter of infrastructure being required before users - "if you build it, they will come". I'd drive a Mirai no problem, but not if I'm worried about running out of H.
I still think hydrogen makes way more sense for ships at sea, maybe for planes (maybe not for dirigibles, though, hah), and probably as one of many "grid shifting" tools in the tool bag (converting excess wind/solar to hydrogen when it is cheap, and then reusing it at times of scarcity/grid outages/off-grid-festivals).
Though something was pointed out to me that while far down on the list of immediate greenhouse gas concerns, vastly expanding our production of Hydrogen and the amount that leaks into the atmosphere (and Hydrogen is so small we have no real good way to make a truly leak-proof container; long term storage of "hydrogen fuel" is a problem), it will have a lot of indirect impacts on greenhouse gases (including interrupting the chain process that converts most atmospheric methane to less harsh chemicals) and it's easy to forget that there are other greenhouse gas problems to worry about with respect to climate change beyond just "carbon footprint" and I know some scientists are increasingly of the angry opinion that Hydrogen was always a dangerous red herring distraction especially because while it reduces overall carbon output has enough secondary effects to worry about if it was a more common "fuel".
There are people making monthly payments that literally struggle to get fuel.
Maybe toyota is right. maybe hydrogen is the future.
That is not true. Hybrids can be greener than an full EV.
To make EVs palatable, automakers realized they need to use huge batteries with 400+ miles of range.
But the average daily commute is much much less than that.
The result of which is that you waste a lot of money and CO2 emissions to produce a battery that is 3x too big.
A hybrid with a range extender and 1/3 of the battery, can better accommodate the needs of daily commuters while actually being cleaner than an EV since the CO2 emissions from EV manufacturing is almost entirely due to the battery and it takes years (two to three depending on your commute) to offset those emission even against a new ICE car.
I'm extremely skeptical of any claim that hybrids are better for the environment than EVs in aggregate, but for specific use cases over certain timeframes the difference may be small.
On the one hand, volume versus weight an ICE engine is generally "lighter" than if that equivalent space were tightly packed with battery cells.
But on the other hand a car is not going to tightly pack the equivalent volume, most modern EV designs are a "skateboard" layout with all the batteries on the floor of the car. The front hood of the car is typically at that point unused space and many modern electrics place there now a "frunk" ("front trunk" or "froot"/"front boot" if you prefer Britishisms) for "bonus" cargo space.
From that perspective, a hybrid has "free" space for a gas generator by taking "back" the frunk space, but they have to shrink the battery because of the added weight of the gas generator. (The skateboard has the physical space either way, it shrinks to keep the overall car weight below an aerodynamic threshold, not to yield space for the gas generator.)
For many people that initial price difference is high enough that buying a BEV instead of HEV makes totally no economical sense - so likely the lower emissions from usage are not going to offset higher emissions on production, for the whole lifetime of a car.
The BEV economics work only if you drive really a lot on long distances, but that's unfortunately the area where BEVs lose to HEVs on convenience.
If you count in all the related emissions, hybrids seems to be the greenest cars you can get now:
What am I missing?
But this ranking doesn't include the other factors like price tag or convenience (range, time to refuel). If you additionally count these factors in, it turns out hybrids are the fastest way to get emissions down by bringing environmental friendly cars to the masses. They are a solution that exists today, and they are a plug-in replacement for ICEs. I can see hybrid cars very frequently on the streets, but fully electric cars not so much - so the effects on lowering emissions is bigger for HEVs than for BEVs. And you don't need to donate them to convince people to buy.
Also a lot depends on where you get electricity to charge the BEV from. In theory you can charge only from renewable energy sources, but in many areas you still burn fossil fuels, and in these areas hybrids are way more ecofriendly:
Now, maybe (though nowhere on your site does it even remotely suggest "way more") -- but one difference is that as the grid greens, EVs become more and more ecofriendly every year. As ICE engine age, they become less and less ecofriendly every year. The site you cite mentions this too, and probably underestimates how quickly the grid will green, and how quickly batteries will require less energy to create, and how much of that initial input energy can be recovered in recycling.
> I can see hybrid cars very frequently on the streets, but fully electric cars not so much
I see more Teslas than Priuses in the SF Bay these days. I expect other areas will catch up.
This logic is plain silly. You're not simultaneously on the gas and the brakes at the same time. The weight of the batteries and electric motors pales in comparison to the whole vehicle.
Car safety is much much better now than they were 5+ years ago however so it is not unreasonable for someone to change cars that often. I'd certainly not want to be in a 10yr old car in a highway accident if I could help it.
(Also, some newer cars are just nicer to drive with creature comforts people care about)
Any cite for this? It's not totally implausible to me, at least given current power generation.
While perhaps not typical, the compromise can be a massive improvement.
Having said all of the above - even according to Volvo's own stats, something absolutely stupid like 60% of all buyers never ever plug these in, it's just a tax dodge scam for a lot of people. But if you are one of the people who do, it works fantastically well.
Well, I'd love to believe this, but the matter of fact is that the tax structure around hybrids is completely messed up here in UK.
When I got my Volvo, basically as a company car you could either get the highest non-hybrid model, the T6, with about 300bhp and pay like 30% tax on it every year, or get the T8 hybrid, with 400bhp, and pay zero tax on it every year. And of course the government never checks whether you actually ever plug your hybrid in or not, so if you never do it's actually much worse for economy and emissions than the T6 which is much more to tax. It's insanity.
I wouldn't be surprised if the rated fuel efficiency decreased and emissions rose for plug-in hybrids in light of data showing relatively little usage of the battery.
The issue with standardised tests for this stuff is that it really depends on individual usage. We should be punishing polutting usage of the car, not what the "average" it can do, since it's meaningless.
You are describing the Chevy Volt (hybrid).
And GM quit making them because the Bolt (all electric) is so much cheaper to produce. Consumer convenience or emissions is irrelevant.
Hybrids are, unfortunately, a dead end because everybody is assuming that they are going to get swept away by all-electric once the infrastructure is in place. They're right--but everybody is assuming that will take 10 years when in reality it will take more like 25.
...they couldn't compete with the offerings, including plug-ins, from firms with established track records in the hybrid space; especially Toyota.
Which, taking a step back, if franky ridiculous.
Why not use a battery and the planet-wide instant power delivery system we built and are using for most of everything else?
Imagine we were operating with 100% EVs today, would people be advocating for adding in gasoline tech as hybrids?
It is obviously ridiculously over the top, but I think it paints interesting analogy.
I feel like the population that both drives very long distances regularly and is willing to spend a large chunk of money of make the trip a little faster is pretty small. Plus it would be pretty hard to find gas stations if most people drove EVs.
If you don't have a long range battery, you might have to stop every 60-80 minutes of driving to charge. That will get annoying pretty quickly, especially since it's not like a smaller battery takes all that much less time to charge.
So I would expect the long range battery market to be quite big, and a range extender would have a good chance at grabbing many of those users.
Even if gas stations are somewhat uncommon, you'd only need to find one every 200-300 miles, and the worst case scenario is just that you go back to pure electric mode. You could also fill up a 5 gallon can for another huge chunk of extender range.
A single tank could save you an hour of waiting to charge.
To get "gas ranger extender" you still need oil drills, tankers, pipelines, refineries, tanker trucks, gas stations.
Without gas cars, we can retire all that infrastructure.
Well, we can obviously reduce it if we reduce gasoline consumption from the status quo (true with moving to hybrids, especially plugins using gas mostly for range extension), but since its not used exclusively for autos, we can't retire it even if we replace all autos and do nothing else.
BMW charged $4,000 for the Range Extender option in the i3, at that price, the manufacturer may as well just put in a bigger battery.
The range extender only adds around 70 miles of range:
current 2018 EPA estimates ding the more powerful i3s from 114 to 107 miles. BMW hasn’t cited an estimate for the REX model, which currently stands at 180 miles with the help of a 647-cc twin-cylinder engine.
They could put in a more powerful motor than that small scooter motor, but then that costs and weighs more, and then the car becomes a plug-in hybrid rather than a battery electric car with range extender.
And there seems to be low demand for plug-in hybrids as there aren't many options.
When I bought my Honda Accord Hybrid, I looked at the Clarity plug-in hybrid but decided against it. It didn't drive as nice as the Accord, cost nearly $5000 more, plus I was doing some regular long distance travel at the time, the accord has a ~500 mile range, the clarity has a ~340 gas+electric range, though the plug-in range would cover my commute.
And the Clarity was rated 40mpg highway, while I get around 50mpg @ 60-65mph with the Accord Hybrid (drops down to 44mpg at 70-75mph)
It's funny how HN'ers will fight to the death arguing for swappable batteries in cell phones, where they offer vanishingly few benefits, and against swappable batteries in motor vehicles, where they could potentially make all the difference in the world.
Nobody with a new battery is going to want to swap it out for a old, potentially degraded battery. But everyone with an old battery would be happy to try to swap their way into a new battery.
Instead, I think you'd need a model where the battery isn't included in the price of the car, and you have a monthly subscription to rent a battery from either the dealer or a third-party. That way you aren't attached to the specific battery you're using, and the subscription fees go towards replacing old batteries as needed. The subscription would either be a base fee + price per replacement, or a base fee for rental + unlimited replacements.
Great, this old schtick again. News flash: nobody cares whether or not they own their car battery. With modern BMS systems, you would basically pay by the coulomb.
But yeah, I think this particular ship has sailed, at least for the near-term future. Huge missed opportunity. Refueling an EV should be as quick and easy as swapping out a BBQ propane cylinder -- which is also something you don't care if you own or not -- at your local convenience store.
Perhaps in the future, total swap automation and inexpensive battery restoration or transport will reduce the risk of building the network and EV sales will finally become viable for the small minority who don’t want to take periodic breaks during the occasional long trip.
As far as “no range anxiety” people in that world would just be making similar arguments, “what if there’s no nearby gas station”, “what if it’s out of gas”, “I can’t just plug-in anywhere” etc.
Today with EVs and modern battery tech that isn’t true.
Then swap out gasoline for diesel. If nothing else, I can get vegetable oil at the grocery store at a price that isn't too bad.
> As far as “no range anxiety” people in that world would just be making similar arguments, “what if there’s no nearby gas station”, “what if it’s out of gas”, “I can’t just plug-in anywhere” etc.
That's not how (plug-in, and surely these would be plug-in) hybrids work...
Somebody will find something to do with the unused byproduct gasoline. I consider filling up my car to be a noble use instead of just burning it.
I also don't see how Toyota "deserves" to lose. When you take into consideration their longevity and fairly good track record on gas mileage...they are better than a lot of manufacturers that are now pushing hard for electric. People tend to forget that manufacturing a car and replacing a car wears on the environment just as much as driving it.
1. Any environmental impact from lithium mining needs to be weighed against the impact of continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels
2. Lithium is recyclable (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1682-5) and there is room for a lot of process improvement in lithium extraction (https://arstechnica.com/cars/2021/07/general-motors-looks-to...)
3. Studies of the lifecycle emissions (emissions including manufacturing) of electric cars consistently find that EVs beat ICE vehicles, and future lifecycle emissions must be considered as a curve, as the percentage of renewables on the electric grid increases and industrial process eventually move away from fossil fuels (https://www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-how-electric-vehicles-...)
There's also the costs and externalities of shipping fuel to fueling stations all over the country in perpetuity, there's no additional cost to "ship" electricity to homes or charging stations.
Why? If we're comparing EVs and hydrogen powered cars then we shouldn't. We should compare lithium usage to what hydrogen powered cars need.
>2. Lithium is recyclable
But do we actually recycle lithium in enough quantities?
>Currently, globally, it's very hard to get detailed figures for what percentage of lithium-ion batteries are recycled, but the value everyone quotes is about 5%," says Dr Anderson. "In some parts of the world it's considerably less."
Lithium-ion batteries can be the most recyclable thing in the world, but if we don't actually recycle them then it makes no difference.
Recycling can never be free or even close. There's a lot of processing that goes from dismantling a battery, to segregating the lithium, to putting it back in a new battery. Recycle is last of the 3 Rs for a reason.
Lol. All the downvotes. It's like I said something bad about Apple 10 years ago. All hail Elon, dear leader.
I mean don't EV's have issues? Lithium is expensive to mine, electricity is usually produced by burning coal, and can our current grid even handle 100% electric vehicles? I mean it's better than gas, but it's not the end of the road of vehicle power is it?
Because we are not talking about propane. We are talking about a tank storing highly pressurized hydrogen, which is way more difficult to handle than propane. In a moving vehicle, not a grill.
> Lithium is expensive to mine
Yes. It can be mined once and then reuse countless times, however. Hydrogen is expensive to manufacture too, and it's "burned" so you always need more.
Expect prices to go down as more infrastructure to mine and refine is put into place. This is even ignoring technological advancements in extraction - which tend to happen once there's demand.
> electricity is usually produced by burning coal
This is highly location-dependent. True for some places, not true at all for others. That's also becoming less true by the day.
_Even_ in the case where 100% of the grid power worldwide came from coal, EVs would still be a win. The generator on a huge power plant is far more efficient than any car engine. And the pollution is concentrated on a few places - places we can improve. Additionally, there are no emissions on population centers, meaning an enormous improvement on quality of life and a decrease on deaths due to respiratory illnesses.
Then, once you upgrade the power plants, the entire vehicle fleet gets an instant upgrade.
If it's in your means (essentially, if you own your property) you can generate power from renewables on site and power your vehicle that way. Try doing that with hydrogen.
> and can our current grid even handle 100% electric vehicles
Yes according to the US Department of Energy.
> I mean it's better than gas, but it's not the end of the road of vehicle power is it
Just until we find something better, then we'll _easily_ change our vehicles to store electric energy using the new storage device. That's the good thing about electric motors, they don't care where the power comes from.
> This is highly location-dependent.
It really isn’t. Electricity moves through a network: for example using more electricity in France might cause a coal power station to be started in Poland. The same occurs for any network.
Additionally, when you add an EXTRA kWh of load, what really matters is where that extra kWh is generated. Think of it that all the electricity on the network is already being used (all the green electricity is virtually guaranteed to be used).
When you add one marginal kWh of usage, that kWh is often genersted 100% from gas or coal.
Obviously there are a lot of different situations where the above points are not relevant, and where an efficient coal station might be better than an ICE. I am just saying that many people are ignorant of how the electricity networks work.
I know. We haven't interconnected the entire planet. So it still depends on what region we are talking about. Even inside a country some regions might be barely connected (see the Texas power grid).
> might cause a coal power station to be started in Poland
It also might cause a natural gas station to be started up. Again, that depends on the location. Usually it would cause a natural gas power plant to start up. It could also be pumped storage hydro, or even batteries.
Since you are talking about lack of knowledge, it's useful to point out that coal is very unlikely to be used as a peaker plant, just like we don't start nuclear power stations for the same purpose. Generally they are used for baseline power.
We aren't going to be starting coal plants because France is using more power. Some countries might decide to build more though, to account for the predicted energy usage growth.
Pressure for propane tanks, 100-200 psi.
Pressure for hydrogen tanks, 5000-10000 psi.
It's not the same.
Sure, EVs and hydrogen each have their pros and cons. But that is meaningless without numbers. So far, it seems like the numbers work out a lot better for EVs.
Maybe someone comes up with a great idea and hydrogen becomes the future of cars. But there is zero evidence of that today.
I'm not insistent, I'm just asking why it's not possible or practical to swap out a hydrogen tank in a vehicle. I guess that's heretical.
Here's a company that sells tanks. You can use it for welding among other things. There's one in just about every city.
Fork lifts currently use them too.
A hydrogen tank that is part of your car, however, may be subject to a high speed crash coming in at a random angle.
BBQ grill propane tanks can explode, but they are typically stored on porches, an environment where they are not often hit by SUVs.
So are lithium ion batteries. Here's an article on a recent Tesla burn:
I wasn't arguing that hydrogen wasn't dangerous, I was arguing that a hydrogen tank was easier to swap than a 1200 lb. battery.
That's why people have issue with your statement on "easily" swapping hydrogen tanks, as it's anything but "easy".
I think he/she means that Tesla, like Apple, has a cult following in which people can't see the company doing any wrong or facing any criticism when it comes to its products or repercussions for what it will do to the industry down the line.
Similarly pushing hydrogen as a better option is wrong today.
I was referring more to the rabid fanboy-ism. People committing suicide in their plants? Well people commit suicide everywhere. Nets? Great idea!
One of the reasons companies do horrid shit is that we let them.
I wouldn't want my container on high pressure explosive gas be swapped from some DIY dudes car.
Hydrogen has SO MANY other problems though it's not even funny.
It's incredibly hard to store. We literally have devised no containers that can hold it long term, as the molecules are so small they seep through. As they do so, they embrittle said containers, which need to be then replaced.
It's not energy dense. So we either have to compress it (wasting energy) or liquefy it(not viable for cars, without even accounting for boil off).
Then you need the whole 'manufacturing' (as there's no free hydrogen on Earth) - probably from fossil fuels. You need to transport it to where it's going to be used. And you need to create and entire new fuel infrastructure. The current fossil fuel industry likes this for obvious reasons.
For all the talk on the lack of EV charging infrastructure, up to level 2 all we need are glorified relays. Electricity is available even in places we have no gas infrastructure.
And then, what are we doing with hydrogen? Using it on fuel cells... to produce electricity.
Just skip the middle man and charge batteries directly.
99% of the hydrogen currently produced come from natural gas. Of course, it could be made from water but lithium can also be extracted cleanly from clay with with table salt.
Besides, making hydrogen from water uses over 3 times the energy required to make and charging a battery (the well-to-wheel efficiency of hydrogen vehicles is that low).
So for now and the foreseeable future, hydrogen is far worst for the environment than Li-Ion batteries.
High-temperature fuel cells do not need expensive catalysts, but it seems that nobody succeeded to reach acceptable lifetimes for them.
You can get a base model 3 today with 263 to 353 miles of range. That's upwards of 3-4 hours of driving with no breaks. Stop to take a break at a super charger for 30 minutes and you can do another 3-4 hours.
How is this still no practical especially combined with all the time and money they save not having to do most routine maintenance.
Edit: On the plus side, charging at home at night every evening is really nice compared to a weekly gas station visit.
Charge started a 143 kW (on a 150 kW unshared charger) and I ended it 10 minutes later while it was at 80 kW. This was enough to drive 130km to home (non highway) with about 20% battery left so 130 Wh/km.
When I travel on highway I stop at all superchargers, they're usually 1h to 2h of highway driving apart in my country (France), so similar experience.
I don't think a lot of commenters here have much experience living in rural environments.
This doesn't even begin to touch on the ability to repair the vehicles.
I'm sure they have complicated electronics, but most modern cars do as well and those aren't components people typically work on.
Just consider the electric vehicle has no transmission, no drive train, no oil. It doesn't have most of what cars have under the hood.
The electric motor is simpler than an ICE, yes.
OTOH, a modern (and by modern I mean anything in the last ~30 years) ICE engine is supremely reliable, so it's a wash.
Most repair time isn't from having to fix the engine or motor anyway, it's the whole rest of the car.
We have a a Fiat 500e (EV) now sitting it's fourth week (not continuous) at the dealer to get window regulator problems fixed. Those types of problems have nothing to do with whether the car was an EV model or the ICE model.
Pretty much all modern brushless power tools, while mechanically simpler than their brushed cousins, require a full motor and control module replacement when something as simple as the switch fails.
Don't get me wrong, I do believe that electric propulsion is the future for efficient transport and that gas isn't a long-term solution going forward. It just seems to me the marketing and hype have gotten ahead of the current offerings, and I worry the 'scrap it and get a new one' approach employed often by tech companies will end up being applied to cars as well.
There is no extra capacity producing spare parts to sit on shelves.
Source? Supposedly the F-150 Lightning numbers are including 1000 lbs of cargo. So a full cabin of people still supposedly getting the stated 300 miles on a full charge (For the extended range.)
"Applying these results to the F-150 means that towing a modest trailer would put the highway range at roughly 100 to 125 miles, depending on the pack. Towing anywhere near the 10,000-pound maximum rating on XLT and Lariat models (with the maximum trailer tow package and extended-range battery) at highway speeds, we believe you'd be hard pressed to exceed double-digit miles."
Now compare that to the LandCruiser that we haul race cars with…
the LC always gets 14 mpg, we have filled it with 6 adults going to Tahoe, same MPG. Haul a 2700lbs sports car. Doesn’t change at all.
Honestly an EV would be nice for hauling stuff to the track, hopefully with the race car, and equipment it can make it to Willows on a single charge, at least the track has RV hookup points, can charge while you race.
This is physically impossible unless the LandCruiser is just throwing energy away when empty.
What's more likely is that this estimate is not very precise.
Of course we are talking about towing a light sports car here. Tow a different type off trailer, or a very heavy load and the losses will start to catch up.
I don't want to stop for food, order, wait, eat, get in the car, drive to who knows where for a charger, and then start charging for 30 minutes.
(i am also advocating with policy makers to outlaw new petroleum filling station permits/infrastructure, but that is a topic for another thread. i am applying YC startup school lessons to public policy efforts. please excuse the dust while the electrification of transportation ramps)
Your car is done charging before you get your Big Mac and eat it.
If you commute like most Americans (26 minutes), then you just charge at home and never think about it. I don't think people realize that most Telsa owners don't use public chargers.
That's not what you do... You stop at the charger and then go get food or take a break at the store that's right next to it.
Don't you also have to stop, eat, and then drive somewhere to get gas?.
Right now I can choose what I want to eat, find one of those restaurants and fill up there. You can't pretend as if the opposite (planning around where my car wants to go, and eating what happens to be there) is the same thing.
Nor can you pretend that it is just as convenient to spend an hour and 5 minutes waiting for my car to charge when I normally spend 10 minutes max filling it up.
Do you normally go through Bloomington? Both Google Maps and the A Better Route Planner say it's faster to go through Indianapolis.
But from Cincinnati to WI (the route I’m talking about) I always go through Indianapolis. I used the default car. Didn’t think much about the range differences, but you’re right. That makes a big difference.
> There are, apparently no super-chargers between Cincinnati and Indianapolis
It's not "who knows where". Your car knows where and its right off the interstate in a parking lot next to a lot of places to eat. Better than most gas stations actually.
You want to eat while you charge? Get food next to your charger. They have already thought of all this when they were spending billions of dollars on building out charging infrastructure
All the ones we stopped at in Canada were near food as well
As to the current infrastructure, plugging in nightly works for most people most of the time. Spending an extra 15 minutes charging for long trips is hardly a big deal. People tend to go inside for drinks walk around etc which eats into the time lost.
For a long day of driving, say, 700 miles, assuming charging available at both ends, this means two charging stops of 15 minutes each instead of one gas stop of 5 minutes.
IMO while this can always be improved, this is now at the "good enough" point for long distance driving. Obviously to make this a true reality, there needs to be widespread charging available in parking lots, and more 250kW Superchargers, but progress towards this is rapid.
It's about half the height of a parking meter. The power is right there under the pavement. Probably cost £800 to install, which could generate £200 in revenue each year.
Not every charger needs to be a super charger.
Getting lots of 11kw chargers in every parking bay would be a higher priority than everywhere having super chargers. Most people could keep topped up and those doing long trips use the faster charging points.
We have many blocks (roughly 10x10 blocks, so 100 square blocks) sharing a single charger site now and for the last 3 years with only two plugs in a high EV density area and we don’t have any conflicts that I know of.
Most of these objections are just imagined problems coming from the minds of people
without actual experience of owning an EV.
That being said, some
EVs, once bought, are an easier ownership experience than others, but that’s getting off track.
Hi, previous EV owner here, had to get rid of it because there was too much range anxiety thanks to the lack of chargers near my house and inability to use my house's power thanks to street parking. Saw multiple conflicts at congested chargers, mostly passive, some aggressive, because the infrastructure was insufficient to meet the demand.
Fast charging sounds so great! It sounds like you've got two Teslas in a place where fast chargers are plentiful. That doesn't describe where I live. So, good for you, but please remember that people aren't necessarily idiots just because their life experience differs from yours.
But, hey. Credit where credit's due... at least you didn't say FSD.
When I had an EV, it frequently took several hours of combined searching and waiting to find a charge per week. That's not counting time to charge. Frequently, broken chargers would remain listed on apps for weeks, which made it a terrifying gambling game when range was low.
What you say is indeed right for some EVs and some locales, but give it time, it’s getting better.
The real issue - and the one that prevented me from buing an electric car so far - was that without my own charging spot I would have an issue leaving the city for a month or two, or just swotching to transit for a while. With ICE I can leave the car for 6 months unused and it’s not a big problem.
Of course this doesn't work well if your neighbors park right in front of your house, oops. (In most American cities, AFAIK, home owners have no claim over the parking space directly in front of their home)
Not sure what to do in "real" dense cities, Chicago row houses and such.
Honestly making them public infrastructure where people pay a monthly fee subscription fee to the city might just work. (And generate revenue for the city!)
What EV has over ICE is that these energy-giving places can be located anywhere - my work, the supermarket, a town car park, a mate’s house, an extension cable pit my window in absolute emergencies, etc. I really don’t see why this is a good argument against EV. Yes I can’t fill up outside my house, but I can’t do that with a petrol car either.
Really, people should just have fewer cars.
But it's not convenient if you have to park on the street... because there's nowhere to charge. That's the point.
In Warsaw city center there is a such a public parking spot every 300-500 meters or so, where you can park for free as well if you have an electric. Those will get even more common as electrics get more popular.
The only issue is if you tend to leave your car unused for extended periods of time.
(Not to mention that "green" hydrogen requires at least 3x as much energy as plain electric cars)
Not saying it is impossible, but it is not trivially easy.
Barring roadtrips, charging at home costs about 30s. Even factoring the longer time supercharging on roadtrips (relative to gas), I'm confident I spend far less total time charging my EV than filling my gas tank.
On a model 3 range, you maybe change 3x as often as fill up.
Gas is a 10 minute overhead generally. So 90s vs 10 minutes per 400 miles or so.
If the justification is doing something productive with that time, then washing your windshield or going into the C-store to get a snack and a drink shouldn't count as gas up time.
I get that progress is being made, but the contortions required to prove that the status quo is "good enough" are frustrating, at best.
The best way to get a person to commit to an ice vehicle for life is to mislead them into committing to an EV before it or the infrastructure suits their needs.
Contrast that with the experience at a gas station, where I have to stand awkwardly next to my car while I keep my hand on the pump handle (there are no "locks" on the handles anymore), then wait in line inside the store to pay while the old lady in front of me buys a gazillion lottery tickets in pennies (tongue-in-cheek, but hey, it happens).
Not having to do that every week is very nice, IMO.
Then you have the roadtrip experience, where yes, you have to wait a bit while you charge, but it's a lot less of a problem than people think. I did a roadtrip in a Tesla back in 2015 with 3 other guys. We did Montreal - Atlanta for a conference, and we were driving non-stop, changing drivers every time we charged. There were maybe 2 stops total where it was inconvenient because we had to wait in the car, but the dozen others were often longer than the car wanted because we found a nice restaurant / café. Again, this was in 2015. 6 years later, I imagine it's improved a lot.
Not where I am. They are rare enough that it's still something of a novelty to see one (I'm talking about pure EVs like a Tesla, not hybrids).
Toyota may be seeing that EVs will be a mass-market fiasco in many parts of the country where charging infrastructure is sparse, winters are cold, and even 200+ mile range can be a real limit and want to be able to continue to sell hybrids and ICE vehicles to those customers who prefer/require them.
Once the fossil fuel infrastructure starts to lose mainstream use, folks that require larger range, better cold weather reliability, etc. will pay through the nose to be able to move freely using their existing cars.
It will be a slow transition until it's not, and then you have a bunch of useless piles of steel, glass, and rubber lying around.
I wonder how they will handle emergency and military vehicles in the future. For any of them to use it it has to just work, and work quickly.
Also, living in a country with cold winters - EV will heat up in winter way faster than ICE. With ICE for short trips I need to spend as much time deicing windows and heating up the cabin as driving…
(Not to mention Diesels in winter - what a fun it can be!)
A brilliant red Barchetta, from a better, vanished time.
Fire up the willing engine, responding with a roar!
Tires spitting gravel, I commit my weekly crime…"
If your daily commute is 200 miles, your lifestyle is unsustainable anyway. Fuel consumption, greenhouse gas and particulate matter emissions, and even with electric vehicles you're still losing 3 hours of your life in traffic.
I don't know what percentage of paid miles rideshare drivers can get. My friend recently took a 60+-mile ride share trip. That driver certainly had to drive most of the way back empty.
The US currently has just one million EV's and over 5.8 million hybrids (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plug-in_electric_vehicles_in_t...) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_electric_vehicles_in_th...).
I think it's a lot more fair to say that hybrids are a transitional solution. They came out in the 90's and still outnumber EV's on the road over 5-1 today, so I'd say we're in the midst of a 30-50 year transition.
In fact, if people stop buying non-EV’s entirely, that might eventually slow down EV adoption since existing car owners will be unable to trade in their vehicles to buy EV’s.
I believe it is more sinister - most of hydrogen currently available is made "almost free" from natural gas. So behind hydrogen, I would expect current Oil and Gas companies that are trying to stay relevant - and hydrogen is perfect for greenwashing, since it could in theory be made from green electricity and thus zero emission - but that will never be price competitive with hydrogen from natural gas, unless we start counting externalities.
In Germany this is not the case. Also: A typical residential building over here has 3× 230 V / 63 A which results in ~43 kW. Medium charging power mentioned by Tesla is 11 kW (16 A), so if we wanna leave some headroom for the residents you can charge 2-3 Teslas maximum there at once.
Of course you could dig out the electrical cable leading to the house, add another house connection etc. but that would also mean all the electrics of the whole house have to be brought up to current standards etc. Also at some point the main cable under the road will be the limiting factor, and this has to go as well.
I think EVs have an advantage over hydrogen now that they are not in totally widespread use, because their true infrastructure cost will only appear once everybody wants to charge them at once, and this is certainly not the case right now.
If 80% of cars of a house need to be charged in the morning because everybody uses it to go to work, and they use it during the day where else are they gonna charge it than at home and when else are they gonna charge it than after work?
Charging a EV takes longer than pumping gas which is why collisions are more likely. The whole thing might work if the charging stations auto-negotiate some compromise, and leave some cars uncharged or charge some cars less, but waking up and have your car not fully charged will ot be a rare occurance based on the physics of our existing infrastructure alone. You cannot draw more than 43 kW at once in the very typical example building (in fact it might be much less).
Also: everything upstream of those houses (cables, fuses, transformer stations, ...) assumes a certain load factor, running every single house near full load at once is not something that might be feasible, without digging open the street, exchanging that cable, transformer etc.
Now we manage to keep two Teslas charged with one single 110 outlet. It’s plenty for around town. We even have nights where we go to bed without plugging in either car, because they are both already 80% full, which is a good place to stop for battery health.
I ask because there was a 5 year old study that illustrated that in 2016 87% of trips were within range for an electric vehicle with overnight charging. https://www.nature.com/articles/nenergy2016112
Range anxiety is a real thing, but we settled on a PHEV SUV with a 40km range last year due to not finding the right mix of towing capacity and range in an electric vehicle (we need to routinely use a trailer that can haul >1500 lbs for business reasons). That 40km range covers approximately 3/4 quarters (74.38) of our routine driving (I actually have this data, we were surprised that it came out to such a round number!)
We expect to sell our current vehicle and switch to a full electric SUV with similar capabilities once they are available in 2021/2022.
That is the wrong number. The real number in question is what % of cars never do any other trip. 90% of my trips might be within range of an overnight charge, but my parent's house isn't on that list, so there will be several times per year that I will make a trip that isn't within range of an overnight charge. (My parent's are too close to making flying a reasonable choice)
Why not lobby your local jurisdiction to add these kind of requirements to new construction, or pass by-laws or laws at the right level to require condo buildings to allow individuals to install chargers?
All of these complaints are passive and indicate that you don't have agency in this situation. These types of changes don't happen unless people push back against the status quo.
I am always shocked when I see so many people participating on a message board that is designed for people who want to move fast and break things just... accept... the way the world around them is.
Why would cities need to pay a dime for charging infrastructure? There are commercial vendors doing just fine.
Which do you think is the hardest to get a permit for? 1) underground tank for thousands of gallons of explosive liquid that's bad for the environment if it leaks 2) overground tank of pressurised explosive gas known for its ability to leak out of every container 3) a big-ass electric socket
As for labor, you need an electrician with a high voltage certificate. Not a exactly rare, hard to train, commodity. Maybe a dude with a backhoe to dig the wires.
Local transformer capacity is highly variable, some areas might have issues, others might not. A charging station can bring stability to unstable networks if paired with a battery bank to offset the load. (And maybe even make $$ by charging it during low load and feed back during peak hours).
I am confident the vast majority of daily trips can be covered by an EV. But I still need a gas car to do things on the weekend, to go places on holidays, to feel secure in my ability to transport myself or loved ones at will, etc. When hauling people and gear, can I really rely on the stated range of an electric SUV to go offroad to a campsite and come back? I'd feel better if they let me carry an additional battery pack in the trunk/bed to extend range but that seems to not be a focus right now. So EVs basically seem like they preclude certain use cases entirely. In a multi-car household, I still see the need for at least one gas vehicle, and don't agree with bans that try to phase them out entirely as a result.
The simple reality is that in most of North America you are less than 2 hours away from help in case of mechanical defect. Inside the United States, with few exceptions, it's must closer. You are just as vulnerable to mechanical failure with a gas vehicle as you are with an electric vehicle.
That said, it's currently a consumer choice, but as a tax payer and a consumer I desperately want my (Canadian) government to end all subsidies for fossil fuel industries, and introduce additional taxes with a direct path to those taxes being used to subsidize and invest in electric alternatives.
Specifically for BC, where I live:
I'm also going to point out that the mileage I saw on my car at the dealer does not match the gas mileage I get in practice. That isn't something that is unique to EVs. After driving their car for a while most people will have a good idea of what their gas mileage is for their usual routes and won't be accidentally running out of gas or charge.
I don't know. How about the vast majority of people don't have the economic means to do that? Most people live paycheck to paycheck. Their one and only vehicle is likely their single largest purchase. The idea of dropping hundreds of dollars to rent a vehicle simply isn't in the cards. I know people who are in this position.
If the answer to the objections people have to electrics is "just rent an longer range gasoline powered car", why would anyone buy an electric car in the first place? True believers, maybe, but that is not how the average person makes a purchasing decision. I learned this reality of business the hard way many years ago. People rarely make altruistic decisions when buying anything. They want the most for their money and, for the most part, could not care less where it comes from or how it works.
Would you only buy a vehicle that you expect to meet 100% of your needs? If so, have fun driving your moving van every day.
That’s a ridiculous jab. You obviously have no interest in having a serious conversation.
Well right now, legislation is being discussed that bans gas vehicles outright, rather than leaving them as an option, so even your rental suggestion is precluded. I'm not a fan of bans on consumer products in general - I would rather price in externalities. Additionally, this rental model doesn't work when everyone has the same holiday weekends when they want to go out with the family, or the same great weather conditions they want to take advantage of (for example to go skiing). The surge in demand won't match up to a limited supply of rental vehicles.
> I'm also going to point out that the mileage I saw on my car at the dealer does not match the gas mileage I get in practice. That isn't something that is unique to EVs.
Sure, but with EVs there are more variables at play like temperature. The max range on gas vehicles is also still a lot higher than EVs - for example I can easily get over 500 miles in my SUV on a single tank even driving aggressively. Plus the range is less of an issue when I can just carry an extra can of gas or fill up in an unplanned manner virtually anywhere in the country. If we don't have portable battery packs, or battery packs that can be swapped, it's simply not an equivalent substitute.
I agree we need more public chargers, but I don't think "chargers are too slow" is really a valid forward looking argument anymore.
 - https://www.tesla.com/blog/introducing-v3-supercharging
Chargers are still too slow to appease a LOT of people. A 15-30 minute charge every 2-3 hours is unacceptable to people who expect a 5 minute gas-up every 3-4 hours. And while the supercharger network is expanding, the fact is, for a road trip, you'll still likely want to plan your charging stops ahead of time, and many people don't want to do this. With a gas car, you can easily just wing it with zero planning since no matter where you are, there's a gas station within 15 miles.
The "charge rates up to 1,000 miles per hour" is only accurate when your battery is under what, 30%? IIRC, charging speed falls off almost linearly with state of charge.
But the most important thing is the curve, not the peak rate. It's improving fast https://www.motortrend.com/news/tesla-model-s-plaid-charging... and will improve further with the 4680 cells next year.
The problem is how many cars can be serviced by a single charging center in a given amount of time. Think about a weekend with good weather, or holiday weekends, when many people are taking trips on the same days. Normally, because filling a gas tank takes 5-10 minutes, cars can cycle in and out of ubiquitous gas stations very quickly. The same isn't true for charging, at least with the current footprint of chargers out there, especially with differences in charging architectures.
The majority of people with cars can use EVs today fine.
There are some exceptional outlier cases and even those people can rely on super chargers or charging stations (which are expanding rapidly).
As for charging stations, I think many people who are still using combustion engines want to see a charging station at every gas station, or of equivalent geographic density. Distribution could be there but it's far from that now.
EV range is also continuing to improve.
I suspect/predict we'll see adoption continue to accelerate. I think a lot of the resistance is just status quo bias.
The issue with trips is yes, many people don't drive anywhere near that range on a daily per-trip basis. However, people don't buy cars on a trip-by-trip basis, they buy a car to handle the range of regularly encountered transportation scenarios they encounter. So even if people only make, say, 7% of their trips outside the range of an EV, they don't want to go and rent a car to do that if they already own a car. They want to have a car that will do that, plus the one or two trips per week that go well outside that range. They don't want to rent another car every week or two to do that. Add to that a conservative 50% reduction in range in the winter (per Consumer Reports), range is currently a concern.
I guess I just think the range-per-trip metric can be misleading, because that can equate to a relatively large number of trips per time, especially given the expense of a car, regardless of technology.
For this distance it's really not an issue. People typically stop once for bathroom or food anyway. The tradeoff of low cost fuel is also a factor.
All the other times an EV is a strictly better experience (not having to go to gas stations, pay gas costs, cleaner, better performance, etc.)
Longer trips outside of that kind of thing are exceedingly rare for the vast majority of drivers (iirc the data correctly).
I don't think it's about renting a car, I just think the supercharger network is at a point where things are good enough today for that kind of use case.
I think non-Tesla EVs are a lot less viable an option for this reason.
Once that happens petro will be left to things where nothing else will do. Things like farming, or heavy construction where you are using a lot more energy than batteries can supply: these are already diesel. And a few collectors, but the 1957 Chevrolet is something you only drive in parades anyway.
How many chargers do you need to equal the bandwidth of a petrol station with 6 pumps?
Even if they are, this is a problem solved by fast charge stations.
Also, I'm old enough to remember when one had to pay for wifi at hotels and restaurants. I bet we won't pay for charging a car at some point and/or at some time of the day (plugging your car will help the grid due to the share of renewables, you may even be paid for the service). See https://www.tesla.com/support/energy/powerwall/own/californi...
I would never buy a Tesla because I see better options in the EV space, but I do give them a lot of credit and thanks for introducing competition in the area and turning EVs into a product to covet. To me that's always been the best way to handle these sorts of things, to introduce competition and win people over. Lightbulbs were the same way -- the arguments died when quality affordable LEDs came on the market and took away any argument for anything else. When there's big range, reliable and affordable EVs with quick ubiquitous charging, people will flock to EVs.
Sometimes I feel like these discussions are in a bubble, to be honest. When I think of the people I know, and what's in the parking lot, getting them to migrate to a hybrid is really where there would be any movement. Maybe someday they'll just jump to an EV and skip hybrids but at the moment there's lots of people who won't even consider anything but a full combustion system.
I also don't really fault Toyota for pursuing hydrogen and would really like to see that continue at least as a research focus. It is much more energy dense and solves a lot of problems. I realize it's not as fully there yet as EVs, but EVs aren't either if anyone is being completely honest. The article casts Toyota in a nefarious light, but in some ways I feel like if the government is going to get involved and start playing favorites, they should do so in a competitive and diversified way. Otherwise maybe they should get out of the way and just incentivize competition per se. In fact, if the EV market is so healthy, maybe the government should be subsidizing alternatives like hydrogen?
If it's only an occasional trip where charging is not available, you could rent a car.
> I would never buy a Tesla because I see better options in the EV space
Tesla has by far the best charging network, so if you ruled them out right away, then I could understand your comment. Electrify America is growing rapidly, and I'm pretty bullish on their network over the next couple of years.
> When I think of the people I know, and what's in the parking lot, getting them to migrate to a hybrid is really where there would be any movement. Maybe someday they'll just jump to an EV and skip hybrids but at the moment there's lots of people who won't even consider anything but a full combustion system.
I don't really see why. EVs are a bit of a mindset shift (charging at home…), but I don't see the major practical hurdles you do.
Tesla might not be your taste, but every test and comparison shows that Tesla is at the top or at least incredible competitive.
> To me that's always been the best way to handle these sorts of things, to introduce competition and win people over.
That's exactly what has happened already.
> I also don't really fault Toyota for pursuing hydrogen
You mean talking about hydrogen while trying to prevent cleaner fuel laws and zero emission vehicles. Yeah you really can't blame gigantic cooperation from lobbying against the environment. Where would we be if cooperation could be criticized like that.
> I realize it's not as fully there yet as EVs, but EVs aren't either
EV are going totally gang busters and are on a massive growth curve. They are on an incredibly fast adoption curve, as faster then many expected and its going faster. They are there, but it still needs time.
> In fact, if the EV market is so healthy, maybe the government should be subsidizing alternatives like hydrogen?
Why? Why would you dumb money in a technology stack that has gotten government money for 50 years and has shown absolutely no success what so ever and is worse for the environment by far. What is the logic in that.
Seems much more important to replace ICE vehicles then to fight EV with FCV. Wouldn't you say?
None of them really came close in features and most were not competitive on cost either.
Only Tesla EVs have range over 300miles EPA and cost less than 50k.
And Ford dealers are likely to sell them above MSRP. Or, at least they will try:
People actually believe you need a 150kW+ charger at home, when reality is that if you have a socket that can handle an electric kettle, you can charge an EV from it.
Gas hybrids are vastly superior though for long distance traveling. The infrastructure just isnt there yet, and charging for an hour sucks.
Yes, you do still have the charge time issue, but that's why chargers get paired up with places. Right now there's two (slow) charging stalls at my mid-tier local grocery-store-etc mall (Albertsons), and (ofc) none at the low-tier (Big Saver). There's plenty of room for more, and while my local grocery mall doesn't have a gas station in it, most do. Replace those with charging infrastructure, and we'll get past that tipping point.
Their locations are already next to traffic hubs, stores already have a beefy electrical hook up and a car full of people stopping for 15-45 minutes to charge is excellent for business.
The biggest issue is mobile energy storage in sufficient quantities. With a train-sized diesel generator the problem goes away :)
Most people wildly underestimate how much time they spend at a gas station filling up gas anyway.
Range is not really an issue either. Unless you're regularly road tripping 400+ miles, an EV will handle the trip just fine.
This is not at all true. Filling up even a larger 25 gallon gas tank can be done within 10 minutes. Even the newest Tesla Model S Plaid on the fastest supercharger takes 52 minutes to go from 5% to 95% (https://insideevs.com/news/515641/tesla-models-plaid-chargin...).
> Range is not really an issue either. Unless you're regularly road tripping 400+ miles, an EV will handle the trip just fine.
Range can be an issue for numerous reasons. Your range changes based on load, temperature, and the road. If you're driving in cold conditions, uphill, with passengers and cargo, your range isn't 400 miles - it might be half that. Plus even the longest range Tesla currently gets only 396 miles under the ideal conditions of the EPA cycle. Unlike with gas cars, you can't just carry an extra can of electric charge to cover yourself for a rare longer journey.
The thing is, you don't actually do that in practice. Go and actually listen to the insideev podcast. The Tesla will tell you where to stop for how long. Typically on a road-trip you actually make a few more stops and only charge from 5% to 60%.
Unless you are a really extreme road tripper, peeing and getting a quick snake is more then enough. The guys on insideev actually do a huge amount of road tripping (with all kinds of cars) and they prefer EV to ICE for almost all trips. And in most cases the charging doesn't hold you up much at all.
Also guess what, if you drive uphill with cargo in extreme temperatures you also use more gas and your car doesn't get its normal mileage.
With an EV you actually get much of that energy back when going down the mountain on the other side.
Also, this is probably less then 0.1% of all miles driven. So it really doesn't work as an argument and doesn't apply to 95% of the people. And for another 3% it likely doesn't apply for more then 1-2 a year.
Nobody is saying that EV are literally perfect for every single case ever. But as a practical matter, they are simply better for the majority of people already.
Yes, but gas vehicles still have higher max range and they have easily extensible range. An SUV can literally carry the equivalent of a second tank of fuel in gas cans and still have tons of space for people and cargo.
> Also, this is probably less then 0.1% of all miles driven. So it really doesn't work as an argument and doesn't apply to 95% of the people. And for another 3% it likely doesn't apply for more then 1-2 a year.
I disagree. Those trips may be a small percentage of all miles driven but an overwhelming majority of car owners still take those trips and want their vehicle to be capable of supporting those trips. Most people who own a car take trips with increased load or increased mileage frequently enough that it is an important use case for their vehicle. The percentage of total miles driven is not really an important metric in considering a vehicle. It is critical for me to be able to take extended day trips with my family and friends even if I do it only once a month. EVs are better for the majority of road miles driven, but not for the majority of people.
I hope EVs surpass gas guzzlers, but there are some issues to fix before that can happen.
Even on a long drive you leave home with a "full tank" without having that first stop to gas up.
It feels fairly contrived, I'm skeptical it's not just anti-ev motivated reasoning.
It all depends on what car you choose.
With Teslas at least, you don’t sit for an hour, since they have fast chargers all over the place. In other cars, yes.
Some of our charges are 5-10 minutes. On a road trip most are 20-30 minutes. The longest charge is if you need to get to a place that is near the edge of your range, which is
exceedingly rare, even on long road trips. In those highly unusual cases you might have to charge for 45-50 minutes for that one leg of the trip, if you didn’t arrive with half a charge already. Again this is with a supercharger. Other cars… yes, scary charge times. (You will hear about how some cars… Porsche… can charge at a faster rate, but the chargers to support this are rare, so their fast rate is often not possible and they are stuck at a slow charger for hours.)
Also with other cars you are sitting there alone often at a single plug station. With Tesla chargers you are generally not alone, you are with other Tesla owners who have your back if anything suspicious starts happening around the area.
Trucking and logistics is very time dependent, so stopping to recharge imposes severe logistical constraints. You can't have every truck stay at the same pit stop. There isn't enough space or time.
Large apartment complexes are plentiful. A 1,000-resident building complex full of EVs will draw a lot of power. Can the grid handle it? What happens when the power goes out?
How will residents of states that snow over in the winter will fare? Do they have to stop using their vehicles?
Long trips by car suddenly become more painful, which will likely shift more traffic to air travel.
------ Edit -----
I have a "bad contributor" flag on my account . I had a response to this comment  that I wanted to make but can't. I'll include it here for lack of an ability to post on HN:
I just looked at my coke zero can (bad habit), and it's using potassium citrate as an acid buffer.
Inflammation is a tax on the immune system and puts it in a state that is mainly intended for dealing with pathogen and cancer clearance. Over time, endothelial and genetic damage can accrue, resulting in hastened aging and system dysfunction. Increased cell population recruitment from the thymus also diminishes the organ's size in age, reducing immune system capacity to deal with these threats.
Not news I wanted today, but something I needed to hear.
For large apartment complexes there will probably need to be some load balancing, but seems manageable. Power going out doesn't seem like that big of a deal, more likely to have some charge in the car and it's more likely to find power than gas in a crisis (long lines at gas stations etc.)
Long trips by car via super charger are pretty easy for everything except 700+mi trips which are very rare for vast majority. Unlikely to shift anything to air travel, if anything lower EV fuel costs could shift other direction.
For snow my parents have had only EVs in Buffalo and have been fine. They also drive down the east coast to Florida.
The electric version is still US$7K more than the gasoline version. When that price differential disappears, it's all over for the IC engine.
Pollution, noise, power distribution (fuel vs electric) and the toll on public infrastructure are all externalized costs for these businesses.
The detail that is really exciting is that as EV technology is improving and people are becoming more aware of the realities of climate change and our complete inability to practically affect change as individuals, more and more people are starting to look to sustainable choices, and ICEs based on fossil fuels simply aren't one of them. AFAIK hydrogen fuel cells still aren't simply because the cheapest source of hydrogen is still fossil fuels, by a long shot (unless there is a more recent study that shows otherwise).
With all battery production capacity already spoken for, Toyota has to slow down EV adoption, convince us that hybrids are still a thing. If unsuccessful, they stand to loose market share soon.
Reminder that Elon bought his way into Tesla. I'm sure those are all things that Tesla's founders pointed out when they pitched the investment to him. =)
And Battery tech is "good enough" for most (99%) trips.
It's unrealistic to switch everyone to EVs right now. But many two car households could reasonable have one EV and one ICE car. The Chevrolet Volt was pretty much perfect for the current situation: most commuting would happen on the battery but the extra long trips would switch over to gas.
What happens to those people when the cost of gas is sky high because economies of scale are completely gone and it's a niche product?
(Serious answer: gas will be subsidized, just like everything else up there.)
If you have no charging at home but a walkable charger nearby, with two EVs, you can drive the second one to your vehicle that is already at a charge station, and trade off, driving the first one home and leaving the second one to charge. Then trade off again later. With an ICE car as the second car, you would either do more walking (nothing wrong with that, sure, but it takes time) or you need a second driver.
You’re possibly falling into the trap of thinking EVs are hard to use for long distance road trips. Depends on which EV though. Not true for at least one brand.
I see a lot of ICE drivers giving an EV driver a ride to the charger. For example, husband wife couples.
If they had two EVs in their (multi person, ok?) household, then the ICE driving person would not have to spend their time being a chauffeur, because the EV driver could just drive the second EV to the charger and leave it there charging.
It feels like you have a half thought out point. Sure it can work, but I think anyone in that situation would discover it is really inconvenient in practice.
It means if you have a 10 minute walk to the charger, you only have to do that walk once when you drop off for the first charge, and once when you pick up for the last charge. That can save a lot of time.
I don't know whether gas is subsidized or not, but if it is, I agree, remove the subsidy!
Same as corn, dairy, etc...
It is false that we have the infrastructure, there are already occasions where people were asked not to charge their vehicles in peak times. And this is for a tiny percentage of people actually owning EV.
Their lobbying should still be condemned.
So well said and - a market economy cannot really coexist with an environment allowing buying legislation.
Or all the recent hullabaloo against Apple’s App Store
If we are supply constrained on batteries, you can't just ignore this. It's e.g. either 1 full electric and 5 gas cars, or 6 plug in hybrids.
You don't have to ignore the lubrication oil etc. as you are saying. Just look at total carbon for the two alternatives (not the only options, less cars and more buses is another option).
Slowing production may be bad for the laborers of the company in the short term as it probably means fewer factory shifts and fewer workers get paid, but it also means less downstream supply of cars on the market, potentially an increased pressure on price to meet demand, so also potentially good for the company bottom line if they demand higher prices during the constrained period.
Slowing production would be great for total carbon output.
The problem isn't with hydrogen vehicles, it is with the production of hydrogen itself. Once (IF) humanity licks the generation of electricity problem, hydrogen vehicles will be the mode of transportation for nearly everyone.
A hydrogen vehicle from Honda (or Toyota) is an EV (electric motor, lithium ion battery) with an expensive fuel cell ("weird battery") and expensive fuel tank tacked on (and maybe missing an electric plug). An admission that they've got the cost of Hydrogen cars down to the same costs an ICE vehicle is an underhanded admission that they can build EV cars cheaper than ICE.
(The problem is with hydrogen vehicles. It's a funny red herring to just producing good cheap EVs.)
Yes, FCEVs are EVs, just like BEVs are.
I find it really interesting how people tend to repeat these "facts" over and over again and nobody fires-up Excel to go through some math and see if any of it makes any sense. I have. And I can't see how the infrastructure can possibly support a transition to a fully electric ground transportation system, well, ever.
How much power do we need to support the entire US fleet of cars going electric?
The simplest assumption is one where 100% of the fleet uses 8 hour long charge cycles:
daily charge energy 50,000 Wh
cars 300,000,000 cars
long charge 8 hours
fast charge 0.5 hours
Portion charging long 100%
Portion charging fast 0%
% of long-chargers charging simultaneously 100%
% of short-chargers charging simultaneously 0%
Total daily energy requirement 15,000 GWh
Cars long-charging simultaneously 100,000,000 cars
Cars short-charging simultaneously 0 cars
Power for simultaneous long charging 1,875 GW
Power for simultaneous short charging 0 GW
Total power requirement 1,875 GW
If every hour we have, say, 1/8 of the entire fleet plug in for eight hours to charge, what's the maximum number of vehicles that will be charging simultaneously at any point in the day? The assumption is that car will charge for eight hours and be off charge for 16.
Well, eight hours into the day we will, in fact, have 300 million cars charging simultaneously. After a full 24 hours from the start of this approach, the minimum number of cars charging simultaneously will be 187.5 million and the maximum 300 million.
So, yes, at peak utilization we will will have 300 million cars, requiring that we deliver 50 kWh in 8 hours, which means a peak requirement of 1,875 GW.
This means we need nearly two thousand giga-watt class nuclear power plants to support a fleet where 100% of the vehicles will slow charge.
What happens when some percentage of the fleet needs to fast charge? I am defining fast charging as delivering 50 kWh in 30 minutes:
daily charge energy 50,000 Wh
cars 300,000,000 cars
long charge 8 hours
fast charge 0.5 hours
Portion charging long 80%
Portion charging fast 20%
% of long-chargers charging simultaneously 100%
% of short-chargers charging simultaneously 20%
Total daily energy requirement 15,000 GWh
Cars long-charging simultaneously 240,000,000 cars
Cars short-charging simultaneously 12,000,000 cars
Power for simultaneous long charging 1,500 GW
Power for simultaneous short charging 1,200 GW
Total power requirement 2,700 GW
TWO THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED nuclear power plants.
Even if I am off by a factor of ten (I threw this together and it is very simplistic), that means nearly 300 nuclear power plants to be built in, say, 30 years. We have to build ten per year and we had to get started yesterday.
This is the kind of thing I look at when I talk about not reducing reality to single variables. The amount of energy we delivery by using petroleum is of a scale that is hard to imagine. To go electric we have to find alternative means to deliver some percentage of that energy (because electric cars are more energy-efficient than IC vehicles) to every car on the road every day. This task is far from being simple. Beyond that, the unmitigated mess that US politics has become over the last few decades virtually guarantees we cannot build a single nuclear power plant, much less ten, fifty or a hundred.
I think we are going to have some number of people driving electrics and, in the hubris of it all, we are going to ignore the fact that we are going have to burn twice or three times more coal to charge those cars every day. It has all the potential to be a larger mess than what we currently have.
I would love for someone to take the time to develop and publish a better model than my mindlessly-simple quick calculation. I know a lot of subtlety could be introduced. That said, I somehow don't think we can escape physics.
My guess is we will reach the limits of our available power generation capacity at some number in the low millions of electric vehicles, not sure that means tens of millions. At some point we will face the reality that the energy we transport today in liquid form will have to be provided in electrical form. If that happens in ten years and we suddenly decide "oh, shit, we can't make enough power!" either we get very good at building nuclear power plants at a staggering rate or the fleet of electric vehicles will reach an asymptotic balance point and that will be it for a while.
There are no alternative realities here. Physics doesn't tend to grant free lunches.
Request: I you (plural, anyone) are going to refute the above and say something like "we will use solar". Please, pretty please, with sugar on top: Do the math first. Most people don't. Hence the problem.
To repeat myself: Even if I am off by a factor of ten, the excess power generation capacity we would need to support a fully electrified ground transport system is of staggering proportions.
That's an average of 10 kwh/day per car.
275 million cars X 10 kwh/day --> 2.75X10^12 wh/day.
Per hour, 1.146X10^11 wh/hour --> 114.6 gigawatts.
Needing 115 GW extra generation capacity doesn't seem insane. Air conditioners in the US probably use 200 GW.
Let's start with a useful number. How much energy does something like a Tesla Model 3 require, on average, per year?
I am using this article for the data:
The owner drove just over 15K miles in 12 months and bought about 5200 kWh that year.
The reason the average numbers I use are higher than this number is simple: I can guarantee you that vehicles like the electric Ford F150 will require far more energy, probably twice as much. We already know that the Mustang Mach E requires more energy per mile than a Model 3.
When we say 300 million vehicles, we are not talking about 300 million Tesla's. There will be a wide range of vehicles, from large trucks to minivans, cargo vans, large and small SUV's, performance cars, commuter cars, etc. And then we have to include semi trucks and large commercial trucks. The average energy-per-mile figure isn't going to be that of a Model 3.
However, for the purpose of a discussion, I'll go with the number from the article for a Model 3. In fact, because I want simple numbers, I'll round it down from 5,200 kWh to 5,000.
So, the for the entire year we need to pump back 5,000 kWh into the car.
How long is a year?
Hmmm. People don't drive the same distance every day. We have to be VERY careful not to average ourselves into an artificially low power requirement number. Please note I am using upper case for highlight because this doesn't really do the job. Not yelling at you.
This point deserves highlighting: This issue is about POWER generation, not energy.
For those who might not be comfortable with the concepts:
A 1,000 W light requires 1 kW of POWER every instant it is on. If it happens to be on for one hour, it will have used 1 kWh of energy. Ten hours, 10 kWh.
If I have a thousand 1 kW lights I need 1 GW of POWER every instant the lights are on. It doesn't matter if they are on five seconds or three days. I need a gigawatt. Energy is a function of how long the lights are on. A kilowatt-hour means you used 1 kilowatt of power for one hour, not five minutes.
OK, back to cars.
This is why "How long is a year?" matters. There are three possible answers to this:
200 days, 365 days or some complex formula that accounts for average weekend driving.
There are roughly 200 working days in an year, which is when most of the driving happens. Put a different way, this is when people will most likely drain their batteries the most.
The difference between 200 and 365 is massive. It's almost double. This is significant because the next question we have to answer is:
When do people charge and how much?
The Model 3 owner from the linked article didn't have one massive 5,000 kWh charge on January 1st. to then drive the entire year. That would require a battery the size of a large building.
For the purpose of modeling we have to either choose to develop a complex model, one where we divide the population into behavioral groups and assign a wide range of utilization and charge scenarios to each group. That's a lot of work when all you are trying to get is a sense of proportion rather than an accurate answer.
I think it's sensible to pick 200 days as a starting point. That assumes all of the driving is done during the week and ignores the weekends. We can look at the 365 day case as well and compare notes. This is why throwing this into a spreadsheet is useful.
I spent some time discussing power because this is what we are after. If I now take the annual 5,000 kWh baseline from the article and divide it into 200 days, we get 25 kWh per day.
That's the energy you need to pump into the car every one of those 200 days. However, you are not going to be plugged in for 24 hours. The more likely scenario is that you are going to plug in after work while you sleep. The assumption I have made is that the average car will be charged in eight hours.
So, that means you have to deliver 25 kWh in 8 hours. Which means you need 3.125 kW of POWER. Here's where the difference becomes important, if you could charge 24/7 you would only need a little over 1 kW of power. Because we can't do that, our power delivery system would have to provide us with THREE TIMES the power when compared to averaging over 24 hours.
What if we charge every day for 8 hours each day? 5000/365 = 13.7 kWh per day. That means 1.7 kW of power for eight hours.
Now we have two scenarios we can compare:
200 day year -> 3.125 kW power for 8 hours
365 day year -> 1.7 kW power for 8 hours
My simple model states that the minimum is around 188 million and the maximum would be 300 million. This is a model where I divide the fleet into time-zone groups, each of which starts charging the entire fleet for that time one hour after the prior time zone. A simple model, yes. I am just trying to get a sense of proportion here. A more accurate answer would require regional as well as behavioral modelling. For example, places like New York and Los Angeles are going to behave differently from Las Vegas, NV or Wakefield, MA.
What matters is the peak power requirement, not the minimum --unless we are willing to ration electricity.
Two scenarios then, 200 day and 365 day year and 300 million car peak utilization.
200 day year -> 3.125 kW (power) x 300M cars = 938 MW
365 day year -> 1.7 kW (power) x 300M cars = 510 MW
Now it is necessary to put this into context. A typical nuclear power plant produces 1 MW of POWER. In other words, we are talking about needing somewhere in the range of 500 to 900 new nuclear power plants.
We can't say something like "air conditioning alone uses x megawatts" because we don't get to use that power for cars. That power is an existing requirement. In order to have 300 million electric vehicles we need to ADD power generation AND transmission capacity throughout the country.
That's the other part of the story that is often waved over. Moving an extra 900 megawatts of power isn't something one can assume the current infrastructure can handle at all. Here in CA we are already struggling with blackouts and forest fires caused by a range of issues, including the aging power grid. We should not hand-wave our way around the realities of what we are facing if we want this electric vehicle future.
So, 500 to 900 nuclear power plants. That means, just guessing, somewhere between 5 to 20 per state (some states will need more than others). Well, we can't build ONE nuclear power plant in, say, ten years. If we want to go full electric in 30 years we would have to build 15 to 30 nuclear power plants per year, every year, for the next thirty years.
I'll repeat what I said in my prior post: Even if I am off by a factor of 2 to 10, the problem is of massive proportions. At the low end it means we need 50 nuclear power plants (off by a factor of ten and using the low estimate). At the high end we need 900 of them, if not more.
All I see out there is hand-wavy, blue-sky, just install solar panels wishful thinking. Not a single honest mathematical model in sight (that I know of).
The important take away is that, while range is about energy, the reality of charging is that it is about power. It is far too easy to fabricate numbers that are artificially low by making assumptions like 24/7/365 charging and that nobody ever wants or needs to pump the aforementioned daily requirement of 25 kWh into their vehicle in just one hour, something that requires EIGHT TO TEN TIMES MORE POWER (due to losses) than when charging in eight hours.
I think you've got things confused by about an order of magnitude here – 1 GW per nuclear power plant sounds more like it.
(Also for comparison's sake – an electric train can use up to a few MW when accelerating under full power, and you certainly don't need multiple nuclear power stations to power just one measly train)
I invite you to run through your own calculations. I actually WANT to be wrong. I just don't see what I am missing. Again, this is about developing a ROM (Rough Order of Magnitude) model. The difference between 50, 100 and 300 nuclear plants is almost irrelevant. Why? Because we can't even build a single nuclear plant in 10 to 25 years, which means that a ROM requirement of ten, twenty or a hundred nuclear power plants might as well be a million.
In the US, we are at a point in history where we can't build anything of any real scale. The best example I have of this is the failed high speed train in California. A project sold to voters as a ten billion dollar price tag. It is now at a hundred billion, only about ten miles have been built. These ten miles are unusable (not in service as far as I know) and are far from being high speed by any definition of the term. Some think this thing will be a trillion dollar disaster, if it is ever completed.
In this context, we actually think we can add hundreds of gigawatts to our power generation system? The only way to do is is through nuclear power. Which means it is a fantasy. Unless our culture, philosophy and politics changes radically we just can't do it.
Here's another ROM calculation. Let's keep to California. We have just over 31 million cars and trucks .
Since this is a ROM calculation, I'll start with the assumption that everyone gets home and plugs into a Type 2 charger.
Type 2 chargers typically deliver 3 to 5 kW of power.
How much power will we require at 6:00 PM PST when everyone gets home and plugs in?
3 kW x 31 million = 93 GW
5 kW x 31 million = 155 GW
OK, this was a ROM calculation. Right? What if only 10% of these vehicles plug in every day at 6 PM. What then?
3 kW x 3.1 million = 9.3 GW
5 kW x 3.1 million = 15.5 GW
Refer to the table titled "Installed In-State Electric Generation Capacity by Fuel Type (MW)"
In 2020, it's about 80 GW. Also, note that half of it comes from burning natural gas and only just over 2 GW from nuclear.
Here's where we have to understand that we don't build infrastructure to be able to supply two times the power we need. The cost of doing so would be staggering. In other words, we don't have another 2 GW of nuclear power sitting around waiting to be used. Hence the blackouts and other issues we have throughout the state.
My guess is that we are likely at 80% peak utilization. For many years now we have been asked to limit use of air conditioning and power in general or risk blackouts. In fact, rolling blackouts are kind of a normal thing in CA these days.
Is it realistic to assume to only 10% of all electric cars and trucks in CA will plug in on any given day? Likely not. Put a different way, the longer these vehicles wait to recharge the worse the power deliver problem becomes. If they plug in every day they might only need power for a couple of hours. If everyone waits until the weekend to plug in, they might need to sit on that charger for eight to ten hours and the stress to the power grid would be compounded.
I like to use nuclear power plants as my unit of measure because they are about 1 GW. The ROM calculation above says we need from ten to 155 new nuclear power plants to be built in CA in order to support simultaneous class 2 charging by some portion of a vehicle fleet where every single vehicle has been switched to electric power, no more gasoline or diesel at all.
I think the low end of this ROM calculation isn't reasonable. The same is the case for the high end. The answer likely lives somewhere in the middle of this range. One thing is certain, we need to add a very serious amount of generation capacity, likely in the many tens of gigawatts.
We might have to DOUBLE our current power generation capacity. Double it.
How do we do that?
Well, being that half of it comes from natural gas, maybe we build more plants and burn more of it. How is that for being "green"?
I don't think so. Most of the solar capacity in CA is installed on homes. In general terms, these rooftop systems are sized to cover the energy needs of the home. Most of my neighbors have systems that are barely adequate enough to cover their needs, which means they have nearly zero excess capacity. So the rooftop-solar-powered electric car charger is mostly a fantasy for most. Most of the systems in my neighborhood are around 6 kW. This does not mean they actually deliver this kind of power, not even at the peak.
I designed and installed my own system, which consists of 40 panels, for a theoretical total of 13 kW. At the absolute peak of the season I might see 10 kW. Yesterday the peak was just over 8 kW . This is due to a combination of the time of year, clouds, shade and dirt on the panels. As you can see, the curve has a nice 45 degree-ish slope both going up and down. By 6 PM (coming home time) I am at about 2 kW. Most of my neighbors would be lucky to generate 1 kW at that time.
As for energy generation, this is July , a peak of about 57 kWh. June  was a little bit better, with a peak at 65 kWh. May  had a peak at 69 kWh. April  was the best month, with a peak at 72 kWh.
You might note that every single month had several days of really low energy output. This is usually due to weather, clouds or such things as fires reducing the photons that can reach the panels. For example, while April provided a nice 72 kWh peak, it also had a day where the best we did was 24 kWh. May was the best month so far this year, with 1.9 MWh total energy generation .
This is all to say that the reality of solar is very different from the fantasy of solar. Most people who do not have solar think of it as some magical energy source that gives and gives and gives. Not so. And, when it comes to electric vehicles, the problem becomes that you don't have it when you need it. Sure, there are all manner of accounting credits that come into play. Explaining the mess that is TOU billing in the US would take-up another post, if not five.
What do you do when you expect to generate 72 kWh and you only make 24? The power grid has to be ready to supply your needs. No problem, solar energy sharing from neighbors will take care of it locally, right? Not so. Most homes have small systems. In my neighborhood there are probably only two or three homes generating at my level. Which means we are the only ones with real excess capacity. When the clouds come in, nobody has power to share, not even those of us who produce twice as much as the rest.
Without storage solar isn't very useful for electric car charging. And storage at the home is a foolish investment from a ROI perspective. Not there yet. Believe me, I want to turn my home into a massive solar-powered UPS. I studied this when I engineered my system and it is ready for it. It just does not make sense at all at the moment. It would be far more logical to add another ten panels than to buy batteries.
Anyhow, not to go on a tangent here. The point is that the step change in power requirement to support millions of electric cars isn't going to come from solar at residential rooftops. And, even if we installed massive grid-scale solar, the curves and generation issues you see from my system will still create issues. The only way they might be able to mitigate this would be through energy storage and, at this time, this is a high cost fantasy. I have high hopes that iron-based battery technology --which stands to be 10x cheaper-- might become a reality we can all benefit from.
The other issue with solar is that neighborhoods are turning against these massive installations anywhere near their town. A few weeks ago I read a story about a massive installation that is being taken down (at great loss to all investors) because the neighborhood sued with a claim of taking a hit to home values due to the unsightly visual of thousands of panels on a hill. As is always the case, reality is far more complex than most think and it can't be reduced to a single variable.
BTW, an order of magnitude is 10x, not 1,000x.
Most people (not even fully) fill their tanks every couple weeks. Even when I had an extremely long (an hour each direction) commute, I was only filling up every 3 days. I've gone over a month between fillups when I lived nearby to where I worked.
On the low end you're at least 3x off. On the high end you're at least 14x off.
Also, don't make the assumption that every electric vehicle will require the same energy per mile as a Tesla does today. It is easy to see that something like an electric F150, Suburban, Jeep, Toyota Sienna (minivan), commercial cargo van, commercial truck or big rig will require far more energy on average and far more power to charge if charging is to happen within a reasonable period of time (30 minutes to 8 hours, depending on utilization profile).
While I do not claim my simple model to be accurate, even with a large error we still are looking at having to build a massive number of nuclear power plants in order to support this electrified ground transportation future. We can't even build one new power plant. How are we going to build 50, 100 or more?
My fear is that the hand-waving that is going on out there will result in a reality where the well-to-do will be able to drive electric cars and everyone else is going to get stuck having to drive conventional vehicles.
If we don't get serious about adding a serious amount of power generation capacity we will ultimately face an asymptotic relationship between cars and electric power. This will limit the viability of electric cars, which will limit sales, which means prices will remain high and the cost of electricity will skyrocket. On top of that, oil prices are likely to go up at the same time, which means the poor, lower-middle and even middle class will get royally shafted at every conceivable level.
And, BTW, as I said in my original post, even if I am off by a factor of ten, we need 300 nuclear power plants. I'll take your 14x suggestion and take up a notch to being off by a factor of twenty. That's 150 nuclear power plants. Someone needs to explain how that is even remotely possible.
This is important. Most people make the mistake of thinking about energy rather than power. This idea of filling-up one a week vs. every day is great...when what you are doing is pumping a liquid. If what you are pumping is electricity, well, there is no free lunch. The energy you did not pump into the batteries every day of the week will need to be pumped into them on Sunday. Rough numbers means you need seven times more power in order to achieve this when compared to charging a little bit every day.
As I have been saying, most people have hand-wavy conversations about this, which means they develop the wrong model for the of electric charging. You have to sit down and make an attempt at a half-way honest model of what it would be like to charge hundreds of millions of electric vehicles of different kinds under reasonable usage regimes. Some people will charge every day for eight hours to top off. Others will need to top off in half an hour. And, yes, some will charge on Sunday (or whatever). In the end, physics is physics, and the mathematical results do not get better if you charge once a week, they get worse, much worse.
Power transmission is neither free, trivial to implement, or perfectly efficient. The more power you are moving somewhere, the more dangerous and costly the "pipe" you use to get it there. If you look at residential situations, it isn't hard to find households with >3 cars. Is everyone plugged in at once? Who gets the fast charge? Can the house handle it? Can the neighborhood handle everyone doing it at once?
What happens to residential electric? Do we start doubling up on transformers? One to keep the Electrician's codes from having to change, and one to feed auto chargers? What does that mean for linemen/women/people? How does the increase in higher power transmission lines affect the biosphere?
What happens the first time a feed or arterial link goes down? You can ship gas, electricity, not so much, especially if swappable batteries are not a thing?
How about equipment? Cars aren't the only things that use gas, Gotta count in charge maintenance and battery attrition there too as well as consumption.
What happens when the almighty Centralized Generation(TM) goes down? How decentralized is our generation going to get? How do we ensure the grid can be maintained safely without linefolks also having to go house to house to isolate them from the upstream grid they need to work on?
Electricity, despite the near magical experience of the layperson, is frigging complicated, and it's successful deployment has been built on a lot of interconnected assumptions, standards, and what have you. If the transition is slow enough, I figure we can spread answering all of these questions over the span of a generation or so; but I'm really uncomfortable with the optimism of people going "we JUST need to go electric".
Hell, all of that has to be considered on top of increased need for power for climate control, the possibility of higher temps leading to actively having to mitigate water shortages or any of the other myriad of other knock on effects nobody has wracked their noodle enough to realize may be a problem yet
I like to say that reality is a complex multivariate problem. Reducing it to a single variable --which is what you see out there nearly 100% of the time-- is, at best, a complete misrepresentation of what solving real problems in the real world looks like.
I avoided adding layers of complexity to my simple model because all I was after was a sense of the scale of the problem rather than an accurate number (not sure that's even possible).
Once you start to add power system transmission, conversion and delivery efficiencies the problem quickly grows. On average, the energy loss from power generation to delivery is in the order of 6%. This might not seem like much, yet all of that power is converted into heat. Which means that if we need to deliver 500 GW to homes, we actually need to generate 532 GW, of which 32 GW will be converted to heat.
I have no clue what this means because I don't yet have a sense of proportion on such matters. That is is a very large amount of energy being wasted goes without saying. I can't really voice an opinion beyond that other than to highlight that this is yet one of the other variables that needs to be considered.
Power conversion systems and charging circuits (in general, switch-mode power supplies) of course have losses. SMPS efficiencies (I used to design them) are in the 85 to 95% range. It's a complex combination voltage and current that produces switching losses. At higher voltages you can be more efficient, however, because we are drawing such high currents the losses quickly mount. In the end, you are going to convert another 5% to 15% of all of incoming power into heat.
So, if cars need 500 GW and chargers are, say, 90% efficient, the total power delivered to the building connections will have to account for the 6% transmission and delivery loss and 10% SMPS loss. This starts to add up fast. Now we need 591 GW and will convert 91 GW of that into heat (the aggregate efficiency being 84.6%.
I could go on. This is not a simple problem. And those who just hand-wave and say stuff like "solar and wind can handle it" can only do so because they have not devoted a single minute to doing some pretty basic math before forming --or believing-- these flawed ideas.
My intuitive guess is your simple model is wrong, but I'm not an expert.
Here's an analogy that might convey the nature of the hand-waving:
A typical home swimming pool requires 20,000 gallons of water. Let's say the average flow rate of a good quality garden hose is 20 gallons per minute. That means you can fill that pool in 1,000 minutes, or, about 17 hours.
Can you fill the pool in 8.5 hours if you use two hoses?
Because your plumbing will establish a limit on just how much water you can flow per unit time.
Anyone who has ever dealt with plumbing understands this. In some installations, if you flush the toilet and someone is taking a shower they get burned because less cold water flows to mix with hot water. In my home, when the sprinkler system is on there's a marked difference in flow rate everywhere in the house.
What if a thousand of your neighbors want to fill their 20,000 gallon swimming pools simultaneously? Could they?
Very likely not. Well, not in 17 hours. The large pipes supplying water to a neighborhood have a flow rate limit as well. Under normal usage they are adequate for the usage profile of a certain number of homes in a neighborhood.
Are these pipes designed and specified to manage twice that design rate? Likely not. And certainly not five or ten times.
Most neighborhoods in the US are supplied with drinking water from large water tanks strategically located higher than the homes they service. This isn't universal across the entire nation but it is very common.
Here comes the next problem. Filling a thousand 20K gallon swimming pools requires two million gallons of water. This, over and above the water required for all the other things people do with water, from drinking to flushing the toilet.
A typical neighborhood water tank might hold one or two days of water, as defined by the typical usage for the area. It certainly does not hold an extra two million gallons to dispense over 17 hours.
As the water level decreases due to either normal or abnormal usage, pumps are engaged to maintain water level. Once again, these pumps are sized for typical usage as it might pertain to the specific installation. They are not sized to provide a massive step change in water pumping from the main aqueduct into the neighborhood tank.
As you can imagine, this analysis can extend beyond neighborhood tanks and explore issues with aqueducts, water treatment plants, etc.
What these articles do is they say something like "the world capacity is N GWh. We need 1/2N GWh for electric cars. We only use 1/2N for everything else. We have what we need."
Well, no. We don't.
There's also a confusion between power and energy. Power is energy per unit time. Put a different way: There's a huge difference between walking a mile and running a mile. What these articles ignore is that the electric car charging problem is like the neighborhood swimming pool issue. When everyone in the neighborhood wants to charge their cars in eight hours or less, what you need isn't just the energy (the water level in the pool), you also need power, you need to be able to deliver a lot more gallons per minute at every home, street, neighborhood, town, city and region. Exiting power plants cannot do this.
Furthermore, by definition, if we want coal power plants to deliver twice their average power to charge cars, you have to burn at least two times the coal you were burning before. Hence me reaching for nuclear power plants...because any other option would be somewhere between unrealizable (the plant just can't produce twice the power) to unthinkable (pollution).
Put a different way: Let's say your city is fed by a 1 GW nuclear power plant today. Everyone is driving gasoline cars. Median load factor for nuclear power plants is in the order of 80%. That means you only have a 20% excess capacity. Now everyone buys electric cars and, of course, everyone wants to charge them as quickly as possible, with some willing to wait overnight. Well, your power plant will not be able to supply this extra power. We don't design power plants to be twice or three times larger than what we need. Which means you'll need to build one or two additional plants as soon as possible.
I have yet to see a study of model of electric car charging energy and power requirements that passes the physics test. Lots of hand-waving and "trust me, I am a <insert appeal to authority>" but no numbers. Science is about numbers.
My attempt isn't complete at all. However, like I said, even if I am off by a factor of ten, we have a problem. Heck, we likely have a problem if I am off by a factor of 20.
I think what everyone is counting on is everyone covering neighborhoods with solar power. As the owner of a 40 panel array I built myself to, among other things, power my CNC shop and, after expansion, support electric vehicles, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the idea of a clean solar future for electric cars is a fantasy. My energy logs say so. I would need somewhere in the order of three to five times the array to truly be "green" as far as electric vehicle charging would be concerned. Any way you look at it, that is impossible.
You've obviously thought about this more than I have so I don't have much to say - I'm just skeptical of answers like this since I think they often turn out to be wrong. Not very satisfying, but I guess we'll see what ends up happening.
When there’s demand, capitalism and markets are usually pretty good at solving for it.
I modeled a rolling scenario where 1/8 of the fleet starts charging every two hours. It isn’t a perfect model, of course. The intent was to simulate both time zones and people coming home from work at different times.
If we accept the above and add the idea that people will charge at work for an additional eight hours, for a total of 16, then power requirement is cut in half. This would still require a massive increase in power generation and delivery capacity.
And then, of course, there’s a percentage of the population that will need to charge fast. That means half an hour.
The problem is power. Energy can be delivered over time, power is instantaneous. We don’t have enough power.
While I agree that entrepreneurs often find a way, we still haven’t come up with a way to violate the rules of physics. That’s a hard limit.
There also the argument that EVs are not cleaner, most pollution from cars is actually due to braking and rubber tire deterioration, of which the heavier weight if EVs produces more. Carbon emissions are an issue but we are really really good at filtering them and getting better.
The carbon costs of material extraction and electrical generation to power all cars if they were EVs absolutely had the potential to approach or exceed future expected emissions as we continue to improve low emission vehicles.
The real future unless there is a serious battery revolution is going to get in alternative fuel hybrids, with limited full capacity EV capabilities. It's going to be a mix of the best of all technologies instead of a straight transition.
Rechargable, gas / fuel cell hybrids.