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Hate Cold Weather? So Do Electric Cars.

"In a car where all power is supplied by a battery pack you can see where this would be a problem. The batteries don't produce as much power so the car has less power. The batteries also have to work harder so the effective range of the car is also significantly reduced. Charge time will also be longer. Cold has a negative impact on all aspects of battery operation."

"Alongside the negative impact on the batteries cold also has a negative impact on the driver as well. Drivers need to be warm to operate the vehicle effectively so on top of the reduced range and power of the batteries just from the temperature they also must operate the car heater to keep you warm. This will further reduce the range of the car."
And if the power grid goes dark, like during the recent snow storms which pounded the U.S. East coast , these vehicles cannot be recharged.  FYI.


Besides, that electricity has to come from someplace.

Despite these facts, coupled with the limited battery range (40-90 miles), even under the best of conditions; limited recharging options on the road; expensive recharging options at home; the pricey purchase price tag ($35-40k) when compared to traditional gasoline models ($20k); expensive battery replacement costs ($15k); and fizzling U.S. sales (down 5.8% from previous year; poor sales figures hold true for S. Korea and other Asian nations, as well. Japan was the exception.), during his recent SOTU address to Congress, Obama set a target of putting one meeelllion electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015.

(is "target" allowed in the new civility?)

No doubt advances in technology will bolster battery efficiency, and improved production processes will lower unit costs, but instead of allowing market forces to determine the efficacy of this new technology, the Obama administration will use - you guessed it - your tax dollars.

For instance: $300 million for GSA's purchase of 3,100 hybrids in 2009;  $2.4 billion in grants awarded during 2009 for advanced battery and vehicle manufacturing;  personal tax credits of up $7500 for the purchase of new EVs, which Congressional Democrats are already proposing to expand (naturally);  increasing the White House vehicle research budget to $590 million (you did know the W.H. has a vehicle research budget. Of course you did); a competitive grant program offering up to $10 million apiece to 30 communities to build public recharging infrastructure for EVs; etc.

Vice President Joe Biden was on the road last week talking up this massive tax dollar give away for electric vehicle technology (me thinks V.P. Biden was conveyed about by petroleum fueled planes and cars to tout the need for electric vehicles, but I could be wrong).


"We have to create whole new industries in the 21st century," Biden told a crowd of workers, company officials and politicians at Ener1's car battery plant about 25 miles east of Indianapolis."

Naturally, "We" means "your tax dollars."

Ener1's received $119 million grant from the Feds in 2009.

I like electric / alternative technology. I really do. But not when an entire nation is being demonized by the federal government for killing the planet, and arm twisted to park this fledgling, nearly impractical EV technology in our driveways, or instructed as to what light bulb we can use in our house, or how much corn liquor is in our gasoline, or how much salt is on my french fries. I'm fed up with this smug bunch in D.C. informing me about their superior way for me to live my life, and then demanding I pay more for the privilege.


"So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them, because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted." - Sen. Barack Obama, Jan. 2008

Something tells me this smug bunch hasn't thought this through very well.

TY IP


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Comments (39)

'cept for the Volt, which c... (Below threshold)

'cept for the Volt, which can run its electric motors off a gasoline engine used to extend its range while in use.

Electric vehicles have thei... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Electric vehicles have their place.

Just don't drive them on the fairway, that's all.

In the climes of northern C... (Below threshold)
Grace:

In the climes of northern Canada, we plug in our cars just to keep the batteries warm enough to get the engine started in the morning.

Truckers do not turn off their engines when they stop for food or naps, so that the trucks won't freeze up.

Diesel cars struggle when it is really cold.

To top it off, electricity is the most expensive energy there is up here.

So, remind me, why are we pushing electric vehicles? Oh yes, Global Warming, er Climate Change, er what are they calling it now? I thought we were almost through debunking that algoremoneymakingscam.

Conventional cars can have ... (Below threshold)
hermie:

Conventional cars can have battery problems in cold weather, yet the brains in Washington think that a car entirely dependent on batteries is better.

The Volt may have that gas motor, but eventually the radical Obama environentalists will have that phased out. I also am very skeptical of GM's claims regarding the Volt as they are an arm of the Obama Administration and have no fear of misrepresenting their product.

I just realized that some p... (Below threshold)
Grace:

I just realized that some people may not realize that when I refer to "plugging in our cars", I mean a special purchase battery heater. If you've ever seen a car with a plug hanging out the front of the hood, that's what it is for.

"Something tells me this sm... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"Something tells me this smug bunch hasn't thought this through very well."

Sure they have! All those rainbow-colored unicorns are going to generate the electricity to recharge these cars at night - along with all those 'high-speed' trains.

I'm not an environmentalist... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

I'm not an environmentalist nor do I think the government has the answers, but the government does have money that can be used to jumpstart promising technologies, the internet being an example of one of the successes.

There's a finite amount of recoverable oil in the world and with growing demand from China and India the price of oil related products is going up. On average I expect to see a 1 dollar per gallon increase in the price of gas over the next 2 years. There's only so much efficiency that can be squeezed out of the internal combustion engine, and apart from a viable alternative to petroleum based fuels, electric vehicles make sense.

Electricity can be generated from virtually any source such as the old standbys of coal, oil, and NG, but also from sources like nuclear, wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, etc. Electric cars free us from dependence on foreign oil, and that's a major plus in my book.

The Chevy Volt shows how the benefits of electric power can be combined with the benefits of the internal combustion engine and the existing infrastructure that supports petroleum powered vehicles. The challenge is to reduce manufacturing costs while improving battery performance, but the only way that's going to happen is through large scale manufacturing and the development that supports it. For that reason I think the $7,500 tax credit is a good investment in the future of U.S. transportation.

Heh Mac Lorry ...D... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

Heh Mac Lorry ...

Do you actually do any research before you post or are you just making it up as you go along ...

This "foreign" oil you are so worried about ... do you have any idea where we get 75% of that "foreign" oil ? obviously not because if you did you wouldn't be worried about the US buying oil from Canada and Mexico ...

And as far as efficiencies from an ICE please do some research again before you look like an idiot ...

If Obama would let us drill we would end our dependence on foreign oil in short order ...

Electric cars are 100 year old technology not "NEW" technology and no matter how much money Uncle Sam throws at it they are not going to magically invent a new form of useful battery ...

Electric cars will never come close to matching ICE vehicles in your lifetime ... NEVER ... get used to it ...

As far as electric cars go ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

As far as electric cars go - as others have pointed out the battery capacity is severely reduced when chilled... so take a look at what's coming in the Midwest and NE this week. Record cold, record snow.

So... you know that an IC engine's got plenty of waste heat - that's where your heater gets the warmth, by cooling hot water out of the engine by blowing air over a heat exchanger into the car. (I know most of you know that, but that's for the sake of the ignorant.)

With an electric vehicle, you've got one method - electric heating. Add in that on top of already cold-reduced capacity - and you're looking at a lot less range.

Which isn't a real problem if you can charge it fast, but that implies a couple of things - an infrastructure that can support it, and tech that'll allow it. We're getting close on the battery life - but if power ends up costing a buck a kilowatt you're not going to see much demand for electric cars.

No problem. It's not as if... (Below threshold)
Caesar Augustus:

No problem. It's not as if billions of taxpayer dollars are going to be wasted on a technology that in actual practice won't be feasible in the marketplace . . . oh, wait...

but the governm... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

but the government does have money that can be used to jumpstart promising technologies, the internet being an example of one of the successes.

The government didn't select the Internet (actually DARPANet; the Internet came later, out of CERN) as a promising technology worthy of funding. It was strictly a defense-oriented initiative to distribute communications across a network to make it difficult to knock them out with a nuclear strike. Only later was its potential in other spheres realized, as it outgrew the DARPA context. So, in essence, it was a lucky punch.

Second, this is what we have venture capitalists for. The government's record in identifying and backing promising technologies is abysmal. Even the VCs' record is so-so, and they have a clue what they're doing, and a direct personal financial interest in making good choices. Government bureaucrats, not so much. The problem with the government funding things is that decisions get made on cronyism and political pull rather than economic merit. See the GM bailout.

The challenge is to reduce manufacturing costs while improving battery performance,

And cut battery size and weight. Good luck with that.

As far as electric cars go - as others have pointed out the battery capacity is severely reduced when chilled

Yep, and that's a thermodynamic limitation. Not even Barry can change that. (I know, blasphemy.)

"So if somebody... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

"So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them, because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted." - Sen. Barack Obama, Jan. 2008

Just out of curiosity, how much electricity does a teleprompter use?

Cold weather? Wait until yo... (Below threshold)
John S:

Cold weather? Wait until you see what an air conditioning compressor does to battery life.

If you live in Portland, OR... (Below threshold)
epador:

If you live in Portland, OR, pedaling will be able to keep you warm, but it doesn't do much for clean, dry or safe. A little wind operated mister will cool you in the summer on the two or three hot and dry days. Another plus is you can't use freeways, which are stop and go at rush hour. It's just a bitch to get all your cool stuff home from IKEA.

I'll stick to my lifted 4-wheel drive providing access to logging roads and the beach, a home on the coast, and traffic jams that consist of three cars ahead of you at the light. If I have to switch to biofuels, there are plenty of sea lions and whales to harvest blubber. Electricity is just too undependable out here.

Electric cars don't use pet... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Electric cars don't use petroleum - except to recharge. But solar, and wind will save us. Except sunshine isn't 24 hours a day, and neither is the wind. For solar you need MILES of ground covered with panels to duplicate what now occupies a relatively small space and functions 24/7. Wind kills birds. A nearby Indian Reservation uses large ones to generate electricity for the locals as well as their casino. On one occasion a windstorm severely damaged the blades and they needed replacement. Just about all of them. So guess what technology saved them while the blades were ordered/installed? Nuclear is off-limits. Turning food-stocks into fuel is idiotic. So you switch to saw grass - that can grow year-round in areas with limited water supply? Thanks to the Sierra Club, we don't build dams for hydroelectric any more. We tear them down for the fish. Fuel cells are promising - although they also have limited range as compared the ICE. And you wouldn't want to get in a wreck with a hydrogen gas cloud around you.

We have more than enough oil available within the US to get off "foreign" (read unfriendly nations) oil. But the vocal minority gets to dictate that we don't. Funny, but the 'leaders' of that minority have no problem flying all over/driving all over in SUV's to make their point.

"Renewable s" are only be competitive if the cost of oil is driven higher. Not by market forces but by government edict and taxes. Which will fuel inflation on all other consumer products. The greenies have yet to learn that you can't have your cake and eat it too.

R&D is expensive and risky. When done privately, they look for the best alternative and quickly abandon those avenues with the least prospect of success. Not so with taxpayer dollars. What gets research dollars gets dictated by highly educated people like Pelosi and Reid - looking to pay back campaign donors.

I think this can be best su... (Below threshold)
mpw280:

I think this can be best summed up by the great intellectual Homer Simpson: DOH!

Batteries and cold hate each other, too bad engineers can't figure that out. mpw

On another note - "the rule... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

On another note - "the rule of unintended consequences" can sometimes rear it's ugly head. I give you the LED traffic light. Last couple of years those of you in the North East have found that those energy wasting light bulbs of the past gave off enough heat to melt snow that would otherwise obscure the color of the traffic signal. LED's are cool - and the accumulated snow blocks the signal color - which oddly enough has led to several fatal traffic collisions. In other words, LED's can KILL.

Yeah, when it was -21F Mond... (Below threshold)
Captain Ned:

Yeah, when it was -21F Monday last, the EV might have made it the 1.7 miles to the convenience store that is my morning coffee stop.

I was quite surprised at how quickly the Subie started that AM. Being the average Vermonter (where a 2-car garage holds 1 car and we all know who gets the garage spot) I had a set of cables ready to go but didn't need them.

I have seen some articles about plug-in EVs where the cabin climate control is live while the car is charging. That would avoid a large load at start-up as well as keeping the battery warm on cold nights, not that my driving pattern could ever work with a plug-in EV.

As a road warrior, I find it quite comical to share the Interstate with all sorts of Priuses (Piouses?) in a large-scale demonstration of a complete misunderstanding of the underlying technology. Were I somehow infected with a newfound Gaian piety, I'd be much better off with a high-mileage diesel than a Prius. After all, I rarely touch the brakes.

I'm still waiting to hear t... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

I'm still waiting to hear the first scream of anguish when one of those 'gas-saving' car owners has to replace their battery pack.

There was a blurb in one of the car magazines. That none of the pious all-electric salesmen wanted to talk future replacement costs. They all muttered the mantra about 'anticipated future cost reductions'. Cost reductions are always "in the future".

I blame Albert T Gore.... (Below threshold)
914:

I blame Albert T Gore.

No problem, just keep a 55 ... (Below threshold)
Don L:

No problem, just keep a 55 gal. long aquarium in the trunk with an electric eel as a backup starting system and a package of frozen squid* to feed it in the glove compartment.

*caution: Winter only.

One suspects that if there are enough Wal-marts or Best Buy's on your route, you can learn to gerrymander a few cases of AAA's to get you to the next one. This is far preferrable to drilling.

Cold weather? Wait until... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Cold weather? Wait until you see what an air conditioning compressor does to battery life.

Yeah, those things suck power like crazy. Either horsepower off the engine, or amps off the battery, if you want the cabin cooled it's got to be fed.

Whenever I hear someone tal... (Below threshold)
mvargus:

Whenever I hear someone talkinga bout electric cars I'm always reminded of the old comedy song "StarTrekin" which made fun of Star Trek. One of the verses has a man with a schottish accent saying "You Canna' change the laws of physics" multiple times.

And that's what keeps me from believing that EVs are remotely well thought out. The laws of Thermodynamics make it clear that any EV will require more raw energy than any gasoline powered unit to cover the same distance. The only thing that makes EVs seem less polluting is that the energy is produced elsewhere rather than from an internal comdustion engine that spews exhaust.

But from what I can tell there isn't one "environmentalist" group that has any people who truly understand power generation and the costs/tradeoffs of the "green" technologies they keep promoting.

Hopefully the recent storms will calm some of the pro-EV crowd,b ut msot likely we won't see much of an effect. The crowds who are calling for EVs to be built and sold rarely have to drive in traffic or experience the problems their "green" programs create.

As so many others have said. I'll accept that we truly need to make major changes to how we live when those that promote EV and other green technology when they convert their homes to solar and cut them from the grib, drive and ride in electric cars only, and complete abandon using any plane to get around. If they truly think that energy creation pollutes then they should use as little as possible themselves first, rather than simply demand that I adjust my behavior.

Hey m0r0ns, gas/oil is a fi... (Below threshold)
YouPeopleAreMorons:

Hey m0r0ns, gas/oil is a finite resource. Relying on imported oil from the middle east is financing terrorism, is a national security issue.

Electric cars arent perfect; but they need to be phased in now. I know you right wing 't@rds perfer to let your stupid little minds be influenced by id10t republican politicians and big oil, but pull your stup1d heads out of each others a$$-e$ and realize it will take decades to replace the majority of internal combustion engine cars and unlike Reagan and the Bush t@rds, this President is pushing the country forward.

Hey Jeff,... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Hey Jeff,

Do you actually do any research before you post or are you just making it up as you go along ...

Yes, I did the research. Take a look at the January 2011 issue of Motor Trend and you'll see that the Chevy Volt won the Motor Trend car of the year award.

And as far as efficiencies from an ICE please do some research again before you look like an idiot ...

Motor Trend tested the Chevy Volt and got an observed fuel economy of 126.7 mpg. Now that makes you look like an idiot.

Electric cars are 100 year old technology not "NEW" technology and no matter how much money Uncle Sam throws at it they are not going to magically invent a new form of useful battery ...

You don't know what you are talking about. Battery technology has been rapidly changing and improving. Only a fool would predict that further significant improvements aren't possible.

Jay Guevara<blockquot... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Jay Guevara

The government didn't select the Internet (actually DARPANet; the Internet came later, out of CERN) as a promising technology worthy of funding. It was strictly a defense-oriented initiative to distribute communications across a network to make it difficult to knock them out with a nuclear strike. Only later was its potential in other spheres realized, as it outgrew the DARPA context. So, in essence, it was a lucky punch.

So in essence you agree that the government does have money that can be used to jumpstart promising technologies, the internet being an example of one of the successes. I already knew the history, but didn’t think it needed to be restated.

Second, this is what we have venture capitalists for. The government's record in identifying and backing promising technologies is abysmal. Even the VCs' record is so-so, and they have a clue what they're doing, and a direct personal financial interest in making good choices. Government bureaucrats, not so much. The problem with the government funding things is that decisions get made on cronyism and political pull rather than economic merit. See the GM bailout

Actually DARPA has a good track record of spawning new technologies. They do this by identifying a need and offering prize money to anyone who can archive various stages of development.

And cut battery size and weight. Good luck with that.

And that’s exactly what’s been happening over the last decade. Are you predicting there’s no room for improvement or that no one is going to discover a better technology? If so, then I’ll predict you’ll be proven wrong.

And that's what ke... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
And that's what keeps me from believing that EVs are remotely well thought out. The laws of Thermodynamics make it clear that any EV will require more raw energy than any gasoline powered unit to cover the same distance. The only thing that makes EVs seem less polluting is that the energy is produced elsewhere rather than from an internal comdustion engine that spews exhaust.

The question is not one of overall efficiency so much as what's being used as the source of that energy. With a conventional car you need oil and there's only so much of it in production regardless of what's in the ground. As demand for oil goes up due to the modernization of China and India, the price of oil is going to increase dramatically in the next few years.

Electric cars run mostly on coal as that's the fuel used to produce most of our electricity. Electric cars run on atomic power as 20% of our electricity comes from nuclear. Electric cars run on NG, hydroelectric, solar, wind and yes, even oil.

That's why the Chevy Volt is such a revolutionary car that it won Motor Trend's car of the year award. Thing is, the volt works fine in cold weather and has the same range as a conventional car, and you don't even need to recharge it if you don't want to, or can't. That's because the Volt has its own gasoline engine that powers the car when the battery can't. So why bother with all the electric stuff? Because with it Motor Trend observed a fuel economy of 126.7 mpg during their testing. Think of that when gas is $5 a gallon and going to $7.

This article said batteries... (Below threshold)
kelly:

This article said batteries are less efficient in cold weather, so everyone stampedes to the glories of the incredible gas engine - which is a lump of rust without a battery starting the engine/sending spark/injecting fuel/running electric heater fans/ etc.

Don't like batteries or their improvements? Take them out of your cars, cell phones, laptops, ..

Read an article on paper about the 'improving US education' part of the speech instead.

So in essence you ... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:
So in essence you agree that the government does have money that can be used to jumpstart promising technologies, the internet being an example of one of the successes.

No, asshole, I do not agree to your implicit proposition, viz., that the government has a role to play in backing nascent technologies, the odd lucky punch notwithstanding. Further, consider how much money the government spends; it'd be almost impossible that some of it did not get entirely wasted.

In essence, you're advocating the government adopt central planning and enact industrial policy. Government bureaucrats are the worst people on earth to manage innovation; if they had any entrepreneurial sense, they wouldn't be in the government. It's like asking pimps to run a seminary.

Don't like batteri... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:
Don't like batteries or their improvements? Take them out of your cars, cell phones, laptops, ..

Now all we have to do is figure how to get energy from stupid comments, and our troubles are over.

ELECTRIC CARS may no... (Below threshold)

ELECTRIC CARS may not be for everyone its there choice

but they can be used in times and places where they work well and thus it alowa the oil they do not use to be used elswhere

all George Bush had to say ... (Below threshold)
clint marchbanks:

all George Bush had to say was " america is addicted to oil" and thats all you got from him and a record deficit spending for his dirty little war. Obama has the guts to admit that we have an addiction, but he is the only one to do anything constructive about it. it will save millions of dollars on gas to convert the GSA fleet of cars to electric or hybred.

The efficiency of an ICE en... (Below threshold)
clint marchbanks:

The efficiency of an ICE engine in delivering power to turn the wheel is about 5%. the BTU's in a gallon of gas is wasted heat which takes horse power to get rid of in which you turn on the AC to make it cooler, thus burning more petro.
The auther of this article really does not know much at all.

i park my EV in my passive ... (Below threshold)
clint marchbanks:

i park my EV in my passive solar heated garage which is about 15* warmer than outside ambient temperature in the winter. Having lead acid batteries in 45+ temperature really makes a big difference in performance. i also have a solar water heater which offsets the EV charging on the electric grid. Simple answers are there for those who want to make things work.

In essence, you're... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
In essence, you're advocating the government adopt central planning and enact industrial policy. Government bureaucrats are the worst people on earth to manage innovation; if they had any entrepreneurial sense, they wouldn't be in the government. It's like asking pimps to run a seminary.

Like it or not the government does have a role to play in our economy, always has and always will. The idea that every person in the government is an incompetent looser is idiotic.

Apart from passing out free money in the form of entitlements the biggest economic impact the government has is in providing for the common defense, one of its constitutional mandates. The interstate highway system was justified for that reason and we found out it was also a tremendous advantage for the private economy. Boeing took one of its post war bombers and morphed it into the 707, which revolutionized the airline industry. The list of spinoffs from the space program is staggering, but just keep sticking to your ignorant mantra that the government can't do anything right, it's much easier than dealing with the truth.

You know, your comments hav... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

You know, your comments have convinced me. You're right, we definitely should increase military spending, since it's led to so many innovations. Cut social spending, and put the money where it can spur innovation: in military spending.

The "Car of of the Politica... (Below threshold)
John S:

The "Car of of the Politically Correct Year" is a $47,000 version of a $13,000 econobox that wouldn't sell without a $10,000 gift from the taxpayers. And just who the hell will buy one in Obama's new part-time minimum wage world?

Unlike your cellphone, when the Volt battery won't hold a charge in three years, the replacement is $15,000. Or will the taxpayers be stuck with that bill too?

The "Car of of the... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
The "Car of of the Politically Correct Year" is a $47,000 version of a $13,000 econobox that wouldn't sell without a $10,000 gift from the taxpayers.

The Volt was in the works long before Obama took office and I guess you have to know something about cars to appreciate the game changing technology that is the Volt. The Volt is like the first VCR to hit the market, expensive, unproven, and unrefined, but the fundamentals of the technology will change the automotive world as gas prices go up and up and up.

The federal government gives buyers of any electric car a $7,500 tax credit and some states chip in even more. A few years ago they were giving incentives to businesses to by SUV's, then there was the cash for clunkers giveaway, the first time homebuyer giveaway, the energy efficient home improvement giveaway, and more such as the tax exemption for each child. Maybe the government shouldn't be giving away money for any of these things, but that's a different issue.

Unlike your cellphone, when the Volt battery won't hold a charge in three years, the replacement is $15,000. Or will the taxpayers be stuck with that bill too?

The idea behind the $7,500 tax credit is to stimulate research and development of both the Volt's unique drive train and battery technology in general. Here's one example. As with any new technology costs will come down and performance will go up.

The government has no busin... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

The government has no business picking winners and losers in the economy. Period. Government bureaucrats are not good at this; if they were, they'd be venture capitalists, and make fortunes, instead of being civil service shlebs. When the government attempts to do this, decisions are made largely on the basis of graft and political pull. Only by sheer luck does it make any sound decisions.

Let the economy - the market - allocate resources, and choose winners and losers.




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