The electric car is here, and your neighbor may be driving it already

The electric car is here, and your neighbor may be driving it already

Summary: ZAP truck courtesy of ZAP.American consumers are bypassing Big Oil and Big Auto, they are going directly to the electric car.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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zap.jpg ZAP truck courtesy of ZAP. American consumers are bypassing Big Oil and Big Auto, they are going directly to the electric car. They are not waiting for fancy new start=ups to come out with traditional looking cleantech vehicles. How is this happening? By buying golf carts. More and more American towns are making them legal street vehicles. Some entire states also allow golf carts on roads. Some town police departments are using them for street patrols.

[poll id=24]

Golf cart sales are up this year. Manufacturers are watching business boom. Ther E-Z-Go folks used to build just golf carts for golfers. They know the tide has turned. In their new vehicle announcment, for the ST Express, they say "E-Z-GO developed the ST Express to provide consumers with a durable vehicle capable of transporting four passengers on road or off. Available in both gas and electric models, the ST Express also features numerous options to suit the owner’s specific design and function needs."

This is not your father's golf cart, folks.

Some have tried to take us down this road before. Here's the story of one man who built gold cart-style electric transport nearly forty years ago.

And sales of small electric vehicles are up generally. Zap, in California, just got a new round of funding and is expanding its dealership network. They promise speeds up to 40 MPH. One New York publisher was tickled at finding electric carlets in Texans' garages.

Topic: Tech Industry

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  • Talk about Polution!!

    There's is no form of transportation MORE polluting than an electric car. Why people are so thrilled with them....

    They use power which is produce primarily by COAL!!!

    The coal-fired electricity has to be transmitted which costs another 10% of the power.

    If you want to charge your batteries overnight (ie. quickly), you will produce LOTS of heat which costs still MORE power

    Per unit, I'd be surprised - SHOCKED - if an electric car has an efficiency of even 5% (a gasoline motor is about 30% efficient)

    They take WAY more energy to build

    They are full of all sort of noxious poisons like mercury, lead and lithium.

    So go ahead - drive an electric car. Pat yourself on the back while you create the equivalent pollution of six normal cars. Probably more if you include all the hazardous waste produced in their production and disposal.
    Takalok
    • Thank you and good points...

      Excellent points. Nobody ever talks logical about electric cars and the joke they really are.

      Energy efficiency is calculated on the amount of power used from the battery while discharging divided by the amount of power delivered to the batter while charging, multiplied by 100 to yield percent. Pout x 100 /Pin . A lead-acid battery has an efficiency of only 75-85%. The energy lost appears as heat and warms the battery. Keeping the charge and discharge rate of a battery low, helps keep a battery cool and improves the battery life.

      The above losses don't include losses in the charging circuit which may have an efficiency of anywhere from 60% to 80% - thus the overall- total efficiency is the product of theseefficiencies and ends up being 45 to 68%. (To further this example and to show why physics and not some corporate conspiracy is the reason we don't have electric cars - suppose the controls and motors on a car were 85% - the over all efficiency is now only 38 - 58%. You can see that an electric car would use about twice the energy than a conventional car - not to mention the great cost of the regular replacement of batteries. This is why batteries are best used where only intermittent, or very low power use is required.)

      To further explain - If the electricity is generated from a gasoline engine - and that energy is converted to electricity, and then sent through power line transformers and power lines, and then converted to DC, and then converted to chemical energy, and then converted back to electrical energy, and then converted to rotary mechanical energy - it is clear that many losses have occurred. If the same gasoline motor was providing the rotary energy directly to the drive train it is much more efficient.
      TheTruthGiver
      • Poor math?

        "A lead-acid battery has an efficiency of only 75-85%."

        Multiply that by 90% for the loss from the motor itself, 60% for the "charging circuit," and that 85% number you pulled out of your ass, and we still hare more than 30% like he claims the gasoline vehicle has.

        Of course, that's assuming your numbers are accurate. And assuming his 30% accounts for everything as well. I have no idea if he's including the cost of shipping oil all the way from the middle east in that number or not.

        "You can see that an electric car would use about twice the energy than a conventional car"

        I'm sorry, you quote 45% to 68% efficiency, and he quoted 30% efficiency for a gasoline vehicle. That's twice the energy? I'd love to hear that one explained.

        In addition, whether we use more energy or not, we're still a long ways from using more fossil fuels, as a large chunk of our energy does come from nuclear and hydroelectric power.

        In addition, the gasoline engine will [b]always[/b] be stuck getting its energy from oil, while we can change electricity to anything we want and the electric car can use it. In the long term, we can move to something else.

        "If the electricity is generated from a gasoline engine - and that energy is converted to electricity, and then sent through power line transformers and power lines, and then converted to DC, and then converted to chemical energy, and then converted back to electrical energy, and then converted to rotary mechanical energy"

        Okay, great! Now find the exact figures for the losses incurred due to all those transformations, and don't simply guess. I'm willing to bet many of those transformations actually have efficiencies in the high nineties.

        . . . and your power train is not so perfect at transforming energy. Quick: How much is lost in the transmission? How much is lost in the differential? How much is lost in the clutch? How much is lost in the torque converter?

        You know, those hybrids do a fine job of getting better mileage than their pure gasoline counterparts. Kinda throws a big wrench in your theory.
        CobraA1
        • Ignorance is bliss...

          Take a trip down to your local university and take some physics classes and you too can learn the truth. I can assure you that you will have to solve this problem as part of your homework. Visit their college of engineering and they will tell you the same numbers that I did. Just because you don?t like the truth doesn?t mean that they are wrong. I am not against electric cars, but I am against false beliefs that driving one actually is good for the environment. People who drive them might as well as put a sign on their cars that says ?Idiot on board?. If society wants to start building hundreds of nuclear power plants, then you might just have enough power to switch a tiny percentage of gas powered cars on the road today to electric. You will have to solve that problem in your physics class as well.

          What you don?t understand this is all about energy in terms of joules per gram.
          Energy density of a lithium ion battery: 600 joules per gram.
          Energy density of gasoline: 47,000 joules per gram.

          Gasoline has so much energy per gram that simply blows everything else away. The only technology with a slim chance of succeeding is hybrids. At least you can try to capture some of the excess energy and convert back to chemical at the source. The only problem is the batteries are expensive and are only really good for about 500 cycles. But as you can see, even if you quadruple battery capacity, it is still a small fraction of petroleum energy density. QED

          Electric calls make as much sense as solar power. Neither one would be used unless YOU the tax payer were massively subsidizing their use. People are more concerned about looking ?green? rather than actually having to be ?green?.
          TheTruthGiver
          • Kinda works better when you know the numbers.

            "Take a trip down to your local university and take some physics classes and you too can learn the truth."

            I have straight A's in college physics.

            Problem is, they usually require math.

            The "math" around here consists largely of numbers pulled out of nowhere.
            CobraA1
          • We couldn't tell....

            Sorry to hear you took physics and never covered this topic. Maybe you should go back for a visit or stop by your local engineering department. They will get you up to speed.

            I know the truth hurts.....
            TheTruthGiver
          • I know the truth hurts.....

            How about someone taking an average gasoline automobile and modifying it to stop the engine in the same manner as a hybrid does when stopping in traffic. Everyone knows experimentation in physics to get the actual facts as the reality of the situation.

            I wonder if 0W-20W oil would improve gas mileage also (like in a hybrid). And include not warming up the car in the morning (like hybrids don't need warm up). I would pull out of the air 40% improvement in gas mileage if these techniques were used on gas vehicles. Anyone up to the challenge (up to an eye opener)?

            We can leave to the statisticians the cost of getting the electricity to the pavement vs the cost of getting gas to the pavement through the tires including disposal costs (between environment vs dollars, so we can see if it costs us more money to be green).

            Who is up to the challenge?
            richardebyrd
          • @richardebyrd...

            I may have a few designs I'm kicking around but tire pressure isn't one of them.

            There are many follies and snake oil ideas out there, but I mention one in answer to another bad plan using simple water electrolysis.

            http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-13603-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=50571&messageID=951510&start=-9906

            I talk about it further down that post.
            JCitizen
        • re: Hybrid

          The "big wrench" is easy to explain. Hybrids improve efficiency by recovering lost energy such as brake energy. Also, they "recover" idle time energy by shutting off the engine - and thereby the car (some hybrids at least) uses less energy. But hybrids it's a myth that they get better mileage. Many get worse mileage - and the best get only moderately better mileage.

          Now if we had, oh say, somewhere around 10,000 nuclear power plants (seriously - at around 1000 Mw each) to replace the 4 billion megawatts of electricity currently being used, and another say 6 billion megawats of electricity to support a legit electric car industry, then I might see the point.

          HOWEVER, currently, the majority of electricity comes from fossil fuels, and if you want to reduce carbon and pollution, the game is to use the fuel as efficiently as possible.

          Therefore, an electric car is the most polluting because it's the least efficient.
          Takalok
          • Opportunities to Capture

            How many opportunities do we have to capture pollution at a coal power plant? Just one. We only need one.

            How many opportunities do we have to capture automobile pollution within just the metro area of LA alone? 20 million?

            How energy inefficient is the whole "smog check" program in California? How many cars still belch blue smoke in the LA area?
            shawn_dude
          • Actually, it's pretty effective

            I grew up in LA in the '60's, '70's & '80s. In the 60's & '70's, on hot summer days, visibility was frequently mere miles ,or less. Seeing the mountains on the other sides of the basins were a rare occurance, usually only after a storm front had passed through.

            By the '80s, you could see the mountains on most days; and this was with 3 times as many cars on the road as in the early '70s.

            Now conceptually, you are correct: It is much easier (and efficient) to capture pollution at a single point than from 8 million. But the reality is, there's no way we can create as much electricity as would be needed to replace even a fraction of the internal combustion engines we use today. Add to that the problem of places like LA, where most of their electricity is already coming from somewhere else, and from less than "green" sources.
            JohnMcGrew@...
          • Hybrids don't get better mileage?...

            So I guess the nearly 50mph my sister got renting her Prius was a figment of our imagination?
            JCitizen
          • No, with an "if"; Yes, with a "but"

            Hybrids do get better mileage when using the gas engine sparingly, hence more miles PER gallon. This usually occurs in a setting of stop and go driving as in a more urban environment. However, once that vehicle enters a more open driving scenario, i.e. the freeway, the gas engine is needed more, and the car becomes just another 4-banger trying to push through the air.
            reziol
          • That generally is the case, but...

            in this situation she was on open road and the savings were obvious, because she averaged about 47mph(calculated by fuel tickets and trip odometer). Maybe the downhill trip from Denver into the Great Plains set the regeneration off but I didn't think the computer was set that tight.

            You could go almost two blocks before the motor turned on if you kept your foot out of the firewall..
            JCitizen
          • RE: Hybrid

            "But hybrids it's a myth that they get better mileage. Many get worse mileage - and the best get only moderately better mileage."

            Guess I'm driving a mythical 2006 Prius. Guess 40.2 mpg city is a myth. Guess 52.5 mpg highway @ 63mph is a myth. Guess the fact (yes FACT) that the longer I drive it the mileage gets better is a myth.

            Hmm, do I exist? Am I a myth also????
            tkendall2@...
          • That's what I say....

            There is good reason why those cars are hot sellers!

            I keep praying that Ford will buck up an sell a PHEV Escape, as that is what I need in my country.
            JCitizen
          • Car manufacturers & big oil hire posters to bad-mouth alt technologies

            It's no secret that the filthy rich big oil companies and car manufacturers hire bloggers and comment posters to bad-mouth the new technologies that actually work, and replace gas or existing cars. Try something yourself before falling prey to bad information. If something works, TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW THAT IT WORKS.
            brichard
    • False, false, and false.

      "They use power which is produce primarily by COAL!!!"

      -Even if we were 100% coal (and we are NOT), people have crunched the numbers and the electric car would still be more efficient.

      -Actually, coal is less than half of our energy. It's the largest slice for sure, but it's still less than half of our energy. You seem to have forgotten natural gas, as well as nuclear and hydroelectric power.

      -Compare that with gasoline, which is 100% fossil fuel. You can power an electric car with wind, solar, hydroelectric, and a host of other clean options if we're willing to change our power plants. Gasoline is forever stuck with oil. Looks like you're still dirtier with a gasoline engine.

      -It's going to be a lot easier to change a few power plants to an alternative energy source than to do something like outfit every gas pump in the nation with something like Hydrogen.

      -Electricity will be much easier to switch to than some other exotic fuel. We already have a large network for distributing it. We just need to hire some electricians to bring it to parking lots. In fact, many places already have parking lots with electric outlets in them.

      "If you want to charge your batteries overnight (ie. quickly), you will produce LOTS of heat which costs still MORE power"

      As opposed to the heat being generated by a gasoline engine? You know how hot the exhaust system gets on a gasoline engine? That's a lot more wasted energy than a warm battery.

      "Per unit, I'd be surprised - SHOCKED - if an electric car has an efficiency of even 5%"

      The motor itself has an efficiency in the nineties, especially for the high horsepower motors that can be placed in electric cars.

      http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/electrical-motor-efficiency-d_655.html

      http://www.energyexperts.org/energy_solutions/res_details.cfm?resourceID=3823&keyword=cheap&sector=All

      http://texasiof.ces.utexas.edu/texasshowcase/pdfs/presentations/d5/rschiferl.pdf

      http://www.itrc.org/reports/vfd/r06004.pdf

      . . . I'm betting the electric care are far more efficient than 30%, even when accounting for the cost of transporting the electricity.

      "They take WAY more energy to build"

      I'm pretty sure that's offset pretty quickly by the costs you're going to incur by fueling and maintaining a gasoline powered vehicle.

      "They are full of all sort of noxious poisons like mercury, lead and lithium."

      I wouldn't try inhaling gasoline vapors either.

      "So go ahead - drive an electric car."

      I hope I will, and I'll be glad to do so.

      "Pat yourself on the back while you create the equivalent pollution of six normal cars."

      I'd love to see where you got those numbers. If I were a betting man, I'd bet they were totally made up.
      CobraA1
      • Great points and kudos .....

        kudos for spending the time to educate the morons. It will take many to overcome the simple minds.

        I'd love to see the cost of our military presence in the middle east added at the filling pump. It will never happen of course as the oil industry likes oil to remain the highest government subsidized consumable in the US.

        Never mind the other social, political, economic and environmental burdens it imposes on our society. The morons will continue to reduce the issue to the one thing they profess to know.
        Prognosticator
      • Efficiency

        OK, let's stipulate an electric motor is 90% efficient - once you get the power to it. To measure efficiency, you have to measure the energy used to the energy lost.

        A gasoline engine converts 30% of the energy used mechanical energy ( the rest is heat ).

        Nuclear aside ( I am a proponent ) it is the loss of power in generation, transmission, charging, storage, and reconversion to mechanical energy that sinks the electric car.

        They are pollution BOMBS. No other form of transportation destroys the environment more "efficiently."
        Takalok