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Video: What needs to happen for EVs to become mainstream?

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December 13, 2010

KillaCycle's Bill Dube talks to Gizmag at the Future of Electric Vehicles conference

KillaCycle's Bill Dube talks to Gizmag at the Future of Electric Vehicles conference

Presenters from all over the world were in attendance at last week's Future of Electric Vehicles USA 2010 conference, sharing the latest developments in electric transportation of all types. With all those EV experts together in one place, it was a great opportunity to ask the question: "What still needs to happen before electric vehicles can become the dominant form of transportation?"

Hear what experts including Bill Dube (KillaCycle), Montgomery Gisborne (Tamarack Lake Electric Boat Company), Paul Barrett (Bladon Jets), Dr. Brien Seeley (CAFE Foundation) and Timothy Collins (KleenSpeed Technologies) had to say in the video below:

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
18 Comments

EVs are sexy: clean vs dirty, modern/outdated, fast/slow, and cheaper.. yes, yes!

Prepare yourself, mass market adoption of EVs could even be more violent than expected.

Here are my 2 cents for the interveners' insights:

Ford Motor Company, Syed Haque: Safety, Mileage, Reliability

Safety and reliability: nonissue. Considering that I'm sitting on a highly explosive gas tank, I don't see why a battery bank couldn't be secured the same. Reliability of an electric motor compared to an engine with much more moving parts doesn't even need a comparison. Mileage, well, if I have to chose between having 500km range, shelling out 40%u20AC each time and 160km for 2 may be 3%u20AC coffee included; I prefer the second. Besides, I do make less than 50km daily, so it'll be done at home.

IDTechEx, Dr. Peter Harrop: you have to be born electric !

Well, I don't know, we can't reinvent the wheel each time either.

UCAL, Dr. Tom Turrentine: Major shift of the investments, factories are built with 30 year time frame.

Yes, that's right. But they had enough time to do just that. Unsighted ones will simply go away.

Automotive Research Center, Dr. Zoran Filipi: increase energy density/decrease the cost of the battery.

We have already come a long way, roughly, for lead acid 200:1 to lithium ion 20:1 energy density of gasoline:battery. More is unnecessary for the overtake (that could always continue more comfortably once we are in; seems to me)

KillACycle, Bill Dube: Hang on!

Well, the ones who killed the electric car once, will not be able to do it again. The beast, this time, will not let it happen. We'll hang on.

Tamarack Lake Electric Boat Company, Montgomery Gisborne: Microwave oven!

Nice analogy, I can add to this another one: when Jobs announced the iphone he was not able to see the mass market potentiality of it (look at Nokia now, Big threes are all trembling right now of sharing the same destiny:)

Bladon Jets, Paul Barrett: Range anxiety!

nonissue for 90% of us. For the rest 10% if they are willing to know, there are a lot of possibilities, just google. For others, who throw this out each and every time, hopeless situation.(either bought or silly, or both)

CAFE Foundation, Dr. Brien Seeley: Battery technology must advance rapidly and charging points wherever you go.

First, batteries/electric motors are advanced enough to compete with oil/combustion engines. It will even get better and better, could be a consideration for not owning the battery pack.

Second, ordinary charging spots in each and every parking place, I don't see it as a necessity to go mainstream. What can be upscaled following the introduction of EVs: fast charging spots, that's a game changer!

Kleen Speed Technologies, Timothy Collins: Oil prices / It feels good.

OK, if oil prices go up we go crazy about EV. But what about the Oil guy dropping it to hell,.. well, still, I think this time we will not let it go, and yes, it will feel good :)

sinan
14th December, 2010 @ 08:11 am PST

This is what strikes me about this story: Not one of the 'experts' talks about what really needs to happen before electrics become mainstream. Currently, there is not enough generating capacity in the US, Europe or Asia to effectively support the additional load requirements, and will not be as long as governments do not allow new generating plants to be built. Additionally, the current distribution grid is not going to support this load. Also, batteries are guaranteed not to remain optimal in severe weather, hot or cold. Battery life and capacity will be diminished by at least 50 percent. Battery capability also declines with age. What I would hope would happen is some new storage technology will be introduced in our lifetimes. In the meantime, DME seems to be another interim fuel which greatly reduces emmissions and controls price while operating in the existing infrastructure.

Logistics
14th December, 2010 @ 08:13 am PST

One very important thing everyone missed, regarding electric City-Specific Vehciles (CSVs) such as micro-cars, e-bikes, e-scooters, and other low- to medium-powered EVs.

What was not mentioned is that for urban travelers to feel comfortable and safe using these CSVs, specially-designed and dedicated pathways/lanes need to be installed in and around cities.

In my book, The PET Solution, I explain that: "To expect city travelers to drive/ride CSVs in a heavily-trafficked city without physically separated, dedicated lanes, would be like expecting pedestrians to walk around a busy city that has no sidewalks."

Right now there is a big movement to install walking and biking paths around cities. I think that's good but it doesn't go far enough. I believe that city planners need to start designing paths/lanes for use by CSVs. Having such dedicated lanes/pathways will be a pre-condition to wide acceptance of CSVs as a car-replacement for many of the routine city trips.

Randy Leong
14th December, 2010 @ 10:11 am PST

Dear Sinan,

You have made excellent points and I agree with you. I believe increased load and grid requirements can be solved by using distributive renewable energy generation where available. IIt is true that more needs to be done to build up this type of infrastructure. Batteries have been improving and will continue to do so, especially on the nano level. It has been discovered that mosaic virus may be used to increase lithium battery plate area by 10X. As the need arises, I am sure load/grid and battery problems may be solved.

Adrian Akau
14th December, 2010 @ 10:40 am PST

Forget about battery capacity, electric grid capacity, range...it's all moot when you think about the truly big hurdle EV will need to make in order to replace ICE vehicles.

TAXES!

Yup! That huge 800 pound gorilla in the room is the local, state and federal governments who all receive revenue from taxes collected from gasoline, diesel and oil sales to the consumer. Some states tack on as much as 40 cents per gallon in taxes! This tax is a windfall for all who partake of it! And the tax is used for much needed road development and repair. So, if you have a plug in electric/hybrid vehicle and you purchase 60% less gasoline, then the various governments are collecting 60% less revenue in taxes, meaning that they have 60% less money to maintain the road infrastructure!

So, how will we be able to tax these vehicles that use the roads, but do not pay for them? I for one don't relish picking up the tab for those cars! And think if *they* decide to tax the power taken from the grid...how will *they* determine who is using the power to charge their vehicle as opposed to using the power to run their vacuum cleaner? And don't think for a moment that the various governments won't just let the tax disappear...when have you ever seen a tax "just go away"? Never! Do you know that we are still paying a tax on our telephones that was put in place to finance the Spanish-American war? No...taxes don't go away...ever!

Ed
14th December, 2010 @ 10:59 am PST

Not sure why everyone is being so backward, maybe that's not the right word...maybe it's why isn't the obvious way to promote EV's and how to get more mileage out of them by standardizing ....we have A batteries AAA, C, D and on type batteries...when the car manufacturers get their act together they will build cars with removable standardized modules which will allow for swapping modules as you travel or charge them overnight at home...right now you can't travel from my home town in New Orleans to California with an electric vehicle...that could all be changed and instead of the stupid charging stations being built in Europe...sort of dumb ....we could standardize battery packs...cars would be sold one and from that time on you can charge it or pull into a station (using existing stations) that would need an exchange module added where you swap out your battery pack with a fully charged one....signs on the road could inform people if in fact they should change out early or a station further down the road has one available ...etc....also upgraded batteries could easily be integrated to the system as battery technology improves. till then these are kids toys in adult size...

Macho Slavich
14th December, 2010 @ 11:43 am PST

it's so obvious. charge time needs to start comparing with the time required to fill a quarter tank of gas or more.

the chademo standard of tokyo electric provides for 50kw DC fast charging. No U.S. company or cartel has produced any standards for fast charging. big surprise.

that's step 1. after step 1 is accomplished, step2) companies like charepoint and other 'charging equipment' providers need to develop effective techniques of installing CHARGING STATION EQUIPMENT NOT HOME CHARGERS. there needs to be a regular and cheap method of installing these chargers in any parking lot, or in a GAS STATIONS>

step 3. once there is sufficient popularity. charging stations must find a way to store massive amounts of electricty to provide for peak demand time fast charging. you cannot draw down the current off the grid that will be required to charge cars at peak hours without disturbing the grid. flywheels that are charged off peak can easily solve this problem. charge massive juice off peak in the station, store in the flywheel, sell to customers whenever they need the juice without disturbing peak grid load.

step 4 build more power plants to keep the price of electricity down. because if even 10 percent of auto are electrified this will drive power prices up, not to mention if trucks start using electricity [ that would really put big oil out of business, but it won't happen for decades if that]

all the other stuff is complete nonsense.

Facebook User
14th December, 2010 @ 11:58 am PST

Anyone else missing the more interesting voices in the EV industry?! Where was Tesla for example, I'd be much more interested to hear what they would have to say about it.

In my opinion, with no direct insight in the industry but a near future buyer of an EV, the mileage may be important - at least to match todays norm in ICE vehicle, but I think that fast charging of batteries will be the breaking point.

If we get charging times down to under 10 minutes for a full charge I'm sure there will be no more resistance from the general public. And I think the fact that that would allow current infrastructure to remain more or less unchanged, meaning that in this scenario Gas stations can be converted into Charging stations, would result in faster reform.

These two articles are just examples of how close to reality this is, if there's a will.

MIT develops new fast-charging battery technology ideal for automobiles

http://www.gizmag.com/go/5228/

Graphene-based supercapacitor hits new energy storage high

http://www.gizmag.com/go/17188/

Roomie
14th December, 2010 @ 12:13 pm PST

Wrong. Multiple studies have shown the existing grid can handle as many as 180 million electric vehicles without any modification, BUT they should charge at night:

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/10/vanvliet-20101018.html

Also, as gas use decreases, electricity used in gasoline production becomes available.

Also modern EV don't use Lead Acid batteries any more, so the 50% reduction is not an issue. Range reductions are around 10-20%, and mostly due to load of heating or cooling, not the temperature effects on the Lithium Ion batteries.

Your info is antiquated, that is why none of the experts mentioned it.

Eletruk
14th December, 2010 @ 12:31 pm PST

I wish diesel hybrids would become mainstream.

A small turbo diesel engine driving the front wheels. They are very efficient (better MPG than gas) and produce huge torque when moving. Their weakness is turbo lag from low rpm, i.e. driving from standstill.

Couple this with electric motors driving the rear wheels. Electric motors produce maximum torque from 0 rpm. This complements the diesel engine's lag perfectly. An electric car's weakness is maximum range.

The synergy of these technologies together means you overcome the shortfalls of both and benefit from the strengths of both. The engineering is much simpler to adapt because there is no elaborate drive train to couple both motors. The final benefit is ultimately you have an on-demand AWD car.

Australian
14th December, 2010 @ 04:10 pm PST

If the consumer can drive to a battery station and exchange his depleted pack for a fully charged one in under 10 minutes, EVs could become mainstream, if the range per charge can be extended beyond 200 miles, or 4 hours driving at freeway speeds.

William H Lanteigne
14th December, 2010 @ 10:59 pm PST

No one gets it.

What needs to be done is to abandon the "war steed" image of the car and move on to a "tool" image for EVs.

The more announcements like this one, stressting horse power, we have, the further away we move from EV acceptance. Seeking Ferrari performance from an EV is a fale god.

Nik

nikitaskypridemos
15th December, 2010 @ 07:36 am PST

anyone thinking government, land usage, taxes are other things are 'stopping' consumers from using ev's are full of balogna. people do what they want. they don't want EV's because they DON'T CHARGE FAST ENOUGH NOR PROVIDE SUFFICIENT RANGE. the technology could be there, but it isn't yet.

Facebook User
15th December, 2010 @ 09:57 am PST

A major difficulty with EVs is the lack of servicing for which the auto dealers are able to charge the customer.

This is a huge income stream which the dealers will fight tooth and nail to stop it being turned off. One of the reasons that they prefer hybrids cos they still need conventional servicing.

Facebook User
16th December, 2010 @ 01:05 am PST

Time passes quickly and in about 2-3 years, I feel that the EV will be well established. Just give the public a chance to get their hands on one; they are already being produced to meet the regular needs of about 90% of new car buyers.

I recall all the "hate" adds against the Prius when it first came out. However, since more and more people made up their minds to buy hybrid, the US car companies running the adds had instead to begin making hybrids just to keep up. I feel the success story of the EV's will be just as spectacular as with the hybrids.

Adrian Akau
20th December, 2010 @ 10:35 pm PST

We need 10 minute charge time and 300 mile range. While I am waiting I will buy an Aptera. Why? The revolutionary platform (ultra low drag ultra low weight). I can upgrade the power storage system later. If I wait 5 years, I will lose 5 years of fun driving a quieter, smoother, tech of future car.

voluntaryist
25th December, 2010 @ 07:41 pm PST

If these guys are the industry 'leaders' then the industry's future is in big trouble.

Not one of them even referred to grid access, not one referrred to the fact that batteries must be rechargeable in very short times; not one referred to the possible dangers of battery technologies in accident situations .. (eg, LiPo batteries can ignite like a magnesium flare!!)

Nobody referred to the fact that 'lighter vehicles' means more physical damage to the EV and its passengers (at least during mass 'phase-in' periods where the majority of cars will outweigh EV cars by 100% !

No one addressed the positive matter of educating public about vastly decreased maintenance and operating costs... which (negatively!) affects the vehicle repair industry ... All of these matters strongly influence consumer choices.

I'm amazed ... and very disappointed.

tkj
22nd September, 2011 @ 07:03 am PDT

A massive infrastructure made of solar rooftops will certainly help the battery charging situation. Other countries are doing it, why shouldn't we? Swapping the batteries out after they are charged, saves time and extends the range tremendously. Having a collapsible solar "jump start" fold-able charger in the bike saddle bag would be a convenient item to have.

electric38
22nd September, 2011 @ 03:24 pm PDT
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