Home » Cars » Electric cars » It’s all about range vs performance

It’s all about range vs performance

Not a week goes by without there being another story about some new electric car coming onto the market and they are all without exception grossly deficient in one very significant way.
None of them can continuously travel anywhere near the sort of distances that we can expect from any liquid fuelled machine and none of them can be made ready for reuse in a reasonable time frame once their batteries have been discharged.

Mitsubishi i MiEV.
Mitsubishi i MiEV. Click for article
The Ultimate Aero EV will prove that electric-powered vehicles will not only match but outperform internal combustion cars, the makers claim
Impressive: The Ultimate Aero EV will prove that electric-powered vehicles will not only match but outperform internal combustion cars, the makers claim (Click to see details about this car)

Maybe we will see the development of viable (and affordable) fuel cell cars in my life time which will redeem electric propulsion for transport but until that happens I think only a religious zealot or a total idiot would spend money on a battery car that will not get you to the shops and back .

Cheers Comrades

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17 Comments

  1. Shawn Whelan says:

    746 watts is one horsepower.
    1,000hp is 746,000 watts.
    How you gonna charge that up?

    At 200V you need 373A to charge at a 1,000hp rate.

    They had electric cars in the early 1900′s and the gasoline cars were better. Unless they make a big breakthrough nothing has changed.

  2. Craigy says:

    Do you remember the big ‘brick’ mobile phones from the late 80′s Iain?

    What do our phones look like now?

    Why are you so negative about this technology and why do you so desperately want it to fail?

    It’s going to happen and clearly any new developments in this area will be of immense benefit as our future oil supplies run out.

    What is your suggestion as to how we will cope with the inevitable move away from fossil fuels?

  3. Iain Hall says:

    Yes Craigy I do remember the early mobile phones and the huge reduction in their size and the much better performance of the newer ones . but with such devices the efficiency has come from making them perform their task with much less energy per call. You just can not do that with a car. It still takes the same about of energy to move the mass of both the machine and its payload. The problem is that even the very best batteries have a much lower energy density than any liquid fuel and it is just impossible to get the range that a car needs to be truly viable. The recent tests of the “volt” on Top Gear showed that if you used the performance of the machine that you would be lucky to travel 55 miles rather than the 160- 200 claimed by the makers.
    As I said in the piece I think that fuel cells are the best chance to viable electric propulsion technology all of theses battery cars are a dead end up the wrong path because while I acknowledge that the oil will not last forever I refuse to just grasp and the wrong straw here.

  4. Shawn Whelan says:

    Electrc cars were very popular in the early 1900′s. They were very good for travelling around the cities where most of the roads were. The lack of range became a problem when roads were built between the cities and the ICE was improved. Same problem of batteries and lack of range continues to this day.

    Electric vehicles still need power and will cause pollution. Just the flavour of the day like the ethanol abomination that was hoisted on us by the enviros.

  5. Craigy says:

    Iain, I agree with what you say, to a degree.

    Your point that the phones have improved as much as the batteries is a good one and is the very reason that car companies are developing these electric cars. They are working our how to make them lighter and more efficient.

    Fuel cells seem the obvious solution, but I wouldn’t be as negative as your have been about straight electric cars. They can work if you live inner city and only need to commute short distances, like so many people do.

  6. Iain Hall says:

    One lesson that I learned from building my car is that limited range is a real bummer. The original fuel tank that I made allowed a range of only 100K and it drove me bonkers and that was in an occasional use machine, just imagine if your regular ride was so limited that you would be stranded if you forgot to plug the bugger in over night?

  7. Craigy says:

    Yep, that would be a bummer.

    No worse than if I forget to fill up, as it’s 20km to the nearest petrol from my place.

    As I run LPG in my cars, I need to remember to fill up if heading to our favourite beach as there is no LPG near by.

    The developers of electric cars are also working on fast charging as an option.

    If you only need to travel 20-30 km to and from work each day and you can get say 100km range off a two hour charge (as is claimed) and the cars are cheap (as they will be when mass produced) then why is this not a good idea?

    Running costs are as low as a few cents a km or free if you have a wind generator or solar!

  8. Iain Hall says:

    There is no way that the unit cost of battery cars will ever be low enough to compensate for their shortcomings “fast charging” is a misnomer and even if your commute is a short as you suggest Craigy the reality is that the car would be useless for any other purpose and you would need an ICE car for longer trips and errands.
    Finally running costs are more than the just the cost of the energy the batteries would be likely to have a rather limited lifespan. and a very high replacement cost.

  9. Craigy says:

    You make a lot of claims about the short comings of electric cars that I think you know are untrue Iain.

    Prius batteries for instance, last the life of the car (20 years or longer) and the technology is improving all the time.

    As for being useless for any other purpose, well, I put that down to some famous Hall hyperbole.

    Your ideological opposition to anything considered ‘green’ is really showing Iain.

    Time to start thinking for yourself again and give up on the ‘Bolt Think’ TM.

    ” Helped by rising fuel costs, sales of the second-generation Prius took off. Toyota built about 52,000 of the first-generation cars, and so far has added more than 214,000 of the latest version. That means there have been well over a quarter-million Prius Hybrids sold in the U.S., making it by far the country’s most popular hybrid.
    And Toyota claims that not one has required a battery replacement due to malfunction or “wearing out.” The only replacement batteries sold–at the retail price of $3000–have been for cars that were involved in accidents. Toyota further claims that the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery packs used in all Prius models are expected to last the life of the car with very little to no degradation in power capability.”

    http://consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/hybrid-batteries-none-the-worse-for-wear-cga.htm

  10. Iain Hall says:

    Craigy
    there is no Prius that has actually been on the road fro 20 years so although the battery life may be claimed to be that long we have no in service experience to back that claim up, just an assertion from the manufacturer and that can best be described as wishful thinking.
    In any case in a hybrid as the battery begins to fail the ICE begins to do more of the actual work and most owners would not notice.

    In any case all of the current crop of battery cars propose to use the same sort of batteries that you find in lap tops and mobile phones which have their own little problems and need rather sophisticated energy management to avoid nasty consequences like catching fire or just failing in service.
    It is not that I am anti green technology because I’m not. But I am anti false hope and spin over substance in the design of automotive machines

  11. Craigy says:

    Then please explain why you think all the major car companies continue to pour money into developing these kinds of cars Iain and why do people keep buying them.

    Sorry mate, but it’s not false hope and it’s not a greenie thing, it’s happening and successful and your clutching at straws.

  12. Shawn Whelan says:

    It takes a lot of energy to charge these electric cars.

    We use a 120v — 240v system for residential and the normal house circuit at 15 amps would provide a little more than 2hp. If you used 240v at 100a which is the total most houses can provide you would get around 32hp out of the circuit.

    For a thousand horsepower you would actually need 3730A.

    This is why GM is having such a difficult time designing their Volt and the Tesla car is such a disaster.

    You aren’t gonna take a little windmill and charge up one of these electric cars for everyday use.

    I think the actual market for electric would lie in tiny cars for scouting around town.

  13. Craigy says:

    Shawn, you have no idea what you are talking about and I do not intend to give you a free lesson in electrical systems.

    Try Google and enter AMP Hours and Electrical storage as a start point …then think about something that can get you around, not 1000hp for Christ sake!

    Good luck with that…

  14. Shawn Whelan says:

    I design electrical systems for a living Mr. Expert.

    The Volt being designed by GM now has an gasoline motor. Obviously none of the engineers at GM have your great secret knowledge. The people at Tesla that promised so much have no idea how to deliver the product after spending hundreds of millions. Obviously none of the engineers at Tesla have your great secret knowledge.

    The article says the car is one thousand HP. Did you not read it?

    If you want to get HP out you need to put HP in. And if you want to quickly charge it is going to take a lot of electrical power. Actually the calculations are towards the side of being generous since the circuit breaker can only be loaded at 80% and the process will not be 100% efficient.

    Please point out exactly what is wrong with the electrical calculations.

  15. Craigy says:

    From the article Shawn -

    “It has a 47kW electric motor (about 25 per cent less power than a Toyota Yaris) and can be driven for up to 160 kilometres on each charge. It can be recharged in a regular powerpoint in about eight hours, or for just 20 minutes in a dedicated higher voltage outlet.”

    See that you goose- just 20 minutes.

    Please never start designing electrical systems for this country if this is what you think -

    “We use a 120v — 240v system for residential and the normal house circuit at 15 amps would provide a little more than 2hp.

    WTF does this mean – are you suggesting Mitsubishi is telling people to run the car off a very long extension lead?

    A cheapish 12 volt charger from the local store can deliver 30amps per hour at 14 volts to a BATTERY, so even with basic technology, that you can buy now, you can get 300 amp hours of power (at 12 volts) in 10 hours.

    The latest available technology in charges and batteries are way more efficient and charge even faster at various other voltages.

    Thus endeth the lesson.

  16. Iain Hall says:

    Craigy each picture links to a different article and it is the lower one that talks about a 1000 HP :)
    You are not even on the same page , or lesson Mate :)

  17. Shawn Whelan says:

    A cheapish 12 volt charger from the local store can deliver 30amps per hour at 14 volts to a BATTERY, so even with basic technology, that you can buy now, you can get 300 amp hours of power (at 12 volts) in 10 hours.

    The latest available technology in charges and batteries are way more efficient and charge even faster at various other voltages.

    Thus endeth the lesson.

    30amps times 14 volt equals 520watts.
    (like a little more than 5 -100watt light bulbs) One hp is 746 watts. Might run a little bicycle. That little car has a 47,000 watt engine. This isn’t magic. The energy you put into the battery is what comes out unless you have invented some special perpetual motion battery. (and you won’t get 100%) GM has spent hundreds of millions on this developing the Volt and gave up because an electric car is not possible except for a short range vehicle. Tesla made all kinds of claims that turned out to be wishful thinking. The first car Ferdinand Porsche designed was electric. Then he saw the light and switched to gas. So you are the one and only person in the world that has figured out how to do this.

    Thanks for the lesson. What a maroon.

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