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The Economist: Electric cars Difference Engine: Tailpipe truths

Discussion in 'Prius, Hybrid, EV and Alt-Fuel News' started by cwerdna, Apr 21, 2012.

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  1. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2012/04/electric-cars?fsrc=nlw|newe|4-20-2012|1447248|36350411|



    I've only skimmed this article but this author has a lot of his facts wrong and is mixing various random mileage tests and figures. Sigh...

    I think part of it is a side effect of the author not understanding CAFE mileage vs. Monroney sticker numbers and then falling into the trap of high sounding highway mileage numbers of various non-hybrids.


    The 27 mpg the UCS chose appears to based on combined EPA mileage.

    For him to make claims that "the average today is more like 35mpg" is bogus as per Fuel Economy, there are virtually no non-hybrids that achieve even 35+ mpg combined for the '12-'13 model years. Even the Smart ForTwo he mentions is rated at only 35-36 mpg combined and doesn't achieve 40 mpg on the EPA highway test.

    His claims about the Focus are wrong too:


    Per http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/sbs.htm, the '12 Focus is EPA rated at 31 mpg combined and the SFE version is rated at 33 mpg combined.

    It's funny how he claims the regular Focus "averages around 40mpg" (NOT) and mentions the Consumer Reports 44 mpg result for the Prius (which is a bit low). Well, the two Focuses that CR tested received 28 mpg overall per https://www.consumerreports.org/cro...-fuel-economy/best-and-worst-fuel-economy.htm.

    Feel free to chime in on the comments there and set this guy straight (hopefully).
    3 people like this.
  2. ProximalSuns

    ProximalSuns Senior Member

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    This is true. He's comparing (correctly) all-electric vs. choices like hybrids. Hybrids and EV's are competitors.



    Don't see that in the article. He only mentions the EV Focus. He does mention a European version of the Fiesta getting 47 mpg.

    His facts seem to be correct. I think the EV's are suffering from the success of the hybrids, 50 mpg Prius at a base of $25K is a great deal, $20K+ Prius C's are flying off the lot. EV's are also suffering from the state of the economy. Fewer people willing to spend to make a statement. And the third part is the practicality, the need to have a second car to travel outside the round-trip home range. It's not 100 mile range, it's 50 round trip.

    Flip side, this is a case where government policy is needed to push the technology and the market in the right direction. The subsidies on the EV cars need to be increased to overcome all those factors. R&D money needs to be vastly increased to get the cost of the batteries down, to work on other alternatives like fuel cells, hydrogen power etc.
  3. Jeff N

    Jeff N Senior Member

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    Many of his facts are correct -- they are just all jumbled up and out of context and are therefore very misleading.

    The European Fiesta does get 47 U.S. mpg combined -- on the NEDC test cycle.

    He neglects to mention that the same test cycle also gives the Volt/Ampera 47 mpg combined in hybrid mode and the 2012 Prius Liftback 60 mpg combined. He only quotes the Consumer Reports average of 44 mpg (the CR mpg averages are very conservative).

    He's an idiot, but at least he didn't quote the Fiesta mpg using Imperial gallons while using U.S. gallons for the Prius.
  4. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    Yes, he seems to have read some of the bogus edmunds stuff and did not understand that they were way off. The reasoning is correct, that plug-ins are not cheaper financially, but gets the reasons for adoption wrong also. Its that bogus edmnunds article against hybrids that sets up the false choice on simply ghg. We discussed that on a different thread.


    1) People buy electrics for the technology which gives a different driving experience.
    2) Electrics use none or much less oil the scarcest resource
    3) Hybrids or Electrics produce much less tailpipe emissions that cause unhealthy air in many of our big cities.

    If you are correcting the numbers on small cars I would go with 33 mpg combined for the best compact cars.
  5. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney EditProfOptInfoCustomUser Title

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    No, the article refers to compacts. The Edmunds quote mentions the "40 mpg club" but that's just highway. The compact average is certainly not 35mpg EPA combined.



    The Fiesta 1.0 liter EcoBoost is rated 47mpg (US) combined (and 37mpg in the city) on the NEDC. An approximation to the EPA number is 83%, which would be 39 mpg. However, the EPA cycle is relatively harsh, so I'd expect a lower mileage rating due to the harsher test adding more use of the turbo.



    Well, correct in the sense that they weren't actually untrue. However, he made vague statement like "is more like 35mpg", quoted the Edmunds/Polk hybrid sales review survey and mixed EPA, NEDC, CAFE, combined and highway numbers without proper caveats, adjustment and context.

    Basically it was a lazy hatchet job.



    Actually, I think hybrids have helped sell PEVs. Most PEV owners have switched from HEV where EV technology has proven to be reliable.



    No they don't. The current subsidy is $468.75/kWh for a 16kWh battery (Volt) and $312.50 for a 24kWh battery (LEAF). That's more than enough to represent expected drops in medium-term pricing.

    What's needed isn't more price subsidy but efforts to ensure that battery research and EV development continues at its current pace and that the market can respond rapidly to improvements.



    With record HEV sales, over 1,500 PEVs being added to US roads every month and over 3,000 last month, TN LEAFs to hit the market in 2013, Ford soon to release next generation HEVs, a PHEV and a BEV, US fleet average fuel economy rising and gasoline consumption falling I really don't think there's any reason to panic about the state of battery research.
  6. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    Crap article, typical of "blogs" that seem to exist only to collect demographics of people who want to post.
  7. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    He does say it.


    :rolleyes:
  8. giora

    giora Active Member

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    Read the blog, couldn't decide:
    Is it wilful misconduct or just ignorance?
  9. ProximalSuns

    ProximalSuns Senior Member

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    Looks like he's referring to gas powered version of the Leaf (the last subject mentioned) not the Focus or EV's in general (the subject of the preceding sentence). He only specifically mentions the Focus EV.

    Either way, his point is correct that EV vehicles are challenged by cheaper hybrids, even cheaper high mileage regular cars. The high EV premium plus the range issue plus the economy. The challenges noted by the Toyota exec. when he said EV's are not quite ready for prime time.

    EV's, even at European gas prices of $10 gallon, are statement vehicles, much as hybrids are in the US. Purchased to cut oil use, cut pollution and push the technology.

    The article does get the essential facts correct. There seems to be a tendency to get dogmatic about EV's and hybrids and any article that challenges dogma gets criticized. We see this a lot every time an article points out that hybrid's don't pay back for gas use during average ownership cycle.

    Better to recognize the facts (Toyota executive noted the same facts) and deal with them in a positive way by upping the tax credit for purchase to overcome the cost differential and the payback.
  10. ProximalSuns

    ProximalSuns Senior Member

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    Last numbers run for Volt were that, even with the current subsidy of $7,500, the payback was decades out.

    That's good information and a good reason to raise the subsidy. It is important that US manufactures engineer and produce EV technology. US needs the engineering and manufacturing base to be a competitive economy. Good reason to raise the subsidy.

    Being dogmatic and denying the facts doesn't change them or keep US moving forward on the technology.



    True but that does no good if you do all that and the product fails to sell as is the case with GM and the Volt now. Additional subsidies are needed now to make the Volt profitable for GM and to get them on the road in the US to build the infrastructure (emergency charging stations) and to cut the oil use.
  11. jadziasman

    jadziasman 76K miles to go before the odometer stops

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    The Economist is a mainstream British weekly publication. Some of its blogs are added to its print edition. Overall, The Economist is a valuable resource for financial and technology news.

    Here's my take on BEVs and PHEVs - still not ready for prime time for the vast majority of new car buyers mainly because they're too expensive and cannot match the advantages of the ICE or HEV.

    The ICE will continue to be the dominant vehicle propulsion unit for at least the next ten years. You all know the reasons why.

    1) Gasoline and diesel store much more energy per pound than batteries can.
    2) Refueling takes less than five minutes for most vehicles.
    3) Vehicle range before refueling is up to 500 miles.
    4) Liquid hydrocarbon fuels are plentiful, available everywhere, and at $4 per gallon, still affordable.

    So, you might ask, why does jadziasman drive a Prius?

    Because Toyota engineers developed a reliable and durable hybrid system that delivers adequate performance and excellent fuel economy.

    And, because the Gen 2 has been available for over 8 years, can be purchased at a reasonable price as a used hatchback.

    Although I really enjoy driving a manual, it's not practical in urban areas where stop and go traffic is practically unavoidable. The Prius automatic transmission, while completely unexciting, has made my urban driving experience much more tolerable. The Prius is larger than my Civic VXs were, is quieter, quicker and 10% more fuel efficient.

    The Prius liftback is a home run. The Leaf and Volt - singles at best. I'll wait for the Gen 3 BEVs before buying.





  12. hyo silver

    hyo silver Awaaaaay

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    Government policy supports the oil industry. We don't need more EV subsidies, we need less oil subsidies. We have no idea what a level playing field looks like.

    And hydrogen? That's just another way to use more oil.



    5) Oil subsidies.
  13. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    . . . . nor do most people in the U.S. even CARE about huge oil subsidies . . . . nor do they even WANT to know what a subsidy free market system looks like. "keep the cheep fuel coming!" ... is the mantra. Fail? You WILL get thrown out of office for being a failure. imo, if we'd subsidized education more, then maybe we'd have less dumb people.

    Think about it ... despite the horrible stock market bubble crash ... credit/mortgage bubble crash ... etc ... these vehicles still beat 1st year Prius sales. I suppose the author SHOULD have mentioned that BOTH the Volt & Leaf's 1st year sales far outpassed Prius 1st year sales. But then everyone would wonder what his point was. Can't have THAT now ... can we.
    :p

    .
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  14. jadziasman

    jadziasman 76K miles to go before the odometer stops

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    Gee, what was gasoline selling for in 2000 when the Gen 1 Prius was introduced to the U.S. market? I'll tell you - it was about $1.70 per gallon average nationwide. That's considerably less than today even after adjusting for inflation.

    Twelve years ago, thirsty, hulking dinosaur SUVs ruled the roads and small mammals like the Prius waited in the shadows until the asteroid of high fuel prices hit the U.S.

    Not a fair comparison.
  15. ProximalSuns

    ProximalSuns Senior Member

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    Sure we do. Do the math on the payback. Offer tax credits that make it pay for people the first year on fuel savings.

    Push the technology, reduce the oil use, build the sustainable engineering and manufacturing base in the US.



    There's this radical new technology out called solar energy via photovoltaic cells and electricity generated from wind...well new as in 20 years old but since you seem to have missed it...new to you.

    When electricity — whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source — runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced. Combined with another catalyst, such as platinum, that can produce hydrogen gas from water, the system can duplicate the water splitting reaction that occurs during photosynthesis.

    Hydrogen can be direct burn, such as the BMW Hydrogen 7 or via hydrogen burning fuel cells like the Honda FCX Clarity.

    This eliminates the fossil fuel completely while current grid based plug-ins have a carbon cost of about 70% since that is the fossil fuel based percentage for US electric grid.

    Hydrogen also eliminates the range and refill issues of the plug-ins.
  16. hyo silver

    hyo silver Awaaaaay

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    No need to be so snarky.
  17. drinnovation

    drinnovation EREV for EVER!

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    Hydrogen does not eliminate fossil fuels compared to BEV and its currently not that much more efficient end-to-end. Yes a fuel cell is more efficient than a battery, but energy for production, transport, storage and manufacturing of fuel cells puts the "wells to wheels" efficiency of hydrogen down at about 25%.. lower than a prius, BEV or EREV. See http://www.efcf.com/reports/E21.pdf and
    Climate and hydrogen car advocate gets almost everything wrong about plug-in cars | ThinkProgress

    Hydrogen is just one of many fuels that could be used in a plugin.. and all plug-in don't have the range issues of a BEV. Hydrogen however adds serious refill issues.. (in terms of safety and availability).

    Maybe someday the hydrogen issues will be solved, but its not in the next decade or so.
  18. drinnovation

    drinnovation EREV for EVER!

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    No comparison in sales is really "fair" over a decade. But your answer presumes the reason people bought cars was driven by saving money/costs, and that the premium of a Prius over an entry level car was similar to the price difference of the Volt/Leaf. Neither of these is true.

    Yes the Volt/Leaf cost more, but advancing technology often does. The Prius was a great new tech because its added costs were modest as were the reductions in gas usage. But it did not take off in gen-1 people want to see how tech evolves and its reliability. The BEV and EREV costs are higher but so are their reduction in fuel. If one wants to use less gas, for any one of many different reasons, they blow the prius and even the plug-in-prius away. Right now BEV and EREV are still early adopter choices.
  19. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney EditProfOptInfoCustomUser Title

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    However, thanks to Toyota subsidizing the price, the Gen 1 Prius cost $20k, about the same as a base Ford Explorer, several thousand less than base large SUVs and about $2.5k more than a base Camry. But, it was well equipped, so about $5k more than a similarly-equipped compact. Also, thanks to good packaging it was roomy for its exterior size.

    While it couldn't pay back the price premium, the premium was small enough that the car was well within the reach of a large chunk of US new car buyers.
  20. jadziasman

    jadziasman 76K miles to go before the odometer stops

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    Fuel efficiency WAS important to Toyota in 2001. Don't take my word for it.

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