Hybrids v. Electrics... am I the only one who sees a major drawback?

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by Mr. Nelsby, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    The summer capacity problem, for those of you in AC-dominated areas, is an August daytime problem. AC load drops sharply at night, when the EVs will be recharging. Time-of-day electricity pricing will make sure that nearly everyone uses their timers to recharge cars overnight, so there is no EV recharging spike at 5 pm. Utilities will have to roll out the necessary meters and rate structures to more residential customers, but the grid can already handle many tens of millions of EVs if the recharging is done correctly.

    Those of us in heating-dominated areas will face the same issues on cold February mornings.
     
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  2. Dolce

    Dolce Junior Member

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    But that depends on where you live and who you get your energy from and what improvement your source of energy generation may have in the future. Home solar energy is getting cheaper every year and eventually it will get lower than paying for gas. There is also the volatility of the world oil prices. We are paying around $2.50 for a gallon of gas now, but that can jump to $5 in two months, as it has happened last summer. At least the price of domestically produced electricity is more predictable. The beauty of owning a duel fuel hybrid is you have the freedom to pick which fuel to use to save the most money and you can change your decision again tomorrow if the world situation changes.
     
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  3. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Hydro is a future clean source? You haven't been hearing from any environmentalists, have you?

    Hydro has essentially peaked in this country, and since the 1990s many groups have been trying to remove them to restore migrating fish runs and riparian habitats. Some smaller dams have already been breached, and the four Lower Snake River dams in Washington State are targets again.
     
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  4. cpatch

    cpatch New Member

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  5. Tech_Guy

    Tech_Guy Class Clown

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    Ok Guys, here are some numbers to toss around:

    What is the real energy cost per mile of plug-in vs. using gasoline???

    If a gasoline powered Prius gets 50 MPG and gas costs $ 2.80 / gallon (current price here in Northern California), then the gas cost is 5.6 cents per mile.

    Now here in Northern California, PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) charges residential customers using a graduated pricing formula. Our baseline costs is only 11.531 cents per KWH (Kilo-Watt Hour) for the first 378 KWH per month. However we, like most consumers, use more than our baseline allocation. Now if we had a plug-in Prius, we would consume electricity (charge the batteries) at a premium rate and would pay PG&E 25.974 cents per KWH. So the question is -- in typical driving, how many KWH are required for a plug-in Prius to drive 1 mile?

    Using some estimated values, a Prius size vehicle with occupants needs about 400 Watt-Hours to drive one mile. Therefore at 25.974 cents/KWH, the electric cost for driving a Prius size vehicle is 10.4 cents per mile. (Actually the electric cost per mile would be higher because this calculation assumes a 100% efficiency factor. That is, 100% of the electricity measured at the electric meter on the wall is used for turning the motor in the car. In reality, there are losses for: 1) AC to DC Converter, 2) Converting electricity to chemical storage in the battery, 3) then converting chemical storage back into electricity.)

    Depending upon your local cost of gasoline and electricity costs, your results will vary. However these numbers would be valid today here in northern California.

    Keith :)
     
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  6. wfolta

    wfolta Active Member

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    It still seems that we need to fix our grid first.

    1. You talk about "necessary meters" and "rate structures" that simply are not in place for the vast majority of people.

    2. Yes, if the new technology is in place to do delayed charging, it works. If not -- at least around our house -- you'll see a double-spike in the evening when we get home and: a) plug the car in, and b) walk in the house and drop the thermostat way down from its "no one's home" setting.

    3. Our parking space is two stories underground, along with 400 others in our condo complex. No private garage, no extension cords. It's gotta be wired, and not just wired but a smart grid (and smart car) has to be in place for the proper party to get billed.

    EV's will probably be a big hit in the unsustainable single-family-home bedroom suburbs where everyone has a garage or can run an extension cord. Not so much in urban areas or even many townhouse areas, where it's a different matter. (Until the grid is totally smart: smart grid first, EV cars second.)
     
  7. wfolta

    wfolta Active Member

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    On the flip side of the coin (emissions)... as others have pointed out, in most of the US (outside of the Pacific Northwest), you may well be creating as much pollution at the power plant as you are with your Prius. It IS an advantage that the plant probably isn't using imported fuel, and eventually we can use more renewable energy, but if the switch occurred right now emissions is probably not a win.
     
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  8. wfolta

    wfolta Active Member

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    NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! :(:(:(:(

    Make the car industry work like the phone carrier industry? Are you kidding? There is a light at the end of the tunnel with the iPhone breaking the mold, but the cellular industry is absolutely the bottom of the barrel, right alongside cable operators.

    Oh yeah, I get the car that some carrier decides they want to sell? That they get to design? Ads every time we start up? Poor styling and handling? No thanks.
     
  9. darelldd

    darelldd Prius is our Gas Guzzler

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    The folks in the know have done a great job on some of these issues (and non-issues). Make no mistake - EVs are not the best solution for everybody and every trip. But then neither is any other technology. It just happens that EVs are the best for what they're best at (argue that one if you can!) - and thats most of the driving that most people do.

    Please, just for fun, read this. Imagine for a moment that we've never had gas cars on the road until now...
    http://evnut.com/docs/what%20if%20gas%20cars%20were%20new.doc

    I mean really, I don't get it. I have to drive to a special filling place to get fuel for my car? I can't make it for free on the roof of my house? The price changes every day for no reason?

    Well, gas cars MUST burn fossil fuels. Electric cars do not. Mine doesn't. To answer this one and many more like them, see this other document I did just for folks like you who have these questions:
    http://evnut.com/docs/evs-wont_work.doc

    It may well be true that in your mind a hybrid IS more sensical. But in my reality, this is not the case. We use our EV for better than 90% of all our family trips. The Prius stays parked in the garage except for once or twice a month (and summer vacation trips).

    If you have issues with EVs, then you must multiply those issues by four or ten to come up with the limitations of hydrogen. I have a solar-powered EV. Been on the road since 2002, and driven every day. Works as well today as the day I bought it, and I've paid nothing for fuel, nor has it polluted at all.

    Giggle. If only it were that simple. You think that businesses are in business to sell what is best for us? Or to sell what makes them the most money. Hmmm.

    Amazingly we keep building new homes with pools and AC units. These take WAY more electricity than any electric car. And we survive. EVs can offer energy storage during off-peak times, and offer it back to the grid during peak times. In this way, EVs can help create a much more stable grid.

    This is a very simple problem to work around. Charge at work. Charge at businesses, charge on the street from street lamps. There are MANY companies working hard on this right now. When gas cars were invented, we had no gas stations. Hey look... that seemed to work out OK, yes?
     
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  10. spiderman

    spiderman wretched

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    Heck no... very few if any.

     
  11. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Similar luddite thinking suggests that those newfangled things call 'cell phones' can never catch on, because the necessary towers and businesses were not in place for the vast majority of people when the things were first rolled out. What? Things changed over twenty years?

    The meters and rate structures minimally needed for many EVs have been in use for decades, have been rolled out to tens of millions of customers, and are simply waiting until they are economically justified for the rest.

    Our grid cannot yet handle a 100% changeover to EVs, but it can handle many tens of millions of them right now. It will take many years for their electric demand to reach the available supply, and any utility executives who cannot see it coming in time and roll it into their upgrade and maintenance plans, deserve to be fired. But they will probably be retired before it becomes an issue.

    The 'new technology' is embarrassingly simple compared to the battery and engine controllers in the cars themselves. For about $15 each, it has been already working to turn some of my house lights on and off at certain times of the day, for the past twenty years. The actual 'technology' is older than me.

    The 'really new technology' will control the actual charge rate, and turn on and off on command from the local utility when it needs to manage its load.

    When the demand develops, it will get wired. New construction will have it built in on day one.
    That is like demanding that a complete nationwide network of cell phone towers be built before any cell phones are put into customer hands. But it would just prevent either from ever happening. It is better that the two grow up together.
     
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  12. 3PriusMike

    3PriusMike Prius owner since 2000, Tesla M3 2018

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    Yes, about 65% of oil is imported and essentially 100% of electricity generation is domestic from domestic fuel (maybe 2-5% isn't and it is for efficiency of transport or other reasons near borders).

    Reducing oil usage by driving a Prius is good. Reducing it even more via using electricity in a PHEV or EV is even better.

    3PriusMike
     
  13. 3PriusMike

    3PriusMike Prius owner since 2000, Tesla M3 2018

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    Others have mentioned some of the problems with hydrogen. I'll give more details below.

    This is even more non-sensical than a hydrogen fuel cell car. It won't happen. The sun, at the peak of the day provides about 1 kilowatt per square meter. You cannot build a car that is safe and street legal (crash-worthy, headlights, etc) that can propel itself fast enough etc with that little of power...even if you could build a 100% efficiency PV cell. Typical rooftop PV arrays are 15% - 20% efficient. The motor in the Prius is, what, 60 KW. So assume you can get a generous 2 square meters with 50% efficient solar panels. You can now run a motor that is 60 times less powerful than the motor in the Prius (excluding the ICE). And of course you'd have nothing left over to charge the batteries...nor really have enough power to cart around hundreds of pounds of batteries.

    Back to hydrogen fuel cell cars.

    There are 3 main problems.
    1) fuel cells are much more expensive to make than any drive train by at least 10x. (I'm not talking about the 100-1000x for concept cars...no one knows how, in mass production to make them cheap even after economies of scale kick in).

    2) hydrogen is very expensive to make. The cheapest way is from fossil fuels. The clean way is from electricity. Going from electricity to hydrogen and back to electricity again in the fuel cell nets you about 10-20% of the electricity you started with...while just storing the electricity in a battery lets you keep 75% - 90%. No matter how you run the numbers, clean hydrogen in mass production costs 4-5x as much as electricity (aside from taxes, tiered rates, etc). And it isn't just a matter of making electrolysis or some other process more efficient...many of the several processes involved are capped by the laws of thermodynamics. If everything was 100% efficient you'd still be at, maybe 30% recovery (but then batteries would be at 99%).

    3) hydrogen, like pure EVs, require a leap in the infrastructure to be able to refuel away from home. Worse case for an EV is that you are stuck overnight somewhere and you plug your extension cord in to some existing outlet. Worse case for a hydrogen FC car...you wait for the hydrogen tow truck to arrive. This is where PHEV become a stepping stone technology. As PHEV become popular over 10 years or so, there will be more and more places to plug in and recharge...for a fee or for free to attrack customers.

    Bottom line, IMO, is that we will go from gas, to gas-electric hybrids, to PHEV, to EVs with some of all of these on the road in millions, in a few years (maybe 5). But we will not see a solar powered car or a fuel cell car in that time.

    3PriusMike
     
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  14. bruceha_2000

    bruceha_2000 Senior Member

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    I think you are confusing the Volt 'pre-charged' EV range with max generic EV range. Figure 100ish miles for a pure EV without a 'range extending' ICE. If the Volt had more batteries and no ICE, it would have a longer range than 40 miles. And be a 4 seater EV-1 ;)

    I have a new idea for GM. Also make a Volt model for the "I only go more than 40 miles a few times a year" buyers:

    1. Skip the ICE, leaving more space for cargo or more on board batteries. Both would extend the EV range. The first by having less weight to drag around, the second by providing more capacity. Actually what I would LIKE to see is USER installable, only when needed, extra batteries in the now empty ICE bay.
    2. Sell, lease, rent a generator trailer to run the car on long trips the same way the on board ICE does in the regular Volt.
    My wife drives < 40 miles/day 99% of the time. I can think of only 1 time in the past 5 years that we BOTH needed to go more than 40 miles in the same day. We could certainly use one 100 mile EV and one Prius (PHEV Prius even better!!). BUT, the cost for the EV better be about the same as a replacement Prius (when the time comes).

    The Tesla Roadster uses about .23 KWH/mile. At that rate, and the electric rates we have here ($0.135), break even for my Prius is gas at something over $4.00/gallon. And one would hope that a 'family' car would be designed to use fewer KWH/mile than the Roadster.
     
  15. pdth

    pdth Member

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    I'm really interested in the race to develop electric vehicles and I am sure someday I'll own one. Right now the economics don't work for me (mainly because of initial cost), and our utility company burns coal without adequate pollution controls (they deny that pollution harms anyone), so that doesn't work for me either. I think these problems will be overcome and am very supportive of efforts to overcome them asap.

    I don't see the electric grid as a problem since the load from vehicle charging would be during off-peak hours. By the time this becomes economical who knows, maybe a lot of us will get base-load household power from our rooftops anyway. That power isn't free since we'll pay for solar panels the same way we pay for our furnace, septic system, etc. But still it won't be that long before it looks economical for many of us. I am sure if these vehicles become common, adequate power outlets in parking garages will become an expectation, as is adequate lighting today, and will be part of the cost of using the garage.

    Seems to me a properly-established carbon tax and market trading system could hasten the retirement of coal plants and improve the economics of electric vehicles. This is really a necessary step if the free market is ever to be put to work on the climate change problem. At this point in time plenty of people are skeptical that our leaders will ever bite the bullet on climate change, but if they surprise us and do it, the change in economic incentives will be obvious to everyone and a change in how we power our homes and cars could happen pretty quickly.
     
  16. spiderman

    spiderman wretched

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    I would have to say no on that thought... we would just see higher utility rates. Most of us don't have the option of selecting the utility we get energy from.
    There is lots of coal so best thing there is to improve the way it is used IMO.
     
  17. DaveinOlyWA

    DaveinOlyWA 3rd Time was Solariffic!!

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    according to the people who track that kind of stuff...

    80% of trips made in US are 20 miles or less. this accounts for trips where there is a long layover of at least a few hours...usually 8 hours for work etc. assuming you could not plug in at work (my commute 7 miles and i do get to plug in at work) we are looking at 40-50 miles to cover 4 out the 5 trips needed. now granted, i can say with great experience that 100 miles will only get you 75. so ya, it wont work for every one...

    there is still 40 million trips DAILY where some will have to find another option. AND in the last 5 years that i have driven any of the 3 Pri's i have owned, i have done around 10-15 trips where a 200 mile range would not have worked for me. But a handfull of them could have been done...

    one example was visiting my brother in law in Salem which is about 200 miles give or take... but every time we go there, we always stop in Portland to shop which is just about half way. it would be easy to park, plug in (unfortunately shopping ALWAYS takes more time than i want to take... toss in a meal and the car is topped off and ready to go)

    now, we can poo-poo what appears to be an incremental savings in greenhouse gases and whatnot... but like how much do you want??

    what is incremental times tens of millions??? ...its one heck of a big dent in our green house gas emmisions is what it is.
     
  18. martinw

    martinw New Member

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    The carbon tax would not be aimed at you directly but rather at the utility. If their coal costs were priced higher to take environmental impacts into account they would be more likely to invest in alternatives.

    I assume you are talking about technologies like carbon sequestration? If so, that will add significant costs, which would lead to higher utility rates anyway, roughly 1/3 higher based on current estimates.
     
  19. 3PriusMike

    3PriusMike Prius owner since 2000, Tesla M3 2018

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    Actually, PG&E has a very friendly rate schedule for those with EVs

    See: Rate Options
    The off-peak baseline and up to 130% is about $0.08/kw-hr according to the schedule for time-of-use metering. I just don't know what they set the baseline to for off-peak...but even at about 13 kw-hrs per day like it is for most people, that is enough to make a Prius sized car go about 50 miles for $1.

    3PriusMike
     
  20. wfolta

    wfolta Active Member

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    Yeah, owning a Prius -- a car that works TODAY -- makes me a Luddite? No one's saying that EVs cannot EVER work. Your own analogy -- cellphone rollout -- was a LONG process which was preceded by several generations of mobile phone and was was not a useful option for any kind of widespread usage.

    And cellphones, unlike cars, can afford to not work in an entire state and it's still okay. Heck, my cellphone doesn't work at my office desk. Cars can't work that way.

    Considering the low market penetration of hybrids -- which actually work right now, anywhere on the continent -- it pisses me off that people are such jerks over EVs and treat people who are actually saving gas, lowering emissions, and subsidizing future research TODAY as... what was it, Luddites?
    :mad:
    Bye.
     
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