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Electric vehicles - again

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D_W

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How many of the top 7 auto makers would have closed their ICE R&D departments if politicians hadn't effectively forced them to?
Probably near none. But they would've also squashed BEV makers like Tesla if possible by lobbying for rules against them. They've used the legislative influence for a long time to do things like squash the GM EV (can't remember the name of the car from the 90s, was it just "EV"?) even though there was a market demand for it. If fedgov in the US tells automakers they'll get nothing in return for ICE R&D, that's what they'll do. If they can lobby against other market competition and create barriers to entry in return, they'll do that.
 

Fergie 307

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A typical EV weighs in at 1500-1800kg - usually carries 75-150kg of human cargo - hugely inefficient.

There is a strong argument for an EV which has a range of ~50 miles, and top speed of ~50mph. For urban use this could be built very light weight (below ~300kg?).

Battery pack for a full EV weighs 4-500kg. An urban EV may need 20-40 kg batteries to provide the urban performance required with low vehicle weight. Batteries could be demountable, modular (max weight per module <15kg), charged domestically without a separate charging point.

At volume this could be cheap local transport. On a purely personal note,
  • uncomfortable going full EV due to range limitations (an issue 10-20 times a year)
  • hybrid possible but expensive - typically buy cars around 1-2 years old, keep for several years
  • urban EV would make sense as 2nd car in household (current one needs replacement)
This is one of the things that concerns me, and I will say straight away that I don't know as much as I probably should about it. It has always seemed to me that batteries are to some extent a dead end. I can't see them being viable for hgv for example. Battery weight reducing payload, turn around time for charging etc. So it has always seemed to me that hydrogen is the most sensible answer, avoids the problems associated with batteries, range, recharge time, mining the raw materials and so on. But then you have the situation where you aren't going to buy a hydrogen vehicle if there is no where to fill it up, and no one is going to build hydrogen into their forecourts when there are no cars to fill. I suppose my point is that batteries are ok for city use, but beyond that they become less and less attractive. If we decide to use hydrogen for longer haul vehicles, then wouldn't it be sensible to just settle on that technology more or less across the board, and get on with it. As I say something I need to learn more about so would be interested in the views of those who do.
 

Martin_S

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@Ozi You say, " The big issue with emissions from EVs is the method of generating the power to build, use and recycle. all vehicles should be assess on full lifetime emissions. "

Agree completely - you need to watch this:
 

Fergie 307

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I think you are taking the 'zero emission' statement as a literal when what it actually means is 'no CO2 or NOX emissions from the exhaust' - which is actually pretty good.
Add to that the fact that the brakes don't wear like ICE vehicles because you rarely use them, so less particulate emissions and many less moving parts so less wear and tear.
But yes, you do get 'emissions' - the tyres on my EV wear (not as fast as on an ICE vehicle) and that produces particulates - but so little compared to an ICE I struggle when people try to justify not changing based on this sort of argument.
I know it's hardly a major factor but do the tyres really wear less? Surely one of the major factors contributing to tyre wear is the weight of the vehicle and most battery electrics are damn heavy compared to an equivalent sized petrol or diesel. Not as knowledgeable in this area as I would like to be so maybe I have missed something.
 

Fergie 307

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@Ozi You say, " The big issue with emissions from EVs is the method of generating the power to build, use and recycle. all vehicles should be assess on full lifetime emissions. "

Agree completely - you need to watch this:
Very good. But that shouldn't have been too difficult for people to work out. My greater concern would be that If we could wave a magic wand and all go battery electric, where is all the Lithium going to come from and how long before it runs out? So there are issues with that as well, albeit not on the same scale. It has always seemed to me that hydrogen is a more sensible route, but in fairness I don't know enough about it to know if that's right or not.
 

Martin_S

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Do the tyres wear less? I think so. Have not had to change mine yet, so can't confirm but I do drive differently. With regen instead of conventional braking, you drive a lot more smoothly and there is less rapid deceleration, so I assume tyres wear less, but we will see. Also, because of the weight, you need tyres with stronger sidewalls which negates the weight issue.
Lithium availability? It really isn't an issue.
Hydrogen is a non-starter until someone finds a way to produce it that does not use so much energy
 

Spectric

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where is all the Lithium going to come from and how long before it runs out?
Turn this around, if we had been using Lithium batteries before petrol then I dare say we would now be using petrol as Lithium would be near depleted. So lithium has to be just a bridge from where technology is now to a place they hope it will reach before we run out or we could go full circle and be back to using classic cars.

Also think how many jobs will be lost globally when we no longer use ICE's, from geologist looking for reserves, extracting raw crude and getting it to refineries, refining, supply chain to fuel stations, actual ICE from design through testing to production with a very large number of component suppliers and this just grows arms and legs, probably many millions of jobs will be lost world wide.
 

Fergie 307

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Turn this around, if we had been using Lithium batteries before petrol then I dare say we would now be using petrol as Lithium would be near depleted. So lithium has to be just a bridge from where technology is now to a place they hope it will reach before we run out or we could go full circle and be back to using classic cars.

Also think how many jobs will be lost globally when we no longer use ICE's, from geologist looking for reserves, extracting raw crude and getting it to refineries, refining, supply chain to fuel stations, actual ICE from design through testing to production with a very large number of component suppliers and this just grows arms and legs, probably many millions of jobs will be lost world wide.
Seems to me that one of the problems is that this particular can has been kicked down the road for so long that now everyone's in a bit of a rush to sort it out, never a good way to approach anything.
 

Martin_S

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Seems to me that one of the problems is that this particular can has been kicked down the road for so long that now everyone's in a bit of a rush to sort it out, never a good way to approach anything.
I think it is more of a change in mindset has happened. Everyone resisted it for as long as they could but suddenly the wider population has bought in and one or 2 companies like Tesla and countries like China have shown the way, and now everyone else is rushing to catch up or go out of business.
 

Jameshow

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I never noticed tyre wear being different on different cars... Except on a Volvo V70 T5 that uses to eat tyres for breakfast as well as petrol!!
 

Jameshow

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I think it is more of a change in mindset has happened. Everyone resisted it for as long as they could but suddenly the wider population has bought in and one or 2 companies like Tesla and countries like China have shown the way, and now everyone else is rushing to catch up or go out of business.
Along with a Swedish teenager and a British grandad!
 

Richard_C

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I've been thinking "what if" for a couple of years now - when I travel I actively think "what if I was doing this in an all electric car?" I would really like to embrace the future and go all electric when the current cars expire. I have confidence in the cars - not Tesla because of cost and anything that Elton Musk can send over the air software upgrades to is perhaps to be avoided - but I don't have any confidence in the charging network.

We live in a village with 1 outward bus a day (7.34 am) so we have 2 conventional IC engine cars, both a few years old but neither needing to be replaced soon. We can fill up either in any filling station in the UK or Europe. The nozzles fit. It takes 10 minutes max including paying. We can pay by any credit or debit card or cash. I don't need to have a functioning smart phone or phone signal.

Current state of EV charging is a mish-mash of different and seemingly unreliable charging points, each requiring some kind of phone app or account. Takes 40 minutes or more (much more for some). Can I charge up anywhere in UK or Europe - who knows. What does it cost? Who knows - no shiny big signs saying xx pence per KwH, from what I have seen some can be 3x the price of others.

OK then, charge overnight at home. Fine, that gives me a safe useable range of say 200 miles - 250 max unless I buy a Tesla or wait a bit. All my local trips will be fine whatever the range. Day trip for a walk along the coast, 120 miles each way, nope, marginal. Don't really want to spend 20% of my time at the destination at the one slow charging point in near the town, and it often has a queue and if the supermarket is busy the space is used by non ev cars. Visit my daughter - nope, not without finding a charging point, need a top-up charge in both directions. Visit my son, fine one way but won't do both and he lives in a city flat so no chance of charging there. Need to find one in the 'wild west' of commercial charging stations.

(Had a week in Ambleside between lockdowns last year: both EV charging points - only 2, in a major tourist town that boasts of it's net zero target - were out of order all week)

So - an EV would suit over 60% of my journeys but only 10% of my annual miles. That's an important distinction - others will find different answers. If you were running a van mostly in an inner city and doing <100 miles a day it would make a lot of sense to go electric. PHEV is a dead end unless you do very regular journeys like a daily commute within its very limited battery range: you are paying >£10k more than the conventional equivalent and off battery its consumption is worse, if you only do 10% of your miles on battery it's pointless both financially and environmentally.

I don't see any of this being thought through - and what about when we all have EVs, will the local power networks cope with every house overnight charging, will places like service stations be able to offer any kind of service on busy days like start of school holidays. Will every hotel, holiday cottage, campsite, be able to offer charging?

Government has set a target for ending the sale of IC engined cars and expects the free market to sort out charging. So far they have created a patchwork mess. We needed public investment and public sector planning to create water, sewage, phone and electricity networks (all of which were given away at way below asset value to kick start the private utilities beloved of Thatcher). Roads are for the most part state assets. To make this all work, we need state planned and maybe state owned charging networks.

I'm pretty sure we will end up with one small local EV and one IC engine car, but not until EV prices come down a bit and not until we really need to change. To go to both being EVs I will need much more reassurance that I will be able to get to my destination on long trips. I don't mind a 30 minute charging time every 3 hours - but I do mind having to search around for a charger and search around for a way to pay.

Give me a decent charging service and I will place the order for an EV tomorrow.
 

Terry - Somerset

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Currently EV adds to demand met by carbon based fuels. EV locally level means less environmental pollution. Consumption of carbon fuels is ~neutral and the balance is complex.

If cars are carbon fuelled they will always pollute. It is entirely plausible green power generation can replace carbon based fuels for heating and transport.

There are hurdles which need to be overcome - eg: recycling batteries, transmission infrastructure, eliminating rare elements etc etc. 10 years ago the mainstream EV was the Nissan Leaf with high cost and limited range, in 10 years time could largely eliminate perceived barriers to change.

I am unconvinced that hydrogen will be adopted as a green fuel, save possibly for HGVs and equipment with high power requirements where the higher energy density of H2 may be critical.

The reason - most H2 is generated from natural gas at present although it could be made using electricity generated using wind or solar power. It then intuitively becomes inefficient compared to electricity - losses to make hydrogen, compress it, fuel cell converts it back to electricity. Storage at high pressures needs to be compared with the cost of batteries.

The technology behind electricity distribution is very well established and understood although capacity increases will be required. H2 has almost zero infrastructure - it has missed the green revolution.
 

Cabinetman

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A major worry of an EV vehicle is coming to a halt at the side of the road, for many years to counteract that I carried a spare gallon of fuel in the boot, will we be see cars carrying their own portable generators (And a gallon of fuel) in the boot? Highly inefficient I know.
Perhaps a charged up pair of batteries, bit like you used to be able to buy for your phone?
 

Fergie 307

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I find myself in much the same position as Richard C. My daily commute is about 12miles each way, so easily accomplished by EV. But I also make regular trips to look after my 99 year old dad. That's a 200+ miles round trip and very few charging facilities where he lives, so would be pushing my luck. Maybe the answer, in the medium term at least, is to make an affordable, relatively short range two seater EV. I am sure if they put their minds to it government could come up with measures in the way of tax or other regulation to encourage manufacturers to build these, maybe supported by a cheap government sponsored loan scheme to assist the public to buy them. We could then make the majority of short journeys in that way. People could retain a larger ICE car for longer trips, with measures to dissuade its regular use, maybe higher fuel cost. Of course how you do this, or anything similar, without unduly penalizing those who still can't afford an EV, or for whom it is impractical would be a bit of a juggling act.
 
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treeturner123

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I agree with Richard C and Fergie 307. Fine to use Public Transport in Cities but even towns don't have sufficient buses though cycling is more of an option in smaller places.

However, many people now don't live next to their work place as they used to probably till the 1960s when we cleaned the air in part by putting industry etc out of the way. Thus, most of us, even in the new WFH regime, do have to commute to work from time to time. I used to have to go to London from home once or twice a week catching a train from a town 12 miles away at 6.30 in the morning. Any buses then!!!!!

A further point to consider:-
How much tax is collected by fuel tax and VAT on fuel plus tax on most cars? How will ANY Government replace this huge lump of tax? Will they never tax EVs or the electricity to power them? Don't forget one of the principals of Tax is that it needs to be easy to collect. Vehicles of any sort are a sitting target for this! (NB Mrs T forgot this principal with the Poll Tax and look what happened!)

Answers about tax on a Postcard please!!

Have to go now to commute my 25 miles for my one day in the office this week.

Phil
 

Biblu

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Current state of EV charging is a mish-mash of different and seemingly unreliable charging points, each requiring some kind of phone app or account. Takes 40 minutes or more (much more for some). Can I charge up anywhere in UK or Europe - who knows. What does it cost? Who knows - no shiny big signs saying xx pence per KwH, from what I have seen some can be 3x the price of others.

OK then, charge overnight at home. Fine, that gives me a safe useable range of say 200 miles - 250 max unless I buy a Tesla or wait a bit. All my local trips will be fine whatever the range. Day trip for a walk along the coast, 120 miles each way, nope, marginal. Don't really want to spend 20% of my time at the destination at the one slow charging point in near the town, and it often has a queue and if the supermarket is busy the space is used by non ev cars. Visit my daughter - nope, not without finding a charging point, need a top-up charge in both directions. Visit my son, fine one way but won't do both and he lives in a city flat so no chance of charging there. Need to find one in the 'wild west' of commercial charging stations.
...
Give me a decent charging service and I will place the order for an EV tomorrow.
As a BEV owner, this was a very good post summarising one of the biggest issues with EV ownership (with current ranges). Although the rapid charge points are generally getting better at just being contactless now, with fewer requiring subscription.

When we first switched we had to change our driving style, I used to try my best to get there as quickly as possible, with little patience for stopping on the way. That had to change, to coming 10 minutes off the Motorway to find a little pub or hotel or stopping in the services with a packed lunch to take a 20-40 min break depending on how much charge we need. While >2 hour journeys have increased by maybe 25% (I only have ~130 mile motorway range), I quite enjoy the more relaxed style of driving and stopping for some lunch or something on the way. We've found some lovely little villages and places that we would never have seen.

The euphoria of leaving the house with 'a full tank' is hard to describe, I used to hate getting in the car on a cold and wet winter morning and realising that I needed to stop at a petrol station on the 1 hour commute to work. There is also a quiet smugness at getting into a car that has pre-heated itself while everyone else is scraping away at their windscreens :cool:
 
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Martin_S

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Richard C argues the 'not yet' mindset very well and in many ways, he is not wrong (though when people were queueing at fuel stations a few months back I smiled as I drove past in my fully charged EV....)
The thing is - once you get used to your EV, your mindset changes. Everyone is different, but for me 99 days out of 100 I drive less than the range of my car, so I get in, drive off, go about my day and when i get back, I plug it in again. I really like not having to go to the petrol station every week, not losing 20 minutes, not getting diesel smelly hands or slippery shoes.
On the odd day, I have to think about where I am going to stop for coffee en route (and any excuse for coffee works for me).
Yes - we are in transition, we could do with more charging points and more commonality between them, but everything is changing fast - there were just over 20,000 public charging points a year ago, today it is very nearly 30,000 - that growth will continue.
Add to that, batteries will get more efficient so your car will need less (less lithium), weigh less (thus less power needed to move) and go further - so the critical point when an EV becomes a much better solution than an ICE for most of us is not far away. I reckon the governments 2030 target will be after that point and no one will need convincing.
 

Richard_C

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Some good points, and to be clear I'm not anti EV just concerned and confused about charging on long trips. Maybe there needs to be a bit more strategic thinking about wider aspects of the way we live and our expectations.

First up - tax and insurance. Some way of replacing the tax take from petrol and diesel is inevitable, so the lower running costs argument for EVs is only temporary. I sometimes think it would be bettter to tax use (which petrol tax does already indirectly) rather than the vehicle. That way, some of us might run a small local EV and a bigger long range car until EV infrastructure gets better. Same with insurance. If I own 2 cars I pay twice but only use one at once. Tax and insure me, not the vehicle.

There is also a peculiarity with VED - one which is easy to fix. The most recent structural change in VED introduced a 5 year premium for luxury vehicles defined as over £40k list price. But EVs cost more, now, so even a modest one can come in over £40k. Manufacturers are getting better at this - lots seem to be 'just under', but put metallic paint on a Kia Niro top spec and you pay an extra £1600 VED over 5 years. With inflation more will cross teh £40k threshold which hasn't been uplifted since it was introduced. The easy answer is to say OK, to encourage 'pure' EVs which cost c. £10k more than the IC ones, we will lift that threshold to £50k for EVs only (not hybrids, not PHEVs). That would bring the basic Tesla 3 under the wire so you don't pay more VED on that than on an oil burning BMW 3 series.

Second, a few lifestyle things. No charging network is likely to be able to cope with all of us doing the same things at the same time. Think about a filling station on the M5 in Devon on the first day of the school holidays. It can't cope with cars at the pumps for 5 minutes each - just think how much space and how many 'pumps' you would need for EVs. So we need to re-think some of that. More self catering and all-in hotel breaks starting on different days of the week, regionally staggered school holidays, maybe abandon the idea of weekends altogether and have a rolling 3 days off in 10 - almost anything so we don't all do stuff at once.

The pandemic has already done some of the work for us - lots of people and employers really questioning the 5 day a week commute and making permanent changes to blended home/office working. I was an HR Director 25+ years ago and we introduced some very flexible patterns. You start from the task: continuous process factory you must have people there at set times. Research not so much, no evidence that you are more productive if you work a rigid 8.30 - 5.00 with a fixed lunch. Finance operations, busy times and less busy times each month - why not trust people to be sensible and allow flexible working. Surprisingly, people are happier and less likely to leave if they don't have to sit in the same traffic for 45 minutes at the start and end of each day. I never minded travel but the daily unchanging grind of my commute* back in the 80's really dragged me down. One of the reasons I changed job. Some changes will hurt some people, some will be welcome, but one thing is certain: we can't have viable EV based road transport and live exactly as we do now.


* tip for anyone who commutes a fair distance by road and is thinking of moving. Try to live East of where you work. That way, the commute is with the sun behind you rather than in your eyes, you squint less and look younger for longer :)
 
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Spectric

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I never noticed tyre wear being different on different cars
Tyre wear can vary a great deal between makes and models of cars, there are a lot of variables that will impact tyre wear. An obvious one is the type of vehicle, a sporty type of car may suffer higher tyre wear just because of the type of driver and the way it is driven. Equally you may find younger less experienced drivers also wear tyres at a higher rate. When it comes to the vehicle then suspension geometry will play a major role as it decides how the tyre moves in relation to the road, some cars have a lot more camber and can wear tyres very unevenly. We must all remember the VW beetle, the original with a swing axle that pivots from the trans axle and so you see a lot of camber change which was later changed to a trailing arm setup. Another aspect is that older cars with narrow tyres were better in the snow than modern cars with large wide tyres simply because the mass was transfered through a smaller contact patch so more mass per unit area.
 
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