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April 5, 2012

We Don't Need No Stinking Sparky Cars

Popular Mechanics;

Fully charged on a brisk March morning, the all-electric Mitsubishi i’s range meter estimated that the battery pack had enough energy to travel 56 miles. That’s plenty, I thought, for the several-stop route I planned to a neighboring town and back. But as I pulled out into traffic, I flicked on the heat and watched the range meter recalibrate, dropping the estimated range down to 37. I did a quick mental calibration: A few miles to the first stop, 12 miles on the highway, 12 to return, another five to the next location, and so on. I then had a choice to make: Either shiver in the car or risk getting stranded.

Posted by Kate at April 5, 2012 2:15 PM
Comments

Imagine what would happen on a "brisk" Winterpeg morning in mid January?

Might make out of the lane way but the end of the block would like getting to Mars.

Posted by: Fred at April 5, 2012 3:17 PM

I have, for years now, put this 'heater' thing question to countless people(hello Tony Guitar), both mere citizen and our "leaders". Blank stares, unaware looks, brush offs.

So what is it with these types? - intentionally misleading or just plain dumb? Unable to grasp the everyday important concepts? Dumbed down education? Misleading media's influence?

There has to be an explanation. After all, these are multi $Billion dollar boondoggles.

Posted by: ron in kelowna ∴ at April 5, 2012 3:33 PM

All right, I get to recycle this old line: "Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark," in their electric clown cars.

Posted by: Al the fish at April 5, 2012 3:34 PM

As I said before in another comment, Bermuda is 23 miles long and gas is a bit more than here in Halifax, and the weather doesn't get to the point of freezing, so why did I not see any Volts or even Smart cars on the island?

Posted by: Texas Canuck at April 5, 2012 3:39 PM

Do you see many cars in Bermuda? I thought the import duties were unreal, regardless of whether conventional or hybrid?

Posted by: steve at April 5, 2012 3:51 PM

So if you live in England where you can get by without heating or air conditioning you should be fine.

And the remaining 99% of the globe, not so much.

Posted by: rabbit at April 5, 2012 4:03 PM

A nation that cannot program a DVR (talking up us in the States) is going to buy an electric car with these quirks? Nope.

Posted by: imapopulistnow at April 5, 2012 4:09 PM

Hello Rabbit.

With respect, we jolly well do need heaters quite often in England - even if only to stop the the windscreen misting or frosting (If you want to be Spartan).

Whilst the overall climate is mild, the local weather can vary enormously from day to day or even within the day - particularly if you travel to a few hundred feet higher up.

I used to drive 60,000 miles a year throughout the British Isles and I would not advise driving in the Winter without a heater.

In Summer, air conditioning (whilst not essential) is a great help in keeping a cool head.
I am convinced it is an additional safety factor for driver alertness.

Posted by: Edwaard at April 5, 2012 4:13 PM

So, if I travel from Prince George to Fort Nelson next January,using this marvellous electric miracle car how long will it take?

It's 810 km or 510 miles. At 50 km per recharge...oh,damn,there isn't anywhere to recharge for long stretches.

Maybe I'll take the bus.

I wonder if the day will ever come when these quack cures for what allegedly ails our planet,are viewed with the skepticism they deserve,and no longer get government/taxpayer subsidies.

Posted by: dmorris at April 5, 2012 4:36 PM

but...but...volts PAY for themselves.....in 27 years...assuming it lasts that long and you never have to change the battery pack


http://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/blog/2012/04/savings-come-slowly-for-hybrid.html

If you’re thinking about buying a fuel-efficient hybrid, electric or otherwise eco-friendly vehicle as a way to save money over time, do your homework — or be prepared to wait.

Buyers who choose Nissan’s all-electric Leaf ($28,421) over its approximate gas-powered equivalent, Nissan’s Versa ($18,640), will likely wait nearly 9 years until they break even, according to a new report by The New York Times that examines the cost of fuel efficiency.

For drivers of the Chevrolet Volt ($31,767), the wait is even longer— 26.6 years.

A few vehicles begin paying off relatively soon after leaving the dealership. Two hybrids— Toyota’s Prius ($23,537) and Lincoln’s MKZ ($33,887)— as well as Volkswagen’s diesel-powered Jetta TDI ($25,242) all take less than two years before they start saving their owners money.


Posted by: Bemused at April 5, 2012 4:43 PM

re:

As I said before in another comment, Bermuda is 23 miles long and gas is a bit more than here in Halifax, and the weather doesn't get to the point of freezing, so why did I not see any Volts or even Smart cars on the island?
Posted by: Texas Canuck at April 5, 2012 3:39 PM

simple reason...the last time I was in Bermuda you weren't allowed to park an unserviceable car in public...being a gm product, they were all hidden in garages.

Posted by: Bemused at April 5, 2012 4:46 PM

AND, the colder it gets, the less power you get out of a battery.
Double whammy, you need the heater, and the battery is less efficient in cold weather.
Maybe a nice little coal fire in an old bean can set on the passenger side floor would help?

Posted by: Stan at April 5, 2012 6:24 PM

I'm gonna invent a 500 mile long extention cord

Posted by: NME666 at April 5, 2012 6:37 PM

You are too late NME666 the electric vehicle moochers have already invented one, it's called the government, and it provides electricity "free".

Which is pretty impressive, I'm sure you will agree.

Posted by: Cascadian at April 5, 2012 6:51 PM

Distance estimator needs to offer best and worst case distances before you head out on the road. An third estimate based in your past driving habits would help too.

Problem is it would be very hard to sell one where the worst case estimate was in the high teens.

Posted by: Gord Tulk at April 5, 2012 7:11 PM

Can't use your heater, no air conitioning ,no vacations or long trips , avoid gridlock type traffic and watch your re-sale value drop like a rock after warranty expires. If it still runs without a long extension cord after 10 years it's probably considered toxic waste on wheels and you would need to fill out half dozen forms and pay someone big bucks to have it hauled away. Wooo-hooo, who would'nt want one for only 30 grand ?

Posted by: peterj at April 5, 2012 8:12 PM

If your lucky it will only cost you 10,000 dollars every 3 years to replace the batteries. I used to run electric Zambonis. They don't use them anymore. This was the early 90s.

Posted by: Revnant Dream at April 5, 2012 8:17 PM

When you can buy a small car like a Focus or a Fiat for about $13,000, that gets over 40 miles per gallon, why would a thinking person pay $31,975 for this glorified golf cart? The $19,000 difference buys a heck of a lot of gas, and you are not shelling out about $5000.00 every 5 years for a new battery.

Posted by: Alan at April 5, 2012 8:17 PM

I honestly don't understand what this vendetta is against electric cars. If anything, it's the subsidization that should be attacked, not the technology. Any first generation technology is going to be impressively mediocre, only bought for status/bragging rights. This is an accepted fact.

Am I missing something here? I probably am, so if someone wants to enlighten me I'd be grateful.

Posted by: Andrew at April 5, 2012 8:18 PM

"We Don't Need No Stinking Sparky Cars..."

Actually, you will. Even the folks who make gasoline think so. But what do they know, right?

Posted by: Davenport at April 5, 2012 8:48 PM

I own a Prius (bought used, out of warranty.) Have had it 2.5 years and only paid for 1 brake job and 10 oil changes in that time. I paid a premium for a Prius vs a non-hybrid equivalent and I'd be surprised if the payback is only 2 years, although, given how few repairs I've had, that might be true because of the reliability of the model. In gas, because we don't drive a lot of miles, I don't really expect to ever make back the money. Don't care, we like the car anyway, it makes drive by shootings more successful since you can sneak up on people.

My gas mileage in summer is 25% more than my winter mileage. I still get great mileage compared to my old car because the engine by itself gets decent mileage (like any small engined care would) but I could get similar mileage in any number of energy efficient cars.

The battery barely comes into play in cold weather, unless I'm out on the road for a long drive; it's a minimum 35Km before I see the battery start to bump up my mileage.

Knowing all this, I'd never buy an all-electric car. Most of our driving is 5 - 10km on country roads and while the hybrid system never really gets going, all electric won't work either because I need to be able to do those short drives a couple of times a day. In winter, I'd easily outstrip the range of an EV. Which is pretty sad, given I seldom drive much over 36 km per day.

Posted by: CanadianKate at April 5, 2012 9:29 PM

"Any first generation technology is going to be impressively mediocre, only bought for status/bragging rights. This is an accepted fact."

This isn't 1st generation technology, crappy little cars were already available decades ago. This is a grossly inferior new version.

Posted by: Ray K. at April 5, 2012 9:35 PM

@ Andrew at April 5, 2012 8:18 PM
" impressively mediocre, only bought for status/bragging rights. This is an accepted fact."

I guess that if you had more money than brains this would be a logical purchase. As a "in" city commuter in the lower mainland, probably acceptable. But for that kind of money, would'nt it make more sense to have the option of driving where ever you wanted ? With heat/AC as needed? Status/bragging rights ? All you are really stating is that you are a granola crunching, foam at the mouth tree hugger that is capable of making a horrible investment in your quest to save Gaia as Gore/Suzuki doctrine suggests. If you get into a accident with one of these things, you have to wait until first responders discharge the battery pack or they could be fried trying to extradite you from the vehicle. If you do break down there are very few facilities that can service a EV. Add it all up and tell me what there is to brag about.

Posted by: peterj at April 5, 2012 9:41 PM

Mentioned this problem a few years ago on this site but what all these "greenies" fail to understand is that when they plug in the electric car to charge up overnight, they are plugging into the grid and the generation authorities have been raising the rates in the last few years. Makes a lot of sense to throw the internal combustion engine under the bus because of the gas that it uses and then burn natural gas and coal to power an electric car that can't operate in most of the world. The power generation people are rubbing their hands in glee as the "greenies" are lining up to throw their money away.

Posted by: Antenor at April 5, 2012 9:50 PM

"All you are really stating is that you are a granola crunching, foam at the mouth tree hugger that is capable of making a horrible investment in your quest to save Gaia as Gore/Suzuki doctrine suggests"

Unfortunately, for some people this is a feature, not a bug.

Posted by: Andrew at April 5, 2012 9:51 PM

@ Andrew
Last but not least:

http://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/blog/2012/04/savings-come-slowly-for-hybrid.html

Posted by: peterj at April 5, 2012 9:59 PM

Andrew @ 8:18. Jay Leno's 1909, yes 1909 Baker Electric was all electric, lights the works, gets 110 miles on a charge. That's using lead acid cells. Yeah, we've come a long way baby. Sigh.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9vC3S8MJPY

Posted by: Olde Spice at April 5, 2012 10:09 PM

Well when the eco-fools and the enviro-nazis finally convince the various governments and the sheeple that EV s are their future I ll be able to fill up my SUV for about 20 bucks, since there will no longer be a demand for the evil petro-fuels.People this is the height of government manipulation,it has to stop because it will destroy everything we believe in.Obama and his flunkies in the main stream media have an agenda that they will promote forever in order to achieve their goals.It is up to us to stop them.If we allow them to have their way they will soon trample our rights and our freedoms under the jackboot of enviromentalism.

Posted by: Frankemm at April 5, 2012 10:54 PM

Posted by: Olde Spice at April 5, 2012 10:09 PM

This is somehow both impressive and depressing at the same time. You can't really compare the 0.75hp to today's standard though...

Posted by: Andrew at April 5, 2012 10:56 PM

Electric cars are a good option for polluted cities in the sunbelt like Phoenix and Los Angles. A significant amount of recharging can come from PV panels. The vehicular pollution will be reduced.

There's no reason electric cars need to work equally well in Minneapolis - St Paul. Other technologies like efficient diesel work much better in the cold.

Don't expect a universal fix. Use the technology appropriate for the situation.

Posted by: John Galt at April 5, 2012 10:58 PM

"A significant amount of recharging can come from PV panels." John Galt.

Sorry John, as an electrical engineer I have to call you out on that statement. Do you know what size of solar array would be needed to charge *one* electric car in a reasonable amount of time? Second, most EVs are charged at night, so how will the solar panel help you there?

I get irritated when I see all these "facts" being bandied about about EVs that are simply *wrong*.

Posted by: TJ at April 5, 2012 11:53 PM

Andrew: "I honestly don't understand what this vendetta is against electric cars. If anything, it's the subsidization that should be attacked, not the technology...Am I missing something here? I probably am, so if someone wants to enlighten me I'd be grateful."

SDA is about reflexively and unwaveringly opposing anything that's perceived to be supported by left-wingers/progressives/liberals/Liberals/Dippers/environmentalists/urban "elites". Hence its animus towards public subsidies for "sparky cars", wind turbines, solar energy, etc. but not public subsidies for, say, the fossil fuel industry.

It's about winning an imaginary game of Us vs Them, not about debating the merits and drawbacks of any given idea.

Posted by: Davenport at April 6, 2012 12:11 AM

@ Frankemm at April 5, 2012 10:54 PM
"It is up to us to stop them.If we allow them to have their way they will soon trample our rights and our freedoms under the jackboot of enviromentalism."

We are stopping them as the lack of sales for the Volt shows. Once (if ever) alternatives make sense and there is logic in purchasing the product I would be happy to buy one. As long as Goverment has to prop up the industry we can be sure the only reason that product is on the market is idealogical rather than rational. If it was any good, private enterprise would develop and market it without massive subsidies. Even if the price of Gas/diesel goes to $10 a gallon, it will not force people to buy a EV. It will only decimate the economy and create riots, with a guarantee that elected officials will be replaced by politicians that bring down the price by eliminating the speculators , having a talk with OPEC, and getting serious about drilling in North America as well as off shore. Nothing stopping the Government in building a few of their own refineries to compete with the private ones. I am also fairly sure that if the price of fuel continues to rise throughout the summer, that Obama will be toast as his ideaoligy is a large factor in escaliting prices and his indifference to the damage done to the economy. The tree huggers and Hollywood elite wont be able to save him if the economy gets much worse. It's almost at that point already. Everything in the country moves on wheels and wings and the more it costs to turn those wheels and lift those wings the more it hurts the voting public. They are already angry at the $5.00 mark. They will be livid at the $7.00 mark as all consumer goods are reflected in the price of moving said goods. Even the most incompetent POTUS in history should see the brick wall he is running into.

Posted by: peterj at April 6, 2012 12:14 AM

3 years ago I was seriously thinking of buying a hybrid Escape - that is until I did some research into what kind of problems I might expect with the battery system. This convinced me to stick with nice old-fashioned internal combustion engines. My 1993 Grand Cherokee gets only 10 mpg in the city, but one can buy one hell of a lot of gas for the difference in price between the $3500 I paid for my current vehicle and the cost of a brand new hybrid Escape.

The problem with purely electric vehicles is that energy density of current batteries is dismal. The other thing that hasn't been considered is the very useful functions that waste engine heat from an internal combustion engine performs. I think that # of BTU's of "waste" engine heat required to keep the passenger compartment warm as well as defrost/defog vehicle windows should be included in the mpg statistics for internal combustion vehicles. It takes a lot of energy to keep the interior of a vehicle warm in -40 temperatures and I recall freezing under such conditions even after putting cardboard over the whole of the radiator front.

Electric vehicles are a good idea. Colonizing the solar system is a good idea. Fusion power is a good idea. Stepping disks in cities instead of buses are a good idea. The main problem one has is when "good ideas" collide with reality.

Posted by: Loki at April 6, 2012 12:26 AM

@ Davenport at April 6, 2012 12:11 AM
I don't ever remember anyone on this site ever endorsing subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. Subsidies for anything for that matter. Is your specialty relegated to drive by trolling or do you actually have something to debate ?

Posted by: peterj at April 6, 2012 12:54 AM

Cascadia wrote: "it's called the government, and it provides electricity "free". "

I just spoke with the infrastructure manager here in Nanaimo regarding the city installed charging stations - of which they're so very proud.

He has no idea of the total costs: committee meetings, research, planning, etc. He knew only of the actual installation cost, which exceeded $20,000 for three stations.

I then queried him on the number of all electric vehicles in Nanaimo. He has no idea. I asked him if he has personally seen any Volt or Leaf vehicles. He had not.

He then shifted gears to talk about a 'Leaf Owners Club' in Victoria (1.5 hrs drive and a Leaf would have to recharge two or three times to cover the distance} and how electric vehicle owners would like to be able to drive from Vancouver to Whistler, so the infrastructure has to start somewhere, blah blah...

Now they want to do a 'study' to see if it's a few people charging their cars for longer periods or greater numbers charging for shorter periods.

How they can conduct a valid study with just three or four electric vehicles in a city of 85,000 people is beyond me. But its surely good for the bureaucracy.

Never mind that property taxes are rising 5 - 7% annually. After all, if we have a 'social conscience' I guess we should be grateful for their forward thinking leadership and ought not complain.

Posted by: No Guff at April 6, 2012 1:04 AM

as an electrical engineer I have to call you out on that statement. Do you know what size of solar array would be needed to charge *one* electric car in a reasonable amount of time? Second, most EVs are charged at night, so how will the solar panel help you there?

The electrical engineers I work with understand integrated systems and how the electric grid functions, so they thought the response above was a bit naive and simplistically silly.

In the sunbelt it would take a PV array about the size of a garage roof to 'pump' as much energy into the grid as the electric car will 'drain' out of the grid when charging, during a 24 hr cycle. Electric cars can plug into the grid to charge during the day when parked. The extra energy the PV array pumps into the grid that isn't drained by the charging car means that some water was retained in a reservoir instead of spilled for generating electricity to keep the grid 'topped off'. The greatest electricity demand is during the day and off peak charging at night is already cost competitive with the price of gasoline.

Posted by: John Galt at April 6, 2012 1:52 AM

"I don't ever remember anyone on this site ever endorsing subsidies for the fossil fuel industry."

And the last time you saw a "We don't need no stinking oil subsidies" thread here was when?

See, if the real concern was public subsidies, full stop, then subsidies for all sectors and industries would get equal play here. But no, it's just sparky cars and giant fans -- which suggests it's not subsidies per se, just subsidies for things you don't like.

Posted by: Davenport at April 6, 2012 10:45 AM

The difference is in the various tax codes regarding exploration write-offs and equipment purchases, which many other industries also get. I agree with you that the oil industry is long past the point where they need subsidies of any kind as they can stand on their own feet without public support. The green industry can not. It's not a matter of "not Liking". It's simply propping up a industry that is based on ideoligy and not necessity. The subsidies for the oil industry started out as incentives to explore. No longer required as their huge profit margin indicates. Happy shareholders. The green industry is a financial black hole with taxpayers taking a beating on products being forced on the public sharholders with escalating cost and no potential for a net gain. Rather than investing in a product the public requires, the green industry has the potential to destroy the shareholder with forced participation by taxpayers. Ugly, inefficient, horribly expensive and illogical. What is there to like ?

Posted by: peterj at April 6, 2012 1:16 PM

actually, J Galt, I was going to address TJ's post as well. What people like him forget is that design changes could effect this issue. Make batteries in quick change design and you lease them rather than buy them as part of the vehicle. Then just drive up to an exchange station and replace with a freshly charge battery. They could set up a "credit card" system to acommodate the leasing process. Having said that, I still think that EV are good only in certain places and uses, as some one else pointed out. You have to remmember TJ is an engineer, not necessarily a practical thinker:-))))

Posted by: NME666 at April 6, 2012 2:16 PM

@ NME666
Changing batteries in a EV is a major undertaking and the batteries value can be up to two thirds of the total vehicle cost. The existing technology would not support this. Someday perhaps.

Posted by: peterj at April 6, 2012 2:27 PM

I'd just like to say how impressed I am with this thread. It's so nice to see civil debate with rational arguments being made by both side. Too often (not just SDA) everyone just blindly agrees with the popular opinion, or else one person disagrees leading to a string of insults.

I'd say I actually learned a fair bit reading these comments. Thank you all.

Posted by: Andrew at April 6, 2012 3:57 PM

@ Andrew at April 6, 2012 3:57 PM
Yall come back now, yu hea. Bring yor debate.

Posted by: peterj at April 7, 2012 12:22 AM
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