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Federal Government: Electric Cars Will Account For Only 1 Out Of 100 Cars In 2040

Chevy Volt

A new government study projects that we’re a long way away from the time with gas-powered automobiles will be a thing of the past:

Electric vehicles are gaining a small foothold in the U.S., but according to the feds, it will remain just that — small. Fossil fuels will power the vast majority of vehicles for the next two and a half decades, with electric cars accounting for a scant 1 percent of vehicles sold in the United States in 2040, according to Uncle Sam.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration Annual Energy Outlook report for 2014 predicts that by 2040, nearly eight in 10 cars sold will run on gasoline, down marginally the number sold last year. The number of diesels rolling out of showrooms will double to 4 percent of all vehicles sold, while hybrids will comprise 5 percent of cars. That’s up from 3 percent last year.

But the headline figure is this: The EIA predicts that only 1 percent of total vehicle sales in the U.S. will be plug-in hybrids, with another 1 percent being fully electric in 2040.

“The numbers of LDVs [light duty vehicles] powered by fuels other than gasoline, such as diesel, electricity, or E85, or equipped with hybrid drive trains, such as plug-in hybrid or gasoline hybrid electric, increase modestly from 18 percent of new sales in 2012 to 22 percent in 2040,” the report states.

Last year, around 14.5 million vehicles were sold nationwide. If the EIA’s numbers pan out (and overall vehicle sales stay about the same), fewer than 300,000 EVs and plug-in hybrids will be sold in 2040. That’s bad news for the Obama administration, which has long hoped to see 1 million EVs and plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015.

This should not be a surprise, of course.

Sales of electric, or mostly electric, vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt have been lagging hoped-for target numbers for years now. Partly this is because even the Volt is hardly competitive in price with the average gas powered or hybrid vehicles on the market even though Chevrolet loses a reported $50,000 every time it sells a Volt. Other electric cars, such as the Nissan Leaf are comparably priced with the Volt, while still others, such as the cars produced by Telsa Motors are essentially super-luxury vehicles that are realistically available only to upper income earners willing to put down the cash to have something that constitutes the cutting edge of technology. According to some studies, the supposed cost savings of owning an electric vehicle when it comes to fuel costs doesn’t justify the markup that consumers would have to pay upfront to buy the car, not to mention the interest costs that would be incurred on a loan for a far more expensive vehicle. That’s a fact, by the way, that apparently still remains true for hybrid vehicles, which is why in many areas the most widely touted benefit of paying the extra money it takes to buy a hybrid is the fact that it allows one to drive in High Occupancy Vehicle lanes during commuting hours without regard to how many people are in the car. Indeed, that’s been a quite popular sales point here in the Northern Virginia for years.

There are, of course, other issues related to electric vehicles that make the prospect of quick adoption of the technology unlikely, and most especially the Obama Administration’s of 1,000,000 such vehicles by 2015. For the most part, these vehicle tend to have a range of ~100-120 miles between charges. Due to the fact that there is no extensive network of charging stations in the same way that there is an extensive nationwide network of gas stations, it’s quite simply impractical at the moment to rely upon these vehicles as anything other than something to be used for short drives such as commuting to work. Even in those situations, though, there are people whose daily commutes and/or work hours in which they need to travel by car are quite extensive, meaning that they too would have a problem with a vehicle that couldn’t be easily recharged. This will continue to be an issue until battery storage increases significantly and some means develops for people to easily charge their electric vehicles as easily as we can now fill our tanks with gasoline.

Finally, there’s the simple fact that the internal combustion engine, which has been around for more than a century now, continues both to do its job for what amounts to an amazingly low price and to improve in both energy efficiency and performance. Properly maintained cars last far longer today than they did 20 or 30 years ago, and that’s likely to remain true going forward. While a lot of very smart people have long made fools of themselves making predictions about future technology, it seems a safe bet that gas powered vehicles will retain their dominance in the market for some time to come. None of this means that the automobile industry should give up trying to improve the electric car as a concept, or to try to develop things like hydrogen fuel cells. However, the cars we have today been around for a very long time, and they’re likely to stay around much further into the future than electric car enthusiasts would like you to believe.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    So, in 1980, did they get this year’s numbers right?

    30 year prediction is a very silly enterprise.

    [and in this case it could go either way. either we luck on cheaper batteries, or we do not]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  2. john personna says:

    I see that the total “Electric Drive Market” (including hybrids) hit 3.85% of sales in 2013.

    That’s probably ahead of many predictions, and of course behind some as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    I think the problem is battery technology. Fuel cells are probably the answer and we seem to be close to some breakthroughs on efficiently making hydrogen. The reality is electric motors are much more efficient at making things go. That is why we had have had diesel/electric locomotives since the steam engine went away. Of course we still have the infrastructure problem. Hydrogen is a very small molecule so the plumbing is complicated. The smaller the molecule the more likely it is to leak.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  4. C. Clavin says:

    The Government already chose the winner in this race. Trillions in direct and indirect subsidies to the fossil fuels industry.
    Level the playing field and it’s a different story.
    But oil will never let the Government do that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  5. Gustopher says:

    Ha! Take that environment!

    Anything to piss off the environmentalists. A bunch of tree hugging hippies. Now when they hug the trees, they’ll be covered in soot! Serves them right for… I don’t know… something!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  6. Stonetools says:

    And. If gas goes to $20 per gallon?
    Frankly,, no one knows what technology or the economy will be like by 2040. In 1970 they were predicting we would have bases on the Moon and no one foresaw a pocket sized computer that would communicate with people on the other side of the world and pull down information from a world wide information network. In 1970 oil companies foresaw a permanent worldwide oil glut. By 1980 everyone was earnestly predicting we would be running out of oil about now. Now of course we are the world’ snuggest oil producer. I would never try to predict the oil market even 10 years from now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  7. Stonetools says:

    That’s biggest oil producer. Damn you iPad autocorrect!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  8. JKB says:

    @Ron Beasley: The reality is electric motors are much more efficient at making things go.

    As long as the load remains steady and you have a major electricity source to feed the current for the load increases.

    More importantly, the motor control electronics are expensive to handle all that. Instapundit did have a post yesterday about a new power electronics circuit that shows promise in efficiency and cost. Coming out as much reduced/efficient power supplies for electronics but should migrate into motor controllers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. JKB says:

    @Stonetools:

    We always have a 20 years supply of oil, coal, etc. Because it isn’t cost effective to assess the supplies past that point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. Dave Schuler says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    I agree, Ron. To my outsider’s eye there appear to be production problems. There’s a long, long waiting list for Volts but GM is only selling 2,000 per month. It really looks as though that’s as many as they can produce.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  11. rudderpedals says:

    It’s hard to beat fuel oil energy density. That’s a problem when everyone’s used to – and all of the infrastructure’s already in place for – gasoline or diesel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  12. john personna says:

    Don’t forget that the auto industry was active in a switcheroo. Who killed the electric car? It was displaced by that hydrogen dream. That worked for politicians and car salesmen. No worries about an immediate change. Lots of “investment” for the “future,” but until then … “here, buy an SUV.”

    The Tesla was never supposed to happen, and yet now, absurdly, it is the favorite car of the rich and stylish.

    IMO the hydrogen dream needs to make up a lot of ground to catch electrics as they exist today, and of course they won’t stand still.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  13. Tyrell says:

    One new development is the cold vapor engine that gets 50 mpg and more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  14. steve s says:

    Chevy loses 50k every time it sells a volt was a dumb lie the last time doug posted it, and it’s a dumb lie when he repeats it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  15. michael reynolds says:

    I do love the way we’re all suddenly meant to be impressed by a prediction from people who can’t manage to set up a web site. Just saying, maybe don’t re-organize your stock portfolio on the basis of 30 year-out predictions. What’s the famous quote about there being a market for only five computers?

    Here in Marin County you never go a day without seeing at least a couple of Teslas. So they at least went from 0 to a lot in about a year. I’ve stopped noticing Volts because now they just blend in, and of course we’re neck deep in hybrids.

    Car innovation always comes top down, pricier to less expensive. And trends – especially technological ones – do tend to roll from places like the Bay Area outward. Tesla is the highest-rated car in Consumer Reports history. It’s expensive, yes, but can be made less expensive and still be a hell of a good car.

    One other point: every car maker on earth is working on electric cars. Even BMW. Why?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  16. john personna says:

    @steve s:

    While I am sure the Volt is an expensive car to make, that number sounds pretty high. It would put Volt cost of production at around $80k vs the Tesla’s around $100k?

    Too close. A Volt is not a Tesla.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  17. anjin-san says:

    If Tesla puts out a model around 45k, I am probably in, even if it means giving up my dream of a Porsche Cayman.

    Lots of Teslas in my neighborhood as well.

    Don’t worry guys, California will continue to invent the future.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  18. john personna says:

    @anjin-san:

    I see them daily in coastal so-cal, though my sister reports that they are not seen in Houston ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  19. jd says:

    @C. Clavin: “But oil will never let the Government do that to itself.”
    FTFY

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  20. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Electric cars aren’t necessarily cleaner than gas-burning cars. They merely relocate the pollution to the electricity-generating station. In some cases, they are more polluting than gas engines. (Coal plants, I’m looking at you.) In others, they’re cleaner. (Hydroelectric and nuclear come to mind.) Their main advantage is that it lets the driver take advantage of the “out of sight, out of mind” phenomenon and not think about how they’re actually outsourcing the pollution, not preventing it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  21. rodney dill says:

    The costs of making a Volt are discussed
    here and here. Probably more accurate than just claiming each Volt cost 80+K

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. Woody says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Since there aren’t millions of rural Midwesterners and Southerners demanding to purchase an electric auto right this very second, it is obviously a complete waste of time to invest one copper cash on this technology.

    After all, petroleum will always be cheap, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  23. michael reynolds says:

    @Woody:

    Not only is oil eternally available and cheap, there are so few problems associated with transporting and storing a highly explosive liquid. Plus we buy it from all the most stable people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  24. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    There is actually this technical problem, that when you think about it, is unsurprising.

    When you pack enough energy to move a car 20-50 miles into a “gallon” of space, it is going to be pretty dangerous, explosive even.

    I think electric car batteries are fairly safe now, but it is a constant challenge, as more energy is packed into each gallon of them, to keep it under control.

    (Also “fueling time” versus “charging time.” We know a gasoline hose is dangerous .. but so would be a cable delivering as much energy in as short a time.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  25. john personna says:

    Should I make a pitch for the bicycle?

    Still the best, eat a bagel, ride 20 miles.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  26. Robert Levine says:

    And we believe this because the gummint is so good at predictions, right?

    I lease a Volt, so I’m biased. But it’s a great car, and a great driving experience for most people – quiet, smooth, and uber-reliable. Plus, on lease, total cost of ownership is comparable – if not less – to the equivalent gas vehicle, even at the current price. If Chevy is successful at dropping the price and increasing the range of the 2nd-generation Volt to the extent they seem to believe they can, the economics will be pretty compelling.

    And, by the way, the Tesla and the Volt rank #1 and #3 in the latest Consumer Reports survey of owner satisfaction. Who would have believed, during the last 40 years or so, that a GM car would have ranked that high? Not me; I avoided American brands like the plague until now.

    It’s odd that such a technical question (gas vs electricity for powering cars) has become such a hot-button culture war issue; I thought Americans were supposed to be a pragmatic people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  27. Robert Levine says:

    @john personna:

    The energy density of the fuel is not the only question; diesel fuel contains more energy gallon-for-gallon, but is much safer and less prone to ignite.

    The battery safety problem has, for all practical purposes, been solved, albeit at the cost of some complexity.

    The real danger for those who ride in cars of any type are other drivers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  28. Robert Levine says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The point is that generating electricity can be essentially pollution-free, and in fact appears to be trending slowly in that direction. It’s harder to do that with liquid fuels. So, over the long term, electrifying the transport sector is the green thing to do.

    The actual pollution produced by generating enough electricity to power an electric car is a surprisingly complex question. What is striking, though, is how much cheaper it is to run a Volt 40 miles with electricity than it is to run it the same distance with gas (and it gets good gas mileage, by the way). Perhaps that’s not a good proxy for the amount of pollution produced, but it is suggestive of overall efficiency in terms of resources used.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  29. john personna says:

    @Robert Levine:

    I’m not a total skeptic, but I’m not sure we’ve solved for what people really want, which is a 5 or 10 minute charge time and a 400 mile range.

    I think I just did some rough math once, based on the power modern electrics use to travel a mile, and a fast charge time with high range implied something like a terawatt rate.

    Current technology:

    Tesla says the 60-kwh battery provides a range of up to 232 miles (the EPA pegs it at 208 miles), and the 85-kwh battery (a $10,000 option) provides up to 300 miles (the EPA puts it at 265 miles). Here are some examples for recharging times: With a single onboard charger plugged into a standard 110-volt outlet, Tesla says you will get 5 miles of range for every hour of charging. From zero to 300 miles would take about 52 hours at that rate. With a single charger connected to a 240-volt outlet, which Tesla recommends, the pace speeds up to 31 miles of range for each hour of charging, and a full 300-mile charge takes less than 9.5 hours.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  30. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Another challenge to be overcome is protecting first responders when these vehicles get into the inevitable wrecks. The batteries and wiring present… unique challenges to firefighters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  31. michael reynolds says:

    @john personna:

    I think that’s about right, but maybe even less. Give me a 10-15 minute charge time and a 200-300 mile range and I’m in.

    I predict a re-imagined “gas station” for electrics: more shopping and dining possibilities to pass the wait time profitably.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  32. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yeah, though it depends on what else we have available. I mean, if gas was $20/gal you and I might pop for a Tesla right now.

    In other alternate worlds … 300 miles and a 45 minute charge time might be enough for me. That means I divide my day and charge at lunch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  33. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Let me spell out my concerns over the electric car model. And I’m going to apologize to the thick-witted people (like wr), because I’m going to get a little meta here, and I’m not interested in translating my thoughts for the stupid.

    1) The central conceit of the electric car is that is shifts the power-generation aspect away from the vehicle and on to the power grid.

    2) The power grid, as it stands now, is already getting a little shaky, and likely to get even shakier.

    3) A significant portion of the power grid depends on coal power plants, and those are being phased out.

    4) The Obama administration has been working on speeding up the phase-out of coal. In fact, the phrase “war on coal” would not be much of an exaggeration.

    5) The Obama administration is depending on new, “green energy” sources to supplant coal.

    6) The “green energy” sources simply aren’t mature enough at this point to replace coal at the rate that coal is being regulated out.

    7) The end effect is to increase the demand on the power grid while reducing the grid’s capacity. That is not a good recipe for success.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  34. john personna says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Sigh, why I even wast the time:

    1) a pointless and broken generalization. Where was the “power-generation” for oil, in ancient seas?

    2) grid failures are incredebly rare in the US. Percentage downtime, the proper measure, is trivial.

    3) a regional thing. we who live in the future (California) use no coal (in-state)

    4) so?

    5) so?

    6) the only way to prove that case would be to show that blackouts, or rate increases, are spreading across the coal belt.

    7) that’s the dumbest of all, because it assumes a sudden and wholesale transition to electric drive. It will be the rich and futuristic people first (Californians) as it always has been.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  35. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos

    (Coal plants, I’m looking at you.)

    So you are admitting Obama’s coal policies are correct. I will look forward to hearing more about this from you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  36. john personna says:

    (BTW, I have worked as a contractor for coal power generators. I’ve visited a number of them. I know exactly how dirty they are. I’ve seen the minute-by-minute emissions data.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  37. anjin-san says:

    The power grid, as it stands now, is already getting a little shaky, and likely to get even shakier.

    So let’s fix it. Oh, wait. Can’t do that. In tea party America we can’t possibly make anything better. Let’s just admit that the only reason business exists is to make millionaires into billionaires, and that government should be drowned in a bathtub tea cup…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  38. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @john personna: I’m sorry you failed to grasp the key point of mine: maximum electricity generation capacity.

    Is California a net electrical generator or consumer?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  39. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: It’s a proven fact that automobiles are less polluting than coal plants. Which is why Obama’s plan of shifting transportation power generation to centralized power — of which a large part is produced with coal — is idiotic.

    Well, that’s not fair. It’s one reason it’s idiotic.

    That you think that it’s smart shows that you’re an idiot, too.

    OK, that’s not fair, either. It confirms that you’re an idiot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  40. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: Dipshit, it isn’t the Tea Party that’s stopping new nuclear power plants from being built, new power lines being put up, and stopping projects like Keystone. Them’s your homies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  41. michael reynolds says:

    Problems that faced the introduction of gasoline-powered cars:

    1) No sufficient source of fuel. (They had to build refining plants.)

    2) The fuel itself is flammable and explosive.

    3) No means of distributing the fuel.

    4) Oh, minor point: very few paved roads in many areas.

    5) No capacity to produce large numbers of cars since they all have to be hand-built by expert craftsmen and thus will always be beyond the reach of ordinary people.

    Any rational person comparing that pile of difficulties (first: invent mass-production) to the difficulties surrounding a partial shift to electric vehicles would, I believe, have to conclude that people today are devoid of imagination or ambition, and apparently huge defeatist pussies.

    It’s haaaard. We can’t do it. Waaaah. Much easier to keep fighting wars and maintaining control over the sea lanes to secure our oil supply, and dying of respiratory illnesses, and building massive toxic waste piles all over the countryside, and building refineries that occasionally blow up, and move vast quantities of explosive liquids around the country on trucks. Because all of that makes perfect sense.

    The failure of imagination and optimism and will is just depressing. Left to some of you people we’d still be feasting on bugs and carrion in some fire lit cave. Only: no fire. Too dangerous you know. And no reliable means of distributing firewood. Plus, raw food is cheaper to produce.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  42. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: The Tea Party seems to be saying that we shouldn’t do any more of these dumbass moves. You seem to be arguing that we should give even more money to Democratic backers so they can fail, too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  43. anjin-san says:

    @ Jeno

    It’s kind of cute, the desperation with which conservatives cling to 19th (and earlier) century technology. Do you get a lot of satisfaction out of being an unpaid bitch for oil companies?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  44. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos

    these dumbass moves.

    By all means, lets not try and promote clean energy sources and energy independence for America. Let’s just give billions in corporate welfare to oil companies that have the greatest profits in the history of capitalism. All will be well. Besides, the DOD needs more money for the Joint Strike Fighter, so screw green energy.

    Sorry dude, solar is working in California. I know you would prefer to see us at the mercy of the incompetents at PG&E, but they are going the way of the dinosaur. Out here, we have people like Elon Musk inventing the future. I know you will pass, but I want in.

    And by all means, lets give the people who blew up a residential neighborhood in San Mateo permission to build more nuclear plants, what could go wrong??

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  45. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: In fact, even using coal exclusively, the CO2-emission is pretty much equal to that of combustion engines due to the low efficiency of non-Diesel engines. Changing to a better energy creation mix (for example using conventional energy sources but modern cogeneration plants) puts electric cars clearly in the lead CO2-wise for mobility. There is a nice tool at where one can play around with the parameters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  46. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos

    fail

    I am going to give you a little clue here. Failure and progress are different components of the same equation. If you don’t have failure, you are not trying enough different things and taking enough risks. Richard Branson has done some good writing on the subject, check it out and learn something.

    You want to know the difference between guys like us and a guy like you? Between blog posts, Michael is working on things like TV & movie deals – in other words, creating jobs. I’ve already talked to two CEOs this morning, I am working on getting new projects launched and driving new business – in other words, generating profits.

    You, on the other hand, are folding laundry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  47. Robert Levine says:

    @john personna:

    I’ve got a 300-mile range with a 10-minute recharge for those rare times I need it; I go to the gas station and put fuel in the Volt’s tank. I’ve done it about 10 times in the past 12 months, during which time I’ve driven about 11,000 miles.

    Most people drive far less than 100 miles each day, and don’t drive at night. So a range of less than 100 miles with batteries that are recharged overnight works just fine most of the time. Balancing range and cost for electric vehicles is something the market can be trusted to do well, I think.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  48. anjin-san says:

    Is California a net electrical generator or consumer?

    Expand on this. Have you considered that roughly 12% of the US population lives in California, which is only one of 50 states – states that are, after all, part of a union. We do business across state lines, and California can afford to buy energy from other states.

    Under the oil fueled internal combustion model, CA is a net importer of energy. I see the tankers coming into the bay almost every day dude, with all the attendant problems they bring. Solar and electric offers us paths out of this trap, but of course in your world we can’t actually try to make progress. Progress can be scary, and we all know you are a timid soul.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  49. john personna says:

    @Robert Levine:

    I have nothing against the Volt. It does indeed extend range by bridging electric and gasoline power (even more than my Prius).

    For a lot of use-patterns, Volt drivers can not buy gas for months. That’s great.

    But the question was about pure-electrics, and the energy density needed to completely displace gasoline for a long range.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  50. john personna says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Is California a net electrical generator or consumer?

    The whole grid works by ebb and flow. The grid is built to support either. I have no idea what the net was for 2012.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  51. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    I’m not a total skeptic, but I’m not sure we’ve solved for what people really want, which is a 5 or 10 minute charge time and a 400 mile range.

    I think a way around this is to stop thinking about the gasoline fueled car paradigm and think about the smart-phone paradigm. Many of us use our smart-phones every day, all day, or business and pleasure. We bellyache about battery life, but we have gotten into the habit of plugging in our devices every night and charging overnight. An electric car would be the same thing. We would just get into the habit of:

    *Plugging it in in the night when we come from work
    *Driving to work
    *Plugging it in when we got to work and parked.
    * Running errands on the way back from work
    * Plugging it in when we got home

    I can foresee a situation where future parking lots come with charging stations and you just park and plug in, paying a fee for charging.
    Maybe there will be car batteries that you can swap out and car battery “juice packs” . The conceptual problems have been solved. What’s needed is to build the infrastructure-charging stations at work, in the shopping mall, at home, etc.
    It’s the “gas station” paradigm-where you go the station to regular intervals to refuel-that has to change.
    None of this would be simple or cheap, but neither was building the infrastructure for the gas station paradigm.
    I can see a Jenos in 1893 saying that this new fangled “horseless carriage” nonsense would never catch on, because you would need lots of gasoline filling stations, whereas the plain old reliable horse could always “refuel” at their nearest meadow…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  52. john personna says:

    Related:

    Solar power is growing so fast in California – with installations by customers increasing tenfold since 2006 – the renewable energy source is turning the state’s power system upside down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  53. stonetools says:

    @anjin-san:

    I think one of the problems that conservatives have with electric cars is that liberal California-the land of fruits, nuts and flakes- is leading this. Shouldn’t you guys have collapsed into socialist chaos already? How the hell are you even around?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  54. john personna says:

    @stonetools:

    Sure, and I think the Nissan Leaf actually accomplishes enough for that. It’s just that with other options, we are slow to move.

    I’ve got to admit that after 8 years with my Prius I’m toying with the idea of a Jeep …

    That says to me that we have time and options, really. I Could do the Leaf this year, or a Jeep this year. In 2040 (if I don’t flip the Jeep) I could decide again.

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  55. john personna says:

    (I will now ride my bike to lunch … burning more energy reserves than I really need.)

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  56. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    Well, as every conservative and oil company executive will tell you, solar power isn’t feasible, so rethink your facts.

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  57. Wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Ooh, look! Jenos cut and pasted some right wing cliches! Let’s all be impressed at his depth!

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  58. john personna says:

    @this:

    I should have said “attempting to reduce excess reserves.”

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  59. anjin-san says:

    @ stonetools

    How the hell are you even around?

    I guess it’s time to come clean. The California OTB crew has been lying about what’s going on here. All the talk about the wonderful lifestyle that’s available in the Bay Area, LA, & San Diego is crap.

    In reality, it is a scorched wasteland, devastated by socialist redistribution schemes. San Francisco is a burned out ruin, and LA is worse. Apple and Google are really bankrupt. Unemployment is over 50%, and you risk your life every time you venture out onto the street. Property is more or less worthless. I would try and escape to a better life in a red state, but Obama’s goon squads shoot to kill if you approach the border to get out. That is when they are not busy handing illegal immigrants suitcases full of US Treasury cash…

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  60. stonetools says:

    I think two things are going to push us to faster acceptance of electric cars. One is that the effects of global warming are going to become so great that even rock ribbed denialists are going to have to accept it. Once the Arctic becomes ice free and portions of Louisiana and Florida begin disappearing beneath the waves, there will be a big push to move us away from burning gasoline. I can see Senator Bobby Jindal calling on the federal government to “do something” in 2030 and wondering why we didn’t push for fewer gasoline burning cars earlier.
    Another will be gasoline prices. We have managed to delay the “peak oil” scenario by becoming smarter about exploiting difficult to reach oil, but that is going to end and sooner rather than later. Once it does, gas prices are going to rise inexorably. There may be a tipping point around the $10 mark, and then Doug will be talking about the logic of the free market pushing consumers to electric cars.

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  61. michael reynolds says:

    @anjin-san:

    People do love to predict the end of California, don’t they? Looking over toward Belvedere I can’t help but notice that all the rich people have not fled the state as a result of Jerry Brown’s socialist tax increases.

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  62. anjin-san says:

    @ michael reynolds

    I had some crazy times back in the 80s tending bar @ Carlos O’Briens down at #5 Main. That reminds me, we still have to hit Sam’s for brunch one of these days.

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  63. anjin-san says:

    tax increases.

    I have a decent shot at hitting a higher tax bracket this year. For some crazy reason, I have not made plans to flee yet. I may make a contribution to Brown’s campaign though.

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  64. Tyrell says:

    @michael reynolds: I have been thinking about that for a while and have learned that many convenience stores are installing charging equipment. Think about smart phones, smart tvs, tablets, and other advances made just in the last five years. Why can’t the charge time and range problems be solved ?
    Put some NASCAR and Indy mechanics on it, and they will work it out in days.
    I have heard about a new racing division – for electrics.

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  65. Stonetools says:

    After a certain level of electric car ownership, I can see stores installing chargers in parking lots as a way of attracting customers, like wifi in coffee shops and bookstores.

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  66. anjin-san says:

    NASCAR

    The guys who just implemented fuel injection?

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  67. Matt says:

    @anjin-san: Yeah the same guys that even when restricted can go +200 Mph on a track with an “antiquated” carbureted v8 pushrod engine in a full body car based on a pedestrian model street car.

    Of course they weren’t using EFI for a long time because it’s easier to restrict power and such with restrictor plates. EFI just makes it easier for teams to cheat and I’m going to have to see how nascar is defending against that.

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  68. bill says:

    that’s a nice looking car up there, too bad the volt never actually got to look like it was supposed to- let alone perform like it. and just where does “electricity” come from anyway?…..it doesn’t grow on trees just yet.

    this looks like a good idea though;

    http://cleantechnica.com/2013/04/17/proteans-in-wheel-electric-motors-coming-to-market-in-2014/

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  69. anjin-san says:

    @ Matt

    I spent a few years working with NASCAR guys, there is certainly a lot of skill to go around, in the garages, in the pit, and on the track. That being said, if I am looking for badass technology and innovation, I am probably going to talk to the open wheel crew.

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  70. Matt says:

    @anjin-san: You snob…

    What you’re talking about has nothing to do with the people and everything to do with differences in the league rules.

    To answer Bill’s question I would suggest a multiprong approach. There’s no doubt that green technology is the future but some of that tech will need time and money to mature. For the short term I think that investment in new safe/effective reactor designs such as the LFTR would be a good idea. THat way we can meet our current and future electrical needs while decreasing pollution greatly AND burning what we now consider radioactive waste. I know nuclear isn’t popular with the liberals these days but I believe it’s better then coal (deaths/pollution/etc hell coal produces radioactive waste).

    The snob comment is a light hearted jab :P

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  71. Matt says:

    I agree with the earlier comment that the future probably involves charging stations surrounded by entertainment and food opportunities. I also expect some retailers to begin offering complimentary charging services while you shop. What is really needed for such things is a quicker method of charging. Of course quicker charging will require much higher levels of voltage/power to flow.

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  72. anjin-san says:

    @ Matt,

    I think I made it clear I have a lot of respect for what the NASCAR folks do, and I have had more inside access to them than the average racing fan. But, as you said, the nature of NASCAR means that they are probably less competitive than open wheel leagues/teams when it comes to innovative use of technology and staying on the cutting edge.

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  73. Tyrell says:

    @Matt: I think most of the problem is the batteries themselves. There needs to be something new there. The lithium batteries are sweeping the rechargeable tool, lights, toys, and everything. Maybe that could be an answer. But lithium isn’t found just anywhere and I don’t know if it can be recycled or what it’s lifetime is.

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  74. Matt says:

    @Tyrell Fortunately/unfortunately lithium prices are too low to make recycling batteries for lithium to be worth it. Right now when lithium batteries are recycled it’s to grab the cobalt and nickel.

    As you stated though sources for lithium are limited two a few geographic regions right now. I do know that some of the automotive makers are investing in attempts to find more lithium sources.

    @anjin-san:
    I’m sure there’s plenty of people in NASCAR behind the scenes that could talk your ear off about “badass technology and innovation”. Sure it’s a job for them but cars are usually a passion for them in general.

    If you really want to talk about badass technology and innovation then you should be talking to companies like McLaren Automotive. They are utilizing tech that’s banned in the open wheel world.

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  75. john personna says:

    Boy, you guys set that up for me. Some will look to NASCAR, some will look to open wheel racing, while I of course will look to:

    Formula E electric auto racing.

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  76. bill says:

    @anjin-san: but it’s hard to “trade paint” in f1 land!

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  77. Matt says:

    @john personna: That would definitely help the technology grow.

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  78. wr says:

    @Stonetools: “After a certain level of electric car ownership, I can see stores installing chargers in parking lots as a way of attracting customers, like wifi in coffee shops and bookstores.”

    There’s already one hipster-magnet upscale grocery/deli in downtown LA that has a parking lot in which half the spaces are charging stations…

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  79. john personna says:

    OK, time for some more fun bicycle math, this is rough back of the envelope stuff …

    The average American is 23 pounds overweight.

    It costs about 50 calories to cycle one mile.

    One pound of fat has 3500 calories.

    That means we on average have 23 * 3500 / 50 = 1610 miles of stored bicycling energy.

    Oh, and there are 226 million adults in America.

    Or nationally we have 364 billion(!) miles of stored energy.

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  80. Bonaire says:

    The story misquotes the EIA report – it should be 2% and not 1%. But it also shows the document was written some time ago and refers to 2012 sales rates which have already doubled into 2013 for USA plug-in sales.

    From the EIA document:

    “and plugin hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles at about 1% each, both up from negligible shares in 2012.”

    Did you catch the word “each”?

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