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Re: EV's

Good discussion; some good thoughts, Aaron Cake, but I must agree with and acknowledge the excellent arguments of Will M. You see, I look at things from the standpoint of one who loves the FREEDOM of taking VERY long trips, and having a near 1000 mile range, then refueling at some gas station in the middle of Nebraska at 2:30 a.m.!!

I would enjoy hearing the comments of Rick Reese, and Insightful Trekker on this subject.

I have long thought about this idea: I believe that you could actually get better highway mpg with the Insight by completely getting rid of the whole IMA system (saving about 95 lbs) and having the gas engine only. And especially if you did away with the 3 systems I wish the Insight did NOT have: anti-lock brakes, dual airbags, power steering. True, airbags are required by current law, but these 3 systems add both weight and cost.
My 1987 CRX HF was 110 lbs lighter than the Insight, but had nowhere near the aerodynamics. It burned only 18% more fuel at 55 mph than my Insight does.

The best way to REALLY get high mpg, I believe, would be to use the exact Insight body & chassis, except reduce the height (roofline) by 6 inches. (I calculate a 0.22 drag coefficient). Then install a lightweight Japanese 3 cylinder, 53 hp water cooled diesel (Kubota or Yanmar) and the highway mpg @ 60 mph would be about 118.

Producing a very "green", trendy, and politically correct new hybrid car for the 2000 millenium model year was the cool thing to do for Honda and Toyota, and it indeed was a "proof of concept car".

I, for one, am GLAD you don't plug these things in, and I think burning a little petrol is far better than adding to your electric power bill.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
No. The article you linked quoted a 96% reduction in HC's, 99% in CO, and 67% in NOx. It also quoted a 203% increase in SO2 (that's 3x as much) and a 122% increase in particulates (over 2x as much).
Ah, I admit that I wrote the original statement with figures that I only vaguely remembered hearing several years ago. But the point remains that electricity can be as green as you want it, or as dirty as you want it. We do not have the same choice with gasoline.

All of which are short range, low speed, usually operated within a very short distance of a charge point. And notice that many of them, like forklifts, are applications where battery weight is not a drawback - gas-powered forklifts often have hundreds of pounds of cast-iron weights bolted on
True. I was hoping nobody would notice. ;) However, look at the factory EVs. All have at least 80 miles of range, and are improving everytime the automakers are mandated into improving the technology. Ground-up designed EVs (unlike conversions) can be very efficient and long range. Of course, we have a chicken-egg problem. New batteries will offer long ranges (200M), but are fantastically expensive. The price will go down with mass production, but the auto makers won't mass produce because they don't want/think it's too expensive/think there's no demand/etc. Argh!

Hudrogen fuel cells suffer from the same kind of drawback that electric vehicles do: with current technology, there's no way to store the amount of energy needed without adding a lot of parasitic weight.
Quite true. But like anything else, throw a little R&D and some money at it, and we can solve these problems. The auto makers, however, are just not interested. That's what burns me.

Then there's the cost issue. The Insight battery pack costs a couple thousand, right? How many packs would be needed to drive a full-electric Insight for even 20 miles - 5, 10, 20, even more?[/quite]

Why would we be using Insight battery packs? Li-Ion is probably the best choice right now. Not sure the cost, but definitly cheaper then buying 5 Insight packs from Honda.

[quote:fwsp5sx1]
Good discussion; some good thoughts, Aaron Cake, but I must agree with and acknowledge the excellent arguments of Will M. You see, I look at things from the standpoint of one who loves the FREEDOM of taking VERY long trips, and having a near 1000 mile range, then refueling at some gas station in the middle of Nebraska at 2:30 a.m.!!
So do I. Grid-rechargable hybrids, however, compliment this. You have an EV around town, then a gas car for long trips. Or, keep a pure EV for short range, then take the hybrid on long trips. Lots of people have more then 1 car. In fact, many people around here have more then 2.

I have long thought about this idea: I believe that you could actually get better highway mpg with the Insight by completely getting rid of the whole IMA system (saving about 95 lbs) and having the gas engine only.
I sometimes wonder why Honda did not build a small engine, then turbocharge it.

I, for one, am GLAD you don't plug these things in, and I think burning a little petrol is far better than adding to your electric power bill.....
[/quote:fwsp5sx1]

Please look at an actual refuelling cost analasys before you make judgements like that. :) Last time I looked at the numbers, it cost about 2 cents on average to completely charge an "average" EV. Let's say that gets you 80 miles, and my Insight goes 800 miles between charges. I pay exactly $33 to fill it up from complete dead (drove into the gas station on IMA). EV seems quite a bit cheaper. This of course ignores maintenance such as oil changes, tuneups, battery replacement, etc.
 

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from the all-purpose vehicle to a multi-purpose vehicle

Aaron Cake said:
loves the FREEDOM of taking VERY long trips, and having a near 1000 mile range, then refueling at some gas station in the middle of Nebraska at 2:30 a.m.!!
So do I. Grid-rechargable hybrids, however, compliment this. You have an EV around town, then a gas car for long trips. Or, keep a pure EV for short range, then take the hybrid on long trips. Lots of people have more then 1 car. In fact, many people around here have more then 2.
Ok, I'll bite:

Here is where an old quote from Ferdinand Piech (then-CEO of Volkswagen) comes in:
"We need to get away from the all-purpose vehicle and toward a multi-purpose vehicle."

Why would you need the same car that drives your 50 mile commute every day to also do the 1000 mile trip once a year?
Your commuter (shopping/family/whatever regular use)-car could be much better optimized for that purpose, if it wasn't also designed to be capable of entirely different, rarely performed tasks.

The Piech idea means you have your car suited for what you use it 95% of the time (commuting for most of us). Then, if you need a long-distance vehicle, or a hauler, or a minivan, or whatever rig for a day or a week, you rent it. The economic and ecological savings in the regular car more than offsett the cost of renting that other car when you need it.

Of course, the cost part may be different in the US with the heavily subsidized gas.

So the hybrid is - and I have to disagree with both of you - not the answer, it's just a continuation of the old "all-purpose vehicle" idea. Aarons second suggestion (EV plus conventional car) is the answer! Since you would drive that conventional car for only 2000 miles a year (vs. say 15000 on the EV), it's mpg and emmissions are not critical. An Insight without IMA would probably do better for this job than one with IMA.

And yes, society is no where near ready to embrace a radical shift like this. Case in point: Zipcar.com For many tens of thousands of people in the Boston area alone this makes more economic sense than having their own cars, yet zipcar has only a few thousand members.
 

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To Bold or not to Bold

Andy - Thanks again. I'm happy with any changes you think are needed! 8)
 

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Excellent point, Armin...

Unfortunately, for years the point has been driven home that "next to your home, your auto is your biggest investment!" If you have the means, you buy the vehicle(s) you need. Most people feel they must have jack-of-all-trades vehicles, therefore they overspend on their transportation budget. I know a ton of people who own a car in Washington, DC, even though they could easily live without one: the Metro is faster, cheaper, and more useful, and if they need a vacation vehicle, they can rent one of their choosing... while saving $1,000s of dollars a year.

I shouldn't talk: we have several vehicles. I do not drive my 7-passenger Big *** Van when I have no clients or friends or other passengers to cart around. Once/twice a year when My Beloved and I get into the "road trip!" mode, and want to have room for luggage, smaller antiques, etc., this is what we normally drive. Other than that, it sits in my driveway.

I rent a pickup from Budget when I have to move something big from A to B. Don't need a pick-em-up 24/7.

I drive the Insight for my regular commute to-and-fro every chance I get. We have taken a long road trip or two in it, but it does limit our ability to bring stuff home (which is kind of the point for us).

Pretty weekends and parades, we put the top down on the New Beetle Convertible. Gotta have a toy, you know.

But I digress... why limit the Insight to ICE and/or IMA? Why not also add a body-shape solar panel on the roof? Minimal weight gain, no aerodynamic penalty to speak of, lots of free sunshine most of the time in most parts of the country... Honda could reduce the size of the IMA battery pack to make up for the slight extra weight... even allowing them to piggyback a smaller, redundant battery pack for the solar panel. Now you have a triple source of energy: ICE for a vast portion of a trip, battery power for the IMA from the batteries, AND the solar panel makes sure you don't run out of battery juice on long climbs, heavy acceleration, etc. ... ...

OK, I'll shut up now :wink:
 

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"The best way to REALLY get high mpg, I believe, would be to use the exact Insight body & chassis, except reduce the height (roofline) by 6 inches. (I calculate a 0.22 drag coefficient)..."

You may be mistaken :) Reducing the height just changes the flat plate area, while Cd depends purely on shape, so total drag is Cd * FPA, right? I for one would be happy with an Insight-shaped thing that was 6" or so narrower, too...

"...electricity can be as green as you want it, or as dirty as you want it. We do not have the same choice with gasoline."

But liquid-fueled cars don't have to run on gasoline. Conversion to e.g. ethanol/methanol is dead simple.

"New batteries will offer long ranges (200M), but are fantastically expensive. The price will go down with mass production, but the auto makers won't mass produce..."

Which is where hybrids fill in a gap. Hybrids need some batteries, but not nearly as many as full EVs, therefore they can use more efficient/expensive ones. Battery makers now have a market into which they can sell some new technology without having to invest lots of money in an "if we build them, they will sell" proposition. So maybe in 5 or 10 years, the cost of efficient batteries will come down to where we can afford EVs that use them.

"You have an EV around town, then a gas car for long trips. Or, keep a pure EV for short range, then take the hybrid on long trips. Lots of people have more then 1 car."

So do I: the Insight for most driving, and a pickup for hauling stuff. But now I'd need three :) As for renting... well, if you have the sort of mind that can plan such things in advance, and don't mind wasting time driving to the rental place, dealing with their hassles, etc, then go for it.
 
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I have a really cool idea.

Why dosen't a very large car manufacturer, say GM, build a family sized EV & lease it to people instead of selling!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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Right, Aaron...

The solar panel would charge a redundant battery pack (I thought I made that clear but maybe I didn't)... so the IMA could draw power from either pack... I also thought of using a big old mainspring, like on an old-timey Westclox clock, but the winding key sticking out of the top of the car would interfere with the aerodynamics :lol: ...
 

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The solar battery panel for the Insight is a good idea. :idea:

A modest solar panel will produce about 50 watts (4 Amps @13.6 volts) or roughly one fifteenth of a horsepower. It isn't much, but the panel could produce that for 5 hours in a southern climate and store it in a 40 amp hour battery. If the daily commute is one hour then the average power available for that hour is 250 watts (40 amps for 1 hour). One third of a horsepower still doesn't sound like much but consider this. To produce the 12 volts to run the lights, fan, computer, radio, digital dash, etc the engine first generates a regulated 144 volts, then uses a switching down-convertor to produce13.6 volts . The losses involved could run from 30 % to 50%. This means that it could require half a horsepower or more to replace this energy. Furthermore the Insight engine has a lean burn mode. The efficiency of the car goes up dramatically when the engine runs in this mode. If the extra battery removes half a horsepower of load off the engine, then the lean burn mode will be used more often and for longer periods. As a result of this the extra energy from the solar battery will have a more significant effect on mileage than the half horsepower suggests. 8)

I have noticed that running with the high beams and the ventilation fan on seems to decrease my mileage by about 6 or more MPG (a good summers day will see the average MPG in the 85 to 90 range and cooler night air may also factor in here). If someone has the time, knowledge, and accurate data to theoretically model this idea, it could prove whether the idea is worth pursuing. :roll:

The extra battery must not charge off the IMA system! Although a practical design should not be very complicated for a technician with a schematic of the car and some "Insight"; doing it properly would require a charge regulator for the solar panel, plus assorted blocking diodes, fuses, switches/relays, wire, etc.

Of course the idea could be tested by charging the extra battery of such a system before installing a solar panel. Such a system might prove advantageous anyway, (you have to plug it in) but the prospect of achieving increased mileage using solar energy is incredibly appealing. :)

Kip
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
But liquid-fueled cars don't have to run on gasoline. Conversion to e.g. ethanol/methanol is dead simple.
Now we have the same problem of gasoline. I'm not up on all my alternative fuels, but isn't "grain alcohol" (ethanol?) horribly inefficient? ie. Takes more energy to tend and harvest then it can produce.

I have a really cool idea.
Why dosen't a very large car manufacturer, say GM, build a family sized EV & lease it to people instead of selling!!!!!!!!!!!
This will never happen. GM built perhaps the best example of a factory EV that the world has seen, and is now crushing them all. It's a very long story. A Google search for "EV1" should turn most of it up.
 

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"...isn't "grain alcohol" (ethanol?) horribly inefficient? ie. Takes more energy to tend and harvest then it can produce."

Can't quote figures, but I can't possibly see how it could be. It takes what, a few passes 'round the field with a tractor, and a truck drive to the processing plant?

You have similar production costs with any form of energy. With gasoline, there's all the well drilling & pumping, building pipelines & oil tankers, running the refineries, and so on. For EVs, you have all the production costs tied up in batteries and the power grid.

The difference is that using ethanol &c requires only incremental change. There's no need to invest hundreds of billions in new infrastructure, or hope for technological breakthroughs in hydrogen storage or battery design. You can leverage most of the existing infrastructure, and maybe have something on-line that would at least meet minimal needs before the next time the Saudis decide to shut off the tap.
 

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"Last time I looked at the numbers, it cost about 2 cents on average to completely charge an "average" EV."

Been thinking about that, and I don't believe it can possibly be right. So while I'm twiddling my thumbs here, I'll do some back of the envelope calculations. This is just off the top of my head, so yell if you see mistakes :)

1 HP = 746 watts. I figured out that it takes about 17 hp to move the Insight at a constant 65 mph on level ground. So allowing for some acceleration & such, say it takes a bit over 20 hp, on average. That's 15 KW, so driving for an hour uses 15 KWhr of electricity. The local power company has some complicated rate tables, but I think my power bill works out to about $0.11 per KWhr, or about $1.65 to drive my hypothetical pure EV Insight for an hour.

On the gas side, I get a bit over 70 mpg, and drive about 70 mph, therefore it costs about $1.81 (today's prices) to drive my real Insight for the same time. Not a whole lot of difference there, especially if you add in the extra battery weight you'd have to have to get any range from the pure EV.

So with current prices, I don't see any major operating cost advantages either way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
There are many good EV cost comparisons around. 17HP is way too much to be moving a car around....You probably want to calculate for around 5HP or so. Roughly 300W/Hr per mile is a good guess.

If we really want to get crazy, we look at all the other associated costs (batteries, tune ups for an ICE, oil cost, etc.) and find that currently, EVs are on par with ICEs for cost (on average). However, electricity can come from any (free) source, a choice that we don't have with other sources of fuel.
 

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[/quote]Now we have the same problem of gasoline. I'm not up on all my alternative fuels, but isn't "grain alcohol" (ethanol?) horribly inefficient? ie. Takes more energy to tend and harvest then it can produce.



In fact, ethanol is one of most energy efficient liquid fuels available. It has a positive energy balance of 125%, whereas gasoline rates at only 85%. In other words, for every btu of energy used to produce fuel, you get more btu's from the ethanol than the gasoline.

Ethanol has less btu content per gallon vs. gasoline, so in effect gives less mileage per gallon. However, ethanol has a much better octane rating of 109 vs. 90-100 for gasoline, so engines can be easily tuned to run on ethanol (higher compression ratios and advanced timing), partially making up for the difference in btu content.

Ethanol is less volatile than gasoline (thus safer in an accident or spill), but the same volatility charateristic can cause an engine to be a little harder to start in extremely cold weather. Once again, higher compression ratios and advanced timing can overcome the difference.

Years ago Henry Ford was enough of a visionary to suggest running ethanol in the Model T, and again with the Model A. Mr. Ford prefered using renewable energy products whenever possible. At that time the Standard Oil Trust fought Mr. Ford by lobbying congress, and a similar "battle" seems to go on even to this day.

Ethanol runs very well in an internal combustion engine and has no real "down side" in regard to engine life, engine maintenance, etc. However, ethanol should never be confused with methanol (wood alcohol) which does have some slight detrimental side effects on engine life.

I post this information because often alternative fuels, including solar photovoltaic energy, are often "accused" of consuming more energy to produce than they are capable of producing. This certainly isn't the case with ethanol, nor is it the case with solar photovoltaics.
 

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"17HP is way too much to be moving a car around..."

You think so? What's your reasoning? That number is what I calculated for my Insight - I posted the calcs on another thread somewhere around here. Anyway, there's a mountain road near here that I drive frequently, four-lane, near-constant slope, and gentle enough curves that I can descend without braking. Once the battery reaches full charge, I'm coasting at 65-70 mph. With fuel cutoff, I should be burning no gas, but have the same engine & drivetrain friction as I would at that speed on the level. So I know the weight of the Insight, distance, and elevation change; from that I calculated horsepower consumed, and got about 17 hp.

"Ethanol is less volatile than gasoline..."

And it's bio-degradable, so you can save weight on evaporative emissions controls. And if you do get a spill, all you get are a bunch of hungover fish :)
 

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17hp is probably closer to what it takes to move a small truck at high way speeds. My high school had an EV team and one of our cars was a Pontiac Fiero. This was a good conversion because it's wedge shape was relatively aerodynamic and it had one of the lower power requirements to maintain speed. If I recall it was something like 6 or 7 hp to maintain 55mph in stock form. If anything the Insight should be lower than this because it's more aerodynamic and probably lighter than a Fiero was.
 

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Meanwhile, 55mph is slower than most people are willing to have as their top speed, and you need horsepower to accellerate up to that speed. It's nice to have all these discussions, but the basic truth is, if EVs were just a matter of getting the math right, it would be done by now, since quite a few rather intelligent people have been working on the problem and you don't see a lot of EVs running around, and there's more to it than most conspiracy theorists would like to think. It's not just because big corporations don't like the idea. It's because the idea isn't working. Looks great on paper. Looks worse on the road.

As for alternate fuels, the issue being ignored here is the raw calories it takes to push that much metal that fast over that many miles for that many people. The Sun does not provide us with enough ergs in any way that we can capture it in a corn field or a solar collector or whatever to then expend as much energy as we spend pushing vehicles down the road. Petrolium offers us an enormous amount of energy, which we are wasting very casually.

Unfortunately, the supply is not infinite, and just like engineers weren't quite able to make the nuclear power thing work out as clean, safe and limitless as they thought, likely they won't come up with any OTHER way for us to perpetually avoid the simple need to throttle back on our consumption.

We need to adapt to using less energy before we suddenly are forced to use a LOT less energy. Making a car go up to 70mpg is one effective way to do that. Getting more people driving more efficient cars is another.

Replacing all the gas cars with methonol cars that waste fuel as much as the gas cars waste fuel won't do it. Replacing all the gas cars with EVs won't do it. Diversifying the fuel sources is a good thing, but the bulk of it needs to be petrolium simply because there isn't enough energy in any other portable, effectively refinable and distributable form.

We need to stop generating electricity with petrolium products and use what is left of them for more exclusively functional energy (things you can't do well with anything else), improve burn more coal in cleaner technologies like fluidized beds and improve scrubber technologies for the burning of coal to produce electricity and commercial heat (fluidized beds can only be effective within certain size and continuity of use parameters).

Basically, we need to back up and figure out what forms of energy are effective at which tasks, and rethink how to make the most use of what we've got with the least impact on the environment. How can we sustainably grow, store and distribute food, how can we sustainably transport people, heat homes, provide water (hot and cold) and generally manage power with less waste and chaos than our current misuse of our resources.

The future (if they survive) will look back on us as we look at crowded Medieval cities with sewage thrown from buckets in upper windows into gutters by the side of the road. They will wonder how we made it this far, having such a reckless and crude approach to energy resources.
 

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I just have to add something everyone here seems to be ignoring. If the problem is to reduce fossil fuel use and decrease pollution (includeing C02), the only solutions people are putting forward are to increase MPG and/or non-fossil fueled vehicle.

That's ignoring half the picture, eveyone seems to be forgetting that gas used = MPG * miles driven. Drive less and you will use less gas. We also need to get people to drive less.

Everyone here loves to brag about what great gas milage they are getting, but who here is bragging abouit how few miles they drive and how little gas they are actually using evey year.

Everyone ignores this because it's not something that can be fixed with tech. It requires a change in lifestyle and infrastructure. Our lifestyle is increasingly pushing us to drive more and more. Infrastructure is being built that requires us to drive further and more often. Almost everyone's dreamhouse located miles in the country, miles away from everything, miles from your job, schools, stores, etc. Which means you'll be driving all those extra miles for everything, wasting gas and polluting the air. (How dare I say that your dream is bad!)


Finally, my take on EV is that we could have 10% of the vehicles be EVs that charge during off hours without increasing this countrys generating capabilities. I'm sick of people slaming EVs with statements like "If you replaced all the cars with EVs, (put some horrible thing here).."
 

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As far as driving less, it will be harder to do in America because the general store is a thing of the past.

It used to be there were a lot of mom-and-pop stores very close to you, maybe within walking distance. Warehouse-sized stores like Walmart have put an end to many of these with their economies of scale. I read an article that Europe still has a lot of small store within walking distance. It's ironic that the concept of the warehouse-size store was first tried in France.
 
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