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GM, Utilities Partner To Advance Plug-In Hybrids

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the quart-of-oil-and-ten-kilowatts-please dept.

Transportation 582

chareverie writes "General Motors is forming a team with utility companies nationwide to create a charging infrastructure for electric cars. Their goal is to improve the design of charging stations — making them weatherproof and child-proof, for example — in locations such as public garages, meters, and parking lots. They're also working on ways to avoid overwhelming the utilities during peak hours. Their goal is to have these improved charging stations implemented by 2010, when the Chevy Volt is introduced. Everyone recognizes however that a national car-charging infrastructure would be far from complete at that time."

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582 comments

Batman (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24293275)

Asia Ferguson waited. The lights above him blinked and sparked out of the air. There were coasters in the park. He didn't see them, but had expected them now for years. His warnings to Dad were not listenend to and now it was too late. Far too late for now, anyway.
Asia was a hat wearing nigga for fourteen years. When he was young he watched the coasters and he said to dad "I want to be on the coasters daddy."
Dad said "No! You will BE KILL BY COASTERS"
There was a time when he believed him. Then as he got oldered he stopped. But now in the park at the base of the coaster he knew there were coasters.
"This is DAD" the radio crackered. "You must fight the coasters!"
So Asia gotted his hat and climbed up the wall.
"HE GOING TO KILL US" said the coasters
"I will shoot at him" said the coaster and he fired the a line of cars. Asia nigged at him and tried to blew him up. But then the ceiling fell and they were trapped and not able to kill.
"No! I must kill the coasters" he shouted
The radio said "No, Asia. You are batman"
And then Asia was dead.

With GMs luck. (5, Funny)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293311)

The volt will come out just in time for Oil to hit $45 a barrel.

Re:With GMs luck. (3, Interesting)

gormanw (1321203) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293373)

No kidding, with GM's luck. Things might work better if they used ultra capacitors. Even better, use hydraulic hybrids instead of these expensive batteries that are a bear to recycle. One last point, won't charging a bunch of cars require all of the coal plants to go into overdrive? I read a great article about this at http://www.economicefficiency.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Re:With GMs luck. (5, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293777)

Even better, use hydraulic hybrids instead of these expensive batteries that are a bear to recycle.

I thought that GM tried and gave up on hydraulic hybrids?

One last point, won't charging a bunch of cars require all of the coal plants to go into overdrive?

Yes, but coal doesn't come from the Middle East, is a more efficient way to produce energy than burning gas in an internal combustion engine, is centralized and easier to scrub the emissions, and can be replaced by a different source in the future.

Re:With GMs luck. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24293829)

For your last point, my understanding is that you need to think about it in terms of point-source pollution. It's easier to mitigate 1000 pounds of pollution from one source than it is to mitigate 1 pound of pollution from 1000 sources.

Re:With GMs luck. (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293845)

They are going to use LI/ION so they are not a bear to recycle.
Most of the charging hopefully will be done at nite and not at peak. A lot power is wasted while base load plants are just idling.

Finally even if they are using coal there should still be a savings. Modern coal plants pollute less than a car per unit of energy.
Of course if you are on a nuke or hydro then you are even better off.

That being said I am not a big fan of hybrids but they are not as bad as you might think.

Re:With GMs luck. (4, Insightful)

mweather (1089505) | more than 5 years ago | (#24294071)

A bear to recycle? Compared to what? Surely not more of a bear than collecting and recycling everything a gasoline engine spits out over it's lifetime.

Re:With GMs luck. (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293379)

If the Volt is everything it is rumored to be, I would buy it even if gas were back down at 50 cents a gallon. The reasons are simple: not only is it better for the environment, but it requires far less (maybe even none depending on how you drive) of a non-renewable resource like oil. So long as oil remains a non-renewable resource, any dips in price will be strictly temporary.

I would hope that at least some of us have learned our lesson from this most recent fuel crisis: oil is simply not a sustainable way to get our energy over the long term.

Re:With GMs luck. (5, Interesting)

Baddas (243852) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293629)

... The reasons are simple: not only is it better for the environment, but it requires far less (maybe even none depending on how you drive) of a non-renewable resource like oil.

Neither of those is a decent reason in the face of hydrocarbon alternatives. Here's a good reason even with them:

Electric cars are simpler and more reliable than internal combustion cars, and will cost less for the same utility.

Re:With GMs luck. (0)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293673)

"but it requires far less (maybe even none depending on how you drive) of a non-renewable resource like oil"

Except when you plug it in. That electricity is most likely coming from a coal plant.

Re:With GMs luck. (4, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293725)

Sure, which is why we need to invest in renewable alternatives for large-scale power production. Getting the non-renewable fuels out of our cars is one step in the process, getting them out of our power plants is another step. Just because we haven't perfected the second step yet doesn't mean we should not be trying to solve the first step.

The Volt, as advertised, is a big step in the right direction. It is not the whole solution, but it's at least getting us on our way to part of the solution, which is better than what we've got so far.

Re:With GMs luck. (4, Insightful)

Jonny_eh (765306) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293727)

If you live in the US. In Quebec, almost all power is hydro. Ontario is a mix of nuclear, hydro, and coal. Many places in the US also use nuclear. France is almost completely nuclear. While nuclear is not 'renewable' it's at least not pumping out CO2 and smog.

Re:With GMs luck. (0, Flamebait)

PRMan (959735) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293923)

While nuclear is not 'renewable' it's at least not pumping out CO2 and smog.

No, just weapons-grade spent uranium. That's all...

Re:With GMs luck. (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293951)

No, just weapons-grade spent uranium. That's all...

Not unless you reprocess it. Good luck making a bomb using an old fuel rod.

Re:With GMs luck. (1, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293793)

And that will continue to be true until there is some massive advance in the viability of wind or solar, or people stop voting against nuclear power.

I wouldn't hold your breath for either of those two things occurring. Progress in wind technology has likely been near exhausted and progress in solar is promising, yet slow. People have irrational fears of nuclear based on obsolete knowledge of the risks, and a lack of knowledge about how truly awful coal power is.

So we'll keep burning coal, and we'll only see clear skies for the few days after a rare New York City blackout.

Re:With GMs luck. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24294031)

Where I live in Saskatchewan, you can buy 100kWh blocks of 'green power', which come from wind generators (and if you've ever been to Saskatchewan, you know we have lots of wind!). This is a great thing for individuals, because I pay an extra $15 per month, and power my entire apartment off of wind. I find $15 a reasonable rate.

I recognize that wind power is not a stable base-line power that we can rely on: what happens when there isn't a windy day? We currently need to fall back on the coal plant to provide the base-line power.

My car is currently sitting in the parking lot at work. When I go home, I will drive it for 15 minutes, then it will sit all night in my parking spot until tomorrow. Suppose my car were electric, and able to feed the grid? During peak wind times, my car would fill up with energy. During quiet times, my car could feed the grid and help the power company get through the quiet spell. So long as the car has some sort of internal control that stops feeding the grid when the car gets down to 85% charged (i.e. I just gave the grid 15% of the electricity from my car), I would have no problem with this.

Re:With GMs luck. (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293703)

If the Volt is everything it is rumored to be, I would buy it even if gas were back down at 50 cents a gallon.

I didn't RTFA (of course - RTFAing automatically bars you from posting 'cuz it would ruin everyone's fun with information), but I did catch the 45-second clip at lunch on CNN.

Apparently, a full charge is projected to cost ~$0.80 and will take you ~40 miles. $0.02/mile is tempting, but for a lot of people the 40 mile limit will be kind of a barrier. $0.50/gallon gas only barely edges out.

...not only is it better for the environment...

Are you sure? Making batteries isn't real enviro-friendly. And overall, we're still pretty messy with producing electricity (probably not as messy as refining/transporting/burning gas, but it's still a point to consider). I haven't seen numbers on batteries v gas and don't know who wins the enviro-game, but neither option is very friendly. Not that I have a better solution unless you're able to live close to everywhere you need to go or have some good public transport in your area...

Re:With GMs luck. (4, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293995)

Making batteries isn't real enviro-friendly.

Cars are some of the most completely-recycled things on the planet. I have no doubt that the batteries will be recycled as a matter of course when electric cars become more common. Lead-acid batteries are already recycled.

Besides, we currently send hundreds of billions of dollars to places like Saudi Arabia... surely that factors into our energy policy?

Re:With GMs luck. (4, Insightful)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293979)

I would hope that at least some of us have learned our lesson from this most recent fuel crisis: oil is simply not a sustainable way to get our energy over the long term.

The only thing I've learned is that the price of oil has NOTHING to do with the actual supply or sustainability as a natural resource and is artificially set by non-sequitur geo-political issues. Unless you assume that there has been less oil pumped over the past year than previous years, or that we consume more oil than can be pumped (hint: both of these assumptions are false).

The other thing I've learned is that "crisis" is hyperbole. In the US, we've enjoyed cheaper-than-should-be fuel for decades. People still drive to work and still drive to the store, regardless if gas costs $4/gallon or $2.

Re:With GMs luck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24294023)

tell me about these Nickel Cadmium batteries that GM is planning to use. How green is the production and recycling of the batteries? What toxic byproducts are produced? My laptop battery gets hot when it is charged and discharged. Thats wasted energy. What is the efficiency of the charge/discharge cycle? My laptop battery goes dead if it sets for a couple of weeks. What about that chevy volt in the parking lot? If I get stuck in a traffic jam on the highway, for how many hours can I run the heat or A/C before the batteries go dead?

Call me skeptical, but electrics have been on the verge of replacing the IC engine for a century.

Re:With GMs luck. (0)

magarity (164372) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293411)

Whatever oil costs, oil will be fueling the Volt. Where is all this electricity coming from? T Boone's wind farm won't be online to power it. Oil burning power plants, that's where. Plug in cars just shift the oil consumption to a different route. Where's the plan for nuclear reactors to power all these cars?

Re:With GMs luck. (4, Insightful)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293487)

I don't know where you live, but where _I_ live, most power is either coal, hydro, or nuclear.

I checked the US as well, oil was the source of only 3% of the nation's power in 2005.

http://www.teachengineering.com/collection/cub_/lessons/cub_images/cub_earth_lesson08_figure5.jpg [teachengineering.com]

Re:With GMs luck. (1)

cnelzie (451984) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293661)

I don't know where you live, but where _I_ live, most power is either coal, hydro, or nuclear.

I checked the US as well, oil was the source of only 3% of the nation's power in 2005.

http://www.teachengineering.com/collection/cub_/lessons/cub_images/cub_earth_lesson08_figure5.jpg [teachengineering.com]

Last time I checked...

    Coal, Nuclear material and components to repair/build and upkeep those plants all arrive via... Oil Driven machinery.

    Oil is still a factor, whether we like it or not.

Re:With GMs luck. (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293881)

The amount of oil used to transport nuclear materials, were we to go all nuclear, would be irrelevant relative to our current consumption.

Of course, switching to electric cars isn't going to help all that much either, since we don't use as much oil for cars as people think we do. (When they cite the transportation figure, that includes trucking, maritime shipping, and air travel, which consume more than half of that transportation oil). We'd be better off in terms of overall investment to switch our heating systems to use electricity, than we would to switch our cars to electricity. There would be no need for inefficient, hazardous, toxic power storage devices in that case.

That does assume, though, that we switch to some form of clean electricity generation.

Re:With GMs luck. (3, Insightful)

droopycom (470921) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293885)

Maybe after the electric cars are working, we'll see electric trucks, electric trains, electric machinery...

We just need the oil to bootstrap the whole thing.

Oil might go the way of the punch card...

Re:With GMs luck. (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 5 years ago | (#24294053)

...electric trains...

They already exist. They are used for short-haul and yard movements. They don't have the capacity for long-haul, though.

The current crop of long-haul diesel-electrics emit far less pollution than the average car. It's diesel motor is solely used for making electricity, so they are very efficient at that task. And once they are moving, its like a ship in space, no energy needed to keep moving if their if even a 1% grade.

Re:With GMs luck. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293929)

Oil is still a factor, whether we like it or not.

Somehow I doubt that the oil used to move coal/nuclear around in any way approaches that burned by 233 million passenger cars.

All you need for proof is that operating costs for an electric car are a fraction of a gasoline car. It costs pennies per "gallon", so to speak. Even if 100% of that cost came from the oil to transport and it costs 1 or 2 cents per mile vs. $0.08 for an equivalent gasoline car (assuming 50MPG and $4 gas), that's still 4 to 8 times less petroleum. And those numbers are absurdly conservative.

Re:With GMs luck. (1)

Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- (624050) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293523)

I don't know where you live, but where I am coal and fission power supply electricity, with a little hydro and wind sprinkled in for good measure.

Re:With GMs luck. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24293971)

I don't know where YOU live, but where I am we get by on our sense of well being.

We recently discovered laughter generates far more power than anything we previously tried.

Re:With GMs luck. (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293557)

A small percentage of grid electricity comes from oil-burning plants, sure. Coal-burning plants are far more common, though; so if you're going to single out one "fuel" used by electric cars, it should be coal rather than oil.

Re:With GMs luck. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24293577)

50% comes from coal, 20% from nuke, 20% from natural gas, 7% hydro, renewable 2.4%, and oil/petro is way down there at 1.6%.

Please get your facts straight before opening your mouth.

Re:With GMs luck. (2, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293637)

Oil is not at all important for power generation. It's useful for cars, because today's cars require a *mobile* power source. It's a poor choice for power generation, and the few power stations that use it were presumably built during the $14 a barrel days.

The infrastructure that GM is pushing for *is* important. We can't seriously change over to electric cars without a 20-year infrastructure build out (and pipedreams aside, 20 years is fast for any kind of infrastructure change). It's about time we got started on that.

Even when oil gets cheap again, nuclear is cheaper, and solar cheaper still. IMO we'll never "run out" of oil precisely because we're going to switch to something better. Though electric car batteries have a ways to go to be practical, even from an environmental perspective, the money to be made from solving that engineering problem is very large indeed.

Re:With GMs luck. (0, Redundant)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293685)

T Boone's wind farm won't be online to power it.

T Boone wants the wind farm to offset using natural gas for power generation. The natural gas would then be used to power vehicles.
That actually make a fair bit of sense as we do have lots of natural gas produced in the US, and would be easier to retrofit vehicles and home to refuel them.

Re:With GMs luck. (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293631)

we'd have to blow China off the map for that to happen. I think more realistically people are just going to buy $1000 solar rigs that can recharge their car for free instead of driving to the nearest station 100 miles away like this article says.

What Charging Infrastructure? (1, Redundant)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293357)

Do they mean wall outlets?

Time to put the tin foil hat on...

Anytime I hear an (fossil burning) auto manufacturer claiming this or that about anything electric I feel like I'm listening to my friend talk about quitting smoking.

"Oh, I'm on ultra-light cigarettes now..."

"Oh, well, we don't have electric cars feasible yet, but we still need to work on the charging infrastructure and stuff anyhow, so..."

The whole hybrid car deal is just red herring, or distraction at best.

I think hybrids are a way for the big players to maintain their hold the industry away from new competition whilst they economically migrate slowly away from petrol manufacturing equipment to electric manufacturing.

I think this tin foil hat isn't working...

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (2, Insightful)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293457)

Hybrid cars are economically viable and relatively practical.

Electric cars? Not so much.

You don't need a conspiracy theory to explain the lack of electric cars on the market. People don't want them. Very, very few people will pay new-car prices for a car that will go 150 miles then require a 3-hour recharge.

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (3, Insightful)

MoOsEb0y (2177) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293513)

Very, very few people will pay new-car prices for a car that will go 150 miles then require a 3-hour recharge.

Yeah, because my friends and I all drive more than 150 miles every day.

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (4, Insightful)

pluther (647209) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293587)

Very, very few people will pay new-car prices for a car that will go 150 miles then require a 3-hour recharge.

Yeah, because my friends and I all drive more than 150 miles every day.

Right. And all those people had to have SUVs because of all the off-roading they do.

What people need doesn't enter into it.

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (3, Insightful)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293763)

You don't need to drive 150 miles every day to need a car that has more than a 150 mile range. Just two days ago I drove 350 miles in one day while driving back from Canada.

I'd sure as heck rather own a car that has the capability of taking me where I want to go than own a car that can take me some places but be useless for other trips.

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293991)

I'm very interested in the Volt. I'm married, and soon to have kids. My wife is going to be getting a smaller, economical SUV or crossover vehicle. (she doesn't drive much) I would love the Volt, or something small, and pluggable. I'm looking at a 25mile commute each way to work. For weekend trips, or vacations, whatever, take the wife's roomier car..

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (4, Insightful)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293867)

I don't drive 150 most days, but I DO drive 150+ miles SOME days. And since I can't afford two cars, my one car needs to be able to go as far as I need to go, including vacation trips.

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (5, Informative)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293649)

Very, very few people will pay new-car prices for a car that will go 150 miles then require a 3-hour recharge...

Back in the late 20th century the EV1 [wikipedia.org] had a waiting list.

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (2, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#24294067)

Back in the late 20th century the EV1 [wikipedia.org] had a waiting list.

Well, it was subsidized... and they didn't make very many.

I was lucky enough to drive one. Pretty darn cool, but the little skinny wheels they put on it were too narrow. On the other hand, you could get them spinning at just about any speed :)

The appeal of an expensive 2-seater was pretty limited, I think. If they charged full price and tried to make more than a handful I think the waiting list would have vanished :)

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (2, Insightful)

Darktyco (621568) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293749)

People don't want them? I'm so glad you are here to speak for the rest of us people.

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (4, Informative)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293947)

OK, first, the Volt is larger than the Prius, faster, has better acceleration, and will only cost a couple grand more, easily saved on the back end with infinite MPG on trips shorter than 60 miles, and at 60-80MPG when running on the engine. Electric costs are increasing, but at a fraction of the rate of oil, and electric power is renewable (or at least, the renewable portion is increasing, and can eventually be 100% of energy used).

The lack of electric cars on the market? mostly, we've been waiting for slightly better CPUs to run the car on, and improved energy to weight ratios in the batteries. Li-Ion by itself could have done this, if it wasn't for the potential of catistrofic cell collape (aka, battery explodes). Li-Polymer, and Li-Tit batteries just recently developed do not have this problem, and additional safteys with on-battery chip technology further improve saftey.

Also, 2-3 hours is no longer an issue. Li-Tit batteries charge to 80% in 3 minutes, 100% in less than 10. A simple 3 phase 400 amp connection is required (available at almost any auto shop). Don't believe the hype about how much the cable weights for these either, look at the cable on an electric welder; same cable...

Sure, at home, 3-4 hours will be the norm, 8-10 on 110 volt outlets. Of course, saince the car will have a gas backup, and can go 360 miles on 10 gallons of gas AFTER the battery dies, who cares? On a side note, if you popped for the upgrade to rapid charge at home, hooking up a 220 volt 100 AMP cable, you can actually run your HOUSE off of your CAR in the event of a power failure, without needing a generator, for 3-5 hours, or just your fridge and AC for about a day.

People DO want them. Patents, mostly, and a few technical hurdles were standing in the way. I WILL pay 30K for a car that gets the USD converted electrical equivolent of 150MPG average for my driving habits and takes 3 minutes to recharge.

DO RESEARCH BEFORE SPREADING FUD NEXT TIME!

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293983)

It seems to me that hybrid cars aren't economically viable compared to lower-powered higher efficiency plain-old internal combustion cars when you're basing viability on a simple cost-benefit analysis.

They're selling because they're trendy, and stupid people who don't do math feel good about themselves for buying one.

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293465)

Do they mean wall outlets?

They mean being able to plug in your Volt while you're at work so that you can not only get to work without burning gas, but you can get home, too.

"Oh, I'm on ultra-light cigarettes now..."

Light cigarettes have more chemicals added to them to increase flavor. On the other hand, you can buy additive-free tobacco, in which case it's only the nicotine that's bad for you. Nicotine is itself carcinogenic and it also paralyzes your lung cilia for half an hour after just one puff from a tobacco cigarette.

Anyway...

"Oh, well, we don't have electric cars feasible yet, but we still need to work on the charging infrastructure and stuff anyhow, so..."

THAT is SPOT ON. It's just some handwaving.

I think hybrids are a way for the big players to maintain their hold the industry away from new competition whilst they economically migrate slowly away from petrol manufacturing equipment to electric manufacturing.

Plug-in series hybrids are actually a great idea. Battery technology simply ISN'T going to give you the range of a car with liquid fuel. Fuel cells are at least five to ten years away from being reasonable and there is no hydrogen refueling infrastructure anyway (a real issue!)

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293927)

Do they mean wall outlets?

They mean being able to plug in your Volt while you're at work so that you can not only get to work without burning gas, but you can get home, too.

You don't NEED to plug your Volt in at work. It'll run on gasoline when the battery runs out. Hence the term 'plug-in hybrid'.

Nicotine is itself carcinogenic

Nicotine by iteself is not a carcinogenic [wikipedia.org].

The only thing that has been shown to have carcinogenic properties is cigarette smoke.

Fuel cells are at least five to ten years away from being reasonable and there is no hydrogen refueling infrastructure anyway (a real issue!)

Not entirely true. Toyota developed a hydrogen refueling infrastructure about 2-3 years ago, it's just not been deployed widely deployed.

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#24294059)

They mean being able to plug in your Volt while you're at work so that you can not only get to work without burning gas, but you can get home, too.

My work won't even pay for our coffee filters, so I doubt they'd let us plug our cars into their outlets while we're at work.

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (2, Interesting)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 5 years ago | (#24294083)

Fuel cells will never be reasonable. Even best case estimates at this point put fuel cell costs at 100K per vehicle, once the government subsidies fall away, without a MASSIVE leap in nanotechnology. Besides, H2 is NOT a viable option. (either too dangerous (liquid H2 fill ups) or too heavy, bulky, and expensive for on-demand fuel. (you know that BIG SUV they run around on H2? It's a 2 SEATER! ...and NO, we can't make it much smaller... not for decades even with the best estimates.)

The future is in windfuels (www.dotyenergy.com).

Electric cars ARE viable, now, today. It's just a matter of vamping up production. The power grid? We can EASILY keep up with car demand added to the grid, since the average new car lasts 17 years on the road, and it will be 10 years before even a large percentage of new cars are electric (we've got 30-40 years to grow the grid, which is the same timeframe they ALREADY PROPOSED for the wind/water/solar/geothermal superconducting grid overhal, the first part of which came online in Long Island, NY in April this year.)

The Volt hybrid, on 14 galons of gas, goes 600 miles. Without gas, 60 miles. The average american drives 70 miles per day. At 60-80MPG, that means the AVERAGE person will get more than a MONTH on a fill up, assuming they charge at home nightly. If they also charge at work or on the run, it's possible we'll be talking about the gas SPOILING before you can use it all. (and charging on the run costs less, and is only a 3-5 minute inconvenience).

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (1)

techiemikey (1126169) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293503)

Ignoring the tinfoil hats, I think having a slow adjustment from petrol to "alternative fuel" is the only way that switching fuel sources would work. Ignoring how big oil wants us to keep getting oil from them, there would be a period of many years where there are cars running on petrol and alternative sources on the road, and as such, both need to be catered towards. Pulling support to gas would just cripple everyone who couldn't afford a new car at the moment.

Re:What Charging Infrastructure? (1)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293665)

I imagine they'll have to do something to beef up our current electrical infrastructure. They're always going on about brown outs during heat waves when everybody's running their air conditioners non stop. They're gonna have to do something preemptive if people are charging their cars all the time. I mean what'll happen to gas stations? It's gonna be a long time before we see recharge times take as little time as it does to fill a tank with gasoline, so they'll probably have to have a lot more outlets everywhere for people to plug into. Like you'd get into work and plug in your car and by the time you were ready to go home your car would be charged.

First (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24293369)

Anyone else find it comforting to know the technology we needed a decade ago is not even in the Alpha stages yet?

I hope they go through with this. I also hope the US will get some outlets in parking lots and etc and open a few nuclear plants.

Of course there going to use stuff that can be used to track you to make you pay for all of it but one hurdle at a time.

We need this now. So that when we overthrow the oppressors none of us will be able to drive when they cut the power....

Home outlet? (3, Informative)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293381)

I believe we are approaching the era of the "commuter car". Things like this:

http://www.greenvehicles.com/specs/triac.html [greenvehicles.com]

80 MPH, 100 mile range. This will suit the majority of people's daily driving needs. We'll all still have our gas-burning minivan or SUV for weekend trips to granny's or the lake or whatever, but most of the time we'll be driving our electric covered motorcycle to work and back.

All you need for this is an electrical outlet at home.

Re:Home outlet? (2, Interesting)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293627)

The problem with those is they need a lot more development to become reality. They are so small they need excellent front, rear, and side impact protection; likely far exceeding anything in current production vehicles. The fact of the matter is, SUVs, trucks, and semis are still on the road. The problem with these vehicles is most are nothing but glorified go carts whereby one becomes a future organ donor the second they accept their key. Let's face it, most of the current generation electric cars are able to get by using tiny electric motors because they give up lots of weight which is currently preserved in ICE-powered vehicles. Often, once you add safety parity, your acceleration and range become significantly reduced - not to mention, cost tends to go through the roof.

Re:Home outlet? (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293707)

That'd be a great vehicle for the winter.

Winter, you know that "weather" thing with the white stuff and the smooth slippery stuff and all the cold?

I'm surprised someone hasn't released "The Seasons" in IMax for the urbanites.

About half of the year around here you don't want to do any sort of driving without a full tank. Even if it's just 10 miles. A little short range vehicle like that would not be practical at all. I can't really imagine a one-wheel-in-the-back covered trike doing anything other than getting stuck with any amount of snow.

Re:Home outlet? (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293723)

150-200mi range would be considerably more useful.

100mi is probably adequate, but certainly strikes me as "risky."

Re:Home outlet? (5, Informative)

jfruhlinger (470035) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293899)

All you need for this is an electrical outlet at home.

This to me is one of the biggest obstacles to our plug-in future. Those of you who live in the 'burbs where everybody has their own two-car garage may be shocked to hear this, but millions of us live in urban areas where we park our cars on the street, can't be gauranteed to find a spot in front of our houses, and wouldn't be able to run an extension cord across the sidewalk even if we could.

Remember Kids: (4, Insightful)

flitty (981864) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293387)

You'll need a GM Certified "Super VOLT-adapter" for just $499.99 for any non-VOLT electric car to use this grid. (Licensing and Taxes may apply, adapter not sold in California or Alaska).

someone didt get the memo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24293389)

Didn't they check with the president? The real solution to energy prices is to drill for more gas!

Would a plugin hybrid actually save money? (1, Informative)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293399)

A gallon of gas contains approx. 1.3 x 10^8 joules of energy, and there are 3.6 x 10^6 joules in a kilowatt hour. At $0.10 per kilowatt hour, that is equivalent to $3.61 worth of electricity to replace a gallon of gas. Which isn't a whole lot cheaper than current gas prices.

Of course, this leaves out difference in conversion efficiency of gas v.s. electricity.

Re:Would a plugin hybrid actually save money? (4, Informative)

The Iconoclast (24795) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293483)

Yes, but 90% of the energy from gasoline ends up as heat, not in moving the car. Electric motors have much higher efficiencies.

Re:Would a plugin hybrid actually save money? (3, Insightful)

Retric (704075) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293791)

Close a hybrid is around 25% efficient so at $.10/kwh it's closer to $0.90 or at 8c/kwh it's 72c.

Re:Would a plugin hybrid actually save money? (2, Insightful)

cnettel (836611) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293551)

A gallon of gas contains approx. 1.3 x 10^8 joules of energy, and there are 3.6 x 10^6 joules in a kilowatt hour. At $0.10 per kilowatt hour, that is equivalent to $3.61 worth of electricity to replace a gallon of gas. Which isn't a whole lot cheaper than current gas prices.

Of course, this leaves out difference in conversion efficiency of gas v.s. electricity.

Yep, and that is a difference of at the very least a factor of 2. Naturally, regenerative braking and other nice aspects of hybrids that would be quite unfeasible in a gas car are also still there.

Re:Would a plugin hybrid actually save money? (4, Informative)

SchnauzerGuy (647948) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293575)

Of course, this leaves out difference in conversion efficiency of gas v.s. electricity.

That is a pretty big glossing over of the realities, especially since the efficiency of a gasoline powered ICE is around 18% [washington.edu] - not including additional losses in the transmission.

Re:Would a plugin hybrid actually save money? (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293679)

Of course, this leaves out difference in conversion efficiency of gas v.s. electricity.

That is a pretty big glossing over of the realities, especially since the efficiency of a gasoline powered ICE is around 18% [washington.edu] - not including additional losses in the transmission.

Last I heard, total efficiency at the wheel, on average, is closer to 8%-9%. I have no idea if that's correct but is sounds about right.

Re:Would a plugin hybrid actually save money? (4, Informative)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293797)

Congratulations, you just compared the retail cost of electricity to the retail cost of gasoline. Retail prices are set by demand, and WOW, you discovered that the demand for electrical energy is pretty close to the demand for automative fuel energy. So Brand X is priced in line with Brand Y.

Which proves nothing.

And more importantly, it already effectively INCLUDES the conversion efficiencies of both gas and electricity, as it is the retail price, which is based on final use, not creation.

If you were talking about creation costs, that would be a different story.

Most importantly, there are areas in the US where electiricty costs as little as 6.24 cents instead of 10, and other places where it costs as much as 14.31 cents.

But most importantly, all those numbers are based on getting the electiricity at peak times (noon). Smart utilities offer discounts to those that buy from midnight to 6 AM, which would be the most intelligent time to charge your vehicle.

peak hours (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293405)

How about mandatory solar panels on every new home, and incentives to put solar panels on existing homes?

That's a lot of area, collectively speaking.

Re:peak hours (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293755)

How about mandatory solar panels on every new home, and incentives to put solar panels on existing homes?

Do you think that is cost effective for homes in the north in areas with high precipitation? Solar is just not a good option in many cases. Rather, tax cuts for any energy saving or generating technology added to a home would make a lot more sense. Where I'm at, for example, wind power is much, much more cost effective.

Re:peak hours (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#24294043)

Right, one technology is never going to be our solution. In the north, they could do other things, such as ground source heat pumps, which would drastically lower the amount of energy needed to heat/cool homes, and that extra energy saved could be put to other uses.. Hell, just encourage everyone to replace electric water heaters with tankless water heaters.. How much power would be saved not keeping 80 gallons of water at 125degrees all day, when you only use it for a few minutes of showering in the morning, and some dishes and laundry some days..

It doesn't work yet, that's why (3, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293833)

Current solar panels have a cost to watt ratio that makes them unsuitable for domestic use on grid. The output depends on total solar flux and this varies very largely around the world. In fact, the most sensible thing would be to put every single generation panel in the places in the US or Europe which have maximum solar flux. I have been arguing for years that solar panels here in the UK are stupid, because every one generates less than half the lifetime output it would generate in, say, Southern Spain or Arizona. I can't remember which law of economics it is (Ricardo's?) but in business terms it is the expression "sweat the assets" - i.e. make capital plant work as hard as possible for the best return.

The main downside of solar panels at home and EVs, apart from the cost, is that the EV is usually at work in the daytime. So the obvious place to put solar panels is on business sites where they could feed into EV chargers during hours of maximum sunlight.

Super Capacitors. (4, Informative)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293413)

The biggest barrier to pure electrics right now is the time it takes to charge a vehicle.

Super Capacitors are supposed to change that by allowing charge times equivalent or less than the time spent at the petrol pump.

Last time I heard about them was early this year as they were seeking to scale them to the industrial level.

That technology is what will make electric cars "feasible"

Re:Super Capacitors. (2, Informative)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293737)

Super Capacitors are supposed to change that by allowing charge times equivalent or less than the time spent at the petrol pump.

They will not become feasible until a charging infrastructure becomes available. Most homes can't charge one of these things, at "pump speeds", even while taking the power feed directly into the home. Now imagine a whole neighborhood trying to charge their vehicles. It's impossible unless billions and billions are spent creating a entirely new electrical infrastructure.

If these do take off, don't expect "pump time" charging as the power simply can't be supplied that fast from existing infrastructure.

Re:Super Capacitors. (5, Interesting)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293981)

Most homes can't charge one of these things, at "pump speeds"

How about a super capacitor based charger in the home that slowly fills from the grid and can provide a quick charge to the car? It could double as a squirrel population control device.

Time for government to step in (4, Insightful)

99luftballon (838486) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293415)

Just as Eisenhower signed off on the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act to kickstart the roads system in the US so too should the government act to fund this.

We have to go electric in the future, gas power isn't a viable long term solution and oil is going to be too valuable in the future to waste on driving around. But the 'free market' isn't going to fund the kind of network we need in the short term. Sure, they'll build the cars but infrastructure costs are beyond them.

Without a national infrastructure program the move towards electric transportation will be slow and patchy. This really is a case of if we build it they will come.

Re:Time for government to step in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24294077)

Ah, but all the money was spent to liberate oil from the middle east.

another case of throwing good money after bad.

avoid overwhelming the utilities (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293459)

> avoid overwhelming the utilities during peak hours

Distributed generation - have charging stations generate their own power (solar, wind).

Quick charge is all I want... (4, Informative)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293475)

I just read an article about the Lightning electric vehicle on elReg

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/22/lightning_fast_charge_supercar/ [theregister.co.uk]

This may make electric cars practical.
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7081 [newscientist.com]
Imagine: 200 miles/charge and a 10 minute "fill up" at a commercial charging station (overnight at your house with 50 amp service)

I'd much prefer this over the "hydrogen economy" that people tout as the future. Also, it would be easier to build out a high voltage charging infrastructure than a hydrogen dispensing infrastructure. The only problem I see is everyone charging their vehicles during peak usage instead of at night causing even greater peaks, but there is no reason people (with garages) can't trickle-charge the car at night.

I may even give up my venerable diesel if I can drive coast to coast in the same time frame and same expense on batteries as on diesel.
(only slightly off topic because I was talking electric vehicles instead of hybrid)

All they need to work on next (5, Funny)

stretchpuppy (1304751) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293519)

Is making GM cars not TEH SUCK.

Just imagine, a Electric Cavalier, sweet!!!

Re:All they need to work on next (1)

drxenos (573895) | more than 5 years ago | (#24294081)

I don't know. I love my Saturn. My last one (an SC2) had 300K miles on it before I gave it away, without much problems beyond standard maintenance. The coworker I gave it to 3 years ago is still driving it, and he loves it. My current one (an ION coupe) seems to be as reliable as the last one.

So I have to ask, (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293525)

Where Does Electricity Come From? I would love to see them eletric Bills

Re:So I have to ask, (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293799)

Electricity is cheaper to produce than getting gas into your tank. Sure, you electric bill will go up but net cost is still less than your current electric bill plus gas. Last I heard, the difference is a fraction of what you currently pay to keep gas in your car. Don't forget that the efficiency of electrical distribution is far greater than ICE are currently capable.

Re:So I have to ask, (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293999)

Looking at the numbers, a gallon of gas is about 36KWhrs of electricity. gas is sitting at $5.30/US gallon here ($1.399/litre), so as long as the price of electricity is below 15 cents per KWhr (It's 9.38 here), you're saving money, and that's not even counting how much more efficient electric motors are, plus regenerative braking, etc.

If it leads to a standard then I am all for it. (4, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293545)

If it leads to a proprietary method which other automakers and utilities must license with fees then I am hoping someone else comes along and whacks them.

I still think while we are doing our typical over reaction; c'mon Europeans put up with prices higher than this; at least this over reaction is leading somewhere good. Granted it may mean life with even more SUVs as the technology will make their mileage acceptable. Since the majority of SUV/CUV don't do any heavy towing it can easily be adapted to their increased carrying capacities.

I guess giving up the "frivolous" luxuries was too much to ask

Re:If it leads to a standard then I am all for it. (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293969)

A Tahoe hybrid costs double the price and gets less than half the mileage of a Prius. 21 mpg is impressive for a vehicle of that size, but I wouldn't worry too much about our roads filling up with them.

BTW, as the only Tahoe selling without huge rebates and discounts, the hybrid damn near costs double the price of a regular base Tahoe too.

Re:If it leads to a standard then I am all for it. (2, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#24294093)

Aside from the fact that the entire design of our cities/towns/suburbs/etc. is built around the concept of practically everyone owning at least one car, and don't even get me started on the lack of sensible car designs here. Walking, biking, and public transit are generally not feasible means of getting around.

Rates are the problem, not infrastructure (3, Insightful)

silicon dad (778893) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293639)

GM's finally seeing the light, I want a Volt. But PG&E's regulated rate structure will put me at 400% of baseline and US$0.35 / KWh to charge it. $5.00/gallon gas is still cheaper(!)

alternate title: (2, Interesting)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293681)

Detroit shifts gears from Big Oil to Big Electricity

Meanwhile, in other news, Big Pharma and Big Media cooperate to extend monopolies.

Obituaries: Net neutrality killed in a hit and run by Ma Bell++

Re:alternate title: (3, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#24294061)

You don't do Big things without Big industry. Luckily for us, this generates Big economic impact, and creates a Big percentage of our jobs. The net effect on our quality of life, and our overall wealth as a society is Big (in a good way).

Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

vandalism? (4, Insightful)

weszz (710261) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293835)

So in many of the pictures I've seen, there is a cord running from the car to the plug, normally in public areas since it's so wonderful to plug in and just leave your car to go shopping or to work.

What happens with some thug snips your power cord?

Will the cord be coming from your car, or from the outlet, and how easy and cheap is it to swap out cords?

friction (3, Funny)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 5 years ago | (#24293967)

When I was a kid we had these 'friction' cars, you pushed them along the floor a few times while they "revved" up and then let them go.

That's the technology I want, with a big robot to "re-rev" them at every intersection.

The best cars made sparks too.

Plug-in Prius in 2009? (2, Interesting)

abroadst (541007) | more than 5 years ago | (#24294085)

Toyota's 2009 plug-in Prius will make all this irrelevant. When the Volt comes out with worse specs and a higher price - and without the internal combustion "back-up" the Prius has GM's stock price will take yet another plunge. Too little too late. Somebody needs to buy GM, break it up and liquidate what's left. Hopefully Toyota, Honda, Nissan, or somebody who knows anything about selling cars will see value in some of their assets.
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