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Bay Area To Install Electric Vehicle Grid

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the recharge-it dept.

Transportation 388

Mike writes "Recently San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland unveiled a massive concerted effort to become the electric vehicle capitol of the United States. The Bay Area will be partnering with Better Place to create an essential electric vehicle infrastructure, marking a huge step towards the acceptance of electric vehicles as a viable alternative to those that run on fossil fuels." Inhabitat.com has some conceptual illustrations and a map showing EV infrastructure, such as battery exchange stations, stretching from Sacramento to San Diego — though this is far more extensive than the Bay Area program actually announced, which alone is estimated to cost $1 billion.

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388 comments

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GO for it, (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25892901)

American gas guzzlers can eat a dick. Adapt or die!

Re:GO for it, (1)

prozaker (1261190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25892937)

gasoline motors can easily be converted to propane based, all thought I'm not sure how safe those kind of motors are.

it's an alternative to gasoline.

Re:GO for it, (1)

Lando242 (1322757) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893091)

Plenty safe, used them at my work place for years with no safety problems. Only problem is when converting a car or truck not designed for it you end up wasting a lot of space. Since gas tanks made for liquid can't normally be reused for a pressurized gas and the space of the old tank will most likely not work for a propane tank you have to put the tank somewhere else, the trunk/truck bed are the most common places. If you want to hold a good amount of fuel you can kiss your storage space goodbye. Converting a truck to propane is a waste IMHO, you'd need to design it from the ground up or lose at least a third of its bed space. Cars are a good call for conversion but a ground up design would still be a better bet. Same with full sized vans, you can normally fit a new tank in the old ones place but you'll lose some range. Now don't quote me on this but, iirc, you lose a fair bit of power and range when converting to propane most of the time. I know for a fact that our propane F-150 didn't have the same get up and go as the stock one, even though the stock one had twice the miles on it.

Re:GO for it, (2, Insightful)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893163)

And you're still cranking out CO2. This is about EVs (Electric Vehicles).

Re:GO for it, (1)

2ms (232331) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893703)

Diesels are drastically better than gas vehicles on CO2. In fact, it's as much their forte as mpg. If you're currently driving a gas car but are concerned about your CO2 production, perhaps the least you could do is switch to driving a diesel until you can afford an EV.

Re:GO for it, (1)

evilad (87480) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893799)

Do you have a reference for this? The Diesel cycle's inherent thermodynamic efficiency is no better than that of the Otto cycle used in a normal gasoline engine. In practice, it's actually slightly *less* efficient, except at idle, where it wins hands-down.

There is an easily comprehensible reason that diesels go 15% further per unit volume of fuel. It is because diesel is 15% denser than gasoline.

Re:GO for it, (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25892977)

Anybody catch the latest Top Gear where they had an mileage challenge (compared to the normal speed ones). VW already has a small car out that'll get 60+ MP-USG Highway.

Bring on the diesels.

Re:GO for it, (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893009)

The problem with diesels is that the US raised the emission standards for diesel, even higher than what Europe had, as a result manufactures scaled back selling them here because they couldn't meet the requirements.

Re:GO for it, (2, Insightful)

2ms (232331) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893633)

It's really so sad that "hybrids" have hijacked the public's perception of what a fuel efficient vehicle here in the US.

In Europe fuel costs 4 times as much as it does over here right now. The majority of vehicles sold in Europe are diesels. You almost never see a Prius. In fact, you'll see them ridiculed in the automotive press as an example of American idocy more often than you'll see them on the roads over there.

Re:GO for it, (3, Insightful)

k_187 (61692) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893771)

Why exactly is a Japanese car an example of American idocy?

Any bets for the first major blackout? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25892941)

I bet 6 months after installation the left-wingers in SanFran realize that they don't have the electric grid & sufficient generation capacity to keep the cars on the road.

I remember the rolling blackouts in 2001 that drove California electric utilities bankrupt.

Re:Any bets for the first major blackout? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25892995)

Those were manufactured shortages thanks to the crooks at Enron, Duke Energy, and the sham Governor that was Gray Davis.

Re:Any bets for the first major blackout? (5, Informative)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893235)

From some back-of-the-envelope calculations it seems that we already have enough power generation and electrical distribution in the Bay Area and in most places to charge Chevy Volt-like cars overnight on our existing 220V. It might be nice to charge faster than 8 hours, or at work as well as home, but I don't see this as a major technology adoption problem.

The grid and power stations are designed to deliver about 3KW average to each household during peak hours in the summer heat. A single 220 outlet typically can deliver 3KW continuously. A Chevy Volt will need no more than 20KW hours of juice to charge. The math works.

The grid is barley taxed during the night, so this is a match made in heaven. The build-out we really need is an interstate-HVDC grid to deliver renewable power across the country from wherever it's generated. This can't be done at the state level, and will require action by Obama.

Re:Any bets for the first major blackout? (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893627)

The build-out we really need is an interstate-HVDC grid to deliver renewable power across the country from wherever it's generated. This can't be done at the state level, and will require action by Obama.

The utilities are already asking for govt money to do this.

Why can't the utilities use their existing profits for this?

Re:Any bets for the first major blackout? (3, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893791)

Because they wouldnt have any profits anymore.
Much better to ask for free money. They'll probably get it too.

Re:Any bets for the first major blackout? (1)

hewest (1332179) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893813)

Now you want to have a nightly Barley Tax?

Re:Any bets for the first major blackout? (4, Insightful)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893853)

It's also interesting that this happened less than a year after deregulation. Doesn't disprove deregulation in theory, but 40 years of regulation worked great, deregulation worked less than a year, the utility companies are, as you said, crooks.

Deregulation is a nice theory though. Not quite as elegant as communism, but it's a nice idea.

Re:Any bets for the first major blackout? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893179)

I'll bet you're right!

Where oh where in sunny California could we possibly get the voltaic power?

In other news (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25892961)

Smug alert [wikipedia.org] ! Meteorologists predict a huge smug-storm over San Francisco, on an intersection course with the smug from Obama's acceptance speech.

the origin of the epidemic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25892983)

Maybe this is how it will start. Small isolated areas, that slowly spread across the entire country.
That would be neat.

Re:the origin of the epidemic (3, Insightful)

WCguru42 (1268530) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893859)

That's how everything works in the US. Things start in the cities and then the rest of the nation eventually catches on. California has been demanding higher efficiency appliances for decades now and because of the vast purchasing power of the state manufacturers are forced to meet our demand. This in turn allows other states to have the option to purchase those more efficient appliances, though it appears most opt for the cheaper up front appliances as opposed to the long run cheaper more efficient appliances. I guess some people just don't get this whole environmental thing.

Doomed by its creators (3, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893017)

The problem isn't that SF wants to be electric-friendly, or even environmentally friendly. The problem is that they are doing it simply to cash in on a trendy idea. The union bosses responsible for building this grid will charge SF taxpayers billions to produce a sub-par grid, that will need constant repair, and that is unlikely to be utilized.

Why? Because the same people who promote electric cars, are also the people that recoil from even the word "nuclear"... and thus ensure that while the rest of the world forges ahead in power generation technology, we are stuck with 30+ year old inefficient uranium-guzzlers.

Perhaps people should consider that it's better to do things because they are the right thing, not because they are the "in thing".

Re:Doomed by its creators (4, Insightful)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893177)

Because the same people who promote electric cars, are also the people that recoil from even the word "nuclear"... and thus ensure that while the rest of the world forges ahead in power generation technology, we are stuck with 30+ year old inefficient uranium-guzzlers.

That's not true. Some of us promote electric cars, along with a renewable energy infrastructure which would include nuclear power, in a safe and responsible way.

Re:Doomed by its creators (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893833)

Fucking fags, where do they think the electricity comes from? Coal produces a lot more CO2 than gasoline, and most of the power comes from coal. They're just replacing one bad idea with another and then telling themselves they're better than everyone else for it. Sounds like a typical bunch of queers to me.

Re:Doomed by its creators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893891)

Fucking retarded idiot, quantity yielded is not the important point in this, quantity released is.

Let's anticipate a common response (4, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893021)

"You're just substituting one energy source for another. You're not doing anything about the energy shortage."

Yes you are. It's a lot more efficient to have convert all your chemical energy into electricity at one central spot than to have millions of engines that the vehicles have to carry around with them. I believe the efficiency factor is something like 60%. Besides, there are non-chemical ways to generate electricity.

let's give an inconvenient answer (4, Interesting)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893429)

A calculation of the german version of the AAA, the ADAC, showed that the electric smart that is currently on the road, would actually create more CO2 per km than the combustion engine version, IF the power plant was solely coal based (which is a popular power plant in germany at the moment). I also find if fascinating that the hydrogen for hydrogen production is currently produced by transforming oil into hydrogen and ... CO2. It is the most efficient and economic process to do it like that. Sure, at one point in time you could do create hydrogen by electrolysis of water. But in the mean time, because money is an inevitable driving force, it will be made the CO2-producing way. Or, how biofuels will end up competing the farming of food and might lead to difficult hunger problems. All in all, these are exciting times, and for every alternative the effects of the complete life circle on environment and society should be considered....

Re:let's give an inconvenient answer (5, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893761)

When my aunt stops getting checks from the government to NOT grow food on her farm, then I will start to worry about food shortages.

Re:Let's anticipate a common response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893431)

Besides, there are non-chemical ways to generate electricity.

It's this fact that is most important. Without a need for oil, companies will invest in alternate, renewable energy sources that desperately need attention and research.
 
The other cool benefit to this is that it will create American jobs, because it would be cheaper to generate electricity using American resources than to transfer it thousands of miles.

Re:Let's anticipate a common response (3, Interesting)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893457)

You lose efficiency when you transfer the power into the batteries and back out again. If you do all the math, using a coal fired plant to power an electric car uses almost the same amount of chemical energy (it's about 26% efficient, 40% for the coal plant and 72% for the battery/motor, and 90% for the power inverter, while a conventional engine is around 20%) but generates more CO2. The 60% you cite is for a combined cycle natural gas plant, but that's not where we get most of our power.

Re:Let's anticipate a common response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893701)

A conventional gas engine may be 20% efficient, but once you factor in the energy used to get the gasoline to the gas stations and into your car that drops down to about 4%. Add to that the fact that a gasoline engine is at its MOST efficient on the day it is manufactured, and goes downhill from there, while an electric motor does not lose efficiency, and in fact can GAIN in efficiency if better energy sources such as nuclear, wind, solar, are used.

Really, if you think about it for more than about 5 minutes, switching to electricity is a very very good idea for the vast majority of short-trip commuter type cars.

funding (4, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893023)

State governments, especially California, just can't afford $1B projects. But the Feds sure can. Because they are trying to counter a deflationary spiral, they are printing money as fast as they can and giving it to banks.

Compared to what they've been giving away, $1B is nothing. They really should consider throwing some of that over to CA. [It will create JOBS and reduce foreign oil dependency, Mr. Obama!]

Re:funding (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893123)

You can be sure that that is exactly what this initiative, and others soon to follow, are counting on. That's all well and good, but hopefully the Fed is smart enough to consolidate all such proposals so that the money is spent in a coordinated fashion that benefits the national economy, not just local interests.

Re:funding (0)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893437)

California might not be able to finance a billion dollar project right now, but I'm pretty sure it could afford it, what, with annual revenues around $100 billion, you might be able to find it in the couch.

Re:funding (1)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893453)

And how. 39 states are facing budget shortfalls and expecting capital outlays for new projects at this point from the states is unrealistic. Any "Green New Deal" style program that would try to create the necessary infrastructure to create green jobs would have to use the Federal gov't as the main actor.

Re:funding (5, Informative)

h2_plus_O (976551) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893855)

State governments, especially California, just can't afford $1B projects. But the Feds sure can.

Actually, the difference between states and the Feds is that the states require themselves to balance their budgets. The Feds are actually in worse overall financial shape debt-wise, but are much more liquid by virtue of the size of their credit cards.

Re:funding (5, Informative)

immcintosh (1089551) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893939)

California has an economy so large that if it were an independent nation, it would still have one of the top ten economies in the entire world. California actually has a larger economy than the entire nations of Canada or Russia. In other words, there's a lot of money in California, which means a lot of taxes being collected.

I'm not sure why you would say, "especially California," considering its economy is substantially larger than any other state in the union. Are you indicating that the state should spend its funds elsewhere? That we are suffering so much disproportionately more than anywhere else? I'm not sure.

Something for the Buck (4, Insightful)

clampolo (1159617) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893029)

At least spending a billion for this will produce something useful and will provide some jobs. It sounds like a bargain compared to $700+ billion to keep the bankers from having to move to smaller mansions.

Re:Something for the Buck (0, Troll)

ChuckSchwab (813568) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893529)

Shut up. Just shut the hell up. You have literally NO CLUE what the hell you are talking about. And yet you spout off anyway. Your envy of people who have actually achieved *success* in their lives, has blinded you to the NEED for the financial rescue package that our ELECTED representatives (we are a democracy, remember?) worked overtime to pass.

It was NOT about bailout of rich bankers, who -- if you're interested in the truth -- have NOT come out of this unscathed. They have gotten fired, seen their firms go down in flames, or seen their pay reduced SIGNFIGANTLY. It's not a case of someone having to "move into a smaller mansion" as you put it. And I totally resent your framing of it as a "bailout". It was a financial rescue and liquidity provision package, NOT a bailout. And it bailed YOU out, as I will explain in terms simple enough for you to understand.

Here's why we did the rescue: A bunch of banks packaged mortgage products together under a very elegant (and beautiful imho) design that nicely divvied up the risk and reward based on the unique, individual needs of various parties. At the same time, they have their own debts to pay off. At any given moment, however, their money isn't in cash: it's in complicated financial instruments.

But no problem, right? They just sell the instruments for the quick spending money to pay off the debts. Oops -- now, because of BASELESS fears, no one wants to buy the instruments at their FAIR market price, so now they're insolvent.

Does that make any sense to you? Going into bankruptcy just because you have to unload assets at fire sale prices, WELL below what they are TRULY worth? No one should have to deal with that. That's why the Treasury's plan was to simply step in, pay the FAIR market price, that no one else is willing to, so they can keep the credit system from freezing up.

And as Paulson explained, it worked. We averted a major crisis, in which people wouldn't have been able to take out loans for mortgages, cars, consumer credit products, and even PAYROLL.

Yes, it was that bad.

So please, shut your damn mouth and stick to a topic you actually understand -- like computers. And please leave the finance system to the professionals.

Re:Something for the Buck (2, Funny)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893719)

A bunch of banks packaged mortgage products together under a very elegant (and beautiful imho) design that nicely divvied up the risk and reward based on the unique, individual needs of various parties.

A troll too far, sir. You give yourself away!

Re:Something for the Buck (1)

clampolo (1159617) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893877)

You need to go back to school since most of what you say makes no sense or is contradicted by facts.

They have gotten fired, seen their firms go down in flames, or seen their pay reduced SIGNFIGANTLY.

Yeah, that's why the execs at the banks being bailed out got $20 billion in bonuses this year.

now, because of BASELESS fears, no one wants to buy the instruments at their FAIR market price, so now they're insolvent

Then why don't YOU buy as many of them as you can since they are selling at an "unfair" price? Don't you want free money? They are selling cheap because noone wants to lend in an environment of high foreclosures, bankruptcies, and falling home values.

And as Paulson explained, it worked.

That's not what I saw in the testimony. I saw Paulson getting grilled about why 1) the credit market was STILL frozen 2) the bailed out banks were using money for acquisitions.

So please, shut your damn mouth and stick to a topic you actually understand -- like computers. And please leave the finance system to the professionals.

There are 2 reasons I won't shut up. 1) Considering "the professionals" got us into this mess, their opinions are clearly of little value. 2) when it's my tax money being used, I have a right to say what I want it to be used for.

The Gold Coast (2, Interesting)

localroger (258128) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893057)

OK it was set in LA instead of SF, but the implication in Kim Stanley Robinson's novel was that the slotcar grid was at least statewide.

Wrong again (5, Insightful)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893065)

I've lived and worked in the Bay Area. Pollution from cars is a problem. Cars are a problem.

Electric cars are not the answer. (I don't even want to imagine sitting in deadlocked traffic, heater or AC on, tunes playing, battery draining...)

Mass transit is the answer - not just BART - REAL mass transit. I cannot stress enough that if one travels to Japan and sees for oneself how fucking cool and efficient the Japanese mass rail system is - billion dollar proposals like this would die at conception.

Mass transit first - electric cars (if they're still needed, really) second.

Fuck me, America - can we try fixing problems instead of fixing symptoms - just once?!?!

Re:Wrong again (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893251)

Next you'll be suggesting that people should just start enjoying each other's company.. or going to the same places.

People like private transport.

Re:Wrong again (5, Insightful)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893397)

People like private transport.

Because they don't know any other way?

I like private transport - a lot. I just think that it has its place, and that place is no where near 100%. From my time in Japan, I'd say it's less than 10%.

Because people do like going to the same places quite often - the music/bar district ('bout every town I've been in has had one), the university, the business district, the industrial areas, the shopping malls, the grocery stores. And with enough mass transit outlets, you can even get to Aunt Tillie's house pretty easily.

I rode the Metro in the DC area - and freaking hated it. It was like riding with all of the grey people of Trantor - everyone's personal space invaded because of the cattle-car approach to it all.

Mass transit doesn't have to be that way.

We might not like each other at first face-to-face. I'd rather ignore you sitting or standing next to you on a train than have you driving next to me in murderous traffic. (The you in that sentence is strictly rhetorical.)

Re:Wrong again (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893439)

Uh huh. If Americans were packed into trains like the Japanese are, people would be knifed daily.

Re:Wrong again (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893523)

I won't stick my head in the sand and say that's wrong - I believe NYC proves that out. I would suggest that more rails might solve some of that packing, however.

The worst I had it was in Yokohama. I hung on to the top strap and the crowd surge had me horizontal at one point - I kid you not.

I'd risk it. I'm so sick of the automobile-me-first society we have, I'd fucking risk it. OK - that's just me.

Re:Wrong again (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893695)

>Uh huh. If Americans were packed into trains like the Japanese
> are, people would be knifed daily.

That does not happen in DC, or NYC, or Chicago, where people do use overcrowded mass transit systems. Of course, asking for a cigarette in the NY subway can get you shot.

Re:Wrong again (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893741)

That's cause "no-one" uses the train there.. and yet it's already "overcrowded" by US standards. Visit Japan some time.

Re:Wrong again (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893819)

Because they don't know any other way?

No, because the American car companies paid to destroy commuter rail in the early part of the 20th century and, consequently, even most cities in America, where mass transit would generally be most effective, are designed around the car, and built for the car as a dominant form of transportation. People find that the car works best because most of America is designed expressly for that to be the case.

Reversing that is going to take several trillion of dollars of infrastructure investment and several decades.

Re:Wrong again (1, Informative)

Aloisius (1294796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893287)

A High Speed Rail line from SF to LA has already been approved and San Francisco has both BART, MUNI (buses and light rail) and Caltrain (rail). What more do you want?

Re:Wrong again (1)

i.of.the.storm (907783) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893381)

I've only ridden on BART but from what I hear it's the only good public transportation here. Everything else is supposedly crap. And the high speed rail, while cool, is probably not going to be finished for a decade or so at the earliest.

Re:Wrong again (1)

Aloisius (1294796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893459)

MUNI runs several light rail systems in SF that are just as good as BART. Well, some are for tourists and run in old time cars, but the underground lines are very well run.

Heck, I know people who take the cable car to work.

The buses could run faster. They tend to have far too many stops.

Re:Wrong again (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893309)

Cool and efficient like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axwMxUBL_ws [youtube.com]

Re:Wrong again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893317)

I cannot stress enough that if one travels to Japan and sees for oneself how fucking cool and efficient the Japanese mass rail system is...
[...]
...can we try fixing problems instead of fixing symptoms - just once?!?!

I cannot stress enough that if one looks at Japan on a map and sees for oneself how fucking small the Japanese island is, and how close together its population centers are...
[...]
...can we try using the right tool for the job instead of trying to apply solutions optimized for tightly-packed island nations, to nations the size of continents?

Mass transit's a great idea if you have a lot of high-density cities within a few miles of each other, which is what Japan h as. It's even a pretty good idea for Europe, where major cities are no further than 500 miles from each other. It doesn't fucking scale to a 3000-mile-wide continent, where cities are often farther than 500 miles from each other.

Re:Wrong again (4, Insightful)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893469)

I cannot stress enough that if one looks at Japan on a map and sees for oneself how fucking small the Japanese island is, and how close together its population centers are...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Tokyo_Area [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_Bay_Area [wikipedia.org]

I was discussing the Bay Area. You will note that it's size is comparable to the Tokyo area and has a lower population. I am not referring to the cross-country lines of Honshu island, I'm referring to the KEIO and JR lines.

What I propose most certainly DOES fucking scale - very, very well. So, yes - by all means - let's use the right tool for the job and implement proven solutions from similar circumstances.

we screwed our rail industry (0, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893333)

the car was like heroin for the usa

well, it seems the romance is over. we're hung over with gridlock, polluted air, and oil-funded latin american gasbags/ russian neoimperialists/ saudi wahabbism

but the usa is less densely populated than japan or europe. their adherence to rail more than us makes sense. don't poopoo our poor rail planning: our population density sealed our fate

but times they are a changing. rail is going to come back strong. our romance with the car is over

Rail screwed itself. (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893487)

The people who don't use rail for cross country shipments do so for a reason, the same reason people stopped using it for transport in a serious manner, its too damned unreliable. Not inherently so, but the companies can't get their act together, and shipping something over rail is a good way to get it there somewhere between tomorrow and next month, with no idea which until the package arrives.

which is just fine (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893727)

if you are transporting things like coal, or timber, or trash, and many times more effective because rail is so much cheaper than truck

GM, Standard Oil and Firestone screwed light rail (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893793)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_streetcar_conspiracy [wikipedia.org]

Bought 'em up, tore 'em up - so we could buy more cars and tires and gas.

I dislike the counter-arguments in the Wikipedia article that the move to buses were more efficient - the light rails were already in place, so a working system was dismantled in favor of a competing one.

Re:Wrong again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893507)

A suggestion for the rails - car transport!

I'm going from ATL->Nashville area for Thanksgiving, and I'd love to take a rail train. But my in-laws live ~1 hr outside of Nashville, so if all we have is a ATL->NASH link, I think it will be underused (I suppose I could rent a car, but for 5 days, that starts getting expensive).

It will cost me ~$80 round trip (Ford Focus), for my family; a ticket price of $100 per person is right out.

Re:Wrong again (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893525)

Japan isn't Tokyo. Tokyo may have an awesomely efficient and convenient rail system that gets you pretty much anywhere you want on-time, but if you go to regular places, you're lucky if they have one, let alone two or three stations. Even a fair-sized city usually won't have a great subway or train infrastructure, just a few stations on the main line that happens to pass through down. A lot of people just get around by bike, foot, bus, or car.

Some towns just have stations that are shacks by the track -- no people at the gate, just ticket machines and a platform. They trust you to drop your ticket stubs in the box before you leave.

Re:Wrong again (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893691)

Some towns just have stations that are shacks by the track -- no people at the gate, just ticket machines and a platform. They trust you to drop your ticket stubs in the box before you leave.

I bow to your experience - the smallest station I was at still had the magnetic ticket reader at the gate. And you're right - I brought a lot of this criticism on myself by saying Japan instead of Tokyo. I erred.

I still say that while I was focusing on the Bay Area, in a broader sense, you've made my point - if the city is too small for a good rail infrastructure, buses will also do. I live in a moderately populous area that has neither decent rail nor bus service - but they think that they do.

Re:Wrong again (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893889)

Even a fair-sized city usually won't have a great subway or train infrastructure, just a few stations on the main line that happens to pass through down.

Many fair-sized US cities are lucky to have a passenger rail station. Comparatively, even with your description, I think Japan is ahead.

Re:Wrong again (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893639)

> can we try fixing problems instead of fixing symptoms - just
> once?!?!

          No.

            'Tis sad, but true. Most people would rather put a band-aid over the problem than solve it.

Re:Wrong again (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893841)

If the problem is a cut that will heal itself, then yes, putting a band-aid over it is the best solution.

What's your point?

have to solve the sprawl issue too Re:Wrong again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893709)

Atlanta, Tokyo, NY, London, etc. work because they are spoke and hub. The bay area is a scattered mix-match of suburban and urban with jobs sites everywhere. Oh, and we get laid off and find new jobs with some regularity so planning where I live compared to where I work is not feasible.

Don't get me wrong, I love mass transit and use it when I can. But just saying "kill the cars, add more rail" misses the point. For a simple example look at Santa Clara counties wasted of effort on the light rail system. Goes no where useful and does it slower than my car in traffic.

Re:have to solve the sprawl issue too Re:Wrong aga (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893917)

Atlanta, Tokyo, NY, London, etc. work because they are spoke and hub. The bay area is a scattered mix-match of suburban and urban with jobs sites everywhere.

Maybe I'm missing something, but the Tokyo I know is better described by your second sentence than spoke and hub....

Re:Wrong again (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893769)

Mass transit is the answer - not just BART - REAL mass transit. I cannot stress enough that if one travels to Japan and sees for oneself how fucking cool and efficient the Japanese mass rail system is - billion dollar proposals like this would die at conception.

Mass transit first - electric cars (if they're still needed, really) second.

Real mass transit infrastructure is going to take decades longer and many times as much money as the kind of electric vehicle infrastructure being discussed here (for California, you need improved long-range, high-speed, heavy passenger rail, like that to be funded by Prop 1A, better coverage with commuter rail systems like BART and some of the Amtrak California commuter lines, and improved local mass transit -- light rail, bus mass transit with dedicated roads, etc.) Given that most driving of most drivers is fairly short range, EVs would address some of the problems. They won't solve other problems, but then, mass transit doesn't solve all the problems either. Mass transit is a bigger, but longer range, part of the solution, but it doesn't eliminate the value of electric vehicles replacing gas vehicles for personal use.

Re:Wrong again (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893863)

Look - I hear you. I have a hybrid, will one day have an electric.

I'll simply insist that - it seems to me - that I've heard for years why light rail is a bad idea because of the great time and cost to build it.

To make it most topical to most /. discussions - how is this not like the current crop complaining about Vista when they argued against Linux back at Win95, Win2k....?

I don't think that all CA traffic is simply a case of shorter trips. I've driven to Oakland - the hard way, cross town. I've driven from one side of Silicon Valley to the other. Those are healthy distances, made worse by gridlock. Electric vehicles may help - but light rail, not just a bit more BART - would help WAY more, imo.

Unintended consequences (0, Flamebait)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893089)

So I take my used up, chemically destroyed battery to some government-sponsored facility and exchange it for a brand new one, and it costs me nothing? That's good!

But terrorists now have a great place to load up on acids that can be used to build bombs -- the government will now keep the raw materials in sealed plastic containers and give them away as "bio-friendly" electric car batteries. That's bad.

It'll create zero emissions and be cheaper to recharge than refill. That's good!

The batteries contain lead and other things that reeeeally shouldn't go into landfills. That's bad.

But they'll come with a free coupon! That's good!

The coupon is also cursed...

Re:Unintended consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893139)

God damn son are you retarded?

Re:Unintended consequences (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893217)

I'm nobody's son, but I do like watching the Simpsons. -_-

the consumers just need to do their part (0)

2ms (232331) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893101)

Let's just pray that the public does this time the opposite of what they did the last time the government made a big push to get EVs going. Last time they pushed GM to build an EV that everyone said they would drive but in end the demand turned out to be a tiny fraction of what everyone said it was going to be, GM had to cut down the program to a tiny portion of the country in order to be able to support and maintain them properly, and in end lost billions of dollars.

Now the Volt will be coming -- a real opportunity for people to finally put their money where their mouths are. Since it can also generate its own electricty when the battery runs out, there'll be no more excuses such as that it doesn't have enough range.

None of these things ever work if the consumers aren't willing to put their money where their mouths are and actually buy the damn cars. Hybrids and diesel cars that get a few more mpg than traditional gas cars are lovely and all, but with EVs we could switch to burning no oil whatsoever. That's so huge. I just pray this time around the public will play their part and actually drive the things.

Re:the consumers just need to do their part (4, Interesting)

sfcat (872532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893291)

Really? Cause they had to pry the last EVs from the cold dead hands of their owners. Every salesperson who sold them had a larger waiting list than GM could manufacture. I bet that they discovered that EVs didn't need many replacement parts which is why all car companies are trying to avoid making EVs. There is a documentary about the EVs in the late 90's http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0489037/ [imdb.com] that you should watch. In fact, nothing in your post is factual correct about the situation exception for maybe the range problem.

Re:the consumers just need to do their part (1)

2ms (232331) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893569)

Actually, I'm an energy conversions engineer who has designed several types of heat engines incuding, for example, a Stirling cycle engine. People working in my field spend all day every day trying to make everything energy systems more efficient. I know what I'm talking about.

For future reference, that movie was pure propaganda and sensationalism. It was basically a heinous pile of shit. It's sad that people think The Facts are what some ridiculous movie said.

Re:the consumers just need to do their part (1)

sfcat (872532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893835)

Except you were not talking about energy conversion or engineering. You were talking about consumer demand. And you were wrong about those topics. People were willing to buy EVs. The car companies not not willing to sell them. If you want more proof, look at the prius. They sold very very well and the same type of people were lining up in 1999 to buy EVs. There is clearly demand, it is just that no large car company is willing to sell to that demand because they are worried about losing after market profits. But thanks for shilling anyway...

Re:the consumers just need to do their part (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893733)

Also note that many charging stations that were put in around the bay area for those EVs are still in place and working.

Editor Fail (4, Informative)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893117)

Recently San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland unveiled a massive concerted effort to become the electric vehicle capitol of the United States.

Capitol [reference.com] is a proper name, originally of a temple and the hill it sat on, but now often of a building that serves as the seat of a legislature. Capital [reference.com] means the city that serves as the seat of government. It also means the chief city of a region, and is the metaphorical sense intended here.

Even if submitter didn't know the difference, a professional editor should have. Good thing we don't have any of those around here, huh?

Anonymous Coward...lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893161)

I wonder how many of those fancy expensive-looking cords are going to disappear when copper prices go up and people are stealing them for scrap...

Trolleybuses in San Francisco (1)

Neil Hodges (960909) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893205)

Doesn't San Francisco already have trolleybuses on several of its local routes? They've already had a major electric vehicle system from that for quite some time.

I happen to live near Seattle, so I do know the problems associated with being on a paved road while receiving power overhead.

Energy Crisis says what? (1)

Rayeth (1335201) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893231)

Anyone remember that California energy crisis from a few years ago? What exactly has been done (besides firing some politicians and energy execs) to help produce more power?

I'm not sure its a great idea to be building HUGE structural draws like this into (what will eventually become) every major city worth a damn, without a plan for how to power all of it. The "not in my backyard" problem must be solved first.

Re:Energy Crisis says what? (5, Informative)

GodKingAmit (1192629) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893297)

The energy shortages were artificially created by Enron to boost profits. No actual shortages occurred.

that's a neat trick (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893237)

battery exchange stations, i didn't think of that

when mentally strategizing electric powered vehicles you are struck by the onerous amount of time it would take to recharge

but this scheme skips that problem entirely, by having service stations stocked with fresh batteries

of course, you'd then need some sort of airtight battery integrity system, so someone doesn't get stuck with a tampered or faulty one

but battery exchange is a fabulous conceptual leap, for me at least (what, has everyone else in the room already figured this out 5 years ago? ;-)

Re:that's a neat trick (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893411)

Personally, I would like to see more R&D into synthesizing chemical fuels, efficiently, from electricity. I just think that, for convenience and power, it's hard to beat chemical fuels. The trick is, can we efficiently produce any type of relatively safe chemical fuel using electricity. The 'obvious' solution is creating hydrogen from water (gas or liquid), but hydrogen has it's own problems, such as difficulty in containing it safely.

Again, any electric solution does depend on cheap electricity, but I think that, at least eventually, practical fusion power will become a reality.

I wonder if it's possibly to synthesize gasoline, or diesel, or anything like that, efficiently/cheaply, using electricity?

Inhabitat.com's map (1)

shogarth (668598) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893277)

I took a look at the proposed California infrastructure plan. I suspect that part was drawn up by someone unfamiliar with the state.

  • Interstate 10 (east from Los Angeles through suburbia and on to Florida) is missing. That's a major commute corridor for 100 miles or so east of LA. Much more than I-80 between San Francisco and Sacramento.
  • Their layout for battery exchange stations looks to have been created by saying something like "every 40 miles on the few freeways we identify" instead of looking at population centers along those routes. This has them putting stations in Arvin and Buellton (two small towns) instead of Bakersfield and Santa Barbara (the population centers 20 miles down the road).

It never fails to amaze me how some people can throw up a "proposal" without thinking about the viability of that which they propose.

Re:Inhabitat.com's map (1)

Rayeth (1335201) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893401)

Apparently if you don't live in SF, LA, or San Diego you're some kind of HUMMER driving, environmentalist hating suburbanite.

Saving the planet starts at home! (2, Funny)

nategoose (1004564) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893343)

That's why I installed an electric vehicle grid in my driveway 2 years ago. Get on the ball, Bay Area!

Capital, not capitol !! (1, Informative)

Smurf (7981) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893369)

[...] unveiled a massive concerted effort to become the electric vehicle capitol of the United States.

Sorry to be the spelling Nazi, but (from the New Oxford American Dictionary):

Capitol
1 the seat of the U.S. Congress in Washington, DC.
â ( capitol) a building housing a legislative assembly : 50,000 people marched on New Jersey's state capitol.
2 the temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill in ancient Rome.

ORIGIN from Old French capitolie, capitoile, later assimilated to Latin Capitolium (from caput, capit- âheadâ(TM) ).

On the other hand:

capital
noun
1 (also capital city or town) the most important city or town of a country or region, usually its seat of government and administrative center.
â [with adj. ] a place associated more than any other with a specified activity or product : Milan is the fashion capital of the world.
[...]

I'm not a native English speaker and even I knew that.

Vehicle standardization? (4, Interesting)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893391)

Either battery replacement, or plug-ins. We don't yet have a standard as to how to recharge these cars.

110v...220v...different plugs...different acceptable recharge times.
Replacement batteries will require some sort of mechanical/robotic system to do it. Your grandmother is not going to wrestle a 100lb battery pack out of the car. And none of the elec cars I've seen have easily (no more than 5 mins) replaceable packs.

Finally, we have the apartment problem. If I live on the 4th floor, how do I ensure my car won't be unplugged overnight by some miscreant on the street.

All of these can be overcome. But spending billions to build out a grid for this without the standardization in place will fail.

I really, REALLY want this to succeed. But this effort may be premature.

Re:Vehicle standardization? (2, Informative)

ChrisA90278 (905188) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893783)

"But spending billions to build out a grid for this without the standardization in place will fail."

What has to be standardized is the last 10 foot of cable. They are building the grid, that part that feeds that last ten feet.

Re:Vehicle standardization? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893935)

What has to be standardized is the last 10 foot of cable.

Yes.

They are building the grid, that part that feeds that last ten feet.

The linked article specifically talks about home and workplace charging stations, and battery replacement. That 'last ten feet'.
Show me one viable elec car with an easily replaceable battery pack. Just one.
Now show me another make/model that uses the same system.

Re:Vehicle standardization? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893797)

I want to see this succeed as well. Better Place (BP) is working on standardization. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe they have grids setup in Isreal already. Imagine today's gas station setup, but instead of gasoline, they charge your car. BP is working towards a clean energy from natural sources.

As far as the above poster speaking of mass transit is the way to go, I believe we will get there eventually. Yes, other countries have a much better public transit system, but we can't expect something like to materialize. Slow and steady.

A nice effort, but what about the future? (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893593)

It's great to see people getting out there and trying to get things done about making alternative energy-powered cars available, but it seems like it's happening sporadically.

Arnie is building hydrogen fueling stations around California, the Bay Area's getting electric, who knows what other places will do? And that's just in California!

It seems like a waste to use government money to implement conflicting standards when one of them is going to lose... and the conflict itself can slow down adoption; after all, if people didn't want to buy HD-DVD or Blu-Ray for fear of buying the losing technology, who wants to buy a car susceptible to that problem?

Imagine if, in the 80s, the government had mandated use and sale of Betamax in some major cities and VHS in other major cities -- spent your tax dollars on raising infrastructure for conflicting standards! What a waste.

I hope Obama lays down a clear path for the United States to follow in terms of alternative energy generation and cars. Then perhaps we can sidestep this problem.

Oil is not a fossil fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893607)

http://home.earthlink.net/~root.man/peak.html

http://www.gasresources.net/DisposalBioClaims.htm

Dismissal of the Claims of a Biological Connection for Natural Petroleum.

J. F. Kenney

Joint Institute of The Physics of the Earth - Russian Academy of Sciences

Gas Resources Corporation, 11811 North Freeway, Houston, TX 77060, U.S.A.

Ac. Ye. F. Shnyukov

National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Vladimirskaya Street 56, 252.601 Kiev, Ukraine

V. A. Krayushkin

Institute of Geological Sciences

O. Gonchara Street 55-B, 01054 Kiev, Ukraine

I. K. Karpov

Institute of Geochemistry - Russian Academy of Sciences

Favorskii Street 1a, 664.033 Irkutsk, RUSSIA

V. G. Kutcherov

Russian State University of Oil and Gas

Leninskii Prospect 65, 117.917 Moscow, Russia

I. N. Plotnikova

National Petroleum Company of Tatarstan (TatNeft S.A.)

Butlerov Street 45-54, 423.020 Kazan, Tatarstan, RUSSIA

1. Introduction.

                    With recognition that the laws of thermodynamics prohibit spontaneous evolution of liquid hydrocarbons in the regime of temperature and pressure characteristic of the crust of the Earth, one should not expect there to exist legitimate scientific evidence that might suggest that such could occur. Indeed, and correctly, there exists no such evidence.

                    Nonetheless, and surprisingly, there continue to be often promulgated diverse claims purporting to constitute âoeevidenceâ that natural petroleum somehow evolves (miraculously) from biological matter. In this short article, such claims are briefly subjected to scientific scrutiny, demonstrated to be without merit, and dismissed.

                    The claims which purport to argue for some connection between natural petroleum and biological matter fall into roughly two classes: the âoelook-like/come-fromâ claims; and the âoesimilar(recondite)-properties/come-fromâ claims.

                    The âoelook-like/come-fromâ claims apply a line of unreason exactly as designated: Such argue that, because certain molecules found in natural petroleum âoelook likeâ certain other molecules found in biological systems, then the former must âoecome-fromâ the latter. Such notion is, of course, equivalent to asserting that elephant tusks evolve because those animals must eat piano keys.

                    In some instances, the âoelook-like/come-fromâ claims assert that certain molecules found in natural petroleum actually are biological molecules, and evolve only in biological systems. These molecules have often been given the spurious name âoebiomarkers.â

                    The scientific correction must be stated unequivocally: There have never been observed any specifically biological molecules in natural petroleum, except as contaminants. Petroleum is an excellent solvent for carbon compounds; and, in the sedimentary strata from which petroleum is often produced, natural petroleum takes into solution much carbon material, including biological detritus. However, such contaminants are unrelated to the petroleum solvent.

                    The claims about âoebiomarkersâ have been thoroughly discredited by observations of those molecules in the interiors of ancient, abiotic meteorites, and also in many cases by laboratory synthesis under imposed conditions mimicking the natural environment. In the discussion below, the claims put forth about porphyrin and isoprenoid molecules are addressed particularly, because many âoelook-like/come-fromâ claims have been put forth for those compounds.

                    The âoesimilar(recondite)-properties/come-fromâ claims involve diverse, odd phenomena with which persons not working directly in a scientific profession would be unfamiliar. These include the âoeodd-even abundance imbalanceâ claims, the âoecarbon isotopeâ claims, and the âoeoptical-activityâ claims. The first, the âoeodd-even abundance imbalanceâ claims, are demonstrated to be utterly unrelated to any biological property. The second, âoecarbon isotopeâ claims, are shown to depend upon measurement of an obscure property of carbon fluids which cannot reliably be considered a measure of origin. The third, the âoeoptical-activityâ claims, deserve particular note; for the observations of optical activity in natural petroleum have been trumpeted loudly for years as a âoeproofâ of some âoebiological originâ of petroleum. Those claims have been thoroughly discredited decades ago by observation of optical activity in the petroleum material extracted from the interiors of carbonaceous meteorites. More significantly, recent analysis, which has resolved the previously-outstanding problem of the genesis of optical activity in abiotic fluids, has established that the phenomenon of optical activity is an inevitable thermodynamic consequence of the phase stability of multicomponent fluids at high pressures. Thereby, the observation of optical activity in natural petroleum is entirely consistent with the results of the thermodynamic analysis of the stability of the hydrogen-carbon [H-C] system, which establish that hydrocarbon molecules heavier than methane, and particularly liquid hydrocarbons, evolve spontaneously only at high pressures, comparable to those necessary for diamond formation.

                    There are two subjects which are particularly relevant for destroying the diverse, spurious claims concerning a putative connection of petroleum and biological matter: the investigations of the carbon material from carbonaceous meteorites; and the reaction products of the Fischer-Tropsch process. Because of their importance, a brief discussion of both is in order.

 

CA Govs required to be zero emmission by 2010 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25893811)

All California government vehicles are required to be 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2010 or face huge cuts in transit funds.

I personally like the 2010 Chevy zero-emission electric... finally!

I'll bet that Big-3 Auto might interfere (1, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893825)

While it would seem they are "on the ropes" so to speak, Big-3 Auto often has a lot to say when it comes to getting their will. They had a lot to do with the failure of competing technologies including passenger rail. The next argument may be "now we REALLY can't compete because we don't have an electric car! give us more money and time to sell off the rest of our SUVs and we will consider making an electric car provided it has a high enough profit margin and a controlled 3rd party parts market."

Electric fill-ups take too long (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893847)

The scheme involves a number of ground-breaking proposals to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, including speeding up the installation of electric vehicle charging outlets on streets and in homes, and offering incentives for companies to install charging stations in the workplace.
On streets?!? Gee, what could possible go wrong with that... nobody would be tempted to, say, unplug that cable from your car and steal the power you are paying for, now would they? How many companies (other than government contractors like Lockheed) have secure parking lots? What's to stop me from plugging in my motor home and living there? Have they really thought about all the different ways this system can be abused? Wouldn't a simple battery-exchange program(just like the propane-tank exchange they already have at Lowe's/Home Depo) work a lot better?

Can we (California) just be our own country now? (1, Troll)

echtertyp (1094605) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893899)

this is cool. You know, most of the rest of the ChristianWalmartMicrosft States of America can't stand this stuff. And that's fine. I hope California can just gracefully say adios to the other 49, best wishes, etc. Kind of like how Singapore parted ways with Malaysia when they realized Singapore was doing all the heavy lifting there.

Why not bikes, for (*&%@'s sake??? (4, Interesting)

fugue (4373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893929)

The Bay Area would be perfect for bikes. They are far more energy-efficient than EVs (by like 2 orders of magnitude), the Bay Area is largely flat, it suffers from massive congestion (EVs don't even begin to address that), it doesn't get too warm, it doesn't rain much all summer long, the societal cost of maintaining the facilities to park a few million cars are devastating, a few of the people who live there could use some exercise...

I like bikes even in hilly, rainy country, but there they have some disadvantages. It's utterly absurd that somewhere as perfect as the Bay Area doesn't encourage cycling.

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