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344 comments

50 mile range may not be the end of the world (4, Insightful)

WelshRarebit (1595637) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647760)

If they price it right (ie: much cheaper than a leaf) then I'd consider it. My commute in the morning is 10 miles each way, plus add 10 miles for a trip to the grocery store and this car can take care of 90% of my driving needs. I already own a mini-van with a trailer hitch so I am covered for long trips or for towing or carrying stuff.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36647800)

It's gonna make a great commuter. Video review here [youtube.com]. I live in the Bay area and think this is going to be PERFECT for the 20-mile round trips when traffic hits.

Eat my GPL'd penis! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36647912)

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Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36647808)

The problem is they keep pricing the things so high the economics of buying them just aren't there.

We need some cheap little electric short range vehicles that are more than CEVs but not economically disincented if you run the numbers.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647944)

The problem is they keep pricing the things so high the economics of buying them just aren't there.

That's because electric cars make no financial sense at this point in time and probably won't any time soon.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (3, Insightful)

polar red (215081) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648200)

That's because electric cars make no financial sense at this point in time and

95% of all the vehicles on the road don't make financial sense. what's the financial point of a porsche ? a VW jetta/golf can carry more ...

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648248)

what's the financial point of a porsche?

Fun, of course. The problem with this is that unless you take especial pleasure from being 'green', these cars aren't enjoyable. They're not even superior, practicality wise, than a cheap 4 door sedan, yet cost more.

Electric cars would really take off if they truly had a lower total cost of ownership, but at this point they don't.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648390)

the battery is the most expensive part, and the surprisingly large weight of the battery is one of the biggest limits on efficiency, this should turn out to have a much hinger mile/kwh ratio than its rivals as well as a battery which is cheaper to replace, assuming that they are competent.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647824)

If it's $6k it might have a place in the market. Anymore and it simply costs too much for the limited range especially when you're looking at the geographic scope of north america in the first place. One of the main reasons why people don't live in major cities and commute is because they don't like the city, but that's where their job is. That isn't even touching on public transportation, which is either poor or non existent.

Well this probably won't catch on anyway, especially since people seem to be looking away from building things like nuclear power plants, and people in the US have this irrational fear of plutonium, and breeder reactors.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36647868)

$6k? Are you fucking kidding?

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648070)

$6k? Are you fucking kidding?

Yeah, I wouldn't pay more than $5k for an electric 'smart car' like this one.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648450)

So you're not an early adopter for this technology, so what? Most people aren't. I remember when I first bought a computer back in 1982, most people couldn't imagine that they'd ever have a reason to buy a computer of their own. And Gates "a computer on every desk" was still a seemingly unrealistic goal. 20 years later most people in the developed world had them at home and at work.

You not being in amongst the early adopters won't stop electric cars following the typical S sharped technology adoption curve. In 2 or 3 decades time, buying a car with an internal combustion engine will seem rather old fashioned.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (3, Interesting)

CyberBill (526285) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647874)

In California, you could buy this car and get $5,000 state and $7,500 federal tax credits - lowering the cost of the car by $12,500. The standard gas version of this car is looking to run ~$16,000... well equipped probably $20k. So long as this is in the same ballpark, you -could- be driving an EV for under $10k, and that is a steal for a brand new car.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36647920)

CA is out of rebate cash for EV's so you can forget the CA rebate.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (4, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647980)

That only provides incentive for manufacturers to keep prices high - it dies *not*lower the cost of the car, it just distributes it to other people.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648228)

Yeah, it distributes the money to the people who build electric cars instead of multi-ton gas guzzlers. It creates an incentive to develop and build small and light cars which can run on renewable energy. That is the point. Competition among the people who build these less wasteful cars is what's supposed to bring the prices down.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648396)

The prices aren't high because the manufacturer's want them to be. They are high because batteries are expensive to make. So yes, the gov scheme does reduce the amount the consumer pays.

Small gov ideologues won't want to accept that though.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648064)

I don't mean to be rude, but I think that's a ridiculously optimistic set of numbers. More likely a person will end up paying 50% more (or worse) for this car, while getting significantly less utility. In short, this thing is a turd.

It might survive though, if only as one of those examples of people willing to make retarded decisions because, on the surface, something is labelled as more "green".

In truth you'd probably be doing yourself and the world a favor by just buying a motorcycle. Energy efficiency on bikes is great, you can get 4+ times the range out of them, no banks of batteries to replace and in the case of this "car", about equal carrying utility. The only real downside is rain... if you live somewhere where it rains a lot.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648398)

Nope, fuel efficiency of a motorbike "might" be almost twice that of a small car. I know, i commute 120km a day round trip on a 650cc bike. I currently get around 4.1L/100km from the bike, my 1.6L mazda gets 6.2L/100km for the same journey. While some might criticize me for riding a 650cc bike, smaller bikes don't get a substantial saving, try 2 to 3L/100km for a 150cc scooter. Not worth the trade-off for me in power and comfort.

I have looked into this as I've been concerned with the lack of fuel efficiency in bikes for a long time, and hope someone will bring out a larger capacity bike tuned for efficiency and not power. Honda are you listening???

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648434)

Ducati used to make bikes with fantastic fuel consumption, typically 50+ mpg, which is amazing for a sport bike. I'm not sure if they're still doing that, plus the cost of ownership would more than offset the fuel savings, and I'm not talking about acquisition costs.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648130)

You should look into what parts of the country are growing. The flight from city center ended and has reversed in the past decade. People are moving back to the cities and loving it. Even downtown Detroit has seen growth...

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648334)

It isn't due to people wanting to live in cities, it is due to people HAVING to live there because there is no where else to go. Rural areas are being bought up and turned into gold courses. Farming is a dying art due to agribusiness being able to lowball the guy on the street and sell corn and cucumbers for far better he can (due to expensive patented seeds only sold to the big guys.) Woe to the little farmer if the agribusiness's stuff has pollen that blows across the fence... that is a patent violation right there.

Cities in the US are unlivable.

Do parents want to raise kids where homeless people rule each street corner, and a guy demanding cash can become an assailant in a matter of seconds? Nope.

City schools are at best to train kids how to deal with prison because college is out of reach for most America... and most jobs require that, or else workplaces are grabbing H-1B visas hand over fist. (Just specified a "confidential requirement", and you got your offshore guy.) Realistically, most US teenagers are not going to ever have a first real job. Too much competition on the low end from undocumented workers, and from the high end by H-1Bs.

Infrastructure? Forget about it. All the cash a town makes goes for their stadium so their team doesn't decide to move elsewhere because their Jumbotron is one foot narrower than what the nearby town offers.

Roads? Almost impassible due to cities failing to make the cut for infrastructure.

Control. You are on a tight leash in a city. Decide to protest something? Welcome to Kettling 101, or end up just tased and in the can for a week. Good luck with lawsuits. Private prisons are also looking for residents for long stays, so it is easy to get hit by felony-hard charges. Piss on a wall? Whups, felony. Police officer spies you with a joint, tackles you, and the joint falls out of the hand? Attempting to conceal evidence, obstruction of justice, both felonies. Of course, these are not crimes that actually matter, so even though the jails are full of potheads, police don't want to catch the homeless guys smashing and grabbing -- the bums will defecate in their police car making the cop and their vehicle offline for 2-3 hours while it gets decontaminated.

Independence. You are at the mercy of the city services. If they go out for a while, you are just plain fucked. No food, you are on your own... ask the Russians how well the wallpaper tasted. Oh... and good luck evacuating. Houston had people still on the roads in the city when the hurricane struck a couple years back.

Being at the mercy of people who have zero of your interests. Take Santa Cruz and Austin. Students move there, vote for all these amenities, then graduate and move away, and don't have to pay the taxes on them.

Best thing one can have is to get some workable land, a well, and solar panels. This way, when cities decide they can't afford to actually keep the water treatment plant on, you and your family might be able to survive.

For the tl;dr crowd... cities are not places you want to live. They are places you need to get the hell out of if you have the money.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648086)

For the typical commuter in Metro Atlanta, the vehicle will have to be charged every night: 20 miles each way to work, drop the kids off at school, assorted errands each day, ....

I think it's really cool, but I hope that it can fully charge in 8 -10 hours.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648148)

Except that in cold weather, the range of the battery can get significantly lower [consumerreports.org]. As such, having a car with a range of 50 miles is probably one of the least useful ideas that I have seen come out of Toyota in awhile.

From the article (driving a Nissan Leaf), they set out with a "20 mile" range at 10 degrees Fahrenheit and only made it 8 miles (40%) before the car practically shutdown. By extending that, to the Toyota, you'd get 50 miles on the read out, and go 20 miles. Looks like you will be needing that minivan and towing hitch for the car as well. Or you had better live in an always-warm environment.

It's not even progress given the examples of the Leaf, i, and Volt with longer room and more space.

Re:50 mile range may not be the end of the world (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648574)

It's not so much the range but the recharge time.

A small fuel tank on a car would mean more stops, but with an electric car the recharge time may be overnight. Not much use. But if it was 10 minutes or there was an option to swap batteries then it wouldn't be so bad.

small... (1, Interesting)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647818)

For a daily commuter, it looks a little small. The average size of a 'randomly selected' US commuter car is considerably bigger than this car. I love the concept, but it looks about as 'safe' as commuting via motorcycle.

Heck, at this point I'd consider a smaller car 'enclosed' in a bigger, 'safety' shell.

Re:small... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648092)

"Looks about as safe as a motorcycle" is no reason it won't sell. How many motorcycles are there in the US alone?

Re:small... (2)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648468)

Size has nothing to do with safety. The Smart Car earned the top safety rating [iihs.org] from the IIHS. It uses a very sophisticated airbag system to protect the occupants.

That being said, I wish the U.S. would relax the safety regulations on cars. Motorcycles have essentially no safety while cars have so many requirements that it is nearly impossible to build a truly efficient car. I have wished we would do the same thing they do in Germany and other European countries, which is to allow ATVs to be converted and licensed for street use. This would at least be a good place to start.

Smart car safety... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648566)

Smart car safety is slightly overrated. If you're in a head-on collision with another car you'll take two or three times the hit as the other car because it weighs two or three times less.

OTOH most accidents aren't head-ons so it's not all bad news.

(And just to balance things ... statistics show that SUVs are *less* safe then normal cars in non-head-on collisions because they almost always flip over)

Los Alamos Evacuation Order Lifted (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36647828)

The record-breaking Las Conchas fire in New Mexico has destroyed more than 113-thousand acres, but firefighters are making progress and as of this morning, the evacuation order on the people of nearby Los Alamos county has been lifted.

The Las Conchas fire is the biggest blaze in the state's history.

"Everybody's tired, everybody wants to be done. I want to be done, so everything's being done that we can to expedite this for you all," said Los Alamos County Police Chief Wayne Torpy said.

Re:Los Alamos Evacuation Order Lifted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648354)

how many miles was the evacuation route?

for the city (2)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647862)

When I lived near the city center this would have been great as the second car for a couple. Really. I would have loved it, at the right price.

Not so much any more though. Our current vehicles get about 25, 20, & 8 mpg. (Don't freak out you greenies, I don't drive the 5-ton very often or very far. It's a pretty harsh ride...) So yeah, since we, current owners of 3 largish vehicles, would have considered it seriously, I'd bet there's a good market for it.

Re:for the city (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648374)

"...since we, current owners of 3 largish vehicles, would have considered it seriously, I'd bet there's a good market for it."

The real question is why you own three vehicles which ALL get such poor fuel economy.

It's not about being 'green', you douche bag, it is about SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY.

Re:for the city (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648520)

ever try to move 8,000 lbs of concrete bags in a prius? some activities REQUIRE large, powerful, and, as a byproduct, fuel inefficient vehicles. He even said he does not use the 8 mpg vehicle when he does not have to. as for 20 and 25 mpg, if those vehicles are anything larger than a town car, then that is fantastic milage.

Yeah, 50 miles when it's *new* (4, Insightful)

Clueless Moron (548336) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647864)

What will the range be like after 5-10 years? And what if it's a really cold winter day? I have to heat the cabin somehow.

This is my main problem with all-electric vehicles. You never really know how much range you have. And if you live in a cold climate like I do, gasoline engines are really quite efficient in the winter since the "waste" heat is not wasted at all; it heats the cabin.

Re:Yeah, 50 miles when it's *new* (1)

WelshRarebit (1595637) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647898)

Would you buy a bicycle to commute? Many people would not, and yet millions of other people do. Just because *you* have some specific issues with this car doesn't mean there isn't a market for it. Slashdotters, in their rush to denounce everything that is new and different (cough ipod cough), seem to forget that a lot.

Re:Yeah, 50 miles when it's *new* (1)

Clueless Moron (548336) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647950)

Would you buy a bicycle to commute? Many people would not, and yet millions of other people do. Just because *you* have some specific issues with this car doesn't mean there isn't a market for it. Slashdotters, in their rush to denounce everything that is new and different (cough ipod cough), seem to forget that a lot.

I am pointing out to people that the 50 mile "range" figure has to be taken with a grain of salt. I am trying to help people.

If somebody has a 40 mile total commute and buys this car because of the 50 mile range figure, I predict they are going to be sorely disappointed in a few years as the car sighs to a halt 5 miles from their house while coming back from work because the batteries are old and they were using the cabin heater. Measuring battery capacity is really quite difficult.

Re:Yeah, 50 miles when it's *new* (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647990)

If somebody has a 40 mile total commute and buys this car because of the 50 mile range figure, I predict they are going to be sorely disappointed in a few years as the car sighs to a halt 5 miles from their house while coming back from work because the batteries are old and they were using the cabin heater. Measuring battery capacity is really quite difficult.

Or while they're stuck in a traffic jam in the rain at night with the AC on.

As you say, there's no such thing as a '50 mile battery' and you should probably assume that you'll actually get no more than half the claimed capacity in the worst conditions.

Re:Yeah, 50 miles when it's *new* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648204)

Or while they're stuck in a traffic jam in the rain at night with the AC on.. assume that you'll actually get no more than half the claimed capacity in the worst conditions.

Energy for AC and lights is not going to cut an electric car's mileage an more than it would cut a gasoline car's mileage.
Since my current gas car doesn't seem to get half the mileage when I use the AC now its not going to be any worse in an electric. Put another way, 50 miles worth of gas doesn't magically cool a car more efficiently than 50 miles worth of electricity.

Re:Yeah, 50 miles when it's *new* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648514)

Even if that were true, gas-fueled vehicles don't have barely enough fuel capacity to get you to work and back, and can be refuelled instantly at stations conveniently located along roadways. With the current infrastructure, an electric car typically has to get you to all of your destinations and home again on one charge.

Such unanticipated reductions in "range" simply do not matter for gas-fueled vehicles ("range" rarely enters into purchasing decisions or gets mentioned with them), but range is a key feature of electric cars.

Besides, your claim is false. Gas cars are expected to idle in traffic jams, and don't benefit from regenerative braking in stop-and-go traffic; a considerable amount of an electric car's range estimates depends on these advantages. A non-stop expense of energy like lights and AC (to say nothing of heating) will be a much more significant fraction of an electric car's energy expenses than it would be for a gas-fuelled vehicle that has to idle.

Re:Yeah, 50 miles when it's *new* (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648578)

Energy for AC and lights is not going to cut an electric car's mileage an more than it would cut a gasoline car's mileage.

A stationary gasoline car is producing power 'for free' because the engine is idling anyway. Doesn't much matter whether or not the lights or AC are on because if they're not the power is just wasted.

Re:Yeah, 50 miles when it's *new* (0)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648386)

You hit the nail on the head.

Take a scenario where some drunk decides hit a semi, causing it to crash into a median, which is all too common on I-35. Even when the wreck is cleared, it will take 30-45 minutes to traverse it. Add the fact that the car is likely around 1/2 or 2/3 charge from coming home, and there is a good chance of the vehicle running out of juice, even though it barely moves at idle.

These things are not road-worthy. It means that we will have more stalled cars that have to wait for the tow trucks, and this could be fatal during an evacuation.

We don't need gimmicks. Want to know what the US really needs on the roads? Turbo diesels. They have an obscene MPG, are tried and true, and have a standard range of fuel. MSRP? $26,065 will get you a TDI with a decent navigation system. MPG? Easily in the 30s, even with driving it like you stole it.

Want hybrids? Sure. Stick a battery pack in a turbo diesel, or even just a beefed up starter motor that can move the vehicle short distances so the car's main engine can be off in low speed traffic, saving at least 10% of fuel costs, far more on fleet vehicles that idle.

Car makers need to start making what consumers need and are useful. Yes, an all electric car is cute, but we do not have the infrastructure for it, and we likely will not for 20-50 years. Most places where people might park may not have electricity available, much less to charge cars. (With a lot of employers, just receiving a paycheck is likely the most one can expect from them, much less amenities like parking or a juice hookup.) Electric cars are not practical now. This doesn't mean hybrid electric cars are not (like the Volt), but pure electric just doesn't have much use for most people, especially if they need to make that unplanned trip.

Re:Yeah, 50 miles when it's *new* (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648496)

Car makers need to start making what consumers need and are useful.

What, you mean instead of cars that the government tells them to make?

Re:Yeah, 50 miles when it's *new* (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647952)

Would you buy a bicycle to commute? Many people would not, and yet millions of other people do. Just because *you* have some specific issues with this car doesn't mean there isn't a market for it.

A bike doesn't cost more than a far more capable gasoline-powered car.

The market for this car is people with more money than sense, which exists, but isn't very large now that banks have stopped lending money to anything with a pulse.

Re:Yeah, 50 miles when it's *new* (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648310)

And what if it's a really cold winter day? I have to heat the cabin somehow.

Wear extra layers. You should be bringing them anyway in case you have a flat tire.

Not that green anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36647900)

If you do some research about where and how they mine the minerals to make the batteries for those cars then you'll find out it's more destructive to the environment than a regular car, not to mention that much of the electricity in the USA is still produced from polluting sources.

It's not the electric car idea that's the problem, it's the energy and its storage.

How about good old electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen? Where's the problem with that?

Re:Not that green anyway (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648290)

....not to mention that much of the electricity in the USA is still produced from polluting sources.

How about good old electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen? Where's the problem with that?

So, we shouldn't use electricity, because it's dirty, instead we should use electricity.

Got it.

Re:Not that green anyway (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648314)

If you do some research about where and how they mine the minerals to make the batteries for those cars then you'll find out it's more destructive to the environment than a regular car, not to mention that much of the electricity in the USA is still produced from polluting sources.

False [discovery.com].

Screw Electric (1, Insightful)

RazorSharp (1418697) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647902)

Liquid hydrogen is the way to go. All these electric cars are just slowing down the development of hydrogen. There cars work and they work well -- BMW and Ford/Mazda have bivalent models that can switch between hydrogen and gasoline. That's what needs to be pushed onto the market, not this electric crap.

I'd be all for electric if nuclear power was common, but in my state almost all the energy is produced in coal power plants. I just don't see how that is so much different from burning gasoline. If the automotive industry is going to undergo a paradigm shift, it should be the best one available, not some half-assed compromise.

Re:Screw Electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36647948)

How do you think Hydrogen is manufactured, if not from electricity?

Re:Screw Electric (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647970)

How do you think Hydrogen is manufactured, if not from electricity?

Um, steam reforming of natural gas, dude.

I'd guess you'd do a lot better just running the cars on the natural gas and forgetting the hydrogen crap.

Re:Screw Electric (1)

Tyrion Moath (817397) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647978)

At least Hydrogen could be manufactured where energy was cheap, i.e. near nuclear reactors, solar/wind farms, etc. Although then you have to transport it.

I'm fine with electric cars, though.

Re:Screw Electric (3, Interesting)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648096)

If you are referring to electrolysis, it is my understanding electrolysis does not scale very well. And if you're just going to use electricity to make the hydrogen, why not just skip the hydrogen step and put the electricity directly into cars? It isn't like hydrogen is especially convenient to transport or store. Though I know there are ways to use the heat from a nuclear reactor to directly create hydrogen from water. Not sure how that scales though of if it is more or less efficient than using the heat to make electricity.

Re:Screw Electric (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648564)

I think the reason for using Hydrogen is to increase the range of the car. Electrical storage is a severe weakness which greatly reduces the utility. I'm not aware of any cheap mass-production method of Hydrogen.

Re:Screw Electric (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648026)

How do you think Hydrogen is manufactured, if not from electricity?

It doesn't matter. Conversion from electricity and water to hydrogen and back can be very efficient.
The problem with electric cars is energy storage (batteries), and hydrogen can be stored more easily than electricity.

Re:Screw Electric (4, Insightful)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648168)

It doesn't matter. Conversion from electricity and water to hydrogen and back can be very efficient.

And yet almost nobody does it. Most hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels.

The problem with electric cars is energy storage (batteries), and hydrogen can be stored more easily than electricity.

Actually hydrogen storage is fraught with problems. And not just "oh, but we can fix that" problems. It is more like hydrogen is just not very convenient. For example, hydrogen has a nasty habit of slowly breaking down metal (embrittlement). There's much more room for improved battery technology than there is for hydrogen storage and transmission. Besides, we already have the infrastructure to deliver electricity to every home. What's the point in introducing the hydrogen middleman?

Re:Screw Electric (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648572)

I think the poster was referring to storage in the vehicle. A Hydrogen powered vehicle would have the same range as their gasoline powered counterparts.

Re:Screw Electric (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647956)

Where is the hydrogen going to come from? Or the energy to generate it?

Re:Screw Electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36647974)

*facepalm*

Re:Screw Electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648034)

The sun.

Re:Screw Electric (1)

RazorSharp (1418697) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648124)

Where is the hydrogen going to come from? Or the energy to generate it?

Hopefully near a nuclear power plant or some other clean source of energy. Diesel may be used to transport it in the interim, but the whole idea behind a paradigm shift would be that eventually the semis would run off of hydrogen as well.

I see that as more likely than bringing nuclear power everywhere. Considering the incident in Japan, all the nuclear skeptics (and the coal industry) now have something to point to to scare the public away from supporting new nuclear plants. Just look what's happening in Europe -- several countries have pledged to drop their support for nuclear power.

I also have to admit that I have an ulterior reason to support hydrogen -- they drive like normal cars and I'm a car nut. I want my manual transmission and pistons (or, even better, piston in the case of rotary). I want combustion but I acknowledge the damage current engines are wreaking on the environment. They don't quite pack the same punch as a gasoline engine, but I think that can be overcome in time.

But despite my bias towards combustion, I do think that, in the long term, hydrogen is a better solution. It's also better for the market as various companies can compete and bring prices down. The utilities monopolies would love for everyone to drive electric.

Re:Screw Electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36647960)

You realize that hydrogen is purely created using electricity right?

Re:Screw Electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648018)

Yeah those nasty rumors about needing a source of hydrogen are completely unfounded.

Re:Screw Electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648008)

Except for the whole part where it costs more energy to make than it provides, and oh yes, its a bomb.

Re:Screw Electric (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648138)

It doesn't matter if it cost more energy than it provides. It's a storage medium. Plus I have news for you. It cost more energy to charge a battery than that battery provides. Entropy is a real bitch sometimes.

If you think hydrogen is a bomb than what do you think the lithium in Tesla's car batteries is? A puppy?

Dumbass

Re:Screw Electric (3, Insightful)

Trebawa (1461025) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648016)

And where do you think hydrogen comes from? Electrolysis. Using hydrogen just adds another step to the fuel pipeline, and with each step comes less efficiency. Once of the biggest advantages of electric cars is that they're fuel-agnostic - they don't care where the electricity comes from. As we move towards cleaner fuel sources, that's when we'll see our emissions really change. Not to mention that a coal-burning power plant is a heck of a lot more efficient, as far as ton of CO2 per watt, than an internal combustion engine.

Re:Screw Electric (1)

Heddahenrik (902008) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648038)

Electricity, even from a coal plant, is way more clean and efficient than burning gas in a car. You do loose some due to battery issues, but compared to the waste in a explosion engine, it's nothing.

And cars should be driven with electric motors, that isn't a question. The question is if the power comes from batteries, engines, fuel cells or loaded while driving.

Re:Screw Electric (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648050)

Well the electric car will be the ultimate realization. Rather than lobby to change the car to suit our power, we should change our power (to nuclear) so we can have the best of all worlds.

Re:Screw Electric (3, Insightful)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648058)

Liquid hydrogen is the way to go

LOL Right. Because pumping liquid hydrogen at a station would just be soo safe and liquifying it and keeping it cold doesn't take much energy at all...

All these electric cars are just slowing down the development of hydrogen.

No, they're filling the niche that hydrogen is incapable of filling. There's very little new going on with hydrogen because it is just not a convenient fuel.

I'd be all for electric if nuclear power was common, but in my state almost all the energy is produced in coal power plants. I just don't see how that is so much different from burning gasoline.

You're aware that hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels releasing greenhouse gases, right?

If the automotive industry is going to undergo a paradigm shift, it should be the best one available, not some half-assed compromise.

And it isn't hydrogen. Sorry bud. There's just no good way to get hydrogen to consumers.

Re:Screw Electric (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648142)

Wow dude, as if gasoline weren't some dangerous liquid that we pump into cars?

All the major car manufacturers are still researching hydrogen. If they think it still might have a chance, you ought to figure out why, instead of throwing your brain-dead speculation on Slashdot.

Re:Screw Electric (2)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648246)

Wow dude, as if gasoline weren't some dangerous liquid that we pump into cars?

It is flammable, but that's about it. It is actually pretty safe. It isn't like splashing a bit on you is going to cause serious burns

All the major car manufacturers are still researching hydrogen. If they think it still might have a chance, you ought to figure out why, instead of throwing your brain-dead speculation on Slashdot.

I've done plenty of research and reading in this area. Hydrogen has too many problems. In many ways it is an unnecessary step. If you produce hydrogen from fossil fuels, you're not doing much better than burning gasoline and if you make hydrogen from electricity, you're wasting perfectly good electricity that could just as well go directly into cars. In practice, what benefit does hydrogen actually have? None. It is a pointless conversion in most cases.

Car manufacturers doing research in this area is just due diligence at this point. They need to keep current just in case there is some big breakthrough, but for the most part, they're committing to electric as an alternative.

Re:Screw Electric (4, Informative)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648542)

Yes, gasoline is a flammable liquid with a high-ish vapour pressure at room temperature and pressure...

Hydrogen is a gas at room temperature and pressure, and an extremely low density one at that (in fact, you'll struggle to find a less dense gas - it's the lightest element, but exists as a molecule, still helium is more dense, the next closest).

What the GP was mentioning was the assertion that pumping liquid hydrogen at a filling station would be "safe and easy" (in comparison to gasoline). Liquid hydrogen is a cryogen - that boils at -252C (-450F), so not only is it a) very energy intensive to liquify (either by pressurising and chilling, or just chilling), it will furiously boil when pumped up out of the dewars you keep it in.

The only real way to "safely" store it (without having to consider cryogenic issues like venting, ice build up on the outside of valves and pipework, extensive lagging and bulky dewars etc, is to store it as a compressed gas.

The problem with that takes us back to density: it has a very low energy density, so you need very high pressures to store lots of it (ie, enough to give you similar range to gasoline).

You certainly won't be pumping it as a cryogenic liquid out of a fuel pump into your car in the same way you currently pump gasoline, and to think that liquid gasoline and liquid hydrogen are broadly similar in safety (in terms of the precautions and risks involved in storage, usage and handling) as you suggest with your flippant and uninformed statement that starts with a sarcastic "wow" is just laughable.

The major research right now is "how do we increase the energy density?" - we had effective hydrogen fuel cells back in the 60s - we sent them to the moon on Apollo, but they had to be fuelled with LOx and LH2, which was hazardous, but handy since they were using millions of gallons of the stuff anyway to power the rocket engines themselves, bleeding off a little to run the fuel cells was just a bonus. We simply can't do that in a consumer vehicle, so we need a way to carry enough hydrogen to make fuel cells really worth it, hence research into new polymers that can "absorb" it like a sponge, or new materials that enable us to make higher pressure storage tanks etc.

Re:Screw Electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648244)

LOL Right. Because pumping liquid hydrogen at a station would just be soo safe and liquifying it and keeping it cold doesn't take much energy at all...

You don't need to keep liquid gasses cool, you just need to keep them under pressure. its the pressure that keeps them liquid. How do you think the gas bottle that powers your BBQ keeps the natural gas as a liquid inside?

Re:Screw Electric (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648292)

You don't need to keep liquid gasses cool,

You don't need to, but it helps depending on the liquid gas. They don't use natural gas in BBQs, BTW. They use propane, at least around here. Propane turns to liquid at relatively low pressures. It is convenient like that. The pressure needed to store it is about the pressure you'd want to delivery it at. Hydrogen, on the other, is very difficult to liquefy and storing it and transporting it is no trivial matter.

Re:Screw Electric (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648090)

I'd be all for electric if nuclear power was common, but in my state almost all the energy is produced in coal power plants. I just don't see how that is so much different from burning gasoline

Coal comes from the US, oil comes from the middle east. Huge difference, unless you are mainly worried about the worst global warming scenarios. IF we'd been using coal for the last 20 years, think of all the money we could have saved on wars in the middle east (ok, we could have saved the money other ways, but we won't do that in the future, either).

Re:Screw Electric (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648118)

You might be right, but we aren't abandoning hydrogen. From wikipedia:

In 2008, Hyundai announced its intention to produce 500 FC vehicles by 2010 and to start mass production of its FC vehicles in 2012.[12] In early 2009, Daimler announced plans to begin its FC vehicle production in 2009 with the aim of 100,000 vehicles in 2012–2013.[13][14] In 2009, Nissan started testing a new FC vehicle in Japan.[15] In September 2009, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Renault, Nissan and Toyota issued a joint statement about their undertaking to further develop and launch fuel-cell electric vehicles as early as 2015

Do you know with 100% certainty that hydrogen is better than electric? No, you don't. Both require development of future technology, and as that develops, one type may be better than the other. We will find out.

But there's no sense in putting all your eggs in one basket. Keep investing in both, and hopefully one of them will work. There is still no guarantee of that, even.

Re:Screw Electric (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648182)

Liquid hydrogen is the way to go.

How do you propose to keep it below 20.28K? Especially considering that the lowest ambient temperature recorded on the planet is 184K. Even the coldest planet in the Solar System has a minimum temperature of 49K

Re:Screw Electric (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648320)

I'd be all for electric if nuclear power was common, but in my state almost all the energy is produced in coal power plants. I just don't see how that is so much different from burning gasoline.

The coal plant is far more efficient than ICEs.

If the automotive industry is going to undergo a paradigm shift, it should be the best one available, not some half-assed compromise.

Gasoline is deeply entrenched. Replacing it with hydrogen would mean replacing or upgrading the extensive distribution network of gas stations nationwide. It's a messy Catch-22:
Cars are expensive. Nobody will buy hydrogen cars because there aren't any hydrogen gas stations.
Gas stations are expensive. Nobody is going to build or renovate hundreds of stations in order to sell something nobody will buy.
Designing, building, and selling cars is expensive. If nobody is going to buy a hydrogen car, car manufacturers won't try to sell one.

Electric cars can sell simply because the electric grid is already in place. It couldn't handle powering every car in America, but it doesn't need to — yet.

Re:Screw Electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648462)

Practically all cars run on hydrogen already. The trick is to turn the hydrogen into a room temperature liquid, instead of a gas, by combining the hydrogen with carbon. This form of hydrogen is known as hydrocarbon, also known as petrol or gasoline and diesel...

Elon Musk to the rescue in vibrant tight Lycra (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36647928)

He says his now defunct Tesla Roadster gets 250 miles per charge! And all this without any of those anal regenerative braking, and other cerebral stuffs!

There and back. (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 2 years ago | (#36647942)

According to Toyota, Scion iQ can only go 50 miles on a single charge.

Traffic? Roads? Weather?

I need to know what I can ask of the car under less than perfect conditions.

Re:There and back. (3, Insightful)

Tyrion Moath (817397) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648010)

I looked up the range of the Nissan Leaf, they say it can go 62 miles in terrible conditions: 14 degrees F outside, traffic jam, average speed of 15mph (it's most efficient speed is 38mph). That's slightly worse than half their best condition 138 miles: flat roads, 68d F, 38mph constant speed. (http://www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car/tags/show/range#/leaf-electric-car/theBasicsRange/index)

If Toyota is playing it safe and reporting their worst condition distance for now, then all is well. If they reported the distance it could go according to the EPA standard "LA4" test, then it might still get 30 miles in worst conditions.

Re:There and back. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648192)

"62 miles in terrible conditions: 14 degrees F outside, traffic jam, average speed of 15mph"

Ok, but it gets much worse than that on a routine basis. What happens when it is -25F outside, I have to plow through 4 inches of snow and slush, and I'm using the cabin heater full tilt? Do I get only 25 miles range now? And when I run out by the side of the road, what do I do?

Those conditions don't make my gas car suffer so much - it's range is only mildly decreased, and if I do run out, a friendly stranger with a gas can and a gallon of gas can let me limp to the next fuel station. With this electric car, I'm on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere... _what do I do_ when it's out of charge?

With a Volt, at least, I can make it the rest of the way on fossil fuel if I must. I can easily take an 800 mile road trip if I must. I don't need a second car to do those things.

Re:There and back. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648424)

Then you should not by this car, or hire a petrol car for the one or two trips a year when you need one. This is a city car and an inner city car at that, personally I think it will work much better here in the UK and "home" in japan than the US due to the higher population density.

Re:There and back. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648048)

Wish I could find the link at this moment. But read an interesting review(6 months ago) from someone who test drove an all electric car. The car they tested had around a 50 mile range. With their commute being around 15 miles, they thought they were golden. To make a long story short, the 30 mile round trip left very little left in the batteries, and it took an amazingly long time to recharge. So much that the reviewer couldn't not change it fully by the time the next days commute rolled around. They coasted in on "fumes" on day two and pretty much swore off 100% electric at that point. Spontaneous trip to the market/store/friends house? Forget about it.

Here is one reference to the white knuckle effect - http://jessicagottlieb.com/2011/06/nissan-leaf-electric-car-drive-and-review/

Sorry, I looked and looked but could not find the story I was talking about. But the link above talks of a 20 mile trip taking up 50 of that claimed 100 mile range. And it also references the LONG recharge times as well.

Solectria Sunrise; 375 miles per charge in 1997 (3, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648120)

Subject says it all.
 

Re:Solectria Sunrise; 375 miles per charge in 1997 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648420)

Once, under very specific circumstances, in 1996 (not '97):

http://www.foveal.com/ATdS_Report_1996.txt [foveal.com]

They only made something like four of them, and never came close to managing even half that range in real world usage:

http://evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=1737 [evworld.com]

And it not only looked hideous, it had hopelessly poor acceleration too (0-60 in 17 seconds), which together would've likely stopped most people even considering buying one:

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

...which is all to say, you can't compare a completely uncommercializable prototype with a real-world production vehicle.

Re:Solectria Sunrise; 375 miles per charge in 1997 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648498)

Beautiful way to call BullShit.
More a$$dragging by the big boys. There are Lead Acid conversions of junkers that get better range than this!

If you want an electric car, Build the damned thing yourself.

www.evalbum.com

I DROVE MY CHEVY TO THE LEVY BUT THE LEVY WAS DRY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648294)

Singing da-da-di, da-da-da, lala--al,alalw aht ear cut off and by by bye Sish right up and touch the sky

Infrastructure (2)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#36648316)

The infrastructure is not there yet. If I live in an apartment (city dweller?), where do I plug it in? If I have a house, but no garage, where do I plug it in.

Yes, some few companies are equipping their parking lots with plugin terminals. Very few. And as far as street side (parking meter?) plugins? I can see serious vandalism, just for the lulz.

A 50 mile range means that I have to manage the cars fuel every day. Doesn't sound like fun to me.
I love the idea of an all electric. But I just can't see it yet.

These will be impossible to resell very soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648324)

May as well buy a good used Corolla and it can be used
for that commute as well as other trips outside a 30 mile
radius.

All you idealists don't seem to grasp that the electric car just
isn't ready to replace a petroleum-fueled vehicle.

isn't there a better way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36648516)

diesel electric generator powering one or two electric motors. minimal battery requirements, efficient, can use low-grade fuel, excellent mileage. is anyone even listening? trains get it.

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