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Toyota Abandons Plans For All-Electric Vehicle Rollout

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the more-of-the-same dept.

Transportation 490

Soultest writes "Toyota has given up on plans to sell any significant number of all-electric vehicles. Citing 'many difficulties' with the project, the company says it will only sell about 100 of the battery-powered eQ cars it has been working on for several years. 'By dropping plans for a second electric vehicle in its line-up, Toyota cast more doubt on an alternative to the combustion engine that has been both lauded for its oil-saving potential and criticized for its heavy reliance on government subsidies in key markets like the United States. 'The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society's needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge,' said, Uchiyamada, who spearheaded Toyota's development of the Prius hybrid in the 1990s.'"

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490 comments

Largely Demand Driven (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436491)

There will never be a large market for electric cars until the infrastructure has been upgraded accordingly. Where I have lived (Texas, Michigan), there are no charging stations. You can't expect people to buy the car if the infrastructure doesn't support the car.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (4, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#41436675)

There will never be a large market for electric cars until the infrastructure has been upgraded accordingly. Where I have lived (Texas, Michigan), there are no charging stations. You can't expect people to buy the car if the infrastructure doesn't support the car.

True, at the moment it is a niche market. If you live close enough to work and a store to commute on a single charge, and have a second vehicle in the household for longer trips it makes sense. I think that this niche is a lot bigger than the current market - electric vehicles are still much more expensive than equivalent compact cars.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (5, Interesting)

RogueyWon (735973) | about 2 years ago | (#41436717)

I think the actual issue is that we might be thinking about what infrastructure is needed for this in the wrong way.

I don't currently own a car (lucky enough to live in a London suburb with great public transport), but if I did, then an electric vehicle would make a lot of sense for what I'd use it for - short shopping trips and the like. However, the apartment complex I live in has no charging facilities in its car-park, so even though I own a parking space there (which currently sits empty), I'd have no way of charging one. Getting charging facilities installed would be seriously expensive.

I've often wondered if the conceptual model we use for electric cars isn't the wrong one. The current assumption is that when you buy an electric car, you also buy and own the battery, and you are responsible for keeping it charged.

Now - maybe there are umpteen good reasons why this couldn't work - but has anybody ever tried a different approach? I'm talking about a model where the cars have easily-swapped batteries, which the driver leases, rather than owning. So... you buy your car and you pay an upfront deposit for the lease of a battery. When your battery runs low, you go into a gas station (or in this case, gas/charging station), the battery gets removed and replaced by a fresh one from the station's "charging room".

You pay a fee to the station covering your share of its electricity costs for charging the battery plus whatever profit margin it requires (much like paying for your gas at the moment), and you drive off a few minutes after arriving. Meanwhile, "your" old battery is charged up at the station and swapped with another customer's empty battery once it's finished recharging. This eliminates a lot of the charge-time complaints associated with electric vehicles at the moment and also means that we don't need charging points in homes or at the roadside.

I'm sure there must be good reasons why this wouldn't work, given it never seems to get consideration - but what are they?

Re:Largely Demand Driven (4, Insightful)

Skater (41976) | about 2 years ago | (#41436851)

There are people working on this idea. The issues are that it requires a standard battery pack, which is easily and quickly changeable - within a few minutes at most.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | about 2 years ago | (#41436969)

It's good to know that the issue's being worked on - are there any links? (I'm genuinely interested in this stuff.)

I can see that the standardisation issue could be a tricky one (in a world where we still have no standard mobile phone or laptop chargers), but it surely can't be beyond our capacity to solve.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437485)

Renault uses this model in its Fluence Z.E. electrical car:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renault_Fluence_Z.E.#Better_Place_battery_swap

Re:Largely Demand Driven (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436971)

Propane cylinders can use that model. Unfortunately, what often happens is that the cylinders available are low quality, so you buy a nice new cylinder, and you get back a rusty but full one. The same thing would happen with the battery packs. Also, the battery packs would need a heavy-duty lift system to lift them out, as they are big and heavy.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437013)

And who is going to lift the battery? You would need an infrastructure and staffing at every gas station for hooking up and lifting out the old batteries, and putting in new ones. Remember, these aren't your normal car batteries we are talking about. Not to mention the battery technology is changing every year, so nobody will have replacements until that rate of change settles down - which may never happen.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437021)

Such a network is up and running in Israel.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Better_Place

Are you sure you live in London? (-1, Troll)

Viol8 (599362) | about 2 years ago | (#41437271)

"apartment complex" , "gas station"? These are not terms the average Brit uses. Unless you're an american ex-pat of course.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

earthman (12244) | about 2 years ago | (#41437297)

This is exactly the model Renault is using in Europe. Plus you can still charge the car yourself.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

lookatmyhorse (2566527) | about 2 years ago | (#41436757)

In Germany, the industry and government plans are to go full electric [thelocal.de] For instance, BMW has these prototypes running. [insideline.com]

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

rmstar (114746) | about 2 years ago | (#41436981)

In Germany, the industry and government plans are to go full electric For instance, BMW has these prototypes running.

The government is very involved in these things. These cars are being developed because "they are wanted" (and who the f**k wants them?). It's a scam, in a way. Just the same as the Transrapid, which never made any sense from a techno-economical point of view, but "was wanted" in the very same way. Including financial incentives from government.

The whole think would inspire in me a certain sympathy for libertarian arguments about how the government wastes money on idiotic stuff, except that this is precisely the way germany has kept an edge technologically for so many decades: by subsidizing its heavy industry in this indirect way.

It's not even a bad gamble. If someone comes up with battery tech that is even remotely appropriate for the task (unlikely, but who knows), then voila. BMW has the platform! Germany rulez!

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | about 2 years ago | (#41437101)

I don't think it's a scam at all. Germany pays plenty for fossil fuels, and even for electricity. It fuels the German economy. Pollution is hideous, and costs are high.

At some point, this has to change not only for Germany, but the rest of us, too. Bigger more efficient batteries? More efficient drive trains? Coils embedded in highways so you can charge while driving? Who knows. What's evident is that fossil fuels will continue cost the planet a lot in terms of global weather change, politics, and money.

People don't want to change. But they ultimately don't have a choice. I want an electric. That Toyota gave up deeply saddens me. Now the Nissan Leaf is all that's really left.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (0, Troll)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#41437165)

Pollution is hideous, and costs are high.

Where exactly is pollution 'hideous' in Germany? Or do you mean that future pollution from the new coal power plants they're building because their 'renewable' power is far too unreliable for a modern economy?

I want an electric.

Good for you. There are plenty available. Go buy one.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about 2 years ago | (#41437265)

I can tell you haven't been there.

As for buying one, I'm in the market. The costs, however, are prohibitive.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (3, Informative)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 2 years ago | (#41437163)

Anyone who runs cars on industrial levels, i.e. reasonably short trips with high usage times and long total travel times per day but with frequent stops wants these cars. Badly. Once infrastructure is in place, such operators are looking to save tens of percent, in many cases over half of running costs of their entire car fleets.

This includes, for example, delivery trucks, taxis, public transit and many other operators. Many operators in fact already use electric engines with or without batteries for such functions, such as busses that run off electric wires over the streets or electric trams. They even considered tricks like inductive chargers on bus stops in some places that will basically automatically charge a bus that stops over one, essentially eliminating fuelling needs of a bus, but again infrastructure build costs are simply too high in the current economy.

Other advantages of electric engines include far lower maintenance requirements due to sheer simplicity of engines, lack of exhaust fumes to pollute which is very relevant in modern large city centres and much better performance in heavy duty work.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

rmstar (114746) | about 2 years ago | (#41437357)

Once infrastructure is in place, such operators are looking to save tens of percent, in many cases over half of running costs of their entire car fleets.

But there's the catch! Once the infrastructure is in place, it is going to be very expensive and not make any sense at all. Anyone that runs the numbers honestly on the needed infrastructure realizes that the whole e-mobility vision is a ridiculous joke. Even with halfway appropriate battery tech - which isn't even on the horizon.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437127)

German companies are also investigating tram like electric delivery systems to moving vehicles.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 2 years ago | (#41436795)

I'd be more than happy with a low cost electric vehicle with a range of around 50-100 miles as long as it's clearly priced and marketed as a supplementary vehicle (ie you'd be expected to buy one in addition to a regular car), is comfortable, and is climate controlled (I live in Florida, so an electric scooter isn't going to work for me.)

Most people's morning commute is less than 25 miles. If you could create a class of electric vehicle optimized for the morning commute, selling at, say, $5k, rather than insisting on trying to replace every $25k gasoline guzzler with a $35k green alternative, you ought to be able to make a mint.

Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the way the industry is working at the moment, in part because it's conservative and with good reason. It's scary producing new models of motor vehicle - Ford execs panic just at the risk that an overhaul of an existing line might be unpopular.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436835)

One accident or even light snow can add hours to your commute here in the DC Metro. For that reason alone I don't know anyone who would buy an all-electric car here.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41436917)

How would that impact the range of the vehicle? The range is in miles, not hours. While parked you will not be using the battery.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437051)

When your car is idling you are still running the heater or ac, listening to the radio, charging your cell phone, etc...

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

F.Ultra (1673484) | about 2 years ago | (#41437091)

If you are parked for several hours due to snow you would want to use the heater atleast.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41437363)

I have managed it without.
Lived in northern PA with a car that had no functional heater for a winter. I ended up replacing the blower motor come spring.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (2)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | about 2 years ago | (#41437495)

Usually it is cold in the winter. Power will be used to keep you warm in the car. Do you usually dress with many layers when you are going to work? Most people do not dress like they are going to an outdoor football game in the winter to go to work. The car has heat. They use that heat to keep warm. The heater can eat up the power in an all electric car very fast. Same goes for AC in the summer. So an accident or snowstorm can eat up the power.

The whole battery recharge method should be rethought. How often do people with gas cars recharge the battery that is in their car now? I usually replace that battery once every 5-6 years. Something similar should be done with all electric cars. Put the power generation in the car. Then there is no need need to recharge the car. It uses the same 12 volt battery (or 2-4 of them) to get going. Then the power generator can move the car as well as recharges the battery/batteries like current cars do. That will really annoy gas stations and truck/car stops. People will be making a pit stop when the human needs a pit stop not the car they are driving.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 2 years ago | (#41437439)

Parking is a real problem in New York City. For that reason alone, I don't know anyone who'd buy a car there.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

voidptr (609) | about 2 years ago | (#41437237)

I don't think you could realistically put a brand new vehicle together that was street legal and met current safety standards for less than $10,000. Arcimoto [arcimoto.com] is aiming for the commuter electric vehicle market, but they're projecting closer to $17k. That's still better than $35k though, and probably within range for a decent size group of early adopters.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (2)

fast turtle (1118037) | about 2 years ago | (#41437325)

Something that we've been considering is either the Volt or more likely the Prius as our main vehicle. What we're looking at is the 40-50 mile range on battery that's long enough for our normal driving needs in our rural area. Simply fill the tank, add a bottle of fuel stablizer and basically forget about the gas unless we need to drive a long distance. That's where the hybrid really pays off and in our case based on our fuel log, we'd probably buy a tank of gas every three months.

For others that's probably not a very practical scenario but with our driving being 28-35 miles round trip each day, this would be a god send to us. Hell I can easily charge the car at home while still having the ICE for low battery situations or long trips.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437019)

You probably haven't lived in Michigan in a while:

http://www.annarbor.com/news/ann-arbor-now-ready-to-welcome-electric-vehicles-with-new-charging-stations-downtown/
http://ferndale.patch.com/topics/charging+station
http://rochester.patch.com/articles/we-re-electric-car-charging-stations-now-installed-downtown-at-village

And the list goes on...

Re:Largely Demand Driven (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437041)

That's because you live in Texas.... I think driving any electric car = death penalty...

Re:Largely Demand Driven (4, Interesting)

7-Vodka (195504) | about 2 years ago | (#41437061)

If you actually look at the data from the studies that companies have performed, there are virtually zero current owners of electric vehicles that use or even want to use charging stations outside of their homes.

Just about all of them to the last man and woman, prefer to charge at home. Ah but what about long trips? They just don't take them in EVs. They take another method of transportation, as they should.

Just take a look at every charging station that's ever been installed for public use, they are abandoned.

Sadly, it's not this mystical infrastructure that's holding EVs back. IMHO the first factor is that their range is incompatible with the owners who could charge them. Most people who can live with a sub 100 mile range, live in the city and don't have a garage to charge the cars. Most people who do have a garage live in the suburbs and need more range. The actual number of suitable households has got to be fairly small.

Then theres the fact that they are mostly priced probably at 2x where they should. Supply and demand are not enough, they need to meet at the same price to clear the market. I might want an EV and I'm willing-to-pay $15k. If you're selling for $40k, I'm not buying.

What's most amusing, is watching these gigantic corporations try to innovate and fail. They have tremendous resources, but they're not set up to innovate. They're set up to scale up things. When they try to innovate they fail miserably. So if they can't do it, who will?

Re:Largely Demand Driven (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437275)

If you actually look at the data from the studies that companies have performed, there are virtually zero current owners of electric vehicles that use or even want to use charging stations outside of their homes.

That's because the normal people that do want to take their cars on long distance trips don't buy inferior electric cars.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (2)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 2 years ago | (#41437521)

I never understood why they couldn't hitch up a trailer carrying a gasoline generator. BAMF, instant hybrid that could travel interstate.
Of course, I also never understood why we couldn't put coin-op outlets on all those light poles throughout the mall parking lots. While 120v isn't going to be a fast charge, it'll juice up your car while you shop.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#41437075)

There will never be a large market for electric cars until the infrastructure has been upgraded accordingly.

It's not the 'infrastructure', it's the cars.

Our ancestors tried electric cars in the 19th century and they sucked. They still suck. The only thing that will stop them sucking is a massive improvement in battery technology.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

Sam36 (1065410) | about 2 years ago | (#41437215)

I agree, batteries suck. I usually drive my cars for 10+ years and over 200k miles before getting another one. My current car (which is 12 years old) has had very little money spent on it maintenance wise. I am not going to buy any kind of electric vehicle if every 5 years I have to shell out thousands to get new batteries put in it. Just using batteries goes up against the theory of diminished returns as it is. A car that has to lug around 500+ pounds of batteries will never be as efficient as a car with a small gas motor. The whole idea is stupid and seems to be pushed by politics and not science.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | about 2 years ago | (#41437321)

It's okay, batteries don't need to be replaced until over 120K-150K, anyway.
At least on a Prius.
I'd say even today with hybrid and 50+ MPG, it's worth it. Especially since the car rides well.

If you're pinching pennies however, you're not near the niche market since it's not sub-$15K

The whole idea is far from stupid, it's not about money it's about non-polluting via car exhaust.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 2 years ago | (#41437099)

Here in Austin, there are charging stations, but they are scattered around in odd places. A credit union has one, a local Wally World has a couple.

However, the problem is that one doesn't know if that charging station is in use or not, and with the limited range of an EV, keeping the batteries charged up and keeping track of every mile is the difference between an easy ride home versus having to get a tow [1].

This isn't to say EV technology is bad, it is just the fact that there isn't much being done to make batteries with better energy per volume [2]. Get that within an order of magnitude of gasoline, and the entire transportation industry will change.

What might be a better answer might be fuel cells which turn on and stay on until the battery is fully charged if there is no shore power. EFOY has methanol based fuel cells, however, it might be nice to have propane or pure ethanol because of how toxic methanol is.

[1]: Acquaintance of mine who has a LEAF has one solution -- if he does not know if there is enough power available to make it back, out comes the Honda eu2000is. 120VAC charging is slow, but it is better than nothing.

[2]: There just seems to be no interest in better batteries in the US. This is a crying shame because of how this would cure a lot of problems.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | about 2 years ago | (#41437241)

Texas and Michigan are gasoline car havens...
They're probably the last that'll have a charging station infrastructure.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | about 2 years ago | (#41437243)

There are other ways to make electric cars. We need to stop thinking of the battery, recharge station method. Why do we have to follow the thinking that cars have to have pit stops to refuel or recharge? Maybe it is time to have a different system of electric car or other method that does need the pit stop method.

Anyway, why not just skip over the pit stop method? This will tick off the oil companies, and the people who have business that rely on the pit stop method. Most disruptive technology annoys some group. The biggest thing is cost. For it to work, the new tech needs to be aimed that the low end not the high end. The new car should be aimed at the everyday person. The hybrids that are aimed mostly at the elite are not going to work in the long run. I know the Prius is selling great. There are a lot of non city people who will never get one since they see the prius as a hippy/tree hugger car. They want an electric car. They cannot stand the type of person they see with a prius. Not everyone lives in the cities. The pit stop method and short travel distances on battery power is not going to cut it for many.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437273)

Not a large market, but a consistent market. The B&Z Electric Car Company started making the Elektra King [jalopnik.com] in 1961, and maintained production until 1980. The Corbin Sparrow (now Meyers NmG) will even hit 70 mph. Electric cars are nothing new, but neither are they going to take 10% of the auto market. That's what Toyota is saying.

Re:Largely Demand Driven (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41437323)

Infrastructure doesn't play much of a role. One thing to consider is say driving a long ways. Assume that there was a charging station within every mile; they wouldn't compare to gas stations. At a gas station, you can be in and out in less than 2 minutes from an empty tank to a full one. The Tesla Roadster on the other hand takes 3.5 hours to fully charge.

Not a huge deal if you are only going to work and back, but what if you want to take a longer trip, say from Phoenix to LA? A good third of the time spent traveling there will be spent just waiting around for you car to charge.

And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436509)

... the seven sisters strike again.

Corporate Speak For (4, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 2 years ago | (#41436511)

We can't make it work with acceptable margins.

Toyota has been an innovator in how production operates, not in building game changing new vehicles.

Re:Corporate Speak For (1, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#41436727)

Toyota has been an innovator in how production operates, not in building game changing new vehicles.

This only makes sense in Oppositeland. Toyota has pioneered the hybrid-electric market, selling each one at a net loss.

Re:Corporate Speak For (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436749)

But they're making it up in volume!

Profits (2)

sjbe (173966) | about 2 years ago | (#41436777)

Toyota has pioneered the hybrid-electric market, selling each one at a net loss.

I guarantee you that Toyota is no longer selling the Prius at a loss. There is absolutely no business case that could be made to sell as many Prius's as they have while making a loss on each one. They probably were losing money at first but not anymore.

Re:Corporate Speak For (4, Insightful)

Hillgiant (916436) | about 2 years ago | (#41436953)

... selling each one at a net loss.

False. [greencarcongress.com]

No profits to be had (yet) (5, Interesting)

sjbe (173966) | about 2 years ago | (#41437003)

We can't make it work with acceptable margins.

If a company cannot sell a product for a profit, there is no point in making the product. Current technology for electric vehicles has one huge showstopper bug in the recharge times. Until this problem is solved there is no mass market for all electric vehicles. There will be room for niche makers like Tesla (maybe) but nothing more. Plug-In-Hybrids are where there is a market and where the car makers can and should focus their efforts.

Toyota has been an innovator in how production operates, not in building game changing new vehicles.

I disagree. The Prius was a game changing vehicle. It is the first genuinely popular hybrid vehicle and it proved that there is a market for hybrid powertrains. While I will concede that Toyota's most important innovations have been in manufacturing processes, they have had some genuinely innovative products.

Re:No profits to be had (yet) (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#41437143)

The Prius was a game changing vehicle. It is the first genuinely popular hybrid vehicle and it proved that there is a market for hybrid powertrains.

I've seen more Ferraris on the road than Priuses.

When the time comes (0)

sa666u (2626427) | about 2 years ago | (#41436573)

The time has not yet come. If we switch to electric what are the Persian Gulf countries and Russia going to eat? Rocks? They are quite pesky when they are rich, imagine what will happen if they are poor and desperate.

Re:When the time comes (2)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#41436865)

gulf countries not too pesky if confined to their own soil, they mostly get enraged and kill each other

Battery technology is almost there. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436575)

Electric vehicles are coming. Toyota isn't stupid. Lithium air is supposed to make the energy density competitive with hydrocarbons. Why put your name on lithium iron phosphate only to disappoint when a better technology is right around the corner?

Re:Battery technology is almost there. (1)

Bigby (659157) | about 2 years ago | (#41436839)

100 years ago, I would believe it when someone brings new technology to market within a year. Today, I expect 10 years...if ever. It is similar with buildings. The Empire State Building was built in about 16 months. Now it takes 160 months.

I think your expectations of Lithium Air are a bit high. I hope I'm wrong.

Re:Battery technology is almost there. (1)

Tx (96709) | about 2 years ago | (#41437033)

Well IBM are making a big push in Lithium air, there was an article about that here on /. a while back, but even they were only predicting products on the street between 2020-2030 (link [gizmag.com] ), and probably a while more before they are price-competitive with existing tech. That's a couple of generations of cars at least, so yeah, hardly "around the corner".

Sacred by the "success" of the Chevy Volt? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436591)

That must be it.

Seen it before. (1)

LeGarcia (710519) | about 2 years ago | (#41436599)

Behold the power of the Oil Industry...

All Electric Cars Years Away (5, Insightful)

coolmoose25 (1057210) | about 2 years ago | (#41436611)

The problem with all electric cars is the charging... until an electric vehicle can be charged in the same time that a gasoline based car can be fueled, they will all be unacceptable to vast majority of drivers.

What IS viable in the next few years is the plug in hybrid, like the Volt or the plug in Prius. The major problem here is getting unit costs down to where the cars become acceptable from a pricing POV. The Volt certainly has work to do here, and I'm guessing the Prius plug in faces the same problem. Incremental improvements in costs of the batteries will slowly bring these cars into the mainstream in the next few years. Cars like the Volt are, by all accounts, just like driving existing gasoline cars, and have the advantage of allowing most daily commutes to be done electrically.

Re:All Electric Cars Years Away (1)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about 2 years ago | (#41436753)

I don't think cars are going to get there. Not cars like we know them. A car is, from the point of view of efficiency, a lot of dead weight. The thing weights about a ton and a half when it could easily weight just about 1/3 of that. I think electric motorcycles, which are much more efficient as personal transportation, have a higher chance of becoming viable.

Here's an in-depth analysis of why electric cars won't happen anytime soon (I think he sets the bar for single-change mileage way too high, but nevertheless it's a good read): http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/08/battery-performance-deficit-disorder/ [ucsd.edu]

Re:All Electric Cars Years Away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436993)

I don't think cars are going to get there. Not cars like we know them. A car is, from the point of view of efficiency, a lot of dead weight. The thing weights about a ton and a half when it could easily weight just about 1/3 of that. I think electric motorcycles, which are much more efficient as personal transportation, have a higher chance of becoming viable.

Here's an in-depth analysis of why electric cars won't happen anytime soon (I think he sets the bar for single-change mileage way too high, but nevertheless it's a good read): http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/08/battery-performance-deficit-disorder/ [ucsd.edu]

Electric motorcycles and scooters are already viable. I can't set a foot outdoors without being almost run over by somebody thundering down the pedestrian path on an electric scooter. You can't hear those f*****s coming until they are practically about to run you over.

Re:All Electric Cars Years Away (1)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about 2 years ago | (#41437073)

Most I've seen range from 25-50km of range and reach no more than 40km/h. I'd only be comfortable with a range of 80km, at least, and a max speed of 80km/h, otherwise it's more akin to a bicycle and would not be safe on a freeway.

Re:All Electric Cars Years Away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436785)

The problem with all electric cars is the charging... until an electric vehicle can be charged in the same time that a gasoline based car can be fueled, they will all be unacceptable to vast majority of drivers...

Basically what you're saying is time costs money.

And if people want to be that damn impatient, then they can certainly pay for it, with increased gas prices at the pump. Damn never everything else in the world comes at a premium if you want it now, and I see nothing else truly affecting demand other than a massive increase in cost of the existing "easy" alternative.

Won't be such an "easy" decision when Joe Six-pack has to work another 8 hours of overtime just to afford that "quick" pit stop to refuel.

Competitive does not require equal (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 2 years ago | (#41436845)

until an electric vehicle can be charged in the same time that a gasoline based car can be fueled, they will all be unacceptable to vast majority of drivers.

It doesn't have to be the same - it just has to be competitive. 15-20 minutes probably would be acceptable given the other advantages of an electric vehicle. Not as fast as filling a gas tank but close enough that people are willing to accept the differences. What is not acceptable and I think was your main point is that recharge times measured in hours are never going to be acceptable for mainstream use.

Re:Competitive does not require equal (1)

will_die (586523) | about 2 years ago | (#41437403)

15-20 mins is not competitive; and you would need a 7500+ volt power supply to do that with current cars, will ignore other problems when you charge a battery that fast.
You also have to factor in how long will I have to wait for my time at one of the plugs. With all the extra waiting you now have to have larger stations, which will have problems for cities, or you make it so that parking lots provide fueling which has other problems.
The only way to make it competitive is for under 5 mins. Which means you need to replace the batteries. So until you get a universal system for that it is not going to be competitive.

Re:All Electric Cars Years Away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436911)

"The problem with all electric cars is the charging... until an electric vehicle can be charged in the same time that a gasoline based car can be fueled, they will all be unacceptable to vast majority of drivers."

So what? People need to mature and realize that we cannot continue living with the convenience to which we are accustomed. We are draining our planets resources and they will run out. People need to realize that it is entirely possible to maintain modern society and use the planet's resources wisely. However, it is only possible if people are willing to make sacrifices. Waiting 30 minutes to charge/partially charge your vehicle is a sacrifice that should be made easily.

If people are not even willing to do that then I unfortunately do not see a long and bright future for humanity.

Re:All Electric Cars Years Away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436915)

The problem with all electric cars is the charging... until an electric vehicle can be charged in the same time that a gasoline based car can be fueled, they will all be unacceptable to vast majority of drivers.

So, millions of years, including the time to produce the fuel. Electric cars could easily be competitive if there was agreement on a battery swap standard, and swap stations were as abundant as fuel refueling stations (probably not going to happen).

If we ever get 300km-range cars charging from empty to full in 5-10 minutes, it would be silly for anyone to use hydrocarbon fuels as a power source in their cars.

Re:All Electric Cars Years Away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436963)

There's a lot more to the issue than charging.

If that's all it was, then we'd be using NGV/LPG vehicles in North America a lot more. I pay 49 cents a litre for propane in Canada and the filling process takes less time than filling the gas tank and is less complicated (no need to press a button to choose your octane, it's already 104) and more convenient (I don't even have to open a door on the fill 'hole').

When I tell people they should convert since they spend $5k a year on gas and they'd save the cost of conversion in a year, their complaint is there's only 6 stations in their city. How will they ever find propane? And what if they run out? Then they'd have to press the switch that says "gasoline mode".

There's something else that's the problem here, and frankly, it's irrational fear. Generally when I point out all the above they end up resting on their original problem--propane "explodes". Of course, they forget that they're driving around a tank full of flammable liquid that sets on fire easier than propane does, and that soaks into things, so once they are exposed to gasoline they remain flammable for quite some time (whereas propane being a vapour at most temperatures you're driving in only has the opportunity to set on fire for the brief while that it hasn't been carried away by the atmosphere). Not to mention it takes a high-caliber rifle to shoot through an automobile propane tank (no, they are not anything like BBQ tanks), but you can cut into a gas tank with a sharp knife.

Even the government gets in on the stupidity. I can't pass smog tests anymore because the propane system shuts off the gasoline system, which of course lights up the check engine light like a Christmas tree. There are ways to fix that, but why does a propane car need smog testing at all? You can safely run propane forklifts indoors for crying out loud... *sigh*

I bet the real problem with electric cars is people think they are more dangerous than gasoline cars or they will be stranded out in nowheresville. All irrational thoughts (well, the last might not be if you are too stupid to do even a modicum of planning).

Re:All Electric Cars Years Away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437245)

To give an example, the GM battery energy capacity is 16kWh (Volt vehicle). 240V, 2-phase charging would be most likely since the batteries are rated 370VDC. To get a charge within 10 minutes requires 400A. The cable to deliver this amount of current would be extremely difficult for people to handle and might not be practical. To get a 1 minute charge requires 10x the current. Any fast charge is assuming the batteries can handle it. I believe GM tried fast charging with the EV-1 and it required liquid nitrogen to keep the system cool.

Unless my understanding is incorrect, fast charging at a station might not be possible with all electric vehicles in the near future.

Battery swap: differentiate, then integrate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437335)

Perhaps if we could have multiple batteries, approximately the size of a candy bar, that could be rapidly exchanged between recharging station and the vehicle using some sort of pneumatic transport system, and would be stored inside vehicle in fashion similar to way cartridges are placed in AR magazine? There would have to be an intricate wiring and multiple individual battery management systems that could tap multiple the batteries ("batterylets"?) in parallel, to allow for smaller individual battery discharge currents. I think something like that was depicted in some anime whose name I can't recall.

Do accept our, cough, gift of appreciation.... (1)

tonywestonuk (261622) | about 2 years ago | (#41436625)

(hands over large brown paper bag, containing a huge amount of cash to director of Toyota)....

Now, how is your quaint little green electric car project getting on. I hear you've run into a few problems with it?.... Well, im sure you'll be able to put this inconvenience behind us both and get on with some good old gasoline powered motors like you have always done.

Kindest of regards, Director of ExxonMobile

Re:Do accept our, cough, gift of appreciation.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436825)

Oh FFS, get a grip. No one is presently capable of making a car suitable for Aneeucan driving habits.
Even Tesla can't put together a family sedan that can go 200+ miles for under $90,000 -- well above the average car buyers reach.
And even then it'll still take hours to charge even using Teslas high speed charger.

Keep in mind many people expect to be able to go on road trips with their cars, not just hop to the store or do a wok commute.

So no -- All-Electric Cars just aren't viable as a competitive offering in the North American car market.
However, Hybrids are doing quite well and will fill in till they can work out the charging issue fit electrics or find a green fuel alternative.

Don't get in the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436633)

Don't let those who say it can't be done, get in the way of those who are doing it.

Range? For 90% of my trips I need less than 25 mile range. I don't need a giant V8 truck to go to the fast food store. I need an electric vehicle to not idle at the 7 red lights in the 1.5 mile trip. Why is it the only electric pickup truck I can buy is one I build in my garage?

Tesla has some good batteries, and better batteries will be coming out in about 5 years that will make them work for long distance.

If people are too busy to wait a few hours for it to recharge, that is a problem with their lifestyle, not the car.

Re:Don't get in the way (2)

bbelt16ag (744938) | about 2 years ago | (#41436715)

hey now, i been riding my bike and using the bus for about a year now. The only time i have wanted to go anywhere out of my area, is to go see the friends up north, then i use the roomies truck. I have saved hundreds of dollars, and survived, it wasn't easy or with out a bit of sweat. My average on the bike is like 10 miles before I need a good rest, its enough to get back and forth to work.

Re:Don't get in the way (1)

bbelt16ag (744938) | about 2 years ago | (#41436759)

I think the real game changer is going to be electric bikes, I have seen people with lawn mower engines on their bikes running around and mopeds too. Most people can not afford 30K cars, the ones who needs transport can barley afford the bus fares. Toyota needs to go back to the drawing board and reduce the price of their cars. 10k would be too much. We just can't afford it anymore.

Re:Don't get in the way (1)

fwarren (579763) | about 2 years ago | (#41436977)

If people are too busy to wait a few hours for it to recharge, that is a problem with their lifestyle, not the car.

So what you essentially saying is that people should spend 70,000 or more on a car, move to a place where home, work and shopping are within 25 miles of each other and be thankful thankful for it?

Maybe we should make things eaiser for the blind by only selling computers with brail input devices. As for those who need a regular ASCII keyboard, that is a problem with their lifestyle, not the computer.

electric ++ (5, Interesting)

Conficio (832978) | about 2 years ago | (#41436655)

I'd love to have a plug in electric, for the 85+% of short drives people make, +plus+ a trailer with a gas engine and a generator to power this car for longer distances. In my mind I would not even own this trailer, but rent it at a gas station. In addition that trailer could carry some additional luggage (and may be powered by its own motor).
In that case I'd not even care if this trailer generates electricity from gasoline, from waste cooking oil, liquified gas or hydrogen. All I'd care about is if it gives me sufficient juice to drive my size vehicle and what it's range (tank capacity) would be.
And with all electric we could have a drive by wire system that drives the trailer much more comfortable. I could even see steering in the trailer (which is easy if you have one electric motor per wheel, just run them at different speed) to eliminate the skills needed to back up with a trailer.

Re:electric ++ (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436975)

Yeah, let's rebuild every single parking space too while we're at it.

Re:electric ++ (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41437283)

In that case, leave the car at home and take the trailer, especially if it can drive itself.

Darn dirty Humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436657)

When the Oil runs dry, Humans will have no choice but to accept it. They can accept it, or do without, by golly.

Re:Darn dirty Humans (3, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#41436893)

oil will never run dry, there are centuries of supply of fossil fuel and any hydrocarbon fuel chain can be changed to any other

Re:Darn dirty Humans (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about 2 years ago | (#41437085)

Parent is really talking about _affordable_ fossil fuels. You are absolutely right that there are centuries of supply left, but only because an increasingly smaller number of people will be able to afford it.

yeah right... (1)

fredan (54788) | about 2 years ago | (#41436659)

tell that to tesla (the car manufacturer)!

Re:yeah right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436823)

tell that to tesla (the not profitable car manufacturer)!

Re:yeah right... (1)

fredan (54788) | about 2 years ago | (#41437377)

tell that to tesla (the not profitable car manufacturer)!

jealous that you've not got one of teslas cars, are we?

you see, they still got shitload of orders and since they are (practically) the only carmaker of electric cars, the will be profitable in that market.

It's the weight, stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436697)

We're not going to move forward until cars being made of carbon-fiber become cost effective. Hybrids and alternative fuels are okay, but the most important route to high efficiency vehicles is to reduce the weight. Go on youtube and search for "Amory Lovins" for more information.

They tried, and it died (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#41437309)

Well, there are other reasons the Aptera died, but it's a damned shame that it did.

Answer (0)

DaMattster (977781) | about 2 years ago | (#41436709)

The answer is not in an all electric vehicle but in the use of hydrogen fuel in internal combustion engines. There have been advances in the technology for storing and transporting hydrogen that make it fairly viable. Plus, large scale changes don't have to be made to the existing infrastructure. The large sums of money spent in all electric vehicles would have been better put towards hydrogen or hydrogen fuel cells.

Re:Answer (2)

voidptr (609) | about 2 years ago | (#41437327)

There have been advances in the technology for storing and transporting hydrogen that make it fairly viable

Like atomically bonding it to long chains of carbon. It's easy to extract energy back out, relatively safe to contain, and the fact that it's a fairly stable liquid at room temperature makes it simple to handle and exchange in commerce.

Plug-In-Hybrids are how to get electric vehicles (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 2 years ago | (#41436731)

While I would genuinely love to buy an all electric vehicle, the technology just isn't quite there yet. For an electric vehicle to be feasible it needs three things - 1) Performance competitive with internal combustion engine powered vehicles, 2) Range of about 150 miles, and 3) Recharge times under about 15-20 minutes. Item's 1 and 2 have been substantially accomplished. Electric vehicles are better in some ways and worse in others regarding performance, range, reliability and longevity but they have reached the point where we could call them competitive. The problem is the recharge times. Recharge times are a showstopper problem. Until electric vehicles can be recharged MUCH quicker, they have no hope whatsoever of making a serious dent in the overall market. Sure there are some niche uses for them and vehicles like the ones made by Tesla will have some place in the market - but even a market share of 1% is almost certainly not achievable without some serious advances in charging technology.

Plug-in-hybrids are how electric vehicles have a future. They do not share the range and charging disadvantages of electric vehicles but they do provide an incentive for development of charging infrastructure. They also familiarize the market with using electric vehicles and provide a test bed to expand range and recharging times. If you like the idea of an electric vehicle (and I do) the best way to someday get them mainstream is to support development of plug-in-hybrids.

Re:Plug-In-Hybrids are how to get electric vehicle (1)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | about 2 years ago | (#41437385)

Today's plug-in hybrids are crap. The plug-in Prius goes about 15 miles before it has to use the engine, and the Volt does about the same. I'm not sure I'd want to deal with the hassle of storing the power cable each morning just to save half-gallon of gas (assuming I had a conventional car that gets 30 mpg). I believe that both vehicles are designed to sell plug-in capability as a sort of environmental gloss, the way ethanol/gasoline vehicles were built a few years ago with tiny ethanol tanks so people could have "flex-fuel" vehicles back when ethanol was believed to be a good, environment-friendly fuel source.

Current all-electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi MiEV make ideal second cars for a two-car household like mine. Plenty of people drive less than 60 miles in a typical day, and both vehicles fill the bill. They do this without the extra complexity introduced by having a gasoline engine and an electric motor. (Maintenance on the Leaf consists of rotating the tires periodically and changing the brake fluid at 100,000 miles.) One major problem is that their expense front-loads the cost, and one doesn't see any cost savings until the vehicle is near the end of its life. The last time I checked, neither manufacturer was providing a price for replacement batteries, which are needed to turn the cars into real money-savers.

It's a practicality issue (0)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about 2 years ago | (#41436909)

It's simply a fundamentally impractical vehicle for people to use for 90-95% of their needs. Limited range. Recharge time sucks. Severely limited payload capacity. What people want is something that works as well as their SUV. A really useful all-electric vehicle needs to have a 300+ mile range, 400-500 would be better. It needs to fully recharge in the same amount of time it takes to fill a gas tank. And it needs to be able to hold four adults and all their paraphernalia comfortably. To a lesser degree, the battery pack needs to have at least a 5 year life if not 10 years. So, ultimately, it comes down to energy storage. Fossil fuels are a really efficient energy storage medium.

Beyond the practical issues are aesthetics. Every "green" vehicle with the exception of a Tesla, is a big dork-mobile. Excuse me, tiny dork-mobile.

The other issue that has conspiracy overtones is the fact that you have to have access to a public utility to drive it and in places where rapid charging is available. That means a major city. Want to drive out into the wide open spaces? Nope. You are now restricted to the city limits. There are five boxes to be used in defense of liberty: Moving, soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. By restricting your ability to move freely, the easier it is to control the populace.

They could use better technology. (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | about 2 years ago | (#41437015)

Like: http://www.toshiba.com/ind/product_display.jsp?id1=821 [toshiba.com] and direct drive Switched Reluctance motors.

But, since they insist on Neanderthal ways of thinking, extinction is the result.

Re:They could use better technology. (2)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 2 years ago | (#41437247)

So in other words, Toyota is reluctant to switch to these motors.

Re:They could use better technology. (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | about 2 years ago | (#41437351)

Yes. Because Toyota has tons of patents on permanent magnet AC motors they use in Prius's, but none on the far more efficient Switched Reluctance type.

This is more about patents than technology. Patents slowing innovation.

 

USA is sitting on top of a natural gas goldmine (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41437087)

when will everyone figure out we should be driving around methane powered cars?

yes, fracking the marcellus shale has the potential to make us energy independent, and also to unleash the worst ecological disaster in the history of mankind, poisoning water tables for millennia. however, if we actually allow ourselves to prevail over the greed of corporations and do it right (which means more cost, which means dragging the corporations kicking and screaming into the world of smaller profit margins for the sake of of ecological integrity), why aren't the major car companies rolling out natural gas powered cars?

heck, homes are already piped in natural gas. it would be interesting if you could refuel at home, as well as the road. propbably as quickly and easily as petroleum derivatives

yes, it does seem more dangerous. volatile highly combustible gas is more frightening than volatile highly combustible liquid. but there it is: we pipe this stuff into our homes. a house blows up now and then. we live with THAT. so we can get this into our cars

i know methane powered cars already exist. but why isn't a major car company seeing the potential of the marcellus shale and preparing us, and them, for true energy independence?

wouldn't it be nice to know when the straight of hormuz gets shut off it won't mean a damn thing for our commute to work or our nation's economy or our international commitments?

Its BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437129)

Its BS. When I analyse my driving habits, most of my drives are short in town trips, less than 40 miles. There is a substantial market for an electric car using current technology. You just have to get past this idea that an electric car has to "replace" the current line up of gas vechicles. I'd gladly get rid of my Impala, start driving a 100% electric and keep the wife's Subaru for out of town trips.

Self-driving cars will come before all-electric (5, Interesting)

MasaMuneCyrus (779918) | about 2 years ago | (#41437211)

By the time an electric vehicle could charge so quickly as to be useful, we'll probably have self-driving cars. When self driving cars become a reality, we can throw the idea of car ownership out the window. As it stands, 99% of cars spend probably close to 99% of their time parked and unused. That is inefficient.

If self-driving cars become a thing, a company could purchase huge fleets of cars. Then, instead of letting your own car sit in the parking lot forever, you could just use an app on your smartphone to send a self-driving car in your direction. Or you could just schedule your car to arrive at your location at some specific time (for instance, schedule to be picked up before and after work at precisely 8:00am and 5:00pm). Who needs car ownership--with costs of insurance, maintenance, gas prices, etc--when you can call for a cheap robotic taxi wherever, whenever you want? Relatively few people, I'd wager. It could start with cities, but eventually there would be so many self-driving cars on the road that you could have a self-driving car pick you up to take you wherever you wanted within minutes. Want to go to a restaurant? Send a request for a robot car to pick you up. Fortunately, there's a car that just dropped somebody else off to go shopping a mile away.

Since these cars are self-driving, they could be electric and manage their power efficiently. If you call for a robotic taxi to take you to another state and it only has 50 miles left on its battery, the car could automatically schedule a car with a fresher battery for you to transfer to 50 miles down the road. The entire system would always make sure to minimize the number of transfers and recharge the cars whenever necessary.

With a system like this, even electric cars with 200 mile range would be reasonable. That is more than enough for 99% of one-way passenger commutes, and for those trips that are long, you just hop in a new car 200 miles down the road. Heck, with this kind of self-driving car system, the system could even have tour guides and whatever else programmed in. The more cars on the road, the better the service. The better the service, the better the adoption rate. The better the adoption rate, the more cars. The possibilities are endless.

Best lithium battery = 1/200th the energy density (2)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 2 years ago | (#41437331)

...of gasoline. Not sure about natural gas, but I'm reasonably sure the energy density is higher than that of a lithium battery. Natural gas vehicles are used widely outside of the USA, and we do have a bit of the stuff. Capitalism, exhibiting its usual bacteria colony behavior, will almost certainly push us in that direction unless there's some sort of breakthrough in battery tech.

Uchiyamada is exactly right (1)

erp_consultant (2614861) | about 2 years ago | (#41437379)

The idea of all electric cars has always seemed so appealing. Zero emissions (well, I'll get to that in a minute), and economical (I'll get to that too). It's development always seems to go in fits and starts. And we always seem to run up against the same issues time and time again...namely:

1) Battery technology, although improved, is still not where it needs to be to make all electric cars a viable alternative for the majority of people. America, unlike much of Europe and many large cities in Asia, is very much spread out geographically. That means long drives for many people and it means cars that can travel a long distance without having to refuel or recharge.
2) Lack of charging stations. Sure, I can plug the car in at home and charge it overnight but what happens after that? I'm then limited to how far I can drive unless I can find a charging station somewhere along the way. If you live in New York of San Francisco you've got a much better chance of finding one than if you live in Montana.
3) Convenience. Plugging a car in on a 110V charge will take most of the night to fully charge. A 220V outlet lessens it but you're still looking at 2-3 hours to fully charge the car. I can fill the gas tank in a few minutes. Electric cars are going to need some sort of trickle charge system (solar roof panels perhaps if you live in a southern state?) to lessen the need for daytime charging.
4) It's not as "clean" as it's proponents would have you believe. Yes, the car itself emits no pollution but the process of making electricity is often a pretty dirty process.
5) Cost. I believe that the Chevy Volt costs around $40,000, give or take. That's a lot of money for an economy car. For 40K I can buy a really nice car that runs on gasoline. For about 20K I can buy an economy car that gets about 40mpg.

So for those reasons, and probably a few others, the electric car remains a niche vehicle. They are mainly being bought by "save the planet" types (fairly well off ones at that). It's a noble cause but for such a small market it's a money loser for car companies unless they can get giant subsidies from the government. When governments spend money on transportation they have a choice - build more roads or invest in electric cars and public transportation. Unfortunately most of the public wants more roads.

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