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8 US States Pushing For 3.3 Million Electric Cars

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the free-of-charge dept.

Transportation 327

An anonymous reader writes "A coalition of eight U.S. states, including New York and California, have announced a plan to get 3.3 million zero-emission electric vehicles onto their roads by 2025. 'The states, which represent more than a quarter of the national car market, said they would seek to develop charging stations that all took the same form of payment, simplify rules for installing chargers and set building codes and other regulations to require the stations at workplaces, multifamily residences and at other places.' An editorial in Quartz says that while the initiative itself is fine, the states should really take cues from Tesla if they want to plan out an infrastructure that will convince people to switch. ' For longer distances, [Tesla drivers] can stop at "Supercharger" stations strategically placed along highways that let them add 150 miles of range in as little as 20 minutes. Currently, [government] money is being spent on installing much-slower chargers at stores, shopping malls and other urban locations in the hope that drivers will use them. Tesla says it will blanket the US with its Superchargers for a fraction of the cost, because it studies the driving patterms of its customers and installs charging stations only where they tend to travel. This isn't hard; most other electric cars also record their drivers' habits. If privacy concerns could be addressed and automakers would be willing to share that data with government transportation planners, the rollout of public charging stations could be more targeted and cash-efficient.'"

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if if if (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247089)

HOW would privacy be addressed?

One thing is for sure (3, Insightful)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#45247121)

You can be sure that Texas is not one of those eight states.

Re:One thing is for sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247187)

not so sure. [wikimedia.org]

Re:One thing is for sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247239)

All 8 states have Democratic governors; in fact they're all in one of the two solid blue blocks of the country, the West Coast and the Northeast Corridor. As a Mass. resident, I'm not surprised that 4 of the 6 New England states are represented; of the missing, Maine has a Tea Party Republican governor. Not sure what happened to New Hampshire, but that's a purple state that prides itself on small government.

Re:One thing is for sure (-1, Flamebait)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#45247459)

For ease of reference, the eight states are:
California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont

still doesn't compute (0)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#45247123)

Electric cars still look quite unattractive to me. The primary problem is the weight, cost, and limited life of the batteries. But long charging times are also still a problem, and even 20 minutes is rather long.

Re:still doesn't compute (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#45247275)

Yes if you are standing around waiting for it. If they had slow charging stations in parking locations it doesn't matter, and at some locations a 20 minute gas stop is normal even for gasoline cars. Last time I took I-80 westbound we had to wait for 15 minutes to get to a pump, then 5 minutes to pump with another 10 minutes to wait for traffic to get out of my way so we can get back on the highway. Instead, if there was a charging station at the oasis I would plug in, go inside to use the bathroom, get a coffee, and walk back out in those 20 minutes instead of sitting in my car while the guy with the F950 pickup truck fills both his 300 gallon gas tanks.

Re:still doesn't compute (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247389)

That is assuming that nobody else has a leccy car already hooked up to each pump.

More likely you would sit there waiting at least 20, possibly 30min to get a charging plug then continue as you described. Since if there really is that long of a petrol line leccy would be long as well... if not, it will be.

Really doesn't compute (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#45247403)

Yes if you are standing around waiting for it. If they had slow charging stations in parking locations it doesn't matter

That's fine if 0.05% of cars around are electric. But it's totally unrealistic to think anything justifies the expense of putting an electric charging unit into every single parking spot.

Even if there aren't ever very many electric cars, you have to worry about non-electric cars taking up your spot. And if you decide that there are going to be some electric-only spaces now you have reduced the capacity of the whole parking lot for something used even more infrequently than handicapped spots.

Instead, if there was a charging station at the oasis I would plug in, go inside to use the bathroom

The thought that every time I need to charge in public I get to experience a public gas station restroom is reason enough to go buy a stiff drink and a hummer.

Re:Really doesn't compute (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247501)

The more electric cars there are, the more reason to hook up charging spots, unlike gas filling which requires having a person there to monitor things.

Re:Really doesn't compute (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#45247753)

The more electric cars there are, the more reason to hook up charging spots, unlike gas filling which requires having a person there to monitor things.

Totally not the case. I've been to many a late night gas station where I never saw an attendant and filled up just fine.

As for you having to monitor it - that's not a burden when it takes a minute! At an electric station you'd have to spend the same amount of time arranging payment, but then you have 20+ minutes to wait...

Re:Really doesn't compute (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year ago | (#45247925)

As long as you're plugging in, I'm sure that you'd arrange to bind a credit card account to the MAC address that would be associated with the car, and the transaction would handle itself.

Re: Really doesn't compute (1)

Orne (144925) | about a year ago | (#45247959)

Good idea. But now the problem is securing the transaction and getting a data connection into the plug (socket standardization).

Re:Really doesn't compute (0)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#45247513)

All this blather and government planning and so on.

Oh no, we need officials to wring their hands about making sure gas stations get constructed for them newfangled internal combustion engines!

Oh no! We need government wheat distribution and stables and inns along travel routes so people can have a place for their horses when traveling, and a place to stay the night!

Stop and listen to yourselves. Go read a book or watch TV or something.

Not about government, about economics (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#45247765)

All this blather and government planning and so on.

I said nothing about government planning. I'm not sure your comment was directed at me?

What I said is that it's not feasible to put charging stations in every parking spot. It is insane. There's no way you will ever make a return on that investment.

Electricity is the future of autos; but not the kind where your car needs charging via electric cables to every home or parking spot.

Re:Really doesn't compute (4, Interesting)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about a year ago | (#45247807)

You're not reducing the capacity of a parking lot when you hook up spaces at places people already go. I've noticed libraries with electric car charging parking spots -- most people stay inside a while, so good spot. Grocery stores or all kinds of stores would be an obvious spot. It doesn't have to provide a full charge in the time people are shopping either, it just has to be a simple routine that tops off the battery in the course of normal activity.

As far as long distance highway trips, existing highway rest areas would be an obvious spot.

Re:Really doesn't compute (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45247937)

That's fine if 0.05% of cars around are electric. But it's totally unrealistic to think anything justifies the expense of putting an electric charging unit into every single parking spot.

No, its not unrealistic.

If the shopping center can put in electric charging spots gradually as the demand increased, the investment might be easily manageable.
Further, if they make a few cents on the electricity/b they sell you, these slots will pay for themselves, unlike current parking spots which
usually generate no revenue themselves, and are funded by increased prices in the stores.

Places like Fairbanks Alaska have plugins for headbolt heaters so you can get your car started after sitting out in 50 below
while you shop. Lots of these are free as well, but then the draw is way less than required to charge.

Re:still doesn't compute (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45247879)

If they had slow charging stations in parking locations it doesn't matter, and at some locations a 20 minute gas stop is normal even for gasoline cars. Last time I took I-80 westbound we had to wait for 15 minutes to get to a pump, then 5 minutes to pump with another 10 minutes to wait for traffic to get out of my way so we can get back on the highway

I like how you just assume that won't be the same when electric cars are common.

Using your same metrics, 5 minutes to pump after 15 minutes waiting, means three cars were ahead of you. Also implied is that one car arrives
every 5 minutes so that the 15 minute wait time persists.

With a fast charging Tesla, those three cars will take an HOUR to charge. Further, in that hour 12 cars will arrive.

With other cars like the Leaf, the charge time is 4 hours, so I'm not even going to do that math for you.

Re:still doesn't compute (5, Insightful)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#45247293)

Yes, they are still sub-optimal for long road trips. However, as long as you can get a full day of normal driving in on a single charge, and recharge overnight in your own garage the picture looks much better, especially as a primary car where the second car where the other is gasoline powered. Weight it largely irrelevant to most people - once you can't pick it up it's just one more factor in the efficiency and performance characteristics. And cost, well that is what it is for now, the early adopters always pay a premium.

As someone said "There's nothing wrong with electric cars that batteries with twice the capacity at half the cost wouldn't fix", and there's plenty of promising new battery technologies on the horizon, we just need one of them to make it out of the lab.

Re:still doesn't compute (1)

guruevi (827432) | about a year ago | (#45247417)

How long does it take to charge a 'regular' car? Mine typically takes about 10 minutes because the pumps in large stations are relatively slow and I need 20 gallons. Most people take about 15 minutes (paying cash inside, getting snacks etc). And that 20 minutes is just for the current technology, I anticipate that within 5 years this can be halved. And 20 minutes would only be on long distance trips (>4 hours). Most trips (groceries, work, family and friends) can be done in 4 hours and then you just charge at home/work/family. And every 4 hours you SHOULD stop for 30 minutes anyway (or at least nature will make sure you do).

Re:still doesn't compute (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247613)

20 minute charge is only relevant on an extended road trip. You've already been driving for close to three hours at that point, a few minutes to stretch your legs and wake up (go to the bathroom, grab a snack) is probably a good thing.

Under more typical circumstances, your car will charge while you're at home, work, or shopping, and be ready to go by the time you're done doing non-driving things.

Re:still doesn't compute (2)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#45247647)

Electric cars still look quite unattractive to me.

I keep seeing this claim, and honestly can't quite figure it out - I mean sure, the Tesla S doesn't quite have the sexyness of a Bugatti, but y'know, when you have the Veyron in for detailing, you have to let the chauffeur drive something.

Re:still doesn't compute (4, Insightful)

Zobeid (314469) | about a year ago | (#45247793)

IF you have your car in a garage and charge it overnight, then you may rarely ever need to charge it away from home -- only for road trips, really. Depending on your driving habits, you may go months without visiting a charging station.

Even then, if you have a Model S and stop at a Supercharger station, you'll have the option of paying for a battery swap, which can get you back on the road in about two minutes.

Finally... Remember that even 3 million cars is only about 1% of the cars in the USA. Today's electric car technology can't meet everyone's needs, but I don't think it's much of a stretch to imagine it meeting the needs of 1% of the population. Things can grow from there as the technology continues to improve.

Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (0, Flamebait)

MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) | about a year ago | (#45247153)

Given the current state of the US electrical grid, I'm not confident it would fare well against a sudden increase of large battery packs being plugged in at once. Yeah, we can setup delayed or offset charging times, etc. But I'm not sure lawmakers or even the utility executives have a good grip on this.

But that might be the plan. A brownout would drive demand for the government to invest in the grid. Maybe.

But I'm not in a position to run the number, so I could be full of shit.

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#45247179)

Given the current state of the US electrical grid, I'm not confident it would fare well against a sudden increase of large battery packs being plugged in at once. Yeah, we can setup delayed or offset charging times, etc.

This is a problem with increase in the usage of electric cars in general..... more grid capacity will be needed.

The good news is: less shipping gas around..
The bad news is: lots of construction work.

Maybe some solar panels on the roofs of these facilities, or some $500,000 fuel cells....

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (1)

MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) | about a year ago | (#45247229)

Solar isn't going to work for this. Nor fuel cells. There is a solution that will ultimately win. But it will take a radical change in the power distribution network. I'd love to go into detail, but I'm unable to for reasons I choose not to discuss.

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#45247289)

Actually solar can work, you can easily build a 200amp 100% solar charging station.
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/09/02/solar-integrated-ev-fast-charging-station-eco-station-gets-coda-energy-storage-system/ [cleantechnica.com]
CODA energy is putting them all over the place.

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247351)

Usual time of recharging for electric vehicles: Night

Usual time of solar charger usefulness: Day

Usefulness of storage of solar energy: currently low

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a year ago | (#45247407)

Charge all day long from a photovoltaic panel the size of a parking space. On a sunny day, that energy might get you a few miles, on a cloudy day, it might not get you out of a big parking lot. And that is being generous.

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (2)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#45247667)

Charge all day long from a photovoltaic panel the size of a parking space. On a sunny day, that energy might get you a few miles, on a cloudy day, it might not get you out of a big parking lot. And that is being generous.

I'm thinking more along the lines of entire buildings' rooves decked with PV cells; so the building is mostly powered using solar, and the reduced building power consumption serves to offset additional capacity demand being pulled by the charger during the day.

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (0)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a year ago | (#45247715)

Charge all day long from a photovoltaic panel the size of a parking space. On a sunny day, that energy might get you a few miles, on a cloudy day, it might not get you out of a big parking lot. And that is being generous.

I'm thinking more along the lines of entire buildings' rooves decked with PV cells; so the building is mostly powered using solar, and the reduced building power consumption serves to offset additional capacity demand being pulled by the charger during the day.

Huh? The solar panels won't even offset the power demands of the building. So what you are saying is solar PV has not use for car charging......that was my point. Thanks for validating it.

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (5, Informative)

ballpoint (192660) | about a year ago | (#45247769)

10 m2 * 150 W/m2 * 8 h/day / (150 Wh/km) = 80 km/day. (*)

That covers the average commute quite nicely some of the time. In winter or inclement weather, not so much.

Still, the smugness of travelling gratis - abstracting investments - is seducing.

(*) Conversion to other units, including but not limited to BTU, miles (your pick), square feet and 1/32nds of a fortnight left as an exercise for the reader.

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a year ago | (#45247829)

What reference car are you using?.
You know you are quoting power output in optimal test conditions of the most expensive and exotic type of PV panels, right?
Oh, and on hot days, you might need to choose between Air Conditioning and getting home.

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (2)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a year ago | (#45247963)

A quick check shows common electric vehicles today are actually using about 400 Wh/km. That can be improved under optimal condition (perfect temperature, no stopping/starting, no air conditioning, everything maintained perfectly, flat terrain)

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#45247653)

Solar isn't going to work for this. Nor fuel cells. There is a solution that will ultimately win. But it will take a radical change in the power distribution network.

It is not likely that there are going to be any radical changes to the power distribution network, due to the cost.

I actually think Solar and Fuel cells can work just fine for this, but there need to be enough of them in proximity to chargers, to offset at least a majority of the additional capacity requirement.

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#45247281)

Hell with more grid capacity, how about a grid that is modern and in good condition.

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247225)

Don't worry we can just burn all the gas we are saving by having these cars to generate the electricity!

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#45247311)

Actually a viable option in the short term - cars are terribly inefficient and spend most of their time operating the engine well outside it's optimal efficiency band, unlike a power-generating station.

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about a year ago | (#45247559)

A powerplant has much higher efficiency than an ICE. Heck, even a Diesel generator is more efficient since it operates at optimum settings.

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (2)

Burz (138833) | about a year ago | (#45247243)

Overall demand has been flagging with no reversal in sight. If anything, this would help generators stay in business.

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (1, Troll)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#45247345)

You're full of shit. :-P

One of the advantages of electric cars is that with sufficient range (greater than your normal daily usage) the vast majority of charging can be done overnight when power demand is at a minimum, thus using transmission and generating capacity that's currently sitting unused.

Granted, if everybody got an electric car tomorrow that might be an issue, but it's going to be decades before electric vehicles see that kind of market penetration, plenty of time for the power companies to adapt. And really the grid is already overdue for an overhaul, and as we move towards cleaner power sources that will only become more true.

Re:Uh... anyone check electric grid capacity? (4, Interesting)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#45247747)

Given the current state of the US electrical grid, I'm not confident it would fare well against a sudden increase of large battery packs being plugged in at once.

Actually, having a large distributed storage capacity could (if the utilities had any will to take advantage of it rather than just do the absolute minimum necessary to keep the PUC from shutting them down) vastly improve the grid's overall resiliency. Each one of these cars stores roughly the same amount of electricity as a typical house uses in three or four days.

It actually surprises me that Tesla hasn't actively promoted the idea of using the car itself as a necessarily well-maintained whole-house UPS. "Does the thought of losing power overnight cost you precious sleep? Never again! With Tesla's patented bidirectional charging station and crossover inverter, Mother Nature will need to throw more than a few flakes or gusts of wind or downed trees your way to keep you from enjoying the big game!".

And that ignores the possibility of actually tapping into them to help smooth out the peak demand curve - Our baseline consumption would cost us around two cents per kWh, if not for the fact that normal residential rates average that against insane on-demand spikes of 30-60 cents for a few hours a day.

There is no Magic Energy Fairy (1, Flamebait)

mlookaba (2802163) | about a year ago | (#45247157)

Where do they think the power comes from? Those magic wall sockets most likely are connected to coal burning plants. There aren't enough sites for hydroelectric power to increase by a substantial amount, and solar and wind power aren't capable of supplying the "base curve" of the grid demand because of their unreliable nature. Either allow nuclear energy and/or fracking to supplement them, or STFU about renewable sources please.

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (1, Funny)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about a year ago | (#45247189)

Or, develop a society that is actually based in sustainable principles and change the way you live and work so it is more in accordance with your local environment. And if that means the end of your happy motoring society and a disallowal of nuclear power, STFU and adapt.

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247377)

Sure that will work, in magical fairy land. Let's all spend trillions to live as you say we should. No doubt that will go over like a bag of rocks on someone's head.

We will be burning fossil fuels for the remainder of this century. Coal will decline but not vanish, natural gas will increase, nuclear may see a resurgence someday, and solar/wind will always be less than 5% of the total.

Electric cars may take off if battery life improves and costs are comparable to gasoline powered vehicles. More than likely, however, hybrids will be acceptable to most since at least you'll be able to get home. But gasoline isn't going anywhere for several decades.

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (1)

tsotha (720379) | about a year ago | (#45247409)

And if that means the end of your happy motoring society and a disallowal of nuclear power, STFU and adapt.

So... not happening, then.

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (5, Informative)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about a year ago | (#45247285)

Large fossil-fuel power plants can be made a lot more efficient than internal-combustion engines, even counting transmission and distribution losses (especially if you count distribution costs for gasoline). Running a car on energy from the electric grid is greener than running on gasoline, even if your power comes from coal plants -- and in most places, not all grid power is derived from coal.

Electric cars are *not* more energy efficient (4, Interesting)

Attila the Bun (952109) | about a year ago | (#45247549)

Running a car on energy from the electric grid is greener than running on gasoline, even if your power comes from coal plants.

Not true. In city driving Tesla claim a 292 mile range off a 85kWh battery, or 651kJ/km. Adding in battery manufacture and allowing a generous 1000 cycles, that goes up to 923kJ/km. Allowing for losses in electricity generation (40% at best) and transmission (~7%), the overall consumption is 1653kJ/km.

A medium size diesel gets about 60mpg (UK gallons), equivalent to 1690kJ/km. The difference is just 2%.

Re:Electric cars are *not* more energy efficient (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | about a year ago | (#45247593)

The problem with this comparison is that it assumes no energy is consumed in producing and transporting diesel fuel or gasoline.

Re:Electric cars are *not* more energy efficient (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about a year ago | (#45247797)

Exactly. Nonetheless, I applaud the GP for citing actual numbers where I was too lazy to do so (although I'd like to see more detail on the battery-manufacture figures, and 60mpg is better mileage than just about anything you can currently buy in the US). I'd mod you both up if Slashdot worked that way.

Re:Electric cars are *not* more energy efficient (1)

bagorange (1531625) | about a year ago | (#45247813)


Surely we aren't being so foolish as to expect honesty from the oil lobby?
Wells to wheels is beyond these people.
Actually they know very "well" that they are misleading, but their target audience hears what they want to hear and feels reassured.

Re:Electric cars are *not* more energy efficient (0)

Attila the Bun (952109) | about a year ago | (#45247823)

Right. Of course you can say exactly the same thing about transporting fuel (and infrastructure generally) for electricity generation. I've also not accounted for the battery charger, which apparently has a "peak efficiency of 92%" (no information on the average efficiency), and I've been rather generous with the power-station efficiency (55% losses would be more realistic). The point is that the claim that electric cars are dramatically more efficient is false.

You could broaden the argument and look at environmental damage generally, including the ecological effects of copper and lithium mines. Of course this is incredibly difficult to quantify, which is why I stuck to a simple energy comparison.

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (5, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#45247721)

Running a car on energy from the electric grid is greener than running on gasoline, even if your power comes from coal plants

To put some numbers to this, the EPA says that the average car emits 423 grams of CO2 per mile, and that the average US coal plant emits 1216 lb (551 kg) of CO2 per megawatt-hour produced, which is 551 g per kwh. My Nissan LEAF gets about four miles per kwh. Assuming pure coal power, and ignoring line losses, that means my car causes 138 grams of CO2 to be emitted per mile I drive.

Now, the LEAF is a very small, very efficient car, significantly more efficient than most gasoline-powered cars (mainly for range reasons). So comparing 138 to 423 straight up isn't a fair comparison, but even if you assume a normal car is half as efficient as the LEAF, it's still 276 grams per mile vs 423 grams per mile. Throw in some line losses and the gap closes further... but it's pretty clear that electric vehicles cause less CO2 production than gasoline vehicles, on a per-mile basis, even if all of the electricity comes from coal.

For me it's even better because although Colorado is primarily coal-powered, I mostly charge my car only at the office, and my employer (Google) pays a little extra to buy "green" power, mostly wind and hydro, I think. So my car's carbon footprint is much lower. This highlights another aspect of electric vehicles: if we switch to EVs (where appropriate -- they don't work for everything), it is at least possible to replace coal generation with something cleaner. Wind, hydro, wave, solar, nuclear, geothermal... there are lots of clean ways to generate electricity.

I should also note that I, personally, don't care that much. I bought a LEAF not because I was anxious to save the planet, but because it's cheaper to own and operate than a gasoline-powered car, at least for my driving patterns. The fact that it's cleaner is a pleasant bonus. It's also a lot of fun to drive because electric motors have awesome torque and I love how quiet it is. It's a great little car, and I'm very happy with my decision to buy it (lease it, actually... I think EV tech is changing fast enough right now that there's value in being able to upgrade regularly).

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (1)

Deep Esophagus (686515) | about a year ago | (#45247303)

Where do they think the power comes from? Those magic wall sockets most likely are connected to coal burning plants.

This. With apologies to Heinlein, There Ain't No Such Thing As A Zero-Emission Lunch. Your state can switch from coal to all-solar? Great! Good luck on finding zero-emission sources for the components, all of which I'm sure are made from renewable resources. Ditto for wind, and that's our LEAST problematic alternative energy source.

I would dearly love to get the planet, or at least the major consumers, off nonrenewable, polluting energy sources... but we don't have the magic bullet yet. Nothing even comes close to meeting the needs of a major city (by which I arbitrarily choose to mean > 1 million people), much less an entire state or country.

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247365)

No one is suggesting EVERY PIECE has to be zero-emission. Most of us would be happy with an improvement. If your critical thinking skills ever reach those of a grown adult you'll see that the world isn't black and white.

Re: There is no Magic Energy Fairy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247529)

Actually if your goal is to make a dent in global warming, and you assume that the developing world is going to reach parity in standard of living with the west, then yes, every piece has to be close to zero emission, or else it's not enough. Co2 is not a 10% problem or even a 50% problem. Deliver 99% per capita reductions or go home.

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (2)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year ago | (#45247445)

Oh we have the means to provide the NEEDS of everybody. What we don't have is the means to provide the WANTS and DESIRES of everybody!

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (1)

kamitchell (1090511) | about a year ago | (#45247469)

Not to mention the environmental cost of making an electric car, which is much higher than for an internal-combustion vehicle. IEEE had an article [ieee.org] which explored this idea.

I figure, since I only drive 7,000 miles or so a year, mostly long trips (I go to work by train), my ICE car is much cleaner than an electric, especially after I buy carbon offsets for it (I think those cost me less than $50/year).

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247839)

I take issue with the validity of that article. In his world as described by that article, any pro-electric car article is, by definition, paid for by corporate interests and therefore not to be trusted. It's not hard to arrive at a conclusion that electric cars are bad for the environment when you categorically exclude from consideration any article that gives an undesired result! Doesn't mean that conclusion is worth anything, though.

That's not even counting the fact that the primary article he uses from the Journal of Industrial Ecology had to revise their calculations after it was pointed out that they were assuming a 1,000 kg electric motor was being used in electric cars.

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#45247517)

There Ain't No Such Thing As A Zero-Emission Lunch.

No one's saying there is. Simply a lower emission and sustainable one.

Whatever your views on green issues, you can't avoid the fact that fossil fuels are finite. Something has to give in the future decades.

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (1)

bagorange (1531625) | about a year ago | (#45247525)


Oh how clever you are for noticing that a solar cell takes resources to manufacture.
Is manufacturing a method of producing energy from renewable resources more or less efficient than digging up fossil fuels and burning them for energy? Which one has lower emissions?
Fossil fuels such as oil are used to make other essentials of modern life - plastics, pharmaceuticals, artificial fibres etc. etc., but you think the best thing to do is to burn them into CO2 and water vapour??
Obvious attempted sleight-of-hand in moving from "turbines, solar cells etc need non-renewables to manufacture" to "renewable energy is a fool's errand."
Renewable or nuclear energy is less polluting and leaves fossil fuel compounds the really irreplaceble uses.

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#45247309)

They are? well someone better tell the local electrical plant here they need to use COAL instead of Nuclear. And all the ones around in other cities are all natural gas.

Damn these power plants and their refusal to use COAL!

Speaking of STFU: (2)

Burz (138833) | about a year ago | (#45247335)

Nuclear reactors cannot modulate their level of output several times per day, yet as anyone reading this should know, demand changes greatly over the course of the day. On a minute-by-minute basis, demand is pretty chaotic. That's why the nuclear industry spurred the construction of a great deal of the hydropower capacity that we have today.... so it could actually stay in business.

The interesting thing is that today's deregulated energy markets don't have the stomach to stick with nuclear power projects: Once bureaucrats commit their ratepayers (you and me) to a project, the price invariably skyrockets. Geographic monopoly, business culture and the sheer size and complexity combine in an unfortunate way that sets nuclear up for failure.

Those renewable sources, however, are already making use of the hydropower capacity that the flagging nuclear industry in no longer using. They say: Thanks!!!

As for the dis-ingenuity of posting about "unreliable" renewables in a thread about BATTERY-based transportation.... LOL.

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247347)

This is the most tired argument against electric cars. Even existing power sources are often more efficient and environmentally friendly than our old friend in internal combustion engine. Not only that, but there are substantial advantages to locating polluting power generation away from where a lot of people live. Would you tolerate a coal burning plant in the middle of your city?

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (2)

bagorange (1531625) | about a year ago | (#45247429)

I presume you think Fossil Fuel cars produce less, or the same amount of, pollution than electrics when powered by coal burning electricity?
False. Electric motors are more efficient than ICEs.
You are so fond of pointing out that lithium has to be mined and yet when doing your sums about gasoline you don't include - drilling the crude oil, moving it to a refinery, refining it and then transporting the actual fuel for vehicles.
Perhaps you think that biofuel makes sense? It probably does if you are an Iowa corn farmer. If not, then you should know that the fertilisers needed uses fossil fuels even before the corn begins processing. (Haber Process.)
There is no realistic prospect of ICEs ever being powered by anything other very finite resources. Electricity can be renewable and thus is actually a long term plan.

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a year ago | (#45247767)

Efficiency losses in the electric car chain, from fuel source to motor, include -

1) Heat transfer losses at the boiler or gas turbine
2) Power heat cycle system losses
3) Generator losses (Gen efficiency)
4) Step up transformer losses
5) transmission line losses
6) Step down transformer losses
7) Charger losses
8) Battery storage/efficiency losses

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (1)

bagorange (1531625) | about a year ago | (#45247889)


Well done!
You listed some evidence of less than 100% efficiency in electricity generation and transmission. This shows that fossil fuels are better, how?
You still have a less efficient power plant in the vehicle, as well as your less efficient chain from well to fuel tank
The greenest choices are public transport, 2nd hand fuel efficient car (no point in demanding a *new* car if there are serviceable ones already built) and then consider electric if you absolutely must have a new car and you can afford electric.

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (1)

hey! (33014) | about a year ago | (#45247635)

True, but energy *sources* are fungible in an electric system. That makes a huge environmental difference, as we're not forced to bear unreasonable *marginal* costs for energy technologies that have environmental dis-economies of scale.

Local shortfalls of wind or solar can be alleviated by a more efficient grid, but even if they are as unreliable as you claim, every 24 kwh net of wind energy put onto the grid is roughly one gallon of petroleum saved and 20 lb of CO2 emissions saved.

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (1)

Zobeid (314469) | about a year ago | (#45247819)

Couple of points to make...

Coal is already on the decline in the USA, being squeezed out by cheaper (and much cleaner) natural gas. The Chinese, on the other hand, are building coal plants like crazy.

Many people don't realize that those magic oil refineries are most likely connected to coal burning plants too. Oil refineries use enormous amounts of electricity. I've seen an estimate that refining a gallon of gasoline requires as much electrical power as you need to move an electric car the same distance, given typical efficiencies.

Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about a year ago | (#45247847)

Does it need to be about global warming? What about the more immediate, every day problems of gas vehicles? I for one don't enjoy having to breathe in those awful fumes whether I'm trying to run the car a/c or just out for a walk. Car fumes kill quality of life and also quantity of life with the damage they can do to your lungs. And then there's the extreme noise pollution which makes it impossible to walk comfortably down busy streets unless they have really low speed limits -- electric cars would be much quieter.

If Privacy Concerns Could Be Addressed ... (1)

marbux (761605) | about a year ago | (#45247175)

"If privacy concerns could be addressed and automakers would be willing to share that data with government transportation planners, the rollout of public charging stations could be more targeted and cash-efficient."

How would one adequately address privacy concerns when the spy agencies routinely lie about what they do?

There is no such thing as "zero emission" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247209)

Electric cars may not produce CO directly, but the plants that generate the electricity needed to charge them do. Also the energy and pollution generated by the manufacturing of the batteries are currently not that positive either.

The worst part of electric cars is that their expansion in usage will have a nasty side effect for the people who don't own one. And that is the increase in cost of electricity to EVERYBODY (including little old grandma, who doesn't even own a bicycle) due to an increase of demand ... and that increase on demand will also increase the pollution from the energy plants.

We need to stop pushing tech that is NOT READY for prime-time. Before we push for electric cars, we must first:
- fix the infrastructure
- improve the technology to a mature level
- verify that "solution is not worst than the problem"

Re:There is no such thing as "zero emission" (1)

MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) | about a year ago | (#45247261)

This is correct. The solution is not ready yet. People forget how bad pollution was with horses, and how much cleaner gas-burning cars were. A buildout of the current grid to handle electric cars is incredibly wasteful.

Re:There is no such thing as "zero emission" (2)

sfm (195458) | about a year ago | (#45247633)

Check out the grid utilization from Midnight to 6am in any timezone. Would it surprise you to know the load is generally less than 40% of peak? Assuming reasonable charging models, there is no need to radically expand the electric grid.

And no, it is not zero emission, but certainly using an electric vehicle produces far less direct polution than driving a typical ICE car.

Re:There is no such thing as "zero emission" (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#45247313)

Or just get uneducated americans to stop freaking out about having a small nuclear reactor under the hood. That would be my solution.

Re:There is no such thing as "zero emission" (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year ago | (#45247447)

Nothing will educated them about nuclear like a pacific ocean without fish!!

Re:There is no such thing as "zero emission" (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#45247415)

We are not ready for mass adoption of electric cars, but the technology is not yet cheap enough for that yet anyway. By the time the technology does get cheap enough, and starts trickling down to the majority who have rarely if ever bought a new car in their lives, we will have had plenty of tie to start shifting to more sustainable power generation.

For that matter we could roll out high-efficiency gasoline generator power plants that will burn far more cleanly, and generate far more power per gallon, than most modern cars do. Even with transmission and storage losses you'd *still* come out ahead with electric vehicles in terms of fuel pollution.

Perhaps more to the point that substantial delay in adoption means you can't quickly change the fuel source for hundreds of millions of gasoline cars on the road. You can try shenanigans like ethanol fuel "enrichment", but that's really a drop in the bucket. Diesel has a little more potential since they are a lot more tolerant to alternative fuels. Electric cars though, those will be powered by whatever your power plants happen to be consuming, without any modifiation. That's mostly coal right now in the US, but that's starting to change, and IIRC Germany already gets something like 60% of its electricity from solar, and they're not exactly known for their long sunny days.

Re:There is no such thing as "zero emission" (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#45247473)

Oh, also worth mentioning - the shift towards electric cars creates the promise a vast and lucrative new high-dollar market for *good* batteries (safer, cheaper, and/or more environmentally friendly) - which makes the necessary R&D far easier to justify, bringing significant attention to a technological field that had been largely languishing.

Re:There is no such thing as "zero emission" (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a year ago | (#45247785)

There is already a vast and lucrative market for safer, better, cheaper, environmentally friendly batteries. There has been for quite some time.

Aha. (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about a year ago | (#45247253)

I see the power company lobbyists are busy.

When DID Slashdot turn into Jalopnik? (0)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about a year ago | (#45247255)

I guess car stories are good for starting high-traffic, high-clickthrough flamewars, but it seems like we're going a bit overboard lately.

If a consumer didn't pay a premium for electric... (0)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#45247259)

... they'd probably already be a lot more popular.

As it sits, you're looking at putting down an additional $10k on a car *JUST* because it's electric, while the typical price-conscious consumer looks at that money difference and realizes that they can actually just get a whole lot nicer car instead.

Re:If a consumer didn't pay a premium for electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247825)

Hell, ignore the premium. Anyone who even thinks they might take a road trip will balk at the idea of having to wait around for 20 minutes every 150 miles. For that reason alone, it's going to be limited mostly to upper-middle class and above.

Re:If a consumer didn't pay a premium for electric (2)

Zobeid (314469) | about a year ago | (#45247857)

You're totally right, and I think the industry is keenly aware of this, and they are working on how to address it.

Gasoline cars have been mass-produced and cost-reduced for decades. It's really quite amazing to look at the cost of an internal combustion engine and see just how cheap they are, considering the materials, parts and tolerances that they require to produce them. The same can and should happen to electric cars, but it just doesn't happen overnight, and it won't ever happen without them being in active production.

The Tesla Model S is Tesla's second car, and it's a huge advance over the Roadster. The Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are first-generation products. We're just at the beginning of this change, so be patient!

My BS meter pegged (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | about a year ago | (#45247267)

What a load of crap. There is no reason at all to share any personal data with the government. Lets ignore that NSA already has it all, if they want to know where people drive, well, they already have good road usage statistics for most roads. They certainly don't need data on where current electric car drivers are driving now, they "need" data on where they would be driving their over priced toys if they could drive there and get back, and the current data will not tell them that. To meet their idiotic goal they would really need data on where the people who don't buy electric cars (perhaps because they perceive them to be impractical with the current infrastructure) would want to drive them, not data on where people who already bought them already can drive them. And even the "need" for that other information, which can't be obtained by turning over people's private travel history, ignores the questions of "should government be doing this at all?" and "wouldn't everyone benefit more from research into better batteries or alternate energy storage or production than from the government getting involved in the car charging business?".

where drivers tend to travel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247295)

because it studies the driving patterms of its customers and installs charging stations only where they tend to travel

Problem: Sometimes I travel where I do not tend to travel.

Re:where drivers tend to travel (2)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year ago | (#45247315)

And I'm sure the owners tend to travel where there are charging stations.

fallacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247307)

"By 2025, the average zero-emission vehicle driver will save nearly $6,000 in fueling costs over the life of the car. "

By 2025, $6,000 will buy as much as $600 buys today.

Also, central planning doesn't work.

Re:fallacy (1)

BradMajors (995624) | about a year ago | (#45247361)

BTW, the federal government is giving a $7,500 tax credit to save $6,000 is gasoline.

Re:fallacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247371)

"Also, central planning doesn't work."

Yes, we all saw that in 1969 when all those competing private corporations sent people on the Moon.

This can't work (1)

randomErr (172078) | about a year ago | (#45247395)

For this too work at least 100 million cars with compatible charging units would have to be on the road in those states by 2025. In addition every unit of power would have to be subsidized by either the state or federal government. Plus think of the strain this puts on an aging power producing infrastructure. Electric prices will soar. Unless we switch to nuclear power or solar become MUCH cheaper this plan can't be sustainable.

Royalties? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about a year ago | (#45247397)

I wonder if these states adopt Tesla's supercharger stations then will Tesla be able to charge $$$ or get royalties from licensing the technology etc...

If so then that could lead them down the path towards being a monopoly, since they'd own all the supercharging stations...

Re:Royalties? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247923)

Your plan does sound convincing to disrupt car business, but rising taxes on Makers don't work!

When will hybrid cars be economical? (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about a year ago | (#45247437)

Right now even the cheapest hybrid cars tend to cost double what a cheap gas powered economical car costs. This means you can go through like 100,000 miles of gasoline before you break even.

Some company should try and make a bare bones economical car with electromagnetic return braking. Aim for a short range if you have to 20-40 miles, and have a or a hybrid gas/electric drive. Basically you'd charge at home, so most of your commute is near-free.

A car like this would empower a lot of low income families who spend a noticeable portion of their income on gas to get to their minimum wage job. Also it would give low income families the chance to shop around more at stores since often you don't go to stores for discounts when the gas money eats up the savings.

The downsides are that the highways would get a lot more crowded, and the power grid would be hammered and need upgrading. A hammered power grid can be offset temporarily by people getting solar installs at their houses. When your car is using lots of electricity, the investment is worth it. Whether you're going to be driving a hybrid now or even a hydrogen later, solar panels help with both.

Re:When will hybrid cars be economical? (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#45247497)

Companies don't build such cars because people don't want to buy them when they can buy a Civic for the same price or less.

Sure, in theory you could build a $5,000 electric car, but by the time you've redesigned it to meet global auto construction rules it will cost several times as much.

Electric cars are not "zero emission" (0)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#45247479)

Electric cars result in plenty of emissions, from the production of the electricity that powers them, to the energy expended manufacturing them, to the diesel used in the locomotives that transport them.

All cars result in emissions.

Shortly to be followed by: (1)

Chas (5144) | about a year ago | (#45247555)

Citing diminishment of of revenues from gas taxes, due to the influence of electric cars, 8 states are working to impose a per-mile road tax.

Enemies of the People (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45247929)

Electric cars involve hideous poisons dead miners waste of energy and unnecessary power plants and inefficiencies. Dumbest idea since yuppies.

Zero emission electric car (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#45247931)

I hate that term as it is inaccurate. While the vehicle may not emit pollutants one is just shifting the emissions to the coal/natural gas fired electricity generation plant. If the cars were not charging the plants would not be emitting as much. It is less emissions that an internal combustion engine but it is non-zero. Sure, you can hook your car up to you PV array or wind turbine but if you are using grid energy it is not zero emission. If the source of the electricity is not zero emission then calling the electric car zero emission is a lie.

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