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BMW, Mazda Keen To Meet With Tesla About Charging Technology

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the let's-talk-about-supercharger-deserts dept.

Transportation 137

PC Magazine reports that following Elon Musk's announcement that Tesla would be freeing for other electric car makers to use the various patents that the company has amassed, at least two companies — Mazda and BMW — are said to be interested in meeting with Tesla, for a very good reason: According to undisclosed sources speaking to the Financial Times, both Nissan and BMW would be interested in working with Tesla to craft up some universal vehicle charging standards. To quote unnamed official: "It is obviously clear that everyone would benefit if there was a far more simple way for everyone to charge their cars."

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nissan or mazda? (4, Informative)

Mishotaki (957104) | about 4 months ago | (#47244445)

i'm confused.... is it Nissan or Mazda that is interested?

Re:nissan or mazda? (3, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 4 months ago | (#47244511)

Probably confused as Nissan have their own EV, the Leaf. I wouldn't be surprised if Nissan jump on the bandwagon too and gobble up that fast-charging / battery tech ASAP; It would make the Leaf a usable compact car. Current 8 hour charge cycle and ~90 mile range on a good day is pretty limiting, especially for £25k for the base model.

Re:nissan or mazda? (4, Informative)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | about 4 months ago | (#47244541)

Nissan doesn't have problems with charge times (at least, no more than Tesla). The base model takes 8 hours to charge from empty, but they offer a 4 hour charge option (that runs off the same Level 2 charging stations) and a Quick Charge option that gets an 80% charge in 30 minutes. Pretty similar to Tesla.

Re:nissan or mazda? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 4 months ago | (#47244571)

Quite right. My information came from online automotive review sites, which didn't mention a fast charging option. Still, though, the Tesla charges to 80% in 10 minutes, and full capacity in 30. I'm certain Nissan would be up for this, especially considering the limited range.

Re:nissan or mazda? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244585)

The fast-charge thing was added to the leaf in the 3rd model year.
BTW, that's pretty amazing all on its own, nissan has been selling electric cars for nearly 4 years now.

Re:nissan or mazda? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244629)

Negative. Fast charging (CHADEMO) was in the Nissan Leaf since the very first model (2011 if i remember OK).

And BTW, the charging on Tesla models is more than twice faster than the Nissan's simply because battery packs on any Tesla is at least twice as big ( 24khw Nissan vs 60/85Kwh on the Model S).

So, no, the problem is not with the technology itself, but the the limited 24 kwh or less batteriy packs offered by other manufacturers of electrical vehicles. The bigger the battery is, the longer it will take you, the longer it will last in year, the faster it will be able to recharge.

Some maths:

24kwh pack at 2C charging =~ 50kw charging capability (CHADEMO).
85kwh pack at LESS THAN 2C charging =~ more than 100kw charging capability (Tesla own's).

Yo see, Tesla's approach is even more conservative

Re:nissan or mazda? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244713)

The bigger the battery is, the longer it will take you, the longer it will last in year, the faster it will be able to recharge.

Sorry, that doesn't make a lot of sense the way you wrote it. Why would a bigger battery charge faster? Perhaps you mean (and I don't know if this is true) they have more batteries hooked up in parallel. So for a given amount of power drain, the car with more individual batteries has the drain split across more batteries, so each individual battery drains less, and the charging is more parallelized.

Re:nissan or mazda? (1)

raxx7 (205260) | about 4 months ago | (#47247615)

Model S' battery has both more capacity and the ability to supply and absorb more power.

I think for a given technology, battery capacity and power (both in and out) tend to be related.

Re:nissan or mazda? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47245027)

> Negative. Fast charging (CHADEMO) was in the Nissan Leaf since the very first model (2011 if i remember OK).

Oh come on. Clearly from the context of 8 hours to 4 hours we aren't talking about chademo because that's a 30 minute charger.
We were talking about the difference in the onboard charger - the 2011-2012 models had a 3.3kw charger, the 2013 models changed that to a 6.6kw charger.

Would it have killed you to pause for a second and consider that the person you were responding to was not an idiot and that maybe, just maybe, you had actually misunderstood?

Re:nissan or mazda? (3, Insightful)

milkmage (795746) | about 4 months ago | (#47245701)

charge time might be the same, but Tesla owns RANGE.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official range for the Model S Performance model equipped with an 85 kWh battery pack is 265 miles (426 km)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N... [wikipedia.org]
The US Environmental Protection Agency official range for the 2013 model year Leaf is 121 km (75 mi) and rated the Leaf's combined fuel economy at 115 miles per US gallon gasoline equivalent (2.0 L/100 km).

yeah, a Tesla also costs 4x more than the Leaf, but if others get onboard and develop a standard... guess what - that cost goes down

Musk is a smart guy

Re:nissan or mazda? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47246873)

Except that 80% of 85 miles is a far cry from 80% of 265 miles.

A local Nissan salescritter mentioned to me last week that Nissan will be offering
a range-extender battery, to boost the Leaf's range to 150 miles.

In that case, it makes sense that Nissan might be interested in a more powerful
Level 3 charging system.

Sunny Guy

Re:nissan or mazda? (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47244671)

Probably confused as Nissan have their own EV, the Leaf.

You mean like how Mazda has its own EV, the i-MiEV?

Re: nissan or mazda? (4, Informative)

red_dragon (1761) | about 4 months ago | (#47244775)

The i-MIEV is made by Mitsubishi.

Re: nissan or mazda? (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47245565)

The i-MIEV is made by Mitsubishi.

Whoops. Massive brain flatulence. Just shows what posting before caffeination can do to you.

Mazda does have an EV though, the Demio. It's only sold as a hybrid in most markets, and sometimes labeled the Mazda 2. At least it's got a rotary, so it's not lugging a heavy powerplant around.

Re:nissan or mazda? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 4 months ago | (#47246821)

The current base model is £15k and can fast charge to 80% in half an hour. I'm thinking of getting one because for my daily commute and most regular trips the range is fine.

Re:nissan or mazda? (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 4 months ago | (#47247843)

I've been driving a Leaf for a year and it's the best car I've ever owned. It's very "usable" right now.

Re:nissan or mazda? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244997)

Well, if the great and powerful editors of /. would bother to read and check sources they would have corrected the misquotes in the title and unquoted part of the summary. TFA doesn't mention Mazda at all, geniuses.

Re:nissan or mazda? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47245019)

i'm confused.... is it Nissan or Mazda that is interested?

You are not confused. The Dice employed editors have adopted a Microsoft support model and have dropped support for Classic /. They now only make editorial corrections to the new /. Beta interface only. (If only this were true.)

It's Nissan (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244449)

For everybody who's confused by the title like me, it's Nissan (not Mazda) in TFA.

I wonder why no american companies are interested in cooperating?

Re:It's Nissan (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244469)

I wonder why no american companies are interested in cooperating?

Because under the socialist Obama administration, there's no point to innovating and trying to increase your company's profits: the taxman is going to take it all.

Re:It's Nissan (4, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | about 4 months ago | (#47244501)

Because under the socialist Obama administration

Thank god that free market, not socialist at all Germany is interested then *rolls eyes* Fuck me some of you Obama haters are retarded.

Re:It's Nissan (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 months ago | (#47244533)

Never mind that, here in the USSA, despite the cries of "Double Taxation!" and "Highest Tax Rates Evar! Death Taxes!!!", if a decent size multinational is paying an effective tax rate higher than the guy who scrubs out their toilets at night, they probably just need to fire their accountants.

Re:It's Nissan (5, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 4 months ago | (#47244723)

Never mind that, here in the USSA, despite the cries of "Double Taxation!" and "Highest Tax Rates Evar! Death Taxes!!!", if a decent size multinational is paying taxes, they probably just need to fire their accountants.

FTFY

Re:It's Nissan (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244919)

You people who scream "Free marketzzzz!!!!" all the time are the retards.
 
The US automotive market is hardly any more "free market" than is the pharmaceutical industry. But for those of you who have no interest in reality it's not a big deal, I guess.

Re:It's Nissan (1)

N1AK (864906) | about 4 months ago | (#47245133)

Germany isn't a free market; I forget sometimes that people sufficiently dense not to know that lurch through here and thus didn't add sarcasm tags.

Re:It's Nissan (0, Troll)

botfap (3511701) | about 4 months ago | (#47245733)

nope, but it has more freedom and less regulation than the american markets. And much less fraud and corp theft

Re:It's Nissan (4, Interesting)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 4 months ago | (#47245017)

Because under the socialist Obama administration, there's no point to innovating and trying to increase your company's profits: the taxman is going to take it all.

Because under a Republican administration, there's no point to innovating and trying to increase your company's profits:

With infrastructure crumbling, education failing and the middle class fading the environment that fosters capitalist success is fading away. Better to start up in a country like Germany that creates an environment where it's worthwhile trying to innovate.

Re:It's Nissan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47245413)

And yet, it was the loan from O that enabled Telsa while you GOP were busy sucking the kock brothers cocks.

Re:It's Nissan (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#47244505)

Mostly because GM, Ford, and Chrysler are ran by some of the dumbest people on the planet. Which means we will get a standard that the European and Asian cars use along with tesla, and then something completely different from Ford, GM and Chrysler. Causing an even larger fall of domestic car buying with the executives having press conferences asking, "WE have no idea why people are not buying our cars"

Re:It's Nissan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244535)

Causing an even larger fall of domestic car buying with the executives having press conferences asking, "WE have no idea why people are not buying our cars"

Tesla is domestic as far as the US is concerned.

Re:It's Nissan (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | about 4 months ago | (#47244957)

My reading of the sentence was "European and Asian suppliers along with only one US supplier, Tesla; the other US suppliers will just do their own thing."

Re:It's Nissan (5, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47244623)

The real problem is that they didn't standardize on high-power charging in the beginning. We got the SAE J1772 standard, but it tops out at 80 amps / 240V. Europe's a mess as it stands, with a bunch of competing connectors implementing IEC 62196-1, and again, no solid fast charging standard. This leaves everyone to have to pick and choose their own high-power coupler. It's idiotic, they should have standardized from the beginning, it's obvious that it's going to be a necessity for mainstreaming EVs. 20 minutes to charge your car while you take a lunch stop, fine. 3 hours to charge your car while you take a lunch stop, Not Fine(TM). Until you get fast charging standardized and available, the majority of consumers will continually hold that up as their excuse as to why they can't buy an EV (there's often some big holes in that logic, but that's neither here nor there).

There are a couple other possibilities for mainstreaming other than fast charging, but I don't see them around the corner. One is to have a whole day's worth of driving - or most of a day's worth (enough that if you charge during your meal / rest breaks, it's a full day) - on a single charge. In such a case, the upper end of J1772 is enough for all but very high consumption vehicles to charge you to full while you sleep, so you can drive another full day immediately after. But that requires multi-hundred kilowatt hour packs which would weight 1-2 tons and cost $50-100k with today's tech. It'll happen eventually, batteries double in energy density every 8 years or so (price drops happen too but they're more irregular and harder to predict) - but we're not to the point yet where this would be a viable option. The other option is making available self-steering genset trailers, like the AC Propulsion Long Ranger. It seems such an obvious stopgap - you've got a generator when you need it but don't have to drag it around when you don't, you could buy them, rent them, share them, etc. Your car uses gasoline on those occasional long trips but otherwise is pure electric with none of the problems of PHEVs. Unfortunately no major automakers are pursuing this approach (I'm not really sure why, the Long Ranger got good reviews). As it stands, the majority of manufacturers are pursuing some form of fast charging, but as mentioned, the standards situation is a mess right now. :

And then there's the issue of how fast charging changes incentives. As it stands, utilities *love* EVs because it lets them sell more power for rather little added infrastructure cost, they're largely stable nighttime loads. But once you start getting to 480V multi-hundred-amp daytime fast charges, it's just the opposite, that's horrible for them. It's possible to make them become once again something desirable for utilities by including a battery buffer inside the charger (trickle charges when not fast charging a car, then burst discharges), but I'm not aware of any fast chargers that come like that by default.

The other option is to accept that disadvantage of allowing fast charging EVs in exchange for having EVs smart grid integrated, so that all the cars left plugged in during the day charge when demand is low and stop charging or even reverse flow during those brief peaks. It's possible to incentivize EV owners as well - let them pick at what time their car needs to be fully charged, whether they want to allow reverse flow, etc. The more flexible they are about timing, the more their car can wait to buy power when it's cheapest, and they could get a rebate on reverse flow power sold at higher prices during peaks. Such a system would work well, leaving owners with the ability to choose the balance between speed and price (even potentially to earn a net profit on their car if they're flexible enough), and it'd leave utilities with a nice smooth generation/demand balance, much better than today. Unfortunately, neither the grid nor current EVs are to that point.

Re:It's Nissan (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244661)

20 minutes to charge your car while you take a lunch stop, fine. 3 hours to charge your car while you take a lunch stop, Not Fine(TM).

Except in France, obviously... :)

Re:It's Nissan (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47244685)

It's possible to make them become once again something desirable for utilities by including a battery buffer inside the charger (trickle charges when not fast charging a car, then burst discharges), but I'm not aware of any fast chargers that come like that by default.

Gee, I can't imagine why nobody would want to fill a box up with batteries that would cost what the batteries in your electric car cost, and which will have to go through nearly as many if not as many charge cycles, and then pay the efficiency loss of charging a battery from the battery from the mains. That makes absolutely no sense. Battery swapping would make sense, but a fillup station full of batteries makes none. If we get meaningful supercapacitors at a low low price, THOSE would make sense. Any decade now!

Re:It's Nissan (1)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47244961)

I cover battery swapping later. The short of it, it's a non-starter.

You overestimate the cost of batteries, especially at fixed installations, and underestimate the cost of the other charging hardware. The charger's battery bank would probably run them about $0.15-0.2/Wh. So to fill even a max-range Model S (the one with the 85kWh pack, by far the largest) would be $17k (plus overhead). But multi-hundred-kW chargers themselves cost as much as a small house, they're not cheap.

Percentage-wise, battery charge/discharge losses are quite low, on the order of a couple percent. And you have to convert it to DC anyway, so that's a freebie.

Why is everyone obsessing with supercapacitors? They're the *expensive, low energy density* option. How can you talk about "cheap" and "supercapacitors" in the same sentence? And what's the reasoning for expecting them to get cheaper faster than batteries, when the opposite has been true?

Re:It's Nissan (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47245549)

I cover battery swapping later. The short of it, it's a non-starter.

If battery swapping is a non-starter, then having a charger full of batteries is also a non-starter.

Why is everyone obsessing with supercapacitors? They're the *expensive, low energy density* option.

Because if they weren't expensive, they would be awesome.

How can you talk about "cheap" and "supercapacitors" in the same sentence?

Time marches on. Physics says that it should be possible.

And what's the reasoning for expecting them to get cheaper faster than batteries, when the opposite has been true?

Oh, none whatsoever. Thing is, they solve the charge/discharge rate problem, so we all want it to happen. More likely they will become part of the power storage system, not the whole thing, at least any time soon. Even that would be an improvement, particularly in the area of regenerative braking.

Re:It's Nissan (1)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47245907)

If battery swapping is a non-starter, then having a charger full of batteries is also a non-starter.

What's your logic?

Because if they weren't expensive, they would be awesome.

If they weren't super-expensive, and super-low energy density, they'd be great. But that's not the case on either account.

Time marches on. Physics says that it should be possible.

Where does physics say that? Where does physics say anything about price?

Re:It's Nissan (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47246463)

If battery swapping is a non-starter, then having a charger full of batteries is also a non-starter.

What's your logic?

I already explained that in an earlier comment. You are invited to go back and refamiliarize yourself with the thread to which you are adding.

Re:It's Nissan (2)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47246943)

You made a claim, I made a counter, you made a remark that your claim still stands without presenting evidence. I'm asking you to present evidence.

In what way is a charger's battery pack the same as a vehicle battery pack? It's not even *remotely* close to the same use case. Weight is irrelevant for fixed installations so cost per watt hour is dramatically lower, pack size can be dramatically larger given the use case, which decreases cycling rate, the overall cycling behavior is totally different, the associated non-battery hardware on the charger is far more expensive, changing the ratio of battery cost per unit associated hardware, and there's only one format of battery needed per charger (verses a minimum of dozens for vehicles), with no need for stock, no need for consumer battery acceptance, and no mechanical swap of a massive structural component of a vehicle's body.

So please, explain to me how these situations are even remotely similar? In the vehicle you've got crash-safe, body-integrated, high-energy-density lithium ions with a discharge time of 1-3 hours, attached to 10-40k of associated hardware. In a charger you've got something like lead-acids stacked on a shelf, with a total discharge time of 20-30 minutes (in 10 minute or so bursts), doing so for only maybe 4% of the day, attached to 100k-ish of hardware, and with the battery cost being compensated for by lower electricity rates.

If you think these are the same situation, by all means, I'm all ears.

Re:It's Nissan (1)

harperska (1376103) | about 4 months ago | (#47246023)

Gee, I can't imagine why nobody would want to fill a box up with batteries that would cost what the batteries in your electric car cost

There is no reason why this would have to be the case. As the buffer batteries don't have to have the lightweight requirements of a battery you literally carry with you, they could easily be made of a cheaper but heavier chemistry. Maybe even a room full of deep cycle lead acid batteries.

Re:It's Nissan (1)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47246569)

Not to mention, the charger itself is much more expensive than your whole car, and fast charges vehicles orders of magnitude more often than you have your vehicle fast charged.

Heck, if it's in a spot where maintenance isn't an issue, one may just go with deep-cycle lead-acids and oversize the battery bank. Maybe 200kWh or so. That'd make charging a model S only a 40% duty cycle and a full discharge would take half an hour, which is actually rather gentle for many types of PbA. The overcapacity would give you room for busy times when you have to charge multiple cars in a row from the same charger (if there's more than one charger at a station, it makes more sense for them to share a common battery bank). You can get such PbAs for about $0.08-$0.10 per watt hour. Running at an average of about 4% utilization (see elsewhere in this article), you'd probably get 5 years or so out of them.

There's probably better alternatives, though.

Re:It's Nissan (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47246695)

There is no reason why this would have to be the case. As the buffer batteries don't have to have the lightweight requirements of a battery you literally carry with you, they could easily be made of a cheaper but heavier chemistry. Maybe even a room full of deep cycle lead acid batteries.

Which room in your house do you plan to devote to these batteries? How much do you imagine you'll have to pay for the freight and installation charges? Why don't we focus on charging these vehicles during the day with solar energy from panels which pay back their energy investment in three years (as thin-film panels do today) instead of adding another lossy well to put energy into (with losses) and draw it out from again (with more losses)? It just makes no sense to fill your house up with batteries — seriously, what percentage of the potential market did you imagine doing this? And to avoid that, you have to use expensive batteries, and then we're right back to what I was talking about.

It's a great idea for a science-fiction story, in which a technological enclave reinhabits a world otherwise wiped out by plague. Sure, they might well round up the batteries lying around, and fill rooms in their inherited houses with them. For a commercial product, it's a non-starter.

Re:It's Nissan (1)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47246999)

"Room in your house"? You have no clue what a fast charger is, do you?

These aren't little sockets that cost $50. Those are Level 1.
These aren't "a little box on a wall or post" that cost a couple K. Those are Level 2.
These aren't even the lower end of level 3 "fast" chargers, which are the size of a small refrigerator or so; a few dozen kilowatts is not sufficiently fast to replace gasoline for travel. If you're talking a 400kW** fast charger, the kind of thing needed to fill up an 85kWh pack to 80% in ten minutes, you're talking a device the size of 1-2 soda machines that costs about a hundred thousand dollars.

These are not things you're going to put in your home

Nor is there any reason to whatsoever. Why on earth would a person need to charge that fast at home? Seriously, what's the use case here? Fast chargers are designed to be the EV equivalent of gas stations - in public places near major roads for people traveling long distances.

This explains why you're confused about fast chargers having batteries, though; you simply have no clue what they are or what they're used for. Even the lower-end level 3 chargers are not for houses.

Re:It's Nissan (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 4 months ago | (#47246591)

For a fixed installation, you can use cheaper batteries (even lead-acid if you've got a lot of room and can handle the weight) or batteries that are too degraded for in-car use, reducing upfront costs significantly.

Re:It's Nissan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244785)

Regarding quick charging being bad for utilities.

With enough of a price difference between day and night electricity prices, the incentive would be there to just get a whole lot of inexpensive lead-acid batteries that charge during the night, and sell the electricity during the day as quick charges.

Re:It's Nissan (1)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47244985)

Yes and no. Concerning storing energy in lead-acid batteries, no, that's too expensive (although it's been argued that used EV packs which no longer meet their rated capacity but still have tons of life in them might prove to be an excellent power storage banaza for utilities). It's done to some degree in isolated locations in specific circumstances, but to a very limited degree. There's also other types of battery storage done, for example, the vanadium redux station on one of the rattlesnake lines in Utah that they built to avoid having to build a second power line - but again, quite limited.

Much more widespread, however, is hydroelectric energy storage. You can of course ramp regular dams up and down to match the day and night cycle, and this is widely done - you're storing energy during the night to use during the day. More than that, however, is pumped hydro storage, where you actually pump water back at night. In some places, most notably in China, there are huge pumped hydro plants that don't even have a feed river, they're just two reservoirs that water is brought back and forth between to average out day/night consumption.

So, yes, it is done to some degree, but it's limited by your capital costs. The nice thing about EVs is that *consumers* pay the capital costs on the batteries for you. And when their vehicle no longer goes its full range near the end of its life, they consider that 70%-ish capacity battery trash.

Re:It's Nissan (2)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47244917)

Also, there's the issue of economics. A high power fast charger, say, 400kW, costs on the order of $100k and is the size of 1-2 soda machines. If you're only servicing 1-2 EVs a month, you're never going to pay for it. If we assume a 25 year lifetime and, after factoring in the time value to money assume that it needs to pay for itself plus, oh, let's say $50k of maintenance, during 15 years, then it needs to average $10k a year, or $28 per day, or $1.14 per hour. Since the charger provides 400kWh/h, then that'd be a surcharge of 0.3 cents per kilowatt hour at a 100% capacity factor, an amount that'd pretty much disappear under the 20 cents or so per kWh the power company would want to charge for being able to deliver such high powers at an irregular interval (you could reduce the rate by installing a battery buffer, but then you've got to pay for the buffer).

So, if the charger was always in use, its cost and maintenance would be vanishingly small. On the other hand, if it was in use 1% of the time, the costs for buying / maintaining the charger would run you 30 cents per kWh, significantly more than the cost of electricity itself, and bringing up the net total to more expensive than even gasoline per mile. Realistically, then, you need to get 3-5% utilization on your fast chargers for them to be economical.

400kWh is equivalent to about 1600 miles for a Prius-like electric car. 4% utilization of that means you need to average charging up 64 electric miles per hour. Meaning that you need one electric car that will need to stop at your station traveling down your route every hour. If we assume that you pick a spot where 1 in 3 EVs on the route will need to stop at your particular charger (you can't space them too far apart or people won't feel comfortable risking it, and not everyone is driving super-long distances), then you need 3 EVs going down your route per hour. You need to cover the whole interstate highway system, so the limiting factor will be the less densely trafficked areas. However, you don't need to cover every road that densely, just the busiest ones in a given region. Some whole regions don't beat more than a dozen or so vehicles per hour, so let's set 15 vehicles per hour as our threshold to reach everywhere. This means that you need 20% of them to be EVs to meet the 3 EVs per hour requirement. If we assume that gasoline vehicles are twice as likely to be driven on long distances out in the boonies as fast-charged EVs, this number rises to 40% of vehicles needing to be EVs. America has 250 million vehicles, so to reach that percentage threshold, that means 100 million EVs total. So that's the critical EV penetration needed to economically justify fast charging stations that would let you drive to every part of the US.

Now, of course, that's to drive *everywhere*. There are long stretches, long enough that EVs would need to charge, that receive tens of thousands of vehicles. At 1.5k vehicles an hour, the US needs only 1M EVs on the roads (if equally distributed) to justify a fast charging network in these areas. Areas with that kind of traffic are rather limited, however. The vast majority of the US could be reached by 150 vehicles per hour roads. This requires a total EVs on the roads of 10M.

US consumers buy a total of about 16 million vehicles per year.

One can change the operating assumptions to get different results. If you let chargers be more sparse, then a higher percentage of drivers will charge at a given charging station, increasing its utilization (the downside is EV drivers would be less likely to drive there). One could argue that EVs will be less than half as likely to be driven long distances as gas cars even with fast charging, which will almost certainly be true in the beginning, although the inverse will probably be true in the future. And of course one could argue over what sort of costs drivers would accept as tolerable or the exact pricing of power, chargers, maintenance, etc. For example, one could probably argue that while most people wouldn't tolerate paying for expensive fast charging in most of the US, they would if they had to make a trip out to boonies. But anyway, this should give a rough idea of what the US needs to economically justify an EV fast-charging infrastructure (in the absence of incentives to solve the potential chicken-and-egg problem)

Re:It's Nissan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47245955)

Keep in mind that in Europe they get an actual lunch break (1 hour+) unlike here in the states where you're lucky to get anything so a 10-20 min fast charge is useless. So long as I can get a full charge in an hour, then it's usable in both since that would give you an 80 percent in half an hour.

Re:It's Nissan (3, Interesting)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 4 months ago | (#47244743)

Mostly because GM, Ford, and Chrysler are ran by some of the dumbest people on the planet. Which means we will get a standard that the European and Asian cars use along with tesla, and then something completely different from Ford, GM and Chrysler. Causing an even larger fall of domestic car buying with the executives having press conferences asking, "WE have no idea why people are not buying our cars"

I remember the lots full of Escalades and other huge SUV's no one wanted a few years ago.

At the same time that the big three have no idea what people want to buy, that incompatibility will hurt.

But to their way of thinking, interface standardization is a socialist construct. Much better to invent a non-standard "freedom connector" that if you are lucky, you will dominate the market, and others will have to pay you royalties to use.

Coupled with a non-trivial segment who wants to see electric vehicles fail, and their starting to sound silly sycophants, it is amazing that we don't have politicians trying to ban all EV's on patriotic grounds.

As preposterous as that sounds, consider that "Heartbeat of America" (tm) Chevrolet were touting patriotism as a hallmark of their big trucks, and the present day efforts to ban Tesla sales in certain, states. There is enough money in the hands of people who would benefit at EV's failure to set the stage for some entertaining shenannagins.

Re:It's Nissan (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 4 months ago | (#47245429)

Chrysler is NOT American. It is subsidiary of Fiat.

Re:It's Nissan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244539)

Is Tesla not American?

Re:It's Nissan (1)

Sique (173459) | about 4 months ago | (#47244563)

Because Tesla cooperating with Tesla would somehow be redundant?

Re:It's Nissan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244849)

Because American cars are shit.

Re:It's Nissan (2)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 4 months ago | (#47247019)

If the Fiat EV is any indication, the American motor companies only want to make an EV to prove that the tech is doomed to fail so they can get the govt off their backs. Collaborating on creating a viable standard for charging or increasing battery capacity would go against that.

Now we are arriving at critical mass (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 4 months ago | (#47244451)

Finally - EVs will become practical. Hopefully this leads them toward working together to develop ultracapacitors that charge in seconds to a couple of minutes so it can be a true ICE replacement, and allow for a small swappable ultracapacitor so that if your battery goes flat a few miles from a charging station all you need is a state trooper or AAA and exchange a capacitor to get the car going long enough to reach a charger. Once you've achieved that you've largely eliminated the need for ICE (except possibly as a backup generator - like the Volt, i3, i8, etc.). Ideally you'd have an iX-style hybrid, except using it primarily as an EV unless you drive out to remote areas.

Re:Now we are arriving at critical mass (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47244491)

if your battery goes flat a few miles from a charging station all you need is a state trooper

Hah, finally an ethical use case for tasers!

Re:Now we are arriving at critical mass (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 4 months ago | (#47244537)

... a small swappable ultracapacitor so that if your battery goes flat a few miles from a charging station ...

The best super capacitors have an energy density two thousand times less than gasoline. A small portable battery or flywheel would make far more sense.

Re:Now we are arriving at critical mass (3, Interesting)

sjwt (161428) | about 4 months ago | (#47244715)

Gasoline gives you 12,200 Wh/kg [xtronics.com]
University of California's currntly running a SC @ 39.3 Wh/kg [gizmag.com] So thats 310 times less, the gap keeps closeing.
  Worryed about the extra weight? Why not make your supercapacitor part of the load bearing structure of the car

Re:Now we are arriving at critical mass (1)

sjwt (161428) | about 4 months ago | (#47244725)

http://news.vanderbilt.edu/201... [vanderbilt.edu]

bleh, missing third link.

Re:Now we are arriving at critical mass (1)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47245109)

There's a big difference between a lab demonstration (which, BTW, only gets the energy density of lead-acid) and a functional marketable product. I mean, if you want to count lab demonstrations then you should compare with lithium-air batteries at nearly the energy density of gasoline (plus with far higher efficiency).

The problem isn't ultracapacitors versus gasoline, it's ultracapacitors vs. batteries. And FYI, battery packs are major structural components of the vehicles. It's pretty hard for something that's such a major percentage of your vehicle's weight not to be. But that's generally in the casing - the goal is to protect the cells, not stress them on purpose.

Re:Now we are arriving at critical mass (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 4 months ago | (#47247257)

Why does this always need to be repeated? The burning of gasoline in an ICE engine is ridiculously inefficient (vast majority of the energy goes into heat) and the conversion of battery power to forward motion via the electric motor is very very efficient. As a result you don't need the energy density of gasoline to power an electric car.

The Tesla 85kw/hr battery pack is equivalent to a tank of gas for that car weight and profile even if it is 300x less energy overall, all we have to do is get the cost of that battery pack to equal the cost of the equivalent amount of gas over the batteries lifetime. We don't ever need to reach the energy density of gasoline.

Re:Now we are arriving at critical mass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47247721)

My quick calculations:
26k to build the 85kwh battery pack (random source). at $4 a gallon (my price average over the last 2 years) I get 6500 gallons. For the luxury car I drive averaging 25 mpg, I get just under 170k miles with that money.

So - if your pack gets you over 170k miles, then a new pack (assuming other maintenance costs are identical - which they're not) would be worth it for another 170k at 26k. They'll be cheaper by the time I hit 170k on a car like that though; and honestly - I'd probably just buy a different car at that point.

Key here is - for something like the Tesla, you're buying a LUXURY VEHICLE. The battery is a main cost of the car, but it's not what throws it into the 100k territory. Considering this - if you cut the battery out, you'd be able to buy the vehicle at 74k if priced at 100k with a battery.

Re:Now we are arriving at critical mass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47247659)

Making a piece of equipment with that much energy in it a load bearing structure... is idiotic at best.

Thanks for straightening that out! (5, Informative)

Two99Point80 (542678) | about 4 months ago | (#47244581)

Now I'll be sure to remember how impractical my LEAF is as I drive to a morning meeting, then the mall for some mallwalking, then the free charging station near the gym for half a "tank" while I work out, then... Silly me, driving 2300+ around-town miles over the past three months for a total fuel cost of $9 (because one of my city's free charging stations is inside a parking deck) without ONCE realizing how impractical it was! :-)

Re:Thanks for straightening that out! (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 4 months ago | (#47244729)

For some like yourself that drives so little they are definitely practical, I don't drive a lot but I easily do more than triple your daily average, even if you doubled your mileage you will quickly run into serious limitations.

Re:Thanks for straightening that out! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47245075)

> For some like yourself that drives so little they are definitely practical,

9600 miles/year is not "so little" it might be on the low-side, the typical car lease including 12,000 miles/year, but it is not exceptional.

Re:Thanks for straightening that out! (2)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47245119)

9200 miles per year isn't that much below the US average. Just because you drive freakishly much doesn't change that.

Generalizing your situation (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 4 months ago | (#47244777)

Now I'll be sure to remember how impractical my LEAF is as I drive to a morning meeting...

Just because you have a lifestyle that works well with a Leaf doesn't mean the rest of us do. On a typical day I drive close to the range limit of the Leaf. One extra visit to a customer and I could easily exceed it. I'm also going to visit my in-law's this weekend who live approximately 200 miles away. Unless I want to make it a 2-3 day trip, a Leaf is useless to me as primary transportation.

The Leaf is a decent little car if you live in a densely packed urban area and never need to drive more than about 100 miles in a single go. For anyone who doesn't fit that description it is either a second car or it is impossibly impractical. The problem would be significantly mitigated if the range were 200-300 miles but only Tesla has done that so far. The Leaf and vehicles like it simply have too many engineering tradeoffs to ever make a serious dent in the market. Yes it is true that most people don't drive all that far in a typical day. It is also true that a key part of the purchase decision is what people MIGHT want to do with their car and for most of us that includes the occasional long trip. Cars are not bought based on a purely rational analysis of a typical day's commute. Cars are aspirational, emotional purchases that reflect not only who we are but what we think we might want to be.

Re:Generalizing your situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244951)

The Leaf is a decent little car if you live in a densely packed urban area and never need to drive more than about 100 miles in a single go. For anyone who doesn't fit that description it is either a second car or it is impossibly impractical.
 
I live in a sparse suburban area (my nearest neighbor is 70 meters away from me) and my normal daily drive is hardly ever over 50 miles. This includes side trips. I can't even remember that last time I would have needed a full 100 mile range out of a car.
 
From the way you state it I must be living in some dense urban ghetto and somehow not know it.

Re:Generalizing your situation (4, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47245171)

Leaf isn't designed to be a car for everyone. But it is a car that fits the usage patterns for a huge number of households, vastly more than its market penetration. For example, a large chunk of US households are multi-vehicle households, where one is used primarily as an in-town/commuting vehicle. Why, exactly, isn't a car like the Leaf appropriate for that?

*No* car suits all needs. A vehicle that can be used to carry a load of gravel isn't going to be an ideal daily commuter. A car that's comfortable as a daily commuter might not be so comfortable on long trips with the kids. None of the above is probably great for the track. And that track car will suck off-road. And on and on. The fact that tradeoffs exist is why vehicles on the market are so widely varied. I don't get how you don't see that a vehicle like the Leaf fills a very common role in this diverse spectrum. No, it's not some universal, ideal all purpose vehicle. But there is no such thing as a universal, ideal all purpose vehicle. It, like all vehicles, is for its niche, and its niche alone. And despite how you want to portray it, it's not even that small of a niche, it's an extremely common one.

Why people buy cars (2)

sjbe (173966) | about 4 months ago | (#47246305)

But it is a car that fits the usage patterns for a huge number of households, vastly more than its market penetration.

Consider why that is. People don't buy a car based on what might fit their typical usage 90% of the time. They buy a car that will fit what they think they need/want 99.9% of the time. And most of us who own cars do on occasion drive farther than the range of the Leaf. You also are making the mistake of thinking that car purchases are rational. The number one selling vehicle of any type in the US is the Ford F150 pickup. You think they sell that many based on a rational needs analysis? The majority of SUVs and pickups that are marketed for their "off road" capability are never taken off the pavement. Ever.

For example, a large chunk of US households are multi-vehicle households, where one is used primarily as an in-town/commuting vehicle. Why, exactly, isn't a car like the Leaf appropriate for that?

Because for less money I can get a much larger and more capable car for local driving that doesn't have such limited range, cargo capacity and is a lot more fun to drive. Fuel efficiency is nowhere near the top of the list of requirements for most car purchases. Some people care a lot but most do not worry about it much. Furthermore the Leaf is a compact car with limited range trying to sell in the US market which STRONGLY favors big cars without range limits. Honestly I'm impressed they've sold as many as they have given the range limit.

A vehicle that can be used to carry a load of gravel isn't going to be an ideal daily commuter.

I drive a pickup daily. Could I get a more fuel efficient car better optimized for commuting? Sure. But I do more than just commute. I genuinely need the pickup bed with some regularity (at least once a week) and I have the budget for one car. I'm going to pick the one that fits the largest number of my needs, not one that is optimized for commuting over everything else. Don't get me wrong, I'd buy an electric car in a heartbeat if there was one available that fit my needs and budget. But I'm not about to drop tens of thousands of dollars on second a car I don't actually need with severely limited range, slow refueling, limited cargo capacity and that isn't particularly fun to drive. (yes I've driven a Leaf) The cost/benefit analysis for most of us isn't going to favor the Leaf. Too many tradeoffs.

Re:Generalizing your situation (1)

Two99Point80 (542678) | about 4 months ago | (#47246397)

A little more information... the LEAF is my daily driver, but when I leased it I kept my paid-for Corolla for longer trips only. My annual driving comes to something over 15000 miles, and the annual mileage cap on the LEAF is 12000. I expect to put about 5000 miles/year on the Corolla including vacation driving. At that rate it'll last a good long while. Other EV owners have been known to rent cars for their occasional longer trips, and some lease deals even include rental credits.

Re:Thanks for straightening that out! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244967)

So you don't have aging parents that you need to be able to get to on one tank of "gas"? How about a year from now when you get 50% of your battery life? The LEAF has issues with this.. google it. What about the cost to get the charging station installed? You do need a house for that or live in the city with a charging station available. What if you have a business meeting or training out of town? Need to rent a car huh? I'm sure you think your employer should pay for that because you made the wrong purchasing decision. The LEAF does not work for most people. It is impractical for most people despite how well it's worked out for you.

People say my mustang is impractical, but I can at least drive anywhere in the continental US with it I need to go.

Re:Thanks for straightening that out! (2)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47245229)

How about a year from now when you get 50% of your battery life?

Or what about two years from now, when unicorns ridden by fire-breathing kittens come down and stomp your leaf into the star-glitter on which they feed? I mean, while we're discussing grossly implausible scenarios here...

The LEAF has issues with this.. google it.

Given that the battery has a five year warranty, no, it does not.

What about the cost to get the charging station installed?

$1818, installed, if you want a home charger. Or you can use non-home charging, just like gasoline cars use non-home filling.

What if you have a business meeting or training out of town?

What do you do with your mustang when you need to move, say, a washing machine? Wait a minute, do you work around deficiencies in your car's capabilities with alternative solutions because you appreciate the advantages your Mustang provides? Wow, you don't say!

Citation for that "50% capacity loss in one year"? (2)

Two99Point80 (542678) | about 4 months ago | (#47246513)

There is a very active LEAF owners' group at mynissanleaf.com and folks have developed a battery-aging model based on formal tests and lots of user data. No one has reported anything like what you posit. How about some proof of that data?

Re:Thanks for straightening that out! (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 4 months ago | (#47245271)

The Leaf is not an economical car, either in monetary terms or for the environment.

My car, similar in performance and physical size to a Leaf, gets 40mpg average and costs £50 to fill the tank, which I do bi-weekly. It looks like we have roughly the same annual mileage, too, of around 8 - 10k. Maintenance and tax is approx 500 per year, covering tyre changes, brake pads etc as required, adding up to approximately £1800 per annum. My car was purchased for £7000, brand new.

At my (our) usage level, and if your car has no running costs at all, you will have made the money back on your initial investment of £26,000 (base model, UK price [whatcar.com] ) within 10 years. I am aware that there are leasing options for just the battery, or the entire car, but leasing is never cheaper than an outright cash purchase.

Oh, and my car has a 300 mile range, doesn't suffer from poor performance in cold weather, and is "recharged" to full capacity, everywhere, in less than five minutes. But yeah, that Leaf... <s>At least it's green </s> [wsj.com]

Re:Thanks for straightening that out! (1)

Two99Point80 (542678) | about 4 months ago | (#47246427)

I'd suggest looking elsewhere than the right-leaning Wall Street Journal for an objective analysis of costs and benefits. And I've owned entry-level cars over the years ('76 Rabbit, '79 Mazda GLC) but to compare their level of features to a LEAF is simply bogus.

Re:Thanks for straightening that out! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47246101)

one of my city's free charging stations

Oh, that's the economic model we need. Everyone in the US can just use the free charging stations provide by every one of the tens of thousands of cities in the US.

Re:Thanks for straightening that out! (2)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47246353)

It depends. Charging stations can be loss leaders. If you put a low power Level-1 (120V/20A) charging station in front of your store, you pay about 30 cents per hour that a person is charging there. To keep a person in a particular shopping district at a cost of only 30 cents per hour can make very good sense to a city or business; even Level 2 charging (240V/15-80A -> $0.60-$3.20/h) can potentially pay for itself as a loss leader, depending on the situation. And that's just ignoring the reason most chargers were installed in the CARB era: good publicity. And not just from EV drivers who tend to do business with stores that install chargers even if they don't need to use them, just as a thank-you; it earns green cred from the general public. It's the same as a business giving money to support local youth organizations, or sending gift baskets to the troops, or whatever - you spend money to gain additional customers thanks to good publicity.

That's the cynical view. The less cynical view is that a lot of the business owners and towns who install them actually *do* want to encourage EVs.

Re:Thanks for straightening that out! (1)

Two99Point80 (542678) | about 4 months ago | (#47246461)

Fine. Try this instead: at just over 4 miles/kwh, my retail cost for electricity would've run three cents per mile, or about $70 so far. That better? :-)

Re:Now we are arriving at critical mass (1)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47244677)

Finally - EVs will become practical. Hopefully this leads them toward working together to develop ultracapacitors that charge in seconds to a couple of minutes so it can be a true ICE replacement

So you're talking about an ultracapacitor instead of a battery? Yeah, good luck with that. Ignoring the price issue, they're struggling to even get up to lead-acid energy density.

Li-ion cells have no problem taking fast charges. Some types can even charge in a couple minutes without problem. The issue comes when you build a whole pack out of them: cooling. Most types of li-ion cells are in the ballpark of 98-99+% efficient when slow charging. When fast charging it drops, depending on the chemistry, usually somewhere in the ballpark of 93-98% efficient. Let's say 97%. So 3% of your energy input is heat. Let's say your car consumed 250Wh/mile, your typical Prius-level streamlined vehicle consumption. Let's say you want a 200 mile charge in 5 minutes. That's 50kWh in 5 minutes, or 1 MW. 3% waste heat isn't much, but when your input is *1 MW*, that's 30 kW of waste heat. A small plug-in space heater is usually around 1,5kW, so that's the output of 20 space heaters. See the problem? To pull off *really* fast charges like that, you can't really just look at what the individual cell tolerates. You have to quickly be able to dump the waste heat to a cooling fluid, which is an engineering problem, and you need cells that maintain very high efficiency during high-rate charge, which is a chemistry problem. Also at those sort of powers you have to even cool your wires, both on the charger and in the vehicle (an uncooled charger cable capable of delivering 1MW would be so heavy you couldn't lift it). Personally I think the high power charging standard should simply be set up suchly that the charger supplies the vehicle with coolant on a closed-loop cycle, so the vehicle doesn't have to haul around a massive cooling system, the vehicle would need little more than cooling ducts. But who knows how things will end up.

and allow for a small swappable ultracapacitor so that if your battery goes flat a few miles from a charging station all you need is a state trooper or AAA and exchange a capacitor to get the car going long enough to reach a charger

First off, why are you proposing both couple minute charges *and* swap? Swap is designed to be an alternative to fast charge. But as challenging as fast charge is, swap is even worse. These packs aren't little lead-acid starter batteries, they're many hundreds of pounds, upwards of half a ton or so, and form an integral part of the vehicle's structural integrity. And they're very valuable, too, people aren't going to want to get stuck with a crummy one. And even *if* the auto industry had a track record of collaborating on standards, which they absolutely don't, just the widely differing weight distrubution / form factor / power output requirements / capacity requirements / etc for different vehicles would demand each swapping station storing a massive range of different types of packs. All this ignoring the actual engineering challenges involved. It's just totally impractical. And I can tell you what's definitely NOT going to happen, a state trooper just walking up and swapping out something many times his own weight that makes up an integral portion of the vehicle.

Note, mind you, that the concept of getting a "jump" on an EV isn't a far-fetched idea, that is completely workable. You could even limp to the nearest farmhouse and slow-charge on regular wall power until you've got enough juice to make it to the nearest charging station. But swapping out the battery on the side of the road? That's like saying "replace your engine on the side of the road".

except possibly as a backup generator - like the Volt, i3, i8, etc.

So the vehicle is supposed to have fast charge *and* swap *and* be a PHEV? Why on earth? You realize that each one of those things has its own major cost, maintenance, size, and mass associated with them? And thus consequently disadvantages all of the others?

Re:Now we are arriving at critical mass (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 4 months ago | (#47245451)

You missed the point the GP was making. Fast charge for daily use, with a tiny swap ability if you happen to run down your charge and the car dies on the side of the road somewhere. That wouldn't be a half ton pack being exchanged, closer to a 20-50 pound supercap.

Re:Now we are arriving at critical mass (1)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47246017)

Why would a person need "fast charge for daily use"? What's the point? "Daily use" for most people is a couple dozen miles tops, and even low-end EVs at present have about a hundred miles range. And why would people prefer to drive out to a fast charge station when they can just plug in at home or at work? Or are you envisioning everyone having $100k fast charging stations the size of a couple soda machines dealing out the power of a small power plant in their garage? And FYI, a 25 pound supercap wth present commercial tech holds about 100 watt hours. Assuming *no* wind or rolling resistance or hill in the way, wouldn't even be enough to accelerate a 1500kg EV up to 50mph, wherein it would coast down (in the real world, it'd never even reach that fast). If your goal is to have hand-portable batteries, you need to use batteries, because energy density is of the essence. But the question once again becomes, why? Why physically swap out and reconnect heavy, high voltage, vehicular component when you could just simply charge the car directly from another car for the same amount of power in less time?

BMW already met with Tesla (3, Interesting)

brunes69 (86786) | about 4 months ago | (#47244455)

Musk announced this days ago during a briefing call. BMW and Tesla are already talking. They were just at the plant on Wednesday.

Mazda or Nissan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244465)

> Mazda, BMW Keen to Meet
> ...
> ...Mazda and BMW – are said to be interested...
> ...
> ... Nissan and BMW would be interested...
> ...

So which is it, Nissan or Mazda? Well, the linked pcmag.com article says it's Nissan. Can't find the original ft.com article.

Epic Fail.

Re:Mazda or Nissan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244599)

> So which is it, Nissan or Mazda?

You can't blame them for getting confused, they all look the same.

(BTW, we say the same thing about you whites too)

Mazda - yes please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244489)

I want an all-electric MX-5 :D

Re:Mazda - yes please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244573)

You can convert one to electric already, there is nothing stopping you from doing it.

Re:Mazda - yes please! (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 4 months ago | (#47244751)

Except the waste of scrapping the engine and transmission (or having a poorly matched transmission) along with the inability to effeciently and safely mount the batteries and the complete lace of efficiencies of scale for doing a one-off project?

If you have enough time and money you can do anything that doesn't violate physics.

Re:Mazda - yes please! (2)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47246249)

It's true. It's a ton of work to do a conversion, and what you generally get is a sucky EV. You didn't even mention the climate control issue. It's sad what people put into home EV conversions in terms of time and parts and how little money they get out of them if they ever try to sell them.

EVs are best designed from the ground up. They're really remarkably different in terms of their demands from gasoline cars. You have disadvantages like the additional bulk/mass from the battery pack(s) and the greater need for streamlining due to the range limitations. You also have a number of advantages such as much greater freedom on where to position things in the vehicle (motors are very small, you can put the inverter almost anywhere, you can put the batteries pretty much anywhere you want, etc). So you no longer need that bulbous front end, but it's more important that you have a long, shallow taper in the back. But you don't have to worry as much about rollover because you can keep the battery weight low. The lack of a need for a geared transmission saves you space and gives you greater flexibility in drivetrain structure, but introduces its own issues, like the need for a parking pawl (or at least good handbrake!) because the car always acts like it's "in neutral" when there's no power. And of course there's the aforementioned thermal management issue - important to keep the batteries cool (the faster you want to charge, the more of an issue it is), important to spare energy on climate control, and you have some but not a ton of waste heat from the battery pack, motor, and inverter. So what solutions do you do? There's a lot of creativity that goes into designing a good thermal management system. I think the EV1's was really ahead of its time, with effective heat scrounging and reuse, a reversible heat pump for both heating and cooling, and then they made up for the limited heating power of a heat pump in cold weather by adding an additional resistive heating element as needed, and then put the whole system on computer control so you can preheat or cool the cabin before you get into the car, while it's still on mains power.

Standardization is critical (3, Interesting)

l2718 (514756) | about 4 months ago | (#47244519)

For wide adoption there needs to be a full market around electric vehicles: opportunities to build charging stations, sell home charging equipment and so on. Gas stations are possible since practically all cars use the same fuel, but also because they have very similar intake openings so that the pump can stop by itself.

Tesla by itself is too small to set standards, so this is good news. It also shows how disclaim in patents helps: the benefit from a greater and more active market exceeds the payoffs from discouraging competition.

Re:Standardization is critical (3, Funny)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 4 months ago | (#47244639)

Prepare to be burned as a heretic. Everyone knows that patents CAUSE innovation by forcing inventors to do the same mundane tasks differently. Plus, they help keep attorneys employed, which is vitally important. Disclaiming or sharing patent rights that you've already acquired is socialism, which is the ultimate evil.

Re:Standardization is critical (2)

Kagato (116051) | about 4 months ago | (#47246597)

Patents aren't nearly as bad when the holders of said patents actually make things. Most of the time the end result is cross-licensing agreements. Things went down the tubes when Lawyers figured out they could buy some vague patents and PO Box in East Texas.

Charging Port (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244697)

Can those fuckers from Apple pay heed? This is how reasonable adult human being are supposed to solve problems.

Your Editors Suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47244953)

Mazda and Nissan are different companies.

Re:Your Editors Suck (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#47247847)

Yep. Ford and Renault respectively IIRC.

And again... (1)

laird (2705) | about 4 months ago | (#47245115)

Sounds like pretty much every time there's a new industry standard, where the major players all come up with their own incompatible option, trying to be the one that wins and gets to charge everyone else licensing fees for their patents and trademarks. And so, as usual, the innovative new field is fragmented, confusing consumers, wasting money, and delaying or even killing the new industry. These sorts of format wars happen so often that I can only think of one case (CDs) where it didn't happen. You think that after wasting so many years, and $billions, on these pissing contests, and seeing that the one time they didn't screw it up it was a huge success making everyone rich for decades, that businesses would learn that it's better to cooperate on standards rather than compete. But I guess they're so competitive that they do it every when it's a consistently bad strategy.

As Long As Apple Doesn't join the discussion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47245217)

Sure, yah we'll use the exact same standard, but you'll need to buy an adapter for $2500.00

Battery Factory (1)

605dave (722736) | about 4 months ago | (#47246099)

I wonder if Tesla building a huge battery factory plays into this. If other auto makers build to the Tesla standard, I bet they will need batteries that can handle it.

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