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High Efficiency Hybrid Car Planned For 2009

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the way-better-than-the-gas-guzzlers dept.

Transportation 371

An anonymous reader writes "You may have heard some of the hype last month when California-based Aptera let out first word of its allegedly super fuel-efficient (and cheap) Typ-1 electric vehicle. A video test drive and gee-whiz specs breakdown at the Popular Mechanics site proves that this thing is for real. The plan is to have a vehicle that goes 120 miles on a single lithium-phosphate pack charge for 2008, with a 300-mpg model to follow by 2009. Aptera is also mentioned in Wired's new cover story as one of several early front-runners for the Automotive X Prize."

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But, will it fly? (3, Insightful)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779106)

Where's my flying car?

Non-fossil fuel vehicles will start selling when they are made as inexpensively as traditional vehicles. And, when they have the range, capacity, and easy and quick refuel capabilities.

Until this point is reached, they don't stand a chance in the American system.

Re:But, will it fly? (2, Insightful)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779220)

You missed a couple of points as well, something HIGHLY important to a lot of American suburban/rural owners. Horsepower, towing capability, and size. The size issue is being figured out with some of the hybrids, but a pure electric car is going to be only for travel purposes, NOT general-use. If you have a boat or a trailer, they're presently useless. If you get killed because you get run over by a truck, they're unsafe.

Re:But, will it fly? (0, Offtopic)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779352)

It is unreasonable to ask them to change their lifestyle. And no way can we change the agricultural industry, we rely on them!

Except if we grew food locally and depended less on meat we would have less need for transport or massive farms requiring combustion engines. But I guess change is too hard...

We need a radical shift in our lifestyles and ways of thinking if we as a species are to survive, unless you want to see some pretty cool carbon dioxide emissions (explosions) from deep water reserves in the next fifty years.

Re:But, will it fly? (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779426)

...unless you want to see some pretty cool carbon dioxide emissions (explosions) from deep water reserves in the next fifty years.
Uh... what?

Re:But, will it fly? (1, Interesting)

klingens (147173) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779524)

There is LOTS of frozen methane in the Deep Sea. If average temperatures rise approximately 3C globally, this methane will melt and go into the atmosphere. Methane acts like CO2 only more so: average temps get even higher (apparently another 3). You really don't want that.

No, the ocean absorbs lots of methane (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779596)

And has been doing this for millions of years. The only thing that changes the ocean methane equation is reduced atmospheric pressure, or a very wicked ocean warming--- more than what's forecast.

Your sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21779766)

---- Teach Peace. It's Cheaper Than War

...and almost as futile as war, too.

Re:No, the ocean absorbs lots of methane (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779836)

Actually, the problem can be instantiated by a disturbance that causes a release of the dissolved gas.

There was a lake in Africa that had a spontaneous C02 eruption event, first time in recorded history anywhere. Killed about 1700 people in a 16 mile area, and thousands of animals. The cause they believe was a landslide in the lake. Very deep (pressure) and then add gas saturation, then shake, stir or otherwise agitate.

Earthquakes and landslides occur pretty often, if one hits such a pocket of dissolved gas or even the hydrate it could change the local conditions enough to cause release. The issue with the ocean is that finding a stagnant pocket is tougher than in a lake. Not impossible, but less likely.

My thinking is that *if* we see a shutdown of the oceanic conveyur(sp?) belt due to arctic/greenland ice melt, maybe such pockets of deep stagnant water will become more frequent.

mmm, feedback loop, mmmm ;-)

Re:But, will it fly? (5, Informative)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779684)

According to the wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] this stuff is stable to temperatures of 18C, and the average temperature where it's found at is between 0C and 2C, so you temperature at the bottom of the ocean would need to rise by 16C. If it's hot enough that the ocean bottoms temperature has been raised 16C we're already screwed, as most crops would probably already be dead and most animal life as well.

Re:But, will it fly? (2, Insightful)

dolby2 (196255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779648)

Is this to say that electric engines don't have enough "horsepower", torque and can't be used for towing? I always thought that electric engines were the pinnacle of torque and power. Hence Diesel Electric freight trains (obviously not economical for a passenger car or even tractor trailer), and such. The only thing holding them back is range, recharging time and cost.

Re:But, will it fly? (2, Informative)

GregPK (991973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779780)

One thing you missed about electric engines... They have wayyyyy more tourque than a comparable weight V8 engine. Hell the telsa has soo much tourque that they haven't been able to find anything outside of a single gear transmission strong enough to handle it's power output.

Other incentives (2, Interesting)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779298)

How about employer incentives. Your employer puts up solar panels in the employee parking lot for anyone driving an electric car to work. You park your car in the cool shade under the panels and plug in for a free 9 hour recharge. Wouldn't work everywhere, but in industrial park / business park settings in places like california or arizona it would work fine. High tech, "don't be evil" companies could lead the way.

Actually, make it simple. Put an AC plug next to every parking stall. In cold places we do it for block heaters. Employers pay for all sorts of perks to attract good employees. Why not add free recharge to the list.

Re:Other incentives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21779482)

"High tech, "don't be evil" companies could lead the way."

I guess we are SOL then.

Re:Other incentives (3, Insightful)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779498)

Things I'd rather see:

How about employer incentives like working from home, so we don't have to drive there in the first place?

Re:Other incentives (4, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779572)

Your employer puts up solar panels in the employee parking lot for anyone driving an electric car to work. You park your car in the cool shade under the panels and plug in for a free 9 hour recharge.

It'd be cheaper to simply put up a carport and pay the electric bill each month. Discounting massive subsidization of the solar panels, of course.

Actually, make it simple. Put an AC plug next to every parking stall. In cold places we do it for block heaters. Employers pay for all sorts of perks to attract good employees. Why not add free recharge to the list.

This would work well, I think. Especially if you have the carport charging plugs be on a circuit that allows discretionary turnoffs by the power company - this would increase baseload and not peak.

The power company is willing to cut quite a deal per kwh for these deals, as baseload power can cost them a third or even less than their more expensive peak sources.

People complain about how slow charging will be - but a major difference between pouring gasoline into a car and charging the batter is that pouring gasoline pretty much needs to be an attended activity - charging a car you only need the 30 seconds or so to attach the plug, then remove it before you leave. Heck, you could even set it up so that the act of backing out of the slot disengages the cord, which is on a auto retraction wheel. With 130 miles of range current, I still wouldn't need to charge every day.

Re:But, will it fly? (2, Insightful)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779530)

Yeah... that's what we really want. The general public, airborne. Think about all the idiot drivers in SUVs that flip their vehicles regularly. Do you really want those mouth breathers FLYING? At high speed? If we ever do get flying cars (vertical take off and landing vehicles, or VTOLs), it won't be long before these VTOLs are slamming into the sides of office buildings (forget terrorists) and crashing through people's rooftops. Drunk flying anyone? Mid-air collisions? The only way I'd be OK with flying cars was if the average population not only had an IQ of 180 to start, but also had a really strong sense of REAL personal responsibility. That is to say, "Not only do I care about taking care of myself, but I care about the wellbeing of every human being that I am around". Until that happens (yeah right), I'll be casting my vote against the common neanderthal getting off the ground.

Re:But, will it fly? (1)

Afecks (899057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779744)

They will obviously require AI pilots. If we can solve all the other problems first I think getting a computer to fly a light aircraft is relatively simple compared. I can't wait for AI drivers too.

Re:But, will it fly? (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779772)

I'd settle for a good training course. Most actual pilots (no offense guys) don't have much more than that and seem to do well enough.

Re:But, will it fly? (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779886)

Yeah, but there are far fewer pilots than there are drivers. I can't imagine if my daily commute was airborne...

Re:But, will it fly? (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779774)

It's much easier to make autopilot for airborne vehicles than it's to create a self-driving car. So I hope we'll have fully automated flying machines with computer autopilots which CAN NOT be turned off in midair.

Re:But, will it fly? (1)

s!lat (975103) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779882)

Yeah... that's what we really want. The general public, airborne. Think about all the idiot drivers in SUVs that flip their vehicles regularly. Do you really want those mouth breathers FLYING? At high speed? If we ever do get flying cars (vertical take off and landing vehicles, or VTOLs), it won't be long before these VTOLs are slamming into the sides of office buildings (forget terrorists) and crashing through people's rooftops. Drunk flying anyone? Mid-air collisions? The only way I'd be OK with flying cars was if the average population not only had an IQ of 180 to start, but also had a really strong sense of REAL personal responsibility. That is to say, "Not only do I care about taking care of myself, but I care about the wellbeing of every human being that I am around". Until that happens (yeah right), I'll be casting my vote against the common neanderthal getting off the ground. Quoted for Truthery!

Re:But, will it fly? (1)

wgaryhas (872268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779916)

Flying cars won't become common so long as we keep the pilot's license requirements where they are, even if the cars do become cheap. Your worries will be valid when it no longer costs thousands of dollars to get a pilot's license. P.S. What does mouth breathing have to do with anything else in that post?

Re:But, will it fly? (4, Insightful)

Archimonde (668883) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779930)

The only way I'd be OK with flying cars was if the average population not only had an IQ of 180 to start


Problem is, if the average population has IQ of 180, then technically, it has IQ of 100.

Re:But, will it fly? (1)

DrStrange66 (654036) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779676)

But will it pass a crash test? or the general consumer preference test? This vehicle model will not be popular. Something like the Chevy Volt will catch more of the general population even if it does not meet the super fuel efficiency of the Aptera.

Can I vote now for the 2008 Vaporware awards? (1)

pete.com (741064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779126)

NT

300 What? (2, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779194)

with a 300-mpg model to follow by 2009.

Uh, how do you measure MPG in an electric car?

Re:300 What? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779210)

that's exactly what I want to know.

Though 300 MPC makes sense. Miles per charge.

Re:300 What? (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779462)

120 MPC on the Typ-1 e, and 300 MPG on the Typ-1 h.

you know... "e" for Electric. "h" for Hybrid.

Re:300 What? (1, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779234)

From TFA:

Aptera has two innovative models that are almost production-ready at $30,000 and below: for next year, the all-electric, 120-mile-range Typ-1 e that we drove; and, by 2009, the range-extended series gasoline Typ-1 h, which Aptera says will hit 300 mpg.


Read the articles. That what the links are for.

Re:300 What? (3, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779740)

I've read the articles, of course, but I feel the need to respond to the part you quoted.

You see, I feel that the 300mpg figure is cutting it very close to being fraudulent, and at least deceiving.

Because I really doubt that if you drained the batteries at the start that it'd get 300mpg, or even if you drove it over the test course in such a way that the battery was equally charged at the beginning and end. Say, 50% charge - enough room for regenerative braking to be utilized, not so low that the car's trying to charge the battery back up.

As such, I'd like to see some new figures quoted - average mileage per kwh, plus a figure for how many kwh the battery stores, then gas mileage as I proposed.

'300mpg over the first 300 miles' isn't as useful as '1 mile per kwh city, 250 kwh pack, 50 miles per gallon gasoline, 10 gallon tank'.*

*Plus the standard disclaimers about driving habits, patterns, routes make a difference here.

Re:300 What? (2, Informative)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779236)

It's an irrelevant question when we are talking (as we are) about a hybrid car, which runs on gasoline but uses electrical storage to modify how and when the gasoline engine runs.

Re:300 What? (3, Informative)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779404)

I don't think irrelevant in either case. When someone asks for the MPG, they're asking for the fuel efficiency. In the hybrid case, where gasoline is its only external fuel, that should be simple to calculate. When it's "all electric", you take the fuel that powers that electricity -- using a representative number for the electricity generation -- and compare that to how much distance it gets you.

Though for the optimal apples-to-apples comparison, you might as well just take a given gasoline price and compute how much it costs to power one mile of travel for that price, vs. some existing car being used today.

Re:300 What? (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779494)

Well, in the hybrid case it's not quite so simple. Because they switch between electric and gasoline depending on driving conditions you can't really gauge the performance in the same way you could a regular car. I suppose you could run it totally off the gas engine and measure the MPG for that with the understanding that in actual operation you going to see massively better performance, but that kind of makes the MPG figure useless for a comparison to non-hybrid cars. I suppose that could give some sort of mean MPG figure but I still suspect there would be awful lot of variance on that.

Re:300 What? (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779678)

Hey dingo brain... The point is that regardless of performance, if you are going 300 miles and you only use one gallon of gas, then you're doing much better than a conventional gas powered automobile Even if you want to be a total bean counter and factor in the cost of the electricity used to charge the batteries enough to make that 300 mile trip (which is stupid in my opinion) the fact is you will pollute less and use far fewer resources. Quit being such an arse ya bugger.

Re:300 What? (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779864)

And if you had stopped to actually consider what was being said you wouldn't come off as such an ass. The point is that you need an accurate metric to compare not only hybrids to traditional and electric vehicles, but also to each other. No one is trying to argue that a hybrid is somehow less efficient than a traditional car. Get your head out of your ass and read instead of just reacting.

Re:300 What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21779932)

You're an idiot.

Re:300 What? (1)

Badlands (906315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779704)

Um, what's so difficult about this? Miles Per Dollar, anyone? MPD?

Neglect battery replacement cost and gasoline engine repair costs, yadda-yadda. Let's please just start stating operating efficiency in terms of how much the electric company charged to plug the darn vehicle into the wall overnight (divide into miles travelled = MPD).

We already know for gas cars, how much the petroleum companies charge to fill up the tank (divide into miles travelled = MPD).

You got a plug-in hybrid? --> add the cost of the electricity + petroleum (divide into miles travelled = MPD). Easy.

Can you tell it's a pet peeve of mine?

Re:300 What? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779800)

Though for the optimal apples-to-apples comparison, you might as well just take a given gasoline price and compute how much it costs to power one mile of travel for that price, vs. some existing car being used today.

Even with $3/gallon gasoline, my car is 10 cents a mile for fuel cost. I know what I pay per kwh, so a figure for how many kwh at the plug it takes to move a mile would make the calculation rather easy.

It'd also help highlight the difference between a reasonably fuel efficient car and a 15mpg truck or SUV.

I think that gasoline prices are too volitile, and driving habits too varied, to start sticking energy star tags with the 'we'd expect this to cost you $XXX in fuel a year' on them.

Re:300 What? (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779612)

It's not electric. It's hybrid. So it still uses gasoline. Just not as much. RTFA.

Re:300 What? (1)

IcePop456 (575711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779690)

Since it isn't a pure electric car, your question has a very easy answer. Fill it up and drive until empty. Do some simply math and figure out your MPG. Your question is implying some gimmick where they fill up the tank and only charge the batteries via plug-in. I've seen some dumb specs in the past, but I'm pretty something like that won't fly.

Your question makes sense for a pure electric car. For that version, they only spec the range. I think people should better focus on cost per mile, or something similar. People may be surprised that even premium gas may be more economical for a car that requires it than going with the cheap regular gas to save short-term dollars.

Re:300 What? (1)

dunadan67 (689682) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779748)

I'm guessing that with an all-electric car you could calculate some equivalent amount of oil/gas that would be theoretically burned at the power plant in order re-charge through the power grid..

Re:300 What? (1)

Redwin (805980) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779770)

From the main website:


With the Plug-in Electric Hybrid version of the Aptera(typ-1h) the mileage of the vehicle is difficult to describe with one number. For example, the Typ-1h can drive 40 to 60 miles on electric power alone. Perhaps for such a trip, the engine may only be duty-cycled for a few seconds or minutes. This would produce a fantastic number, an incredible number that, though factually true, would have no useful context, i.e. it's just a point on a graph.

An asymptotic decaying exponential is an accurate way to describe the fuel mileage of the Typ-1h. For example driving say, 50 miles, one might calculate a MPG number that's 2 or 3 times higher, say, 1000 MPG. As battery energy is depleted, the frequency of the engine duty cycle is increased. More fuel is used. at 75 miles, the MPG might be closer to 400 MPG. Again, we're using battery energy mostly, but turning the engine on more and more. Just over 100 miles we're just over 300 MPG, and just beyond 120 miles, we're around 300 MPG.



Also, there appears to be a hybrid version as well:

Diesel or Gasoline? Our first prototype, the Mk-0, was a parallel hybrid Diesel and achieved an average of 230 MPG at a steady state of 55 MPH. This was pure Diesel/mechanical drive with no electric assist. Diesel is attractive for its Carnot efficiency and the increased enthalpy of Diesel fuel vs gasoline. However, diesel contains lots of unburned hydrocarbons and NOX compounds, and it's impossible to get a small Diesel engine certified for emissions in California. Therefore, the typ-h uses a small, water-cooled EFI Gasoline engine with closed loop oxygen feedback and catalytic converter. This engine is coupled to a lightweight 12KW starter/generator.

Re:300 What? (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779846)

Uh, how do you measure MPG in an electric car?

I typically see it done by determining the amount of energy obtained from a gallon of fuel. Based on the energy, you now have a basis for comparison with the energy required to charge your batteries. Since you can compare a gallon of gas with a unit of energy and you can measure the distance traveled, you can now roughly translate to a mpg rating.

Not Very Pretty (2, Insightful)

dirkdidit (550955) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779196)

I don't know what it is about these cars of tomorrow, but they do not look attractive at all. Apparently the people who buy these cars feel like they need to announce to the world that they just bought an overly expensive golf-cart all under the guise of saving the planet.

When are we going to see high-range electric cars that don't look like something out a bad video game?

Re:Not Very Pretty (5, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779230)

This one [teslamotors.com] pretty enough for ya? :-D

Re:Not Very Pretty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21779306)

Pretty
!Vapor

Choose one

Re:Not Very Pretty (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779422)

It's not vapor. Just ask Governor R'Nold [youtube.com] . Just like the Aptera, the Tesla will be available in 2008.

Re:Not Very Pretty (4, Insightful)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779414)

When american culture stops idealizing the 60's.

In other words, this is how effective cars look. Sure, you can make the detals a bit more aestethically pleasing, but this "futuristic golf car"-look will generally stick because it gives a perfect mix between performance and efficiency. They do what they were designed for well, and those who desire this mix of performance and efficiency will learn to like this look, because it will symbolize what they desire.

So basically, this is a case of the beuty being in the eye of the beholder. However, I do think this car was unusually ugly, but its over all style was good.

Re:Not Very Pretty (1)

apparently (756613) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779452)

When are we going to see high-range electric cars that don't look like something out a bad video game?


Or we could, I dunno, stop giving a shit if our cars are "pretty". I for one, will buy an "ugly" car if it means killing our support of foreign oil.

Re:Not Very Pretty (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779526)

I don't know what it is about these cars of tomorrow, but they do not look attractive at all.


Its a matter of taste, I guess, but that's actually one of the most attractive cars I've seen in a while. I suppose if your idea of "attractive" is "looks exactly like every other car on the road", that wouldn't be the case.

Apparently the people who buy these cars feel like they need to announce to the world that they just bought an overly expensive golf-cart all under the guise of saving the planet.


The car in the article neither looks nor seems to perform anything like any golf cart I've ever heard of, so I can't see your point at all.

Re:Not Very Pretty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21779642)

I have to agree that in general most of these electric vehicles suck in looks. This one is a better one... though they make lots of butt ugly models as well.

http://www.zapworld.com/electric-vehicles/electric-cars/zap-x [zapworld.com]

It's Damn sexy! (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779674)

IMO.

-Rick

Re:Not Very Pretty (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779784)

Wow, everybody is giving dirk shit for this comment, but it rings pretty damed true for most of the population. I would like to know why they can't stick this kind of thing in a Miata or an MR-2?

Now, on the flip side, this is an extreme version. Top speed in a car is highly dependent on the frontal area and the drag coefficient. Frontal area is going to be a somewhat limited value to play with, since most "small" or "sporty" cars are going to be similar in size - you have to have a cab area which allows a comfortably seated pair of humans.

This vehicle looks goofy, but the practical aspect of the shape is that (1) it reduced the square/rectangular front to a circle/oval, which probably buys back 15% or so (accounting for the fact that it has wheels. More significantly, the Cd is 0.11. Given that most small vehicles have a Cd between 0.3 and 0.4, that's a 60% to 75% reduction in drag per square foot.

Look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automobile_drag_coefficients [wikipedia.org] to see what's out there. The best commercial car is at about 0.25 at 0.26 - this is less than half that! If you consider that the top speed may be cut by 50-60%, along with the highway range, it's not economical to do so.

So, when it comes to this vehicle, I think it's an anomaly. They've gotten to realistic by pushing the envelope on the car instead of busting their nuts to get the electric components to meet the standards expected for a modern automobile. As for the "normal" market - hey, Honda...I'd be happy with a hybrid Del Sol.

Re:Not Very Pretty (1)

Rhys (96510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779798)

Looks more like a light aircraft, sans wing, to me.

Electrics burn coal? (3, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779226)

On many of these electrics, you do need to plug-in to get your initial charge. Isn't that causing just as much, if not more, pollution than burning oil locally?

I'm still not sure that anyone can actually decipher all the different impacts that "environmentally-friendly" vehicles or machines have. I know I read an article this year that spoke of the CO2 emissions for just peddling a bike or taking a walk, so even not using machinery seems to have an impact.

Then again, I'm not a big fan of the global warming scams out there, nor am I a fan of peak oil theory. I just need to see the whole picture, rather than what some people will say is a small portion of the picture, but ignores other ramifications of decision making.

One area we're visiting in India in January is a town on a hill that allows no cars or trucks (you usually can only get there by train). Same in Switzerland (entire towns with no machinery). Yes, the air is cleaner, but so are the people living there. If we all use electric vehicles in those towns (let's say), another town that generates the energy is going to get the brunt of the polluting. I'd rather pollute MY area, so we can see the direct effect, than push it off to a poorer neighborhood where we won't.

Global yadda-yadda-yadda, I think it is more important to focus on the damage you can actually see than try to control the world's climate.

Re:Electrics burn coal? (2, Informative)

DarthTeufel (751532) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779334)

RTFA?

In order to win the X-Prize, they must take into account the upstream (ie powerplant) green house gas production that it takes to power the car.

Aptera right now is 350 MPG, and estimated cost of $24-27k.

Thats pretty bad ass IMO

Re:Electrics burn coal? (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779358)

On many of these electrics, you do need to plug-in to get your initial charge. Isn't that causing just as much, if not more, pollution than burning oil locally?
Someone really committed to save the planet will want to use one of the many alternative energy sources available. It's possible to live almost completely off the grid and still have plenty of electricity. For the average person, solar panels or wind turbine power will allow you to get energy from renewable sources. When you get good power from these, you sell your excess back to the grid and then pay for energy from the grid when these aren't putting out enough juice. Everybody wins. You get cheap power, the plant produces less power for you, reducing your carbon footprint, so the planet gets saved too.

Re:Electrics burn coal? (3, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779476)

I completely understand that part -- our own home(s) are moving to get off the electric grid, but not for ecological reasons (we want to save money as the dollar plummets).

Solar isn't clean, that's for sure. The 3 solar-panel investors we speak with have told us of the ecological burdens of producing solar panels. We're still moving to solar (and to geothermal A/C and heat) for our primary residence to lower the long-term cost of energy, but we know that we're likely causing as much damage to the environment elsewhere to bring our cost-reductions home, over the long run.

We have a few greenie friends who really think they're saving the environment, but the more I research it, the more it seems that there is nothing you can truly do to reduce your carbon footprint, even if it seems logical. There are too many parameters to wade through to calculate what a certain mode of transportation or energy generation costs.

I'd love one of those basement-nukes, even if it cost $5b. Run the thing at 5c/KwH, and feed the rest of the power back to the grid for a nice refund each month. After a decade of inflation, I wonder how much energy would cost.

I also don't feel safe in some of the lighter cars. My favorite car happens to be a diesel Land Rover, but it's outside of my price range. I do like feeling safe, and I like something that can handle Chicago winters. Our little Subaru (2.0l I4) is fairly decent on gas mileage, but I'd love a diesel if they ever started making one. It handles great in snow and ice, is definitely safe (my wife totalled one of my Subarus years ago at 75MPH and walked away), but it's still no eco-friendly machine.

For me, the best reduction of polluting we've done is cut our driving significantly, but we travel by plane much more than before, so I'm sure that's a negative reduction :)

Re:Electrics burn coal? (2, Informative)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779372)

Coal power is an awful lot cleaner now than it was 100 years ago. It's not perfect, but the average coal plant produces *significantly* less pollution than the cars owned by the houses it powers.

And that's completely ignoring the fact that in California, the law requires that your power company provide you the option to buy "green" power: power produced by wind, solar, geothermal, or hydroelectric sources. It tends to be a little more expensive than normal power, but I'm guessing that the kind of person who wouldn't balk at buying a $30,000 car simply because it's electric (when you can get a *very* efficient gasoline car for less than half the price) probably wouldn't be all that concerned about an extra $0.02/kwh.

Re:Electrics burn coal? (2, Interesting)

gambolt (1146363) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779410)

Depends on what you compare it to. Compare it to a Hummer and it's a huge improvement. Compare it to any of the hybrids currently in production and it's in the same ballpark. There are also regional differences since some places are more dependent on coal than others. The car is thus more environmentaly friendly when you drive it in Ohio than when you drive it in California.

It does make efforts at reducing electricity consumption seen kinda silly since switching to plugin hybrids will cause such a huge spike in demand that forgetting to turn off the lights when you leave the room for a few minutes.

I do think that we are going to start seeing a lot more stuff marketed as eco-friendly when in fact it doesn't make a damn bit of difference. The real danger with this is that people will think they are making a difference and doing their part and thus become complacent. Until the problem is solved, nobody has done their part.

I thought I had stats on this bookmarked but can seem to find it at the moment. Firefox has been eating bookmarks recently.

I'd rather push it off to a poor neighborhood (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21779478)

Which neighborhood you ask? "Da Hood".

We should pump all of our pollution into areas that are full of niggers since niggers themselves are pollution... the most dangerous kind of pollution.

I'm sure some PC moderator will see this and mod it down but I don't give a fuck I'm going to say what I want to say so fuck off.

Electrics burn the most efficient fuel (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779504)

You see, some will burn coal - from plants with scrubbers and pollution controls (we hope), and some will run on nuclear. Some will be powered entirely by wind, others by wave action, solar power, natural gas, oil, etc. Remember - a large plant has a far greater efficiency than an ICE, even if you include the line losses (Remember how far that gallon of gasoline had to travel to get to your local gas station).

By removing the need to burn a specific fuel, i.e. a narrow range of liquified hydrocarbons, an electric car can run on whatever is most cost efficient to produce electricity. You may want to generate the pollution where you live, but not all communities can harness geothermal, wind, hydroelectric, or large-scale solar energy. There are also limits to where nuclear plants can be installed (and not just from the NIMBY perspective).

Sure, there's still the issue of distribution, but the hope is that the current system could be upgraded to handle the new loads as they came on line. You would also reduce/eliminate the transportation-intensive liquid fuel distribution system, and potentially some of the troublesome fuel additives we've devised.

Not when they're stationary, they don't :-) (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779566)

I don't think the big advantage of the current generation of hybrids is their power source. After all, as you say, if it's not coming from burning gas, it's coming from somewhere else. Right now, most of our somewhere elses are still too polluting and/or diminishing scarce natural resources at an unsustainable rate.

What I do think hybrids are already good for is straight-up efficiency in typical driving. If I'm driving around town, I spend a significant amount of time stationary or moving very slowly on the approach to junctions, even on otherwise clear roads. A hybrid will be running purely on the electric side of the system, and neither waste power nor emit pollutants under those circumstances, in contrast to a typical petrol or diesel vehicle where the engine is wasting reserves and cranking out all kinds of nastiness even when you're not really going anywhere.

This is far more pronounced when we're talking about town driving, since classic engines tend to be slightly more efficient in most current hybrids at sustained high speeds. Still, even on faster roads, if there's an accident or roadworks causing a queue, why waste expensive gas and chuck **** out into the atmosphere for no good reason? A hybrid doesn't, and for me that is the number one reason to consider buying one today.

(The number two reason is that despite this practical efficiency, some of them also have rocking performance for only a modest increase in weight now. Whether you're towing, live near harsh terrain, or simply enjoy a safe but sporty drive, this is all good.)

Re:Electrics burn coal? (3, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779588)

``On many of these electrics, you do need to plug-in to get your initial charge. Isn't that causing just as much, if not more, pollution than burning oil locally?''

It depends on how you generate your electricity. I would have thought that's obvious, but apparently it isn't to many people.

``I'm still not sure that anyone can actually decipher all the different impacts that "environmentally-friendly" vehicles or machines have.''

I agree. The only thing that is certain for now is that they _do_ cause pollution. Exactly how much, I couldn't say, but it means that the environmental friendliness is only relative.

``I know I read an article this year that spoke of the CO2 emissions for just peddling a bike or taking a walk, so even not using machinery seems to have an impact.''

Of course. The human body consumes O2 and emits CO2. But there is something worth noting: the carbon we emit typically comes from renewable resources (i.e. plants or animals). This means it is released after recently having been absorbed, so the net effect is 0. Contrast this with burning fossil fuels, where you are releasing carbon that had been buried for millions of years into the atmosphere.

``Then again, I'm not a big fan of the global warming scams out there, nor am I a fan of peak oil theory.''

Global warming is a fact, and that mineral oil extraction will peak at some point is given. Whether these are things we should be afraid of or feel guilty about is a different matter.

``I just need to see the whole picture, rather than what some people will say is a small portion of the picture, but ignores other ramifications of decision making.''

It is very hard to get a clear picture, with all the clueless people shouting so loudly. One the one hand, there are people still pretending and trying to convince others that the changes that are happening to the environment aren't really there. On the other hand, you have people who have blind faith in some clean technology and think it will solve all problems if only the evil governments and oil companies stopped fighting it. Millions of people just parrot one camp or another, and they're all wrong. In the meantime, there _are_ good ideas that we could implement, but they are mostly left by the wayside because they don't stand out among all the wrong-headed noise makers.

``I'd rather pollute MY area, so we can see the direct effect, than push it off to a poorer neighborhood where we won't.''

That, of course, is the main problem with any kind of pollution. The effect isn't felt in full by the people generating it, and thus doesn't factor into the cost of things. Therefore, cleaner alternatives almost universally seem more expensive. Thus, it makes economic sense to pollute. It's hard to do something about this without resorting to heavy-handed, commitee-decided, wrong-headed measures. Like, for example, in the Netherlands, where there is a tax cut on hybrid cars. Think about it. It's on hybrid cars. Not on clean cars. If it's a hybrid, it gets the cut, no matter how polluting it is. If it's a clean car but not a hybrid, it doesn't get the cut. Madness!

Re:Electrics burn coal? (1)

CommieLib (468883) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779654)

Economic analysis? That won't make you feel smug.

Seriously, though, there have been studies done...I can't cite them offhand, but the conclusion I recall is that while you have the inefficiency of conversion and distribution (which is enormous), it is still swamped by the economies of scale you reap by producing them at plants rather than in-engine.

Now that is strictly an analysis of the energy consumed, without regard to the environmental impact. That aspect is going to depend on the local method of production, which varies. I would say that electric cars are a net gain even if your local method is filthy for the following reasons:

  • The power generation method for transport is fungible, i.e., it can change in response to varying economic and environmental pressures. Currently, we're trapped in the single solution of petroleum due to the nature of internal combustion engines.
  • Power generation methods are not necessarily filthy everywhere, and the environmental is both local and global.
  • Once we get on the technology train of electric cars, and corporate research dollars flow towards improving that particular technology stack rather than the relatively mature tech of ICE's, we will see further gains. Ditto the power distribution network as it expands in scale.
So there's the analysis of electric cars from a power consumption perspective. The question of production of electric cars, disposal of all those toxic batteries, etc. is another question entirely. I read a report a while back that demonstrated that, given the substantially shorter lifetimes and the fact that they required entirely new lines of production, a Prius actually is more environmentally impactful than a Hummer H3. Nevertheless, we can stay invested in a century old technology that is unlikely to see any radical improvements, or we can pursue the distributed, decentralized solution of the electric car.

Re:Electrics burn coal? (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779706)

On many of these electrics, you do need to plug-in to get your initial charge. Isn't that causing just as much, if not more, pollution than burning oil locally?

Actually, you probably burn less coal than what is needed to distill the gas from the crude. Add that to the fact that you are centralizing the problem, so that cleaning filters/optimizations/alternative power generation has to be done once, and you get huge wins.

Re:Electrics burn coal? (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779710)

Ha, this was modded informative when it's just a fallacy being perpetrated by one person after another. The studies have already been done and even with burning coal electric cars release less CO2 then gasoline cars. If you are so concerned about emmisions from your electric car, then install solar panels on your roof of your garage and use that juice to charge the car overnight. Also this company is releasing a hybrid model. So if you "want to pollute your own area" then you can. But it won't pollute very much.

Re:Electrics burn coal? (3, Interesting)

TomorrowPlusX (571956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779724)

On many of these electrics, you do need to plug-in to get your initial charge. Isn't that causing just as much, if not more, pollution than burning oil locally?

Obviously, the electric car is consuming energy which has to be produced, somehow. In a magic future it will be generated by wind, solar, geothermal and some sort of better-thought-out nuclear like pebble-bed reactors. Right now that energy will be produced by oil/coal so yes there will be pollution.

That being said, automotive IC engines are completely and utterly piss-poor at converting oil to torque. They are shamefully poor at it, with efficiency down in the 20-30% range. Modern electricity generation plants ( using coal or oil ) convert quite a bit more of the chemical energy in the fuel to electricity. They're really quite good at it. They can run hot, they don't need gearboxes, etc etc. Even better, these facilities can have scrubbers and other carbon reduction measures which are too expensive for cars. Also, of the electricy consumed by an electric car, far more of it can be converted to torque simply because electric drivetrains are so simple and direct. No need for transmissions, and no need for differentials or CV joints ( provided the motor is in the wheel as some electrics do )

So, yes, electric cars are not non-polluting. But, the amount of fuel burnt to move an electric car 100km is quite a bit less than even the best hybrid IC car can pull off. And looked at in the long term, electric cars are so simple I see no reason for a well built electric not to last 30 years ( provided good maintenance ). During those 30 years your city/town may have upgraded to a new power generation mechanism which is cleaner. Thus less pollution. Can your IC engine car do that?

That being said, I'll continue to ride my bicycle to work, and only use my ( tiny, 2 door stickshift ) car when it's really necessary

Three wheels? (3, Insightful)

asquithea (630068) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779250)

An interesting and radical design -- but the three wheel arrangement bothers me:

Single wheel drive? According to the video, much of the weight is over the front, but the driving wheel is at the back. That might be OK for California, but I wonder how well this vehicle would cope with a little ice and snow.

I see that they've done it that way to simplify the transmission, but I'd much rather have four wheels.

Re:Three wheels? (5, Informative)

kalislashdot (229144) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779330)

It has to have 3 wheels, so it can be classified as a motorcycle. Once you got to 4 wheels it is a car and is required to have airbags, crumple zones and seat belts, and a whole slew of safety features.

So the fact that is this not a car but a motorcycle I think they are labeling it wrong, A 300MPG Car???, nope a 300MPG enclosed bike is what it is. Heck my wife's scooter gets 70MPG.

The previous post talks about rain a snow? Do you ride a motorcycle in the snow. Nope, same goes for this.

Re:Three wheels? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779606)

The previous post talks about rain a snow? Do you ride a motorcycle in the snow. Nope, same goes for this.
With proper tires, driving in rain or snow becomes a lot safer.
You can't expect your "all season" radials to be up to the task.

You should see a motorcycle with spiked/studded tires roaring around in the snow, it's pretty impressive and they don't lack much for traction. As in any 'bad' weather conditions, your stopping time will increase no matter what you're driving/riding.

Re:Three wheels? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779714)

Once you got to 4 wheels it is a car and is required to have airbags, crumple zones and seat belts, and a whole slew of safety features.

Watch the video. It has airbags, crumple zone, seat belts, and a whole slew of safety features.

Re:Three wheels? (2, Insightful)

MonorailCat (1104823) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779616)

The weight distribution will be such that the rear wheel is loaded more heavily (%wise) than any driven wheel of a 2wd car.

This car is probably not going to be a good choice for a climate with a lot of winter weather. Were this type of car to gain widespread acceptance, a model could be designed with tiny wheel motors in the front two wheels (maybe a few HP), something to help the car get going on low traction surfaces without contributing much weight. The rear wheel would still offer most of the motive force at speed.

The reverse trike configuration has fantastic possibilities for efficiency. Right off the bat you save rolling resistance by losing a wheel, and lower drivetrain losses as well. The weight and cost savings of doing away with driveshafts, universal joints and differentials are significant. The layout also lends itself to aerodynamic 'teardrop' shapes where a 4 wheel layout makes this difficult.
          Dynamically, a reverse trike with correct weight distribution will handle just like a 4wd car, or better (google t-rex). The four wheel layout is statically indeterminate, and as such, when cornering one wheel is carrying no load. A properly designed 3-wheel won't overturn much easier than a car with four wheels either.

If the option to do so were available, I'd be first in line to lose that 'extra' rear wheel.

Watch the flash demo... (1)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779262)

and you'll see a pic of some dude leaning on the side of the thing with a single bag of groceries on the ground...

Guess why there's only one bag there...

Re:Watch the flash demo... (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779446)

I bet driving through the field (or even up the dirt road to the top of the mountain) to my campsite would be, um, interesting in this too. That's not talking about camping gear, either, which fit fine in my current non-suv car.

Re:Watch the flash demo... (1)

stevew (4845) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779456)

Yep - I don't see this thing pulling my 5th wheel either any time soon.

For "commute" cars it might be okay - though the Gullwing designs look nice - there is a reason why they aren't on most production cars - things like going to the drive through!

Well, wake me... (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779320)

...when these things actually start looking like cars. Yes, I know that when I drive to work I usually don't have to have room for groceries and the whole family but if that thing doesn't cost below 10k bucks then I don't see myself having an extra car sitting in the garage just for getting family and stuff to places twice a week.

I want to see a car that has the same range, power and space and a comparable price as today's cars. THEN I will GLADLY buy one... new even.

Re:Well, wake me... (1)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779484)

Yes, this is one of the biggest issues when it comes to personal transportation. The most efficient way is that everyone has access to several cars, ranging from this tiny car to small trucks. When they want to do something, they pick the one that suits their needs most.

But this is expensive if you don't share the cars in a pool together with other people, but people don't like to do that.

Re:Well, wake me... (1)

steevc (54110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779510)

Wouldn't we all? I'm sure that current types of car could be made more efficient by reducing weight and having smarter engines, but that will cost more. With rising fuel costs you may well save more in the long term. To get real efficiency you will have to compromise. Do you need 300HP? How often do you need all your load space? I do most of my driving in a small MPV with just me in it. I get 46mpg (UK), but it's still costing a lot to run. Something like this would make more sense

http://evolution.loremo.com/ [loremo.com]

Looks fairly cool, but not the quickest thing. It's aerodynamic to save fuel and very light-weight. The cost seems reasonable. Maybe in a year or so I will be able to buy one.

Re:Well, wake me... (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779904)

I think you've hit upon the reason that not everyone drives a high-efficiency communter car - I drive a vehicle similar to one, and I've had to borrow larger vehicles more than once.

Add a family and I'd need a larger vehicle, but a commuter doesn't save enough money to justify owning an extra vehicle just for that. Taxes, insurance, and capital cost(buying or leasing it) kill the fuel savings.

So people buy a vehicle to meet 95-100% of their needs, even if the vehicle is only used to capacity 5% of the time.

This is where car sharing programs might not be a bad idea - I can pick up a van or a truck instead of a two door econobox when I need the extra capabilities for a day.

Trikes are all fine and good until they roll... (1)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779326)

By making it a Trike (3 wheel) its largely counted as a motorcycle so all the crash testing requirements go out the window (including side impact, which would shread this little egg).

But the bigger worry is that trikes are far less stable in a turn, because it is at a much earlier point that they start to roll over.

The Corbin Sparrow [wikipedia.org] had a real tendency to roll over. Alpina may be better by having a wider front wheel footprint, but the pod shape has a higher center of gravity. I hope either they have really REALLY good Dynamic Stability Control/Electonic Stability Control [wikipedia.org] or really REALLY good laywers.

fuck you (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21779340)

you people (minus the trollz) are nothing but a bunch of god damned sodomites

niggers

Re:fuck you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21779624)

BEWARE DA VOODOO MON!!!!

Too expensive, too small, and too fragile (2, Informative)

dlevitan (132062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779348)

The problem with all these super fuel efficient cars is that they're too expensive for a second car, too small for a primary car and overall, they look like toys. I'm sure its a wonderful car to drive, but it can't (for most people) be a primary car. It would be great for a trip across town to pick up groceries or to commute to work, but you need something else as well that can hold more than two people and has much more cargo space. Even a shopping trip to more than a few stores can often fill up a whole trunk in a sedan, and that car looks like it has very little cargo space. Which then brings up the next problem - if its a second car most people can't afford to spend $30k on a second car that's only for commuting. If the price ever gets down to $10-15k, I'm sure plenty of people will buy, but until then, its just not affordable.

Finally, the last point, the car looks like its flimsy and just a toy. I wonder if they've done any crash testing on it. If a minor collision completely destroys the drag profile and requires $15k in repairs then insurance is going to be astronomical for the car. How sturdy are the body panels and how easily replaceable are they? How does it do in a collision with an 18-wheeler? It's going to be hard to convince (especially) Americans that a car like that is safer on the roads than an SUV.

I wish them luck, and maybe in a few generations it will be popular, but it's going to take a lot of work.

Obligatory... (1, Funny)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779370)

Wii would like to play!

Does it come with a gamepad?

What's the appropriate word? "Visualware?" (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779376)

I've seen a skabillion... well, must have been forty or fifty stories... about companies that are just about to introduce a great electric car.

So far, only one has ever made it beyond the press release and concept car stage: the General Motors EV-1.

I'll believe the Chevy Volt when I see one in a showroom, and ditto the Aptera and all its brethren.

And deduct ten points for a Flash-heavy website about "a creative experience that puts you inside the mind of an Aptera engineer. The journey is a picturesque series of vignettes that lets you navigate through diverse surroundings. You will even learn a little about Aptera along the way: our vision, our inspiration, our goals. It's for those of us who think visually."

How about a little something for those of us who think numerically?

Battery choice is interesting (4, Informative)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779418)

One of the problems with hybrid cars is the inability to obtain large format NiMH cells. The technology needed to produce these cells is patented, and the patent holder has declined to license it to anybody producing large format cells.

(I should mention for the conspiracy fans among us that the patent holder is Chevron).

Anybody who wants to build an electric car or hybrid car design that requires a large battery capacity can't use the safe and proven NiMH technology. This makes the plug-in hybrid, which needs more electrical storage than an ordinary hybrid, the domain of aftermarket kits only.

Lithium Phosphate, once it becomes economical to produce, might well make better hybrid, or even plug-in hybrid technology a commercial reality. While not quite as good as Li-ion, it's inherently safer and (if reports are to be beleived) superior in performance to NiMH.

Re:Battery choice is interesting (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21779812)

First of all, Chevron bought Texaco which bought Ovonics, which was a Texaco-GM JV.
So Chevron is not running around trying to buy up and suppress the technology.
They bought an oil company, which owned a subsidiary JV with GM, and they are not suing individuals.

I found this detailed comment about the NiMH patent situation on the EVWorld site's forums

Paul Peterson 12/Feb/2007 23:45
RE:New Larger NIMH Batteries?
An electric motorcycle conversion does sound like an interesting project. Best of luck with it. I hope you keep those of us who watch this forum updated.

Just a word on the Cobasys patent situation. Cobasys has some basic patents on NiMH batteries from the work of Stan Ovshinsky. There is a portfolio of them, and they expire in the 2012 to 2014 timeframe.

The two main NiMH battery makers in the world are Panasonic and Sanyo. Because Toyota uses Panasonic NiMH batteries in the Prius, Cobasys sued Panasonic and Toyota. They settled the case. Among other things, Panasonic and Toyota paid Cobasys $30 million and agreed to pay a 3% royalty on sales in the US. Panasonic also agreed to restrictions on the size of batteries it could sell into the US, and what it could sell for automotive applications. These restrictions expire in 2007 and 2010.

Finally, Panasonic and Cobasys agreed to cooperate on battery research and development. As these things go, it appears to have been a fairly amicable settlement.

Cobasys claims that it is doing everything it can to sell large-format NiMH batteries in the US for automotive applications. In fact, it has a long-standing relationship with GM (who originally owned a large stake in Cobasys before selling its shares to Texaco), and has a contract with GM to sell it NiMH batteries for the Saturn VUE.

But several people have noted that Cobasys will do nothing to accommodate those who want a small number of large-format NiMH batteries for use in cars, either conversions or limited production vehicles. Having chased Panasonic (and its 95 amp hour NiMH batteries) from the US market, we now have no place to turn.

I do not know the size of Cobasys's patent portfolio outside the US. My sense, though, is that Cobasys has not and will not pursue NiMH battery makers outside the US. Patent litigation is uncertain and expensive. The stakes outside the US are not high enough to make it worth Cobasys's while to file suit.

Sanyo is a long-standing licensee of the Cobasys patents. In fact, Sanyo indirectly owns 1% of Cobasys. Sanyo may have some restrictions on its license as well.

There is no evidence, although many speculate to the contrary, that the Cobasys lawsuit had anything to do with the demise of the RAV4 EV. Nor that Chevron, who now has a 50% stake in Cobasys from its acquiring Texaco, is attempting to smother electric vehicles by having Cobasys aggressively assert its patents.

What does that mean for you? If you buy some NiMH batteries overseas and import them into the US, you will be subject to suit by Cobasys under its patents. Patent law covers the acts of making, using and selling. You would be using the batteries, which would be an infringing act if the batteries infringe the Cobasys patents. In addition, Cobasys could sue to stop the importation of infringing products. That is an ITC action, not in the federal courts, which hear patent infringement cases.

The chances of Cobasys coming after you, an individual, are small. And you might be able to mount a research defense -- you are allowed to carry out research, even if it involves acts that would otherwise be infringing. But a foreign company may want to stay out of trouble and be unwilling to ship NiMH batteries to the US. So it may be difficult to get the batteries here.

Sure, but... (1)

nasalgoat (27281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779436)

... would anyone other than eco-freaks drive it? It's hideously ugly and completely unsexy in every way. Three wheels? Give me a break.

Wake me up when they make an electric car that doesn't look like nerds designed it.

$30,000 (4, Informative)

kurtis25 (909650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779506)

Call me when the middle class can get a fuel effiecient car. If I have to decide between that and a $15,000 Corolla which gets 30 mpg. I would have to choose the Corolla becuase the extra $15,000 is the current equivilant of 5,000 gallons of gas or about 150,000 miles of driving. If I drove my Corolla 100,000 miles I would pay $25,000 (car + gas) if I drove the Typ-1 e 100,000 miles I would have paid $32,500. If I got the Typ-1 h I would pay 31,000 to go the same distance (assuming it costs $30,000).

Re:$30,000 (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779788)

if I drove the Typ-1 e 100,000 miles I would have paid $32,500.

Actually, that gets kind of complicated. If you get the battery-only version, you'd never use any gas at all. The real question would be how much you'd have to pay for its electricity. Anyone have an idea what it would cost per unit distance to charge one of these things?

they would not sell (1)

wwmedia (950346) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779520)

until they start making cars that are in the same media price range as average family car and more importantly doesnt look like a giant sperm-cell on 3 wheels (see video to understand what i mean!)

I don't care if it gets 1000 miles.... (1)

jon287 (977520) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779550)

I'm NOT driving something that looks like that!!!!

Its bad enough that you'd be on the road with giant SUV's but this... even a subaru outback could beat this thing up and take its lunch money.

Looks Freakish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21779752)

I'm all for cheap, efficient, environmentally-friendly individual transportation, but would it be so hard to build one of these that actually looks like a car?

I don't want to drive something that looks like a Jetson's cast-off.

Re:Looks Freakish (1)

pavera (320634) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779862)

didn't read the article did you! lol, yes it would be that hard. The reason this car is efficient is because it is a) light and b) extremely aerodynamic.

You cannot make "cars" that look like "cars" aerodynamic enough.

That being said, this thing is going on sale next year at 26-29k, I really think I might buy one. I'm spending ~$300/mo for gasoline, I'd gladly exchange that for a car payment at this point.

The 120 mile range would get me to work and back every day. It would be a problem for road trips but, I'd keep at least one gas powered car around for that...

Crash Test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21779760)

What will that vehicle look like when it gets rear-ended by an SUV?

Not this again, another Edsel-Tucker-Segway (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779806)

It takes a whole lot more than one prototype and a short video to make a usable car. For example:
  • A real car needs to have a *suspension*. So it can go over bumps and potholes without jarring the passengers against the roof or breaking a wheel. This car seems to have a very limited travel suspension.
  • A real car needs to be able to go in a straight line without constant driver corrections. Center-rear wheel drive cars are not very directionally stable.
  • A real car needs to have heating and cooling systems for the passenger area. Cooling alone will use up several horsepower and wreck the supposed "300mpg" economy.
  • A real car is unlikely to run very long or far with a toothed-belt drive to the rear wheel. One road pebble will gum up the works.
  • A real car will probably need a transmission to be usable in the hills and on the freeways.
  • A real car needs to have some clearance between the "fenders" and the tires, so it can go in snow.

EV-1 (1)

neorush (1103917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779830)

I want my EV-1 [wikipedia.org] back. That was a good car. For those of you who don't known about the EV-1, you should really watch "Who killed the Electric Car? [wikipedia.org] ". I saw it on one of the Starz channels a few weeks ago. All of these other cars really seem like half arse attempts at a solution. I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but there was certainly some reason why GM totally destroyed all traces of the EV1.

Believe it when.... (1, Funny)

adrianbaugh (696007) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779906)

So will the firmware for this be written in native perl 6, and will it come bundled with a free copy of Duke Nukem Forever?

What's Taking Them? (3, Interesting)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21779918)

It's nice that this is up and coming, but that sort of thing is also known as "vaporware". We've been hearing announcements of cleaner vehicles for years and years. Even Lada demonstrated one last century! And what do we have? A handful of hybrids...

Why is it taking so long? Why is it that I can see things that could be improved, and it's not being done? For example, why do the two hybrid cars I can buy here have gasoline engines and a fuel economy comparable to a diesel in the same price class, when they could (1) burn diesel, which has a much better fuel economy _and_ is cheaper here, and (2) use the combustion engine _only_ for electricity generation, so that it can run at its optimum efficiency? And, while I'm at it, why not a more efficient engine (e.g. Sterling or Wankel instead of Otto)?

And why do we have cars that can run on up to 85% ethanol (the rest being gasoline) instead of 100%? And why do diesel cars not run on straight vegetable oil right out of the factory, even though you can get them converted for about 2 thousand euros, after which they can run on straight vegetable oil _or_ diesel?

Come on, people! It's not like there are unsolved technical problems here! The solutions are known, they are just not in mass-manufactured cars.

And governments! The (well, some previous) government here has refused to lower taxes for CO2-neutral fuels because "the environmental benefits are not clear". This despite studies having found that using straight vegetable oil instead of diesel reduces CO2 emissions _even_ if fossil fuels are burnt in every possible phase of the production and transportation. If it wasn't for that, straight vegetable oil would be cheaper than diesel here.

And all the misconceptions people have. "But electricity generation emits CO2, too!" Well, depends how you generate your electricity, don't you think? "But the crops for producing vegetable oil will use up valuable arable land!" Well, not if you use crops that don't, or algae, which grow in deserts and on salt water and have a much higher yield anyway. And on and on.

I don't claim _I_ have all the right answers, but it's sad to see how messed up the situation is, considering the things that _are_ known and _could_ be used.
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