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Li-Ion Batteries Hit Final R&D Phase for Plug-in Cars

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the and-then-i-was-like-vroom-vroom dept.

Power 238

An anonymous reader writes "Tesla finally delivered its first production model of the all-electric Roadster this month. Coinciding with that, researchers from the big automakers and their outsourced startup labs are hitting stride in the development of cheap, high-powered lithium-ion batteries. These may actually end up in our garages. Toyota, in fact, says it's got enough of the chemistry down to roll out a test fleet for the plug-in Prius before the end of 2009. It's mass production of battery tech that's the holdup — which might mean Mercedes' electric hybrids beat the Prius to market en masse by 2010 or 2011."

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238 comments

Still waiting (3, Interesting)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332612)

I'm still waiting for the Ariel-Atom-based Wrightspeed X1 [wrightspeed.com].

Re:Still waiting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22334828)

Rumors have started to dribble out about the X2.
0-60 time has dropped from 3 seconds to 2,
it is now a plug-in hybrid that gets over 100 mpg,
and will meet U.S. safety standards. No guesses
yet on the price. Stay tuned!

Picture's for those that want to see the car! (3, Informative)

phillips321 (955784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332616)

Re:Picture's for those that want to see the car! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22332854)

"Picture's"? WTF dude... is that like saying "There are three dog's who take walk's on most day's when their owner come's home after teaching lesson's to many kid's"?

One picture. Two pictures. No apostrophe. English, motherfucker... do you speak it?
 

Re:Picture's for those that want to see the car! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22332952)

He's from the "an apostrophe means 'look out, here comes an S'" school of English.

Re:Picture's for those that want to see the car! (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333150)

Looks nice to me!

Dude, where the heck is she driving, Neo Tokyo?

The publishers of those photos should put the driver in LA at peak hour, instead ;-)

Oh noes!!! (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332628)

Please, please, tell me they are not getting their batteries from Sony!

"50 cars caught fire on I-4 today."

Re:Oh noes!!! (2, Informative)

NeilMaguire (1109347) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334664)

These batteries do require several levels of protection circuits and thermal management but its no where near the challenge of containing 22 gallons of the most highly combustible fluid on earth. Also Lithium, unlike Nickel-Cadmium and Nickel Metal Hydride batteries, is not a toxin. Commercializing Li-ion batteries takes investment and American engineering know-how. False perceptions about safety hurdles are not helpful. Since we are quoting Bruce: "The Doors open but the ride it ain't free"

Why now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22332632)

How will these hold up vs the current electric car's batteries? If something was wrong with the current batteries, you would think they should have used these to start with.

Re:Why now? (3, Funny)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333024)

It's called product development.

Or, with an analogy, how will new computers hold up vs the current computers? If something was wrong with the current computers, you would think they should have built the new ones to start with.

(I do realize I'll be hanged for making an analogy without cars in it on Slashdot. But the argument is already about cars! Adding more cars into the analogy would probably cause a pile-up crash or something.)

Recursion! (2, Funny)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334688)

Using a car analogy when the topic itself is cars would be recursion.

It would be even better if you could say that analogy with a LISP.

Rolling Timebombs? (0, Troll)

Loibisch (964797) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332638)

How do you make sure someone does a regular check-up on their car so the battery won't become faulty and potentially catch fire? Just take a look at all those driving junksters and you see what I mean.

Also what happens to the battery in case of a car crash? Let's top it off by saying it's raining, too. Will it completely discharge? Will it catch fire or explode?

Bottom line: How safe are they really...I suppose a lot of research must have gone into this aspect.

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (4, Interesting)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332670)

How safe is your huge tank of extremely flammable gasoline in case of a car crash?

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (3, Informative)

LinuxDon (925232) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332714)

Actually, a lot of research has gone into making those tanks as safe a possible.
In a crash: they will bend, not break.
How often does a car catch file after a crash? Only very rarely.

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (2, Interesting)

raidfibre (1181749) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332914)

Wasn't that the point of him saying "How safe is that tank ..." ? Anyway - any technology that stores a lot of energy is going to have some potential (ha ha) for danger. There haven't been that many problems with LiIon batteries when you take into account the number of batteries that exist in the world.

With that said, there's this problem of obtaining lithium which isn't nearly as abundant as nickel. I still like NiMH batteries for EVs, and I'm sure they will give lithium a run for the money (if not for weight). Even NiCd batteries are pretty good for electric cars, and the technology is practically antique. The issue with large NiMH cells (>10Ah) is that Texaco owns the patent. [wikipedia.org]

Texaco owns the patent! (2, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333252)

Is that to prevent people developing an alternative to petrol?

Re:Texaco owns the patent! (1)

raidfibre (1181749) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333284)

No, I'm sure it's purpose is so that texaco can rake in cash. By rake I mean vacuum, with one of those giant storm-drain-cleaning machines, and $1000 bills.

--
A++++++++++ WOULD DO BUSINESS AGAIN!!!!!

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333960)

The charging efficiency of NiMh is absolutely abominable compared to LiIon. Using NiMh is throwing power in the toilet.

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (1)

DrStrange66 (654036) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332920)

Actually, a lot of research has gone into making those tanks as safe a possible.
In a crash: they will bend, not break.
How often does a car catch file after a crash? Only very rarely.
If cartoons have taught me anything its that all accidents end in explosions.

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (5, Funny)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333054)

How often does a car catch file after a crash? Only very rarely.

Wrong. Everyone knows that cars always explode after a crash. Sometimes, though, the explosion happens after the driver and occupants escape to a safe distance.

I've seen it myself hundreds of times, both on TV and in movies.

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (0, Offtopic)

dmsuperman (1033704) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333404)

Someone with mod points mod parent funny. I'm not sure what jackass thought it would be funny to mod him/her insightful, but that's not the case =P

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (1)

pragma_x (644215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333886)

How often does a car catch file after a crash? Only very rarely.
That's a good point. Every single car fire I've ever seen in person was (typically) of the minivan-engine-on-fire variety. No collisions required.

Granted, that's from the opinion of a commuter and occasional traveler - I'm not with Fire and Rescue or anything like that.

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (1)

monk.e.boy (1077985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334634)

That's the funniest thing about watching American TV in the UK. Everything in America *seems* to be made out of petrol and dynamite. Every car crash ends up in a giant mushroom cloud. But the divers get out and keep shooting each other.

On UK TV most cars crash and crumple, bits of metal spear through people.

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (1)

Loibisch (964797) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332898)

Actually pretty safe.
How often do you hear about cars blowing up in a car crash? I mean aside from Hollywood-style movies.
Leaking gasoline my incinerate and burn, but it won't detonate on impact or when getting wet.
Two things I'm not 100% sure about when it comes to Lithium-Ion.

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (2, Informative)

NeilMaguire (1109347) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334862)

I used to design E85 and gasoline fuel systems and now I work on Li-ion batteries. Gas tanks do not blow up contrary to Hollywood's depiction. The vapor is too rich to burn even when a spark is ignited. If you shoot a bullet at a gas tank it leaks. A second spark after leakage could ignite. E85 is actually combustible at certain temperatures in the fuel tank. We had to invent a flame arrestor for the fill pipe which would quench a flame as it heads down the fill pipe. This is for idiots who smoke when they fill a tank.

As for Lithium batteries, they do need to be protected by electronic circuitry and mechanical enclosures but no more so than a fuel tank. If you shoot a bullet through it, they could produce a thermal runaway (fire). But if someone is shooting at you, you have bigger concerns.

Net is we need to move cars off of Saudi oil and onto our grid, then we can have independent discussions on how we power our grid. In CA, we are ~ 50% renewable. Search for eGrid and you will find data that supports the fact that burning coal and natural gas in power plants is many times more clean than in cars, 2-stroke weedwackers, and other gas applications.

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332682)

It's all a matter of educating the public on the safety concerns of what they're driving. "Normal" drivers have been sitting a few feet away from a long, controlled explosion for generations. The only snag here is forcing people to change over from their old habits, but those bugs will work themselves out (or blow themselves up) given time.

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (3, Interesting)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332880)

I've run into this education issue personally. I have a sand rail [wikipedia.org] (what most people call a "Dune Buggy"). The gas tank is right behind the passenger's heads, inside the roll cage. My mother freaked when she saw that - she was concerned it was so close to passengers. "What happens in an accident?" she asked. I pointed out that the best place for the tank is where there's the most protection, and that's near the people, inside the roll cage. If it were outside, you'd guarantee a ruptured tank (no body skins on this vehicle, just tubular frame). Inside, your body would take as much damage as it takes to rupture the tank, meaning you'd probably be dead of blunt force trauma before a fire started from a ruptured tank.

No, this isn't true (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334400)

The fuel in a car is flammable but requires oxygen to burn. Although gasoline can easily create quite large gas/air explosions, it is hard to do it with Diesel (when I worked in the industry, our R&D shop foreman used to demonstrate to new hires by putting lighted matches out in a jar of Diesel.) To get an explosion the fuel has to escape, spread, evaporate and be ignited. This is rarely instantaneous.

The "fuel" in a battery contains both oxidiser and reducer, exactly like an explosive, and can catch fire without the admission of air. If the combustion occurs in the middle of a battery pack, the explosion could be very nasty indeed. (Interestingly, open lead acid batteries are relatively safe because heat evaporates the electrolyte until they can no longer conduct current. The main risk is explosion of the hydrogen air mix produced or, in the case of a steel boat, sinking because the overflowing sulphuric acid just ate through the hull.)

However, we should not get too paranoid about this. The biggest danger to life is due to kinetics, not explosion. The hundred thousand plus people who get killed by vehicles every year in the developed world were mostly killed by impact. Electric vehicles may well be safer - they will be slower than current gas engined vehicles, and there will be a greater temptation to build in advanced control systems. Even the Tesla doesn't disprove this - it will cost more than an equivalent Porsche, and I cannot see too many of them being sold to boy racers.

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (1)

Iridium_Hack (931607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332708)

A good point. I also wonder about some of these hydrogen powered cars - most of which usually have a tank of hydrogen under high pressure. What could possibly go wrong? I guess all of the different new technologies have their drawbacks.

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (3, Informative)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333000)

Um, to the Telsa Motor's site, and they'll have answered this already. Basically a cell in the battery pack can be on fire, and it won't affect the other cells.

Re:Rolling Timebombs? (3, Informative)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333038)

Lithium iron phosphate batteries (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_iron_phosphate_battery [wikipedia.org]) are supposed to be pretty safe, at the expense of storing a bit less energy per size and weight than current Li-Ion batteries.
They are also made from relatively cheap and plentiful raw materials, so I'd expect them to become the most frequently used batteries in electric cars.

Right... (1)

thrill12 (711899) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334014)

...so the next thing we are going to see is some Chinese company producing fake "LiFePo" battery, consisting of nothing than Lithium-Ion.
That is when we will see the exploding cars...

Disclaimer: I am *for* the electric/hybrid car, I drive one myself ;=)

I doubt it... (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334922)

...because of the "cheap" in LiFePo. Any Lithium-Ion battery needs some cathode, and I guess that LiFePo will eventually be cheaper than the cobalt oxide that is common in today's laptop batteries.

At that point, making fake "LiFePo" batteries from old technology will actually be more expensive than real LiFePo. Scammers might still sell you second-rate batteries that don't last long, but the risk of them exploding under your butt will be greatly reduced.

Infrastructure? (2, Insightful)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332660)

No matter how well R&D goes for these vehicles, I don't see how we can successfully convert people to electric cars without some sort of infrastructure in place. Sure, you can charge your car at home for the daily commute, but what about road trips?

Plug-in hybrids are a good compromise, though.

Re:Infrastructure? (4, Funny)

Loibisch (964797) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332758)

Easy...
1) Buy an extension cable.
2) Find the nearest Starbucks.
3) Buy a cup of coffee.
4) Instead of plugging in your laptop you covertly plug in your car.
5) Profit! (for you)
Same difference, isn't it? :D

Re:Infrastructure? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22333142)

"Sure, you can charge your car at home for the daily commute"

Well, I can't. Only public parking places here, this goes for most of the Netherlands.

"Plug-in hybrids are a good compromise, though."

Or maybe a hybrid-hybrid. I'm not joking :)

Re:Infrastructure? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333168)

So... 300 miles isn't a good enough range?

Re:Infrastructure? (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333498)

For ordinary travel less than 150 miles from your starting point, and if you have your own house/driveway/garage, a 300 mile range is fine. But you can't count on a plug being within convenient reach of the parking lot, especially at places like hotels and apartments.

Re:Infrastructure? (1)

jdjbuffalo (318589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334224)

You're right that you can't count on Hotel or Apartments to offer this now. But you should start seeing it offered as a perk in some higher-end places first in the next few years. Then probably in 5+ years you'll see almost everyone offering/installing it as the demand enters the mainstream.

Re:Infrastructure? (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333568)

So... 300 miles isn't a good enough range?


If it is anything like my laptop, it'll start off at 300 mile range and slowly decrease to about 150 within a year or so.

-matthew

Re:Infrastructure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22333920)

No. There's a hell of a lot of the country you can't reach in 300 miles. For example, my parent live 420 miles away and it's over 1,000 miles to either coast.

Of course, this is something of a moot point. I believe the currently planned plug-ins have gas generators built in for exactly this reason.

Re:Infrastructure? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333206)

Infrastructure won't solve that problem either since it takes several hours to charge them. We will need something else, like Ultracapacitors. So for now, you'll need to rent a car or use some other transportation for road trips.

Re:Infrastructure? (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333636)

So for now, you'll need to rent a car or use some other transportation for road trips.
Or, more likely, the idea will flop and people will continue to use a transportation method that fills all their needs. Gas/Electric hybrids do that. They offer good range/economy, and are still flexible enough to be able to use for pretty much any road trip that another car can do.

Any car that can't be refueled both quickly and at common locations, is not likely to perform very well (in the market place) IMHO.

Re:Infrastructure? (2, Insightful)

jdjbuffalo (318589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334352)

Any car that can't be refueled both quickly and at common locations, is not likely to perform very well (in the market place) IMHO.
I've got to disagree there. While I certainly think that gas(unleaded, diesel, ethanol)/electric hybrid will be the most popular choice for single people. I think that in multi-car families there will likely be only one car that is a hybrid and the others will be all electric (they will be cheaper). It's estimated that 85-95% of all driving is done within 30 miles of your home. This means that all electric cars become reasonable at 100 Miles per recharge. Ideally I would like to see ones that can get around 200+ Miles per recharge but we probably won't see those be mainstream and affordable for 5-10 years.

Diesel electric hybrids is where (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333438)

I would like to see the industry go. Granted Diesel deserved its bad rep as they escaped the EPA rules of the 70s (actually I think only gasoline automobiles got whacked). The problem is getting past zealots in California and other states who have taken on deciding for the rest of the country what they can have. Yes, rest of the country. These states acting on their own are large enough to force manufacturers to accomodate them instead of abandoning them simply with California being the base.

I still think that SUVs will again rule after a short decline. Once series hybrid and similar SUV's come along getting upwards if not more than 35 effective MPG people will have even less reason to switch. Look at it this way, with each big increase in MPG the incentive to move to a small car gets less and less. Me, I would love a SUV with 35+ capability in city and highway (crossover sized, though the upcoming VW small SUV might make that mileage)

Re:Infrastructure? (1)

utnapistim (931738) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334030)

Sure, you can charge your car at home for the daily commute, but what about road trips?

That's pretty easy actually: pack a generator and some gasoline with you, and you're all set.

but what about road trips? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334396)

Hmmm...

1. Rent a car for said road trip out of the savings on $4+/gallon gasoline - for a road trip diesel will probably make more sense than gasoline. Diesel engine vehicles can beat hybrids on highway milage.
2. Fly or take a train instead
3. Rent a trailor with a generator(maybe a small, high efficiency diesel?)

In the longer run, it shouldn't take too much work to install charging booths at restraunts. With a 300 mile range at something like 75mph, you can schedule chargings around reasonable meal stops. Stuff like drive from 8 to noon, eat, 1-5, eat, 5-9, get a motel(and plug in). Drive before breakfast for even more charge, but then you'd also be busting recommended driving times(over 12 hours total on the road in a day).

Just Rent A Car (4, Insightful)

soren100 (63191) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334458)

Sure, you can charge your car at home for the daily commute, but what about road trips?
Seriously -- how often do you go on a road trip? Most people only go on road trips a few times a year due to job and other considerations. So you rent a car, and you get to drive a new car that is fully maintained by *someone else* -- you don't have to take your car to the mechanic for a pre-trip "checkover". And you better hope that your mechanic doesn't cheat you and tell you something needs to be fixed when it doesn't.

One of the huge bonuses associated with electric cars is reduced maintenance. There are no timing chains to break, no radiators to leak, no oil to be changed. Electric motors are highly reliable and very easy to fix. In the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?" they discussed that the dealers did not like the electric cars at all because of the tremendously lowered need for maintenance and repair. (Of course the mechanics loved them because the cars were easy to work and and the mechanics didn't end up covered in oil and grease all the time)

If you really do a lot of extended road trips, you should get a gas car or hybrid, but for everybody else the electric car + renting a gas car occasionally would be the much better choice.

Re:Infrastructure? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334670)

No matter how well R&D goes for these vehicles, I don't see how we can successfully convert people to electric cars without some sort of infrastructure in place. Sure, you can charge your car at home for the daily commute, but what about road trips?


How about a gas-powered engine trailer [dansdata.com]? A tiny little engine generator that you tow along for those long car trips. Like diesel-electric locomotives, your car is powered by an electric motor. Give it decent range for the typical commute and them some, and the 90% use case would be for the commute. For the spring break trip, hook up the gas engine trailer and away you go. Given modern technology, you'll be on electric most of the time, when the battery starts running low, the engine starts up and recharges the battery.

Other than truckers, I'm sure the vast majority of people don't go on long trips every single day of their lives, and instead maybe drive 100-200km/day.

Infrastructure has been solved... (1)

eclectic_hermit (1232884) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334716)

No matter how well R&D goes for these vehicles, I don't see how we can successfully convert people to electric cars without some sort of infrastructure in place. Sure, you can charge your car at home for the daily commute, but what about road trips?

Yeah, we need to start developing a system that will allow us to get electricity to the vast majority of the U.S.

.

I got it... here is what we do:

1. Build poles along the high ways that can carry this "electricty"

2. Engineer "electric power plants" that can produce this "electricty"

3. Run wires from "electric power plants" along the poles to thier end destinations

4. At the end of those poles, create "connectors" so that the cars can plug into them...

5. ?????

6. Profit!!!

A feel a little bad for the sarcasm...

.

P.S. You do realize that the gas pumps already have electricy ran to them... Just modify the adapter (so that "electric piracy" might become as popular as gas syphoning...) and put a meter on the "electric" pump and Viola... Infrastructre is in place...

.

Post Post Script: Of course, I would always carry around my UPS just in case!!!!

Battery (1)

ruinevil (852677) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332696)

It's all fine and good, but do electric cars really help the environment. In order to dig out and process the amount of lithium needed for a car the size of Tesla Roadster, a great deal of CO2 had to have been produced. I would like if someone could carbon impact of the Tesla, from the acquisition of raw materials onwards.

Are Batteries Evil? (2, Insightful)

webword (82711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332724)

OK, so rather than pollute the air as we burn fossil fuels, we'll fill up landfills with bazillions of batteries. Electric cars might not be as "green" and wonderful as people like to think.

These batteries are probably recyclable but it isn't cost effective, based on what I rad. So, the potential to recycle is there but are people actually going to do it?

Re:Are Batteries Evil? (1)

legoman666 (1098377) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332968)

I don't think the point is to reduce air pollution, the point is to switch to an alternate fuel source for when we eventually run out of fossil fuels. I think a lot of people cannot make this jump. One of the majors advantages of solar cells is not that they're environmentally friendly, its that theyre an alternative power source. The same goes for corn based ethanol.

We should first worry about making alternative power sources viable as a replacement for fossil fuels, only then can we worry about their environmental impact.

Re:Are Batteries Evil? (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333708)

We should first worry about making alternative power sources viable as a replacement for fossil fuels, only then can we worry about their environmental impact.


Why only then? What good does it do to depend on corn based ethanol, for example, if you have to cut down all the (rain) forests to grow it? Really, you DO have to worry about what is environmentally friendly BEFORE you find yourself dependent on it.

-matthew

Re:Are Batteries Evil? (1)

legoman666 (1098377) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333794)

True, but I'd rather slash and burn rainforests to grow corn for ethanol than sit in my car making revving noises with my mouth because my tank is empty.

Re:Are Batteries Evil? (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333082)

OK, so rather than pollute the air as we burn fossil fuels, we'll fill up landfills with bazillions of batteries. Electric cars might not be as "green" and wonderful as people like to think.
Oh, it's worse than all that. You're still going to get that electricity for the batteries from mostly-coal.

Re:Are Batteries Evil? (3, Interesting)

legoman666 (1098377) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333736)

You have no idea how clean or efficient modern coal plants are, do you? I work in the power industry and I can tell you that powering cars by charging batteries using electricity from the wall that came from a coal plant is way more efficient and clean than burning gasoline or diesel.

Go troll some place else.

Re:Are Batteries Evil? (4, Informative)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333210)

I can't believe how many people can't be bothered to even visit the companies page. The price of the car includes battery replacement, and they require you ship it back to them and they recycle it.

Re:Are Batteries Evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22333954)

Nope, the price of the car does not include battery replacement. You have to buy a new battery. The price of the car or price of new battery *does* include the cost of recycling the battery. But you pay for it, not Tesla.

Re:Are Batteries Evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22334778)

The above is not an informative statement.

http://www.teslamotors.com/learn_more/faqs.php [teslamotors.com]

Scroll down to Battery Questions, and click on 'What happens when my car battery reaches the end of its life?'. You pay for a new battery; the price of the car does not include battery replacement, although it does include the cost of recycling the battery.

Re:Are Batteries Evil? (1)

poticlin (1034042) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333216)

From what I understand of those Li-Ion batteries, they have a lifetime that exceed any other batteries presently on the market. Also, concerning pollution, gas vs batteries. Please take also into consideration the that your electric car does not need any of the following -- Carburator, Gas tank, Exhaust, Oil, -- It's not only gas you save, oil changes, repairs (fewer moving parts and leaks). -- Recycling in some part of the world is subsidized in order to reduce over used of landfill.

Re:Are Batteries Evil? (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333644)

These batteries are probably recyclable but it isn't cost effective, based on what I rad. So, the potential to recycle is there but are people actually going to do it?


Most people will, yes. Since most people won't be changing the batteries themselves, you can just mandate that mechanics recycle the batteries (and fine them heavily if they don't) and mechanics can just charge the customer the recycling fee, if any.

-matthew

Re:Are Batteries Evil? (2, Insightful)

NameIsDavid (945872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333676)

Today's cars have a single lead-acid battery, but this battery is almost completely recycled. Thus, there's reason to be optimistic about the prospects of recycling. The automobile is one of the most fully-recycled consumer products. Think about it ... you don't just toss one in the trash. There are specific permitted ways to dispose of one, meaning anyone who wants to recover value from it are able to do so.

Re:Are Batteries Evil? (1)

keithjr (1091829) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334100)

In many places it is illegal to put things like large batteries, CRT monitors/TVs, and other very hazardous materials in the garbage. We just need to extend this infrastructure to electric car batteries as well. The real problem is making sure any private companies in charge of this recycling effort don't just sell them off to developing countries, but ACTUALLY follow through and recycle.

Re:Are Batteries Evil? (2, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334456)

Batteries, especially 'bazillions' of them like what would be in electric cars would get recycled much like the lead-acid batteries currently are.

The only reason NiCD and NiMH end up in landfills so much is that they're used and disposed of at home - most people can't be bothered to take them in somewhere to be reycled. Same with liIon.

An electric car battery, even a hybrid battery is such that you're taking it to a store to be replaced - and they'll have enough to haul them over to the recycling facility that'll pay money for them in a truck big enough to at least break even.

The Cold (3, Interesting)

Timberwolf0122 (872207) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332754)

How well to these batteries fair in the cold? If they are like the Li-ions in my video camera you'll get to the end of the street then they'll die.

Re:The Cold (1)

legoman666 (1098377) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333076)

They could easily put heater elements to keep them warm or they will keep warm by simply discharging while driving, or maybe they will keep warm in the parking lot at work for 8 hours by staying plugged in. Just speculation, they might not even have problems in the cold...

Re:The Cold (1)

nem75 (952737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333370)

How well to these batteries fair in the cold? If they are like the Li-ions in my video camera you'll get to the end of the street then they'll die.

I don't know about other electric cars, but the batteries in the Tesla are being kept at a constant temperature. The reason being, according to the manufacturer, that extreme changes in the temperature surrounding Li-Ions is what actually makes them wear out faster.

Re:The Cold (1)

z0idberg (888892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333908)

Problem Solved [wikipedia.org]

That's why it's taking so long for these electric cars to go into mass production. Bring them in too soon and the planet will be too cold for them to work properly.

Great News for the Coal Industry (-1, Troll)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332782)

When people start plugging in their cars we are going to need more coal miners. They have a nasty habit of getting trapped and dying. Well at least there are potential new ones crossing the southern border every day ready to be exploited.

Re:Great News for the Coal Industry (2, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333074)

Or, perhaps an increased demand for electricity might spur on searches for alternative ways of producing it rather than through the burning of coal. Geothermal, wind, solar, hydro and even nuclear power all hold some immediate promise in this regard as potentially more environmentally friendly alternatives. At least with an existing electric car infrastructure, as the centralized methods used for generating the electricity might slowly change over time, the infrastructure of existing cars wouldn't need to be upgraded with it.

I hope your right (1)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333998)

Whoever modded me troll can't recognize sarcasm. The point I was making was a sudden rush to electric vehicles could have unintended consequences. From my perspective, we need to solve several technological / infrastructure /economic hurdles before electric can be a reality.

1) There needs to be a real change in battery/capacitor technology. Batteries are slow charging, and composed of hazardous materials. They are also heavy and inefficient. They also generate a lot of heat. Exploding laptops come to mind. Capacitors charge quickly but also discharge quickly which brings its own issues. They also are hazardous.

2) How do quickly charge a capacitor with the energy to power are car? The energy requirements are enormous. I can't envision stopping in for a charge. A battery / Super Capacitor hybrid that can be easily swapped out is more likely.

3) How do cope with the increased need for electricity? All the things you are more environmentally friendly than coal. But twice a day the road to my house is closed due to a train that carries almost a hundred cars filled with coal. And I don't live anywhere near a coal mine. There is a nuclear power plant nearby. It will be closed in 2015 and nobody has voted for a new one. We would need a whole lot more of them and nobody wants one in their back yard.

4) Who is going to pay for the infrastructure needed? It won't be Bill Gates, IBM, General Motors et al. It will be people who struggle with day to days bills and health care.

5) The remark I made about illegal immigration is right on the money. That is the the only steadily increasing demographic here. The reason we outsource, hire illegal immigrants is to exploit them for lower wages. Who do you do you thing will be growing corn, building power plants etc?

What is needed is a real innovation something that radically changes the transfer and storage of energy. Much like oil replaced steam. Nothing is free, but we need to find real alternatives with more efficiency and less of the downsides.

Re:Great News for the Coal Industry (1)

bluie- (1172769) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333224)

From what I've read (sorry I don't have specific sources), even charging a car from a dirty power plant ends up creating less emissions and requires less energy overall. You make a good point though about miners. Mining in the US is as safe as mining coal can probably be these days, but in China and other coal-exporting countries there aren't so many safety standards. And even no matter how safe it gets it's never going to be SAFE safe.

That's why it would be great to recharge these cars from a solar or wind source, where possible.

Re:Great News for the Coal Industry (3, Funny)

misleb (129952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333852)

That's why it would be great to recharge these cars from a solar or wind source, where possible.


That's why I recommend a wind generator be installed on every car. That way you can charge as you drive. Ever hang your hand out the car window and think "Wow, if I could just harness this power, I'd be rich!"

-matthew

Re:Great News for the Coal Industry (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334106)

If you go through the numbers for charge time and power on the Tesla site and press reports (70A @ 220V for 3.5 hours to go from flat to full), and the DOE number on CO2 produced per kWh for coal plants, you can figure CO2 emissions from a Tesla roadster powered entirely by coal-derived electricity. It ends up being considerably better ordinary gasoline automobiles.

However, there's a bunch of caveats there.
1) It depends on the range being what Tesla says it is, in the production model.
2) It depends on new batteries. Loss of charging efficiency or increase in self-discharge with age is possible. (Loss of capacity is inevitable, but doesn't affect efficiency directly)
3) It ignores transmission and distribution losses. I think these are fairly small nowadays, though.
4) The Tesla is a tiny car built on a Lotus Elise chassis. It may not scale well.

Ergs must come from somewhere (2, Insightful)

moseman (190361) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332812)

Look, no matter what tech we use, you have to get the ergs to run the thing, be it via electricity from a plug or electrolyzed h2. You are looking at massive power plants. But for most city folks, these things are placed well out of site in the country-side, where the inhabitants do not have the political power 9due to low populations) to do anything about it.

Re:Ergs must come from somewhere (2, Insightful)

fprintf (82740) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334220)

Come on. This is not always about shoving stuff down the little guys throat. There are plenty of communities that would love having a power plant in their town. For many more rural areas of the United States, they provide the only steady local jobs, provide taxes to help run the town, and sometimes even subsidized electricity (they do in the town next door to mine).

Heat (2, Interesting)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332882)

Heat is a problem with Li-ion batteries. If they get too hot they explode. Leaving a phone in a car with direct sunlight is enough.

Seems a bit odd they would be used in cars.

Re:Heat (1)

jhines (82154) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333566)

Living just outside of Chicago, I've a similar question, but of cabin heat.

How do these things handle short trips in freezing weather?

Re:Heat (1)

UWC (664779) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334054)

Capture heat from the electric motor and/or transmission and pump it through a radiator in the ventilation system. The pump would take more electricity, but a gas car's air conditioning compressor has a similar trade-off. And gas cars have to warm up, too. If the downside to an electric car is that there's not enough waste heat, though, I think that's a pretty good problem to have.

Seconded (1)

pragma_x (644215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334064)

I was just thinking of that the other day. My guess is that your mileage-per-recharge will just plain suck in the winter months.

It's either that, or they start making EV's with a kerosene/gasoline/propane heater option.

Another thing I would like to know is how well these batteries function in freezing and sub-zero conditions, since chemical batteries have a reputation for performing poorly when cold. In such a case, you might need something like a battery pre-heater to get any decent performance out of it, which only makes the situation worse.

Re:Heat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22333798)

Yeah, and I'm just positive all those scientists and engineers totally ignored the heat issue. Thank GOD you're here to save us from ourselves.

Honestly, Slashdot gets stupider by the minute.

Re:Heat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22334028)

Not necessarily. Most Lithium cells on the market will but the cells commonly used in power tools do not overheat even if they are shorted. I'm not sure exactly how it works but it has something to do with doping.

And what happens next... (1)

Bobb Sledd (307434) | more than 6 years ago | (#22332902)

Apparently, part of the business strategy of selling electric cars is to let the customers drive them around for a year and then recall them for no apparent reason, with no option for the customer to keep them.

I wonder when it will happen this time.

I'm sure it's Bush's fault. Somehow.

There is no free lunch (2, Interesting)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 6 years ago | (#22333938)

The electricity to charge all those batteries has to come from someplace. all you are doing is shifting the the consumption of fossil fuel from one place to another. The energy required to manufacture these batteries in VERY large quantities has to come from someplace as well.

Last time I checked there are not many rivers left to damn up for hydro so the juice has to come from someplace and since fusion power isn't quite ready for prime time you are going to have to build a hell of a lot more power plants to transfer the power generation from a facility on 4 wheels to some very big stationary ones.

That being said, you can gain a hell of a lot of efficiency because large power plants do much better then the internal combustion engine, but they still have to burn something, either that or be prepared to have a big nuclear power plant coming to a neighborhood near you.

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

jo7hs2 (884069) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334330)

Why, oh why didn't we start the game in 2050? Then we would have had Fusion power plants!

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334536)

prepared to have a big nuclear power plant coming to a neighborhood near you.

Where do I sign up? ;)

By all accounts, even considering transmission losses and such, even coal power is cleaner than gasoline engines, and has fewer carbon emissions.

But yeah, if this keeps up we're going to need to build a lot more power plants. And I'd like to see them be cogeneration type plants - capable of exploiting even what's currently waste heat.

Hmmm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22334006)

What ever happened to the GM EV1, again?

Delivered? (1)

Zuato (1024033) | more than 6 years ago | (#22334180)

They delivered the first car to a company executive, not to a paying customer. Does that actually count as "in production"? The picture from the article is also interesting - they are pushing the car out of a box truck - does it not have a reverse gear? (They've admitted to having problems with transmissions so far).

I like the concept, I just hope they can pull it off before going under. The official release date keeps getting pushed back, upper management has been shuffled, and quite a bit of the staff has been let go recently.

'whatcouldpossiblygowrong' again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22334246)

Completely OT, but is anyone else sick of the 'whatcouldpossiblygowrong' tag that appears on every single engineering/biotech article? I mean, it was moderately amusing the first 500 times, but give it up already.
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