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  • #16
    Re: Electric Car...

    Originally posted by Kai
    I think the the only way to tax these would have to be ownership based, not usage based. If they were to require special connections to tax the electricity use, I'm sure some fine upstanding user would simply create a "middle-man" than plugs into a basicc 220 outlet, and slowly syphons off and stores a charge. Any outgoing communictions from the vehicle itself could be modified (or simply disabled) pretty easily as well.
    In a sense, this already happens at existing EV charging stations. Most of them are the 'paddle' type where you grab a handle (it kind of looks like a gas pump nozzle, only minus the dispensing spout) that magnetically couples to connectors under a flap somewhere on the car. Since the car can't just be plugged into the wall and there's nothing else out there at this time that can connect to the paddles to power or charge itself, it's a fairly safe assumption that the power drawn from the charging station is going straight into an EV.

    What would be likely to happen would be that existing gas stations would add this to their infrastructure, but there are a number of problems to overcome: standardisation of the physical coupling used to recharge the vehicle (right now, there are at least three different types I can think of); cost and logistics of the installation of the infrastructure itself; and additional demands on an already-weak power grid.

    If this were to happen, I could easily see it becoming illegal (or at least highly cost-prohibitive) to connect your vehicle directly to a domestic mains supply: EVs already get cheap-cost electricity at the charging stations, and unless they're charged from their own specific infrastructure it's impossible to know how much of a demand they're placing on the grid as a whole. The same would probably apply in reverse: you wouldn't legally be able to power anything other than an EV from a charging station.

    One thing I do wonder about, though: if we were to go to this model, would this turn the oil companies into utility providers? In a way this might not necessarily be a bad thing, since it would put them under the regulation of the Public Utility Commissions in each state - though one could argue the effectiveness of the PUCs in handling energy costs and supply as things currently stand.

    The only thing I can see is increasing the sales tax on the front end, increasing the annual poperty tax, or more than likley, both. Until they figure out the taxes, I wouldn't mind getting one and letting everyone else pay for the roads! ;)
    Nah, you'll still pay your annual vehicle registration tax. Mark my words: the minute any of the alt-fuel (meaning anything non-gasoline-based in the context of this thread) vehicles start gaining widespread public usage you can bet that they'll start being taxed exactly the same as existing vehicles.

    As far as infrastructure, something would definitely have to be done in CA and other states very quickly (then again, this should have been done along time ago anyway).
    Speaking of fuelling infrastructures in general: you've probably noticed that some auto manufacturers are making a big deal out of the fact that some of their vehicles are capable of running on E85. If you want to see something amusing, go to the Alternative Fuel Station Locator, and see how many E85 stations are available in California. That's right: four. Which is 33% more stations than there were a couple of years ago - but it still doesn't matter a damn. No incentive to provide alt-fuel stations has been made to any of the parties who might actually have the logistical ability to do so in a meaningful way. Granted, EV charging infrastructure is somewhat better, but still suffers from lack of standardisation and mass availability only in metropolitan areas.

    In other states, it wouldn't pose much of an issue quite so soon, especially taking into consideration that most charging would occur off-peak in the evenings. I'd bet a lot of homes would need to be updated as well, that or people would have to remember not to charge when the AC in the house is running.
    Well... You could trickle-charge, which would keep the demands down on the domestic circuit, at least. But that still takes the vehicle offline for several hours while that happens - and the three-hour charging time Tesla's claiming is positively fast by EV standards. It also doesn't change the fact that you've still got to pull the same amount of power over time to charge it fully, so those n number of kilowatt-hours you're burning just happen over a longer timeframe, but you're still burning the same amount. Demand remains the same, only over a somewhat longer timeline.

    This also raises the question of what happens to off-peak electricity - after all, if everyone's charging their cars at night then demand has just gone up. And that's a good excuse to raise prices for the power.

    Back to the car, it appears to be heavily computer operated, requiring a pin to enable the motor, and different pre-programmable settings such as "valet" that shortens the speed, acceleration, and distance the car may drive. That could be a lot of fun to play with.
    Several manufacturers have been doing stuff like this for some time. Corvettes have come with a 'valet key' since at least the early '90s that limits the car to (IIRC) 50mph, and I remember a friend of mine's father had a Citroen XM in about the 1989 timeframe that required PIN entry on a pad under the radio to allow the car to start - and many Citroens since then have used the same system. Nothing really new there.

    Originally posted by Clp727
    We all can endure the brief ( 2 - 4 hour) power outage from a passing storm and still make it to work the next morning. But if your car was left to charge over night, and the power was out, that could be a problem. If they offered a package that included a power storage system (like a UPS for our servers) that would use incoming current to charge the batteries on the vehicle, then in the event of a power outage a battery system would provide the remaining current to finish charging the vehicles battery, the consumers would probably feel that they could depend on a vehicle such as this one.
    Good point - you can reasonably conveniently store liquid or gaseous fuel in containers for emergency use for years, but the amount of electricity required to place a usable charge into an EV is considerably less easy to deal with and shorter-lived in storage. For starters, there's the issue of hydrogen venting during charging - one spark and it's kaboom time. There's also the issue of needing a way to store and deliver the same amount of power the vehicle requires to charge without burning out the existing battery, as well as having the space to store that much battery bulk.

    Where this is also an issue is when long-distance driving comes into play. I live 280 miles from Las Vegas, but the vehicle only has a 250-mile range. Now, we'll assume that this range remains constant regardless of terrain: where I am in Los Angeles I'm at approximately 800 feet above sea level, and Las Vegas is somewhere around 2000-2200 feet - but parts of the drive out there on Interstate 15 can reach up to 4500 feet. So even if we're getting the vehicle's ideal range out of it under those conditions, we're still going to run out of juice about 30 miles outside of Vegas. OK, now, if there's recharging infrastructure en route, that's great - but spending three hours recharging the vehicle to complete what would've otherwise been a four-hour drive is just ludicrous. And assuming you're sticking to the speed limits, that 250-mile range works out at just over a three-and-a-half-hour runtime before needing a recharge, which means the vehicle has about a 40% overall duty cycle once charging times are factored in. Automobiles should make our lives in terms of freedom of movement more convenient, not more restrictive.

    Someone will probably stand up at this point and make an argument in favour of some form of mass transit such as flying or taking a bus. Sure, you could do that, I guess. But then you've removed the environmental incentive for owning this car by taking what's likely to be a petroleum-powered craft or vehicle in its stead - and even if that bus runs on CNG, LPG, hydrogen, or something else, there's still the infrastructure issue to contend with. Not to mention that air travel for short distances generally sucks and is much dirtier than if everyone on board drove their own car, you may still need a car when you get to your destination anyway, and that once you start travelling on someone else's schedule you're giving up your freedom of movement. Kinda defeats the purpose of owning an EV (or for that matter, pretty much any vehicle) in the first place, but I've long suspected that the people who want us driving these things en masse don't place a great deal of value on personal freedoms to begin with.

    This is an interesting vehicle with some great engineering behind it, but EVs are still impractical as things stand today.
    Last edited by skroo; July 30, 2006, 12:31.


    • #17
      Re: Electric Car...

      Originally posted by Clp727
      I do think that this vehicle potentially has what it takes to gain market share. I believe that a solar powered home would be a nice addition, just to ensure that it can be charged for the commute to work.
      Correct me if I'm wrong, but solar powered homes usually have very limited electricity to go around. You have to scrimp and save on how much current you draw in order to make it work. Sure, batteries store the electricity, but you'd probably need a whole second bank to charge your car too.

      The other thing I always think about in regards to electric cars is... what is the fueling station like? If I go on a road trip, am I going to be able to plug in at my destination? This is especially crucial for early adopters and is one reason I did not seriously consider purchasing a compressed natural gas car.

      If they offered a package that included a power storage system (like a UPS for our servers) that would use incoming current to charge the batteries on the vehicle, then in the event of a power outage a battery system would provide the remaining current to finish charging the vehicles battery
      The currently sell solar panels for trickle charging. You'll need a sunny environment and it wouldn't do the whole job, but it may help, especially for those short trips.


      • #18
        Re: Electric Car...

        I would love to see the oil companies quake the way CD makers are now. Then again the oil companies are worse than the RIAA....


        • #19
          Re: Electric Car...

          I found an article about the Tesla that links to a promotional video on YouTube. It sounds just like an electric remote control car when it takes off. It is a nice looking car. I assume it has to be light weight, which makes me wonder about the durability and safety of the vehicle.