Electric vehicles, batteries, and myth busting

Checkswrecks

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A thread about the Harley Liveware was morphing into being more about electric vehicles. EVs are becoming a real alternative and there are a lot more options than just the Livewire, so this thread is a place to have those conversations.

While there are experts on the subject out there who know a LOT more than me, I've been up to my ears in battery tech and electric vehicles since January 2013 when the first 787 battery failed spectacularly and then becoming part of a number of electric vehicle fires. (Shameless plug: www.HowItBroke.com) So this post has some background before getting to some of the classic EV myths.

With respect to the early Prius, Ford, Toyota, and other hybrid batteries, they were not lithium, they were an earlier version of nickel metal hydride (NiMH). They did OK for what the industry knew at the time but comparatively didn't have a lot of energy for the weight and the batteries were not that big. This meant those cars had an electric-only range of typically 10-25 miles so were really limited to the point they also needed an internal combustion engine (ICE) to be practical. Because the 4kWh Honda Insight and 9 kWh Prius batteries didn't store a lot of energy they needed to be charged a lot more often, and cycles is one of the biggest influences on wear. The early all-electric Nissan Leaf had MAJOR problems with batteries wearing out and Nissan eventually had to re-engineer them. But we are seeing Prius cars going 300,000 miles on an original battery, plus the brakes and tires last longer. On the upside, when a Prius battery fades or dies, it's usually just one or a few cells and they cost less than $40 each. If you are any kind of mechanic, you can watch a few Youtube videos to figure out how to test and replace them on your own.



There was a lot of manufacturing that went into these hybrids, so they did leave a larger pollution footprint. This was NOT because they were battery vehicles but BECAUSE EACH SINGLE CAR HAD THE POLLUTION IMPACT OF TWO POWER SYSTEMS, gas and electric.

This all changed after Tesla totally kicked the market in the ass with true lithium batteries, which as the chart above shows, have a LOT more energy. The other key to the Teslas was that rather than a 9 kWh block of battery limited to the area behind the rear seat, the amount of energy could be MASSIVELY increased by making the battery thin and making it so big it stretched between all four wheels, beneath the floor pan of the body.

A 9 kWh Prius battery is this little block:


While a 100 kWh Tesla lithium-based battery is the entire pan beneath the body. Having a flat 1,200 pound plate below the center of each wheel is why these things handle so well and don't roll over unless the driver does something REALLY stupid.


Because these cars could have 100 kWh of battery and didn't have the inefficiency of dragging the gas engine parts along, the range increased to 300-400 miles from 10-25 in the earlier Insights and Prius. Plus, by going to a true lithium chemistry they could divide a faster charge among the bigger number of cells, making life easier on each cell so the life of the batteries has proven to be really long. Now that the Teslas and other lithium-based cars have been around for 10 years, the industry is finding that the batteries are lasting longer than the cars. No worries about "When do I need to change the battery" because you won't.

The downside to the early Teslas was that they added cobalt in a way that significantly increased the energy, but in a way that could burn while the old Prius NMC batteries have been hit by railroad trains and not caught fire. What's happened since 2012 is that Tesla and the rest of the industry have figured out ways to reduce or eliminate the cobalt so you don't see the Model 3 (or Chevy Bolt, Hyundai Ionique, or others) have issues with fires, the way the early Model S did.

Between this and the volume of batteries now being made (largely driven by demand within China), the cost of batteries is falling fast. Outside of the US and Europe with our safety standards, you can buy a true practical EV for as little as $8,000 now. In the US, you can buy a Chevy Bolt for $23,000 and never have to buy a gallon of gasoline. If you buy one of the first 200,000 vehicles in a new model, you can subtract $7,500 from Federal tax and more for most States. While electricity does have a price, actual overall operating costs are pretty well established to be a quarter of what they would be for the same class of internal combustion engine vehicle.

btw - Pre-ordering is the best way to get into that first 200,000 vehicles for a tax benefit and the one that is currently a deal is the VW ID.4 SUV. https://www.vw.com/pre-order/ While the list price of $40,000 initially looks high, subtract $7,500+ from your taxes, then subtract about 75% of the operating costs (largely add up the gas and oil changes for the miles you own the car), and the real cost should be in the mid $20s for a really nice car. Used car prices are holding up so well that the residual value will probably not be too much less than that when you want to sell. Tesla already has more than a half million pre-orders for the ugly Cyber truck that looks like a door stop, and Ford blew through 200,000 number on Mach-E Mustangs within the initial weeks it was offered. If the ID.4 is too much, VW is coming out with the ID.3 economy car, and every other maker is hitting the market with new cars in 2021.

The current lithium batteries also have a MUCH smaller pollution impact for several reasons. First is elimination of all the parts and production to make a gasoline engine and transmission assembly. (EV transmissions are pretty simple) Second is that most of a EV battery is aluminum with some copper and other things added, but aluminum is the planets' most recycled material. fwiw, the Tesla 1,200 lb battery only has about 15 lbs of actual lithium. And finally, the industry is starting to understand how to break down used EV lithium batteries then either repackage the cells or recycle them. Our energy is fast going to renewable sources like wind and solar, so the production and charge impacts are reducing too.

Range is the limiting factor for both ICE and EV vehicles and probably the biggest goal of the car makers is to get recharge times down to where people will accept them. Recharging my old 2013 Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid from a 115 volt outlet gives about 5 miles per hour of charge, which takes a pathetic 9+ hours. Using a 220V charger cuts the time to a third of that. The big news is that with the newer systems, you can get up to 80% charge in a half hour on a 230-300+ mile range battery. That gives hours of driving time during your half hour break, so the range issue is becoming a lot less of a problem and after cutting the cost of a car, this is where the manufacturers are really focusing on improvements.

The last big limit to adoption is finding places to recharge. Doing it at home at night has hardly changed my electric bill but on the road you find that EV owners all have the same thought, where and when is the next place I'll need to charge? Fortunately, you just have to put "car charging station" into a Google map to find commercial places and not on those maps are a lot of stores which are putting charging stations in to draw local customers. Three of the biggest providers are ChargePoint, SemaConnect, and ElectrfyAmerica and each has a phone app to make charging easy to find and convenient to pay for. On the coasts it is hard to swing a dead cat and not find a charging station, but if you are in the middle of the US or Australia, there are a lot of places that an EV is just not practical and won't be for a long time.

Worst comes to worst, all of the electric cars I know of won't just run the battery down and die in the middle of the road. The plug-in hybrids will typically run the battery out, then start and run the ICE engine till it runs out of gas, THEN they will go back to the big battery for a few last reserve miles, typically at a very reduced speed. The true EVs will give MASSIVE warnings when the battery range gets low and when you think you're done, they will go into a low power limp mode to get you off the road for a couple of miles. At that point you ought to at least have found a 110V outlet.

For more, there are a bunch of web-sites devoted to busting EV myths.
 
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tntmo

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Great information. I was a big EV naysayer/hater a few years ago. Then as I was finally wrapping up my college degree (only took 26 years, you can do it too!) I wrote a research paper on electric vehicles. I went into it biased against them, but after some open minded research I found them to be a lot more viable than I had given them credit for.

The early models were not great, just as you said and all I did was listen to the people who hated EV's and didn't form my own opinions. I still don't own any electric vehicles and have no plans to, but I do believe they are a good option for some people, not for everyone though. It will likely be a long time before there is a major shift, we may not see it in our lifetimes but things will change. Perhaps it won't be electric, nobody knows what the next big thing is but by embracing new technology we can help move forward.
 

Dirt_Dad

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I agree that charge time and range are the initial resistance points for me. Quite frankly, as someone who commutes around 100 miles a day, and almost never uses the car beyond that task every week, an electric could make sense for me in that commuter role. But it's the occasional times when I do need or want my car to fill another role, the penalties of electric makes it an unacceptable choice. I can't justify three cars for DM and me. Nor do want to have one of my cars be useless on those few times a year that I really need to exceed the range or charge time necessary for electric travel.

I say all that, and right now DM is in the other room plotting and researching electric travel. We did an e-bicycle tour at a ski resort this past weekend. After riding up muddy, rocky trails and ski slopes, without needing to dab a foot or take a break, DM has been bitten hard by the ebike bug. So I won't be too surprised if some lithium batteries driving a transportation device enters my life in the near future.
 

Checkswrecks

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I agree that charge time and range are the initial resistance points for me. Quite frankly, as someone who commutes around 100 miles a day, and almost never uses the car beyond that task every week, an electric could make sense for me in that commuter role. But it's the occasional times when I do need or want my car to fill another role, the penalties of electric makes it an unacceptable choice. I can't justify three cars for DM and me. Nor do want to have one of my cars be useless on those few times a year that I really need to exceed the range or charge time necessary for electric travel.

I say all that, and right now DM is in the other room plotting and researching electric travel. We did an e-bicycle tour at a ski resort this past weekend. After riding up muddy, rocky trails and ski slopes, without needing to dab a foot or take a break, DM has been bitten hard by the ebike bug. So I won't be too surprised if some lithium batteries driving a transportation device enters my life in the near future.
You'd probably benefit from an extended range EV more than anyone I know right now and getting more than 200 mile range is the minimum at this point for all the manufacturers. Performance-wise, any of these would eat your Audi for lunch, but you couldn't put the top down without a chain saw.
Tesla 3 LR is 322 miles
Tesla X LR is 351 miles. (I don't like how these feel when driving.)
Tesla S LR is 402 miles
Ford Mach E 2WD LR is 355 miles

Charge overnight at home for cheap and if you go on a road trip, that's 6+ hours of driving. Hitting a supercharger for 30-45 minutes to get 75+% charge for roughly another 250 miles gives you 600 miles. That's Atlanta, Charleston SC, Indianapolis, or Montreal. How much more do you need?
 

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We have run a Mitzi Outlander PHEV for 4 years now, bought as a low mileage used vehicle. Polluting at manufacture with 2 power sources, it's lower tailpipe emissions attracted a government grant at the time here in the UK & no annual tax. It's great for short runs, but far less efficient for a long trip, once the batteries have been depleted. 11 kWh, it takes around 5 hours to charge from a wall socket, less from a 7kWh public charger; I never use the fast charge feature as it is said to be the best way to kill battery cells on Outlanders - the battery pack is still over 90% efficient & has a further 3 years warranty remaining.

The old bus is no beauty, but suits our needs right now - sad to see Mitsubishi pulling out of Europe, so we only have a service network, largely due to the potential impact of fines from the EU. I'm not sure whether they are abandoning the US too, but I know they think SE Asia has the best potential, post Covid (whenever that might be) & post Carlos Ghosn, although technology links remain with Alliance partners Renault & Nissan.

BTW, you may have heard that the much vaunted Hyundai Kona EV is being recalled, right now in SK & shortly in the US/Europe following a series of battery fires. I'm not sure whether the sister Kia EVs are likely to be afflicted similarly. Li-ion seems the best we have currently, but if battery powered EVs are to be embraced, we need a far lighter, safer, larger power store pretty soon if we are to be forced to cease buying new ICE powered vehicles within the next 15 years. Maybe hydrogen fuel cells will come to the rescue, but the hydrogen production, storage & distribution process seems less efficient overall than continuing with fossil fuels. Still, I'm an old fossil, so maybe it won't impact me too much.

BIkes - well the Livewire was a brave attempt, but it's far too expensive to be viable & the range is inadequate. The concept is great for the city commuter, but the Long Way Up guys had a few issues getting from Argentina to LA. Maybe a mild hybrid could work in a touring chassis - we shall see.
 
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Sierra1

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I like the hydrogen option, but yeah, not likely to become widespread. Having one of the long range models, and an ICE makes the most sense to me. In addition to the Tenere of course. We don't do a lot of traveling, mostly commuting. Our commuting range(s) wouldn't deplete the battery very much, so a run of the mill 120v plug in would be fine for overnight charging. Sooner or later electric seems to be the future.
 

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all good till it gets cold and the batteries say don't really feel like it today ...... not the biggest issue in Texas as its warm 10 months of the year . but colder climes you will not get that range .
 

Dirt_Dad

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Performance-wise, any of these would eat your Audi for lunch, but you couldn't put the top down without a chain saw.
I do own a lot of chain saws. Not sure the results would be legal.


Charge overnight at home for cheap and if you go on a road trip, that's 6+ hours of driving. Hitting a supercharger for 30-45 minutes to get 75+% charge for roughly another 250 miles gives you 600 miles. That's Atlanta, Charleston SC, Indianapolis, or Montreal. How much more do you need?
I think it's the 30-45 minutes of waiting for a supercharger that makes it unappealing. I'm not a car guy. Don't want to be searching for, traveling out of the way for, or waiting for a charger to complete, when there are countless, convenient gas stations that are available and quick. A car is here to serve me, not the other way around.

I think my attitude still needs some evolution before I get on board. I suspect that day will come. Just not there yet.
 

Checkswrecks

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all good till it gets cold and the batteries say don't really feel like it today ...... not the biggest issue in Texas as its warm 10 months of the year . but colder climes you will not get that range .
The impact of cold has also been well documented. For those few days that are 20F, the range gets cut by about 40%, so the Tesla 3 range of 322 miles would be slightly under 200. Not a big problem unless trying to drive I-70 in a blizzard, and how many of those do you really go through?

As for Texas and A/C, the same AAA tests found on a 95F day with the A/C blasting the range was cut by only 17%, pulling the Model 3 down to 267 miles.
 

tntmo

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I think my attitude still needs some evolution before I get on board. I suspect that day will come. Just not there yet.
I like the fact that you can possibly see a future that is different. It seems that many people, young and old, are unwilling to accept change. We may not like it, but things will change.

I kept my landline for many years even though I wasn't using it. I was paying cable even though I only watched one or two channels. I had a really nice leather bound set of encyclopedias for years. I had a big container full of cassettes and CD's. All of this stuff is no longer in my life, I can carry it all in my pocket now. 30-40 years ago not many people would believe that could be possible. Who knows what we have in store in the transportation sector?
 

Jlq1969

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Many years ago, I had a discussion with an environmentalist who came to my farm to protest the pollution caused by tractors. Ok, I said, no problem. Get out your calculator and start doing the math. I consume around 600000lts of diesel per year. Of the air that I consume to burn that diesel, I am interested in oxygen (which is only 2%) ..... well if you count the amount of eucalyptus planted throughout the property there will be more of 40,000 plants. Enough to produce the oxygen consumed by my tractors and many other consumptions in the surroundings....he didn't know what to say
There are certain calculations, which are interesting to calculate with a basic math. I am in “favor of any clean energy”. Simply, I think that in order to recharge an electric car battery, I need “obviously” electric power. If we analyze how the sources that "generate" that electrical energy are composed ... we are in a dilemma. This electrical energy is mostly produced with "green energy"? .... well, except in very few cases from renewable sources (hydroelectric / wind / solar / geothermal) ..... the vast majority of electrical energy is It generates in thermal power plants that use coal or gas or fossil fuels ... then ... what does not come out through the exhaust of a gasoline car, will come out of the power generation plants, to charge the batteries of the electric car . Ideally, a Tesla would recharge its batteries "only" using a charger with solar panels, then "I" would consider that Tesla, really a "green car" ... surely the problem would be that it would take many hours to charge or You would need thousands of square meters of photovoltaic cells to recharge it. But we only look that we can recharge it in 5 hours, but we do not look at "what source was used to generate that electrical energy"
4937F0E7-5EA5-439F-8667-FFF350D77E84.jpeg
 
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Sierra1

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. . . . Don't want to be searching for, traveling out of the way for, or waiting for a charger to complete, when there are countless, convenient gas stations that are available and quick. A car is here to serve me, not the other way around. . . .
I agree. Cross country in an EV is too complicated, and inconvenient at this time. To me, EVs are at their best for commuting, and in town driving, because that's where ICEs are at their least efficient. Bumper to bumper traffic. . . . stop-n-go. . . . all electric. . . . no fumes. . . . no wasting gas while at a complete stop. I'm trying to talk my wife into one; Tesla 3. Not stupid expensive, and it doesn't even need to be an LR with her driving distance(s). She's afraid of running out of juice.

Jlq must have read the same article/media that I did. I always want to be a dick to the "green people" that talk shit about an ICE, and brag about their EVs. . . . and tell them that their batteries are charged by the local, nasty coal plant. :oops:
 

Jlq1969

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8DB9DDF5-D300-4FE1-8DF2-CECAC57EF645.jpeg
This is in my country. It is not very different from others .(.most of the electrical energy is generated with fossil fuel)... we cannot create more rivers, and the existing rivers, most of them have dams with electrical generation. The trend is that the level of the rivers decreases over time and therefore the level of the dams. In other words, if over time we “considerably” increase electricity consumption, we must first think about how to generate this consumption “in a green way”. I say "considerably", ... because an electric car consumes in one day, what several dozen houses consume
 

Checkswrecks

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While I agree that more EVs need more energy consumed at the power plants, in the end it is all about miles per gallon or pounds of carbon. No matter how the energy is produced my Ford F150 gets 22.5 mpg and electric car today was showing 221 mpg (equivalent).

As for energy production, what your charts don't show is how fast things are changing. In the US it is all about the rise of natural gas and renewables while solar panel prices have fallen off a cliff. They are on increasing numbers of business roofs and houses because they pay for themselves faster than just a decade ago.

 

Squibb

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Good stuff... and our governor outlawed new ICE in the state by 2035 with no mention of infrastructure support. Interesting times.
Much the same across Europe, no new ICE from 2035, with some politicians looking for green votes suggesting bringing that forward to 2030.

It is of course totally impractical. In the UK we won't have the power generation capacity on line by then to service so many EVs, nor are we likely to have the charging infrastructure in place. Some say we would need to install 500 charging points per day over the next 15 years to satisfy the demands of full electric mobility - I suspect it's a nonsense figure, as it ignores those hanging on to old ICE vehicles, albeit these will likely be taxed out of existence progressively.

Norway seems to be the only country I can recall, where politicians appear to have a proper understanding of EVs. However their economy is far from the norm. A high pay high tax structure with a substantial financial reserve built on oil/gas.
 

Jlq1969

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No matter how the energy is produced my Ford F150 gets 22.5 mpg and electric car today was showing 221 mpg (equivalent).
That comparison of the F150 and an electric car needs a more data to back it up. How many hp / kw does the F150 consume. dragging a 5000 kg trailer vs How many kw did the electric car consume dragging the same 5000kg trailer. they probably consume the same kW ... the ford in fuel, the electric in electric power. Only the ford would drag it for 5 hours .... and the electric would do it for maybe ...... 1 hour? I think it is not a comparison .... In other words, it is likely that the F150 uses a lot of fuel "only" to drag itself, but those kg that it weighs, you need to be able to drag and brake safely, the towing capacity for which it was designed. The electric car, from your comparison, was probably not designed to drag cargo, therefore it only consumes what it generates its own weight ... and surely it is light and consumes little "obviously"
It is not that I want to generate controversy, but that is why the power of combustion engines is expressed in kW ... it is a way of comparing them.
 

Jlq1969

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Another issue is that electricity generation through dams can no longer be considered as “renewable energy”. Few countries “still have” a good capacity to generate electricity through dams (Canada is one for example) ..... but there are many countries that are suffering decreases in flow in their rivers (and therefore their dams), retractions of glaciers, ... that is, they are being consumed, but they will “never” be renewed. So the other green sources of generation (wind / solar / thermal / nuclear), are like the future. But some have their limitations. For example, solar (from photovoltaic panels or steam with mirrors), generate "top energy" .... that is, from 10am to 4pm in the middle of summer. Outside these hours, the generation decreases. And in other seasons of the year, it also decreases ... which means that the calculation of the size of the structure, vs the energy generated ... is transformed into an increase in the cost of the kW
I can cite myself as an example. On my farm, the crops are irrigated with groundwater. To extract it, electric pumps are used. Approximately 1500hp is used between all pumps and 20 hours per day, every day. To be able to disconnect from the electricity grid, I needed to make a millionaire investment in US $, to recover in 40 years ... several hectares of solar panels, and generally there are storms with hail fall, so the insurance company , it can cover the crop .... but I didn't want to cover the huge amount of panels. In conclusion ... "still" ... is unfeasible
 

Checkswrecks

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Much the same across Europe, no new ICE from 2035, with some politicians looking for green votes suggesting bringing that forward to 2030.

It is of course totally impractical. In the UK we won't have the power generation capacity on line by then to service so many EVs, nor are we likely to have the charging infrastructure in place. Some say we would need to install 500 charging points per day over the next 15 years to satisfy the demands of full electric mobility - I suspect it's a nonsense figure, as it ignores those hanging on to old ICE vehicles, albeit these will likely be taxed out of existence progressively.

Norway seems to be the only country I can recall, where politicians appear to have a proper understanding of EVs. However their economy is far from the norm. A high pay high tax structure with a substantial financial reserve built on oil/gas.
Totally agree that implementation needs to be practical and the politicians can screw up a 2 car funeral.
 
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