Who Killed The Electric Car?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Heather LouAnna, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. Heather LouAnna

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  2. dongalong

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    :flowers1: :240: :arms:
    Yeah Heather, I'm glad to see that there are some ecowarriors in the USA.

    I think that within 10 years we will start seeing affordable practical cars with very little pollution. In 20 years all new cars will be zero emission.

    Car companies need to sell cars to survive and the problem with the electric cars of 10 years ago is that they couldn't compete with gasoline/diesel vehicles in terms of price - electric technology was way too expensive, range - their range on a full charge was a fraction of hydrocarbon fuel powered vehicles', practicality - it takes at least a few hours to charge an electric vehicle compared to a few minutes to fill up a fuel powered car. Electric cars are only truly green if the electricity was generated by non polluting power stations.

    Short term, we can expect to see highly efficient diesel engines, with particle filters, gasoline/electric hybrids, non hydrocarbon fuels such as bio-diesel refined from rape seed oil and ethanol made from sugar cane - these all use the tried and tested internal combustion engine.
    Car companies need to sell reliable cars and prefer to invest lots of money on known technology.

    Long term, car manufacturers are trying to develop ways to effectively store and use hydrogen - this is the ultimate fuel because it burns with zero emissons (apart from water vapour) but because of its explosive nature, it is difficult to store, one way to make use of it is with fuel cells powering electric motors.

    New inventions like that water powered car always make the car company's bean counters afraid, many millions of dollars need to be spent to develop and mass produce reliable engines so it seems like too much of a risk to spend the money considering that most big car companies these days aren't the most profitable businesses.

    As for the Hummer, it is it's toxic powertrain that makes it seem so evil, people would be proud to own a hydrogen powered Hummer I think.

    I just hope that we don't suffocate before the car companies start to sell affordable, practical and cheap zero emisson cars.

    Not depending on fossil fuels will make a lot of oil producing nations poorer, I'd be interested to know what the governments of the car producing countries could really do to help make cars greener and how much the oil company lobbies influence the governments' policies on ecological issues.
     
  3. Heather LouAnna

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    It's nothing to do with that. It's the fact that an old company snuffed out the industry of a newer and better one that could have a monopoly over them. It's nothing to do with ecology for me.
     
  4. Shelby

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  5. BuddyBoy

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    Yeah, the tesla is a treat - I just read about it in Wired. I think electric is a good way to go in part because of the technical adaptability to hydrogen fuel cells when they become available. Not to mention possible solar trickle charging, and perhaps even solar chargers at parking spots.

    From a gloabl warming and clean power perspective, I'm personally pro-nuclear, through I prefer Canada's CanDu reactor which uses unenriched uramium and heavy water cooling. If the cooling level were ever to drop, the reactor shuts down because it cannot acheive even partial criticality without the neutron rich coolant.

    Nuclear is far from perfect, but I'd rather live downwind of a nuke plant rather than a coal fired plant. Just my viewpoint.
     
  6. dongalong

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    :mad: Shame there aren't more ecowarriors in the US, :confused: the world would be so much cleaner if they had more influence.

    I think that in a competitve world I'm not surprised they did everything to protect themselves and their profits aswell as the thousands of jobs that would be at risk.
    The GM Impact electric car was a very expensive 2 seater with limited autonomy. There weren't enough customers who were willing to live with its limitations, which didn't make good business sense. Most Americans seem to prefer driving 4x4s or big pick-ups, so it isn't surprisng that GM created the Hummers to fill this demand.

    The market is changing due to high fuel prices, and fuel efficiency is becoming more important for customers so until the new hydrogen and electric technologies achieve the same performance and practicality, I believe that more smaller cars will be sold in the near future.

    GM are developing fuel cell cars that use hydrogen so they haven't forgotten about ecological vehicles, these technologies are already getting catching up in prototype form so when they can find ways of producing them cheaply, we will all be driving them.

    People will be able to buy a Hummer free of guilt!
     
  7. Dr Rock

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    who lives in the east 'neath the willow tree? Sex
    this is nothing new, folks. ideas and even technology to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels have been systematically bludgeoned to death by the oil monopoly since the 1930s. these are just the latest in a long line of promising, soon-to-be-silenced concepts.
     
  8. jakeatolla

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    over 25 years ago an inventor in Florida developed a way
    for his diesel RAbbit to run on used cooking oil.
    He even pattented the technology. But why are
    just strating to see bio diesel now ?
     
  9. radicaldick

    radicaldick New Member

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    agreed. and americans love their powerful, polluting gas guzzlers.
     
  10. JustAsking

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    Heather,
    There are three things that make me as mad as you seem to be about this stuff.

    1) The kind of stupid short-sighted business decisions that companies like GM make all the time. The Electric Car was the victim of simple business shortsightedness and that is a crime. Its no worse than most of the other short-sighted business decisions that have driven them into almost bankruptcy now. The sad thing ,though is that GM was just pandering to the public's desires. They made SUVs because that is what people wanted to buy. The shortsightedness is not looking far enough ahead to see what the end game is.

    2) On top of #1, is a complete and blatant disregard for the environment that a company like GM could have. Uh Duh, lets make tons of big SUVs as if oil and the atmosphere will live for ever.

    3) This one is very different, though. As much as I hate the first two, I hate junk science just as much. Your electric car topic is victim of the first two, but the HHO gas guy is pure junk science. Basically a scam. This same con gets played about every 20 years or so. It seems people forget about the last time. Here is the same story from 1989. Patents, gov't tests, lone inventor in a garage, secret hydrolysis formula, a car that ran from coast to coast on a quart of water, and even a movie. He ultimately ended up in jail, where he belonged.

    The big question is when do you know when something is actually legitimate? Its a subject all its own. I bet we will see a lot of this as gas prices go higher, just as we did the last time gas prices went up or the supply was scarce.

    I don't mean to be critical of your two interesting findings. The first one is definitely a tragedy and we all should be very angry about that. There is no controversy over the viability of an electric car. People have been building them even in their own garages for at least 30 years. The big problem is where to store the electricity. Batteries are very heavy, expensive, and can be a maintenance problem. But those are the kinds of practical problems that can be solved with just a lot of hard work at a company the size of GM. It doesn't require entire new discoveries like the HHO con man is claiming. If GM wanted to pursue that direction, they could probably have solved the battery or fuel cell problem well enough to make an urban electric vehicle a very practical reality.
     
  11. JustAsking

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  12. Heather LouAnna

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    If I could, I wouldn't drive a car. :T I'd have a moped or just ride my bike around, if I lived downtown that is.

    It's crazy that cigarette and gas companies have been around forever. They've aided in government interests and so when another product comes along that can topple that relationship, it's not within the government's interest to shift priorities. Granted, they will eventually. It's just such a long process because the individuals involved don't want to upset their status quo and gamble on another product that may not produce the same cash flow.

    Angst.
     
  13. JustAsking

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    The buying public is a powerful influence on what an automaker will invest in producing. We, collectively, share as much the blame as the auto companies.

    The other culprit is the stock market. In America, big business gets its capital to invest in new products from the stock market. And investors want good profitability and growth to show up every quarter of the year, or they will sell the stock and buy something else. So American big business serves a very fickle and short-sighted master. Unless they are truly great companies they cannot even afford to take the long view nor can they take any risks.

    In Japan, big business gets its capital to invest from banks in which the average Japanese deposits some 30% of their income (as opposed to almost none in America). So a company like Toyota can form a very long term relationship with their banks and plan long term strategies such as Hybrid Cars. Its ok if they lose money for a few years on Hybrid Cars because they and the banks know it will pay off in the long haul. But American investors don't have that kind of patience and vision. Lose money on something and everyone sells your stock and goes somewhere else.

    So I blame three culprits.

    1) The shortsighted businessmen who run big corporations.
    2) The clueless and selfish buying public whom they serve.
    3) The dependence on shortsighted investors for capital.

    Notice where the next electric car will come from.

    Oh yeah, I share your disgust of Humvees. The icon of pigginess.
     
  14. Mr. Snakey

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    Al Gore! Right before he invented the internet and blew a whole in the ozone with his bad breath
     
  15. davidjh7

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    The electric vehicle of the 90's died, not by conspiricy, but by economics and a lazy public. People didn;t want the slight inconveinience of an all electric car--they didn;t want to drive less than 30 miles between charges. The wanted to drive alot faster than 40 miles an hour (you can go faster, just for s shorter period of time). Electric vehicles cost too much, so most people didn;t buy them. Technology has changed, and improvements have been made. But the technology is still expensive, and most people are still too friggin' lazy and impatient to accept what the present technology can provide. That being said, there is a huge potential for alot of improvements. The Lithium-ion batteries, for instance, have the highest energy density/weight of a largely produced battery technology, but they are damned expensive. FInding a parking place with a plug in is still pretty hard. Charging technology has improved, as the battery technology has as well, with smarer chargers that "ride" the charge to force as much energy into the battery in as short a time possible without blowing up the battery, but it still takes longer than 10 minutes. I'm not saying that the oil companies and GM and their ilk are guiltless--far from it---they have a huge interest in mantaning the status quo. They want to produce bug SUV's because their profit margin on them is much larger than on a smaller more fuel efficient car. Greed, by both companies and the public are the main driving forces here. And the HHO gas stupidity is just another perpetual motion dream--"The electrolyzer is driven from the battery and alternator, to get the gas, which is then fed back in here..." Feh. Breaking water apart takes energy. Alot of energy. THe energy you get back from recombining it through burning hydrogen with oxygen is considerably LESS, by a huge freaking margin, than the energy it takes to break it apart. Then you add the inherent low efficiencies of a heat engine, like the internal combustion engine, and the numbers get even worse. Hell, once upon a time Brown's gas was the big new hidden secret fuel that was going to save the world....Snake oil is snake oil, boys and girls. There IS no free lunch! Eventually, we will have alot more alternate fuel cars, because when gas is $10 a gallon, those fuels and technologies start becoming economically viable. Until then, they will be a boutique technology. Hybrids are reasonably popular, because while they only reduce LOCAL pollution a slight amount, they really aren't all that more efficient than a regular car. They are as convienient, but allow people to be smug about drivng them. Now, building/buying and driving an electric car is making a REAL commitment, because you have to put up with the downside. Complain all you want, but until you are willing to put your money, and your lazy butts, where your mouth is, don;t go crying conspiracy at every turn. Science isn;t perfect, and you don;t get something for nothing. Everytime energy is exchanged, something gets lost--it's called entropy. THe exchange of energy contributes to the heat death of the universe, when eventually everything will be a nice toasty 3 degrees Kelvin.
     
  16. findfirefox

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  17. Heather LouAnna

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    coooooooooool :) Thanks.

    *edit*

    LOL That was awesome.
     
  18. steve2727

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  19. Expando1

    Expando1 New Member

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    Yah the death of the electric car really pissed me off and I was so disappointed at the same time. The only reason GM made it was because California passed a statute requiring them to do so, then they lobbied hard and got it revoked. As soon as it was revoked all the cars were recalled and destroyed at a scrapyard in Arizona. The thing that upset me was that they didn't make any attempt to advertise the car...i mean, come on, when was the last time you watched TV or opened a newpaper without being overwhelmed by car adverts.

    For the time the cars were on the streets they had an amazing reliability record with one owner reporting only a failed blinker. Electric cars simply do not have that many moving parts and are not subject to the stress, impact, and torque forces as are combustion engines. The fall out from the success of the electric car was potentially huge including collapse of big oil and collapse of the autoparts industry. I understand why GM killed the electric car, I'm just disappointed anyway.
     
  20. Heather LouAnna

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    *sits by you* I love a man that's articulated. *bats lashes* :biggrin1:
     
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