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Transportation Power Technology

6 Major Pre-Production Electric Vehicles Compared 486

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the shocking-advancements-in-automobiles dept.
rbgrn writes with a review of six major pre-production electric vehicles. The review offers an easy side-by-side comparison of these six cars with projected release dates of either 2008 or 2010. "With all of the hype surrounding hybrid vehicles today, I thought I'd do some research and post my findings on the next generation of fully electric and plug-in hybrids. The fully-electric EV has had a bad name in the past, mostly due to insufficient battery technology, politics, lack of performance models and other factors. Starting this year with the Tesla Roadster, the EV is going to take on a new form in the eyes of John Q Public. Quiet, efficient EVs will start to become commonplace in the next few years as major manufacturers go into production with the newest generation of vehicle sporting more powerful motors, efficient generators and the latest battery technology."
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6 Major Pre-Production Electric Vehicles Compared

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  • by MarkGriz (520778) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @02:46PM (#21438165)
    Must be running their servers off that "insufficient battery technology"
    • Mirror (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bananatree3 (872975)
      The Coral Cache of the page is slow as heck [nyud.net], but here is a copy of the page:

      By Robert Green on November 19, 2007 1:53 PM | Permalink | TrackBacks (0)


      With all of the hype surrounding hybrid vehicles today, I thought I'd do some research and post my findings on the next generation of fully electric and plug-in hybrids. The fully-electric EV has had a bad name in the past, mostly due to insufficient battery technology, politics, lack of performance models and other factors. Starting this year with the Tesla

  • My fear (Score:2, Insightful)

    It's only going to take one vehicle fire involving lithium ion batteries and then the public will sour on the whole thing for years.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ShawnCplus (1083617)
      As long as it's not called the EV Pinto we'll be fine.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FrankSchwab (675585)
      It sure stopped them from buying laptops and IPods, didn't it?
      • Was the market already flooded with laptops and ipods that run on internal combustion engines?

        Apples and oranges.
      • by PortHaven (242123)
        Were any of those people "inside" their laptops & iPods when they exploded?

        Um....I think not!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PortHaven (242123)
          Troll...bah...

          The trolls are the !@#$% idiots who watch the movie "Who Killed the Electric Car" and than damn GM without having a real clue. I keep hearing people criticize GM for not releasing a car with our present LiIon battery tech.

          But the truth is, said technology in it's current form is not very safe. Especially if you are enclosed in the said technology rather than just wearing it.

          Say GM were to sell 20,000 vehicles. Then a few cars have their LiIon batteries ignite and people die. Can you imagine th
    • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @03:00PM (#21438371) Homepage Journal
      Amusingly, it seems like there is a car or van on fire in my county probably every day - some days there are up to 10 car fires.

      You can live in Fear.

      Or you can be a proud patriotic American and refuse to live in Fear.

      Those are the choices.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by orasio (188021)

        Amusingly, it seems like there is a car or van on fire in my county probably every day - some days there are up to 10 car fires.

        You can live in Fear.

        Or you can be a proud patriotic American and refuse to live in Fear.

        Those are the choices.
        In related news, the population of Fear Town is constantly diminishing for no aparent reason.
    • Re:My fear (Score:5, Funny)

      by TnkMkr (666446) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @03:14PM (#21438561)
      Yes because a 15 gallon tank filled with gasoline is as safe as kittens.

      Doesn't matter if you store energy in batteries or in combustable liquides, when a fuel cell full of stored energy is released in an uncontrolled manner, it will always suck.
      • Yes because a 15 gallon tank filled with gasoline is as safe as kittens.

        Doesn't matter if you store energy in batteries or in combustable liquides, when a fuel cell full of stored energy is released in an uncontrolled manner, it will always suck.


        You say this like you expect the public reaction to be rational. One death in a LiIon fire and the batteries will be banned.

        Chris Mattern
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by suggsjc (726146)
        There are so many things to work with here.

        First, I could go any number of ways with the kittens. There is the obvious humor of when kittens aren't safe [myspace.com] Or you could take another approach and kinda reverse what you said...but what about kittens strapped to 15 gallon gas tanks or even what about kittens with frickin laser beams?

        The other thing is that I can belittle your comment about the obvious contradictory logic of "combustable liquids" "sucking."

        Either way, I think you totally missed the point a
    • Re:My fear (Score:5, Insightful)

      by houstonbofh (602064) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @03:15PM (#21438571)
      It's only going to take one vehicle fire involving lithium ion batteries and then the public will sour on the whole thing for years.

      Because of course, gasoline is non-flammable. Actually, for a while there was no official method to fight a car fire in a hybrid or electric vehicle, or to cut one open in a major accident. That was solved a few year ago when people started seeing all those Toyotas... Now it is just like any other car... The most dangerous part is the loose nut behind the wheel.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Responding to my own message above as it apparently was ambiguous.

      Just to clarify my personal view here...I'm not afraid of vehicles fire in an EV, I'm afraid of how public opinion of EV's might unfairly change after one well-publicized EV fire.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CambodiaSam (1153015)
      As my username might suggest, I actually do get out to Cambodia once a year. There's a big stigma there with Propane cars. Apparently you can retrofit a standard car to run on propane, but there have been some instances of cars exploding in gigantic fireballs that have soured most people on the concept. This is in a place where landmines are still a threat, so people tend to be rather cautious in general. Even with high gas prices they still won't do it, and there a $1 a liter can be the difference between
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Squalish (542159)
      I don't know about mainstream lithium ion safety, but the nanolithium set - comprised of A123, Altairnano, and a few others, are claiming (and backing it up with videos of, say, nails being driven into their products) to be quite safe, in addition to having remarkably high power, being safe for full discharge, and fast-charging.

      That's why one of the big vehicles that got overlooked in TFA, the Venture One [flytheroad.com], decided to go with them. It's an evolution of the dutch Carver [wikipedia.org], but as a slightly larger serial hy
  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @02:48PM (#21438193) Homepage Journal
    But a purchase price of $30,000 for a hybrid (which you'll need if you plan to drive it more than 120 miles round trip without a recharge), no cargo space, and room for only one passenger makes this an extremely limited option. TFA's right, the Volt, provided they can keep the price UNDER $30K, will be by far the most attractive option. As a small car, I'd like to see the Volt priced under $20K, actually, but I'm sure it's only a pipe dream at this point, given what 1st gen hybrids like the Prius are going for.
    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      "But a purchase price of $30,000 for a hybrid..."

      Isn't $30K about the avg price of an avg. car now? Not sure what you're bitching about....$30K isn't outrageous for a new car these days.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        $30K isn't outrageous for a new car these days.

        It is for something with the size and utility of an economy car. Those go for $15k or less. Doubling the price for "green" is outrageous.
      • by mcmonkey (96054)
        I think issue was not price, but "no cargo space, and room for only one passenger" at that price.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TomorrowPlusX (571956)
      Series-hybrids like the Volt are also appealing to city folk like me, who don't have a garage to recharge a pure electric car in.

      As much as I'd love for my next car to be pure electric, I also love living in the city. I'm not rich, and can't afford a place with a garage or some other dedicated parking, so gas ( or some other combustible ) is it for the time being. Of course, in 50 years I'm hoping that municipal charging stations and super-efficient solar panels ( on the roof of the car ) may alleviate this
    • Most PHEV (plug in electric hybrid) installs put the extended range battery pack in the spare tire wheel well, using little extra cabin space.

      http://www.calcars.org/ [calcars.org]

  • by Walpurgiss (723989) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @02:50PM (#21438221)
    With all these electric only cars on the horizon, what will hollywood use to explain the ease of exploding cars? Not that gasoline is so spontaneously explosive as they'd have people believe, but I'd imagine Li-Ion batteries would be even less so.

    How will they sell movie tickets if everyone becomes aware that cars wont explode from a couple bullets?
    • No problem. They'll just make them spark and short out like they did in Demolition Man when Wesley Snipes stuck the glow rod into police car.
    • by crymeph0 (682581)

      Are you kidding? With all the exploding laptop batteries lately, people are going to snort at how unrealistic an electric car that doesn't explode is!

      X: Hey did you see Electric Death (perpetual copyright 2020)?
      Y: Yeah, but I had trouble suspending disbelief when the electric car drove over that little bump and didn't burst into a flaming ball of death.
      X: I know, those Hollywood guys think you'll believe anything.
      A nearby Li-Ion laptop explodes, burning X and Y beyond recognition.

  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @02:54PM (#21438275)

    Yay! Let's all buy fully-electric cars! Together we can take the power grid down!

    • The expectation is that most electric cars would recharge overnight when there is plenty of spare capacity. Obviously there is a tipping point where there would be too many cars for the grid to support, but we're a long way from that.
      • by Thagg (9904)
        Yeah, not only would the charge at night, but one could also sell power back to the utility during the day if necessary, at higher prices than the buy it at night. Then the fleet of electric vehicles could really make a huge impact in leveling the load on the electic power system.
    • by guruevi (827432)
      Well, then the supplier company needs to invest in extending it's capacity just like internet providers need to upgrade their bandwidth. To massively extend capacity using relatively little space, we'll need more nuclear sites instead of coal/oil/gas burning electricity generators which need lots of space and supporting infrastructure and generate not very much power in comparison. After all, we're all getting massively charged for a little bit of electricity (pun not intended) while generation itself doesn
  • Google cache (Score:4, Informative)

    by ocdude (932504) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @03:11PM (#21438523)
    The site was slashdotted, so here's the google cache [209.85.173.104]
  • Check it out at their site [vectric.com]. They were showing these vehicles, and giving rides, at the recent AltCar fair here in Santa Monica. The machines are built in Poland and assembled in Rhode Island, and give every appearance of being extremely high quality, rugged machines. They are so-called maxi-scooters, and are very substantial machines, about the size of a Harley and not a Vespa.

    And, at $11,000 or so, are not ridiculously expensive. I am seriously considering buying one when they open their LA showroom,
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Thagg (9904)
      so sorry! the link was wrong. Its here [vectrix.com]. I'll check the links in the preview page next time!
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @03:25PM (#21438767) Homepage Journal
    It's amazing how hyped up all these new technologies are, and yet in the long run the best way to save energy is behavioral modification, not necessarily technological innovation(though that isn't bad either). It's amazing how many people in the states still refuse to do this little thing called carpool. 6 people in a gas guzzling SUV is still more efficient than if they all took their own Priuses(or however you make that plural). Not to mention the fact that in the US, something like over 80% of all car trips are less than 2 miles and yet bikers are looked down upon as if they are worthless pieces of trash(and respected accordingly). It still seems that in the states if you aren't driving, you are defective and your life isn't worth the effort of giving you your legal space on the road.

    Not to mention technologies like motor scooters that can get over 100 miles/gallon(depending on how you drive them) that many people refuse to use, probably for the same reason as noted above. Conservation is still the best form of alternative energy, and yet I wonder how long it is going to take before Americans realize that!
  • Looking back at my sometimes mis-spent youth I'm wondering how long it will take for someone to start selling performance enhancements for these new fangled electric cars.

    What's the Prius equivalent to a Holley Double Pumper [holley.com] or headers [hedman.com] and glass pack mufflers? [flopro.com]
  • The EV1 was only a failure in GM's eyes, no one else's. 120 miles on a charge isn't a bad thing and better batteries are available now than were 10 years ago. Last I looked, the Tesla came in at under $100k, which is still not quite the price point most people can handle. (It could be worse, of course, this could be a Venturi Fetish, at $660k. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2004/10/venturi_fetish.php [treehugger.com] )

    I want my electric car and I want it noooooow, is that too much to ask?
  • My current commute is entirely practical to do with an electric car now. The only issue is availability of a charging point in my apartment building's garage. Here in B.C. most of our electricity comes from hydro power, so I'm not overly concerned about greenhouse gases.

    The Vancouver public transit [translink.bc.ca] system has one of the larger fleets of electric trolley buses in North America. Assuming they pay more or less what I pay for electricity (they'll get a better bulk/industrial rate, but have distribution costs

  • http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119532412570596991.html [wsj.com]
    "Sen. Clinton's Push to Double Autos' Average Fuel Economy Is Possible but Complicated"
  • How effective would it be to use only magnets for attitude control? A satellite in LEO has to rotate 360 degrees in about 90 minutes, so I'm wondering how that will work without momentum wheels and thrusters.
  • If you really want to make a dent on the market and attract the most number of buyers, the price will need to be down to $10,000, the price of a Hyundai Accent. While the extra technology of making a car a hybrid may justify the increase in cost (Civic vs. Civic Hybrid), someone is going to get out a calculator and figure out how many miles of driving it will take to have saved the different in gas cost...and not find the price to be worth it.

    I am the average car buyer who makes a middle class wage. I hav
  • by Belgand (14099) <belgand AT planetfortress DOT com> on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @05:20PM (#21440247) Homepage
    One of the problems I've noticed with electrics is that they don't seem well-suited, ironically, to urban drivers in many cases. In many cases if you live in the city you rent and you park on the street (and, in my case, my neighbors with houses and garages even park on the street and fill their garages with crap). If you don't have a garage to house the car in at night and thus, easy access to recharge it this is going to be a serious problem. Prices for commercial charging are likely to be vastly higher than charging it yourself at home and with the short power life it would seem to be necessary to charge on an almost daily basis.

    Likewise, the stated mileage doesn't sound like it takes into account things like being stuck on the freeway for hours while your engine is still idling and consuming power or being stuck in downtown traffic so, while you're unlikely to be driving your full range daily, it seems just as likely that with greater urban congestion you'll be running through a lot of power while you don't manage to actually go very far making the need for frequent recharging necessary.

    Likely solutions will arise, but problems seem to be significant (what about jackasses just unplugging your car if it's somehow charging on the street?) regardless. It's a shame too because the urban environment is the ideal place for an electric car where it would help reduce both air and noise pollution and where trips are generally much shorter and infrequent. I can really see a car share program being able to make excellent use of electrics, but that's about it.
    • by jafiwam (310805) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @06:04PM (#21440799) Homepage Journal
      Likewise, the stated mileage doesn't sound like it takes into account things like being stuck on the freeway for hours while your engine is still idling and consuming power or being stuck in downtown traffic so, while you're unlikely to be driving your full range daily, it seems just as likely that with greater urban congestion you'll be running through a lot of power while you don't manage to actually go very far making the need for frequent recharging necessary.

      Care to explain which model of electric motor uses power when it is stopped?

      I sure hope they don't start selling those in hard drives or my laptop battery time is going to suck!
  • parasitic loads (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iron spartan (1192553) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @06:20PM (#21440977)
    First generation hybrids are hyped a little too much for me. While they do improve on "in town" and stop and go mileage, their combined hi way and city mileage isn't all that impressive when compared with other economy vehicles. Right now, for single passenger commuting, motorcycles and scooters rein supreme in the mileage game. I really like the idea of the Volt and other plug in hybrids. The engine powers a generator, which drives an electric motor. This is actually a proven technology as it has been used to power freight trains for a few decades. My largest problems with Electric Only vehicles is the huge load that is needed to run things like climate control. I don't know about you, but many of us live in areas where we need heat for at least part of the year. A/C is an even larger drain. How far can a car that can drive 300 miles on a full charge make it when its below freezing and a heater needs to going full blast just to stay comfortable? How much do things like loads from radios and GPS systems and other electronic devices that we use on a daily basis shorten the range? My other problem with EO vehicles is the recharge time. I mostly drive 20 miles one way, but do go on long road trips. I hate the hassle of flying. I've driven coast to coast before, sometimes going 18 hours or more at a stretch. Having to be stopped for longer than I would be driving really limits the appeal of an EO vehicle.
    • Re:parasitic loads (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Fzz (153115) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @07:49PM (#21441947)
      With a gasoline-powered car, how much worse does your fuel consumption get when you turn on the A/C? Well, an electric car requires a similar amount of energy to move it to a gas-powered car. So, to a first approximation, your electric car range will be reduced by a similar fraction to the reduction in range you get with a gas-powered car when you switch on the A/C.

      Heating is perhaps more of an issue, because waste heat on a gas-powered car is similar to the usable power output, so you've got a lot of heat spare. But assuming you use a heat-pump to do the heating, and pump waste heat from the electric motors and battery packs, then likely it won't be much different from the A/C problem. We're talking about vehicles in the 40KW continuous power output range (peak of 100KW). Assume you get 90% efficiency (which would be pretty good), then you've still got 4KW of waste heat in the motors and batteries. If you can capture say half of that using a heat-pump, you can still be toasty-warm.

      Summary: not completely negligible, but probably only a few percent difference to the range.

  • by suggsjc (726146) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @06:34PM (#21441167) Homepage
    Why did they not mention the V1 from Venture Vehicles? Here [flytheroad.com] is the latest update from them that has some of the sketches of their design proposals. They are still targeting a 2009Q2 release (I hope they hit it), which is before 4 of the 6 vehicles listed.

    It could just be me as that is about the only electric vehicle that I follow or care about, but I have a sneaking suspicion that TFA didn't do as much homework as they should have (I know, I know...and no I'm not new here, relatively speaking).
  • What, (Score:3, Interesting)

    by robi2106 (464558) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @08:09PM (#21442125) Homepage Journal
    What, No Tango from Commuter Cars? [commutercars.com] That is the one I'm looking for. I've got no room in my garage for my car (bicycle stuff and other crap) and the Tango is just what i need for small commuting (98% of my driving).

    Heh, of course if I had a Tango I would bicycle to work less......
  • Electric Vehicles (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @08:38PM (#21442383)
    I travel to work everyday on an electrically powered vehicle. It's called a tram, or a streetcar if you're of the American persuasion. 100 or so passengers travelling on a zero (local) emissions vehicle which takes up the same space as about, oh, 100 cars and the cost to the passenger is next to nothing.

    The problem with cars in our cities is not that they run on petrol, gas, diesel or supergreen pie-in-the-sky imaginary fuel, it's that there are cars in our cities. Sure, if you live in the remote wilderness I might understand the need for wheels, but most of us live in urban areas or within commuting distances of them. Cars are a horribly inefficient and outdated mode of transportation, not just with energy but with space and the social ramifications that poor land usage entails.

    Sure, the car was a good alternative to horses and given a choice I'd rather step in tarmac than horseshit, but that's about the only advantage the car has bought as far as I can see. It's time to remodel and redesign our cities. Higher density and better public transport. Nothing new about it, that's how cities like Paris, London and New York grew so big in the first place. Or you could look at the alternative, LA. I know where I'd rather live.

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