Ecocentric

It’s Not About the Range: How the Tesla/New York Times Controversy Misses the Point About Electric Cars

An electric car company accuses a venerable newspaper of faking a review of its flagship car. But both sides should realize that battery-powered vehicles need to a fill a different niche than gasoline cars.

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AFP/Getty Images

The Telsa Model S sedan, driven by company CEO Elon Musk

Over at Techland, Matt Peckham has a nice rundown on the ongoing feud between the electric car company Tesla and the New York Times. Short version: Times reporter John Broder took an East Coast road trip in a Tesla Model S sedan, driving between two fast-charging electric stations in Delaware and Connecticut. The idea—for Tesla, at least—was to prove that fast-charging stations can help alleviate the range anxiety associated with electric cars, allowing drivers to go long distances, just as they can with conventional gasoline-powered cars.

According to Broder, though, things didn’t quite work out that way. Broder’s Feb. 10 was nothing short of scathing, reporting that the Tesla Model S seemed to lose charge much faster than it should have, forcing him to drive slowly and turn down the heat despite the cold winter weather (which likely impacted the battery life of the car as well). In the end the car ran out of charge, forcing him to spend some of his journey in the cab of a flatbed tow truck on the way to another charging station. If the Times’ test drive had been meant to show that Tesla drivers no longer needed to worry about “range anxiety,” it was a total disaster.

But Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk didn’t take the article lying down. He accused Border of essentially faking the article, and promised to release data logs from the test drive that would prove it. You can find a Tesla post from Musk elaborating those claims here—essentially he argues that Broder purposefully ignored guidelines from Tesla staff in an effort to drive the car into the ground, all to support a story that would make Tesla and electric cars in general look bad. Musk noted that Broder had written earlier articles skeptical of the viability of electric cars, and suggested Broder was willing to bend the facts on his test drive to prove that he was right:

When the facts didn’t suit his opinion, he simply changed the facts. Our request of The New York Times is simple and fair: please investigate this article and determine the truth. You are a news organization where that principle is of paramount importance and what is at stake for sustainable transport is simply too important to the world to ignore.

The New York Times is doing just that—Broder tweeted that he was working on a point-by-point response to Musk’s own point-by-point critique. Meanwhile sides are already being taken on Twitter, mostly along the lines of what people believed about electric cars (and perhaps the mainstream media) in the first place. 


(MORE: Are Electric Cars Safe?)

Who’s right? Considering I don’t have access to the raw data from Tesla—which they have not yet released, despite calls to do so—and I wasn’t in the passenger seat with Broder during his test drive, I can’t really say. A post at the Atlantiby Rebecca Greenfield made what seems to be a pretty strong case that Tesla’s data doesn’t match its accusations of journalistic fraud. Her conclusion:

Not all of Musk’s data is entirely convincing and the parts that are don’t point to a malicious plot. In the end, it looks like Broder made some compromises to get from the Newark charging station to the Milford one, in both speed and temperature. Broder may not have used Musk’s car the way Musk would like, but Musk is, for now, overhyping his case for a breach of journalism ethics.

It’s also worth noting that the blog Jalopnik tracked down the tow truck company that picked up Broder’s Tesla, and they report—contra Musk’s own blog post—that the Tesla was essentially out of juice when the tow truck showed up. Though even that’s not as simple as it appears—a commenter at Jalopnik notes that the car might have still had some power, but that the battery powering the accessories and electronics seemed drained. When Broder shut down the car—not a surprising thing to do if it seemed to be out of juice—the parking brake locked and he was stuck.

I suspect this back and forth will continue going…back and forth for some time. But the argument over the details of exactly how Broder drove and what he wrote misses the larger point. Even if Tesla is mostly right that Broder didn’t operate his Tesla S for maximum efficiency, the reality is that electric cars—even ones that can supposedly get 300 miles to a charge—aren’t ready to drive long distances. The infrastructure that would support long-distance driving—rapid charging stations that are almost as common as gas stations—isn’t even close to being there. In a gasoline-powered world, it’s not reasonable today to expect an electric car to operate in the same way as a gasoline-powered car—just as it’s not reasonable for Tesla to expect drivers to change their behavior to fit a new technology. Broder made it clear to me at least in his review that he was trying to test out his Tesla S in real-world conditions—and real world drivers won’t always follow the rules to the letter. Think of all the work tech companies like Apple have put into making their gadgets essentially idiot-proof. Tesla doesn’t seem to be there yet.

(MORE: Energy: Why the U.S. Isn’t a Better Place)

And maybe it doesn’t have to be. Barring major leaps in either battery capacity or charging speed, electric cars will always lag behind gasoline-powered vehicles when it comes to long-distance travel. That’s because gasoline is, for all its negative environmental consequences, a really, really efficient way to store energy—much more so than an electric battery. It’s also much easier to store, and of course, we already have nearly a century’s worth of gas stations and other fueling infrastructure built up in the U.S.

But most of us don’t spend much of our time driving up and down the Eastern seaboard. (Which, if you have experienced the sclerotic, Sbarros-ridden wonder that is I-95, is something you should be very, very grateful for.) The average American drives about 37 miles a day—well within the range of electric cars that are much cheaper and less advanced than the Tesla S. All-electric cars will serve a different function than gasoline-powered vehicles. Shorter drives, brief commutes, urban travel—not long distances. And that’s where electrics can have an advantage over gas cars, especially if more cities follow New York’s example and create special parking spots for battery-powered cars. Electrics need to be thought of less as a “car”—because that promises performance it can’t always deliver—than a new and often more efficient way of getting from most of the point As and point Bs of our lives.

Of course, the Tesla S costs at least $50,000—and that’s with the $7,500 federal tax credit—which makes it a very expensive way to get from A to B. Especially if part of that trip is on the back of a flatbed truck.

(MORE: More on Rare Earths: Looking for a Way out From Under a Monopoly)

73 comments
TimeToStandUp
TimeToStandUp

Do any of you know about the NESEA 1996 Tour de Sol contest where the Solectria Sunrise EV got 375 miles per charge, the Ford EcoStar got 225, and the GM EV-1 got 125? This is real. The EV has been ready for a very long time,but the gas and oil conglomerates have been destroying or squelching anything that may threaten their money tree. They have a huge propaganda machine going and a huge lobbying effort going including buying of politicians.

TimeToStandUp
TimeToStandUp

What if the cars did not need hardly any outside charging ?

What if they had consistent trickle charging always going on ? What if they had:
1) PV built into the body providing consistent trickle charge anytime any light is present (i.e., thin film like the new one that uses ALL incoming light and has a +90% efficiency),2) permanent magnet DC high efficiency generators in the wheels so trickle charge also occurs every time the wheels move, 3) Ultra capacitors used in order to cut down on battery drawdowns during high power demand times such as initial acceleration (these can extend a battery charge up to 15 times when used with portable power tools), 4) low efficiency magnetic field inducing generators used in regenerative braking for recapture of some energy (or maybe try some flywheel technology, which I haven't seen used yet, the other items however are all ready to go), 5) Altairnano Nanosafe nano coated titanium dioxide batteries do not heat up, test up to 20,000 recharges, charge in 10 minutes,operate in extreme temperatures and can be stacked to provide extended ranges, and
6) High efficiency motors by UQM or Dyson. Such a car would rarely need to be "plugged in" to the grid. It would sell very well throughout the world, put more money back into the hands of the people because they would not have to be buying unneeded outside produced polluting energy, erasing much carbon presently being produced alleviating some of the climate change, change the geopolitical structures throughout the world, i.e., middle east, Iran, Venezuela, ETC., help alleviate the need for us to be spending such great sums of money and precious resources including military on the Middle East, cut down on polution and the attendant health problems and costs incurred by such. Yeah, I guess it makes too much sense and the greedy oil and gas barons and their lackeys in Congress, their lobbyists and their trolls cruising the internet won't allow it.

LaurenGlenn
LaurenGlenn

All I can say is that people still aren't seeing the bigger picture with electric cars..... if you can't dispose of batteries in junk yards due to environmental concerns, how much effort is it to recycle a battery or even if they become more mainstream, how will you do it on a mass scale?  Plus, I know that electric cars are cheap to fill up now, but wait until the governments lose all of that revenue from electric cars..... want to see the taxes go up on your electric car?  Power won't be too cheap then.

No one has taken to electric cars in mass and this is one reason why.  Here you have a company that didn't (as you properly put it) make the product idiot proof (for lack of a better term).  I write software and can tell you that people will try stupid things and you will need to fix the software.  People think that you should always design a software package the way they see fit and that you shouldn't plan for a contingency.  I deal with this every day.  If you give a product to a reputable newspaper for review, you might want to make sure that they can get it to work without set guidelines otherwise the product just isn't ready.  All this proves is that Tesla isn't ready for primetime.  This article has it spot-on. 

It doesn't matter if they followed the rules that Tesla put out.  They set up a challenge that required you to follow a set list of rules in a controlled experiment.  Even a layman who doesn't know how to review something will try to use it the way that THEY would use it.  If Tesla gives you set guidelines, then it's a controlled experiment and not an honest review.  They just want you to do exactly what they want so you'll give them the response that they want.  Good reviews need to be earned, not controlled.  Even if they redid the test to the letter of what you expected, it wouldn't be a honest test and no one should spend this amount of money on this vehicle if everyone at the company would just wash their hands of any problem by saying you didn't follow the rules to the letter.

ManuelRosa
ManuelRosa

I also had a dishonesty problem with Amy Harmon, NY Times reporter who wrote the article "Seeking Columbus’s Origins, With a Swab"http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10.... Half of the information in the article was provided by me and through me, yet not a single word was mentioned about her source nor about the 20 years I spent doing my research on Columbus. In the end I thought it was a simple oversight, but when I called her attention to this, she simply ignored my several emails and to this day has not acknowledged her usurping of my work on "COLÓN La Historia Nunca Contada" [COLUMBUS. The Untold Story] as the source for her article. Sooner or later these dishonest reporters shoot themselves in the foot and their integrity becomes crippled.http://goddesschess.blogspot.c...

lmf5000
lmf5000

Here's what I think. People place too much weight on what the media says. When I read a car review, I take it with a pinch of salt, because at finally it's only one person's opinion that matters: mine. That's why before I buy any car, I go on a test drive - and if necessary rent one for a week. If I was considering a Tesla Model S, I wouldn't take Broder's word for it, I'd rent one myself and see how it handles my actual commute in practice, and how much I like every other aspect of the car (maybe it has seats that are uncomfortable? Or pedals that make your legs cramp? Or there's an unbearable glare from the angle of the windscreen? Only YOU know what YOU need in a car).


People have to stop treating these journalists as the ultimate authority about anything. They're just human beings like everyone else, and they all have their personal opinions and biases.

LorinThwaits
LorinThwaits

How is gasoline an efficient way to store energy if we lose 70% of that energy upon using it?  Only about 30% of the energy in combustible fuel ever makes its ways to the tires.  And further it's a stretch to say it's a way to store energy since we only consume oil, we don't create it.

Meanwhile electric vehicles really do store energy, and their overhead is only about 10%.  In other words, 90% of the energy you put into an electric vehicle makes it to the wheels.  You can't get much more efficient than that.

RaffyInfra
RaffyInfra

@TIME "electric cars will ALWAYS lag behind gasolin-powered cars", also misses point. A new Mr Ford-like innovator is what we need! Imagine!

EVOwner
EVOwner

I have followed electric car developments for years, including the formation of Tesla. I recently bought an EV from a company called Think, which began its life as a division of Ford. It was divested, and has changed hands several times. Think recently went Chapter 11, and as a result I was able to get one of their cars (model "City") for 70% off list price. With the federal tax credit included, my net price was $8,500. A far cry from Tesla's net price ranging from $50,000 to $95,000.

Think claims a range of 100 miles, but is honest enough to tell you that the winter range will be closer to 70 miles. My cold-weather range is about 65 miles, but I'm in the Pacific Northwest where winters aren't as cold as in the East. Back there, I'd expect my car to get about 50 miles on a charge, the reason being that cold weather reduces the range of lithium-ion systems, plus the heater takes a lot of power. Tesla's claimed range at the top end is something like 275 miles, but in the conditions described by the New York Times writer, I think it'd be fortunate to achieve half that.

I read through the original article, Elan Musk's response, and the N.Y. Times writer's rebuttal, and wind up with a mixture of amusement and irritation toward Tesla. They did a data dump in response to the article, with most of the information being not material. Some of it was even misleading, such as Musk's denial that the car's battery had ever been fully discharged. That's undoubtedly true; any computer or cellphone will shut down before fully discharging a lithium-ion battery, and so will an electric car. You don't want such a battery to go truly to zero. Software is designed to shut off the device to conserve a little bit of charge for the battery.

Rather than get lost in specifics, I'll say a couple of general things. One is that Tesla's arrogance is typical of the computer companies of California that want to blame everything on user error. The other is that, if this is how that company's CEO will act when the spotlight is shining, could you imagine being an ordinary Tesla customer who's car didn't work as expected? You'd be buried in minutae, while the company slithered off the hook. What an end-user nightmare!

I'm a happy EV driver, but there are nits and nats. These cars are all in the early versions. The New York Times report was fair and factual in its material representations, while the company's response was arrogant and evasive. It ought to speak volumes to anyone considering a purchase of Tesla's products. Fortunately, even in bankruptcy, the Think car company is 180 degrees different than Tesla. They've stepped up to the plate and faced problems head on. I wish the government had given Think the hundreds of millions of dollars instead of Tesla, but I guess Think didn't have the same hype machine.

skippy
skippy

Electric cars are totally new and different vehicles comparing to gasoline based cars.  They shouldn't be tested or evaulated by a jounalist, such an amateur for this.  electric cars don't charge or refill like typical ones.  The drivers need to be educated for this. The report is just one opinion in one abnormal situation due to how it was handled.   Electric cards shouldn't be driven like any gasoline automobile.  It was wrong Tesla didn't properly set the right level of expectation before given it out for this test.  Time to do damage control.

iKronologizer
iKronologizer

Is it just me who wonders why we could ever expect another Time writer to not back up his fellow journalist on this?  The reality is that Media sells out to BIG OIL everyday and that's what I believe is taking place here. Just like with this simple fact of the Tesla on BBC's Top Gear. The reality is BBC makes their living off BP BIG OIL MONEY!

Sorry about that... but it's the truth and it's so obvious that's what took place here. I'm not saying John Broder took a bribe, I'm saying that Big Media just so happens to be in palm of Big Oil hands. That is way too obvious when you look at how BP has been soft gloved back into the Lime Light of Mr Good Guy Big Oil so soon after destroying the Gulf Coast. Where's all that money they promised to spend to make things right? Has anyone that was really affected by that Gulf Oil spill had their lives restored back to what it was before it happened? NO!!!! 

So we have an American company that's defying Big Oil Interests and making an electric car that actually works. It's not even a first.... and then we have (like with Top Gear) a Media Giant putting their Top Gasoline Automotive Reviewer taking one on a so called proof of concept and design of this marvelous feat of engineering leaving too many questions on how he run this test review. Not unlike the bogus BBC (BP sponsored) disparaging show on Tesla two years ago.  John Broder blames it all on the cold weather and Electric Cars not being able to compete with Gas Powered Automobile Industry. Now if that isn't an Opinionated Review of the Competition by a biased writer, I don't know what is!!!

ColinGilsenan
ColinGilsenan

@MotoringLifeMag @TIME The upside is the infernal combustion engine aint goin no where.

ezracolbert
ezracolbert

uh, even better would be to make private cars illegal; indeed, if you think personal private cars shold be allowed, you are not, by definition an environmentalist

which will occur more or less in the next 10 - 20 years; we simply have to many people on the planet for private cars

manuelmdr
manuelmdr

Bryan Walsh misses the point, this is about a journalist trying to push a narrative and a engineering company proving them wrong with hard data. There is nothing else to this story.  

zachary.shahan
zachary.shahan

Are you kidding me. The only point to take from this story is that someone (with an agenda) deliberately ran the car to dead. You can do that with any car you want. It's quite absurd to come to any other conclusion.

dklloyd
dklloyd

It seems that the future world of short-distance commuting could involve very small cars with a car-sharing system where u drive from point A to point B.On this scale,the chances are better for having the infrastructure to accomodate electric cars and other means besides large cars.

It is very impractical to impose large cars and heavyduty traffic on cities and small towns.They are for highways.

There are 2 different scenarios here-1)short trips in areas with high density and other means of transport e.g public transit and bikes and 2)long distance commuting.

There would be some overlap between the 2 scenarios in cities but we are way behind other developed countries in good quality public transit and support for bike commuting and other means.We are overly dependant on large cars and clogged up with traffic snarls and long highway commutes.

JKBullis
JKBullis

There are two real points about electric cars, but this article misses. 

Yes, they are too expensive, and the obvious implication is that they will not sell in large numbers.  But the important ramification of this is that they are not a meaningful course of action for our government to pursue, at least not yet.  Bribing people to buy (subsidizing) products that are not otherwise viable is bad policy, unless there is really an imminent good thing that would result.  Government financing of the company and assistance in tricking the stock market to also put up money through misrepresentation of the effect of the electric vehicle is also bad policy.  True, the conversation is usually about range, but the fake MPGE formula is bound to mislead some car buyers.

Rotosnitter
Rotosnitter

I agree for now gas cars are far superior. In about 10 years battery capacity may approach the energy density of gas. They still will have the same environmental impact as gas cars unless charged from nuclear or renewable sources.

mtngoatjoe
mtngoatjoe

I'd love an electric car for my commute (about 40 miles round trip). They just need to come down in price.

JPScoopZ
JPScoopZ

Information was released on the Tesla blog yesterday 


GodshuffledhisfeetAnovel
GodshuffledhisfeetAnovel

Tesla-Space X-and Elon Musk to save mankind!!Fun and fast paced new science fiction novel

A must read--God Shuffled His Feet—A Novel by Mark Ellenbogen

Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads.

Exciting fun novel with a humorous apocalyptic twist.  Elon Musk-Tesla and Space X help save mankind from total destruction!  Meet astronomers Ravi Najir and Sam Klein, two PHD doctoral students from Humboldt, California, about to have their world turned upside down----literally. The duo wins a $250,000 grant and a coveted year long viewing slot using the Hubble Space Telescope to observe the heavens. Little do they know that what they are about discover, will rock the Earth, their lives, and the heavens all at once!  

High in the far reaches of space, up where the Crab Nebula is supposed to be, a new solar system has formed and Klein and Najir are about to discover it.  Within minutes of accessing their chosen Hubble coordinates, two new celestial bodies are discovered where none existed before!! 

Dubbing their discovery the Master Kush Formation; the two unlikely heroes are quickly rocketed to fame and glory over night. A new sun and a fully habitable blue-green planet have taken the place of the Crab Nebula.  God plans to wipe the Earth clean and start over!!!

The clock is ticking and time is running out.  Only a few will make it.  The boys enlist the help of Elon Musk, Tesla and Space X to manage the technology and transport the saved.   Do you have what it takes?  Open up God Shuffled His Feet for the ride of your life!!  Peppered with interesting trivia, thoughtful humor and some suspenseful science fiction God Shuffled His Feet will entertain while provoking some thought in the process.

EVOwner
EVOwner

@TimeToStandUp There's lots of money to be made by selling EVs that work well. If there was ever any conspiracy against them, it's broken now.

LorinThwaits
LorinThwaits

@TimeToStandUp After adding safety equipment the vehicle is lots heavier, and then can only average around 150 MPGe.  But still, 150 is waaaaay better than the current pathetic fuel economy average, what about 26 mpg I think for 2012?  Ridiculous.  Electrics are so much better than what current vehicles can do.  Really no excuse for anyone to go bitching about the price of gasoline since there are much cheaper options available.

Watch what happens when gasoline hits $5 a gallon.  Could happen later this year during the busy summer driving season.  Maybe that will finally be the tipping point to cause people to consider electrics for what they are; a wonderful alternative to the ancient piston engine.

EVOwner
EVOwner

@TimeToStandUp As soon as any of those things prove out, they'll be incorporated. But I can tell you one thing: You are vastly overestimating the efficacy of photovoltaic technology in general, and of thin film in particular. I've studied the details, and putting them on the car itself will be little more than a fashion statement. EVs already have regen built in. Capacitors would be great, and I hope we'll see them someday.

As for the conspiracy stuff, I'm not buying it. If it was ever true, it's gone now. Power and range breakthroughs will make the inventors and financiers every bit as rich as the oil companies. Which, so you know, will still have plenty of markets for their product.

LorinThwaits
LorinThwaits

@TimeToStandUp OK let's get back down to earth here...  There is such a thing called wind resistance, and it steals an inordinate amount of energy for any vehicle going faster than about 30mph.  So let's just bank on needing lots of force to get cars in motion.  Ultracapacitors or coasting isn't going to help that part any.  Also a few measley square meters of PV on the roof and hood of a car is not going to help much with that.  Unless you only drive your car once a week or something.  For every 8 hours in the sun, which is all you can routinely expect in a day, you would gain about 5 miles of distance.  Note as well that extremely efficient PV cells reclaim only 20% of electricity.  We will still need a sizable battery, and it will need to be charged from outside sources.  That is fine though since current cars in production can get up to 300 miles per charge.

The big thing then is where can we get the electrons?  We need to think cleaner-burning and more politically stable sources.  Let's burn our own natural gas or use the vast unused energy from nuclear plants available during off-peak hours.  With that we have a very economical winning solution.  We will need to build more power plants if everyone gets an electric car.  But it will be much better for the environment overall compared to how inefficient unleaded and diesel are burned in an ICE.

High time for transportation to be revolutionized.  The potential for far lower pollution is in and of itself reason enough to pursue this.  Add to it enormous cost savings over time and electric vehicles are a total win-win scenario.

LorinThwaits
LorinThwaits

@LaurenGlenn The lithium batteries used in all current electric cars are not the same as the old lead acid batteries under everyone's hood these days that crank over your engine.  The material is easily recyclable.  And it's compelling to recycle it since the batteries are somewhat expensive.

John's review portrays many misleading ideas.  Tesla's software does give a fair representation about how many miles you have left in a charge.  Even in harsh conditions current battery tech does pretty well.  I'm personally more concerned about how high temperatures lower the overall lifespan of a pack.  Cold temperatures don't break things down nearly as fast as having an electric in Arizona or Nevada.  That's currently the bigger problem to solve, IMHO.

TimeToStandUp
TimeToStandUp

@RaffyInfra I encoruage you to read my two comments re: the NESEA Tour de Sol of 1996 and a recharging EV car.

jpwhitehome
jpwhitehome

@JKBullis The reason the Govt should invest in EV technology is to keep the US in the lead. If they 'let the market decide' and sit back, they will see other nations take the lead, and we will simply switch oil for batteries.

It is important to keep ahead of other nations to keep strategic interests such as energy and transportation within our borders.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@JKBullis Not to be too mean, but what you posted was essentially the same thing that was said of cars in the late 1890's and airplanes when they were first invented, and again of effectiveness of aerial naval bombardment in naval battles in the early 1920's - all of whihc despite several examples of the feasibility and effectiveness of each idea.

Just because something isn't exactly the way things work NOW doesn't mean they'll never be that way.  Every time a plane crashed in the early 1900's, papers printed about the death of aviation, the impracticality of flight and how it was safer to use the train.  Sometimes you just have to keep working at something to get it right.  Does that cost money?  Damn straight it does.

As for the fast-charging stations, and the subsidies, the point here is that new tech is ALWAYS more expensive than existing tech - until it's widely adopted.  Subsidies help make the price of a more expensive device more attractive to buy, thus speeding up the adoption of the new technology.  The same about the fast-charging stations.  More availability and less inconvenience helps drive adoption of the tech, all of which help lower prices and improve the tech as time goes on.

In these days of instant gratification, it's really annoying to see people casually dismissing extremely good ideas just because it hasn't been perfected and they lack the patience to wait until it is.

ljs035
ljs035

@JKBullis I think the important issue that you are overlooking with the government subsidization is that the goal is to eventually nail down the technology/infrastructure so that the average American can afford to purchase an electric vehicle. I do not know for sure, but I am guessing that a good portion of the cost of a Tesla goes towards building these fast charge stations. Once a network of these has been established, the cost of an electric vehicle, notably the Model S, will go down, and it will be more feasible for the population to begin to move into the electric vehicle department. 

I typically am not for government subsidies, but I do believe they have a purpose and this is a fairly good cause for one. 

zachary.shahan
zachary.shahan

@Rotosnitter 1- It's HIGHLY debatable that ICEs are better. I would contend with a book full of text and data that you are completely wrong.

2- EVs are already quite cheap for a ton of drivers: http://evobsession.com/comparing-electric-cars-to-gas-cars/

3- EVs are clearly greener pretty much everywhere. To make claims to the contrary is to immediately show that you're willing to ignore facts to support your opinion. 
http://cleantechnica.com/2012/04/18/electric-vehicles-greenhouse-gas-emissions-save-money/

n.k.h.73908513321516
n.k.h.73908513321516

The environmental impact is actually quite large.  It has nothing to do with total energy consumed by the vehicle.  Electrons are much easier to push around the country than molecules with nuclei (here by more than five magnitudes).  Transport of fuel is a huge part of the energy impact here.  Additionally, the method of energy production allows for far fewer contaminants per-watt-generated when centralised to a large power facility (further benefitted from the power savings of transport mentioned above).  This means far cheaper, more energy efficient, cleaner means of transportation.  That's the point.

JKBullis
JKBullis

@Rotosnitter You are right, except for the 10 years part, which you might revise when you consider how long it will really take for there to be reserve capacity that will enable nuclear or renewable sources to be the basis of marginal response.

There is really no control over where from electric energy comes.  The important thing is whether the impact of electric vehicle loading on the grid, as an aggregate, is responded to by coal usage, which it mostly is now.  This will continue to be the case as long as there is reserve capacity from coal generation sites, and there is no such reserve capacity from renewables or nuclear.

Nuclear sources, hydro sources, and renewable sources are absolutely tapped out as soon as they exist, regardless of the electric vehicle. 

PaulScott
PaulScott

@mtngoatjoe The first wave of used LEAFs and Volts are just now hitting the market. I'm selling used LEAFs for less than $20K and they are in perfect condition. Used EVs are essentially the same as new ones in terms of operation. They don't deterioate. The battery packs will last a good 8-10 years and replacement costs will be very cheap relative to gas costs over the same time frame.

Also, Nissan now has a new "S" model selling new for $28,800 before incentives. Here in CA, we have a $2,500 rebate to go with the $7,500 federal tax credit. That's affordable!

Heian
Heian

@EVOwner @TimeToStandUp A vast difference exists between "money to be made" and "money against it". Because money to be made wouldn't be made by oil companies, so why would that really matter?

TimeToStandUp
TimeToStandUp

@LorinThwaits @TimeToStandUp  All those EV's in the NESEA Tour de Sol of 1996 complied with ALL safety regulations and were fully licensed on the roads and freeways and highways, in fact the batteries they used then were much heavier than today's lithium ion batteries. So I don't see any intelligible sense in your comment, it is a non-sequiter.

TimeToStandUp
TimeToStandUp

@LorinThwaits Again, your remark that ultracapacitors will not aid in getting a vehicle in motion is dead wrong, as I mentioned within the text of my submission, ultracapcitors are used (have been used for a decade) to extend the charge of batteries on portable power tools for a return of almost 15 times longer than the batteries would last without. So that coupled with the other things I mentioned therein would extend the charge of the battery to such a degree that the trickle charging by various sources would most likely be sufficient for most city driving. You talk alot but don't say much and run down all good truly environmentally sensible solutions while promoting nuclear power and natural gas! It looks to me like that you and two others here are trolls.

LorinThwaits
LorinThwaits

@LaurenGlenn When you store anything in your house, do you expect 70% of it to go missing?

The great thing about electric vehicles is we can charge them with natural gas fired power plants -- which are much cleaner than most of what we're up to now.  Very much better than fighting wars in the Middle East in order to hope that we might have cheap oil.  Electrics + cleaner-burning natural gas is a great solution for now, and if we can get together enormous PV farms then perhaps even better in the future.

And the batteries very much CAN be recycled.  It's not a throwaway item.

TimeToStandUp
TimeToStandUp

@DeweySayenoff @JKBullis Check out my comments re: the NESEA 1996 Tour De Sol where the Solecria Sunrise got 375 miles per charge and my comment re: a self recharging car that alleviates the need for consistent outlet recharging, extending the range.

EVOwner
EVOwner

@zachary.shahan @Rotosnitter That spreadsheet you linked to in point #2 is bogus. It overstates EV miles per kWh by half; it overstates gas car maintenance costs; it uses a high-performace gas guzzler as the gas-car comparison, rather than a similar model; it omits the allocated cost of EV battery replacement.

EVOwner
EVOwner

@zachary.shahan @EVOwner @Rotosnitter Cutting the comparison off at eight years wouldn't "fix" anything. There are solid estimates of how much batteries will cost in the near future. If you are going to put gas car maintenance on one side of the equation and then ignore the biggest EV maintenance issue on the other side of the equation, you've made a bogus comparison.

I suspect you based your gas car maintenance number on AAA estimates. Those numbers are, in my view, overestimated. But if you want to use them, then you must remember that most gas cars carry four-year warranties covering many of those costs, and that for the costs not covered, EVs have at least some of the same costs, such as tire replacement and suspension maintenance.

As for miles/kWh, I track it directly on my own subcompact EV. Winter driving is giving me 2.25 miles per kWh. This will vary based on temperature, terrain, and driving style. Ar the end of the year, I'll have a better number. Tesla's Model S is the electric equivalent of a gas hog. The battery is 84 kWh. But Tesla tells its owners that a full charge will hurt the battery, so we can back that off to 76 kWh, and then subtract another 6 kWh for power held in reserve to avoid total discharge. 

This leaves 70 kWh of usable power. To get that into the car, you'll need to draw 87.5 kWh from the plug. This is because the external charging unit, the on-board charger, the battery itself, and the wiring between the battery and the engine all impose efficiency reductions. Consumer Reports just did a test of the Model S, and found a wintertime range of 176 miles on a standard charge, which would be 2 miles/kWh if my estimate of 87.5 kWh from the plug is correct. In similar conditions (relatively flat terrain, mostly highway speeds) my subcompact gets 2.7 miles/kWh, or 35% better "electron mileage" than Tesla's Model S.

You see, EVs are new enough that few people are thinking about fuel economy. But it stands to reason that a behemoth like the Model S, which weighs more than 4,000 pounds, won't get the same "electron mileage" as a subcompact like mine, which weighs 2,500 pounds. And my mileage is usually somewhat lower than other EVs because I live in hilly terrain. My gas car's mileage is about 20% lower in my neighborhood than it otherwise would be when driving on flat terrain.

Currently, my fuel cost per mile has averaged 5 cents a mile. This compares with 8.4 cents a mile for the equivalent gas car. That comparison omits taxes on each side. Where I live (Washington State), the tax on my EV is 3.3 cents a mile, compared to 1.6 cents a mile for the gas I'd be using in an equivalent ICE car. Oh, and you did not provide an apples-to-apples comparison of cars. You compared an electric Ford Focus to a high-performance gas-guzzling Focus sedan that gets 22 mpg. You should be comparing it to a different car, not the Focus ST. And you should be comparing fuel costs on an untaxed basis, because once EVs get more popular they will be paying road use taxes. WA State happens to be first in line, but others will follow.

Bottom line: I think electric powered cars are going to be an important part of the mix. But I don't think anyone gains anything by lying about any of it.

zachary.shahan
zachary.shahan

@EVOwner @zachary.shahan @Rotosnitter EV miles per kWh is based on the standard I've found for that. Unfortunately, I didn't link to sources, but could easily pull them up. But if you think you've got a better estimate/source, shoot me a link.

Again, the maintenance costs came from a standard assumption from  source I found trustworthy.

The gas car it is compared to is the most similar car to the EV model. 

It does omit the cost of battery replacement, but simply cut the comparison off at 8 years to fix that. No one has any idea what batteries will cost in 8 years, so there's no good estimate to put in there.