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Test Driving the Tesla Roadster 665

Posted by samzenpus
from the 1.21-gigawatts dept.
stacybro writes "Wired has an article about the Tesla Roadster. It is similar to other electric cars that we have seen in that the electric engine's serious torque will allow it to do 0-60mph in about 3 seconds. Part of what is different about this is that they are using over 6,831 laptop-type lithium-ion batteries. They are claiming the range is about 250 miles. As the battery tech for laptops improves, so will the range of these cars. The car will run about $80,000, which is about par for an exotic two-seater. So who is doing the poll on which tech CEO will be seen driving one first? My guess is one of the Google or E-Bay guys, since they are investors. It is nice to see more companies serious about helping to getting rid of our oil dependency. It is odd that the big car companies aren't more on this track!"
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Test Driving the Tesla Roadster

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  • by hotsauce (514237) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @09:38PM (#15747345)
    It is nice to see more companies serious about helping to getting rid of our oil dependency.

    Now all we have to do is get rid of our electronics, consumer products and innovations dependencies, and we can tell the rest of the world to take a hike!

    If only all countries could have such a lack of inter-relatedness with their neighbors, imagine what a beautiful world it would be...
    • by Donniedarkness (895066) <Donniedarkness&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @09:41PM (#15747361) Homepage
      I consider our reliance on oil much more "evil" than our reliance on electronics. PDA's aren't killing the earth quite as fast as cars are ^_^
      • by rainman_bc (735332) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @09:49PM (#15747391)
        I consider our reliance on oil much more "evil" than our reliance on electronics. PDA's aren't killing the earth quite as fast as cars are ^_^

        Until something replaces Coal power plants as the main method of generating electricity, you're just replacing one evil for the other.

        Yes, I'm aware of Nucular, Hydro, Wind, Tidal, Natrual Gas. Doesn't matter. Coal is the most popular choice today.
        • by bman08 (239376) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @09:57PM (#15747426)
          yes, but it's a centralized problem.
        • Nucular

          George? Is that you?
        • by killjoe (766577) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @10:40PM (#15747584)
          Cleaning up the emmissions from a hundred plants is easier the cleaning up the emissions from a hundred million cars. Cheaper too.
          • So simple, yet so wrong.

            Cleaning up the emissions from a hundred million cars means telling a hundred million peons that they are responsible for maintaining one vehicle. That's simple compared to telling a hundred lobbyist-paying energy companies to maintain one power plant.

            Just look at the White House's Clear Skies program. It allows antique coal plants, which were supposed to be phased out in favor of cleaner ones, to increase their capacity without being subject to the regulations on new plants.

            Gasoli
            • by killjoe (766577) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @12:25AM (#15747888)
              Just because this administration is unable to pass a law mandating cleaner emissions from power plants that does not mean others won't. Yes the republicans are very beholden to energy companies and this administration is doubly so. Furthermore this administration is openly hostile to any environmental legislation no matter how minor. Future administration will in all likelhood be more responsible then this one, not just for the environment but all around. I can't imagine any administration that could be more inept or stupid then this one.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 20, 2006 @03:05AM (#15748250)
              Gasoline cars in the U.S. are cleaner than electric power plants.

              I subscribe to my power company's optional wind power program [xcelenergy.com]. This means that the electricity I use at home was sourced from a windfarm.

              How is that not cleaner than burning gasoline? I'd love to be able to plug my next car in overnight and never have to visit a gas station again - and knowing that my day-to-day energy use was 100% sustainable.

              Although admittedly the power company wouldn't have the capacity for this if everyone had an electic car, their windpower allotment is already currently full. But stuff like this is a start.
              • by HaydnH (877214) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @05:47AM (#15748596)
                "I subscribe to my power company's optional wind power program. This means that the electricity I use at home was sourced from a windfarm."

                I doubt that very much, I think what they mean is that the sum of elecricity you and the others on the program use at home is equal to that the company produces by their windfarms - the actual energy you personally use will probably be a mixture of all of their power plants outputs... unless you have a seperate cable running straight to the wind turbines of course!
        • Until something replaces Coal power plants as the main method of generating electricity, you're just replacing one evil for the other.

          Yes, because a few coal plants are way less efficient than millions and millions of internal combustion engines.

          (not to mention it's a lot more efficient, as technology progresses, to upgrade emissions controls on a few power plants, than every car on the road)
          • (not to mention it's a lot more efficient, as technology progresses, to upgrade emissions controls on a few power plants, than every car on the road)

            Have you a clue how many power plants will have to be built in order to satisfy demand for electricity needed if the entire US converted to electric cars? I don't, but I've heard it's lots.

            Ever driven from Salt Lake City to Reno? There's an entire valley with a permanent cloud over it in the desert. Absolutely disgusting. Consider the environmental damage t
        • by superdude72 (322167) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @10:46PM (#15747601)
          Yes, I'm aware of Nucular, Hydro, Wind, Tidal, Natrual Gas. Doesn't matter. Coal is the most popular choice today.

          The US has vast reserves of coal. We wouldn't have to rely on the Middle East. And it is easier to cut pollution from relatively few centralized sources than it is from hundreds of millions of cars. And if something better than coal comes along, it's easier to switch relatively few power plants than hundreds of millions of cars. Etc, etc.

          I'm going to give you a pass on "nucular" because a dictionary guy I heard on the radio said it's a regionalism, not barbarism that is like nails on a chalkboard to educated people.
          • by rainman_bc (735332) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @01:03AM (#15747983)
            I'm going to give you a pass on "nucular"

            It was planted there deliberately. I know how to spell nuclear -> I just giggle every time Dubya says nucular. No it isn't a regional thing, any more than ebonics is. It's an excuse to justify presidential stupidity.

            It isn't a nuculus. Ergo it isn't nucular.
        • by mandos (8379) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @11:06PM (#15747670) Homepage
          As far as I'm concerned supporting "domestic evil" would be better then "foreign evil". We don't import coal like oil, so using coal actually helps our economy. And for any problems that arise with coal, they will all be with bounds of US law and law enforcement. Also it's easier to clean up 100s of large coal power plants then it is to clean up millions of cars.

          Yes there are better solutions then coal, but we have over 50% of our power coming from coal, so improving coal will happen quicker then scrapping the system and replacing it with other systems (solar concentrators, tidal, wind, or other low eviroment impact systems). The is no reason we can't do both and enjoy both short term and long term gains. They're not mutually exclusive.
          • We don't import coal like oil, so using coal actually helps our economy.

            American coal is not clean-burning enough (low in sulfur) to use in industrial power generation, as far as I'm aware.

            solar concentrators, tidal, wind, or other low eviroment impact systems

            Wind isn't really low impact. We just think it is because we do it on such a small scale. If we got significant quanities of power from wind we'd actually slow down the wind sufficiently to fuck up the climate even more than we currently do. Ever

            • by archen (447353) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @09:43AM (#15749402)
              American coal is not clean-burning enough (low in sulfur) to use in industrial power generation, as far as I'm aware.

              You're right and wrong. It's not clean burning, and we DO use it for industrial power generation. I lived right next to two power plants that burned lignite. When the parent says it's easier to clean a couple powerplants than a bunch of cars, I'm not sure he's completenly aware of the issues with burning dirty coal on a large scale. Now if we could get our energy out of coal in a few other ways I've heard of, it seams plausible, but just burning it I would think would be a wash.

              I don't think sucking power from the climat is a big issue right now since we're already dumping tons of energy into it. In fact right now that might be the best thing to reduce some of that energy. You also have to consider that trees also absorbe a large ammount of energy from wind, but with global deforistation windmills will probably not even offset a fraction of the energy trees traditionally absorbed.
        • by this great guy (922511) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @11:10PM (#15747677)
          Until something replaces Coal power plants as the main method of generating electricity

          Has already happened in my home country, which generates 79% of its energy [uic.com.au] in nuclear power plants. Now can I get my electric car ? ;-)

          • Does the US know about this arsenal you're developing? Everybody knows nuclear power plants are just a front for WMDs.
          • by Kjella (173770)
            Has already happened in my home country, which generates 79% of its energy in nuclear power plants.

            Yeah, and over 99% of ours is by hydroelectric power (Norway), but you need some more global scale to get it going. That is, if you could increase your nuclear power plants enough to actually meet demand. Around here we have too little power, but gas power plants are polluting so we export gas and import electricity *rolls eyes*. Apparently pollution doesn't exist if it's not domestic.
        • by greg_barton (5551) * <<moc.oohay> <ta> <notrab_gerg>> on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @11:15PM (#15747694) Homepage Journal
          Doesn't matter. Coal is the most popular choice today.

          Today.
          Today.
          Today.
          FUCKING Today.
          You can see past today, can't you?
          I'm so sick of people who can't see past today.
          It does matter, if you can see past today.
        • by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @11:36PM (#15747758)
          Until something replaces Coal power plants as the main method of generating electricity, you're just replacing one evil for the other.
          With better battery storage it doesn't matter much where the electricity comes from and when - the car could be charging up with solar power in the carpark in the day or with wind when it is blowing, or offpeak when the base load stations are running as low as they can but no-one wants to use the electricity.

          Battery power isn't about saving energy anyway, it's often about shifting the pollution to a big facility that can handle it instead of having heavy pollution control equipment to move about. The first hybrid car I saw, back in 1987, embodied this principle and was designed to work at an underground mine. Above ground it ran on fuel, but below ground you wanted to minimise the air pollution as much as possible so it ran on batteries.

          Personally I think the compelling area for electric vehicles as technology improves is as farming equipment or transport in remote areas - charge things up on wind, solar or whatever is handy instead of trucking in a lot of fuel.

        • by LS (57954)
          *sigh*, you really are a "rainman", just staring at your own nose and spouting back facts. You know, when I saw the mention in this article that this could help reduce dependency on oil, I specifically skimmed the posts to find someone who would bring up your tired point, and then berate them. But alas I have not the energy, and a couple others have already shot you down. Ok, i can't resist. We are talking HYPOTHETICALS... i.e. replacing internal combustion with battery power. This has not happened ye
          • by j-turkey (187775) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @12:37AM (#15747914) Homepage
            While we are in the realm of "WHAT IF" we might as well also hypothesize that the coal plants are replaced with other forms of clean centralized energy. Here's an analogy of your thought process: "We should put parents who abuse their children into prison". Your response: "But the children will be alone at home, who will take care of them?" You're not looking at the big picture. What is your solution? That we just sit and wait, and not try to innovate? Every industry should just wait in lock-step for everyone else to come up to speed at the same exact moment in time?

            Yeah, you tell 'em! Forget about pragmatism and we'll create our own reality. Feasability? Screw it. Net environmental effect of the technology? Who needs to analyze anything when we've got dreamers! There's no point in looking at our world for how it is when we can see it like we want it to be.

            The analogy that you provided about abusive parents is exactly the kind of absolutism that I disagree with -- and there's plenty of it to go around. What about when the definition of child abuse gets murky? What about when you've got a kid in an otherwise 'good' home, where the parents (for example) are pot smokers? Does it make sense to subject the kid to 'the system' by sticking them in a foster home (at best)? In the United States, it's not uncommon for child services to consider parents like that unfit. Absolutes don't work so well in a dynamic world.

            In any case, we've already got an idealistic executive administration in the US who tends to think in black-and-white. Frankly, I think that we would do well with a bit of measured analysis.

            To get back to the discussion, there's nothing wrong with trying to innovate, and I'm not seeing that argument anywhere. You're using a straw-man argument. However, there are plenty of hurdles which must be overcome when talking about electric cars...and it's important to recgonize that the electric car is no panacea for our environmental/political/economic ills. It just moves the problem elsewhere, and would continue to for the forseeable future. If it were really economically feasible, every major auto manufacturer would be selling an electric car right now.

            Personally, I'm more interested in diesel power (utilizing vegetable-based fuel). The technology is already 100% available, very well developed, mass produced, and it can utilize the existing distribution infrastructure without serious modifications (I think that oil pipelines would need some help, however). Burning vegetable-based fuel also releases zero net greenhouse gas, since all carbon released into the atmosphere was originally metabolized from the atmosphere. Are there drawbacks? Certainly -- among other things, there is a poor public perception of diesel engines power and torque charasteristic, of being smelly, and having hard-to-find fuel. The former two have been resolved though development: Diesel emissions (as well as the sulphur odor) have been greatly reduced, and an Audi diesel race car won Le Mans last year, partly by churning out massive amounts of torque while maintaining better fuel economy than every other car in its class.

            Again, getting back to the point, there is nothing wrong with pragmatism. In fact, the best way to deal with idealogues is to share a bit of reality. If you really believe in this, and this is truly an engineering problem, why not embrace the naysayers? Why not help find a solution to the real problems with the technology in question rather than smugly berate them in public? Your attempts to berate aren't convincing anyone of anything (except for the people who already share your ideals).

            • by hey! (33014) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @09:26AM (#15749275) Homepage Journal
              Yeah, you tell 'em! Forget about pragmatism and we'll create our own reality. Feasability? Screw it. Net environmental effect of the technology? Who needs to analyze anything when we've got dreamers! There's no point in looking at our world for how it is when we can see it like we want it to be.

              Well, I don't see a necessary conflict between looking forward and pragatism. It's helpful sometimes to "assume" the existence of a thing, in a tentative way, because it allows you to think about the potential value of searching for that thing. Where it becomes unpragmatic is when you assume that thing is going to spring into existence because you wish it to be. Yet is equally dangerous to dismiss all change becuase we don't know the details in advance.

              I think we are approaching a shift in the world's energy use. It's like waiting for an earthquake to generate a tsunami; inevitably it's going to come, but nobody can say precisely when. Uncertainties, such as whether a technology will be developed to extract heavy crude deposits, introduce decades of uncertainty into when the shift will occur. Thinking about, and planning for this shift takes resources away from current needs, and so it is easy to think of it as unpragmatic. However, I suspect that when a shift comes, it won't be a surprise that it came, but it will be a surprise when it came and how quickly.

              WRT electric power, the key is that electricty isn't an energy source. It's a medium for transmitting energy. The great benefit of this is that it can come from many sources and put to many uses. It's helpful to "assume" a replacement for coal fired plants, because while we know no such replacement exists yet, there is no reason in physics why such a thing could not be. In fact, there may be no single satisfactory replacment for coal. As there may be no single satisfactory replacement for petroleum either. If that is the case, electricity is going to be a key part of the strategy for dealing with that. Even if we were to put in hydrogen pipelines to everybody's house, it doesn't fundamentally change things. Hydrogen is a method of storing and transmitting energy.

              However, there are plenty of hurdles which must be overcome when talking about electric cars...and it's important to recgonize that the electric car is no panacea for our environmental/political/economic ills

              Yes, but I'm deeply suspicious of the phrase "no panacea", because it's often trotted out in a way that suggests that if some form of progress doesn't solve all our problems, it is worthless.

              This bears on your point of net environmental effects. What we need is a rational framework to think about them. But it's harder than it sounds. I once worked for an organization trying to help universities teach this. "Systems" thinking really isn't anything special. It's just broadening the scope of your reasoning to include effects you hadn't considered or intended. When you do this you tend to find that nothing is as good as you might hope, but on the other side few things are as bad as you might fear.

              People point out the fact that electric cars just shift emissions from tailpipes to distant smokestacks. This is true. But it's not a conclusive argument. You have to crunch the numbers. And even after you've done that, you don't have the entire story. the importance of the electric car is that it creates options. It has been remarked that the definition of a bad policy is that it leaves you with no good options. It seems to me a good policy is one that leaves open many options. That is why electricity is so important; it is the most versatile and adaptable medium we have.

              I agree that biodiesel is an intriguing option. It is, in effect, a method of storing and transmitting solar energy. The carbon molecules are recycled. But I'm not prepared to pin all our hopes on it.

              A key point to remember is that scale is a big part of assessiong enviornmental impact. The second gigawatt of tidal power
        • by Jeremi (14640)
          Until something replaces Coal power plants as the main method of generating electricity, you're just replacing one evil for the other.


          Sure, but your situation is nonetheless much improved. Why? Because if your infrastructure now runs on electricity instead of oil, you have many different options to choose from for generating that electricity. There aren't very many ways to generate oil.

  • by glowworm (880177) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @09:39PM (#15747348) Journal
    I am left wondering if this car is involved in an accident if the batteries will vent like the recent /. articles suggest.

    Exploding Dells, fires on planes, and soon at an intersection near you... cars venting more flame than the batmobile.
    • by Unknown Poltroon (31628) * <unknown_poltroon1sp@myahoo.com> on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @09:55PM (#15747420)
      Much safer to use something like 15 gallons of liquid petrolium distillate that is highly inflammable at room temperature.
      • by topham (32406)

        Last time I checked cars don't explode while driving down the street; while it seems laptops might...

        (And with over 6 thousand batteries one might expect a failure rate of 1 in 10000 to be a little high...
      • by Emnar (116467)
        Liquid gasoline only explodes in Hollywood. You can drop a match into it and the match will go out.

        Gasoline fumes, on the other hand, can definitely explode. While it's a fine distinction, it's an important one.

        In fact, the technological advance which finally permitted combustion engines was figuring out how to vaporize gasoline so that it would burn.
        • by agingell (931397) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @04:58AM (#15748492) Homepage
          Can I strongly suggest that NOBODY tries this at home. Gasoline in its liquid state will always have fumes above it at room temperature, and throwing a match into it will definitely result in a very severe fire!

          The match going out comment in more usually attributed to Diesel fuels, Kerosene and paraffin, which have a much higher flash point, and a higher boiling point. This means there is little vapor above the liquid and they are not likely to be ignited by a lighted match. It usually requires a wick to make fuel Oils burn e.g. a rag etc. or alternatively high temp and pressure such as in a diesel engine or gas turbine.

          So please be careful!
        • by Idarubicin (579475) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (teiuqslla)> on Thursday July 20, 2006 @09:42AM (#15749393) Journal
          Liquid gasoline only explodes in Hollywood. You can drop a match into it and the match will go out.
          Is anyone else here familiar with the expression 'A little knowledge is a dangerous thing'? I would urge anyone here to avoid following the above smug-and-soon-to-be-badly-burned idiot's advice.

          At normal temperatures, gasoline has a vapour pressure sufficient that there will be a flammable vapour above any standing liquid gasoline. The flashpoint of gasoline is -40 (that's minus forty) degrees; at any temperature above that there can be sufficient vapour present to ignite and explode.

          Under some conditions (for example, a confined container with a narrow neck and little air circulation) you might get the gasoline vapour to displace enough oxygen that it won't be able to burn. The upper explosive limit for gasoline is about 8%; above that level combustion will cease rapidly because the available oxygen will be depleted.

          If you really insist on doing a drop-a-match-in-the-fuel experiment, use diesel fuel. The flashpoint of diesel is a little bit more than 60 degrees Celsius (about 140 F) and so won't form a flammable vapour mixture in air unless you're storing it really warm.

    • by SEWilco (27983) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @10:13PM (#15747496) Journal
      Notice the fast acceleration. Maybe this car uses a lithium-ion Orion drive, where the force of exploding batteries drives the car forward forcefully.
    • by Sinistrad_D (121333) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @10:13PM (#15747497) Homepage
      Looks like the company that is manufacturing the batteries has replaced graphite with a "Lithium Titanium Oxide" that they've tested and claim doesn't have the smoking, venting, or explosive problems of normal lithium ion batteries. Here is a link to a rather informative article about the battery technology that will be used in the Tesla:

      http://thefraserdomain.typepad.com/energy/2006/07/ altair_batterie.html [typepad.com]

      I mean based on the stuff I've read about the founders of the company and a lot of the people who have invested in it (i.e. Elon Musk, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, etc.) I feel I'll wait and see before passing any judgement.
  • Lithium-Ion? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @09:39PM (#15747349) Homepage Journal
    I would hate to see the devestation after a head on collision.
  • by artifex2004 (766107) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @09:39PM (#15747351) Journal
    Here in Texas, where I suspect temperatures exceed battery design, I think this idea will bomb spectacularly.

    Seriously, though, Li-ion? I shudder to think of how those will get disposed of, eventually.
    • by RiffRafff (234408) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @10:29PM (#15747548) Homepage
      Seriously, though, Li-ion? I shudder to think of how those will get disposed of, eventually."

      Um, probably the same way you dispose of alkaline batteries. You throw them in the trash. Lithium-Ion batteries are classified as "non-hazardous waste and are safe for disposal in the normal municipal waste stream."

      Or punture and flood with saltwater if you're paranoid.

      "Discharge: with the cell or battery pack in a safe area, connect a moderate resistance across the terminals until the cell or battery pack is discharged. CAUTION: the cell or battery pack may be hot! Discard: puncture plastic envelope, immerse in salt water for several hours and place in regular trash."

      Li-Ion and Li-Poly batteries are a non-problem if they're discharged, and they are environmentally friendly, to boot.

  • Pricy, but.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sergeant Beavis (558225) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @09:40PM (#15747353) Homepage
    A 250 mile range gets an electric car into the "very practical" range IMO. Now the challenge is to get the price down to something acceptable. Range has always been the biggest downside of electrics and the reason I would never consider one. However if I can have something with the sized between a Mini and a Civic and be able to easily commute to work AND not pay through the nose for it, I'm in.
    • Re:Pricy, but.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Bryan Ischo (893) * on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @09:43PM (#15747371) Homepage
      You can get used to a lower range, easily. My Honda motorcycle has a range of about 150 miles. It doesn't bother me one bit. Every one of those miles is 1000x more fun than any car-driven mile, even if I do have to fuel up once per week instead of once every other week.

      Fuel economy could be better though. 35 MPG isn't much better than many cars.
      • For something that would be strictly used as a commuter, yes I could get used to it. However for a vehicle that is used for more than just commuting, it might not be enough. That is ok, if you can own more than one car though. Go ahead and keep the SUV, just use it when you actually need it and use the electric the rest of the time....

        Of course there are many other options to consider as well. I just think this car might be a good step in the right direction.
    • A 250 mile range gets an electric car into the "very practical" range IMO


      Not if they are like my Ni-Cd battery electric shaver, which takes 14 hours to recharge.

  • Sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Kano (13027) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @09:42PM (#15747363) Homepage Journal
    It is nice to see more companies serious about helping to getting rid of our oil dependency.

    Oil isn't the problem, ENERGY is. So instead of burning oil everwhere, we'll be burning more coal in a few places. Maybe this is the kind of thing we need to turn public sentiment away from the greenies and get some more nuclear power plants built.

    LK
  • The time is right? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grapeape (137008) <mpope7 AT kc DOT rr DOT com> on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @09:42PM (#15747365) Homepage
    There have been some great inovations in vehicles over the years which have been supressed and even shut down by the big auto companies in the past, but with current technology its hard to keep information and good innovation down. Perhaps with the help of the internet this company has a chance of not going the way of the Tucker.
    • Nah, RC street track racers know that the fast cars are battry powered. They go like hell for 10 minutes and then you get to do a charge cycle. The complexity (remember this thing has >6000), charge time of the batteries, and low millage are holding electric cars back; once these are solved then I would bet that a battery car would indeed be faster and more popular than a gas one.
    • by Will_Malverson (105796) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @10:49PM (#15747609) Journal
      Why would car companies supress innovations in vehicles? They'll gladly sell you anything that you're willing to pay them for, so long as what you're willing to pay is higher than their cost of producing it.
  • Considereing this :( Exploding laptop old news to Dell? Anonymous writes "CRN is reporting that Dell had about a dozen reports of burned laptops before they announced last year's battery recall. The recall was launched in response to a exploding laptop caught on film at a Japanese conference. Dozens more cases popped up with apparently severe overheating, melted cases, etc., according to the report." ), and the fact that there is a lot of toxic/EPA unfriendly chemicals in laptop batteries (which will need r
  • by kimvette (919543) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @09:44PM (#15747376) Homepage Journal
    Part of what is different about this is that they are using over 6,831 laptop type lithium-ion batteries. They are claiming the range is about 250 miles.


    Now THAT's a car that'll hit the market with a bang! Not only do you have the instant response of electric motors and full torque from a dead stop, but you will also get rocket assist when you put a heavy load on the Li-ion batteries!
  • by RedWizzard (192002) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @09:45PM (#15747377)
    Part of what is different about this is that they are using over 6,831 laptop type lithium-ion batteries
    Over 6831? You mean 6832 batteries?
    • Eh, seems to me from reading the article that Mr. Submitter was just a little over-enthusiastic about using the word over; the article claims -exactly- 6,831 batteries.
    • by wbean (222522) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @11:13PM (#15747690)
      The motor is going to need a lot higher voltage than a laptop. This means that the batteries have to be organized in series/parallel banks. 6831 is a plausible number since it is 23 x 11 x 3 x 3 x 3. This gives you a lot of flexibility in arranging the banks. You could have 99 banks of 69 batteries in series, presumably giving you something like 345 volts. That sounds about right for a DC motor.
  • Bed buddies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LoudMusic (199347)
    It is odd that the big car companies aren't more on this track!

    Just like Dell is in bed with Microsoft, the auto manufacturers are in bed with the oil companies. No surprises.
  • by loose electron (699583) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @09:48PM (#15747387) Homepage
    Whoever comes up with a significant advance in battery technology will die a very rich person.

    Li-Ion batteries have excellent amp-hour ratings for their size, but like all other batteries are still pretty limited.

    Acceleration/Torque for electric cars is not a problem. High performance capabilities are there if you want them. However, you are playing battery energy against performance against distance, and all electrics, or fuel-electric hybrids have been designed to be "green" in their approach. (Any Hummer oweners want an environmentally aware vehicle?)

    Right now the weakest link in many electronic systems is the energy source. A good solution there and you can be a very wealty person.
    • by hotspotbloc (767418) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @09:21AM (#15749244) Homepage Journal
      How about a different type of hybrid:

      - enough batteries for ~50 miles.
      - a small (100cc) biodiesel engine running at a fixed and preset RPM connected to a small generator. The engine would be set to run at the peak of it's power curve.
      - a small ~10L fuel tank.
      - an AC charging circuit

      This would allow the driver to run on electric most of the day and charge on the road when needed. One could also use a gasoline engine instead of biodiesel and still see big fuel operating savings since some wall recharging would take place. It would also greatly decrease the number of batteries needed.

      This is a really old idea. I saw something like this (on a much larger scale) on an USCG cutter (WLB-389) that was built in 1943. Two diesels -> two generators -> one electric motor. Worked great and it could double as a light ship [uscg.mil].

  • by fermion (181285) * on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @10:02PM (#15747451) Homepage Journal
    I would wager that this vehicle is more like a Lotus Elise, or a Corvette, or even a S2000, all of which can be had for under 50K. Any performance benefits over those sports cars can be attributed to the natural advantage of this car, namely that you can go from 0-60 without switching gears, and it is easier to get it perfectly balanced without an engine. Anyway, The true test of a sports cars, as opposed to just a fast car, is the handling, which was not mentioned in review. Without proper handling, it becomes a Mustang at 30K.

    Which is to say we are still in the same world, in which low volumes and other issues cause electric cars to be 50%-100$ higher than traditional cars. All that seems to have happened here is that an electric car has been targeted to the high end market and priced accordingly. It is kind of like taking the hummer, putting a cheap truck base on it, calling it an H2, and pretending that it still has the dubious value of the original.

    Oh well, I suppose if they can build a sedan for 35K I would be impressed. We would also have to look at maintenance cost of the vehicle, which would be dominated by the battery replacement. A sports car car easily run 20 cents/mile in maintenance. Knowing that laptop batteries can only handle a couple hundred charge cycles, one can image where the long term maintenance cost could approach three or four time that amount.

    I wish we had electric cars. I think the technology is there, and the pricing could be reasonable. But even companies that could be using the electric car to revive themselves, for instance Mazda and Ford, still seem to be married to the antiquated internal combustion engine.

    • Which is to say we are still in the same world, in which low volumes and other issues cause electric cars to be 50%-100$ higher than traditional cars.
      Since you usually write "a-b" in such a way, that a is smaller than b, you have some cheap ass cars ... from 50 percent to 100$ more expensive. That means the car, at most, costs 200$. Damn.
    • Anyway, The true test of a sports cars, as opposed to just a fast car, is the handling

      The good news there is that he was hiring lots of engineers from Lotus - they've been the guys you call when trying to develop a good handling car for a long time now...
    • by himurabattousai (985656) <gigabytousai@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @11:42PM (#15747776)
      Since you mentioned Mazda and Ford, type "hydrogen RX-8" into Google's search engine. The RX-8 uses a Wankel rotary engine, an engine that has the unique property of being flex-fuel, in this case the alternative fuel is hydrogen, without any modifications. Since Ford owns roughly one third of Mazda, they could use that engine in Ford-branded cars and have a nearly instant alternate-fuel vehicle. I imagine it could even be turned into a Prius-like hybrid, since the Wankel engine looks not much different than a generator--and since all the parts rotate in the same direction, the generator could be built right into the engine components itself.

      Yes, you are correct in saying that auto companies are married to the internal combustion engine. Right now, they have to be. Americans expect their cars to be capable of certain things, and those expectations influence what they buy. Right now, electric cars (and hydrogen vehicles like the hydrogen RX-8) do not have the combination of capability and price to be mass-market vehicles. Until they reach that sweet spot, they will be nothing more than niche products. The research and investment shouldn't be stopped because of this, though. The best niche products have ways of becoming mainstream, and even if the Tesla roadster never makes it big, the accomplishment and lessons learned will have an impact on automobile technology before too long.

    • by ChronosWS (706209) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @01:19AM (#15748025)
      There are some excellent points here. People get all excited because some electric car is now faster that some car the author thinks is defined purely by its acceleration from 0-60. And most slashdotters, I would bargain, are persuaded by such arguments because they are similarly uneducated. Sports cars like the Porsche Carerra and the Bugatti Veyron (mentioned in a related article) are consummate sports cars - they exemplify not only speed but styling, handling and quality expected of a car with their price tag. Cars such as the Corvette, especially the most recent incarnation, do so relatively inexpensively. But regardless, 0-60 acceleration is not the most important statistic, and often isn't an important statistic at all EXCEPT to people who don't know better (I refer the undereducated to the more useful 0-100-0 or 0-150-0 tests, as well as relevant agility tests such as emergency lane change, slalom and skid pad.) Electric cars will be desirable when they meet the following conditions met by existing cars - price (under 30k), features (styling, interior, gizmos), convenience (fueling in under 5 minutes.) This car does not appear to meet any of those.
      • It's a sports car probably the single must important aspect is Fun not necessarily how fast or quick it is but how much fun it is to drive, as it is based on an Elise's VVA it should be both quick and fun to drive as well as doing well on the tests you talk about.

        Electric cars will be desirable when they meet the following conditions met by existing cars - price (under 30k), features (styling, interior, gizmos), convenience (fuelling in under 5 minutes.) This car does not appear to meet any of those.

        of t

  • by knBIS (743731) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @10:03PM (#15747456)
    After a year or two of serious use my laptop batteries last about 1/2 as long as they originally did... And those things are pretty damn expensive to replace.. i would guess that a large percentage of the price is going to pay for all the batteries. What happens when they don't hold their charge anymore?
  • Problem: recharging (Score:4, Interesting)

    by momerath2003 (606823) * on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @10:41PM (#15747586) Journal
    Li-ion batteries have a limited number of charge cycles on them, somewhere around 300, before their capacity starts to decrease. You would have to replace all of the batteries at some point after this when your car's range is decreased to the point where you can't stand it. This means, what, most of the value of the car after 100000 miles? Is it worth it?
  • Batteries suck. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Moofie (22272) <lee AT ringofsaturn DOT com> on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @11:30PM (#15747742) Homepage
    So what do you do when you've done 100 or 200 discharge cycles, and you're left with a couple hundred pounds of useless lithium ions? Oh well. Time to buy a new car, right?

    Maybe you could design a clever little nozzle to get a boost from your on-fire battery packs. That'd be AWESOME.
  • Wrong Name for Car (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @03:09AM (#15748254)
    This car is not a true Tesla Car.

    If it were, it would have no batteries at all. Instead it would gets it energy from some kind of wireless source like microwave power transmission [wikipedia.org] or even the Earth's magnetic field. [evworld.com]

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