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Comment Re:It's not the first. (Score 1) 450

Usually the statement is that the Leaf is the first mass market freeway capable electric car.

The first electric cars came out a hundred years ago, predating the gasoline-powered cars that became dominant in the early 1900s.

The GM EV1, the Toyota RAV4-EV, the Honda EV Plus, etc., were built in small numbers to satisfy California's zero emissions mandate from 1987 to 2003.

More recently, Tesla Motors has been selling the high performance all-electric Tesla Roadster, but one could argue that, like Ferraris, those aren't mass market because of the high cost of supercar performance.

Comment The Press Looking for Something to Worry About (Score 1) 450

I was at the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission meeting in Olympia, Washington on the subject of electric vehicle infrastructure last month. None of the utilities represented there expressed any concern about either short term or long term problems caused by electric vehicles. The ramp-up is going to be very slow, permits for charging stations will give them advanced warning on neighborhood clumping, and we'll have decades to build the capacity required as EVs become a significant load on the grid.

The Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt each pull 3.3 kW maximum. Compare that to a hairdryer that pulls about 2 kW or an air conditioner that pulls 2.5 kW.

People who want to worry about this problem like to note that it takes 8 hours to charge a Leaf, but that exaggerates the load. Driving a mile in an EV uses about 320 Wh, wall-to-wheel. Most Americans drive under 40 miles per day, or about 12.8 kWh, so the average charge will be well below half of the maximum charge. It's analogous to a gas car: just because your tank holds 20 gallons doesn't mean you burn 20 gallons every day.

Unlike air conditioners that add to the peak load, EVs can be charged overnight. All of the EVs coming to the market have timers integrated into the charging controls, so it's trivial to plug in when you get home but not charge until later at night.

Building out the required long-term infrastructure will allow us to keep hundreds of billions of dollars per year in our local economies instead of sending those dollars overseas.

Comment Re:EVs aren't going to take over tomorrow (Score 1) 438

The Green Car Reports article linked in the original post mentions a baseline of 300 million cars in the US. The study summary referenced examines several scenarios of plug-in hybrid market penetration of 20% to 80% of new vehicles by 2050. That's 60 to 240 million vehicles with today's numbers, and presumably a lot more with population growth by 2050.

A 2006 DOE study (summary) found that there is enough off-peak excess capacity in our grid today to switch 70% (about 217 million) of all light-duty vehicles to plug-in hybrids with a 33-mile range (which is enough to cover most people's daily driving) without any need to add power plants. The study makes a number of assumptions, like everyone charges off-peak, but the upshot is clear: our grid already has plenty of capacity for overnight charging.

With the most optimistic view of EV and PHEV production rates for the next five years, there aren't going to be enough to cause any problems with the grid. As market share grows, financial incentives (time-of-use metering) and smart grid infrastructure can be put in place to make sure the majority of EV charging is done off-peak.

Comment EVs aren't going to take over tomorrow (Score 1) 438

Basically they are saying "Electric cars wont bring down the grid -- if they aren't widely adopted". What if, instead of half a million, there's 10-30 million?

The study said 200 million cars, but even a half million isn't going to happen this year or next. Nissan is going to make a few tens of thousands of Leafs over the next two years, and then as much as 140,000 per year (worldwide) starting in 2012. GM is going to start with 10,000 Volts per year and bump that up to 30,000 in 2010. Tesla might be producing 20,000 to 50,000 per year by late 2012.

There's just no way we're going to get anywhere near one tenth the number of cars the study considered in the next five years. The utilities are already planning for EVs today with just a thousand Tesla Roadsters, 900 RAV4-EVs, and a few thousand one-off conversions. The utilities have lots of time to make any adjustments needed to power EVs and provide incentives to encourage off-peak charging.

Comment Re:Gasoline only because Detroit has no clue. (Score 1) 857

Does anyone have any idea why the Chevy Volt will only have a 40 mile range if it's possible to squeeze out so much more?

The big car companies say it's because they can't make a car with a range that would satisfy enough customers.

This is a convenient delusion. What's really going on is that EVs don't need constant maintenance and the big auto companies aren't going to give up the dealer oil change revenue stream until someone like Tesla Motors shoves that obsolete business model down their throats.

My wife and I drive a 2002 Toyota RAV4-EV. It's still running on the original batteries, has a range of 80 to 100 miles and goes about 45 miles on a dollar's worth of electricity. Unless you're part of the 1% of people who have a commute over 100 miles, this vehicle is a dream, and built with today's LiIon batteries, it would have over twice the range.

It's going to take Tesla at least four years to come out with an EV for under $30,000. The big auto companies have an opportunity to get there faster. Will they have the insight and nerve to do it, or will Tesla and the other start-ups put them out of business?

The Internet

Journal Journal: Comcast gets tough on HighSpeed Internet Customers.

I've been a Comcast customer nearly 4 years and have had a pleasant experience with them until recently. We received a phone call in December from someone claiming they were a Comcast rep to warn us of excessive bandwidth usage. After multiple calls to Comcast Customer Service that same day, we were told to ignore the call since their records said our account showed no issues.

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