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Sunday, June 18, 2006

 

Who Killed EVs Part 2

I have to say, I was pleased to see so many passionate responses to my last post. Reading them brought back the fervor with which most of us on the EV team tried to solve the "problem."

My thoughts on some of the comments...

If you "worked on EVs" for 5 years, you sure must be oblivious. The EV1 had a range of 110 miles for the lead-acid car that gm crushed, and 160 miles for the 1999 EV1 that gm crushed. Today, I drive a Toyota 2003 RAV4-EV with 68,000 miles on it and a range of 120 miles.

The only reason auto makers were forced to put out EVs was California's ZEV mandate, and they sabotaged EVs and lied, cheated and stole by raising gas prices.
We did all of the range studies. Our Sodium sulphur vehicle had a range of over 100 miles per charge if conditions were ideal. The EV1, with lead acid...was more in the 60-80 miles range...again, depending on conditions. In perfect conditions, you could approach 100, no doubt. 160 was definitely possible with the nickel metal hydride battery pack.

The gas price comment...I don't know what to do with that. GM lost close to $10 billion last quarter. Ford is doing poorly as well. High gas prices are killing the domestic car industry, threatening hundreds of thousands of US jobs.

- Consumer ignorance causes us to buy more from lust than from love. I really don't think there is much focus beyond the glorious sheet metal, the smell of the leather and the monthly payments. The entire concept of long term thinking is under educated and under evaluated when making purchases.
I agree...but that's what drives a capitalist society. Supply and demand. It takes a while for Americans to begin associating excessive gasoline use with marines dying in the Middle East. And it requires courage and political will by Americans and its elected politicians to change policy. The entire U.S. Energy policy needs a radical re-thinking. The U.S. economy is 100% reliant on access to oil half a world away; sitting in the ground of nations who are not entirely friendly towards American society. Can you imagine writing that plan? We will build an economy that relies on the free flow of energy from countries that hate America?

G'day, Dave!

Like the rest of America, you, too,knew not of the 1991-1996 battery electric technology development at Toyota that was secretly trying to meet the California mandate, and found the going quite easy.
Can't make money on them? Rather, an ev showroom and small service bay is the inverse of ICE economy/Detroit model. Our NiMH batteries run great, at 5 years like others'.

I heard a good one. Next time you see someone in a ev golf cart, odds are they'll be having a good time; our EVs provide our EV grin.

Actually, we were very aware of both Honda and Toyota's EV programs. I personally drove their cars and our engineers looked them over carefully (as they did ours). We were impressed with their efforts. During that time frame we were arguably ahead of Toyota and Honda (we certainly weren't behind). Our vehicles were on the road with advanced batteries years ahead of Toyota and Honda. We gave up the lead when the ZEV mandate was scrapped.

You're right...NiMH batteries can be very reliable...back in the mid 90's costs were still exorbitant though. And even to this day, a Hybrid is no cheaper to own/maintain than an ICE (internal combustion engine) powered car -- if it is a high mileage car, the ICE is probably cheaper, even at current gas prices.


The only problem was that Honda only built 300 of these EVs for California. When others asked where they could get one, all of the limited production were already leased. And Honda had no intensions for selling them.

And they required almost no maintenance. After 90,000 miles it was still a zero-emissions vehicle, with no smog check, no oil changes, etc. The problem is, the auto repart market couldn't do anything to improve this vehicle, even with 10-year old technology.

Everyone who rode in the EVplus loved it. And every morning it had a full-tank, costing only $0.02/mile in electricity to fill up. Typically we could drive up to 600 miles per week without having to fill up anywhere else except at home in the evening. No smelly expensive gas stations nor waiting in line. What a concept.

The lower service costs (aside from battery replacement) were/are a major attractor to EVs, along with avoiding the carcinogens at gas re-fill. All of our research showed women especially loved the EV's simplicity. Make no mistake, however, the price on the car you drove was in the extreme luxury territory...that's why the were leased. Too expensive to sell and the car companies needed to get those cars back for exactly the reason you mentioned. Too expensive to support long term because of parts, training, etc.

I find it hard to believe that you have worked in this field and hold the opinions you do, but like I said, having yours is the best part of our Democratic Republic.
I KNOW if we had known about the EV1 we, as a family, would have purchased more than two-and remember you weren't ALLOWED to own them; very un-American. My parents own a hybrid as do we, and so do my borthers and sister. We are neither tree huggers nor greenpeace wild environmentalists; I simply DO care about leaving my children a future and don't like seeing HUMMERS idiling next to me-it is a selfish waste and always seems to be a single guy too. While I cannot contradict myslef and say that too is not the American way-choice, I know better. Do your homework. There was MAJOR deception in (lack of) advertising.
Last point on the UN-availability of these cars by the Majors, and the market; As a technician (ASE certified and all) I have worked for Toyota, Chrysler, and private shops over the last 20 years. I never ever even ONCE heard the name EV1 or RAV4-EV while standing in a Toyota shop and reading the monthly newsletters of my industry. Uninformed? Me? NO!
Lack of advertising and effort on the part of GM and others? YES.
Don't blame ME if you bring something to market and keep it hush hush. If American Idol was on a community access channel, I doubt you or I would know who Ryan Seacrest is, much less any others on the show.
Good day to you sir.
-EVRIDER

As I mentioned before, leasing was necessary because none of the companies had the infrastructure ready to support EVs when the EV1 was available. We had many meetings on that subject.

I'm actually a marketing/advertising guy and I totally disagree on the lack of advertising/promotion. Remember, gasoline was just over a dollar a gallon. Very few were interested - even now some hybrids have incentives. You can't crank up assembly plants when gas prices suddenly go through the roof. Doesn't work that way. Planning and producing a car from scratch requires 36-48 months, you should know that. I always believed EVs were a good short range solution for commuters. Even faster is ride share. Cuts gas use in half, same with smog. There are many solutions; incl. EVs, bicycles and sensible commuting.

Keep the comments coming...really enjoying the exchange. I'm not that enthused about Hybrids...I am very interested in the potential of Hydrogen and, in the meantime, conservation/improved health via bicycles...


Comments:
I don't get the "My EV is a zero-emission vehicle". The car itself may not make any emissions, but the powerplant where the electricity comes from sure does.
 
All of the shortcomings that Dave lists for the EV1 (one of eight different full-sized electric vehicles built, most of which seated four) were also applicable to Henry Ford's Model T when it was introduced early last century.
1. Not enough range (small gas tank.) Also, the car broke down every 20 miles or so on the unpaved roads.
2. & 3. No gas stations. The infrastructure had to be built after people began buying gas cars.
4. Gas was very expensive. Electric cars outsold gassers for years, before internal combustion engines were improved.
5. Vehicle cost was high, including fuel and the constant repairs necessary to keep it running. People would pass broken-down gas-mobiles in their carriages and say: "Get a horse!"
Dave sounds similar-.
6. Weak. Also, had to be backed up hills because the rear gas-tank fed the engine by gravity.
7. Consumers won't change their behavior. Also, finding gasoline was a chore (remember, no infrastructure!) Why buy a stinky, noisy gas car? Ah, the smell of fresh horse-apples!
8. No market. Luckily, Henry didn't mind gambling on a new concept. Impossible, contemplated the way that Dave sees EVs.
9. Can't make money selling Model Ts for $285. Most gas cars in that day cost thousands of dollars.
10. Two-seater (the best-selling option, with a rear truck-bed.)

As Sinclair Lewis said early last century: It's difficult to make someone understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. Your business is threatened by EVs, with motors so simple that dealer service revenues will drop 90%.
 
All of the shortcomings that Dave lists for the EV1 (one of eight different full-sized electric vehicles built, most of which seated four) were also applicable to Henry Ford's Model T when it was introduced early last century.
1. Not enough range (small gas tank.) Also, the car broke down every 20 miles or so on the unpaved roads.
2. & 3. No gas stations. The infrastructure had to be built after people began buying gas cars.
4. Gas was very expensive. Electric cars outsold gassers for years, before internal combustion engines were improved.
5. Vehicle cost was high, including fuel and the constant repairs necessary to keep it running. People would pass broken-down gas-mobiles in their carriages and say: "Get a horse!"
Dave sounds similar-.
6. Weak. Also, had to be backed up hills because the rear gas-tank fed the engine by gravity.
7. Consumers won't change their behavior. Also, finding gasoline was a chore (remember, no infrastructure!) Why buy a stinky, noisy gas car? Ah, the smell of fresh horse-apples!
8. No market. Luckily, Henry didn't mind gambling on a new concept. Impossible, contemplated the way that Dave sees EVs.
9. Can't make money selling Model Ts for $285. Most gas cars in that day cost thousands of dollars.
10. Two-seater (the best-selling option, with a rear truck-bed.)

As Sinclair Lewis said early last century: 'It's difficult to make someone understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.'
Dave's business is threatened by EVs, with motors so simple that dealer service revenues will drop 90%.
 
@Hugh E. Weber

Hugh, thanks for your comments. Actually, I work in the EV industry. It is now 2011. Gasoline is higher and Batteries have improved. Even with the improvement, a decent 24 kwh Lithium battery costs $12,000 to $15,000. Once we drive that price down, we can start making this a volume market instead of a rounding error in a 12-13 million units/year market.
 
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