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As Electric Cars Stall, A Move to Greener Trucks and Buses

The co-founder of Tesla Motors would like to get noisy, smelly diesels off the road

Engineer and Tesla Motors co-founder Ian Wright has started a new California-based company, Wrightspeed, that is working on strategies to electrify heavy commercial vehicles like garbage trucks.
Image Credit: Wrightspeed

The clang of garbage cans will still probably wake people way too early in the morning. But in Santa Rosa, California, at least, the roaring diesel engine will be quiet, replaced by a silent, electric motor.

The electric garbage trucks scheduled to begin rolling there this summer may be less alluring than the sporty vehicles that engineer Ian Wright helped design as co-founder of Tesla Motors. But Wright, who left the high-end electric car company to start Wrightspeed, maker of electric powertrains for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, is on a campaign to force large, carbon-belching engines off the road.

“The dream right now is to completely eliminate the nasty, smelly, noisy diesel engines from garbage trucks in five years,” Wright says.

In today’s hyperkinetic world, moving people and things is the planet’s fastest-growing energy-based source of greenhouse gases, with some projections saying that transport emissions could nearly double by mid-century as developing nations industrialize. Climate scientists and policymakers say replacing petroleum-burning engines with alternatives like electric motors is critical to meeting the greenhouse gas-reduction goals set by the international community in Paris last December.

But while the adoption of electric cars has been hindered by high prices, limited range, a lack of charging stations, and competition from cheap gasoline, heavier-duty models are undergoing rapid innovation for applications like battery-powered city buses, delivery trucks, freight loaders, and ferries. Experts say that these electric workhorses can play an important role in decarbonizing transport, and could spin off technologies that benefit electric cars, a far larger — and, from a carbon perspective, more important — market.

Making deep inroads on carbon emissions

Christopher Knittel, director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says the development of heavier-duty electric motors, batteries, and vehicle technologies could potentially help cut commercial and municipal transport’s carbon emissions by 25% to 50% in the coming decades.

The industrial sector may be quicker than personal car buyers to adopt pricey new technologies because costs can be amortized and benefits such as fuel savings will multiply across equipment fleets, says Peter Harrop, chairman of the tech market analysis firm IDTechEx. Commercial and industrial electric vehicle sales will outpace the consumer market at least until the middle of the next decade, according to Harrop.

Moreover, the new technologies being developed for heavier-duty applications could also potentially boost range and performance for electric cars.

“We are driving down the component costs, and driving up the system efficiencies, and we have a very cost-effective architecture,” says Wright. “And that all helps get it into lighter vehicles.”

Electrically propelled commercial conveyances are nothing new. Small, battery-powered trucks like forklifts have toiled inside warehouses for decades. Electric cables or rails have long powered trams and trains.

But the emergence of industrial-strength electric battery and motor technology is freeing public transit from route-restricting wires and enabling trucks to haul weightier loads over longer distances. Analysts say that the greatest emissions impact outside the personal vehicle market will probably come from electrifying public transit. Large, battery-powered city buses can now travel their entire daily route (generally up to around 150 miles) on a single charge. China, the world leader in manufacture and export of electric buses, is also the biggest electric-bus user, with around 80,000 currently on the road and thousands more set to come. Shanghai alone announced plans to add 1,400 electric buses a year beginning in 2015.

An electric powertrain developed by California-based Wrightspeed can be installed as a retrofit in a standard diesel-powered garbage truck, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 68%. (Photo: Josh Hittleman)

Electric buses are also gaining ground in the United States and Europe. Dozens are already rolling in places such as Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley, Nashville, and San Antonio, and several cities are considering adding more than 200 additional electric buses nationwide over the next few years. Even London’s iconic double-deckers are going electric, with the first five being put into service this spring. IDTechEx projects that global electric bus sales will near 60,000 in 2017, and top 250,000 by 2025.

FedEx and UPS both adopt electric trucks

The new electric drives are particularly suited to medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that make frequent stops, and they are gaining use in short-haul cargo trucks, tractor-tractors, and delivery vans, including more than 800 electric trucks now being used by FedEx and UPS. The technology is even making its way to sea, including hybrid electric tugboats escorting freighters in the port of Los Angeles, and all-electric ferries that have just started plying the Norwegian fjords.

As a means of limiting global warming, however, electrifying commercial transport can’t compensate for the lag in the consumer market, analysts say. Light-duty passenger cars and trucks produce the bulk of carbon dioxide output from transportation today — around 60 percent in the U.S. — and ambitious climate goals, such as the Obama administration’s plan to get 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by the end of last year, have been coming up short. About 1.3 million electric cars are on roads worldwide today, and with the current deluge of cheap gasoline, sales of new electric cars actually fell in 2015.

Wrightspeed workers build the base frame of the world’s first fully electric garbage truck. (Photo: Wrightspeed)

Still, the medium- and heavy-duty commercial rolling stock responsible for roughly a quarter of transportation emissions presents a significant target for cutting greenhouse gases.

Wright’s California-based company is targeting stop-and-go trucks in classes 4 to 8, weighing from around 7 tons to more than 15 tons. Electric powertrains outperform standard engines in delivering high torque at low speeds, which best suits the work demands on these types of vehicles.

Wrightspeed has developed a range-extended electric powertrain with regenerative braking on all drive wheels so the frequent hard stops made by vehicles like garbage trucks keep the batteries charged. While the system also includes a range-extending generator that still requires fuel, the electric powertrain — installed as a retrofit to a standard diesel garbage truck — more than doubles the mileage and reduces emissions up to 68 percent.

“We do garbage trucks because a single truck burns 14,000 gallons a year,” says Wright. The company is also producing electric delivery trucks for FedEx, and has had inquiries for a variety of other applications, including mining trucks, trains, and coastal patrol boats.

He acknowledges that the overall climate benefits are limited by the fairly small niche markets for vehicles like garbage trucks. “On an individual basis, it makes enormous amounts of sense,” says Wright. “However, there are only 150,000 garbage trucks in the country.” Still, Wright says he expects that 90 percent of those will use electric drives within five years.

Motors are getting better

New designs for industrial motors are overcoming the lack of horsepower that irks many electric car drivers today. Colorado-based UQM Technologies recently developed an electric motor with lighter materials and a new process for controlling the internal magnets that make it rotate — boosting power enough to haul a loaded bus up a steep hill, according to the company’s vice-president of engineering, Josh Ley. The company makes motors for the U.S. electric bus maker Proterra, as well as “beyond-road” applications such as tugboats, yachts, and even a record-setting electric racing airplane.

An electric hybrid bus developed for the London market, the Enviro 400H. [Photo credit: 4cryingoutloud / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr]

Marine transport is one of the areas that’s “electrifying at a startling pace,” says Harrop. Huge container ships, for instance, can use side-pointing electric propellers to dock, and electric motors power a variety of pleasure boats. Electric motors currently can’t produce the sustained power needed by the global fleet of nearly 50,000 large shipping vessels while at sea, but they can provide many smaller fuel-saving gains in port.

“Increasingly, what was not electric is starting to become electric,” says Harrop, whose firm estimates the electric marine market, now valued at $500 million to $1 billion, will grow to $34 billion within 10 years.

But despite this fast-paced technical evolution, the near-term outlook for electric transportation is as mixed for commercial vehicles as it is for cars. Range limits, lengthy charging downtime, and hefty batteries make electric drives impractical for long-distance transport like aircraft, big rig tractor-trailers, and cargo ships. Although it’s cheaper to drive on electricity than gasoline mile-per-mile, the high price of batteries continues to make electric vehicles considerably more expensive than conventional vehicles. Increasing production could lower manufacturing costs, but could also drive battery prices up if growing demand creates shortages of essential battery ingredients like lithium salts.

One key concern is the source of the electricity

And then there is the crucial issue of whether the electricity is being produced by fossil fuels or renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power. Overall, the electric grid is growing greener, according to latest International Energy Agency report, which states that around 90 percent of new electricity production in 2015 came from renewable energy sources. Even China has cut its coal use by more than 10 percent since 2011. Still, nearly 70 percent of that country’s electricity is produced from coal. So, while electric vehicles generally have significantly lower emissions than conventional vehicles in places with relatively clean grids, like much of Europe, that is not the case in areas still generating electricity primarily from coal, like China, India, and Australia.

“If we’re going to decarbonize the transit system through electrification,” says James Sallee, a transportation economist at the University of California-Berkeley, “then you’re going to have to figure out how to clean up the electric grid substantially.”

Even with these choke points, analysts say, electric transportation still holds promise for reining in greenhouse emissions, and humble vehicles like garbage trucks could help lead the way.

“The best way to get carbon out of the transportation system as a whole would be to get these sorts of slivers out of light duty, medium duty, heavy duty, rail and so on,” says Knittel. “There’s no silver bullet here, but there’s a bunch of silver pellets.”

Cheryl Katz is an independent science writer covering climate change, energy, earth sciences and environmental health. This column originally appeared at Yale Environment 360.

19 Comments

  1. Kye Ford | | #1

    Cold Weather
    How do these larger vehicles fair in cold temps? I have heard from Prius owners that economy goes when down in the winter, comparable to non hybrid vehicles...It is hard to get a lithium ion drill to run in the middle of February up here in the North Country.

  2. Jonathan Lawrence CZ 4A New Jersey | | #2

    I question the stall
    I question the stall argument. Gas prices are very low, yet Tesla has taken over 400k orders for its Model 3. Demand is there even at this level of gas prices. What has not been there until now is a mass market vehicle that looks good and will perform better than most gas version cars in its class. If the other vehicle companies would start selling EV's that look cool, they will sell.

    Kye - I have driven almost 60k miles in my Tesla over the past 3 years and there is a clear reduction in range as temps decline. I also believe there is a similar reduction in mileage for gas cars at colder temps, but don't quote me on that. However, even with the reduction, it really has no convenience impact on me. I get about 200 miles on a full charge in single digit temps. That is plenty for my daily driving. If I needed to stop at an EV charging station to fill up every day that would be very inconvenient. However, I just plug in when I get home and the car does the rest. I get 58 miles of range /hour of charging at home. It charges overnight at my lower TOU rate of 9.5 cents/KHW.

    I was in San Fran this weekend for a energy conference and this was the first time a saw a FedEx electric truck. I was having breakfast at an outside cafe and the truck was stopped at a light in front of me. No noise or air pollution. Nice. A few minutes later, another FedEx truck pulls up, but not electric. Lot's of fumes and noise. Bad. Count me as a fan of Electric delivery trucks.

  3. User avater
    Stephen Sheehy | | #3

    reply to Jonathan
    What size charger do you have? 58 miles of range in an hour sounds better than I would think the typical 240 volt/20 amp garage receptacle could provide.

    I think we'll see a surge in electric cars when/if the Model 3 materializes. Tesla is smart to establish superchargers here and there, even though most people seem to charge at home, like you do. Anyone building apartments or commercial buildings really ought to plan to install chargers.

    I won't be in the market for a car for at least 3-4 years, but then I'll sure look at a Tesla 3 and whatever else might be available and add some more PV to my roof to keep it charged.

  4. User avater
    Dana Dorsett | | #4

    Range goes down with outdoor temp, but so what?
    A properly designed electric bus transit system will factor in those issues into their routes & charging schedules. In Seoul Korea they even have been experimenting with wireless charging coils embedded in the pavement at some bus stops to extend range, and even under some streets for wireless charging while in motion. This is in part to save money by going with smaller batteries. But now that both LG and Samsung have both built or are building gia-normous EV battery factories in Korea the expensive of the wireless charging systems may end up higher than bigger batteries.

    The local transit authority in my area has been running a fleet of Proterra (http://www.proterra.com/ ) buses for a couple of years now. I only know of one failure (don't have the details on it though):

    https://blog.mass.gov/transportation/greendot/worcester-regional-transit-electric-transit-bus-fleet/

    This is an area with a single digit 99% outside design temps that occasionally hits negative double-digits during cold snaps, but the electric buses kept rolling though this year's subzero coolth without any problems.

    The notion that EV sales has stalled is oft put out there by the hand-wringing press, but generally NOT true. Worldwide numbers continue to climb, and in the US there has been a short term pause that's generally explainable: By prematurely announcing the next generation of Leaf, Nissan shot themselves in the foot as people opted to wait for the newer longer range version with more features. Similarly, some EV buyers are in "wait and see" mode for the imminent delivery of the Chevy Bolt before deciding which EV to buy.

    And as Jonathan correctly points out, insane numbers of people are out there plunking down $1000 each to get in line for the Tesla Model 3, handing Tesla close to a half-billion USD in interest free capital to play with. If THAT is considered a stall, I sure wish MY industry/company would experience such a stall! :-)

    Both Norway and the Netherlands will no longer allow internal combustion engine passenger cars and light trucks beginning in 2025, and India (yeah INDIA, that overly rich industrial country with the overdeveloped grid capacity!) has announced a similar policy effective 2030. Both Germany and Austria are talking about restricting internal combustion vehicle use & or sales too. Doubts about the viability of EVs in the face of cheap oil really are unfounded. The convenience of charging at home and never having to take it in for an oil change is enough for some people, even if gas hits a buck a gallon.

  5. John Clark | | #5

    reply to Jonathan
    Diesel vehicles usually get slightly less mpg's in the winter because of the anti-gel additives. Gasoline not so much.

    The jury is out on the T3 so we can't really draw any conclusions I suspect the T3 owner will be less tolerant of delivery delays and reliability issues. For EV's to gain market share they need to be more reliable, have above average fit-and-finish, and have greater range (over 400 miles using rooftop solar array). For comparison I had a 6 cylinder 'clean' diesel vehicle that could, on one tank of fuel, travel over 400 miles at 85 mph with the AC running.

    From what I've read EV's aren't any more reliable than a comparable gasser, the typical mass-market buyer won't accept that. Tesla had better realize that.

  6. Jonathan Lawrence CZ 4A New Jersey | | #6

    Stephen,I have 3 chargers in
    Stephen,

    I have 3 chargers in my house. The first is a 20amp 110 outlet in my garage. The car will charge at 80% of the rated amperage of the circuit so 16amps which gives me 4 miles of range per hour. A 15 amp circuit will give me 3 miles. I had ordered the Tesla Wall Charger when I ordered my car, but it was backordered and would not be delivered until a few months after I received my car so I also had a 14-50 outlet installed which gives me 29 miles of range per hour. The Tesla charger is 100 amp circuit, 220vac and that is where I get the 58 miles of range per hour. I was recently up in VT for a PH Builder course and I drove 2.5 hours to Albany where I charged at a Tesla Super Charger (170 miles of range in 30 minutes). The charger is located in a big mall just off of 87. I had lunch at Whole Foods and bought a nice warm turtleneck at LL Bean. The car was ready to go before I was. I drove the rest of way to upstate VT without charging, and even had to drive through a couple inches of snow before reaching my motel. During the week I just plugged in at the school. I was getting 4 miles/hour so about 36 miles per day which was more than enough to cover my driving back and forth from the school to my motel and give me enough reserve to get to Lebanon NH to the Tesla SC on my way to Boston. There was an NRG free charger in the town I was staying at and I plugged in once just to check it out. 20 miles of range per hour and free, but less convenient than plugging in at school. My hotel in Boston had its own charger and so I arrived with 25 miles of range and left the next morning with 250 miles of range. I drove to Providence, RI the next day for the JLC convention and charged in Darrien, CT on my way home while I had lunch.

    The convenience factor that Dana mentions could not be more true. Nothing is worse than when my wife asks me to go fill up the tank in her car. I have to drive 20 minutes round-trip, then wait 5-minutes for it to fill up while inhaling gas fumes. Compare that to charging my car 3 times per week, 20 seconds round trip to plug in and unplug, so a total of 1 minute per week of my time to charge.

    Putting aside the fact that it is an electric car, it is the best car that I have ever owned. Instant acceleration, amazing torque, great looks, superb handling, very safe, low center of gravity, silent, exhaust free, etc. I believe other car manufacturers could build similar cars, but they have too much invested in their gasoline infrastructure to do that so they just keep making these small volume EV's to use in their marketing materials to look green when in reality not much has changed. Eventually they will wake-up. I think it is similar to the Solar/Utility industries. The only reason Solar City and the like exist is because the conservative old utilities had no interest in cannibalizing themselves when they could just do things the way they always had. However, it has now reached a point where they have lost too much and it was clear at the conference I was at that now there are some very progressive utilities out there that are adding solar farms with battery storage, smart grids, etc., to deal with these new threats.

    I saw a great quote today from the CEO of Ferrari after he test drove a Tesla.

    " “This is not Ferrari,” Marchionne told CNN , adding he had to turn up the radio to counteract the silence. That is what is so great about a Tesla is it makes no noise, so you can hear the radio."

    Hah! In my wife's gas car, I have to turn up the radio just to compensate for the noise of the engine. I guess Marchionne is not a fan of good music.

    Unfortunately, some old habits are hard to change even if change is for the good.

  7. Tim C | | #7

    Cold Weather Mileage
    All gasoline engine cars take a winter mileage & range hit, particularly with short trips, because it takes longer for the engine to warm up & reach the ranges where it is most efficient. The Prius stands out for this over other vehicles because it actively broadcasts the mileage to the user, and to a lesser extent, for the first and second generations, because the more efficient engine takes longer to heat up with less waste heat (the third and fourth generations overcome this with exhaust gas heat recovery). The cold weather performance of the NiMH battery is a totally negligible factor.

    Even for fully electric cars, the biggest impact on cold weather range isn't the battery performance - it's the cabin heater. They can (mostly/usually) keep the battery warm enough to maintain good battery performance from waste heat, but unlike combustion engines, there's not nearly enough to heat the cabin, so there's a major power cost to it.

  8. Jonathan Rupp | | #8

    Article misses the key advantages of Electric in gargage trucks
    Interesting article that does a good job explaining the frequently publicized advantages of standard electric vehicles, but totally misses the real advantage of electric vehicles in these garbage & delivery truck applications.

    Delivery and garbage trucks (and city buses) operate very different cycles than typical vehicles. Garbage trucks are the extreme in that rarely get up to 25 mph before they start slowing down, and spend a lot of time in or near idle. The primary issue with diesel engines is that the relatively newly required particulate filters and to a lesser degree SCR (selective catalyst reduction for NOx) do not perform well in this loading cycles (the particulate filters quickly clog without more time in higher RPMs).

    Because of this, few of these vehicles are being built with conventional diesel powertrains today. (Those that are using conventional diesel engines are for rural areas with large distances between stops or limited access to CNG facilities). The majority of these vehicles are currently produced with CNG or diesel-hybrid designs. CNG doesn't have a large NOx issue, and runs much more quietly than standard diesel. Hybrids benefited from being the shiny-new-penny idea (particularly for city buses), but I heard that cities have been a little disappointed in the efficiency / cost saving performance of hybrids (I think related to the actual vs. predicted energy recovery) and may move back to more CNG on buses, but it was still a bit up in the air.

    But turning back to all electric, an all electric drive train also offers benefits vs. diesel, certainly on the particulate filter / NOx trap side. But it is really competing against CNG powered vehicles, which can be significantly cheaper to operate vs. diesel (although with today's fuel prices, less so, and if you include a road use tax on electric the electric cost would decrease), CNG also offers improved emissions vs. diesel (could be better or worse than EVs depending on where you get your power from), finally, CNG does well where the vehicles return 'home' every day where they can refuel, EVs also do well here, but it is much easier to install an electric charger than a CNG station (although all the operators who installed CNG stations in the last 5 years maybe slow to give up on those investments and shift to electric).

  9. Jonathan Lawrence CZ 4A New Jersey | | #9

    Chris,I think the
    Chris,

    I think the reliability issue has been overblown. Considering we are talking about a new car manufacturer, I am amazed they got so much right and so little wrong. You really should expect there to be issues as pretty much everything is a new design and they make a lot of their stuff in house. The main issues have revolved around the pop-out door handles, motor bearing and battery contact. They have redesigned each of those components so I think you will see less reliability complaints with the Model S. You will probably see complaints with the Model X being the new car off the assembly line and again those will decline over time. I have no doubt in my mind the the Model 3 will be hands down a better car than not only the Chevy Bolt, but also the BMW 3 series and Audi S3.

    I think the biggest issue Tesla faces is production capabilities with the Model 3. 400,000 pre-orders and growing is a lot of cars, even if only half of those turn into actual orders. They have plenty of space at the NUMI plant and they are highly automated, but still that is a lot of cars.

    As for range, Tesla can't compete with your truck. But few cars could. My previous SUV's and sedans never got more than 300 miles on a full tank. The benefit for me of having a gas car with the ability to drive for a long time without refueling is not for long distance travel, but for the convenience of just visiting the gas station less often. When your refueling station is your home, that benefit disappears and if fact becomes a penalty because home charging is easier than refueling in my mind. Personally, I can't drive more than 250 miles at a clip. I need to stop, stretch my legs, etc. I don't mind stopping. If you want to win a Cannonball Run from NY to LA, you will not win it in a Tesla. If you want to pay nothing to power your vehicle to get there, then Tesla is your car.

  10. D Dorsett | | #10

    The only serious problem with EVs is the price of batteries
    For short-haul truck fleets and buses the battery price problem is solved by the charging schedule. For personal cars needing more range the price problem is pretty much going to solve it self in less than 10 years, probably less than five. Like PV solar, EV batteries are on a rapid manufacturing cost "learning curve", dropping a double digit percentage in cost & price with every doubling in production.

    https://cdn0.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/QlrnOaw9JPQiLhlUevmXcLwtPWE=/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/5997463/BNEF-Battery-Energy-Storage-Learning-Curve-is-the-Same-as-PV-Learning-Curve.png

    http://rameznaam.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/li-ion-battery-improvement-curve1.jpg

    Tesla's battery factory in NV isn't even fully online yet, but by 2018 will by-itself be producing as much EV battery capacity as the whole world did in 2015. LG & Samsung are building out similar capacity, and there are similar large production facilities going up in Germany and China.

    This is an unprecedented ramp up in capacity. If anything, Ramez Naam's analysis from 2014 of WHEN certain price points will be hit is way too conservative:

    http://rameznaam.com/2014/09/30/the-learning-curve-for-energy-storage/

    A range of projections from different analysis are compared here:

    http://dqbasmyouzti2.cloudfront.net/assets/content/cache/made/content/images/articles/Storage_Cost_Drops_580_440.png

    If we to project the current cost of batteries onto the year scale in that curve, we're arlready below 2050 pricing per the EIA's curve, and somewhere between 2018 and 2020 by the rest. And this is BEFORE the multiple competing giga-factories currently under construction are producing at previously unseen quantities.

    The exponentially growing investment in Lithium ion is being driven by three large industries- portable electronics, electric power, and electric vehicles. The price problem is rapidly solving itself.

  11. John Clark | | #11

    @Jonathan Lawrence
    I wasn't thinking of Tesla per se, but EV's in general. Tesla, Leaf, Volt, BMW i-series, are not above avg when they should be (IMO at least). I was just opining that early adopters usually gloss over deficiencies that a mass-market buyer would have a fit over. I myself was an early adopter of the 'clean-diesel' platform (BMW sedan known as the 335d) and was fully aware that only a fan boy such as myself would've put up with the dealers inability to rectify emissions faults that the car developed.

    Of course all the majors are expanding their EV offerings. BMW for example will have an EV 3-series in the not too distant future.

  12. Charlie Sullivan | | #12

    and for long haul we can use Siemens' ehighway
    My favorite solution for long haul trucks and buses is a modernization of the > 100 year old idea of overhead electric wires. http://w3.siemens.com/topics/global/en/electromobility/pages/ehighway.aspx. One of the first applications is for the road to the port of Los Angeles, which should be operational soon if not already.

    By the way, there are a lot of reasons not yet mentioned why cars use more energy in the winter. Tires' rolling resistance goes up dramatically when the rubber gets very cold, and dense air means higher air drag. For gasoline engines, dense air also requires a more constricted throttle for a given power output, which increases pumping losses. And in some climates, the roads are more frequently wet or snowy, both of which increase rolling resistance.

  13. Greg Labbe | | #13

    What? Uninuslated cars?
    I'd love to see electric garbage trucks on my street, but why not also eliminate or significantly reduce the need for waste collection in the first place? Municipalities need to fight packaging waste. Maybe those who felt the Bern might want to focus on that change.

    As for cold weather mileage penalty; this is a building science group that can solve those thermal-envelop-on-wheels issues!

    Possible 2030 discussion between blokes in Winnipeg, Manitoba:

    Fred - "You still driving that 2016 Prius?"
    Mic - "Yeah, I love it but the mileage isn't optimal come winter time and the windows fog up so quickly. especially on 3-dog drives* when the dogs breath so heavily to keep warm."
    Fred - "Tell me about it! I can't believe they even made cars without insulation. So many metal thermal bridges, no balanced heat recovery in the ventilation and the windows aren't thermally broken, tempered, safety VIGs! What were they thinking?"
    Mic - "Agreed! I like the work around Toyota brought in for the 2031 line with the hot plates! Such a good idea, my great-grandmother used to do that going to bed apparently!"
    Fred - "Those old-timer's sure had comfort figured out!"

    *The driving equivalent of a 3-dog night: http://www.metaphordogs.org/Dogs/entries/threedog.html

  14. Eric Sandeen | | #14

    Stall?
    According to InsideEVs, "U.S. Plug-In Car Sales Currently On 4th Consecutive Monthly Record (Data Through February 2016)"

  15. David McNeely | | #15

    Start with Rickshaws!
    The developing world still relies on millions of rickshaws to provide local transport. If "noisy, smelly diesels" are the problem to tackle, this might be an intervention that could result in the biggest payoff for the smallest investment.

  16. D Dorsett | | #16

    India is getting rid of stinky rickshaws (@ David McNeely)
    Indian Power minister Piyush Goyal's recently stated policy is that internal combustion engine vehicles won't be legal to sell in India beginning in 2030, using creative financing schemes to make that easy on (among others) rickshaw drivers.

    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/auto/news/industry/india-aims-to-become-100-e-vehicle-nation-by-2030-piyush-goyal/articleshow/51551706.cms

  17. Jonathan Lawrence CZ 4A New Jersey | | #17

    Chris,My dad bought not one,
    Chris,

    My dad bought not one, but two Olds Diesel 88's. I believe they were determined to be the worst diesel engines ever made. Talk about early adopter penalty.

    The biggest compromise I see in today's EV's is styling, and it has less to do with aerodynamics and more to do with limiting interest to save the manufacturer's existing business. The other big compromise I see is the dual nature of Hybrid power systems. The worst of both world's in my mind. Simplify, don't complicate.

    The vast majority of Tesla owners are very happy, but I think the ones who are the least happy are those who thought they were buying a luxury car. The Model S is a sports sedan. It is not a luxury sedan and so people who traded in their Mercedes S550 and BMW 750 were upset when they did not get a zillion blue LED lights on the dashboard or walnut trim or back massaging seats.

    I was traveling last week and our hotel had a house car that was a Bentley Sedan. I was expecting to take an Uber to dinner but the Bentley was free (except for obligatory tip) and I had never been in one before so we opted for the Bentley. After the ride, I felt like that $300k car was a compromise. I felt cramped thanks to the drivetrain hump in the back, I felt like I was getting jerked every time the car shifted or the driver used the brakes to slow down and I could smell the fumes when we got in and out of the car. I thought to myself too bad they did not have a Tesla as a house car.

    If there is one compromise that is mentioned more than anything else, it is range. That is just not applicable to me or most people thanks to home charging, Tesla's Super Chargers and Destination Chargers (Tesla's 100 Amp Charger located at hotels, restaurants, etc.).

    The most compelling way for me to get people to rethink the compromise argument of electric vs gas is to imagine that gas cars were the new technology and we had been driving EV's since the early 1900's. Let's say a new car company called Ford came along with this new gas technology that now allowed us travel long distances with much shorter refueling times of 10 minutes vs 30 minutes. As great as that sounds, there are a few drawbacks as follows:

    1) The carbon emissions are twice that of an EV
    2) The gas car is slower, generates noxious fumes and requires regular oil changes.
    3) You can't gas up at home. You have to drive to a gas station, bring cash with you or pay more with a credit card, smell more fumes, wait in line, etc. Also, the price of gas is highly variable and dictated by foreign countries for the most part.
    4) It has more than one gear, in fact as many as 8, so each time you accelerate or decelerate you will feel slight tugging sensations.
    5) It does note have regenerative braking so you will need to use your left foot to slow the car down
    6) It is slower than an EV and there is no instant torque so you need to factor in about .5 seconds form the time you hit the accelerator until something actually happens.
    7) It is noisy, but we have added a 500 watt stereo system for you to drown out the engine noise.
    8) It has much less cargo space because what used to be storage in the front of the car is now this giant combustion engine. And if you have 3 people sitting in the backseat, there is this hump that the person sitting in the middle will have to deal with.
    9) In some states you will have to get the car inspected every few years to check its emissions.
    10) It does not handle as well in the snow because of its higher center of gravity.
    11) You cannot purchase the car or get it serviced by Ford. You need to go to a dealer, who buys the car from Ford, marks it up, sells it to different people at different prices and then makes most of its money by selling you adds-on and service. You can't purchase it online either.

    I think when you look at it from that perspective, the EV compromise argument, as least as it relates to Tesla, starts to fall apart. I would encourage you to take a test drive if you have a Tesla store nearby.

    However, as much of a Fanboy of Tesla as I am, I will emphatically state that I will never buy another Tesla! The technology changes too quickly so I will lease in the future.

  18. John Clark | | #18

    @Lawrence
    Actually until rooftop solar becomes a reality I'll never own an EV, although my wife might. I have no ability to charge, I drive far, fast, often, and simply can't bring myself to ask people who I'm visiting if I can "plug in" to their house.

    EV's are a poor choice for people who actually benefit from them the most. IMO that's urban dwellers who live in condo/apartments, or single family w/no garage.

    IMO EV's are however a great addition to public transportation and urban fleets since the charging stations can be built out. Rooftop solar on an OTR truck would save the driver significant amounts of money because he/she wouldn't have to run the engine when waiting to pick up/drop off a load, in traffic jams, etc.

    Btw..I agree the instant TQ of an eclectic car is exhilarating for sure. These cars can be very fast, but alas they have short legs.

  19. User avater
    Dana Dorsett | | #19

    Range is the same thing as battery price (response to #17).
    "If there is one compromise that is mentioned more than anything else, it is range."

    Batteries are currently the major cost driver underlying an EV. As batteries get cheaper, extended range becomes affordable. This problem is being solved. Cheaper EVs currently have very limited range, but that won't be the case in 2020.

    Batteries are also getting incrementally better year on year, not just cheaper. The improvements are in terms of energy round-trip efficiency, charging times, and the number of charging cycles over it's lifecycle.

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