July 21, 2008

Offsetting Peak oil for one to two decades: Viable Electric cars for less than $5000 electric car credit

Previously this site looked at a technology that is almost in hand for solving excess manmade CO2 (possible global warming) and now a simple nearly in hand technology and plan for addressing peak oil. They both need to be part of an overall energy and technology development plan, but a key point is technology and good planning can solve the issues that the world is concerned about. Some may say, hey if we can solve peak oil and climate change with those simple technologies and painless plans then we are done. No, we have to provide enough clean energy so that everyone living in China, India, Africa etc... can be rich. This will require a lot more energy per capita. Many of the negawatt plans are basically plans to make everyone poor with very little energy per person. Those negawatt are bad plans that ignore what people really want. Long term we will need to switch to clean electric power sources (nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and others)

UPDATE: H/T Instapundit. A description of why small cars are not unsafe on the road when hit by an SUV. Although we would be safer if there were fewer large vehicles on the road

John McCain has proposed a $5000 tax credit for electric cars.

Inexpensive electric cars that cost less than $5000 could be purchased as extra commuter vehicles without the need to wait for people to get rid of their current cars which can take a decade or more. A model of an inflatable electric car could be only $2500 in price and available starting in 2010-2011. Such an inexpensive vehicle would make economic sense to drivers who could have the cost recovered in fuel savings in one year or less instead of over ten years with current expensive hybrids.
UPDATE: Addressing the possibility that the inflatable electric car does not deliver or is a hoax. There are other cheap electric car possibilities listed here. An electric Tata Nano. The concepts for an inflatable electric car do not sound impossible and would seem to offer valid though radical concepts that would be worthwhile to research even if those behind XP Vehicles were not the ones to do it.

This would be a solution to Peak Oil. Offsetting peak oil for one to two decades allows time for the transition build up of nuclear and other energy sources. Peak oil is the problem when oil production starts to decline and the price of oil increasing rapidly. Current price increases are peak lite, with demand exceeding supply and supply still increasing. If we are able to rapidly scale up to tens of millions and then hundreds of millions of electric cars below $5000 with a driving range between charges over 200 miles and able to hold 4 passengers then the electric commuter car should rapidly achieve 50-80% adoption with some government support on prices and regulations. 30% of US and world fuel usage could then be displaced, which would be about 30 million barrels of oil per day. A straight line ten year deployment would be fuel savings that cumulatively increase at 3 million barrels of oil per day each year. If there was oil production decline then the 3 million barrels per day would offset the decline in production. This would free up any new algae biofuel production increases and other measures to address increased demand.

Inflatable electric cars could have 2500 mile range using a single hot-swap XPack Multi-CoreTM Battery/Fuel Cell power plant.

40% of US oil is used for cars. There are 850 million cars in the world and 2 million of them are hybrid electric.

There are over 60,000 electric cars in the United States

There are many electric cars that are starting or will be starting production listed at wikipedia.

India's Tata Motors is rumored to produce a compressed air car that would cost around Rs. 350,000 [US$8200] in India with a range of 300 km [180 miles] and would only need US$2 for the electricity to compress the air for refueling. None of the materials for the vehicle would have supply issues for replacing 850 million cars unlike Lithium for high performance batteries. The range of the compressed air only car drops when it is driven at highway speeds to less than half the distance.

Some analysts believe the need to build an infrastructure of compressor stations and the need to comply with strict safety standards would prevent the compressed air car from being any more than city based commuter option niche vehicle.

"In North America, it's basically a nonstarter," says Rinek, admitting that there are limited niche markets. "The only potential, if any, would be for an inner-city, short-commute vehicle with an ultra-greenie owner."

Trikke - Take a Ride.Exhaust Pipe Adapters

In the dual-mode version [hybrid], with assistance from fuel, speeds can reach 100 miles per hour, and range expands to 900 miles on less than a gallon of fuel (although the faster one goes, the shorter the range). ZPM wants to produce a 6-seater, 75-hp model with a 1000 mile range at 96 mph, all for just $17,800.

A compressed air car would have no expensive batteries to replace

The cheapest cars in the world in March 2008 part One #10 to #6

The cheapest cars in the world in March 2008 part two #5 to #1

#1. Tata Nano: 4-door hatchback. India. $2,497. Weighs about 700kg.
#2. Chery QQ: 4-door hatchback. China. $4,781.
#3. Suzuki Maruti 800: 5-door hatchback. $4,994.
#4. Geely MR: 5-door. China. $5,500
#5. Geely HQ SRV: 5-door "tall" estate. China $5,780

Light cars are the best for converting into electric cars

Twelve cheapest cars in the USA

A 2007 Business week look at the race to make cheap at less than or near $3000

The Speculist had noted that there appears to be a short bridge and transition in cars through hybrid cars to electric cars Very light electric cars (700 kg or less) would use one third or less the number of batteries which are the most expensive part of an electric car that is targeting the low end market. Using fewer batteries to move less material note only makes the car cheaper (which increases unit sales) but also allows for an easier ramp up of the battery industry to support more electric vehicles. Use one third the batteries and the same amount of batteries makes three cars instead of one. A projection of one million electric cars in one year becomes three million electric cars.

Currently there are 25 million electric bikes and scooters being made each year. The bikes and scooters weight 25-200 pounds and move one person at up to 70mph with ranges up to 100 miles. A light electric car (including one or two passengers) might only move three times the weight of a loaded electric scooter 400-500 pounds). Three times the batteries would be 8 million electric cars to equal the batteries fo 25 million more power electric scooters.

Lighter cars with lower power requirements can also make better use of integrated solar panels. The Prius is using 2-5 KW solar panels to power the air conditioning in a Toyota Prius

5KW is 6.7 Horsepower. The Tata Nano has a 33 HP engine. An electric Tata Nano car with 5 KW solar panels could provide 1 hour of driving time for every 5 hours of charging time.

The model T had 20 HP (15KW) engine and a top speed of 40 mph

The Model T weighed 540 Kg

Improve the solar cells to slightly over double the power generation would allow unlimited urban driving for an electric car.


randal.leavitt said...

What is an electric car? If you use wires, computers, sensors, and servo-motors to replace the transmission, brakes, and suspension, but leave the gasoline engine in to turn the generator, is that an electric car? If you replace the gasoline engine with an electric motor and a battery, but leave in the mechanical transmission, brakes, and suspension, is that an electric car? If you take out all the safety features to make the car light enough to drive all the way to work on one battery charge, is that dangerous new car an electric car? Yes, I want an electric car - but for me that means it is faster, safer, quieter, cleaner, and less expensive.

bw said...

An electric car is one that uses electrical power as the primary source of power for propulsion for the vehicle. Compressed air counts in the case where air compression is performed with electric power.

There needs to not be a gasoline engine. A gas engine with electrical power is a hybrid car.

The XP vehicles inflatable car is supposed to be as safe as current cars. You are riding around in air bag material.

If we are addressing big time critical problems like peak oil and possible climate change, then we may not have the luxury of waiting for faster and safer. We may have to settle for fast enough (60-70mph), and safe enough (meet minimum collision standards). The examples that I gave were definitely less expensive to buy and operate and cleaner and quieter.

AST said...

I hope these things pan out, but I'm not holding my breath. Americans have a good reason for wanting SUVs and Minivans. I hope you'll cover the safety concerns with these tiny cars.

What bothers me about your report is the reference to planning, which usually means central planning, which usually works against free markets. We should have learned by now that this kind of stuff mandated by governments and NGOs like the U.N. does return optimum results. Central planning substitutes bureaucrats, often activists and enthusiasts, for the collective decisions made by markets.

If these wonder cars are feasible, bring them on by all means, but don't make them part of a government plan or subsidize them.

John said...

How are you going to recharge an electric car? Isn't it all that energy going to mostly be generated by gasoline anyway? Or is it mostly coal?

How much would it actually reduce gas usage?

bw said...

John McCain (the more fiscally conservative of the two Presidential candidates) is proposing $5000 government subsidies for each electric car. There have already been hybrid car subsidies of about $3000 for several years.

The only difference in this proposal is that by keeping the entire cost of the car to less than those amounts then the government support would cover the cost of the car.

Covering only 80% of the cost of a lower priced car would be fine.

When a better plan is discussed the comparison is to bad or inferior plans. A better plan gets more electric cars deployed for the same level or less government support.

Spend $5 billion of government support and instead of 1 million cars get 10 million.

Subsidization has happened and continues to happen. There should be support for a plan that can actually solve the target problem.

In this plan people can keep their SUVs and pay high prices to use them. But they will have a cheap option for getting around that does not use oil.

Safety is better than electric scooters and should meet basic collision standards.

Cities like San Francisco, Berkeley and Washington DC have rules that restrict certain car usage. Odd/even license plate or banning cars from parts of the city. The expectation would be that if cheap electric cars were widely available that those kinds of cities would only allow those cars to be used within most of city limits.

hmmm would Berkeley pass such invasive laws ?

bw said...

big energy picture stats

Electricity generation in the USA.
50% from coal
20% nuclear
20% natural gas
7% hydro
1% wind
2% biomass and oil

it would save oil to go electric, plus lighter cars would be more efficient

bw said...

The energy plan that site recommends is to build more nuclear power and more renewables to displace coal and to add more electrical power for electrifying transportation.

MIT/Westinghouse power uprates would increase nuclear power from 20 to 30% even without reactor build

Quilly_Mammoth said...

All we have to do is ignore safety regulations and these crush=o=matic cars are long as government puts his heavy hand down.

Congratulations, Brian, you've moved from interesting blog to fascist enabler. Well done, sir!

bw said...

The Tata nano has no airbags and was not developed to specifically meet America's stringent crash-test standards.

However, this doesn't imply that the Nano is a rolling death-trap, or subject to any half-baked engineering. During the launch of the Nano earlier this year at New Delhi Auto Expo, Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group and Tata Motors, explained that the Nano has passed Indian full-frontal crash tests and has been designed to meet international offset and side-impact crash tests. So the potential to meet U.S. safety standards is there (at least in theory). The same is true of the car's engine. The Nano's rear-mounted, 34-horsepower, 623cc aluminum twin-cylinder gasoline engine is capable of more than 50-mpg and meets Euro III emissions standards.

So the Tata Nano is about on par in safety with a ten year old used car.

If the electric versions of such cars only go to India, China and then to Europe they would be able to offset a lot fuel usage.

There were also rumors during this year's Geneva auto show that the Nano could come to the States powered by an electric motor. Replacing the Nano's gas-powered engine with an electric one could qualify it as a low-speed vehicle (LSV) in the States (or what is sometimes referred to as the "quadricycle" class of city-car in Europe). These city-cars have limited power, top-speeds of only 25 to 30 mph, and can't be driven on highways. These vehicles are also exempt from having to meet stricter safety standards that apply to normal road cars.

bw said...

Tata's Girish Wagh revealed that the second-generation Nano will be developed in four years from now and designed for an assault on the European market.

In order to market in Europe, the next Nano will need to comply with the stringent Euro 5 emissions and safety standards, and Tata will target three liters per 100km, [about 80mpg] down from the current Nano's already tiny-sipping 5L/km.

bw said...

$20,000 Triac electric vehicle available today. eligible for $4000 tax credit.

. Green Vehicles, manufacturer of the 3-wheeled TRIAC EV, calls it a “modern freeway commuter,” because the zero-emissions vehicle can reach 80 mph and will get you into the carpool lane with a single driver. Safety-wise, it has a structural steel cage the company says is the “same metal skeleton used in race cars” and a low center of gravity to maintain balance (but surprisingly has no airbags).