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Ener1, Inc. Message Board

  • arufalo arufalo Jul 17, 2008 8:30 PM Flag

    Watching "Who killed the electric car"

    And what I do not get is how advanced the EV1 seems to have been and all those people so happy with it, why is GM taking all this time to develop the Volt ? And even the batteries seem to have been OK, it had a good range, so what´s the story here ?

    HEV not doing to well, seems I got out at a good time at 8, think ALTI might be a better bet these days.

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    • WOW! You guys on this thread are sharp and way beyond what I know and I'm not being sarcastic. All I know fundamentally is buy low sell high. If I could just consistently tell the difference between how high and how low I wouldn't have to keep humping my ass at work. Its Sat night though guys, les partiee.

      I'm afraid ENEI/HEV is hype and the guys who bought at .25 made the money while the rest of us have been and are hoping. I still need a powerful vehicle to tow my boat and I still need a boat that does 70mph and 4$ gas just means a lot of drilling for oil is taking place. Its about time to buy some Suncor not a dream. Peak oil isn't here yet as long as the price is high enough to encourage the risk of developing new supplies but there will be a niche market for hybrids and the like. That oil runnup was a bubble. Just watch this country though destroy the great plains in an orderly lawful way like SU is doing in Canada. That's not to say that oil will ever be cheap again because it won't but it will still be there and we'll get it from another source or synthesize it because we have to have it. Gasoline is just a part of the hydrocarbons we need and crack out of crude oil and just because our gasoline demand might drop will not
      mean we necessarily drop our demand for oil. Cheney, HAL, XOM and even GM trounce the greens. GM has sold crap since I can remember and they will continue selling junk. The Volt? You can be sure if history is a judge that it will be junk and that the Japs will figure out how to make it work and sell it cheaper. GM's market cap is @10 times that of HEV. I don't own either anymore but I did make a few bucks off that GM puke recently. Let's buy a Cadillac Escalade! What do I know? I used to be cheerleader for this stock. Buy high sell higher.
      My nightmare with a Volt is that I'd be electricuted by the damn thing. I've owned enough of their vehicles to never buy another and they have built such crap that they keep convincing anyone who buys one to never buy another. Sort of like British cars.

    • I've head of PML Mini QED, but haven't looked into it much in awhile. It is similar to the Mitsubishi iMIEV with its in-wheel motors, which is why I keep referring to the iMIEV. Putting the motors in the wheel gives you a freedom to engineer the rest of the car in ways never before possible. It is all drive by wire, so there are no longer any mechanical systems that must be routed past the passenger cabin, and the need for a traditional hood to cover the engine space goes away. However, there does exist a very real and pesky problem dealing with excess unsprung weight.

      Extended range is a tricky issue. Having a backup range of 1000 miles sounds great, but is very impractical. There are almost no instances where that kind of range would be required. That would assume several days of driving with either no stopping or no access to a charging source. That happens so rarely that it would be a waste to lug around the weight of such a system on a daily basis.

      Part of the argument will be settled once electric cars get established and we see how easy it is to charge them at your destination. If you assume you primarily will charge your car exclusively at home, then some people will need quite a bit of extended range. If you always have access to a charger when you park your car, the argument about range changes quite a bit. If you get a full charge when you leave home AND when you leave work, your commuting range needs drop in half. If you can get a partial charge at every restaurant or store you stop at, your range needs likewise drop.

      One interesting point is that electric cars are ideal for congested cities, because you use nothing to sit in traffic, and stop and go is relatively efficient because of regenerative braking. Since there is virtually no wind resistance in slow traffic, your driving is actually very efficient (even if it is frustratingly slow).

      It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

    • My understanding is that LiIon is half the weight or twice the capacity of NiMH, take your pick.

      You might be surprised with NiMH or the new honeycomb lead acid batteries in the works, but I still think LiIon will be the solution for awhile.

      BTW, Neither weight nor capacity were the problems with NiMH. Their were two fundamental problems with NiMH, neither of which you mentioned: Nickel has gotten very expensive, and there were patent issues (controlled by Chevron/Texaco) which prevented large format NiMH in North America. That, combined with the fact the no big automaker was interested in developing a product that would steal market share from themselves, doomed the electric car (and NiMH) ten years ago.

      There are still some big advantages with NiMH over LiIon, including stability and number of cycles, but lithium is plentiful and cheap, so it will probably win out.

      The generator feeding an electric motor makes a lot more sense than the more traditional drivetrain with electric assist that is on the current Prius. The Volt does it the right way, as does the iMIEV and others in the works.

      There is a trade-off between more (and heavier) batteries for longer range, and the weight of carrying around a generator that you may not need except on rare occasions. That argument will be had over and over as this market matures and batteries and generators progress.

      The fact is that NiMH was and is viable, and could have been used for the last 8 year getting the electric car some market share and fine-tuning the product while LiIon is being developed. I read your criticism as a bit like saying we shouldn't be developing cars with LiIon because when mature and cheap ultra-capacitors and fuel cells will be superior solutions. How long do you put off adoption waiting for another technology which may never happen?

    • I agree compltely.

      You may want to take a at the PML Mini QED. You see a design that has a long electric range (200-250 miles) as well as a longer back-up range (932miles). The car is a just for show, but it does indicate how far one can go. Using this as a model one can see how you can eliminate the transmision, drive train, cooling system (if ENER1 batteries are used), disk brakes, belts, and numerous mechanical items. All of this is replaced by electric motors, a fairly small gas engine/generator that, if properly tuned, requires no catalytic converter and can be air cooled. As the cost of good Li-ion batteries come down, as they surely will, one can envision a very reliable, fairly low cost auto.

      I mention this car as an interesting theoretical example, not as a product prediction

    • Ok, now what are the equivalent numbers for Li-ion batteries? From everything I have read you get 2-4x the energy density over NiMH which translates into that much more range, etc.

      Most importantly, the EV-1 lacked the back-up gas engine/generator which meant the car could never be driven on a trip. I would venture the guess that the weight of the batteries made it quite difficult to add the additional weight of the back-up engine/generator. Without a growth path into the much larger PHEV market, the car was doomed.

      Now the proof will be whether any manufacturer uses NiMH over Li-ion batteries for a real PHEV in the future. I don't think so, which means the NiMH path was, and is, a dead-end.

      The only reason to believe that cars will use battery power and large numbers of people will buy them to save significant amounts of energy is due to Li-ion. Nostalgia for a dead technology doesn't cut it in the real world.

    • "1200 pounds is a fact, not an opinion. That means that much of the energy supplied to the EV-1 battery is used to carry the battery."

      The NiMH battery pack was a little lighter at 1058.2 pounds, but still pretty heavy. You have to compare apples to apples, though. You don't just add 1058 lbs to the curb weight of a typical car for comparison. You have to also account for the gas tank, full tank of gas, engine oil, radiator and fluid, transmission and fluid, etc. In the case of the upcoming iMIEV you remove the power train completely, including the differentials and the axles (that is a pretty neat trick)!

      Relatively, you are still adding weight, but not as dramatically as you make it sound.

    • "70 miles is a fact, not an opinion"

      The only way you can claim that number is with the first generation with lead-acid batteries. My experience was with the second generation NiMH, which roughly doubled the range. If you try to claim 70 miles with NiMH, you are flat out wrong.

      Here are the specs from the government report showing a Driving Cycle Range of 140.3 miles. In fact, the best case (constant speed on level surface at 45mph) yielded a range of 220.7 miles:

      Compare that to the government test with the lead acid battery showing a drive range cycle of 78.2 miles, and I think you can see where you got your incorrect data:

      Here is an early real-world drive test of the NiMH EV-1. The author intentionally TRIED to get as short a range as possible, and the worst he could get was 83 miles.

      "Based on my experiences the last few days, I foresee typical driving ranges with an NiMH EV1 like this:

      * freeway commuting with minimal stop and go: 130-150 miles per charge
      * city driving mixed with freeway (including "performance demonstrations"): 100-130 miles per charge
      * worst case - hard use including driving in the hills: 75-100 miles per charge "

    • questioningeverthything questioningeverthything Jul 19, 2008 12:29 PM Flag

      My apolgies almikeb1, I was referring to jprovinc, who also opined on the worthlessness of the non-LiIon electric cars.
      I do believe however that in the U.S. all electric vehicles will forever be a niche market and that PHEVs will dominate. I also believe that battery makers will never have margins like high tech, biotech and other IP based companies because at the end of the day, it's primarily a manufacturing business. Further, I see many possibilities for future auto tech, including ultracapacitors, hydrogen, and who-knows-what.
      So in summary, while I certainly agree that EVs and LiIon for autos is not likely to disappear, I see:
      a limited market;
      a decent number of players, dominated by A123 in the U.S. and others overseas;
      a competitive manufacturing environment in the U.S.;
      a highly competitive auto manufacturing environment worldwide;
      a still unproven and untested technology (LiIon batteries for cars);
      a company with no track record;
      an unknown future in auto technology.

      All that adds up to any investment in this space being highly risky, but one in a company with a near billion dollar valuation, few sales, no profits and about 5% of that valuation in assets, is wild-eyed speculation.

      And for the record, I never recommended holding WM at 5-10x more than it is right now. I did point out it was a better investment than SOV, IMO 2 years ago and though both fell substantially, SOV did "outperform" WM. On the other hand, I bought (and posted) earlier this week WM at $3 and change and then sold at almost $6 yesterday. Even I can't be right all the time, just like your call for DNDN (which I also happen to hold and like) to hit $40 a share and your taunting shorts when it was at $14 and is now at $5.

      Good luck, but I think you'll do better with ALTI and it's roughly the same balance sheet and income statement as HEV, but at about 20% of HEV's valuation. Even that however is quite speculative.

      All MHO.

    • One more thing.

      I have never attached a strong buy to HEV. Rather I have stated that I made small investments in HEV and recently ALTI and indicated several times that they are very speculative.

      I leave the strong buy recommendations to those that recommend WM at 5X to 10X higher than it is right now.

    • I agree with most of what you said but I would point out that the Tesla has a fundamental problem with its choice of battery.

      The car itself is beautiful, the performance is great but the battery is all wrong. The battery is composed of almost 7000 smaller (about AA size) cylindrical cells and a lot of hardware to protect them. These cells use standard Li-ion technology which when involved in a crash will not behave benignly.

      I do believe however that the car will help reduce the image that electric cars are glorified golf carts. I just hope that we don't see too many of them involved in accidents that give the impression that electrics are dangerous which would be unfortunate and not true.

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