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  (Source: Motor Authority)

The 2010 Chevy Volt is a looker, but it comes at a high cost. With its release, the industry struggles with a significant question -- can vehicles which use large quantities of the scarce resource lithium be the industry's future?  (Source: Motor Trend)
Optimism for new electric vehicle is high, but many problems lurk

Electric vehicles (EVs) are what President Obama called the "future of automobiles."  With GM under government supervision and focusing on its EV program, the EV industry prepares ready to take off.  The first step towards that vision will be the release of the Chevy Volt next year -- the Volt will be the first plug-in from a major automaker.

However, significant doubts remain over exactly how quickly the electric vehicle industry will take off.  First, the industry currently is using the scarce resource lithium in its battery packs.  With net deposits of lithium scarce, pricey, and in volatile regions there's significant doubts over the ability of electric vehicles, in their current state, to see broad adoption. 

For the consumer, it’s not about resources; it’s about the price they carry.  The Obama administration in response to GM's February bailout proposal wrote, "[The Volt] is currently projected to be much more expensive than its gasoline-fueled peers and will likely need substantial reductions in manufacturing cost in order to become commercially viable."

A recent 2009 study by the Boston Consulting Group looked at the alternative-energy friendly Germany as an ideal location to deploy electric vehicles.  What it found was that the five-year cost of an electric vehicle would remain "relatively unattractive to consumers in 2020, unless its cost is subsidized."

The study identified $280/barrel as a break-even point for the industry.  Oil is currently approximately $50/barrel.  Geoffrey Styles, founder of the energy consultant GSW Strategy Group, says that even at $4/gallon gasoline, customers would take six years to recoup the cost differential between a Toyota Prius Hybrid and the Volt -- and that's with a $7,500 tax credit, and a significant loss per vehicle for GM.

And while the Volt will indeed help cut emissions, it raises new questions over battery disposal.  Lithium batteries are toxic, and will require careful recycling.

In all, the electric industry for the time being may be practical for high-end vehicles like Tesla Motors' Roadster which retails for $100,000+ USD.  However, for consumer autos, electric-only vehicles remain impractical for one key reason -- the shortcomings of current battery technology.  While adoption might spur the development of such technology, it comes at a high cost, and it is more questionable than direct investment in the research.

The impracticality of the lithium battery plug-in industry is exacerbated by the fact that the mild hybrid industry (which uses smaller batteries, making lithium less of a concern) has been showing strong profits for several years, and direct injection efforts are taking off.  While it appears that both consumers and the auto industry are eager to adopt a more environmentally friendly stance, the question remains how best to do it. 

As the electric vehicle industry prepares to put its pedal to the floor, it is perhaps time to take a look back and refocus on the base technologies needed to make such an industry possible, as these studies suggest.



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Why is Lithium scarce?
By drewsup on 5/4/2009 10:09:42 AM , Rating: 5
Every news story i see says that Bolivia has huge dried up sea beds full of Lithium. The stuff literally blows everywhere, why aren't companies scooping this up? P.S. on a side note, are people in Bolivia known for their calm demeanor because of all the lithium that's gotta be in their diets? : )




RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By RjBass on 5/4/2009 10:30:24 AM , Rating: 2
The last couple pieces I saw on Bolivia said the government was going to nationalize the lithium deposits and fix the price. Add to that, Bolivia is not exactly a friend to the USA and what you have is a potential Asian electric car revolution leaving the USA in the dust.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Tsuwamono on 5/9/2009 12:34:36 AM , Rating: 2
Now why would Bolivia not like the USA? ... Thats odd... USA only sent in Navy Seals a few times on various missions... Wait actually i think id be kinda pissed if someone broke into my house and then a few weeks later wanted to buy my couch...


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By TheFace on 5/4/2009 10:32:24 AM , Rating: 4
I believe that Bolivia isn't the only South American country that has deposits. The issue is that these countries don't want big American corporations (or just plain big corporations) coming in and removing a valuable resource without them getting a slice of the pie. So they've been held back by these governments who are trying to figure out how much money they want. In the meanwhile, we get 75-90% of our lithium for batteries from China.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By HighWing on 5/4/2009 1:12:48 PM , Rating: 5
I've heard the same.
But what I find more amusing is that given technology trends, there is a good chance that something else could be invented/price reduced/ etc that would make using lithium a thing of the past. At which point these countries like Boliva that are holding out, will suddenly find they waited too long. And I would be willing to bet money that it will happen right around the time they get ready to let companies come in and remove the lithium.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By mindless1 on 5/4/2009 3:00:28 PM , Rating: 2
Rather than amusing I would consider that natural human tendency. Hold out for as much as you can but when you see a chance of substantial loss by waiting any longer, sell the rest as quick as possible.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Samus on 5/4/2009 5:55:55 PM , Rating: 2
electric vehicles are importand because when hydrogen catches on you just replace the batteries and speed controller with a fuel cell and a hydrogen-electricity processor. the platform is all pretty much the same (electric motors, accessories, regenorative brakes, etc)


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By mindless1 on 5/4/2009 7:39:59 PM , Rating: 2
How many people do you think are going to spend the money to retrofit an aged hybrid car? I'd wager almost nobody.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By freeagle on 5/5/2009 6:16:28 AM , Rating: 4
Close to zero. But the auto manufacturers could reuse the designs of the parts and change just the power source


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By DeepBlue1975 on 5/4/2009 4:01:32 PM , Rating: 2
Don't see the problem there.
Everybody wants to make business. I guess the Bolivian government would be willing to sell their lithium if a good enough deal is presented to them.

If better materials are found for making batteries, then Bolivia will have to settle for a lower price or otherwise start thinking seriously about making lots of food involving lithium, which could be good for the depressive Bolivians out there. (?)


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By petrosy on 5/4/2009 8:04:02 PM , Rating: 4
The Solar Uyuni where the lithium is located is probably the most incredible place on earth I have ever seen. I hope they never sell out.

Any one who has ever been their will know that mining that area will be a crime to humanity. Yellowstone park does not even compare to this place but imagine the US goverment decideds to let motor industry tear it apart just so that we can drive big ass cars.... food for though. Just because its not inthe US does not mean its not worth anything.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By twjr on 5/4/2009 8:15:57 PM , Rating: 2
Just had a look of some photos and it is truly stunning. Would be a terrible shame if something like that was lost.

Unfortunately with big auto getting everything their way these days I better plan my trip to Bolivia sooner rather than later.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By eddieroolz on 5/5/2009 1:45:47 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with you buddy, this place looks amazing!

Breathtaking even!

I want to visit there now..


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By 91TTZ on 5/5/2009 1:40:52 PM , Rating: 2
Why would you compare this place to Yellowstone when it looks almost exactly like the Bonneville Salt Flats?


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By petrosy on 5/5/2009 9:55:18 PM , Rating: 2
Geez how silly of me.... well in that case lets go rip it up...... *insert sarcastic tone*


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Lord 666 on 5/4/2009 10:33:08 AM , Rating: 2
Nah, I take it every day. Plenty to go around.

Just kidding! Lord 666 is not on any medication nor need any.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By quiksilvr on 5/4/2009 2:24:52 PM , Rating: 3
I doubt that.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Ytsejamer1 on 5/4/2009 2:39:26 PM , Rating: 4
Did you just refer to yourself in the third-person? That's awesome!


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By mindless1 on 5/4/2009 3:02:08 PM , Rating: 2
... besides what's in that funny looking water /filter/ under the 'sink.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Parhel on 5/4/2009 10:49:34 AM , Rating: 5
Because lithium isn't scarce no matter what the article claims. Lithium is more abundant than lead in the Earth's crust. Even if every new car produced were a lithium ion hybrid, supply wouldn't become an issue.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By A Stoner on 5/4/2009 2:46:10 PM , Rating: 4
Yeah, it becomes an issue of how hard (read expensive) it is to harvest from the earths crust. There are only certain places, where it is economically viable to extract this substance, that are known. Just like Uranium, the industry found the easy places first, and because they have enough in those places, they have yet to spend any money looking for new sources. So, while supply would not be an issue, COST would, because by the time they ramped up production enough to build all those cars, the limited supply would be decimated and prices would rise. If someone were to say it was worth $1,000,000 per pound, you could extract a near limitless amount from ocean water.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By jabber on 5/4/2009 5:29:08 PM , Rating: 4
Exactly! Titanium is actually one of the most abundant metals on the planet but the fact its difficult to extract and work with make it a high price substance.

Lot of gold in the ocean but its easier in the long run to dig it out deep underground.

Dont confuse abundance with ease of access or usability.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By JasonMick (blog) on 5/4/2009 10:49:51 AM , Rating: 4
Bolivia has an estimated 5.4 million tons, we have 410,000 tons, China has 1.1 million tons, and Chile has 3 million tons. Total world deposits equal 30 million tons.

Extracting lithium is an expensive and time intensive process of pumping water in to lithium-containing beds, then letting what bubbles up dry, then reprocessing it. Further, the majority of lithium is controlled by communist/nationalistic socialist states, making relations tricky.

While it still sounds like we have a LOT of lithium consider this. There are 600 million vehicles (appr.) on the world's roads today. With the battery pack in the Volt weighing 400 lb., even if just 10 percent of the battery pack was lithium, that would make for:
40 lb/(1 ton/2000 lb)*600 million vehicles = 12 million tons of lithium.

That means that to replace just one generation of vehicles, we'd have to use up 1/3rd of the world's lithium. That's a big deal, considering the demand-related price effects that would have on the electronics industry, drug industry, and other lithium-using industries.

True a minor adoption is not to dangerous (might spike resource prices just a bit), but major adoption just seems infeasible.

I do think A123's Nonophosphate provides a potentially promising alternative. But more research needs to be done to find a battery solution with a less scarce elemental basis. This would DRAMATICALLY reduce the price, and could provide a boost to the consumer electronics industry as an extra perk.

In the meantime, I say mild hybrids, direct injection, diesel, and cellulosic ethanol are the best bets for the near future.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By RjBass on 5/4/2009 10:52:46 AM , Rating: 1
I'm right there with ya Jason. Good post.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Jedi2155 on 5/4/2009 11:06:18 AM , Rating: 2
Based on this report:

http://www.meridian-int-res.com/Projects/Lithium_M...

A volt class vehicle (16 KWhr battery) would use about 40 lbs of lithium.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Jedi2155 on 5/4/2009 11:07:09 AM , Rating: 1
Which is right along with what you said, but there's a report to back it up for you.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Parhel on 5/4/2009 11:39:03 AM , Rating: 5
You're both confusing elemental lithium with lithium carbonate. Lithium Carbonate is what is used in batteries, and is about 17% or 18% lithium by weight. So, 45 pounds of lithium carbonate (as stated on page 25 of the article you linked to) translates to around 8 pounds of elemental lithium.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By mindless1 on 5/4/2009 3:10:57 PM , Rating: 3
Even so, based on prior figures other posters provided,

12 Mil tons per car generation / 30 Mil tons *.017 = ~ 1/15th of the total global lithium, still quite a large amount unless we managed to recycle & reuse all of it from one battery pack to the next.

Add to that, the situation with other portable electronics, tools, robotics, etc, depending on more and more lithium batteries.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Parhel on 5/4/2009 11:32:08 AM , Rating: 5
According to this article, one million tons of elemental lithium would be enough to supply the batteries for 560 million cars:

http://seekingalpha.com/article/134838-lithium-sup...

To put that in perspective, there are around 250 million total passenger vehicles on the road in the US today.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By JasonMick (blog) on 5/4/2009 11:57:43 AM , Rating: 1
Interesting article, and good point, but from that same piece:
"Finally, in situ resources total approximately 30.0 million tonnes and a recovery of 50% seems probable."

That means that best case scenario is 15 generations of lithium EVs, considering the 1 million/560 mill. vehicles and no growth in number of world vehicles.

Now also consider, that the article also puts annual production at 115,000 tons per year. Assuming vehicles get replaced every 6 years, that means you'd have to approximately double current production. While that is feasible, that would definitely create big price effects on the lithium battery electronics and lithium-based pharmaceuticals market. Definitely, this a concern worth considering.

Also, revisiting the lifespan scenario, that means barring new resource discovery or difficulties in extracting current resources, that means we could have 90 years of EVs. While this is a fair amount of time, we certainly have at least 90 years of oil, as well, likely at least 2 centuries, if we use it efficiently. It seems questionable, imo, to replace one scarce resource with another.

But kudos, definitely for that source, I think it helps add perspective to the situation.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Steve1981 on 5/4/2009 12:00:24 PM , Rating: 5
Can the lithium batteries be recycled and processed to a new state again?


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By mcnabney on 5/4/2009 1:43:55 PM , Rating: 4
Yes. In fact, they are very easily recycled and their cost/value ration will make their reuse per vehicle at least 95%. Do you think the platinum in catalytic converters ever goes into the landfill?


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By mindless1 on 5/4/2009 3:19:46 PM , Rating: 2
I would speculate that the value:recovery-cost ratio of platinum in catalytic converters is quite a bit higher than lithium in batteries.

Lots of things could be recycled on a car but aren't because of this low value:recovery-cost factor, and that manufacturing so as to make things at maximum recycleability instead of other properties like lower cost, better performance, goes against consumer purchasing preferences driving up the per unit cost even more.

This is bound to change in favor of higher recycling rates in the future, out of technology and necessity raising the material value:recovery-cost ratio, but for the time being it is a tough sell expecting people to replace a product with one costing substantially more but not giving them substantial benefit at it's core purpose.

ICE cars may some day be seen as crude junk, but for practical purposes they have gotten the job done for 100 years.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By randomly on 5/4/2009 8:00:04 PM , Rating: 2
The value/recovery-cost of the lithium batteries would be much higher than the platinum in catalytic converters as there is so much lithium in a single battery.

The value of a used electric car battery is also quite high since typically the battery would still have on the order 70%-80% of it's original storage capacity. Even if the battery is now pulled and used in conjunction with home solar systems, or for load leveling to reduce peak electrical grid demand from the growing number of electric cars being charged it still has very substantial value.

Another point related to the Lithium supply. Projected mineral reserves are based on what can economically be recovered at current market prices. However if you increase the market price the amount of recoverable reserves increasing rapidly since less concentrated ores can be used. A rough rule of thumb for mined resources is that doubling the price will increase the recoverable reserves about 10x.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By mindless1 on 5/5/2009 1:00:25 AM , Rating: 2
If the used battery has that much of it's capacity remaining it's not like someone is just going to scrap it to have the lithium recovered, though I question whether it's really going to have that capacity since other modern Li-Ion batteries are down to far less within 4 years, some even to the point of making the device unusable even if that device was not drained and recharged daily like a car might be.

I agree that doubling the price would increase available lithium, but it would kill the very market they'd be used in as the battery pack is already too high a % of total car cost.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By sinful on 5/4/2009 8:08:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Interesting article, and good point, but from that same piece:
"Finally, in situ resources total approximately 30.0 million tonnes and a recovery of 50% seems probable."

That means that best case scenario is 15 generations of lithium EVs, considering the 1 million/560 mill. vehicles and no growth in number of world vehicles


Shouldn't that be:
That means that best case scenario is 15 tonnes of lithium which translates into 30+ generations of EVs , considering the 1 million/560 mill. vehicles and no growth in number of world vehicles
?

That would be 180 years worth of EVs, assuming no recycling.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By grandpope on 5/5/2009 11:52:42 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
That means that best case scenario is 15 generations of lithium EVs

You are assuming that nothing will be found that improves on the LiIon battery design in 15 generations of vehicles? Assuming a 3-year lease cycle (moronic, but let's run with it), thats 45 years of all the vehicles on the planet being with this technology.

Just think about what cars were like in 1964...


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By 91TTZ on 5/5/2009 1:54:05 PM , Rating: 2
These figures are assuming a 0% recycling rate on something that's easily recyclable.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By ArcliteHawaii on 5/5/2009 10:02:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In the meantime, I say mild hybrids, direct injection, diesel, and cellulosic ethanol are the best bets for the near future.


I'm not sure where you're getting your numbers from. Oil production hasn't increased since 2005 despite the enticement of $140 per barrel oil. We are either at peak production or within 10 years, after which oil production will begin to decline at 1-2% per year. After 90 years, we'll be lucky to be producing 20m barrels of oil world wide. Currently the US alone uses 12m barrels of oil per day for ground transportation (cars, trucks, & trains). Not to mention that oil prices will once again skyrocket once the economic recovery begins. Where will all the oil come from that will give us 90 more years of internal combustion engine transportation, given the increased demand (120m bpd in demand by 2030) and all the competing uses for oil (plastics, agriculture, pharmecuticals, etc.)?


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By ArcliteHawaii on 5/5/2009 10:09:28 PM , Rating: 2
This analyst thinks so, and shows why:

quote:
Raymond James’s notes that non-OPEC oil production apparently peaked in the first quarter of 2007, and given precipitous falls in oil output from Russia to Mexico, there’s not much hope for a recovery. OPEC production—and thus global output—peaked a little later, in the first quarter of 2008, Raymond James says.

The contention rests on a simple argument: OPEC oil production actually fell even as oil prices were above $100 a barrel, a sign of the “tyranny of geology” that limits the easy production of ever-more crude.


Article link:
http://blogs.wsj.com/environmentalcapital/2009/05/...


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By elessar1 on 5/4/2009 12:30:36 PM , Rating: 2
Adding to this, most Lithium is located in dried lakes, and at least here in Chile most of them are national parks or nature reserves...

And the Bolivians are home to natives communities that see the dried lake as theirs, and they are te only ones allowed to mine in it for subsistance...

So in order to "save the planet", we have to mine in protected areas that are very difficult or impossible to recuperate...

Nice moral dilema ;)


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By bhieb on 5/4/09, Rating: 0
RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By RjBass on 5/4/09, Rating: 0
RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By ArcliteHawaii on 5/5/2009 10:18:10 PM , Rating: 3
Except that there are actually substantial amounts of resources in Bolivia. There aren't in Alaska.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By MrPeabody on 5/6/2009 10:18:42 AM , Rating: 1
Hahahahahaha! Ha! Ha! ah HAHAHahahahaha!

Ahh . . .

Wrong.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By mcnabney on 5/4/2009 1:46:19 PM , Rating: 2
Dried lithium-bearing lake beds are some of the most inhospitable areas to life on earth. We aren't talking about draining wetlands or torching the rainforst. We are talking about distilling a wasteland.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By MrPeabody on 5/4/2009 1:53:43 PM , Rating: 3
Which reinforces bhieb's comment. An interesting parallel to drilling for oil in Alaska.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_North_Slope


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By sinful on 5/4/2009 7:52:19 PM , Rating: 2
Of course, no discussion about drilling in Alaska is complete without mentioning the reason we don't drill there:

"In March 1989 a bill permitting drilling in the reserve was "sailing through the Senate and had been expected to come up for a vote"[15] when the Exxon Valdez oil spill delayed and ultimately derailed the process.[16]"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic_Refuge_drillin...

"It is considered one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters ever to occur at sea."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exxon_Valdez_oil_spil...


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By jabber on 5/4/09, Rating: 0
RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Spuke on 5/5/2009 12:00:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Cant just go in with bulldozers so we can drive 'eco' cars of dubious environmental benefit.
Someone went in with bulldozers to build your home, what's so different about that place?


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By jabber on 5/8/2009 2:20:00 PM , Rating: 2
Just have a long hard think about what you said there and come back to me when you realise how dumb that sounds.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By MrBungle123 on 5/4/2009 1:22:03 PM , Rating: 2
Why don't we just pick a direction and go with it? Electric/battery powered cars are great and all but the fact remains that you can't fly a jet/comparable performance aircraft off electric power. We need a liquid fuel and from what I've seen the only thing we have a virtually limitless supply of is salt water so why not start converting it into hydrogen?

I know we lack the technology/infrastructure to do this on a massive scale today but we could start a research and infrastructure expansion project in the spirit of the Apollo Program or Manhattan Project and get it done. Get the best scientific minds in the world together tell them we need a liquid fuel that can power a 747 sized aircraft at 500MPH 6000 miles nonstop and the only things they can use to make said fuel is air, sea water, and electricity and see what happens.

I guess in reality the real problem is making the electricity since hydrogen is only a storage medium. Fusion power research anyone? But I really don't see why we can’t solve this problem if we can get over the political BS and start putting our resources toward real, practical, solutions.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By acase on 5/4/2009 2:16:04 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting idea, but that would totally ruin Waterworld for me.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Doormat on 5/4/2009 2:27:57 PM , Rating: 2
Algae producing diesel. Grow it in the Sonoran desert in AZ. I don't think it can completely replace petrol (the scale required is immense), but it would significantly extend the life of all oil reserves, plus it would cut net carbon.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Steve1981 on 5/4/2009 2:36:12 PM , Rating: 2
Combined with serial hybrid technology, I suspect algae diesel could go pretty far.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Spuke on 5/4/2009 3:44:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Combined with serial hybrid technology, I suspect algae diesel could go pretty far.
Yes, especially with the massive diesel demand in the US.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Steve1981 on 5/4/2009 4:00:05 PM , Rating: 2
Do you suppose crude will remain cheap forever? At some point, we'll need alternatives, and algae based bio-diesel has at least some promise.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By pequin06 on 5/4/2009 4:14:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Do you suppose crude will remain cheap forever?


Yes, the problem is with the politics involved.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Starcub on 5/4/2009 4:36:46 PM , Rating: 3
No, the problem is in the supply. We have about 30 years of peak oil left and then the resource will start to diminish. As oil diminishes, it will become even more expensive to find and extract. Keep in mind We use oil for a lot more than just gasoline.

Furthermore, the third world is exploding due to western 'free trade' expansion, and they will be looking for oil in ever greater quantities until it becomes economically unviable.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By pequin06 on 5/4/09, Rating: 0
RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Starcub on 5/4/2009 5:18:25 PM , Rating: 4
I think I'll trust the experts. We have technology today we simply didn't have decades ago when the experts were saying we were going to run out. However, regardless of wether or not you think we will find more, it will inevitably become more expensive, as it already is becoming. Inevitably, oil will become unviable, and it will probably happen in the coming generation.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By sinful on 5/4/2009 8:23:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
We were suppose to already run out of it but we keep finding more.


Actually, it's because the middle east never actually revises their remaining supply, regardless of how fast they're drilling it or how much they find.

They have a massive, massive economic benefit to lie through their teeth about their remaining supply:
#1 because they don't want anyone to even BEGIN to think about moving away from oil, and
#2 in OPEC the amount you're allowed to produce is related to how much supply you have.

A country that has 100 billion barrels of oil can produce say, 10 billion barrels of oil a year. If next year their supply goes down to 90 billion barrels of oil, now they can only produce 9 billion barrels of oil.

Needless to say, the middle east keeps "finding" more oil every year, but their new figures never take in account how much they took out.

In other words, they could run out next year but they would never, ever, tell you in advance that it's going to happen.

Why would they?


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Spuke on 5/4/2009 4:56:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Do you suppose crude will remain cheap forever?
Even with the price "scare" last year, US consumers STILL didn't buy diesel cars. People were dumping year old $50k trucks and STILL didn't buy a diesel car to replace it with. There's little demand for diesel cars in the US. Maybe it will change in the future. But right now, that's the way it is.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Steve1981 on 5/4/2009 5:07:13 PM , Rating: 2
I never said algae based bio-diesel with serial hybrids would be viable tomorrow... At some point in the future though, they may make very good sense, especially in combination. We know that our supplies of gasoline aren't indefinite. Bio-diesel from algae on the other hand could hold promise in this regard, at least from what I've read on the subject.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By FITCamaro on 5/4/2009 5:09:36 PM , Rating: 2
People weren't buying diesel because the price of it spiked even higher than gas. Diesel got up to $4.60 a gallon here while premium "only" hit $4.20-4.30.

Build a bunch of greenhouses out in the middle of nowhere instead of a bunch of solar panels and you could produce a lot of diesel.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Starcub on 5/4/2009 5:22:31 PM , Rating: 2
There also aren't very many diesel vehicles on the market in the US.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Spuke on 5/4/2009 7:24:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
There also aren't very many diesel vehicles on the market in the US.
Because of US emissions standards and the stink and noise perception. Although, the noise isn't a perception unless you're buying a 08 and newer diesel.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Starcub on 5/6/2009 5:32:40 PM , Rating: 2
Actually neither noise nor stink complaints are valid anymore. The new deisel fuel standards made companies redesign their engines to be compatible with the cleaner burning fuel. Now they are cleaner, more quiet and smoother running than they were even just two years ago. I haven't checked, but I bet you can run bio-deisel in them safely now too. Some people constructed their own distillery for bio-deisel in their garage.

I test drove a Volkswagon Jetta TDI from before the new fuel regs were developed. Even then, the car ran comparably to my Nissan Sentra SE-R in terms of noise, though not quite as peppy. I think the turbo injection is tuned for efficiency instead of performance -- the gas mileage for the TDI was far better even though it was a slightly larger car.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By Spuke on 5/7/2009 5:25:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Actually neither noise nor stink complaints are valid anymore.
I agree. Not applicable but people still use it.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By luceri on 5/5/2009 10:14:39 AM , Rating: 2
Basically politics and marketing here leading to a lack of options and understanding with these vehicles in the U.S. plus consumers are uneducated with it. People not around / too young to know about the 1970's gas scare mostly don't really know anything about diesel engines, nevermind that they last longer / have better mileage / are better for the environment vs gas counterparts. People who were around and remember the 1970's with diesel engines will remember the cons of diesel back then but don't know of the advances the technology makes. They think it's going to smell like it did back then.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By A Stoner on 5/4/2009 3:13:11 PM , Rating: 2
um, yeah. While we are at it, let us propose that they create a perpetual motion machine while we are at it. yeah, there is energy in Hydrogen, but it require vastly more energy to split it from water than you will get in return for powering anything. That energy has got to come from somewhere. Then the Hydrogen has a very low power to overall density that would make it a very poor aircraft fuel, as well as car fuel. By the time you compact it enough that it will fit on the airplane, the containment system would keep the aircraft either on the ground, or requiring a vastly larger engine to power it into the air. Then there is always the fire (more likely explosive) risk involved with that kind of set up. Fuel must phase change into a gas before it ignites, hydrogen is already in that form. Everyone in on the Hydrogen powered future dream are either uninformed or hacks that are trying to get research grants, political power, or wealthy by wasting other peoples money.

The final flaw in your argument is that this is a political problem that if we all just could get along, it would all come together. It is an engineering/science problem, and the real problem is that there is NO solution from either of these. There are very few things in nature or the labs that have the mass/energy density of our current fuels. Ethonol is 80% +/- 5% that of gasoline and requires nearly as much energy to produce in it's lifecycle as it provides (not to mention that it creates vastly more smog causing ozone than gasoline and causes food prices to go up decimating poor people). Switching to all electric vehicles is going to require that batteries eventually can have the same mass/energy as our current fuels and also must be as quickly replenished so that families can still take road trips and be families (oh, did I mention that electric motors create ozone?).


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By mindless1 on 5/4/2009 3:27:42 PM , Rating: 2
You are thinking in terms of comparable performance which is not necessarily important. Most jets do not have maximum performance because there are other tradeoffs more important (besides jet fighters). Having a power source to fly at all might be seen as one of those important factors.

Converting water to hydrogen is far too energy intensive unless we had massive farms able to convert solar power to task, to the extent we didn't care how energy efficient it was because we had far more disposible energy than we needed.

If we developed such a technology to capture this much solar energy, instead of producing hydrogen we might as well skip that step since combustion is, in lower expense and complexity engines, still a pretty lossy fuel.

What we really need are miniaturized nuclear power engines, a standardized modular power plant that can be used across various equipment by scaling # of units used. Next we need to install windows on every one so some hacker can come along and really pwn us all.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By foolsgambit11 on 5/4/2009 5:05:13 PM , Rating: 2
Out of curiosity, does anybody have numbers on current efficiencies (water to hydrogen and back to water resulting in power) in hydrogen fuel cells? Let's ignore practical problems with energy density in storage &c. for the moment. Does anybody have numbers on what is expected to be reasonably feasible as far as total efficiency for hydrogen? How does hydrogen stack up as an energy storage medium versus other storage techniques (gravity, battery, heat, &c)?


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By MrBungle123 on 5/4/2009 5:27:47 PM , Rating: 2
this is my understanding from what is at wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrolysis

Looks like using current tech nuclear electricity to hydrogen chemical energy is somewhere between 25 and 40% efficient with a theoretical max efficiency of 80 to 94%

They say we can get the equivalent of a gallon of gas (1kg of hydrogen) for $5.55 (using wind for the power source) nuclear is about half the cost of wind so a nuke plant could make the same for ~$2.77 kg.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By randomly on 5/4/2009 7:48:08 PM , Rating: 2
Currently the round trip efficiency of electric power to hydrogen back to electric power in the car is quite poor at only about 25% efficient. The fuel cells are around 50+%, the efficiency of electrolysis cells is also around 50+% and there is a 12% energy loss for energy storage via compressed gas cylinders (currently the most efficient means).

Although higher efficiency's have been obtained by fuel cells in laboratory environments these are at very low current densities and such a system is not practical for a car.

Hydrogen is unfortunately a pretty poor energy storage medium. Bottom line is that Batteries are 3-4x more efficient energy storage system than hydrogen.

Although Hydrogen gets a lot of PR billing and play as the Green miracle pollution free energy system in actual fact the overall system efficiency is quite poor. There is also no miracle technology known that will improve the situation other than small incremental improvements.

Hydrogen will remain the darling of people and companies looking for Green Washing PR points. However at this point the technical and economic limitations make many engineers and scientists think a widespread deployment of a hydrogen economy is extremely unlikely. As one of the speakers at an alternative energy conference put it " Hydrogen is the fuel of the future, and it appears that it always will be."

An MIT study came to the conclusion that even with projected advancements, by 2020 a hydrogen fuel cell car would still be less efficient than a simple diesel hybrid.

Unfortunately the only high efficiency way to make hydrogen is to reform natural gas (~85% efficient). That doesn't help you get off fossil fuels though.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By MarcLeFou on 5/4/2009 3:38:25 PM , Rating: 2
I'd much rather see the automotive needs folded into electricity than hydrogen.

There's always the prospect of generating electricity at the individual level (as is sun or wind power on my roof) down the road (granted that's MANY years down the road) to keep utility prices in check. The easier it is to create the resource to power our cars on an individual level, the cheaper its going to be (in an unlimited supply scenario such as electricity).

I think electricity will give the consumer more options, hence lower prices, down the road rather then replacing a controlled resource with another.

As for diesel hybrids, I personally can't understand why there's so little talk about this. The strength of one compliments very well the strength of the other. I'd be curious to see a diesel hybrid mpg on a car like a prius compared to their gas counterpart.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By foolsgambit11 on 5/4/2009 5:38:20 PM , Rating: 2
You've confused storage medium with power source. Wind, PV solar, diesel-producing algae, etc. are energy harnessing techniques. Batteries, hydrogen via electrolysis, pumping water uphill, heating water (or other medium), or whatever - these are all energy storage techniques.

Say you've got a wind turbine on your house. The electricity can be directed to a battery, which will accept the charge up to its capacity, or it can be directed to some water, where it will electrolyze the water into oxygen and hydrogen, which can be stored up to the capacity of the storage tank. Or any of several other energy storage methods. But most every storage method would be considered a "controlled resource", as you put it. Batteries are a controlled resource. They are expensive, and have a limited lifespan. Granted, hydrogen production and storage equipment (on a reasonable scale) is probably more expensive than batteries, at least at the moment. But if we're going for cheap power storage, a water tower is about as cheap as it gets. Not great for powering cars, though....

I won't deny that batteries are one of the more promising storage media for vehicles at the moment, thanks to their energy density, and the maturity of the technology. But in any case, thinking you'll be able to produce enough energy on your property to run your car for any appreciable distance, at any point in the not-too-distant future, is probably unrealistic. Much better to use power generated on-site to offset domestic power uses, which opens up many more energy storage techniques for consideration.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By sinful on 5/4/09, Rating: 0
RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By MrBungle123 on 5/5/2009 10:44:07 AM , Rating: 3
Wrong.

quote:
Our economic and military strength require that we end our strategic vulnerability to an oil shut-off by nations like Iran, Russia, and Venezuela, and that we address environmental concerns. To do this, Governor Romney has called for a bold and far-reaching research initiative- an Energy Revolution- to be our generation's equivalent of the Manhattan Project or the Moon mission. This will be a mission to create new, economic sources of clean energy.

-Mitt Romney, Republican Presidential Candidate 2008


The people in this country have got to get over the political party stereotyping and educate themselves... and no spending 4 years in a leftist indoctrination center (Liberal arts College) and watching CNN does not make you politically informed.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By ArcliteHawaii on 5/5/2009 9:40:42 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
TextIn the meantime, I say mild hybrids, direct injection, diesel, and cellulosic ethanol are the best bets for the near future.


Even better than that is investment in public transportation that runs off of baseload electricity. Heavy high speed rail between major urban centers, light rail and subways for inner city travel, and electric buses running getting power from overhead guy wires can provide most of the transport needed for people. People would be a lot healthier too, having to walk a block or two to catch the public transport. With peak oil rapidly approaching, and no viable alternatives currently ramping up, we need to invest in public transportation in a massive way.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By petrosy on 5/4/2009 8:04:41 PM , Rating: 1
The Solar Uyuni where the lithium is located is probably the most incredible place on earth I have ever seen. I hope they never sell out.

Any one who has ever been their will know that mining that area will be a crime to humanity. Yellowstone park does not even compare to this place but imagine the US goverment decideds to let motor industry tear it apart just so that we can drive big ass cars.... food for though. Just because its not inthe US does not mean its not worth anything.


RE: Why is Lithium scarce?
By nugundam93 on 5/5/2009 8:43:46 AM , Rating: 2
hahahahaha love your PS there. reminds me of a study done by some japanese where they investigate low suicide rates and local water supply laced with a wee bit of lithium.

going back on topic, i really do wonder how these electrics will affect lithium supply all 'round.


it = what?
By thornburg on 5/4/2009 9:56:29 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Geoffrey Styles, founder of the energy consultant GSW Strategy Group, says that even at $4/gallon gasoline, customers would take six years to recoup the cost differential between it and the Volt -- and that's with a $7,500 tax credit, and a significant loss per vehicle for GM.


Emphasis added. You can't say "cost differential between it and the Volt" withouth ever having said what it is. Are we talking about a Malibu? A Cobalt? A Prius?




RE: it = what?
By mherlund on 5/4/2009 10:09:04 AM , Rating: 2
I believe they were referring to the gasoline-fueled peer of the Volt.

quote:
"[The Volt] is currently projected to be much more expensive than its gasoline-fueled peers and will likely need substantial reductions in manufacturing cost in order to become commercially viable."


RE: it = what?
By DrKlahn on 5/4/2009 10:25:46 AM , Rating: 2
This cost difference exists for all Hybrids, not just the Volt. Naturally the amount varies and many existing hybrids are enjoying a slight profit due to production maturity. But the cost difference is still large and takes several years to overcome. Basically the same thing said in the Limbaugh article a while back.

If we were smart, instead of pushing ridiculous fuel standards and expensive hybrid systems we would require any manufacturer selling cars in the United States to contribute a percentage to the various Universities for R&D. Get an actual alternative to fossil fuels rather than continue to band aid the technology.

People continue to get bigger. The average family is still around 4 people. These tiny cars lack the room and utility to be viable for a large number of consumers. And though there are a few larger hybrids, the small mileage increases just aren't large enough to justify the added complexity.

Personally I wish we would concentrate more on getting hydrogen to be a viable alternative to fossil fuels and moving our electrical grid to nuclear.


RE: it = what?
By Parhel on 5/4/2009 11:00:22 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
But the cost difference is still large and takes several years to overcome.


That's entirely dependent on the price of gas. If it stays at $2.00, then you're absolutely right. If prices go back up above $4.00 a hybrid makes a lot of sense.

I'm on the fence, and am delaying buying a new car for that reason. I want a CTS, and if GM offers the employee discount for everyone again, I may get one. But, in the back of my mind, I keep thinking that by the end of my next car's life gas will be at $6.00 and I'll wish I bought a Prius.

quote:
People continue to get bigger. The average family is still around 4 people. These tiny cars lack the room and utility to be viable for a large number of consumers. And though there are a few larger hybrids, the small mileage increases just aren't large enough to justify the added complexity.


The Prius is solidly in the midsize car category. It seats five - four comfortably - and has plenty of cargo space.


RE: it = what?
By Suntan on 5/4/2009 11:32:18 AM , Rating: 3
Are you seriously saying that you are comparison shopping between a CTS and Prius based on what you think will happen with fuel prices in the future? Where’d you come up with the rational for that?

Is there anyone else out there that still views vehicle as more than just transportation appliances, or am I all alone???

-Suntan


RE: it = what?
By Parhel on 5/4/2009 11:45:54 AM , Rating: 2
I admit, it does sound silly. I guess I'm trying to balance what I want, what makes financial sense, and what I won't be embarrased to be seen driving.


RE: it = what?
By Suntan on 5/4/2009 1:22:57 PM , Rating: 3
A minute or two of searching in my area turned this up:

The price you could get them down to on this would probably be equal to or less than the price of a new Prius with a couple of options.

It will still give you more miles under B-to-B warranty than the Prius and will be a lot more satisfiying.

The turbo 2 liter engine is a nice one and it is relatively good on gas, although it does take high test.

Would the Prius be a better buy from a cost standpoint? Maybe. I'll let the ultra-anal bean counters around here argue that (...then I'll show them the price of a 1 yr old Honda Fit...) However, I just don't see the "cost savings" in buying a Prius when you factor in the downside of actually having to *own* and *drive* a Prius.

In this day, I don't understand why anyone looks at "new" cars when they say they want low cost. Cars made in the last couple of years are remarkably reliable and will last much longer than our short attention spans will want to keep them. And there is such a glut of "certified Pre-Owned" cars with increadably long extended factory warranties that this becomes a non-issue as well.

I have yet to see a real world scenario where the Prius is either the best option for someone looking for the lowest total ownership cost, or the least impact on the envornment. If these are important to anyone, they can do much better elsewhere. Basically, only people that just *want* to own a Prius are making the best choice by buying a Prius.

http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.jsp?ct=c&car_id=...

-Suntan


RE: it = what?
By Spuke on 5/4/2009 4:14:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In this day, I don't understand why anyone looks at "new" cars when they say they want low cost.
Yep, I don't understand it much either but we Americans have this affinity for new cars. I used to be that way but after losing thousands of dollars in depreciation, I came to my senses.

07 Honda Fit Sport - 14k miles
http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.jsp?ct=c&car_id=...

Base price on a new Fit Sport is $16k.


RE: it = what?
By Alexstarfire on 5/4/2009 7:27:57 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, this is one of the dilemmas I had when I had to get another car a few weeks back. After looking at the KBB price for a first model year Fit I decided to get the used 2007 Prius we were looking at. I only looked at the KBB price since we were already at the dealership looking at the used Prius. It was a great deal and was literally put onto the market the day we went to look at it. Actually, a quick look on AutoTrader shows that even the cheapest Fit costs $13,500. Only $4,000 less than the used Prius I got. The Prius is bigger and gets twice the gas mileage, at least for me.

I was thinking about holding out for the 2010 model Prius, but after looking at projected prices I decided it wasn't worth it at all. Was going to be about $5,000 more but only about 10% better mileage. Not worth it. I don't think it's ever worth getting a new car though. My dad actually bought a 2009 Civic Hybrid last year and I thought it was a bad buy for him. Could have gotten a Fit for about $10,000 less and the MPG would only have been like 20% less at worst.

Ohhh, and I'm wondering what kind of "downside" there is to "own" and "drive" a Prius.


RE: it = what?
By Suntan on 5/5/2009 1:54:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Only $4,000 less than the used Prius I got.


Well, that is close to one third of the price for the Fit you are talking about. If that isn't significant money to you, so be it. And I do believe my original comments were about people looking to save money by buying "new."

Lastly, a quick look in my area shows a 2008 Fit for $11,995

http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.jsp?ct=u&car_id=...

quote:
Ohhh, and I'm wondering what kind of "downside" there is to "own" and "drive" a Prius.


Well, you have to own it, and you have to drive it.

If you enjoy being a “Prius owner” then good for you. That doesn’t change the fact that a new Prius is not a fun car to drive, it’s not the most practical vehicle for most things and it isn’t the best option you could pick if you really wanted to save Mother Earth.

If you want a decent sized egg to transport a couple of people while showing everyone your pseudo-eviro-righteousness it works very well. For most other mainstream uses, it falls a little short.

-Suntan


RE: it = what?
By Alexstarfire on 5/8/2009 11:44:35 AM , Rating: 2
Well, I looked on AutoTrader and didn't see that car, but I do believe I said I was looking in my area. At that price it's hard to make up the $5.5k cost difference. A quick look at all Fits and Priuses on AutoTrader show a couple 2008 Fits at just under $10k, but there were also like 30 Priuses cheaper than that too. 3 2005 Priuses and the rest were 2001-2003. Hard to say if the 2001-2003 ones are worth it since the batteries could possibly be on the last leg of its life, but it's hard to say. The 2005 ones would be worth it for sure. And just going off my figures that $4k isn't even a third the cost for the Fit that I found in mine area.

Anyway, you still haven't mentioned any downsides of owning a Prius. You say it's not fun to drive, but I say it is. I don't buy a car just because it's fun, or not fun, to drive. It's quite a moot point since it doesn't say anything about the car itself. Just your perception of it. Regular maintenance costs for the Prius are actually cheaper than for every other car. Regenerative brakes mean that your wear out the pads and drums far slower than normal cars. Having the engine turn off during some of the trip means that the engine, and therefore the oil, take less wear and oil changes don't need to be as frequent.

Anyway, I didn't get the Prius to save the environment, I got it to save money. While it's true I could certainly have gotten a cheaper car I plan on keeping my car, just like my last two, until it no longer runs. I'm not worried about short term costs because of that. The long term costs for the Prius seem to be cheaper than most other cars as well since things don't break down as often. No doubt that if a hybrid part fails it probably won't be cheap, but I've done considerable research into the Prius and it's built quite solid.

If the costs from my previous Prius are any evidence it was only about $25 every 4-6 months, depending on how much I drove. Just my experience though. I did need a 60k miles check-up, but never got the chance. As such I can't say too much about my own long-term costs. Could have found some trouble, but I'll never know now.

As far as uses... what does it lack in? Can carry 5 passengers and haul more cargo than many other cars (every sedan for sure). Unless you want a giant pick-up with sub 25 mpg that costs about the same as the Prius. Granted it does all depend on your needs. Not going to use it to haul sand after all, but for 90% of us, and by us I mean Americans, it suits us perfectly. Can haul tables, lumber, and many other large items you couldn't fit in a sedan, when needed and still haul passengers.

The Prius may not be your cup of tea, but it's good enough for nearly all of our common uses regardless.


RE: it = what?
By Steve1981 on 5/4/2009 11:57:54 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Is there anyone else out there that still views vehicle as more than just transportation appliances, or am I all alone???


Given that most people can't even drive a stick, I suspect the number of people who view automobiles as something more than a transportation pod is dwindling.


RE: it = what?
By mindless1 on 5/4/2009 3:33:43 PM , Rating: 2
Given that today's automatic transmissions are far more reliable than they used to be, get better mileage, and sticks are getting hard to find except on the cheapest cars or the niche luxury cars (and of course commercial trucks), it seems fairly irrelevant who knows how to drive a stick.

People definitely view automobiles as more than a transportation pod, else there wouldn't be sports cars, hybrid cars, SUVs.

Even so you have a point, considering the popularity of the Camry, Accord, Corolla and similar vehicles being by far the most popular group and the closet things to mere transportation appliances, chosen without consideration of things like max performance or lowest price (though the latter is arguable since they are perceived as more reliable and with good resale value).


RE: it = what?
By Steve1981 on 5/4/2009 3:57:58 PM , Rating: 2
Lets put it this way: with precious few exceptions, you can wring superior performance from a vehicle with a stick shift than you can with an automatic in the same car. The only reason to pick an automatic, given that it typically costs more and yields inferior performance, is laziness. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that anyone who drives an automatic views their car as a transportation appliance, anybody who calls themselves an auto enthusiast can operate a stick shift. Unfortunately, that skill seems to be in major decline, at least in the USA.


RE: it = what?
By mindless1 on 5/4/2009 7:52:39 PM , Rating: 1
I will argue that getting max performance from one's car isn't actually important even to an enthusiast, as they don't slam on the gas pedal when the stop light turns green, don't take turns within a hair's breadth of losing control, and don't always try to stop in the shortest distance possible. These things are not enthusiast activities, they are things reckless children do because they think they are immortal and don't care about risking harm to others.

Further, the possibility of better gas mileage could be argued as higher performance, and the ability of the driver to focus more on what's going on, on the road or the radio dial or whatever instead of focusing on shifting, could be seen as higher driver performance.

It's not lazy to want an automatic, it's foolish to want a stick, unless you are on a race track and have to beat the other driver to win some prize.

Perhaps there was a time when any auto enthusiast could not only drive a stick but do it well. That time is coming to an end, one need not own an expensive sports car and drive like a bat out of hell (Or else it makes no difference) to be an enthusiast.

There's nothing unfortunate about being intelligent. It's dumb to constantly have to shift a lever when a computer can do it for you. I'm sure there was someone around at the beginning of the 20th century that thought real men ride in buggies instead of cars too. Times change.


RE: it = what?
By Steve1981 on 5/4/2009 9:48:07 PM , Rating: 2
Its not that the enthusiast pushes things to the limit every day. However, there is no doubt that anyone worthy of the name enthusiast would like the ability to push things to the limit when an appropriate situation arises. Some certainly do take their cars to the track for fun.

As far as automatics versus manuals: there are a handful of automatics that might give performance and efficiency approaching a manual; the automated manuals ala DSG from VW is obviously a leap over the old slushbox, although they are pricey at this time. However, the average automatic still leaves quite a bit to be desired in terms of performance, and more importantly, in terms of actual control exerted over the vehicle. You might be fine letting a computer handling shifting for you. 9 times out of 10, there probably wouldn't be much difference. However, I find that one time out of ten makes a manual very much worth while, especially since you pay for the privilege of owning an automatic most times.


RE: it = what?
By mindless1 on 5/5/2009 1:03:31 AM , Rating: 2
Just like with computers, where one does not have to own some specific thing to be an enthusiast, so it is with manual transmissions. There are lots of things to dislike and like about cars, one need not align their preferences the same as someone else.


RE: it = what?
By Steve1981 on 5/5/2009 8:14:25 AM , Rating: 2
I never said you had to own some specific thing. But if you can't drive a manual transmission, odds are you probably don't care about driving all that much. If you can't drive a good percentage of cars on the road, particularly some of the really fun ones, you can't really call yourself much of a driving enthusiast.


RE: it = what?
By Spuke on 5/5/2009 12:56:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
you can't really call yourself much of a driving enthusiast.
I have to agree with this. Really, how could you call yourself a car enthusiast if you have no enthusiasm for cars? Can you be an enthusiast and own an automatic car? Sure. Can you be an enthusiast and not even know how to use a manual? Not sure. Most of the sporting cars out there are manuals and some are manual only. I would think an enthusiast would want to be able to drive ANY sporting car available. I sure has hell would. Wouldn't it suck if you had the opportunity to drive a Ferrari F430 but that particular car had a traditional manual and you didn't know how to drive it? It would suck for me.


RE: it = what?
By LemonJoose on 5/5/2009 5:51:22 PM , Rating: 2
A lot of people buy automatics now even if they personally would rather have a stick because it's easier to sell an automatic because that's what most people prefer. Unfortunately there's kind of a snowball effect in favor of automatics for average vehicles. Sports cars are obviously different, though.


RE: it = what?
By Steve1981 on 5/4/2009 4:32:31 PM , Rating: 2
PS: Speaking of sports cars, (given that SUVs are merely big transportation pods, and hybrids are efficient transportation pods)...

Civic Si, Cobalt SS, Subaru WRX, MazdaSpeed 3... All reasonably popular models with sporting aspirations. Want to guess how many automatics are sold for those models?


RE: it = what?
By FITCamaro on 5/4/2009 5:02:26 PM , Rating: 2
Actually quite a few in the case of the WRX.


RE: it = what?
By Steve1981 on 5/4/2009 5:08:04 PM , Rating: 2
I thought they were manual only for some reason...my mistake.


RE: it = what?
By Spuke on 5/4/2009 7:26:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I thought they were manual only for some reason...my mistake.
The STi is manual only.


RE: it = what?
By mindless1 on 5/4/2009 8:05:53 PM , Rating: 1
SUVs are not merely big transportation pods, because station wagons and vans exist.

I love how you twisted the truth, listing cars like an "Si", "SS", WRX, or Mazdaspeed, instead of all Civics, Cobalts, Mazda 3's, etc. Want to guess what percentage of buyers of cars built on these base models choose a manual transmission? Mostly the poor ones, buying the cheapest car they can get.

BTW, a Civic with a stiff ride and jerky transmission is not sporting aspiration, it's crude. Maybe it's fun for awhile too, the noise and bumps and misuse of a transmission to cause sudden thrust can make one feel in control but it is a mere illusion, if you are driving a car at all hopefully you are in control of it.

What is sportier? Any car that can accelerate faster, though it's all rather pointless to consider because if you like a car you shouldn't be trying to accelerate as fast as you can, ragging it out for no reason unless being chased by someone.

I'm starting to suspect you don't know how to drive very well, good drivers don't need to do these kinds of things, and beyond reaction time people get better at driving as they enter their 3rd or 4th decade doing so, at which point not many at all chose a tiny stick shift. Maybe it's because they don't need such a car to make up for driving mistakes, or maybe they realize going faster than everyone else is irresponsible, dangerous, wasteful of gas, destructive to the car, and probably results in illegal speed.

BTW, when I wrote sports cars I meant something with a far more powerful engine than any of those, that (Or a truck hauling heavy weight) is the reason to choose a beefed up manual transmission so the extra torque doesn't wear it out prematurely.


RE: it = what?
By Steve1981 on 5/4/2009 9:54:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I love how you twisted the truth, listing cars like an "Si", "SS", WRX, or Mazdaspeed, instead of all Civics, Cobalts, Mazda 3's, etc


The Si, SS, WRX, and Mazdaspeed have sporting aspirations. A normal Civic, Cobalt, or Mazda 3 is simply an econobox.

quote:
BTW, a Civic with a stiff ride and jerky transmission is not sporting aspiration, it's crude.


I suspect you'd find some people that disagree with your assertion.

quote:
I'm starting to suspect you don't know how to drive very well, good drivers don't need to do these kinds of things


Don't embarrass yourself by make assumptions about how I drive. I'm not the type to burn it up by any stretch. I do like the ability to control my vehicle though, whereas you prefer to let a computer do it for you.


RE: it = what?
By mindless1 on 5/5/2009 1:06:21 AM , Rating: 2
You are not in control of your vehicle in a way that is meaningful, rather you are a slave to a poor choice.

Chosing to have a car change gears by stepping on the gas is similarly in control, you just don't have to use an addt'l arm and leg to do it.


RE: it = what?
By Steve1981 on 5/5/2009 8:09:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You are not in control of your vehicle in a way that is meaningful


Bull. Quick, there are cars coming out that will brake for you too. Better snap one up quick!

quote:
Chosing to have a car change gears by stepping on the gas is similarly in control


The problem is, the automatic doesn't always change to the right gear!! They ain't telepathic.


RE: it = what?
By Steve1981 on 5/4/2009 9:55:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
SUVs are not merely big transportation pods, because station wagons and vans exist.


They're big and attractive transportation pods? They're certainly not fun to drive.


RE: it = what?
By FITCamaro on 5/4/2009 11:17:16 PM , Rating: 3
Yes that's why I wanted a manual. Because I couldn't afford an auto.....Most people ACTUALLY want a manual because, yes, they're cheaper to buy, they're cheaper to maintain, you typically get better fuel economy, and they're more fun.

As far as people owning a manual driving faster, you can drive fast in anything. Most people I see zipping in and out of traffic are driving automatics (I know because the cars they're doing it in don't come in manuals). You can speed in a Prius just as easily as a Porsche. I was driving to Tampa one time from Orlando doing 80 on I4 (already over the speed limit) in my AUTOMATIC 87 Camaro IROC-Z and got passed by a Prius doing at least 90.

And manuals aren't necessarily "beefed up" either. In the 80s Camaros with 350s were only offered in automatics because the 5-speed manual at the time couldn't handle the torque reliably.

You clearly know absolutely nothing about cars and you're just spouting your opinions about something you don't have.


RE: it = what?
By mindless1 on 5/5/2009 1:19:27 AM , Rating: 1
LOL

Not at all, most people definitely do not want a manual and car sales speak volumes about that. When the same car is sold with both options it is by far the lowest level cheap car that has the manual transmission, not even sports car enthusiasts who would choose the more powerful engine change this factor of the choice being to lower cost in "most" cars.

A manual transmission is not much if any cheaper to maintain. Transmissions don't fail left and right like they used to, many people don't even change the fluid on the recommended interval and still get well over 100K miles of rough, not highway, use over many years.

Ever replaced a clutch? Most automatic transmissions do not need any parts replaced during the life of the vehicle.

I'll agree a manual is fun, at first, then it can be a senseless burden, it can be more fun to focus that attention on something else instead. Fun is something that is challenging, not a routine burden that's easy to master. It would be like saying it's fun to tie your shoes the 10,000th time.

My remark about driving faster came after the preceding suggestion it was about performance. If performance isn't about faster acceleration then what do you propose he meant? Getting passed by a Prius doing 90 proves nothing whatsoever unless you are claiming you had the car floored and it simply wouldn't go that fast, since as we know a car with worse acceleration would take longer to get up to speed.

I didn't claim manuals were by default beefed up, I suggested the only sane reason to get one is when the motor has a load requiring enough torque that a heftier than automatic transmission would be required for longevity.

I love the jab at the end but I know plenty about cars, having repaired my own and those of far too many people to think about for decades, having driven a manual on a daily basis, having seen the direct evidence of sales figures and knowing so few cars come with manual transmission because nobody wants it.

It's nice to like cars as you do but don't let that affection cloud over reality.


RE: it = what?
By Steve1981 on 5/5/2009 8:32:49 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
My remark about driving faster came after the preceding suggestion it was about performance. If performance isn't about faster acceleration then what do you propose he meant?


Having the ability to accelerate quickly and using it irresponsibly are two different balls of wax. There are days when good acceleration comes in handy.


RE: it = what?
By DrKlahn on 5/4/2009 12:01:07 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
The Prius is solidly in the midsize car category. It seats five - four comfortably - and has plenty of cargo space.


Not from my experience. It seats four. Not terribly comfortably. The cargo space is VERY limited.

quote:
If prices go back up above $4.00 a hybrid makes a lot of sense.


Not really.

Cobalt XFE $15k
Average combined mileage 32mpg

Prius $24k
Average combined mileage 46mpg

Fuel cost for 200k miles @$4

Cobalt $25k
Prius $17,400

The Prius will not break even at 200,000 miles with $4 gas. And I am not counting the battery replacement. Which will push it's break even point even further out.


RE: it = what?
By Mojo the Monkey on 5/4/2009 12:47:22 PM , Rating: 1
You, sir, are flatly incorrect. If you are going to use the BASE cobalt XFE at 15K, you need to use the BASE Hybrid at 22K (not 24). (So subtract $2000 from your equation). Also, the combined mileage average is 50mpg (read 2010 model, on sale now). Oh yeah, and the cobalt combined mileage is 30, not 32. Why dont you re-crunch your numbers.

Further, regarding size, the Prius has 21.6 cu. ft. of luggage capacity while the cobalt has only 13.9. Also, the prius can fold to get a total of 40 cu.ft. of cargo capacity if needed. The Prius is categorized as a midsize while the Cobalt is categorized as a subcompact.


RE: it = what?
By Starcub on 5/4/2009 3:48:07 PM , Rating: 2
Good point. A better comparison would be between hybrid and non-hybrid versions of the same car, like the Civic sedan. However, even with the Civic, the price differential is about $5000. That's too much to make up over the lifetime of the vehicle without some kind of subsidy or tax benefit.

The US auto industry will benefit most in the coming years through introduction of hybrid vehicles because their hybrids are newer. Honda and Toyota have been the beneficiaries thus far, but those tax breaks are being phased out.

The automakers are going to have to drop their prices on established hybrid models if they expect them to remain competitive in the US.


RE: it = what?
By Alexstarfire on 5/4/2009 7:41:28 PM , Rating: 2
Not really since these are usually slap on the hybrid parts. There isn't really a perfect comparison. Only thing you can do is compare it to any other vehicle you are looking at.


RE: it = what?
By DrKlahn on 5/4/2009 4:56:28 PM , Rating: 2
No it is 32 for the Cobalt. I got this from the actual road tests I could find. So tell Toyota to update their site. That is where I got the data. I don't keep up on hybrid news so I didn't know there was a bump coming for 2010. So a new Prius would have a $16k operating cost for 200,000 miles. So after all that driving and years of ownership it would actually pay for it's premium. Until you add in the cost of batteries and the unknown maintenance that may be needed on the electric powertrain. The batteries alone would again put the Prius behind the curve.


RE: it = what?
By Alexstarfire on 5/4/2009 7:54:05 PM , Rating: 2
Then you need to put the Prius over 50 MPG as well because road tests are above well above that. Ohh, and I'm sick of hearing the battery argument. How many articles have you read about people having to replace their batteries? I haven't even seen one, save for a couple about defective batteries, but I have seen several about how they have gone well out of their warranty period.


RE: it = what?
By Spuke on 5/5/2009 4:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How many articles have you read about people having to replace their batteries?
I saw a couple of posts on priuschat but I wasn't really looking for that at the time. I don't think battery life is a major issue.


RE: it = what?
By jimbojimbo on 5/4/2009 2:11:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not from my experience. It seats four. Not terribly comfortably. The cargo space is VERY limited.
Compared to my car it's got tons more space. I guess your're comparing it to a Crown Vic or a Suburban or something. For the category of car it does have a lot of space.


RE: it = what?
By GaryJohnson on 5/4/2009 11:09:44 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
These tiny cars lack the room and utility to be viable for a large number of consumers.


It may not be what we want, but it is what we're buying. The volt is a little bigger than a corolla, which is the best selling vehicle in the U.S. at the moment.

Used ones at that. People are buying many more used cars than new ones. If only domestic car manufacturers could figure out how to manufacture used vehicles instead of new ones they might not be in economic trouble.


RE: it = what?
By Spuke on 5/4/2009 1:10:01 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
It may not be what we want, but it is what we're buying.
That's not what we're buying either. I really don't understand why people don't get this. The information is readily available on car sales. Ford's pickups are still the number one seller with Chevy pickups coming in third. What trucks ARE losing to is mid-sized sedans like the Camry, Altima and Accord. Market share for mid-sized sedans has increased by quite dramatically although overall sales are down across the board. THAT'S what people are buying. People aren't buying hybrids or small cars like the TV likes you to believe. Mid-sized cars with 4 cylinder engines are where the bulk of vehicles are at.


RE: it = what?
By Suntan on 5/4/2009 1:28:29 PM , Rating: 3
And I would argue with calling either the Camery or Accord "mid sized" any more.

Have you really looked at the size difference between the previous Accord and the new one? The new one is huge...

But those "all knowing" Japanese venders wouldn't be continuing to upsize there cars each time they refreash them would they? Why would they keep doing that if America has been continually asking for smaller cars that the Big 3 can't seem to offer them?...

-Suntan


RE: it = what?
By Steve1981 on 5/4/2009 1:52:04 PM , Rating: 2
To my knowledge, the Accord is actually classified as a full sized sedan now.

As far as size differences go, the one that hits closest to home for me is the Mazda 6. The old one was pretty much the smallest mid-sized contender. Now its up there with the new Accord. It makes me a little sad really because I liked the old one so...

quote:
Why would they keep doing that if America has been continually asking for smaller cars that the Big 3 can't seem to offer them?...


Its not that we want smaller cars. We want cars that get 50mpg...while still yielding a 13.5 second quarter mile...and comfortable seating a family of 5!


RE: it = what?
By mindless1 on 5/4/2009 4:05:48 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, the old Mazda 6 was a really nice/sporty little car, but IMO it cost too much for it's size, especially in the sportier versions, for the American market which prefers cars a dozen percent larger than global markets. Add to that the American icons a sporty car competes against. Camaro & Mustang.

We could argue that sales of these latter two are different demographically but not so much when considering that the family sedan has to be big enough for the family, that's 3.n-something people and all their gear that they don't want in the trunk.

Many years ago as a child I recall our family going on road trips. I could lie down on the back seat and sleep during the ride, with my sister in the back too. THAT is a family sized sedan.

Mazda 6 might have been cooler if they got rid of the back seats and only offered a hatchback version, though considering the short travel tight suspension it may not have been suitable for that much rear cargo space/weight and putting longer spring or strut towers into the trunk (cargo bay being a hatchback) space would have negatively effected the cargo bay full length width.

One thing that is unfortunate about many smaller midsized cars today is that their sportier trim line doesn't offer significant enough improvement in handling, while they increase the size for the American market they also soften the suspension too much. This may be subjective, it seems the older generation does prefer a progressively more and more soft suspension. I vaguely recall the average age of a Mazda 6 owner was closer to 35, for Accord 50, Camry 60, with their suspensions becoming more firm in the same order. The relative ages may have changed some as the cars got larger and softer, but I believe the owner age vs model relationship is still the same though now Mazda 6 probably appeals to an older generation too, not so much to the under 30 crowd anymore unless they have a family already.


RE: it = what?
By Steve1981 on 5/4/2009 4:58:52 PM , Rating: 2
I think the old 6 would have been a great fit for me: a little more room than current 3 to fit what is expected to be a growing family, but retaining the performance that made me go with the 3 in the first place. While I'm sure the new 6 isn't going to be a wallowing pig, you have to wonder what the size increase will do to handling performance.


RE: it = what?
By mindless1 on 5/5/2009 1:26:00 AM , Rating: 2
I vaguely recall some reviews rating it more like an Accord than ever and an Altima takes the handling crown per class now.

To me the old 6 didn't have enough room for the driver alone, unless the driver was fairly short. Mazda 3 was too small for anyone, IMO. Mazda should have aimed for the same handling the 6 had previously and just increased the size. The market doesn't need 3 or more cars that are pretty much the same, but if they make them larger they can always come along later and introduce a new model to hit the smaller size class.


RE: it = what?
By Steve1981 on 5/5/2009 8:44:17 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I vaguely recall some reviews rating it more like an Accord than ever and an Altima takes the handling crown per class now.


That's the part that makes me sad. You might think me a sociopath out for thrills, but I enjoy tackling switchbacks and winding mountain roads.

quote:
To me the old 6 didn't have enough room for the driver alone, unless the driver was fairly short. Mazda 3 was too small for anyone, IMO.


I'm 5'9 and I seem to fit OK in my 3. Back seat leaves a little something to be desired though. I've had five adults in the car before, but it's not a fun fit. I'd imagine the old 6 would have been a considerable improvement without sacrificing too much in the way of performance.


RE: it = what?
By Spuke on 5/4/2009 4:30:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
To my knowledge, the Accord is actually classified as a full sized sedan now.
Yep, you are correct. I didn't know that had changed. VERY interesting.


RE: it = what?
By mindless1 on 5/4/2009 3:47:56 PM , Rating: 2
America didn't want smaller cars, they wanted higher quality small cars instead of small being only the way to reduce costs the most.

Anybody remember the old Ford Tempo or Escort (prior to '91 Mazda 323 derivative)? There were worse cars in history but they couldn't compete with the quality of a Corolla or Civic. Right size, wrong market segment.

As you suggested, this was still only a fraction of the market. Other Americans also wanted a high quality alternative to the midsized Chrysler, GM, and Ford cars which by today's standards would be considered large since few people want the equivalent of a Chevy Impala or Ford Crown Vic besides the elderly or police motor pools.

What the Japanese are essentially doing is upscaling each generation of a model to a point where they will later introduce a new model that is the smallest offered, and their largest remains a luxury vehicle unlike in the past with many large sized US automaker cars that weren't very luxurious at all except in how large they were, but with the huge engine compartment it was less usable space:total-space ratio.


RE: it = what?
By Spuke on 5/4/2009 4:19:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Have you really looked at the size difference between the previous Accord and the new one? The new one is huge...
I have and they are full sized IMO, but they are still classified as mid-sized.

quote:
Why would they keep doing that if America has been continually asking for smaller cars that the Big 3 can't seem to offer them?...
I wholeheartedly agree and I really can't stand the FUD about small cars and hybrids.


RE: it = what?
By Starcub on 5/4/2009 5:11:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I wholeheartedly agree and I really can't stand the FUD about small cars and hybrids.

There aren't many small cars that are available that cunsumers would want to buy. Why buy a smart car, when you can get a compact that gets equivalent mileage? Small car offerings don't offer the same feature sets either. Auto companies will only offer certain features on higher end cars, or they will require you to upscale your purchace to the high end of the model line forcing you to load up your car with crap you really don't need to get something you might really want (like a powered sunroof for example).

The industry has not serviced the customer; instead they service their bottom line by convincing the customer they need to buy something they really don't need, instead of actually listening to the customer. The arguement that you can judge what consumers want by what sells is only true in so far as the industry determines what goes on the market. How many examples of this do we see in this do we see across markets in this country? If you sell something at inflated prices and restrict market offerings, you effectively shape demand by interfering with it.


RE: it = what?
By Spuke on 5/4/2009 7:33:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The industry has not serviced the customer; instead they service their bottom line by convincing the customer they need to buy something they really don't need, instead of actually listening to the customer.
LOL! They haven't? Are you serious? So millions of people buy mid-sized cars, SUV's and trucks because the car makers are somehow fooling the public into thinking they need a larger, more versatile car when they really only need a small car? Dude, Americans don't like small cars because they are small and cheap. And Americans have a lot more disposable income due to lower taxes and home prices. So they spend a bit more for the larger house (average of 2300sf) and the larger car because it meets their needs/wants. If WE truly wanted smaller, we would just do it anyways regardless of price. And we would have a premium small car market like Europe does. But we don't have that because we LIKE OUR LARGE CARS. 30 years of sales data proves this and is not something you can twist or argue against.


RE: it = what?
By Alexstarfire on 5/4/2009 8:22:02 PM , Rating: 2
I think you are confused about needs and wants, like many other people. Very few people need the cars they own. People own things for a variety of reasons. In the case of cars this would be: size, cost, mileage, looks, features, and tons of other factors. You also forget that Americans like to have nice/stylish things and will do quite a bit to have them, even if they are really out of reach. I could say this is because we are self-conscious, but I couldn't say for certain why.

Hmmm, I'm finding this more difficult to put into words than I originally thought. But just think about this, why would we have things like spinners if we only purchased things we need?


RE: it = what?
By Suntan on 5/5/2009 2:06:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I think you are confused about needs and wants, like many other people. Very few people need the cars they own. People own things for a variety of reasons. In the case of cars this would be: size, cost, mileage, looks, features, and tons of other factors. You also forget that Americans like to have nice/stylish things and will do quite a bit to have them, even if they are really out of reach. I could say this is because we are self-conscious, but I couldn't say for certain why.


What is your point?

All people from every continent buy things they don’t *need*. To make comments that “Americans” buy things they don’t need and then just leave it at that is silly.

Or are you saying that all humans should go back to subsistence living, where a day that ends with you not freezing to death and able to kill enough food to get you to tomorrow is all anyone should ever hope for?

-Suntan


RE: it = what?
By Alexstarfire on 5/8/2009 11:59:17 AM , Rating: 2
True, but Americans have the most money and can actually afford it. If you've looked at prices for items, mostly luxury items, around the world you'd see that they are far out of reach for most people.

And I'm certainly not suggesting we go all the way back to where we, as humans, started, but a fancier car doesn't help us any more than a regular car would. As such it's very unnecessary to me.


RE: it = what?
By Spuke on 5/5/2009 4:24:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I think you are confused about needs and wants, like many other people.
You're the one who's confused. I put both words together because people interchange the two and I wanted to include everyone. There are people that post and probably 5 times more that just read so I try to include the people that read not just the people that post. Anywho, what the hell did all that have to do with what I said?


RE: it = what?
By Alexstarfire on 5/8/2009 11:49:39 AM , Rating: 2
That just because people buy large vehicles doesn't mean that it's want they want/need. But like I said, it didn't really come out right. Couldn't put what I was thinking into words. Still can't really. Makes perfect sense in my head though, not that it matters though.


RE: it = what?
By ebakke on 5/4/2009 11:16:55 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
People continue to get bigger.
Larger cars treat the symptom, not the problem. Obese (read American) people need to lose some damn weight.


RE: it = what?
By DrKlahn on 5/4/2009 12:02:57 PM , Rating: 2
I was referring to height not weight.


RE: it = what?
By ebakke on 5/4/2009 1:52:37 PM , Rating: 2
Humans average height isn't increasing anywhere near as quickly as the Camry is getting longer/bigger.


RE: it = what?
By geddarkstorm on 5/4/2009 2:49:30 PM , Rating: 2
Because only Americans are obese? http://www.eubusiness.com/Health/060911143043.axb5...

As it is, the percentage of obese Europeans and Americans is close to equal, it seems.


RE: it = what?
By ebakke on 5/4/2009 2:58:34 PM , Rating: 2
Americans aren't the only obese people, they're just the only obese people I see on a regular basis. And let me tell you... they're OBESE!


RE: it = what?
By clovell on 5/4/2009 12:26:51 PM , Rating: 3
Series Hybrids are far less complex than Parallel Hybrids - We are getting less complex than when hybrids first became commercially viable. Furthermore, the Prius is now quite affordable. I would expect the Volt to do likewise after a decade on the market.

The answer is not taxation - which is exactly what 'requiring manufacturers selling cars in the US to contribute a percentage to Universities' is. Furthermore, if you haven't been paying attention - Universities are run more like corporations anyway. Professors take research and spin off small companies for profit on a daily basis. So, this proposal violates current economic principles, and is hardly altruistic.

I fail to see how this is a band-aid. PHEVs are a critical step towards energy independence. The market will take care of this in its own way.


RE: it = what?
By DrKlahn on 5/4/2009 5:04:50 PM , Rating: 2
That is a good point on series vs. parallel and I agree with it.

As for the band aid comment. It comes from the fact that hybrid systems are looked at as a booster technology to IC engines using fossil fuels. Band aiding their inefficiency rather than concentrating on a real solution that cuts out fossil fuels completely.

Perhaps funding Universities is not the answer, but R&D funding for a true alternative (like Hydrogen) seems money better spent then trying to continue down the fossil fuel route.


RE: it = what?
By Chernobyl68 on 5/4/2009 3:29:02 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think hydrogen has the energy density to really make it a worthwhile fuel. you need a high pressure tank to hold a significant quantity, which has explosive issues. The Air-powered car http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_car has the same issues if you ask me.


RE: it = what?
By ArcliteHawaii on 5/5/2009 10:16:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If we were smart, instead of pushing ridiculous fuel standards and expensive hybrid systems we would require any manufacturer selling cars in the United States to contribute a percentage to the various Universities for R&D. Get an actual alternative to fossil fuels rather than continue to band aid the technology.


The only real solution to this is public transportation powered by baseload electricity (probably nuclear). There is no substitute for oil. Nothing has the energy return on investment of oil, something like 20 to 1. You can't grow it: The amount of fossil fuels used in the world today is 6 times greater than all the calories grown (like ethanol), including the food we eat. Batteries have 1/10th the energy density of gasoline, and are many times more expensive. Electric trains and buses run off of overhead wires are the best bet. It's a mature technology and not that expensive to implement. But it's a 20 year transition. Better start now.


RE: it = what?
By gregpet on 5/4/2009 2:20:49 PM , Rating: 2
That's exactly right! The Volt will be packed with A LOT of technology and gadets. Heated seats are just one example (heated seats use less energy than trying to heat all of the airin the car). If you compare the Volt to comparably equipted vehicle you won't see as much premium...


RE: it = what?
By Suntan on 5/4/2009 3:26:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
(heated seats use less energy than trying to heat all of the airin the car).


Yes, because having a shweaty bum is sooo comforting when it’s so cold that the snot in your nose freezes every time you inhale.

The reality is that when you drive that Volt in truly cold climates, you’re going to be relying on the gas engine much more than the battery.

Gadgets are all well and good, but there are also a lot of gadgets available on suprisingly low cost cars today. Gadgets or not, just straight up comparing the Volt to an "equivalent" normal car shows it to be rather expensive.

-Suntan


RE: it = what?
By Spuke on 5/4/2009 4:35:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
but there are also a lot of gadgets available on suprisingly low cost cars today.
Yep, I think the Fit is offered with navigation this year.


Wanna go green?
By FITCamaro on 5/4/2009 10:14:43 AM , Rating: 5
Diesel engines and diesel fuel produced by algae. No real change to existing infrastructure. No change in the way cars are designed. Only a small added cost for a stronger built engine and turbo system.




RE: Wanna go green?
By lagomorpha on 5/4/2009 10:56:18 AM , Rating: 2
Hopefully not GM designed diesel engines. Many people are still shy of ALL diesels thanks to the travesty GM created the last time they tried to make their own diesel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldsmobile_V8_engine#...


RE: Wanna go green?
By FITCamaro on 5/4/2009 12:12:20 PM , Rating: 2
GMs diesel V8s these days are some of the best in the business. Far better than the school bus sounding Ford motors. As far as cars, they don't have any diesel passenger cars in the US.


RE: Wanna go green?
By bldckstark on 5/4/2009 12:34:25 PM , Rating: 2
They sound like school bus engines because they are school bus engines. They are both made by International, rolling down the same assembly line. The internals are identical with only minor modifications to the component placement due to constraints in the under hood area of a pickup versus a bus. That, and the bus engine is painted blue.

They also sell this engine in a marine variant that makes twice as much power, by changing only the injectors and the fuel mapping. I always wanted to buy one of the pickups and put the marine injectors in it to see how fast I could roast the tires off of it. Problem is the tranny won't hold.

I used to work in that particular assembly plant.


RE: Wanna go green?
By FITCamaro on 5/4/2009 1:45:33 PM , Rating: 2
Most diesels can make far more power than the stock ratings by changing the tune. You just turn up the boost. They make handheld tuners that can both increase mileage and increase horsepower. Some can add 200 lb ft of torque.


RE: Wanna go green?
By FITCamaro on 5/4/2009 1:46:14 PM , Rating: 2
And I don't want a car or truck that sounds like a school bus.


RE: Wanna go green?
By Spuke on 5/4/2009 5:05:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And I don't want a car or truck that sounds like a school bus.
I like that sound. :) Bought a 06 Ford F250 diesel about two weeks ago. Love the sound even more.


RE: Wanna go green?
By bupkus on 5/4/2009 10:58:10 AM , Rating: 5
I say replace GM upper management with algae.


RE: Wanna go green?
By maverick85wd on 5/4/2009 3:07:10 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously, diesel is the way to go. Living in the UK, I bought an old 94 Golf TDi and it gets 55+MPG. A 94! A buddy of mine has a 2003 Passat TD and it gets even better gas mileage than mine with significantly more power.

I went on auto trader to see what kind of (Turbo Diesel) Audi A4/A5 TD I might be able to get when I move back to the states at the end of the year and there is NOTHING! Why is that? I even went on to the Audi of America website to see what they have for new vehicles and, at least in A5s or A4s, they have no diesels.

As it stands, I'm going to have to get one from Germany and bring it back with me. I wish people in the states only knew how much better they were.

Just an afterthought, if you are getting more power with less fuel, who cares it if sounds like a bus? My Golf does sound a bit rough, but my buddy's newer Passat sounds a lot better.


RE: Wanna go green?
By FITCamaro on 5/4/2009 5:01:26 PM , Rating: 2
I want my exhaust to be loud, not my engine.

Yes if it was a performance car, I'd care a lot less but a diesel truck you can hear running down the block and you're not talking about its exhaust, kinda sad.


RE: Wanna go green?
By Spuke on 5/4/2009 5:14:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'd care a lot less but a diesel truck you can hear running down the block and you're not talking about its exhaust, kinda sad.
New diesel trucks (08 and newer) are an order of magnitude quieter. You can actually leave the engine on in the drive-thru. But you trade fuel economy for the new emissions equipment that's required for them to meet emissions standards. I like the sound so I could care less but I really wanted the 20+ mpg and I don't buy new cars anymore.


RE: Wanna go green?
By Alexstarfire on 5/4/2009 8:30:31 PM , Rating: 2
I'd rather not hear anything from the car at all, but that's just me.


RE: Wanna go green?
By FITCamaro on 5/4/2009 11:18:27 PM , Rating: 2
You'll hate my car after Friday then when the long tubes go on. :)


RE: Wanna go green?
By Spuke on 5/4/2009 5:10:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I even went on to the Audi of America website to see what they have for new vehicles and, at least in A5s or A4s, they have no diesels.
Emissions standards are stricter and until recently, diesels only passed them sporadically. Also, most Americans perceptions of diesel cars are from the 80's and before (loud and smelly). Thirdly, gas is more abundant and in some states cheaper than diesel fuel.


RE: Wanna go green?
By jabber on 5/4/2009 5:41:18 PM , Rating: 2
You only have to be behind a BMW diesel to see how well they have advanced. You see the BMW pull away and its only got two speeds, Stop and warp speed.

Stunning amounts of power and torque. Nothing rattling and dirty there.

Top gear did a test in a Audi diesel, drove from London to Edinburgh and back on one tank.

You guys should try them sometime.


RE: Wanna go green?
By Alexstarfire on 5/4/2009 8:32:35 PM , Rating: 2
And how big was the gas tank on the car/vehicle?


RE: Wanna go green?
By jabber on 5/5/2009 5:00:36 AM , Rating: 2
It was a standard 2005 Audi A4 or A6 iirc. Nothing custom. Look it up on the Audi site.

But around 700 miles from a tank is pretty good going.

They've since done Switzerland to Blackpool in the UK (800 miles+) on one tank with 2008 spec small eco diesel hatchbacks (around 10 gallon or less tanks)


RE: Wanna go green?
By Durrr on 5/5/2009 5:59:47 AM , Rating: 2
It was an A8 twin turbo 4.2L v8. Avg fuel economy was around 42mpg IIRC.


RE: Wanna go green?
By jabber on 5/5/2009 6:16:05 AM , Rating: 2
700+ miles from a slighlty thirstier diesel V8.

What size tank would you need for a equivalent petrol V8?

35+ gallons?


RE: Wanna go green?
By Spuke on 5/5/2009 4:44:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And how big was the gas tank on the car/vehicle?
Roughly a 24 US gallon tank. Gas and diesel A8's have the same tank size. The US gas cars have the same tank size also. Fuel economy is 16/23 mpg (US) for the gas engine. We don't get the diesel A8 here. To get the same range as the diesel, the gas car would need a 30 gallon tank.


RE: Wanna go green?
By Alexstarfire on 5/9/2009 12:15:42 AM , Rating: 2
Jesus Christ. I could do that trip on a tank just under half that size.... with a gasoline car.


RE: Wanna go green?
By Suntan on 5/5/2009 3:10:15 PM , Rating: 2
The 335d offered in America is about $3600 more than the 335i (almost 10% more) and while it gets better gas mileage by 10 mpg hwy, it is also slower and the diesel fuel costs more. Further, anyone want to hazard a guess as to how much it will cost to get the urea refilled once the warranty period has run out and you don’t get free maintenance any more?

It’s a notable design, but not a silver bullet that completely rewrites the auto rulebooks.

Likewise, that A8 you are spouting about, it starts at over 100,000 Euros for the base model. Care to talk about offerings that are more germane to regular people?

-Suntan


RE: Wanna go green?
By Spuke on 5/5/2009 4:48:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
diesel fuel costs more.
Depends on where you live. Out here in CA, it's about the same as 87. It used to be cheaper than 87 though. Some places it's closer to 89. I haven't seen any that cost more than 89.


RE: Wanna go green?
By Spuke on 5/5/2009 4:28:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Stunning amounts of power and torque. Nothing rattling and dirty there.
I'm aware of the new diesels and I'm not averse to diesels at all. I own a diesel truck. I like the clacking sound, LOL! I'm just trying to explain why most Americans don't like them. It's really perception as all of the new diesels are MUCH quieter and there's no smell. Hell, even most of the diesel pumps (CA and AZ anyways) are clean.


hydrogen
By audifan on 5/4/2009 12:53:44 PM , Rating: 2
Hydrogen powered vehicles ARE the future.




RE: hydrogen
By Steve1981 on 5/4/2009 12:54:39 PM , Rating: 2
Would you mind loaning me your crystal ball so I can make some "investments"?


RE: hydrogen
By werepossum on 5/4/2009 2:19:04 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Hydrogen powered vehicles ARE the future.

I've nothing against hydrogen powered vehicles, but it's worth repeating that current methods of producing hydrogen gas in quantity use more energy than the hydrogen produces. Thus switching to hydrogen powered vehicles will require more energy infrastructure than not switching to hydrogen powered vehicles. The only real solution currently allowing a majority of hydrogen powered vehicles would be a massive increases in nuclear power which, with the Democrats solidly in power and looking to remain so for at least the foreseeable future, will not happen in the USA. Until methods of producing bulk hydrogen from algae or waste are perfected, I'm afraid hydrogen powered vehicles are a pipe dream.


RE: hydrogen
By foolsgambit11 on 5/4/2009 6:07:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
current methods of producing hydrogen gas in quantity use more energy than the hydrogen produces.

Really? It doesn't violate the Laws of Thermodynamics? Shocker.

The point is to find a renewable source of power for vehicles. Fossil fuels will always have an advantage from an energy efficiency standpoint considering that we didn't have to put the energy into the gas - millions of years of chemistry and geology did that for us. But if you have to make gasoline from scratch, it's going to take more energy than the gas can produce, too. Not that we'll have to do that any time in the near future.

And why blame Dems for blocking nuclear power plants? In 6 years of Republican leadership, how many nuclear power plants were built? planned? approved? The problem must be the American people - if they wanted nuclear, the Republicans would have made it happen, but because they sensed the issue could cost votes, they shied away from anything but blustering about Democratic opposition on the issue. The point being, Americans (excluding the crazy fringe) need to be convinced nuclear is safe, viable, clean, and effective. Congress isn't going to lead on this issue, it's going to follow, no matter who's in charge there.

Or maybe Obama will make Congress follow his lead - he said nuclear was part of the solution during the campaign.... Maybe he'll follow up on that? Right after he reforms welfare by giving them five loaves and five fishes....


RE: hydrogen
By Spuke on 5/5/2009 4:53:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In 6 years of Republican leadership, how many nuclear power plants were built? planned? approved? The problem must be the American people - if they wanted nuclear, the Republic
There was one approved in 07 that I know for sure but I think there were two more waiting for a decision and a third one still in the application process.


RE: hydrogen
By FITCamaro on 5/4/2009 5:05:28 PM , Rating: 2
I'm for hydrogen too but as others say, the issue so far has been producing enough hydrogen. I think algae based diesel is far more economically viable.


RE: hydrogen
By 9nails on 5/5/2009 12:32:10 AM , Rating: 2
I think it's been shown that hydrogen is easy to produce through electrolysis. And doesn't require a whole powerplant of energy going into it. But storage at any sort of usable density means containment at sub-zero temperatures. And the storage requires a lot of energy to keep the temps several hundred degrees below.
Hydrogen storage is a problem that needs a solution.

The whole bio-anything concept is beyond my understanding. I've read a few articles that suggest that some bacteria can be engineered to fart out fuels that we can use. Still collecting these fuels isn't a simple task. It still sounds like trying develop a process to take the egg out of a baked cake to me.

For now, it's hard to pick a winner when the race is still decades long. Will hydrogen ever find an efficient method to store this energy? Will batteries ever store the same energy density as a gas tank at similar weights? Can the energy grid affordably integrate green technology so you can recharge your cars with renewable sources? And will everything fit into a safe, reliable package with crash safety in mind?


Cherry-pickin' article
By Doormat on 5/4/2009 2:23:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
A recent 2009 study by the Boston Consulting Group looked at the alternative-energy friendly Germany as an ideal location to deploy electric vehicles.


True Germany is alternative-energy friendly, however to use their energy prices as a basis for evaluating the Volt is a crock - the average residential price is roughly 17-20c/kWh (depending on currency fluctuations).

The average American is paying about half that - around 9-10c/kWh. Some places pay less (6-8c/kWh) and some places pay more (12c/kWh).

I've done the math before here at DT and I'll repeat the results: the Volt will pay for itself compared to a $17.5K Civic (auto, power, etc) if gas prices average around $3.50/gal over that 10 year period.

If gas prices average less than that, you better hope the resale value of the Volt holds up better than a conventional car - though there is a chance it might. I'm mixed on this, but the battery pack could hold significant residual value even after 10 years when used as a backup in a climate controlled environment at a utility-level scale, or when recycled.




RE: Cherry-pickin' article
By Suntan on 5/4/2009 3:32:36 PM , Rating: 2
I'd be interested to see the assumptions you used for this calculation if you would be kind to post them.

-Suntan


RE: Cherry-pickin' article
By Doormat on 5/4/2009 4:26:36 PM , Rating: 2
OK, I'll let someone else do the TCO math this time...

Up front cost
17.5K Civic + tax
32.5K Volt (after credit) + tax on 40K

Assume equal maintenance costs (a big unknown, but remember the Volt battery is warrantied for the entire 10 year period)

Volt: 40 miles on electricity, 48MPG after
Civic: Use whatever the combined mileage figure is (50%H/50%C)

Electricity: $.10/kWh, 85% meter to battery efficiency

Driving: 10,500 miles on electricity (35 miles commute 5 days per week + other driving), 2,000 on gas (12,500 total, the average MPA for 2007)

Inflation: 3.5%/yr for gas and electricity.

Resale after 10 years:
Civic: $4500 (in 2009 $, based off of 1999 Civic sold today)
Volt: $7000 vehicle, $???? battery (maybe it will be somewhere between 25-50% of the cost of the battery?)

The maintenance and resale figures are the unknowns. A lot of the resale numbers depends on how good the Volt is reliability-wise and how good the batteries are (which at this time, only GM and LGChem know). If they turn out to be crap, then my figures get revised down and then the numbers look less good for the Volt. GM said recently they expect that the batteries will be able to find uses after the 10 year life span is up.


RE: Cherry-pickin' article
By Suntan on 5/5/2009 2:37:16 PM , Rating: 2
A couple of observations:

1) Until there is real world test/anecdotal evidence that supports the Volt getting an *average* of 40 miles in *normal* driving conditions, I’ll go ahead and believe that it won’t.

What I mean is, my commute is currently about 20 miles one way. For a couple of months in the summer I sit for at least 20 minutes inching along in stop and go driving for the first 5 miles on the way home. When the temps are up in the 80s I have the AC on. Do you still think the car will go that 40 mile round trip with the added load of running the AC for 20 minutes?

Even more telling is that in the winter months commutes take an average of an hour each way on good days and can be up to 2 hours per leg on days when it snows. You still think that Volt is going to do all that on electric only mode while keeping you from freezing for those combined 2 to 4 hours at subzero temperatures? Not likely, there isn’t enough juice in the batts to convert into heat to keep you from freezing.

2) Maintenance is an unknown as you say, but the Volt drive train is much more complicated than that of a Civic. It is quite optimistic to assume that their maintenance will be the same.

3) If anyone can show me a 10 year old GM vehicle that normally sold for less than $33,000 new, and commands a *trade in* value of anything close to $7,000 I’ll be impressed. I question why a “Volt” would be able to command that kind of resistance to depreciation when none of the other GM vehicles have managed it.

4) You don’t have any cost in there for updates to your home electrical system. If lucky, it is to just get an electrician to come out and wire up a 220 outlet to your garage, but it could cost much, much more if you require an upgrade to add more current coming in to your house to accommodate charging your car.

5) You don’t have any cost penalty for the added hassle of needing to charge your car every night. Although a lot of people just want to overlook the issue, there are downsides to *requiring* that your car be plugged in for X hours each night.

-Suntan


RE: Cherry-pickin' article
By Spuke on 5/5/2009 5:25:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
but it could cost much, much more if you require an upgrade to add more current coming in to your house to accommodate charging your car.
I researched that once a couple of years ago and although I don't remember the exact figures, it will cost ~$1500 to $2000 to upgrade the service to a house to accommodate a 220V outlet. More than likely if you're in an older home (20 yrs old or so), you'll have a 100 amp main breaker and it will cost more to have it done. It really depends on what you need done but that's a good range. Oh and you'll need a permit and probably an inspection.

You might have to upgrade your service to accommodate an electric car even if you used a 110V outlet to power it in an older home anyways. Lost of older homes have to be upgraded to accommodate the new tech luxuries that we like to have nowadays. A newer house will more than likely have 200 amp service so you may only need to add a 220V outlet. MUCH cheaper. It all depends on how much current draw the Volt requires.


RE: Cherry-pickin' article
By Alexstarfire on 5/9/2009 12:29:24 AM , Rating: 2
1. Any and every car is going to do horrible in stop and go traffic, with AC on, with heat on (though not as bad as AC), and in the cold. You can't just have these cons against one car and not the other as they are cons for ALL CARS. That said 40 miles is probably optimistic but I'm sure some will probably manage more than 40 miles off of it as well. Just because some, more likely most, people don't know how drive efficiently doesn't mean that no one does.

2. Yes, costs for actually repairing the Volt is going to be more expensive, but considering electronics break down far slower than mechanical it'll probably end up having a lower maintenance cost. Though I am assuming that the Volt is going to be similar to the Prius in that pretty much everything is going to be electrical.

3 and 4. Don't really care much. Upgrading your house would suck, but that'll depend on your house and other factors so it's not worth commenting about any more than to say it could end up costing over $1k. Should certainly be checked out before looking into a plug-in car, but it can't be brought into some general equation/formula into the cost of the Volt.

5. Unless you really want to count the "cost" of the 30 seconds it's going to take you to plug it in when you get out of the car and the possibly 0 seconds it's going to take you to unplug it I don't know what other cost there could be that you are talking about. 30 seconds, at most, out of my day is hardly anything to worry about. People waste more time than that in the first hour they are at work.


Ahhh.. the EV1
By WildFox22 on 5/4/2009 12:01:18 PM , Rating: 3
Wikipedia Time!: The Gen 1 cars got 55 to 75 miles (90 to 120 km) per charge with the Delco-manufactured lead-acid batteries, 75 to 100 miles (120 to 160 km) with the Gen 2 Panasonic lead-acid batteries, and 75 to 150 miles (120 to 240 km) per charge with Gen 2 Ovonic nickel-metal hydride batteries. Recharging took as much as eight hours for a full charge (although one could get an 80% charge in one to three hours). So.. 240km per charge...

the Volt... With fully charged batteries, this electric power may be sourced exclusively from its onboard lithium-ion batteries, for up to 40 miles (64 km)

240 km vs 64km... i say rebuild the Ev1, the ''perfect car''




RE: Ahhh.. the EV1
By bobsmith1492 on 5/4/2009 1:20:22 PM , Rating: 3
1. Lead-acid deep-cycle batteries don't last very long.
2. Half a ton of lead-acid batteries weighs... half a ton. They are very heavy.
2. When your Volt battery runs low you can top off your gas tank in 2 minutes at any one of hundreds of thousands of gas stations around the world. Not so with the EV1 - you're restricted to a 50-mile radius from your house.
2. Half a ton of lead in your car is not exactly environmentally-friendly.


RE: Ahhh.. the EV1
By Suntan on 5/4/2009 1:34:09 PM , Rating: 2
Drive that "perfect car" on up here to Minneapolis in the beginning of February and see how perfect you think it is.

There's a reason they only offered them in Southern Calafornia when they were "leasing" them.

-Suntan


RE: Ahhh.. the EV1
By FITCamaro on 5/4/2009 3:07:08 PM , Rating: 2
Yes and the EV1 was a tiny car. The Volt is not. Also the EV1 was built in a time with far lower safety standards than cars have today. Increased safety standards have added hundreds of pounds to cars.


Aptera anyone?
By jeramiah461 on 5/4/2009 10:06:22 AM , Rating: 2
i think its pretty funny that a small company like Aptera can create a plug-in electric car for under 30thousand. where every major manufacturer has failed.




RE: Aptera anyone?
By JasonMick (blog) on 5/4/2009 10:37:19 AM , Rating: 1
I agree that some inefficiency/lack of design independence/creativity may be at play here. It is often counter-intuitively harder for a big company to tackle a problem than a small one.

However, I think that overall there is still the underlying problem of the lithium. Sure Aptera may be able to produce small volumes at $30,000 and be profitable thanks to smart design and careful planning. However, as soon as these things start being mass produced as a serious gasoline vehicle replacement (on the scale of millions produced, as hybrids are now) the lithium demand will be so high that costs will skyrocket. As with the food crop-ethanol price crunch, this could also raise the price of consumer electronics.

What is desperately needed is a battery material that can be made out of a more abundant source. Barring the development of such a vehicle, it seems impossible to see worldwide electric vehicle adoption.

I'm optimistic that a solution will be found, but I think the industry has to be careful not to get ahead of itself, though, especially given the financial woes its currently in. If they view EVs as a research project, that's fine. But given the state of lithium resources, they just can't be a broad commercial product yet.


RE: Aptera anyone?
By skaaman on 5/4/2009 12:34:09 PM , Rating: 2
I'm optimistic that research will give this technology a kick. Consider the following article from DT just 6 weeks ago.

http://www.dailytech.com/Researchers+Create+Batter...

Speculate if you could cut the Volts battery size by 75% and improve its mileage at the same time. And this is just one bit of research going on. I don't think it's a matter of "if" but "when and how long" it will take to translate these improvements into viable production.


RE: Aptera anyone?
By austinag on 5/4/09, Rating: 0
RE: Aptera anyone?
By Spuke on 5/4/2009 1:26:58 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
i think its pretty funny that a small company like Aptera can create a plug-in electric car for under 30thousand. where every major manufacturer has failed.
And Aptera doesn't have to worry about warranties, safety regulations, or emissions requirements millions of cars on the road not to mention that the Aptera is not a standard sedan that can fit 4 or 5 comfortably. If Aptera had to build a car that met the requirements of REAL families AND REAL regulations, it couldn't afford to do so.


Ouch!
By Spivonious on 5/4/2009 10:06:37 AM , Rating: 2
6 years to break even is not very attractive at all. GM needs to find a way to reduce the cost of the Volt, perhaps subsidying its production with the higher-priced Cadillac version. Or they could simplify the interior and take out all of the gadgets. If they can get it under $25k, I think they'll be very successful.




RE: Ouch!
By MarcLeFou on 5/4/2009 11:49:30 AM , Rating: 3
The Volt is nothing by a huge PR stunt at this point anyway.

It's to gain the green image halo that has brought Toyota extra sales across their whole lineup. This is what GM is counting on with the Volt. Not millions of sales in the first few years with huge profit.

Regardless of the intent however, the Volt makes it so we're closer today to having a viable electric vehicle on the roads. It's definately not ready for primetime yet but since there's a demand for electric tech on a mass scale in the auto industry now, advances in batteries and other electric components should be encouraged so we should be able to have actual viable electric cars by the next decade just like the Prius made mild hybrids somewhat viable (notice the somewhat here).


RE: Ouch!
By Spuke on 5/4/2009 3:15:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's definately not ready for primetime yet but since there's a demand for electric tech on a mass scale in the auto industry now
Where is this "demand for electric tech on a mass scale"? Oh, wait maybe it's on this site.

http://www.aiada.org/newsroom/newsDetails.asp?id=5...

Nope! That can't be right. That still shows a pickup truck outselling everything else. The TV said that EVERYONE wants hybrids. How can this be! Must be a conspiracy.


RE: Ouch!
By mindless1 on 5/4/2009 6:44:54 PM , Rating: 2
It's a first-gen car, they need not price it competitive with everything else the same size yet, only get enough of them out on the roads to iron out bugs, inspire consumer confidence in the next tech, and gradually ramp up production which lowers cost per unit, along with battery tech and competitive growth that will hopefully find new battery tech, but at least lower the cost of Li-Ion until we start encountering shortages, if/when that ever happens which we could assume it would but only if we assume all variables remain constants which they may not.


We need to rebuild our economy...
By Noya on 5/4/2009 12:22:59 PM , Rating: 1
We need to rebuild our economy, so why not invest in nuclear power plants and hydrogen fuel cell cars like the Honda Clarity?




RE: We need to rebuild our economy...
By EasyC on 5/4/2009 12:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
Because that would make sense.


By bobsmith1492 on 5/4/2009 1:16:21 PM , Rating: 4
Nuclear power = sense

Fuel cells = no sense because of too many cents


Seriously...
By Natfly on 5/4/2009 10:58:56 AM , Rating: 2
The government needs to stop subsidizing products that aren't economically viable. $7500 for a volt is ridiculous, wind power also comes to mind, as well as corn based ethanol. Instead take a fraction of the massive amount of money being wasted and invest into researching these and other technologies to make them actually viable.




RE: Seriously...
By thornburg on 5/4/2009 11:54:37 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The government needs to stop subsidizing products that aren't economically viable. $7500 for a volt is ridiculous, wind power also comes to mind, as well as corn based ethanol.


I'm totally with you on this point, except that in some situations, wind power is a commercially viable product even without government subsidies. They have a long delay before you start seeing returns, but some wind generators are very low upkeep compared to many other forms of power generation.

I don't think the whole country should be covered in the things, but wind power is good, where it makes sense.

Subsidizing the Volt... I don't know. If they were going to sell it for a competitive price with the Prius, maybe I could see that, but last I heard, the Volt was planned to launch at $40,000. Does anyone know if that's still the launch price? (My point here is that people who can afford $40,000 sedans don't really need tax breaks on their car purchase, while people who have to scrape together what they can to get a $20,000 car for the family could benefit quite handsomely from a good tax break).

And corn-based ethanol, profitable or not, was an ill-planned idea. It uses more fuel to produce and distribute than it saves (v.s. just burning petrol products instead).


RE: Seriously...
By Starcub on 5/4/2009 4:29:47 PM , Rating: 2
The tax breaks ensure that the consumer benefits directly instead of the company. However, the subsidies are also an incentive to the industry to develop the tech itself.

However, I tend to agree that the govt could do more by taxing what is harmful in addition to subsidizing what is beneficial. The govt could increase taxes on gasoline and use the proceeds to fund research into alternative fuels. We live in an age where both parties are trumpeting smaller govt., so govt would be taking those tax dollars and giving them to private corporations and researchers rather than doing research itself like it did with nuclear. They do that already through tax breaks and subsidies; however, with the current administration, maybe it would best to wait and see what the current stimulus produces before we ask the govt to ratchet up taxes on gas.


How best to do it
By dever on 5/4/2009 3:57:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the question remains how best to do it
If you simply let individuals freely decide what is best for their lives, you have the power of 100's of millions of people people deciding "how best to do it" without even trying. Stop subsidies, stop tax-incentives, stop micro-managing the decisions of others.

Leave these decisions to the voluntary sector, not the coercive power of government.




RE: How best to do it
By pequin06 on 5/4/2009 4:33:55 PM , Rating: 2
Ditto!

If the electric car was meant to be, it would've taken off a long, long time ago.
Crude will always give the best bang for the buck.


RE: How best to do it
By dever on 5/6/2009 3:59:24 PM , Rating: 2
Crude won't always give the best bang for the buck. At some point, battery or some other technology will exceed its value & effectiveness.

But, if we allow individuals freedom to choose what vehicles are appropriate for their needs, the transition will happen smoothly and exactly when crude is no longer "best" according the determination of millions of consumers... not just according to a few very effective and persuasive lobbyists.


I doubt this will fly
By EasyC on 5/4/2009 12:21:12 PM , Rating: 1
Even if they manage to make a Lithium battery big enough for a car and still have it priced decently, will it last? I have yet to see a Lithium battery last more than a year on a regularly used item. People are going to have to carry extension cords with them because their car shuts off 5 miles down the road.




RE: I doubt this will fly
By Starcub on 5/4/2009 4:53:22 PM , Rating: 2
Cost and supply are a matter of politics. Technically, the batteries do a lot better in cars where the charge levels, and charging and discharge rates are precicely computer controlled. Typically auto manufacturers offer 8-10 year warranties on the battery system.


Compressed air Hybrid
By jfswa on 5/4/2009 4:13:27 PM , Rating: 2
Have anyone seen these, no messy battery just compressed air. Wow ...now that's some technology that we should be looking in to.

http://www.mdi.lu/english/cityflowair.php




Useless speculation
By theBike45 on 5/4/2009 7:13:50 PM , Rating: 2
First off, lithium is not scarce - just ask A123 System
execs. Secondly, there have been recent advances by MIT that will appear about the same time as the Volt, which eliminate recharge waiting and increases power enormously and lifespan as well. If those improvements aren't taken into account, any speculation is useless. Then there is the possibility of EEStor - if their devices work, then EV become immediately more practical and cheaper than gas powered cars. And they don't use any lithium. Obama's dream of 1 million Evs is just stupid - a million gas powered cars off the road won't accomplish one single thing - you couldn't possibly detect such a small decrease in either emissions or oil demand. Why don't those out there that don't follow the EV scene just shut up? I'm tired of reading/viewing nonsensical crap by the media.




Golly what a surprise
By FPP on 5/4/2009 7:55:59 PM , Rating: 2
Someone finally does the math! Now, as GM will be gov't owned, they are prepping the ground for a retreat from this fools errand. The only reason to make this car is if anyone decides to buy it.

Will they?




It Ain't About The Lithium
By mars2k on 5/5/2009 4:05:24 AM , Rating: 2
GM is expert at trotting out whatever product circumstances require to fade a little public relations heat. The Volt was hoisted into public view just when these guys were asking for bale out money. What a sham. GM has no answers. The upper management has no other objective than to preserve their huge salaries, perks, and power. These guys lost sight of what their primary objective should be… making good cars. They’ve worked hand in glove with the oil industries to maintain the status quo. When they have a little PR problem they toss out a herring like the Volt to keep the public distracted until we forget about whatever it was that was the hot issue at the time. Remember the first oil crisis was in the early 1970s. The government had to force C.A.F.E .standards then. Thirty years later and GM is still making Hummer like monstrosities.




I just wish...
By Ozziedogg on 5/5/2009 5:11:00 AM , Rating: 2
..That my car could run like me: for days on end fueled with nothing but cheap beer, cigarettes, and whatever is leftover in the fridge that doesnt have mold on it.




One word on the future...
By roostitup on 5/5/2009 5:16:39 AM , Rating: 2
Hydrogen.




By LemonJoose on 5/5/2009 5:33:44 PM , Rating: 2
If they market it right, then they could still sell it at a profitable price. The cost of manufacturing it is too expensive right now to market it as an economy purchase for average consumers. It should be marketed as an upscale green vehicle to well-off consumers. In other words, as a step up from the Prius. At any rate, anyone who buys a Volt is going to need easy access to a power outlet to recharge it, so that leaves out many people who have to park their car on the street or in an outdoor lot (even if they have a designated space). I would definitely be interested in the Volt, but I live in a condo and park my car in an outdoor lot. Until plug-in hybrids become a lot more commonplace, I doubt I'd have much success convincing my condo association to install an outdoor charging outlet system.

They should also think about using the technology to do a Tesla-like all-electric supercar under the Corvette brand. Something like that would sell like hotcakes to sports car enthusiasts.