Electric cars-Conversions

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bobins
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Re: Electric cars/vans/bikes-Conversions/Secondhand..etc

Post by bobins »

Very interesting points you make above, Simon, and which seem fair to me. Care to make any predictions about motoring in 20+ years time ? This is NOT meant as a criticism, nor being antagonistic, it's more of a thought exercise :) Will we still be allowed to 'motor' as we do today ? Will we be issued with 'transport credits' which permit us to travel x miles in our own vehicle, and once they're used up, we've got to buy more on the 'transport credits trading scheme' (government controlled, of course !). In 20+ years time, how far are we intending or needing to travel in cars ?
In the short term, electric propulsion is definitely needed, in the medium to long term - I wouldn't dare to guess what will happen :shock:

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Re: Electric cars/vans/bikes-Conversions/Secondhand..etc

Post by NewcastleFalcon »

Mandrake wrote:Some good points and concerns Richard, however lets see if we can talk you around with a bit more analysis and number crunching. :-D
RichardW wrote:We don't have enough generating capacity to keep the lights on at present - there is no room for loads of electric cars.
Richard/Simon excellent contributions and as I posted up before, probably without a solid basis in facts and figures, my genuine enthusiasm comes down 100% on the side of a transition to electric vehicles and the sooner the better. Have to admit then that I probably like to read things which support my own gut feeling, but enjoy the debate. Those fringe benefits mentioned by Simon relating to power generation of the change could well be just as significant.

I certainly feel that if you could run a car on water the Government would tax water, or force you to have an annual car charging licence if you plug your vehicle in at home... but Governments will do what Governments do and lets hope they help rather than hinder the change and see it as an opportunity to lead rather than follow.

Our little Island is an ideal place to lead the way....others will follow..and just like the railways in times past, we could export our technology and infrastructure across the world. If we don't do it others will and we will end up importing their vehicles/their infrastructure someway down the line.

Hope we can all learn a lot from this thread, I am, so keep the contributions coming :-D

Regards Neil

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CitroJim
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Re: Electric cars/vans/bikes-Conversions/Secondhand..etc

Post by CitroJim »

No comments needed but Simon, I'm enjoying reading your thoughts on this subject with great interest :D

I see a Tesla S in our staff car park every day... It's not altogether an attractive car by any means and utterly massive...

Also several Nissan Leafs (or is that Leaves?). They are getting quite popular and common now.

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Re: Electric cars/vans/bikes-Conversions/Secondhand..etc

Post by elma »

So far you're making a convincing argument which I don't disagree with. The environmental problems which concern me are more to do with the batteries. I've seen how they extract and refine lithium and it's not good. I also am aware there is an environmental cost to disposing of old batteries but have no idea how recyclable or damaging they are.
I'm actually pro electric cars but have always believed that battery technology, currently, is their Achilles heel. Are you well informed on this as well Simon? It's something I'll be researching in time but haven't had a chance yet.

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Re: Electric cars/vans/bikes-Conversions/Secondhand..etc

Post by white exec »

Some really good arguments by Simon. Allowing millions of people to inefficiently burn unnecessarily transported liquid fuel has had its day. We now know how to do better, and will one day soon look back on all this with some disbelief!

Some things are best done 'centrally', and that certainly includes use of energy. From the 1960s, and almost all of Moscow was kept heated by piped hot water from just four "thermal stations". In the mid-70s when we visited, one of these was burning wood and general rubbish, the others fossil fuels. All probably Gazprom now, I guess! Only snag was it was decreed in the Moscow diary the day that winter would start, and this was writ in stone, so if it got cold a week early, it could be a bit grim. How cold? -32C over Christmas/New Year.

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Re: Electric cars/vans/bikes-Conversions/Secondhand..etc

Post by Mandrake »

elma wrote:So far you're making a convincing argument which I don't disagree with. The environmental problems which concern me are more to do with the batteries. I've seen how they extract and refine lithium and it's not good. I also am aware there is an environmental cost to disposing of old batteries but have no idea how recyclable or damaging they are.
I'm actually pro electric cars but have always believed that battery technology, currently, is their Achilles heel. Are you well informed on this as well Simon? It's something I'll be researching in time but haven't had a chance yet.
I agree that batteries have always been the Achilles heel of electric cars, and probably what has stopped adoption until now. Electric motor technology (including the inverter/controller) suitable for high performance electric cars has been ready for at least 20 years but the battery tech hasn't. The issues being of course high weight, low energy density, and slow charging.

Modern lithium iron batteries don't completely solve these problems but with a bit of innovate design get you "close enough" to bridge the gap to practicality. Tesla in particular pioneered two "breakthroughs" in applying batteries to electric cars - the shape and location of the battery and the temperature regulation.

The first generations of electric cars (even including the Tesla roadster) and electric hybrids put the batteries in more traditional locations such as under the bonnet next to the motor, and where the fuel tank would go in a normal car, taking up some of the boot space etc. As they're so big and heavy they take up a lot of space that could be luggage space and being up high they raise the centre of gravity a lot.

Tesla's insight was to make the entire floor the full width of the car and right from axle to axle one big massive flat battery pack that is bolted up onto the body from underneath. It's about 4 inches thick so it does lower the ground clearance a bit but it completely frees up the boot for luggage, the front "engine bay" to be another boot (huge in the RWD model, reduced in size but still present in the 4WD version) and the rear for an engine. To make the battery safe in that location it is made of modules which are separately contained and literally "fire-walled" from each other and the interior of the car. If one module somehow caught fire it would vent towards the ground and other nearby modules are unaffected. This grid like structure is reinforced and a significant part of the weight of the battery pack, however it becomes a major structural part of the car in both frontal and side impacts. Because this battery pack (which is about 500Kg) is literally under the floor it gives the car an unusually low centre of gravity - helped by the alloy body construction.

The other breakthrough they made is their active cooling/heating system for the battery - lithium batteries are most "happy" over a relatively narrow range of temperatures. To get long life, high efficiency, high power output and fast charging you have to be able to both heat and cool the batteries to keep them in their happy range. To do this they have a pumped cooling system which I believe actually uses traditional glycol coolant similar to a normal engine - this is pumped around past all the cells in the battery pack through a heat conductive sleeving that is in contact with the individual cells. There are quick release coolant lines connecting all the battery modules to each other and to the rest of the car, so when the entire battery pack is dropped out you have both electrical cables and some coolant lines that are disconnected.

Here is what one looks like:

https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads ... ack.34934/

There are three separate cooling loops in the car which connect batteries, a small radiator, the motor and the inverter, which can be reconfigured and connected to each other with valves depending on what needs heating or cooling.

On a very cold morning it would initially use some energy from the batteries to heat the fluid to warm the batteries up - sounds wasteful but you gain more than you lose by bringing the batteries up to a comfortable working temperature. Later on as the engine and inverter module start to heat up their waste heat can be pumped to the batteries to keep the batteries warm (in cold conditions) for "free" using the waste heat from those. If you're in a hot climate the motor, inverter and batteries may all need cooling instead in which case a small radiator cools all three of them, and also provides A/C in the car I believe.

In recent software updates the heating/cooling system will even come on automatically when the car is parked and locked to either actively cool or warm the batteries if the temperatures are getting dangerously low or high. I don't recall what the exact figures are but its something like above 40 degrees and below -10. This uses a small amount of energy but the payoff is a massively increased battery life, because subjecting the batteries to temperature extremes shortens their life even when not in use. When the car is driving I think it tries to keep the batteries in a narrower range between about 20-30 degrees.

Some (most ?) other makes of EV do NOT do all this elaborate battery temperature management, and subsequently don't have anything like the same battery life expectancy.

The point of all this is that if your batteries can last twice as long then you both halve the recycling problem and also avoid the depreciation cliff that you might get if the battery was expected to die after 10 years...Nobody is going to buy a 10 year old EV if you can expect a £15000 battery to be about to die but if you can reasonably expect 20 years (eg the life of the car) out of the battery then it won't be an issue.

As for recycling of lithium - it doesn't look like there is much recycling specifically for lithium at the moment as it is not "valuable" enough. However it is also only a very small part of the materials in a lithium battery:

https://waste-management-world.com/a/1- ... -challenge

It's certainly something that needs to be thought through. The fact that Tesla is building a battery factory that will have more output of lithium batteries than the entire rest of the world current production is quite sobering, but I would imagine that regulations will come into place that make it illegal to dump or crush electric cars without first removing the battery for reuse or recycling of some kind.

white exec wrote:Some really good arguments by Simon. Allowing millions of people to inefficiently burn unnecessarily transported liquid fuel has had its day. We now know how to do better, and will one day soon look back on all this with some disbelief!

Some things are best done 'centrally', and that certainly includes use of energy. From the 1960s, and almost all of Moscow was kept heated by piped hot water from just four "thermal stations". In the mid-70s when we visited, one of these was burning wood and general rubbish, the others fossil fuels. All probably Gazprom now, I guess! Only snag was it was decreed in the Moscow diary the day that winter would start, and this was writ in stone, so if it got cold a week early, it could be a bit grim. How cold? -32C over Christmas/New Year.
Heh heh...

If you're generating electricity from fossil fuels centrally, it can certainly be done more efficiently, for example another point I thought of is even if a fossil fuel generator only has a 50% efficiency for rotational output driving a generator the waste heat can also be harvested to run something like a thermopile to generate secondary electricity - when you don't have size, weight, complexity or (to some degree) cost constraints that you have in a car there is a lot more you can do. On a car apart from using a small amount of the waste heat for heating the interior the rest is all thrown away - and I can't think of anything that could be added to a car to harness that waste heat in the way that you could do at a power generation plant.

The great thing about electricity though is that some methods of generation are more efficient when done centrally at scale, but there is absolutely nothing to stop you doing your own local generation with solar panels either. Electricity becomes the global energy currency if everything can run off it.
Last edited by Mandrake on 15 Dec 2016, 11:34, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Electric cars/vans/bikes-Conversions/Secondhand..etc

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white exec wrote:From the 1960s, and almost all of Moscow was kept heated by piped hot water from just four "thermal stations".
Ahh yes, the old 'District Heating' systems.. I remember those from visits to Minsk and later , Ulaan Baatar. I recall the Minsk one kept the buildings beautifully warm and that was during a visit in the dead of winter...

The one in UB I remember better and the power station was right in the middle of town and burned brown coal. The smog and pollution was dreadful... I remember to the lagged pipes radiating from the station like ever so many tentacles. A lot of them ran above ground...

I think District Heating systems are an excellent idea in principle and worthy of great consideration in our towns and cities... I'd be very happy not to have the worry of maintaining a central heating system in my house any longer... A few fan heaters will overcome the one deficiency you pointed out Chris and I agree that such things are best done centrally...

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Re: Electric cars/vans/bikes-Conversions/Secondhand..etc

Post by dnsey »

Some years ago, I came across the assertion (but haven't verified it) that there's nowhere near enough copper economically available to make the motors for mass-market electric vehicles. OK, aluminium could probably be used at a pinch, with reduced efficiency, but that, too, is limited, and takes a lot of energy to refine.
A potentially more economical proposition would be the decentralisation of industry. While manufacturing has to take place on one (or a few) sites, there's no real reason for service industries to be office-based in the conventional sense. Local workplaces could be built, where employees from multiple organisations could work via comunications networks linked to their colleagues. To be really radical, commuting could be a restricted activity for essential users only, in which case manufacturing industries would need to make their local areas attractive enough to encourage workers to move there.

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Post by NewcastleFalcon »

Just watched "The Revenge of the electric Car" but wanted a bit more up to date information on how the story moved on so came across this with some interesting little sales tables for the United States over the years.

http://insideevs.com/monthly-plug-in-sales-scorecard/

The Leaf's initial success has been overtaken by the Tesla model S, Chevrolet Volt, and the Tesla model X, Ford Fusion energi. The competition no doubt sparks innovation and improvement. Chevrolet's latest will be the Chevrolet Bolt due in 2017.

Image

Underneath the tables is a useful commentary on the vehicles eg
Interestingly, the sales gains (of EV's in November 2016) came without Tesla’s help in November, as the company was still focused on getting production back online after tooling its Fremont, CA assembly line to equip “full self-driving hardware” on all its EVs, in preparation for the day (possibly coming in 2018) when its cars would achieve full Level 5 autonomy.
It is no secret Nissan is struggling with the first generation LEAF in the US as it ages into a much needed upgrade shortly. Yet despite that, the LEAF has set back-to-back 2016 highs in sales in October and November, and logged 3 consecutive months of gains.
Regards Neil

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dnsey wrote: A potentially more economical proposition would be the decentralisation of industry. While manufacturing has to take place on one (or a few) sites, there's no real reason for service industries to be office-based in the conventional sense. Local workplaces could be built, where employees from multiple organisations could work via comunications networks linked to their colleagues. To be really radical, commuting could be a restricted activity for essential users only, in which case manufacturing industries would need to make their local areas attractive enough to encourage workers to move there.
Ah ! That's more like it. Thinking a bit further forward :) :) :) Only yesterday Amazon released the video of their first Amazon Prime Air drone delivery - and yes, it may have only been a proof of concept / press release, but just how far do we need to look into the future before we see our regular deliveries being delivered by (for want of a better term) 'robots' ? How long before the inevitable UberGoogle autonomous vehicle is rolled out - slowly and inexorably chipping away at our need for our own vehicles ? How long before the only reason to own a vehicle is purely to have a blast down the motorway (toll charged and pay per mile, of course) to 'blow the cobwebs away' ? In 20-30 years time, why own a Tesla (or any other electric car you care to name) when you don't actually need to drive to work, and you can get all the thrills you need on your total immersion VR headset ?
Unlikely ? ....Possibly.
Impossible ? .........Nope.
Progress rolls on........... :)

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Post by myglaren »

Uber have self-driving Volvo's operating in Los Angeles - just a test of 100 cars and there is a driver there just in case.

Dagens Nyheter. Sorry it is all in Swedish.

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myglaren wrote:Uber have self-driving Volvo's operating in Los Angeles - just a test of 100 cars and there is a driver there just in case.
In that case, to answer my own question about UberGoogle cars - sooner than I thought :rofl2: I'm not sure if that's a good thing, or a bad thing though :)

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Post by myglaren »

And I have just seen in The Gruniad that the Californian authorities have killed the experiment.

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bobins wrote:
dnsey wrote: A potentially more economical proposition would be the decentralisation of industry. While manufacturing has to take place on one (or a few) sites, there's no real reason for service industries to be office-based in the conventional sense. Local workplaces could be built, where employees from multiple organisations could work via comunications networks linked to their colleagues. To be really radical, commuting could be a restricted activity for essential users only, in which case manufacturing industries would need to make their local areas attractive enough to encourage workers to move there.
Ah ! That's more like it. Thinking a bit further forward :) :) :) Only yesterday Amazon released the video of their first Amazon Prime Air drone delivery - and yes, it may have only been a proof of concept / press release, but just how far do we need to look into the future before we see our regular deliveries being delivered by (for want of a better term) 'robots' ? How long before the inevitable UberGoogle autonomous vehicle is rolled out - slowly and inexorably chipping away at our need for our own vehicles ? How long before the only reason to own a vehicle is purely to have a blast down the motorway (toll charged and pay per mile, of course) to 'blow the cobwebs away' ? In 20-30 years time, why own a Tesla (or any other electric car you care to name) when you don't actually need to drive to work, and you can get all the thrills you need on your total immersion VR headset ?
Unlikely ? ....Possibly.
Impossible ? .........Nope.
Progress rolls on........... :)
Agree with the commuting bit very strongly... As you all know, I cycle commute whenever I can and love it but I'm always staggered at the sheer numbers of commuters and their obvious hatred of it by their attitude and behaviour... Anything that can remove the need for this miserable activity is to be welcomed and encouraged.

I've always tried to live near enough to my place of work to avoid the worst but I've had my times of living 30 miles from work by car and also commuting into London on a daily basis. It's soul-destroying.

Roll on the day when nobody needs a car for any reason but social, domestic and pleasure. And that should never include using it to run the kids to school. School, like work, should be close enough that the kids can walk, cycle or in extremis, take a bus.

Speaking of which, public transport needs a radical overhaul and made to meet the needs of the commuter. Every day on my commute I see lines and lines of cars, all going in the opposite way to me, that have come from much the same place and going to much the same place. Why don't the local bus companies see this, respond to the need and encourage them to leave their cars at home and bus it in? No parking worries and get there in a good mood.

It's proved that cycle commuting puts you in a far better mood on arrival at work than any car commute does. I know it does for me even if its wet and/or cold out... There's never bad weather when on a bike, just bad clothing!

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Well there are probably more detailed articles to be found, and this one is from the USA, but it's a light read and gives a good introduction.

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/109 ... ectric-car

Safest route probably through the Nissan forecourts, and the guarantee on battery life offered by Nissan on used Leafs in the US may be reassuring..

Will battery replacements for ev,s come down in price, or be available other than through the car manufacturers at less than main dealer prices, to resurrect the 10 year old ev, when the battery drops below the critical level.?

Or will we see adverts for 10 Year old Nissan Leaf needs new battery spares or repair £100 :!:

Probably in the used car market more so than for the new, the perceived risks for the pioneering 5-year old ev buyer could lead to some good value for those who want their next car to be an ev.

Regards Neil