back to article Japan kicks off electric car format war

Japanese motor globocorps jockeying for position in the electric car market of tomorrow will unite to present a worldwide standard for automotive Li-ion batteries and related technologies, according to reports. The alliance will include Toyota, Nissan and Matsushita, but Honda - which appears to favour hydrogen fuel cells over …


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  1. John Robson Silver badge

    If they agree sensible standards...

    Then they could migrate to the newer technologies.

    Standard voltages and connectors, with enough current capacity to enable energy transfer comparable with a petrol pump...

    Even if they are overrated for the first couple of battery generations, batteries can be replaced in vehicles - and indeed that's likely to be necessary, so why not upgrade the batteries every few years, the motors will be fine for a good long while...

    This could be of significant benefit to the industry.

  2. Peter Hawkins

    A car with a Sony Li-ion battery.... !!!

    Mines the Nomex one.....

  3. Stuart johnson
    Black Helicopters


    Ok, so this is an IT rag and we're using 18th century (s)language?!

    Connection? Whats wrong with that?

    Black helicopter cos "White vans are the black helecopters of Urbanity"

  4. Thomas


    Are we expecting the electric car format to be announced in 1940?

  5. Andy Pellew


    ... you know since they sorted that whole HD DVD vs Blu-Ray thing out these comment sections had become really quite dull with people offering their opinions without even the slightest trace of blood-curdling bile.

    Good to see we'll have something new to fight about now ... the only thing that would make this story any better would be if Microsoft picked a format that was going to be the only one supported by Windows 7.


    Sometimes you just can't have everything.

  6. Darren B

    Don't let S**y make the batteries

    Could me meltdown on the M4.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "should be able to charge up from an industrial three-phase outlet"

    Ye gods, I hope it won't be self-service !

    415v is more than can be trusted to the moron in the street.



    do all these cars have silly names?

  9. Dennis Price

    I call Bullshiite!

    I see more and more of those Toyota "Pius" cars on the road and I laugh my ass off at the sheeple driving them. Just the other day I saw a stereotype driving a Pius, complete with beard, wife, 1.2 children, Obama sticker, and "If you're not outraged, your not paying attention" sticker - didn't like it when I looked him dead in the eye while I was passing and laughed. Actually tred to catch up to me...didn't work in my 06 Pontiac Vibe (38 mpg).

    Why? 41mpg that's why. An 1984 Chevy Sprint (percursor to the Geo Metro) got 48-50+ mpg waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back then and now your telling me that with all the technology in the Pius it can't beat that? Betcha the "carbon footprint" is a hell of a lot bigger on the Pius too.

    Btw: GM is also testing hydrogen SUV's as well as the Volt.

  10. Daniel B.

    GM 0wned? Thanks for killing EV1

    So GM doesn't look so bright like it did when the EV1 program got axed. Had they continued that venue, maybe we would have a Li-Ion car by now! Or something else...

    I'd love a fully-electric car, but given I live in an apartment block, I just can't get a 100 meter power cable to plug my car at night ... and that is assuming I were able to actually run the cable down to the underground parking lot.

  11. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: I call Bullshiite!

    It's really heartening to discern that you are neither judgemental nor smug, Dennis.

  12. Pete James

    How does he do it?

    Finally the electric car, after over a hundred years of first battling it out with the internal combustion engine, is going to have a decent chance to settle some old scores.

    This is also an unprecedented opportunity for vehicle manufacturers to completely reassess the concept of private transport. Designs which take up less space, weigh less, consume less - to build, use and recycle - and threaten to kill others less.

    One can only hope they take that chance with both hands.

  13. Francis Boyle

    It's a source of electric power

    the actual technology in the box shouldn't matter - Li-ion, fuels cells, stirling cyle engines, fried mushroom based diesel generators. Well maybe not the mushrooms, but you get the idea.

    Standards are to be welcomed, but if they are too narrow and you end up with a format war we're better off without them.

  14. Simpson


    So when you buy the car, you can go 100 miles on a full charge.

    Six months later, 80 miles. A year, 60 miles. Two years later, 2 miles - 40 miles.

    People will love these cars.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    100 meter power cable

    Indeed, need swappable packs.

    You could trickle charge from a low current supply as well.

    Or just motor up to a garage and swap there of course...

  16. Anonymous Coward

    What I want...

    Is an electric motorbike. Suzuki and Honda both made some very nice concept bikes. They have two advantages.

    1) They give much better packaging without the need to have fule slosing around, and the fule in close to the motor.

    2) Bikers are less likely to be resistant to change.

    I want me somthing totaly radical, perhaps an electric cyber punk streetfighter/cafe racer look, but without the need for the tank hump.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looking forward to...

    ...Top Gear this weekend then ;)

  18. Tim Spence

    RE: Re: I call Bullshiite!

    He's got a point though - in real-world tests (not manufacturer specified figures) the Prius actually gets about 40mpg *if* driven carefully. Take any standard modern diesel and it could wipe the floor with that figure, even if driven less than carefully.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    why stop with a 100 metre power cable?

    Why not get a hundred mile one? or more?

    Hey presto, maximum distance problem solved.

  20. Thomas


    Nah, it'll be like tyres. Every time you take the car in for an MOT or whatever, the mechanics will find some reason to sell you an entirely new battery. It isn't like you keep every other component of a car unchanged during its lifetime.

  21. Matthew Shaw

    Rechargable Batteries...

    ...and whats going to happen to all of the batteries that have lost their capacity to hold charge? Throw them away in some huge landfill / bury them under ground?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm in favour of electric cars, just think they have a chance to seriously look to the future and the impact they will have on us.

  22. Sam


    Quote from the manufacturers

    "NanoSafe™ batteries have a life expectancy of 12+ years, versus the 3-5 year life of other batteries. NanoSafe™ can retain up to 85% charge capacity after 15,000 charges."

    I want some for my Dewalt power toys.

    TOOLS! I meant TOOLS, honest.

    The yellow one with the black logo, ta.

  23. Anonymous Coward



    Did I miss supercapacitors, megacapacitors and hypercapacitors? Or are those just old hat now?

    We're going to need a new set of prefixes soon if we start playing 'ultra' as an opener...

  24. Janko Hrasko
    Paris Hilton

    exploding batteries

    I was told not to buy dodgy batteries as they tend to explode when charged. Is it going to be the case with these car batteries?

  25. Elmer Phud


    "415v is more than can be trusted to the moron in the street."

    In the days of storage heaters I knew of several domestic installations where 3 phase was supplied due to the heavy load.

    What's the difference? -- it's just blue plugs and red plugs. Use one of them lovely highly flexible armoured cables (like wot the leccy board does for temporary supplies) and just plug and play.

  26. George

    Laugh at the Prius all you want...

    ...I do and the people driving.

    BUT Toyota are laughing all the way to the bank based on some suspect MPG figures and first to market plus the ever handy celeb endorsements. It doesn't even look good, not even next to the Korean boxes on wheels.

    I *heart* the planet!

  27. John Arthur
    Paris Hilton

    Re: Connexion

    Indeed the correct version is "connexion" as it is based on the third of the following Latin parts of the verb: Connecto, connectere, connexi, connectum. I used to be accused regularly of using the Merkin version of the word because I spelt it with an "x". Actually it is the Merkins who use the "ct" version and are wrong.

    Now we have put that right we should rehabilitate "reflexion" for the same reason but even I guess that would be a battle too far.

    John Arthur

    Paris 'cos even she knows how things are spelt proper like.

  28. The Boffin

    @ Mark_T Re: Safety.

    "415v is more than can be trusted to the moron in the street."

    And flammable, carcinogenic hydrocarbons are? At least you can't spill electricity all over the forecourt and if you are stupid enough to come into contact with 415 V it's only your own defective genes that you are removing from the gene pool.

  29. Chris Miller

    Almost right

    Connexion is from the latin noun connexio (OED) and connex is a back formation - the current spelling 'connect' came in around 1750. Connecto (the latin verb) goes like necto: necto, nectere, nexui, nexum.

    Now, can we get back to discussing whether -ise or -ize is more correct :)

  30. Mike Powers
    IT Angle

    Re: Connexion

    :rolleyes: Come back and talk trash after you've learnt to say "aluminum" properly.

  31. Mike Powers

    Why do we need a "standard"?

    It's not as though there's a "standard" for existing automobiles; I can't just take the transmission from a Ford Focus and drop it into my Honda Civic and expect everything to work. It seems that the only "standard" is the electric hook-up--and that's a matter of what country you're in.

    Oh, hey, something else--what killed the EV1 was California's insistence that it not have a gasoline engine installed. If GM had put a gas generator onboard, the range and speed limitations would have been removed--indeed, that's the whole gimmick of the Volt. But no, no, can't burn gas, GREEN UBER ALLES! And so the EV1 died.

  32. Pierre Castille

    Fast charging not really an option

    Let us consider some numbers...

    1 Litre of Petrol ~30MJ, so 5 Litres ~150MJ

    Let us try and store the equivalent of 1 gallon of petrol in storage batteries (150MJ) and demand a recharge time of 5 minutes (300 seconds)

    150MJ/300seconds = 500 kWatt - That's a serious drain on the National Grid. O.K. - it's less than an electric train but given that the local Tesco has 12 pumps we are talking about a maximum load of 6 MWatt dropping to nil very quickly when the store/station closes.

    Slow charging is a much better option for the National Grid, especially if Wind Power forms a significant part of generating capacity. The car is charged up at night, while you sleep, and in the morning, if there is no wind, you have a cold breakfast and drive to work, or a hot breakfast and walk!

    There's room for both rechargeable batteries (commuting and shopping cars) and fuel cells (long distance vehicles)

  33. Andy Silver badge

    Re: Re: Connexion

    Merkin? From Lewis?

    <quote src="American dictionary" href="">

    chiefly British variant of connection


  34. kain preacher


    Has tendency to through you. 120/220 is the on that will cause your muscle to contract and lock. Of course that will kill you.

  35. Chris G

    Buy shares in Lithium now

    As the price is going to go way higher than oil is now. There is an estimated 10·4 million tons of lithium reserves on the planet, with currently 500 million cars on the roads now, if they were to convert overnight to Li-ion batteries they would need around 18 kilos of LI each that's 9 million tons gone immediately, leaving only 1.4 million tons for your De Walts and trucks and buses etc. It may well be that ultimately Honda is where the smart money is. Unless that is , the japs know where to find a big hole full of lithium. Personally, I am developing my own steam car powered by burning junk mail and free newspapers. Sod the carbon footprint it's not my problem.

  36. Richard Silver badge


    You did indeed miss out on Supercaps.

    They've been used to keep SRAM-based non-volatile storage running for decades.

    (At least *two* decades anyway)

    @Exploding batteries:

    Almost all Lithium-Ion cell designs regularly 'vent with flame' if significantly overcharged.

    - How much is 'significant' depends on the cell design. Liquid Li-Ion is very unstable, Li-Po is pretty stable. "NanoSafe" are said to be even more stable than Li-Po, but they'll still go 'whoosh' if you really try.

    The challenge is to make it impossible to overcharge them - every good Li-Ion battery pack has a charge monitor IC that shuts down charging if an overcharge attempt is made.

    The dodgy ones skimp on that little detail...


    Oh yes. My diesel happily gets over 40MPG on the urban-only commute to work.

    On a combined cycle it'll do 47-50 MPG.

    Plus I can fit so much more stuff in the boot than you'll ever get in a Prius.

    What I don't understand is the complete lack of Diesel-Electric hybrids. If Petrol-Electric is good, surely diesel-electric is better?

  37. Tom

    New prefixes for you AC

    They'll probably make UltraII.. or U2, U3 capacitors.. like they do with memcards.

    Or... Super Ultra Mega Capacitors.. SUMC... or maybe Holy Crap dont touch those Capacitors.. HCDTTC's... or maybe the next thing after Ultra is Hyperactive.. like ADHD capacitors. I dunno. Back to work.

  38. Frank Bough
    Thumb Up

    I See

    That the Yankee-Twat-O-Tron® is firing on all cylinders.

  39. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Stuff the latin

    I've made many connections over {mmfty mmff} year, and never failed to connect, nor had a connectivity failure as far as I am aware.

    I don't think I'd know how to connex. Hmmm wasn't that a failed train company?

  40. Steven Raith
    Thumb Up

    Re: AC - What I want...

    "I want me somthing totaly radical, perhaps an electric cyber punk streetfighter/cafe racer look, but without the need for the tank hump."

    My good man, might I suggest you watch Akira, and come back when you have changed your spunk ridden pants.

    "Damn, my motor coils were just getting warmed up"

    I want.

    Steven R

  41. Clive Harris

    55.79MPG - More Prius envy?

    Based on more than 50000 miles of actual everyday commuting in a Prius, with no attempt at "economical" driving, I recorded an average of 55.79MPG (or, if you prefer, 5.08L/100k). That was based on actual fuel purchase records and distance measured. I'm sure I could have done a lot better if I had tried.

    I would be interested to know of any other car of similar size, and with similar equipment levels, that can beat that. I don't count these new "micro-diesels" as being remotely equivalent - I only include cars that can realistically hold 4-5 adults and a useful amount of luggage.

    As a matter of interest, on a holiday last year, I hired a VW Jetta diesel - one of the so-called "Prius beaters". Over a total distance of more than 3000 miles, it used a lot more fuel, it didn't have enough room, it had lousy performance and it was very unpleasant to drive. It was a relief to get back to driving the Prius.

  42. yeah, right.


    Pity someone was (a) granted a patent for cars using nicad, (b) that said patent is controlled by GM and (c) that they aren't licensing it or allowing it to be used to others, instead sitting on the tech doing nothing with it.

    ( Lithium-ion has a long way to go still.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Sarah Bee

    It's really heartening to discern that -you're- not judgmental or smug either.

  44. Peyton

    @Rechargable Batteries...

    Don't forget dumping them in the ocean - another popular option!

    Actually Matthew, all hybrids come with an SEP Field as standard equipment (cf Doug Adams those are not familiar with this feature) - so no worries!

  45. Jeff Deacon

    Re: RE: Re: I call Bullshiite!

    Tim Spence said: "He's got a point though - in real-world tests (not manufacturer specified figures) the Prius actually gets about 40mpg *if* driven carefully."

    I drive one of the first edition Prius, and I am exceedingly disappointed with the fuel consumption. Especially after the highly trained Toyota technicians have serviced the car. And we all know that manufacturer accredited service agents are the best in the world. I achieve about 51 mpg, mostly on long journeys, mostly (only just) sticking to the speed limit.

    The car has a higher self opinion than is justified. It consistently reports that it is doing over 53 mpg. But I know how much I feed it!

    I got it just to see if the technology was worth the hype. The answer is NO, big time. As others have said, a modern diesel will deliver the performance for a lot less capital outlay. If Volvo have got their "Recharge" project into gear by the time my piggy bank has been recharged with enough pennies to permit a car replacement, then a Volvo Recharge is next. Otherwise its a diesel, and stuff the greenies and their fuss about PM10s.

  46. Robert Synnott

    Lithium Ion

    These would be the same batteries that occasionally make laptops explode, right? Yay!

  47. Mike Hocker

    Charging in minutes?

    Take a lot of minutes.

    You either end up with a relatively low voltage (say, 415 3ph) and heck of a lot of amps (now you need large bars to get those amps into the battery, adding weight and switching) or a very high voltage (several KV) with many less amps, but now need to down covert the high voltage to battery voltage.

    And convince the unwashed that they won't be electrocuted if you go with high voltage (which at least can be reasonably downconverted to battery level, and doesn't require massive copper or aluminum cables).

    There isn't any magic to the transfer of energy, hydrocarbons have a high energy density; hard to quickly pump that number of KW-hr through wires into a car though it can be done. The marketdroids have so far been successful in convincing people that only an itty bitty zip cord would be enough to charge a car in minutes...

  48. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Pay Attention. I shall only say ziz once...

    "Why not get a hundred mile one? or more?

    Hey presto, maximum distance problem solved."


    That is all...

  49. Zmodem


    the latest h2o technolgy is the the future with "50" per litre, with water beimg accessable anywhere, and able to use any kind of water, handy if you have a full bladder or find a stream nearby, with no extra co2 emissions from charging or transporting fuelcells, and can get extra power of the axel which would help in the conversion of trucks and buses

  50. Dave The Cardboard Box
    Thumb Down


    Connexion is an archaic variant not "the correct version". What next, do we spell heaven "heofenan" because it was used 1100 years ago?

  51. Andy Bright
    Thumb Up

    Clear winner

    I think it's obvious there's going to be clear winner in this format war, so I'm backing the car that has the best stereo.

    Whether it'll support existing formats of fuel is another issue perhaps, history tells us that backwards compatibility does tend to make adoption more favourable.

    But overall most cars sell on their fancy gadgets and the quality of their sound system. My guess is if your battery runs out too early and you can't play your tunes, you've got a loser.

    What I really don't understand though is why it's taken this long. We've had remote control cars since I was a kid, surely it's just a matter of scaling them up a bit? Then the wife can send you to work, hopefully with a good idea of the roads she won't be able to see as she controls your car.

  52. Jon Tocker

    @ various

    John Robson: valid points. Electric motors are rated in millions of kilometres, the solid-state components of the Pulse-Width Modulators (speed control) and DC/DC converter (to get 12VDC for lights, radio, wipers etc from your Hi-VDC battery pack) would last for ages (and are simple to replace if a component fries), the batteries have to be replaced regularly and, as the battery technology improves, I can envisage smaller, lighter packs with higher capacity and shorter charging times becoming available for older BEVs if they get their standards sensible enough at the outset.

    Anonymous Coward, Monday 21st July 2008 15:09 GMT ("What I want"): "Zero" electric motorcycles make a nice light off-road/enduro style bike that I'd like to get and fit out with a road kit (LED indicators, instrumentation and brake/tail lights, of course, to cut back on the power consumption of my lighting) - I ride a Yamaha XT, and prefer the enduro style - and that Zero can get some SERIOUS air when it wants to (bloody light by petrol-powered-bike standards, never mind electric!) and is capable of respectable speeds for commuting.

    Matthew Shaw: They are fully recyclable and a lot of the EV companies refer to leasing the battery packs (i.e. you have to return the battery pack for proper recycling before you can have a new pack.)

    A decent swap program in place for those EVs that don't have a lease program (50% discount on new battery pack when you hand in your old one) should ensure the batteries don't wind up in landfills (the battery packs are bloody expensive and financial incentives have always been an effective way of convincing people to "do the right thing").

    Sam: Nice reply. I've been looking at Altair's Nanosafe batteries with interest for quite some time as they do not have the same capacity for "Thermal Overrun" (blowing up) as Li-Ion and they have a better operational temperature range (they don't crap out in low temperatures like Li-Ion can do). If I got the above-mentioned Zero, I'd be looking at replacing the factory Li-Ion pack with a suitable Nano-Titanide alternative from Altair.

    The Boffin: Pretty much my thoughts, too. I'd feel a lot safer knowing the guy with the cigarette in his mouth and yakking on the mobile phone while filling up is waving around a three-phase power cable and not a petrol hose - I'm smart enough to stay out of range of a power lead.

    Besides, a couple of safety interlocks on the plug (no power if it's not properly plugged into the vehicle's charging socket) and you'd have to be trying really hard to electrocute yourself. Comes down to sensible standards again.

    There are going to be enough logistical nightmares in phasing in electric vehicles and setting up infrastructures as it is (like "where do we get all the electricity we need?") without them going at it ad hoc - we really don't need three-phase burst charge stations with 14 different types of charging socket.

  53. Clive Harris

    An "a priori" argument

    While we're on the subject of grammatical pedantry, I'd like to remind everyone that the plural of "Prius" is "Priori". So, when you all come to your senses and buy Priori, at least you'll know what to call them.

    By the way, the opposite of "a priori" is "a posteriori". So you know what to call your other cars now.

  54. Rich

    Trolley bus wires

    In a city with trolley buses (like Wellington, NZ) or even trams, an electric car could have pickups to run and charge off the overhead wires as it travelled around town.

    (Our new buses do that - they have about 5km range on battery).

  55. Clive Harris

    Thoughts on Prius fuel consumption. Check the handbrake!

    I've noticed that people who've driven the Prius seem to be divided into two groups - those who get amazingly good fuel consumption and those who get lousy fuel consumption. I can't help wondering if this is the same as the division between those who can or cannot find the car's strangely-placed handbrake.

    I can't think of any way of getting the bad consumption figures some people are reporting except by driving everywhere with the brakes on!

    By the way, there was an incident at Sydney airport last week when a newly-arrived visitor caused a major traffic jam when his hired Prius "stalled" at the traffic lights leaving the airport.

    It's supposed to do that! After it's warmed up, the petrol engine only runs when needed. Just touch the accelerator and it will immediately re-start.

  56. Anonymous Coward


    Why are you comparing Perol with Electric?

    Electric motors are far, far more efficient that combustion engines, which loose as much power generating heat as mechanical output, combine that with the extra needed for the addition transmission and petrol to electric comparisions become less relevant.

    Really need to get my kitcar back on the road.

    10 - 15 mpg at 8000rpm, 108db and flames from the exhuast when the carbs pop along. Find me that tree hugger and I'll show them fun.

    Use the petrol now, your kids are only gonna stick you in a crap nursing home when they have enough of you anyway.

  57. Anonymous Coward

    Re: I call Bullshiite!

    Dennis Price: ..."Actually tred to catch up to me...didn't work in my 06 Pontiac Vibe (38 mpg)."

    A Pontiac 'Vibe' eh? Admit it, you 'drive' a 2-stroke butt-plug.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Why do we need a "standard"?

    >It's not as though there's a "standard" for existing automobiles;

    Although the fuel is standardised.

    >Trolley bus wires

    How f'ing ugly would that be? It's bad enough that they're there for the trams.

    >Fast charging not really an option

    Go into petrol station, open battery door, swap packs.

    Automated, it might even be quicker than 500KW.

    Of course swappable packs requires that cars all use compatible packs, some kind of standard perhaps?

  59. Anonymous Coward


    Why develop such an old technology?

    Haven't they heard the futures with Lithium Polymers. LiPo

    Even my mobile has a Lipo battery. just seems a bit backwards to develop a standard for yesterdays Technology. The real trick would be to develop a standard for ANY type of battery, Incuding what is to come in the future (Just like USB was faster than nessacery to begin with) yes this means a standard interface with a car side module specific to the battery. Meaning the same cables & chargers can be used for any car no matter what the battery tech is.

    Basically the charger supplies as much as it can and the car takes what it needs. the surplus is available for the next generation of battery, which can charge faster....

  60. michael

    chargging time

    till you can "refule" your electric car in <15 mins they will not be bought end of story pepol reguley need to travle more than a single charge will do so tehy need to refule and they need to be able to refulr enroot the simplest is with a sort of battry where you swap out dead ones.

    if they have some sort of aray with battrys the sies of ssay a pringles tube you pull up open the hatch unlock the battry you want to switch take it to a charging rack lock it in place and unloack and take back a full one it might work

  61. Parax


    that is all.

  62. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Oooh, mini-nukes, please!

    Stuff all this namby-pamby battery malarkey, lets just stick a quantum nucleonic reactor and a turbine (or maybe a Stirling engine) in each vehicle! No need to recharge for months! And all the boyracers would quickly die out from radiation poisoning from trying to tune their x-ray injectors. Of course, you're local scrap merchant would probably glow green....

    /mines The Incredible Hulk one!

  63. Anonymous Coward

    Robotic Fuel Pump....

    If you have a standard connector socket then why not have an automated charger connection (robot arm esq - didn't the dutch do this?) especially if you are dealing with 400+ Volt 100+Amp 3 Phase, the cables would be too heavy for many drivers, leaving a robotic connection the only option, (what about a drive on charger? oh patent... damit!)

    you wouldn't even need to get out of the car... Robot Arm locates connection.. card slot in dashboard communicates with chargers... done.

  64. Dennis Price
    Paris Hilton

    Re: Re: I call Bullshiite!

    A Pontiac Vibe (with the Raider Package) is a re-badged Toyota Matrix. It will kick the ass of those beloved Mini's ya'll are so proud of. Mileage and performance.

    The Vibe Raider is *not* a butt plug!

    Paris. Because she likes Pontiac Vibe Raiders.....

  65. Anonymous Coward


    Think you need a new keyboard mate ;-)

    Either that or please say your Dyslexic

  66. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)


    Yes, Michael is dyslexic, I believe, he's said so on here before. What's you're* excuse?

    *Before you start, sic sic sic sic sic.

  67. Simon Pooley

    Re: Clive's 55.79MPG

    "Based on more than 50000 miles of actual everyday commuting in a Prius, with no attempt at "economical" driving, I recorded an average of 55.79MPG (or, if you prefer, 5.08L/100k). That was based on actual fuel purchase records and distance measured. I'm sure I could have done a lot better if I had tried.

    I would be interested to know of any other car of similar size, and with similar equipment levels, that can beat that. I don't count these new "micro-diesels" as being remotely equivalent - I only include cars that can realistically hold 4-5 adults and a useful amount of luggage."

    My BMW 320d is giving me a nice 60+ mpg thanks, it's also a lot faster than a Prius =].

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Actually why even bother with the hatch, let a machine do it. The whole batt swap could be automated.


    >seems a bit backwards to develop a standard for yesterdays Technology

    Surely the "standard" will be the shape, electrical and connections not the chemistry?

  69. A J Stiles
    Paris Hilton

    @ Clive Harris

    As any fule kno, when a Foreign word is borrowed to do service as an English word, the pluralisation rule comes with it. But when that loan-word acquires a new meaning, it at once becomes a naturalised English word and follows English pluralisation rules when used with its new meaning. Hence why beetles have antennae, but wireless sets have antennas. And since "model of car" is a new meaning for "Prius", the plural of "Prius" in the vehicle sense is Priuses.

    Anyway, electric cars are hardly any lower-emission than modern diesels; it's all just transferred from the tailpipe to the power station chimney. While that might be beneficial for air quality in densely-populated areas in the short term (and it probably would be no biggie to install air-purification systems in the busiest city streets: suck in the fumes low down, filter and blast out cleaned air higher up, turning on as and when required), it's still only a displacement activity. Nobody seems to have noticed that.

  70. michael


    yes I am dyslexic (whos idar of a joke was the spelling of that word)

    also I work with 3 diffrent size keyboards so I have fun transfering between them

  71. Sam

    trolley bus wires

    Why not trench them into the road surface and charge by induction?

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @A J Stiles

    >It's still only a displacement activity. Nobody seems to have noticed that.

    Yes, they have, but you don't seem to have noticed that power stations are much more efficient, the "air-purification systems" can be installed at the power stations much more effectively than in your car or the street and you don't necessarily burn diesel or petrol to produce electricity, so yes, they are lower emission.

  73. Kit Temple

    Lead acid / winter

    From my father-in-law's experience with his electric bike in China - the lead acid battery works half as well in winter. Mind you, he's had the bike quite a few years and the battery life seems to be holding up fine apart from the winter problem.

    Actually, in my local city in China where I reside half the year (Wuhu) - about half the vehicles on the road are electric bikes. Of all the cars on the road I would guess that about 1/3 of them run on compact natural gas which is much much cheaper to run. The only disadvantage of CNG is that it takes up half the car's boot space, but small price to pay!

    Hopefully electric car technology will come to China soon, although recharging will be a serious problem to overcome. Electric bike batteries are simply lifted out and carried into the house to recharge - and I can't see myself lifting out a car battery and carrying it up the stairs. It's quite possible the local governments may put out charging points though, assuming the local car makers have something to gain from the market boost.

  74. Robert Hill

    @Clive Harris

    "I would be interested to know of any other car of similar size, and with similar equipment levels, that can beat that. I don't count these new "micro-diesels" as being remotely equivalent - I only include cars that can realistically hold 4-5 adults and a useful amount of luggage."

    Want to try an Alfa Romeo 159 1.9L Diesel estate? Within a hair's breath of what you quote, and a whole lot more car...

    Hell, even my old Land Rover Discovery 3 2.7L turbodiesel got REAL WORLD 27 mpg in mixed driving conditions, much of which were at 80 mph or even over on the M1, in a 4000 lbs. box with no aerodynamics.

    Modern diesels just are more cost effective than the Prius - for MOST driving. The only advantage the Prius gets is in heavy city driving, where the regenerative features can give it a boost. But balanced against that is the huge complexity of that technology, the costs, and the difficulty of recycling much of the battery waste. It was a technology that made sense before diesels began to comply with the Euro IV emissions standards - now that most do, and offer lower CO2 emissions than petrol engines to start with, the "green" advantage of the hybrids is much less pronounced - and the cost and complexity is undeniable.

  75. michael

    @A J Stiles

    "Anyway, electric cars are hardly any lower-emission than modern diesels; it's all just transferred from the tailpipe to the power station chimney. While that might be beneficial for air quality in densely-populated areas in the short term (and it probably would be no biggie to install air-purification systems in the busiest city streets: suck in the fumes low down, filter and blast out cleaned air higher up, turning on as and when required), it's still only a displacement activity. Nobody seems to have noticed that."

    the point is there are MENY MENY more ways of genrating clean bulk lekky the clean cars fission fusion(if it works) wind sola tidal before I get on to the extram out there idars (build a space elavator and put lots of sola panles on it) it is a 2 step process

    1 make electric powered cars that pepol want

    2 make clean electricity


    4 profit!!!

  76. Richard Hebert

    special lanes

    special lanes with conductive strips of some kind would be nice

    just get on the highway electric car lane , get the brushes to make

    contact with the power lines , and let the car be powered by the

    grid ..

    hmm .. im smoking way too much

  77. Adam Foxton
    Thumb Up

    @AJ Stiles

    Remember that power plants are far more efficient than the normal petrol engine. They could be more efficient still if we had a decent ultracap backup in this country (charge up at low demand, release at peak) so they could just run at a single constant speed.

    And most of the stuff you see coming out of the top of a (half decent, well-maintained) power station is just steam anyway.

    So it IS actually a greener option than burning petrol in a car which is accellerating/decellerating, being run in the wrong gear and so on.

    And the power station chimney problem can be solved entirely by using nuclear power. Fast Breeder Reactors FTW!

    Oh, and yeah- a standardised power plug alone would help make the whole "electric car" thing take off a lot faster by avoiding the problems people have with phone chargers.

  78. Michael

    @why stop with a 100 metre power cable?

    Overhead cables?

  79. Andrew Taylor

    Do smug Prius owners

    suffer from priapism?

  80. Boris Blank

    Re: 55.79MPG - More Prius envy?

    Hmmm, well Mr Prius owning bod...

    It sounds like you're from the US, which means your gallon is about 1.2 x bigger than the unit we use in the UK. 55.79 MPG is actually around 46.5 MPG for comparison with UK cars.

    I own a Seat Toledo mk 2 Diesel which easily does 50 MPG and can do 60+ if driven carefully. In US gallons, those figures equate to 60-72 MPG. The Toledo looks better than a Prius, goes a heck of a lot faster (0-60 in 8.6 seconds) and, it seems, consumes a great deal less fuel. Same would go for the Volkswagon Golf and other derivatives.

    Apart from fuel efficiency issues, there's also the horendous impact of building the Prius in the first place. Have a read up on this - it's very scary!

    Whenever I see a Prius, my only thought is "you c*ck". Envy doesn't come into the equation at any point.

  81. Chicken Paxo
    Paris Hilton

    Missing the big oportunity

    Think toy cars - the ones you pull back then let go.....

    Just the scale the concept up. You park your car in the garage in the evening and rollers slowly wind your wheels back overnight. In the morning you get in (after opening the garage door) and push the 'release' button and ZOOOOOOMMM.. You're off, on your way to work.

    Of course junctions would have to be slightly redesigned to take account of the non-stop nature of this method of propulsion and 'wind-back' points installed at every motorway junction.

    Compensating for scale, and the reduced weight of no batteries and engine, I think top speeds of several hundred miles an hour and duration of many minutes could be acheived.

    Paris, 'cos she can push my release button any day.

  82. Boris Blank

    Re: 55.79MPG - More Prius envy?

    Okay, in my commment above I got my US/UK gallons back to front. I therefore humbly accept a "Golden Cock" award. :-)

    If Clive whatisname can really get an equivalent of 66 UK MPG out of a Prius in normal driving, I will eat my own left leg. Several people I know who own a Prius typically see a figure in the 40s.

  83. Jeff Deacon

    Re: Do smug Prius owners

    if only!

  84. Clive Harris

    Real-world fuel consumption

    >> My BMW 320d is giving me a nice 60+ mpg thanks, it's also a lot faster than a Prius =].<<

    Real-world fuel consumption? Or something plucked from a sales brochure, measured under totally unrealistic laboratory conditions? The manufacturer's quoted figure is 6.0l/100km, which is approximately 47MPG, (or about 7.9l/100Km in town) so I have good cause to doubt your figures.

    Show me some real-world figures if you want me to believe you. Here are my figures, measured over about 2 1/2 years of daily commuting:

    Distance covered: 80694 km (50370.8 miles)

    Fuel used: 4041.31 litres

    (Measured from 23/01/06 to 15/07/08)

    (I'm an engineer, so I like to measure things and get precise figures)

    As for speed, I would suggest that both cars have precisely the same top speed (which was 70MPH in the UK, last time I was there) - unless you have some disposition to ignore speed limits.

    You may reach that speed slightly earlier, although if your car is anything like the Mercedes diesel I used to own (one of the first turbo-charged common-rail jobs), I doubt if there's much in it. The 400nm of torque from the Prius (available at zero RPM) gives a surprisingly rapid take-off. The main limitation is tyre traction - flooring the gas pedal at the traffic lights usually results in an embarrassing wheelspin.

    Also, what are your fuel consumption and exhaust emission figures like when you're sitting stationary in a traffic jam, in sweltering heat with the air-con on full? The figures for the Prius are precisely zero - its climate control is driven from an internal 200V 3-phase bus.

    By the way, what's the price of Diesel like in the UK now? Over here in Australia it's around 30% more than petrol, courtesy of the Asian boom in construction and air travel. (Diesel is made from the same stuff as jet fuel)

    Of course, the ideal solution would be a Diesel hybrid, combining the best of both technologies, but there are real technical problems with that combination, which have not yet been overcome (Diesels react badly when constantly started and stopped - a necessary feature of a practical hybrid system)

  85. Robin A. Flood

    Turbo diesels for ever !

    I take issue with the Toyota being nicknamed a "Pius". Hardly a Catholic Car.

    A far better name is the "Priapus" which indicates the type of people who buy one....

    I was about to write that one never sees this car in Europe as nobody buys the Prius, because the vast majority of European cars in the same size category cost less to buy and have far better fuel consumption, when lo !

    I passed one on a back road this morning - going very very slowly to achieve that famous 45mpg.

  86. John Sykes

    @ Simon Pooley

    Dear Simon:

    My BMW 320d (150HP) told me I was averaging 60.3 mpg whilst in the North of Scotland in June, with 760 miles to home. Tanker driver's strike commences: can you get home on a full tank? The answer is no, 'cause the BMW tripometer is just that: not terribly accurate, more terribly optimistic. Anal measurement of fuel in v. miles out gave 53mpg actual. Still not bad for a medium size powerful car.

  87. Clive Harris

    Various comments

    << But balanced against that is the huge complexity of that technology,>>

    Actually, the Prius is mechanically much simpler than a normal car - no gearbox, no torque converter, no clutch - just a "power-splitting device", which is basically a simple differential mechanism. The complexity is in the electronics.

    <<the costs, and the difficulty of recycling much of the battery waste>>

    The battery generally lasts at least as long as a normal car engine, if not more. There are plenty around with 250000 miles on the clock, doing taxi duty. It doesn't contain anything particularly nasty - no lead, cadmium, lithium, heavy metals, (plutonium?), sulphuric acid or anything like that. It can also be refurbished by swapping out any dud cells, but there aren't enough wearing out (if any) to make that worthwhile yet.

    By the way, I thought everyone knew by now about that story about the "highly polluting nickel mine" supplying batteries for the Prius. It was just an exercise in creative writing by a student. It has no factual basis whatsoever. The mine does actually exist, but it was cleaned up many years ago, long before they started making the Prius.

    The story about the Prius using more energy than a Hummer was just a wind-up. Surely no-one seriously believes that .. do they?

    Regarding the other aspects of manufacturing the Prius, it has a slightly higher "embedded energy" than an equivalent "normal" car, due to the use of light-weight materials, but the difference is recouped within around 10000-15000 miles. The real figures are widely available, I suggest you look them up.

    <<It sounds like you're from the US, which means your gallon is about 1.2 x bigger than the unit we use in the UK>>

    No, I was talking about the real full-size four-and-a-half-litre imperial gallon - do the maths and check.

  88. Drew

    @Clive Harris

    My 2000 spec Mk1 Audi A4 TDI (160bhp, 1.9 TDI, remapped) can carry 4-5 people and luggage no problem.

    60+mpg on a long run, 45mpg around town, typically 700 miles on a tank of diesel.

    0-60 in 8 and a bit seconds, air-con, cruise, electric everything etc.

    Better looking than a Prius, faster, just as economical, far less expensive (£ and environmental impact) to make/repair.

    You can buy one for under £3000 secondhand too.

  89. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Real-world fuel consumption

    Clive Harris: "You may reach that speed slightly earlier, although if your car is anything like the Mercedes diesel I used to own (one of the first turbo-charged common-rail jobs), I doubt if there's much in it. The 400nm of torque from the Prius (available at zero RPM) gives a surprisingly rapid take-off. The main limitation is tyre traction - flooring the gas pedal at the traffic lights usually results in an embarrassing wheelspin."

    I have a colleague who is convinced that his Prius could match my Civic Type-R for acceleration. I would take him out for a spin in it to let him experience VTEC power at 7800 RPM, but I'm too afraid he'd piss himself in the process.

  90. A J Stiles

    @ Adam Foxton

    "Remember that power plants are far more efficient than the normal petrol engine."

    Not *that* much, they aren't. An engine of any description is basically a heating appliance which produces some motion as a by-product. Now, if they did something useful with the "waste" heat from power stations (like provide heating and hot water to nearby homes and businesses) instead of just warming up the nearest river, you might have an argument. Of course, it would mean people having a view of a power station from their windows; but it might remind them to, you know, turn off appliances when they were not in use. The other problem is, you'd have to find a way for the electricity generating companies to bill the householders for the heat they were getting; they'd far rather it went to waste than give it away free.

    "Oh, and yeah- a standardised power plug alone would help make the whole 'electric car' thing take off a lot faster by avoiding the problems people have with phone chargers."

    Well, I can't argue with that.

  91. Terry Barr

    Just think of the basics about the Prius

    Both Prius and normal car have the same primary power source, the internal combustion engine. The total energy required to get from A to B in either car is the sum of that required to accelerate the car and thet required to overcome rolling resistance and air resistance. The Prius does gain by useing no fuel when stuck in traffic and some slight gain from regenerative brakeing.

    But the Prius has to lose by being heavier due to batteries and electric motor, genetrator losses, motor losses and battery losses. I don't see how the Prius can possibly do better in real life than the conventional car except when used all the time in stop go traffic.

    There was apparantly a test on Top Gear recently where they hammered a Prious round a circuit and followed it around in a decent BMW, a CSL I think. The BMW was substantaily more frigal than teh Prius.

  92. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    The Toyota Pius - sorry Priapus - well, whatever - is marketed (as distinct from actually being sold) in the UK as having a petrol engine that cuts in and out as needed. Depends on battery charge state.

    However, US websites remark on the petrol engine running continuously "because American drivers require more thrust" (or something) and suggest hacks for reverting to the European on/off as needed system.

    Is this true, Paris ? A bit of degenerative braking, whoo-hoo !

    (No really it's a serious question).

  93. Robin A. Flood

    Coming to a sudden halt

    why stop with a 100 metre power cable? says Michael.

    Depends on how well the cable connectors are screwed in each end, and what speed you are doing when all the slack's been taken up, Michael !

    Car owned: 2004 Ford Galaxy TDi, seven seater, 90,000kms, urban fuel consumption 6.5l/100 which is 44mpg UK or 52mpg US. On long autopiste/autobahn/motorway runs, about 15% better.

    Toyota Prius ? I think not.

  94. Michael C

    ...because toshiba is a threat...

    Look at the companies involved here... toyota, Matsishita, these guys have heavy investment in Li-Ion technology. toshiba however, who was not invited to the party, has proprietary patents on the Li-Ion killer, Li-Tit batteries. Same weight, size, and basic manufacturing costs as Li-Ion, same capacities, they don't explode, and they can be charged in 3 minutes to 80% and 10 minutes to full charge....

    these guys want not to standardize on one format, but to exclude a format they can't get without licensing from their hated competitor.

    I'm fine if they want to standardize a connector format, battery size and shape, or some other minor issue, but standardizing on a TYPE of battery or a voltage or design is 1) anticompetitive, 2) holds back technological progress, and 3) causes issues dealing with international power grids

    Also, as better capacitors, better motors, and more technologies are developed, this standard will cause great complication, as we'd have to start including transformers and other converters, which greatly lower efficiency of the batteries.

    Again, standard connectors good; specific design restraints, vendor lock-in, progress limiting factors, bad!

  95. Michael C

    Li-Ion batter life

    Simpson: Li-Ion and Li-Tit batteries have a lifecycle in charges or partial charges, but do NOT degrade over time like Ni-Cad and other rechargables of old. Vehicle use Li-Ion batteries on it's 3000th charge will have 95% or better of it's original charge life. This is guaranteed by the manufacturer, and backed up not only by sound science, but by the fact we've been using them for more than a decade and have lots of use evidence to back it up.

    If your PC has a Li-Ion battery, and the charge isn't keeping up, you have a BAD CELL, not a degrading battery. Get it replaced. GM is backing up the batteries in the Volt with a lifetime policy, others will as well.

    Also, even if the battery is holding a shallow load, due to a few bad cells, or Noi-Cad degradation, the energy it stores will also be less, so your KW/mile should remain fairly constant (though electric motor brush replacement about every 100K miles will be necessary or else motor performance will drop).

  96. Michael C

    speed refueling power cable size

    There's a lot of FUD going around about the size and weight of the cables necessary to get a 10 minute recharge on Li-Tit batteries on some new electric car prototypes unveiled recently.

    Keep this in mind: The guage requirements for power lines over distance are vastly different than a 15' cable hanging from a filling station that will be used for 3-10 minutes at a time. Heavy voltage cables must 1) support their own weight which dramatically increases it;s thickness and rigidity, 2) are designed for low resistance over distance, making the cable thicker than necessary for other uses, and 3) have to deal with heat dissipation internally, 24/7 on their own, for which cables at a filling station could very easily be internally water cooled without much trouble or efficiency loss, and actually give off some reasonable heat.

    Lines we expect will be used to fill up? 3 phase 400 amp lines are commonly used on high power electric welders, and can be found in many high school shops, and are buried under every supermarket and other commercial building site. The lines are thick, yes, about 4-5 CM when made flexible enough to maneuver, but they are movable by most people, and by no means "unliftable" just cumbersome.

    To make things easy, a simple overhead spring and sway arm could easily heft the weight, with the charge end hanging down with a small amount of slack, leaving the person filling up to simply align the cable to the outlet adapter on the car and plug it in. Easy. Even an imfirm elderly person, or someone with the use of only 1 arm should be able to move such a cable.

    At home, this is not an issue since you'll be using at best a 200Amp single phase line (same as your home's trunk line) or more likely a 220 volt 25 amp standard outlet like your electric dryer uses....


  97. Anonymous Coward


    The li-on in my tools charge up in relatively short order compared to the old ni-cads and don't heat up like them either. battery packs in these electric cars need to have user replaceable cells (simple pull-out/plug in new one) with proper electronics to monitor the cells and their ability to take/hold a charge. Cars should (last laugh) have fully compatible plug-in to local standard mains (with hopefully enough juice to fry the local twit trying to cut my cable to steal the wire). be...good luck getting wiring put in place at your local store/work/you-name-it to let you re-charge while there...Batteries shouldn't take much to top off and then go into "maintenance" which should draw nil.

    Much as I would like to comment on the "merkins", we all know what they really are (or should I say, who YOU really are). I suppose you meant to slam USofA residents because you really didn't say North "merkins" or South and there's a lot of folks both continents who aren't US residents.

  98. Warren

    Clive Harris. Smunt

    Hello Smug person.

    try BMW's Efficient Dynamics for size (turns the engine off at the lights, duh)

    currently enjoying a 123d (204bhp, 400NM) which driven with lack of respect still comes out the sunny side of 40 british mpgs every time. On the rare occasions it could be possible to stay off the loud pedal the thing will run above 50mpg.

    For the less 'fun' inclined, take a 118d and enjoy upwards of 60mpg.

    All numbers taken from experience rather than brochures.

    For the pedants amongst you, you'll enjoy the facts that the reason the US Gallon is smaller than the UK, it's down to the pint don't you know?

    so. 1gallon = 8 pints. true both sides of the pond. But the US has adopted a 16oz Pint!! the UK pint is 20oz. and there you have it, I'm guessing the pioneers couldn't cope with a pound in money being 20s AND a lb in weight being 16oz and then a fluid 20oz in a pint. How inconvenient! lets just simplify for the peasants and use 16 of all of them, and then decimalise the money!!!

  99. Clive Harris

    How do you like it cooked?

    <<If Clive whatisname can really get an equivalent of 66 UK MPG out of a Prius in normal driving, I will eat my own left leg.>>

    Sure - how would you like it cooked? With fries? Ketchup?

    I have to keep records for the taxman, so my side of the deal should be easy.

    I find the rabid hatred of hybrids quite interesting, but I suppose it's inevitable from someone who's invested heavily in an obsolete technology and who can't admit they're wrong.

    Some of the replies seem to be coming from people who are using their cars to compensate for other, more personal, problems. I would have thought those pills we're constantly being offered on the internet would be cheaper and more effective. As for me, when I need an adrenalin rush, I drive the Prius down to the local flying club and hire out a Piper Cherokee for the afternoon. Top speed, quite legal, of around 180MPH (VNE = 160Knot IAS, to be exact), very noisy, horribly expensive to run, and terribly bad for the environment (high-octane leaded petrol at 38litres/hr) - well, I reckon the environment owes me something.

    By the way, I passed a BMW320 on the way to work this morning. I didn't get a very good view - he couldn't keep up with me - but, from what I could see, it had less useful passenger space than me.

  100. Robin A. Flood

    How do you like it cooked ?

    Clive Harris writes: I find the rabid hatred of hybrids quite interesting, but I suppose it's inevitable from someone who's invested heavily in an obsolete technology and who can't admit they're wrong.

    So let me see: the exciting new save-the-future technology is to take fossil fuel and burn it in an automobile engine to generate electricity which is stored and then used to turn the wheels and propel the vehicle...

    In contrast to the old obsolete technology, which is to take fossil fuel and burn it in a automobile engine to turn the wheels and propel the vehicle.

    The only amazing advance Toyota have made is in the area of PR, persuading people on one side of the Atlantic that their automobile is somehow propelled by fossil fuel AND electricity, and that a car that does 45mpg US is fuel efficient.

  101. Simon Pooley
    Thumb Up

    @Clive / John

    I'm enjoying the banter hence the thumbs up icon :).

    @Clive and John

    I know for a fact that my onboard computer figures are very inaccurate. If I believed my onboard computer I'd be driving a car made by Jesus as it currently claims I'm getting 70.4 mpg. It's not too clever unfortunately. However I'm quite an anal person and regularly (almost always) reset my trip each time I fill up my tank.


    The 47mpg you saw looks like the Urban figure (i.e. in town). You're clearly doing longer runs than just running round town if you've done 50,000 miles in the Prius. The BMW UK site states 47mpg Urban, 68.9mpg Extra-Urban, 58.9mpg Combined. I generally do a 40 mile commute on a good stretch of road and leave cruise control on, hence my 60mpg isn't unrealistic.

    This tank I have currently driven 530 miles and looking at the guage have used around 40 litres. This equates to 60.3 mpg (imperial). Previous figures have varied from 48 to 61mpg depending on how I drive it.

    Some other figures... (320d | Prius)

    0-60mph: 7.9s | 9.8s

    HP: 177 | 76

    CO2: 128 | 120

    Combined MPG (Official figures): 58.9 | 55.4-65.6 depending on where you look.

    The CO2 and MPG are pretty close.

  102. A J Stiles

    Wouldn't be an issue with compulsory patent licencing

    "these guys want not to standardize on one format, but to exclude a format they can't get without licensing from their hated competitor."

    If that's really the case, then there is a very good argument to be made in favour of Governments making use of the right they already have to annul patents where there is evidence that they are being misused.

  103. Chris Forzetting
    Thumb Up

    I vote for the Shipstone

    Robert Heinlein 'invented' a superbattery called the Shipstone, which was never recharged by the end user, but replaced.

    I submit that the most efficient way of dealing with battery capacities and long-distance driving is not to have recharging stations, but battery switching stations. This would only require that all car batteries be the same shape and size, with larger cars simply having more of them installed.

    Then, when a car's charge is running low, pull into a service station, switch out the discharged battery(ies) for fully charged unit(s), and away you go. It would cost so much per battery, to deal with the cost to the station owner for electricity, and be very simple (assuming the car makers cooperated and made the units easy to access and replace (burying them under the seats, for instance, would be a large faux pas...).

  104. Anonymous Coward


    Everything gets cheaper whilst they go for market share, result!

  105. Peter Bradshaw
    Thumb Down

    I love my hybrid

    ..because the discussion seems so anger-filled, and often inaccurate.

    My Honda Civic hybrid gets about 48mpg (US gallon, so 60 mpg UK; yes, the UK gallon is 25% bigger) by accurate measurement; the fuel by county-agency-tested pumps, the distance by comparison of the odometer in the car with roadside-maintenance mileage markers. The mpg indicator in the car is about 8% too high. The savings over a non-hybrid come from several things:

    1. the regenerative braking (slowing down or running downhill charges the battery), 2. the engine stops while waiting at traffic lights etc.

    3. although the batteries and motor have some weight, this is compensated by a smaller engine weight.

    4. the engine is able to spend more of it's time nearer an optimum efficiency condition.

    I avoid jack-rabbit starts and screeching-brake stops, and have no interest in competing with a Pontiac Vibe or whatever (once, on a very crowded downhill two-lanes-my-way highway, in an old VW bus, in the "fast" lane at 54 mph, I inched past a Porsche in the "slow" lane, which was doing maybe 52 mph; the Porsche-drivers reaction at being passed by a VW bus was so strong, he nearly rear-ended the car in front of him).

    I would like a bigger battery in the car. I regularly go over an 1800 ft pass (visiting a daughter and two grandkids) and by picking the optimum transmission setting (yes, a manual), I can use almost the full battery charge on the way up, but it is fully charged again before I am all the way down the other side, so the recovery is incomplete. But otherwise it is really great.

    No, I have no interest in helping to eat that cooked foot.

  106. Clive Harris

    How to get 120HP from a 76HP engine

    OK, There have been some fair comments made, and the concept behind the hybrid transmission is difficult to grasp. I seem to have unwittingly become an unofficial spokesman for the hybrid "religion", so I'll try to explain the technology. I assume that Register readers are technically literate and of above average intelligence, so I'll now explain how to bend the laws of physics without actually breaking them.

    The first thing to get straight is that the Hybrid-vs-Diesel argument is a red herring or, as we say over here, a complete Furphy (look up the origin of that phrase of you want). The hybrid concept is a type of TRANSMISSION, not a type of ENGINE. It just happens to be simpler to attach it to a petrol engine than to a Diesel engine, for various technical reasons which I won't go into. Its main feature is that it makes it possible to have a peak power much greater than the available engine power. Thus most hybrid cars have much better performance than their raw engine power would seem to suggest. Over here in Australia the 1.5 litre Prius is reckoned to have about the same performance as a typical 2.5-3.0 litre Aussie car.

    Also, in the Toyota system, it acts as a very efficient automatic transmission which has an infinitely variable gear ratio with very few moving parts. The Toyota "Hybrid Synergy" system is very clever (I wish I'd thought of it), but very simple mechanically. It just consists of a simple epicyclic gear mechanism (basically a type of differential) coupled to two electric motor/generators. The clever part is in the electronics. By controlling the power feed between the two motor/generators and the battery, any gear ratio can be selected from full forward through neutral to reverse, all without any mechanical gear changing. Also, over most of the speed range, most of the engine power is going through the highly efficient gear mechanism, rather than through the less efficient generator -> motor route. Unfortunately, Toyota protected the essentials of the idea very effectively with a series of patents, which is why none of the other manufacturers can use it (although I believe GM is negotiating a licence deal with them)

    To explain the concept more thoroughly, I'll now quote from a blog entry I wrote in one of the Australian newspapers. This particular quotation was made in response to a suggestion that hybrid cars were "cheating" by storing vast amounts of energy in the battery where it couldn't easily be measured. Here goes: First the quotation and then my reply

    >> Given that the energy stored in the battery can only come from energy from the fuel burnt in the engine (or braking) it would only be fair to compare a Prius' fuel economy with other cars, starting with an EMPTY battery. I suspect that this does not occur so the figures we see are 'artificial'.>>

    No Paul. You've misunderstood the hybrid concept. The energy stored in the battery is tiny - a few spoonfuls of petrol at most. Its purpose is to provide a buffer between the energy output of the engine and the (constantly varying) energy demand made by the driver. This allow the engine to always work at or near its most efficient point.

    Let me explain. The efficiency of a petrol engine varies enormously, depending on speed, throttle setting, temperature and several other factors. At its best it's reasonably good - around 30%, or a bit higher for the Prius, which runs an "Atkinson" cycle. This is achieved with a wide-open throttle at low revs - in other words, when it's labouring. At its worst, when idling in traffic, its efficiency is zero - it's burning petrol and going nowhere. Unfortunately, a labouring engine gives a rotten driving experience and we spend far too much time in traffic jams.

    The trouble with a normal car is that the engine is the only source of motive power, so it has to be sized to provide the maximum power you'll ever need, even though you may only need that much power for a few seconds every day. Most of the time you're using less than 10% of that power, which means the engine is working in a very inefficient part of its operating range. Also, the engine speed is tied to the road speed, through the gearbox. Even the best gearbox can't keep the engine at its most efficient speed over much of that range.

    The hybrid concept is to size the engine according to the average power demand (plus a decent safety margin), and then use the battery plus electric motor to smooth out the peaks.

    The fact is that, in most cars, you can't apply peak power for more than about 10-15 seconds, or you'd be breaking the speed limit. The battery only needs to cope with that short-term peak, plus a safety margin to cope with unusual conditions such as steep hills.

    The result is that the petrol engine can be made much smaller and lighter. Moreover, since it's controlled by the on-board computer, it's always run close to its most efficient point (It's not directly connected to the wheels). For example, when going downhill or decelerating, it is often stopped altogether (Also, the surplus power is collected and put back in the battery, rather than heating up the brakes). Similarly, when crawling through traffic jams, it's just run for a few seconds every few minutes to keep the battery topped up. By the way, the heating and air-con are driven from an on-board three-phase power bus, just like in a building. All this is done automatically. You don't need to think about it - just drive it.

    The overall effect is that, although all the power comes ultimately from the petrol engine, the engine is always running at or near the point where it gives the best efficiency and least exhaust emissions. In contrast, a normal car engine spends most of its time a long way away from that point.

  107. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gott sei Danke !

    Clive Harris says: "The fact is that, in most cars, you can't apply peak power for more than about 10-15 seconds, or you'd be breaking the speed limit. The battery only needs to cope with that short-term peak, plus a safety margin to cope with unusual conditions such as steep hills."

    Speed limit ? Try driving on our German autobahns, you'd be in for a surprise. Hamburg to München in a Porsche 911T, 500kms, two hours fifty eight minutes flat out all the way last week, and apart from "Baustelles" - sections of autobahn with repair work in progress - there were NO speed limits. Usual cruising speed of Mercedes and BMW and Audi and Porsche is around 180-200kph.

    Maybe this is why Germany is (yet) another country where the Prius market is dead.

    Heinrich R., Darmstadt

  108. Clive Harris

    Prius at Bonneville

    There's an interesting website (I can't remember the URL right now), describing the adventures of a Prius at the Bonneville speed trials, a couple of years back. The team bypassed the governor (which limits it to 105MPH) and locked the differential. They also modified the tyres and suspension to cope with the surface, but the engine and transmission were otherwise normal. I can't remember the exact speed they recorded, but it was slightly over 134MPH on the final run (that's around 216KPH).

    Considering the market for the Prius is officially dead, I think the million plus sales recorded are quite interesting. I wonder how many they'd sell if the market wasn't dead?

    Have I finally had the last word on this topic? - Or will someone else add something? Watch this spot!

  109. Jon Tocker

    @ Clive Harris.

    Yes you have.


  110. Matthew


    My commuting car - with a 1.4 turbodiesel engine - beats any Prius' figures anywhere.

    I *average* 55mpg mostly because there is a sweet spot at about 80mph where it will top 70mpg. (I'm guessing that the French engine was optimised for the French speed limit)

    But, unlike a Prius which still uses petrol and has those environment-destroying batteries, I can run carbon neutral using old cooking oil. The way forward is therefore the 19th century ideas of old Mr Diesel, maybe with the addition of stop/start technology, maybe hybridised with supercapacitors and regenerative braking.

    My £0.02.

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