back to article General Motors bitchslaps Tesla with Range Anxiety™

As US motor mammoth GM gears up for the launch of its plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt, it has applied to trademark the term "range anxiety" - meaning the fear suffered by battery-car owners regarding their ability to get home again after a given journey. Upstart battery car maker Tesla Motors has issued a panicky and unconvincing …


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  1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

    Oh for the love of all that is holy....

    Can't we all accept that electric cars are new technology, and need time to mature before being viable for general motoring?

    Just like bicycles, motorcycles, buses, trains, aeroplanes, helicopters, and pogo sticks, electric cars are viable alternatives to internal combustion cars for some current journey patterns. One day, they will probably be a viable alternative for most journeys. One day further on from that, all the internal combustion engines will grind to a halt for lack of fuel, and we'd better hope that there have been enough early adopters of electric cars to make them viable by then.

    But no, everyone has to have a go, just to prove how clever they are. Well, here's the news - it doesn't make you look clever, it makes you look short-sighted and stupid.

    Thank you, and good night.


    1. AndyS

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      It's from Lewis Page, author of "People have NO BLOODY IDEA about saving energy."

      Which said, abridged, "Tumble drying uses more power than hot washing, so we should all do both."

      Enough said.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      New Technology? Whaaaaa??????

      The first crude electric carriage was built in Holland in 1835. They were quite popular in the early 1900's as internal combustion cars of the era had a nasty habit of killing/maiming the people trying to start them with the old hand cranks. Once the killing/maiming-the-operator problem was cleared up electric vehicles pretty much disappeared for the same reasons we're talking about today. Power density in batteries is very low compared to gas/diesel, and recharging is extremely slow compared to refilling the tank.

      Next time you might want to get your story straight before you call everyone who disagrees with you stupid.

      1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge


        Yes, I'm perfectly well aware that electric cars were played with back at the dawn of modern history, thanks. This doesn't change the fact that internal combustion has benefited from ~150 years of development with a user base of pretty much the entire human race, whilst electric cars, erm, haven't.

        I don't call everyone who disagrees with me stupid. I call people who disagree with me using stupid facts and arguments stupid.


        1. Anonymous Coward

          They weren't just played with

          You said in your original post "that electric cars are new technology, and need time to mature before being viable for general motoring". That is absolutely and provably wrong. Perhaps history qualifies as a "stupid fact" on teh interwebz these days

          In the early 1900's EVs were more popular than ICVs. There was no conspiracy by the oil industry, Car Manufacturers, Republicans, Bilderberg Group, etc to kill them.

          They were impractical then, and to a large extent pure-play-EVs are still impractical now. Sure we could have spent the last ~90 years trying to square-peg-round-hole them into common usage... we could have spent the last 60 years primarily pursuing fusion energy research too... and Hitler could have been assassinated prior to his rise to power in Germany.

          When you build your time machine please take care of these misdeeds of history. Thanks!

          /mine's the one with the history book in the pocket

          1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge


            I call Goodwin!


            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @GJC Re: Hitler

              Wouldn't I have needed to compare you to Hitler for this to be a Godwin's Law incident?

              The point that I was trying to make there, perhaps not too clearly, is that it makes no sense to say:

              "This doesn't change the fact that internal combustion has benefited from ~150 years of development with a user base of pretty much the entire human race, whilst electric cars, erm, haven't."

              Is it really "a fact" that if history had of happened differently it would play out as you say it would? Do we really know that battery and/or electric motor technology would by significantly more advanced if we had thrown wooden shows into all the ICEs for the last 100 years? It's an unprovable supposition stated as a fact. Without going back and changing history to prove/disprove your assertion it is just your opinion, not a fact.

              1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

                I'm sorry....

                ....I must have missed the memo that restricted web forums to facts alone.

                Yes, it is my opinion that electric cars would be better than they are now if they had benefited from 150 years of development and been used by a significant percentage of the human race (and 25% of the market in 1905 or whenever doesn't count, as the worldwide market for cars at the time was about 15).

                Personally, I'd say that opinion is self-evident enough that it could easily be relied upon as a fact, but no-one can ever really know, in the absence of a time machine.

                However, it is also my opinion that electric cars will be much more practical and desirable in the future. How far in the future? Who knows? How much more practical and/or desirable? Also who knows?

                But I bet electric cars get a whole heap more desirable when we run out of dino-juice.....


        2. BristolBachelor Gold badge


          I would say that electric cars have benefitted from quite a lot of development over the 150 years that you are talking about.

          For example, the electric motors used to provide the motion are much more efficient due to the developments of the last 150 years. Similarly too, so are the batteries and power control electronics. Also with a user base of pretty much the entire human race. In addition, a number of improvements to IC cars have also improved electric cars (reduced weight, drag, rolling resistance...)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Bristol, @GJC

            Did I read it wrong? Seemed pretty clear to me that the idea was that if we had spent the last 150 years developing EVs like we developed ICVs that EVs>ICVs, not to say that no improvements had been made in the EV space in the last 150 years.

            I can't say that I disagree with him necessarily on any logical basis - who can? The whole hypothesis is insane to consider anyway because it didn't happen that way so saying *IF* it had happened that way then X. Well, I could say just as easily Y but who really cares... we're just making shit up. What happened happened. EVs had their chance, ICVs won, EVs might be making a comeback as technology improves.

            It serves no purpose - other than propaganda perhaps - to rewrite/sugar-coat the history of EVs as some sort of oppressed yet fundamentally superior technology. We are supposed to learn from history... are we not? Could it be a superior technology in the future... maybe. Is it now or was it in the past... not since the crank-shaft-kills/maims-operator problem was resolved. Will we even have a say in the matter once the oil runs out... no, we won't.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Oh for the love of all that is holy.... → #

      I wonder what the horse drawn carriage people said when the new fangled motor vehicles turned up. Did they mention the fact that the motor vehicles' range was limited and that drivers would have anxiety about filling up when there were no filling stations. Unlike horses which could go on and on and on and only needed a bit of hay every now and then and would be fully recharged overnight! :-)

      1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

        @ The other AC

        I bet they did, too :-)


      2. John Blagden


        I've got a 1909 Strand Magazine that compares 'orses to the new-fandangled motor-cars. The comparison revealed that 'orses needed to be replaced every 30 miles on a long journey, left a lot of smelly environmental keepsakes around (24 tons daily in London apparently), were very dangerous at one end due to 'teeth' and at the other with 'hooves', tended to violently react to strange noises/lights/animals/humans/americans, needed overnight covering and tending/feeding 24/7/365. Oh, and tended to die a lot.

        In cars 'all' you theoretically had to worry about was carrying a spare can of petrol.

    4. jonathanb Silver badge

      No we can't

      Electric cars were invented before diesel cars, and at one point they had 25% of the market, because they were easier to start than steam cars, and had a similar range, although they did still take longer to refuel. They disappeared rapidly once diesel and later petrol cars became a viable option.

      Electric trains are very popular, and way ahead of diesel in terms of performance etc, but they have the advantage that they don't have to carry their fuel.

  2. Hermes Conran

    I can't use my electric car like a petrol car shock.

    In other news; I can' t use my bicycle as a submarine....

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Poor comparison

      The only difference between the two cars is power source. One is short range, uses toxic, exotic and hard to recycle metals to store electrical power, only a small percentage of which is likely to be carbon free. The other uses a more energy-efficient chemical based energy source (petrol, or diesel, if you want to reduce carbon) to spin wheels, albeit a source in ever shorter supply and has some emissions. They both do the same thing, just one better than the other.

      A bike and a sub are completely different devices with different roles. I won't describe how they differ as it's too tempting to refer to a tube full of seamen, as compared to the local bike......

      1. Charles Manning


        "A bike and a sub are completely different ". Both are entirely useless to fish.

        1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

          Subs & fish

          Depends on the fish, surely? A submarine make a handy container for keeping food fresh and tasty for some months, for certain species.


  3. The Indomitable Gall

    Trademarking criticism...?

    I find it a bit odd that GM are getting away with trademarking something that they claim not to produce (range anxiety).

    It seems to me that the point of the exercise is one of the most cynical tactics ever envisioned: trademark a term whose main purpose is to criticise your competitors so that they cannot answer your criticism.

    That's screwed up; really, really screwed up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      >It seems to me that the point of the exercise is one of the most cynical tactics ever envisioned

      Cynical - in an industry which decides whether or not to do a recall based on balancing the cost of compensation in respect of deaths and injury caused by a known fault against the cost of fixing the said fault in the vehicles already sold?

  4. Richard Gadsden 1
    Jobs Horns

    swappable batteries

    I see the electric car manufacturers have got Apple disease with non-swappable batteries.

    The sensible solution is: pull into a fuel station, push the release button for the batteries. Pull out your current batteries and put them on a dolly. Wheel them over, and pay for the replacement fully-charged set. Take the dolly with the charged batteries, wheel over to your car and put them in. The fuel station person connects up your discharged batteries and then sells them when they're fully charged.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      That will fail for so many reasons:

      - safe storage space

      - power needs

      - how to work out the price to swap your crappy old holds-half-a-charge battery set against a shiny new just-dropped-off one

      - getting manufacturers to standardize on battery size and capacity

      - etc.

      - etc.

      Battery electric cars are, and will always be, a niche market. The batteries are environmentally unfriendly to make, show few signs of reaching the point of holding a decent change and being quickly rechargeable. They're only cheaper to run because the government hasn't worked out how to charge road fuel tax on electricity (yet).

      For the forseeable future we'll be driving liquid or gas fuelled cars, that either burn the stuff in an IC engine, or (less likely) feed it to a fuel cell. The fuel may be derived from non-fossil sources, and the car may be a hybrid to benefit from regenerative braking and smaller engines, but that's all.

      1. Nick Carter

        @AC 13:36 GMT

        A few years ago car phones were a niche market because before cellular technology there was only enough frequency space for a few hundred phones per city. Innovations in battery technology are bound to occur as long as there are enough people willing to be early adopters to provide the revenue to plough back into research.

        You say "batteries are environmentally unfriendly to make". As far as I understand it once a Lithium battery reaches the end of its life then it should be possible to recover all of the Li it contains to manufacture new batteries (assuming Lithium doesn't leak out during normal use). The same applies to other metals like Titanium. Batteries won't be like catalytic converters which spew out particles of rare and expensive metals which can't be recovered.

        Battery swapping is an excellent idea, other replies have covered the ageing problem by counting charge/discharge cycles to price the battery swap fairly.

    2. Andy Miller
      Thumb Down


      Except that batteries age. I can't see many punters wanting to swap the brand-new batteries in their brand-new car with whatever old ones the garage has today, nor can I see many garages wanting to swap known for unknown cells.

      Maybe if all the batteries where owned by the car manufacturer and rented out - like camping gas bottles, but even then you have the "Range Anxiety™" associated with unknown batteries.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Great idea, needs work

      replaceable battery packs are a very sensible idea, carmakers have already agreed on a standard charger plug, and given there are so many tax dollars floating around, a requirement to use standard battery packs could be enforced right now.

      There is no need to value a half-used pack, the car has a right to take one battery from the pool, they must be issued "free" and returned free. The capacity monitoring electronics will be better than a laptop battery pack - themselves pretty good, allowing a highly accurate mileage capacity measurement, adjusted for whether you are a caner or a crawler.

      One could even ascribe loss in capacity to each user, charging "caners" a bit more to keep it fair. The wear-out dynamics of batteries are complex, shallow discharge costs almost nothing, heavy discharge and especially, deep discharge take a fair toll off the lifetime. The aim is realistic, to charge fairly for legitimate costs.

      On the other point - copyrighting a pair of words, thats really shit, especially since they are in common use. I can't happen in the UK, no-one can own "the best day of your life" like Disney does.

      1. Parsifal

        Battery Power = Stopgap

        Battery power is at best a stop gap method for 'Green' cars. First you have to discount the energy and materials it takes to make batteries not to mention the toxic waste involved in disposing of used batteries.

        Add in the size of the Tesla battery which is not exactly small and comprises 6800 cells , so replacing at a service station is no small task.

        The only real way forward for alternate fuel sources is either Hydrogen Cell powered cars , or some form of magnetic induction from tracks laid in the roads to provide power and continual charging to to electric cars on the major highways leaving pure battery power for side roads and streets.

        1. TimeMaster T


          OK, lets look at hydrogen, its tricky to transport and store, there is no infrastructure in place, has less "bang for the buck" per unit and its current main commercial source is from cracking natural gas.

          CNG or LPG would be a better alternative, infrastructure is already in place to move and store it at a commercial level. You can even have CNG refill stations installed at your home, just connect the hose and the next morning your tank is full, wait, why does that sound familiar?

          We need to stop looking for a "One size fits all" solution, its not going to happen. Electric cars for company and municipal fleets, taxis, delivery vans and average drivers. Hybrids that can run on CNG, LPG, BioDiesle and other alternative fuels, even Hydrogen when its ready, for situations where electric is not suitable.

          Side note, magnetic induction would cause drag on the vehicles, there are also concerns about the safety of strong EM fields to animals. Magnetic induction charging stations on the other hand would be great, just pull into a parking stall or your garage, no plug to worry about.

          People, we need to start thinking outside the box. So far most people are thinking "how do we replace cars". We should be thinking more along the line of "how do we remove the need/desire for cars", "what can we use to fuel a car that ISN"T fossil fuel based" and "how can we get more people to use mass transit/alternatives".

          In some cities in the US they have "City Share" cars, day/hour rentals. You sign up and get a RFID card, need a car for a few hours its there, special parking spots all over the city. Someone else handles maintenance/insurance/registration. You only pay for the time you use it. Great for people who only need a car once or twice a week.

          1. mmiied

            re hydrogen

            "how do we remove the need/desire for cars",

            you can not the car is freedon. personal transport to go whereever ypu want when ever you want allows so much of the moden world it is somthing pepol will fight toof and nail for

            "what can we use to fuel a car that ISN"T fossil fuel based"

            better and at the momnet nothing is perfect my perrosnal prefrence if for somthing like a plug in hybrid and maby some sort of recicled bio desial for longer trips

            "how can we get more people to use mass transit/alternatives".

            make them signifcently better than cars currently it costs me MORE to take the train into work than my car and I live and work within walking distance of the station and it is less convientent as I can only start/finish work when there is a train

    4. George of the Jungle

      Better Place

      Swappable batteries is the goal of companies like Better Place (which IIRC is still in the demo phase in Tokyo). The idea is you lease a battery for your vehicle from the company, and replace it as it needs charging. I assume the cost of the lease has rolled in the cost of replacing terminally flat batteries as well as other damage, etc. It's an interesting idea, but we're so early in the game who knows what delivery method will win.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought GM's electric car basically failed ...

    ... because they pulled it and clawed them all back from often quite happy customers? Although that could be a myth. Mind you I don't think range anxiety is really the issue here - that's just for people who don't plan ahead adequately.

    For me, the problem is living in a flat, leaving me with no charging options at all. I think for now probably the optimal solution is small petrol or diesel car and an electric scooter (reasonably cheap, and the removable batteries some have are more flat-friendly), but I'm too poor for that so small petrol bike will have to do as an approximation of the mean of those two.

    1. TimeMaster T

      Who killed the Electric car.

      I strongly suggest everyone interested in electric cars watch the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car".

      It has a bias of course but does bring to light many interesting facts about how auto manufactures and oil companies have been treating electric vehicles.

      One of the best points I remember, over 90% of people drive an average of less than 30 miles a day.

      Electric cars may not be the answer to all our transportation needs but it would work for a good chunk of it. Fleets, delivery and other civil service vehicles that all return to a set location every night would be idea for switching to electric.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Who killed the Electric car

        I drive a lot less than 30 miles on average per day, but sometimes I do a 600 mile trip, and I don't have space or money for a second car.

    2. Martin Lyne


      See the film "Who killed the Electric Car".

      Happy customers forcibly removed from their EV-1s whilst they are taken away and scrapped, with only a few remaining intact today. Museum pieces.

      GM never sold any, just leased them to people.

    3. Daniel B.


      And this is my main gripe with all full EVs. Living in flats means that you can't just plug the thing in. This has discouraged me from buying most EV prospects; hybrids do interest me more, but they are too bloody expensive!

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. paulc

      battery stations?

      "Battery stations, where they simpy change your battery for a full one, now I wonder what type of places would be suitable for this?!?"

      would require some degree of standardisation to become effective... there would have to be laws to force manufacturers to use standard battery packs...

      we all know just how difficult it is to source battery packs for laptops with each manufacturer having different ones and ones that are not even standardised amongst their own products...

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Regarding battery swaps: It's a neat idea but impractical

      All of the batteries would need to be standard across manufacturers, and a 3rd party (government, car manufacturers maybe?) would need to own all the batteries and then lease them to people. It's not impossible, and I do admire the creativity in the thought - just difficult and impractical.

      Regarding the solar panels - sure, why not? :)

      1. fatchap

        Not so

        Agree they would need to be standardised but I don't get the ownership? Why not just have a like for like exchange system.

        My local garage owns a battery which they have charged, I own a battery that is close to flat. Might we not be willing to exchange their battery for mine plus a small gratuity?

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Residual capacity could the the reason

          Someone has to pick up the cost of the loss of capacity after a pack has been recharged a hundred or so times. Leasing makes more sense than owning, as nobody will complain about swapping one that is new for one that is near it's end-of-life it they lease it.

          You would still have some uncertainly about range, and you would probably have to have some rules about when a battery pack would be retired or reconditioned. Would you make it 90% of original charge capacity, 80%, 50%?

          I'm all for this technology, but there are serious wrinkles that need sorting out, not the least of which is the cleanness of the electricity. Also, could the power grid cope with thousands of battery packs drawing tens of amps at the same time? For example, if a battery charging station has 50 packs charging at any time, which draw 30A each while charging, we're talking 1,500 amps, or at 230V, 345KW per station. That's a lot of power. A typical UK house draws about 0.4KW per hour, averaged out across the year (according to EDF), so the charging station would put the same load on the grid as 800+ houses.

          These figures are rough, based on the Tesla's battery pack which apparently take 3.5 hours to charge at 70A at 240V (thanks Wikipedia), mapped into something that is more likely to be found in the UK urban environment.

          How many petrol stations serve as few as 150 customers in a day (assuming packs take 8 hours at 30A to charge)? And you would have to be pretty certain that the packs could not be nicked for their scrap value. And how large would the station have to be?

          So, interesting ideas, but currently, fossil fuels still rule, as indicated by the icon.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Solar panels

            ...are fine if you want a little light to read by whilst waiting for the tow truck. I doubt if you're going to get much in the way of distance out of them though.

          2. Nick Carter

            Re: Peter Gathercole 15:43 GMT

            The infrastructure for charging batteries would improve in parallel with battery technology advances. So battery recharging stations would incorporated flywheel tech or massive capacitors (located in the no longer used underground fuel tanks) which would be charged at off-peak times but could give the necessary high current boost for rapid charging.

            And you are assuming that everybody would want a full, rapid charge at every recharging station. Most recharging would be trickle charge topping-up at home, work or at street charging points.

            Obviously grid capacity would need upgrading to replace the liquid fuel distribution network, and renewables (and fusion) would need to be brought onstream to supply the extra non-fossil fuel demand, but I don't think these issues are insurmountable.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            A.C. here

            Degradation of the battery over its life span is the main reason why I mentioned the 3rd party ownership model. In the states (not sure about the UK or elsewhere) this model in used for purchasing propane for grilling/home use. At least one of the vendors is a company called Blue Rhino. For the user, they purchase a tank and then swap them when they need a refill. The refilled tanks are all refurbed to ensure they are safe to use, and the company takes care of the upkeep and disposal of old/unsafe tanks as a built in cost to the refill.

            At the end of the day I would tend to say that this would make the cost of such a program for EVs prohibitively expensive unless it were highly subsidized by Big Brother... but just a $0.02 there

          4. Gavin King

            Swapping bottles

            Perhaps it could work in much the same way as industrial gas bottles do, at least down in this part of the world: a company owns the bottles, but leases them out on a contract so that when the one is empty, you go in and swap for another that is full. The company is responsible for keeping them safe (a rusty, leaky acetylene bottle is just scary), and for refilling them. It can be similar for domestic LPG bottles, too.

            I can't see why this wouldn't work for batteries. Certainly every gas bottle connection ever made (well, almost) fits into every other one, and there are enough different manufacturers of them around.

          5. steve 44

            Incorrect assumption is incorrect

            Currently being worked upon is the fact that there is a MASSIVE amount of energy that can be produced by power stations that isn't being used. Could the power grid cope with the extra charging? Easy answer is yes, as long as the cars used smart charging techniques and drew the power during low use periods. Sorry but the industry and acedmic sectors are already way ahead of you.

            Also if they manage the base load fof the power stations using electric vehicle charging, they can smooth out the electricity production curves and make the power stations more efficient, there by helping to reduce the "dirty" production.

            Your 8 hour charge time for the Tesla is also a bad assumption. You are assuming the battery will be completely drained before charging. If you top-up the car each night before bed, or while you are at work, or even while you are doing ANYTHING ELSE, you won't even notice the charging.

            Fossil fuels are going to be replaced. No, i don't think battery electric vehicles are ready to take over yet, but they are nowhere near as bad as "some people" like to make out.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Might have some merit

          the exchange system on car parts - popular with classic cars where no one makes the bits anymore - is I sell you the part at a discount against the value of the old part. eg that the old dynamo you trade has a load of copper wire that can be recycled and the casing can be cleaned up for rebuild with new bearings and a rewound stator.

          That method might be usable with a battery pack.

          Under this condition, you would "buy" the fresh and charged battery pack on the assumption that the one you hand over isn't used to buggery, at a cost reduced by the expected value of the trade in.

          If the battery pack had it's own blackbox recorder logging its use, then that data could be used by the charging station to set the transaction cost there and then (to speed the swap out) but subject to a modifier if subsequent testing/analysis revealed a problem with the pack you handed in.

          So the car owner would pay: cost of new battery pack + value of electricity + profit margin - value of old battery pack +/- fiddle factor

          1. Paul Rubbert

            It's being considered.

            I saw this in Autocar last year.....

            "Renault-Nissan is planning to make its electric vehicles rechargable in three different ways when they first go on sale in Europe from 2011.

            Drivers will either be able to plug their cars into two types of charger or swap their batteries in special “quick drop” exchange stations.

            The two types of charging facilities will offer either a standard service, which will take four to eight hours to fully replenish a battery, and a fast charge will enable an 80 per cent charge in around 20 minutes.

            The third option is to exchange your depleted battery for a fully charged one. Renault-Nissan claims that the swap would take just three minutes."


            Will it ever happen though?

    3. Dave 15
      Thumb Down

      Limited life

      That has been suggested but I don't think it will work, batteries have limited life span so a battery station may take a good one and give you an old duffer, or the other way round. Are you or they going to take such risks?

    4. Daniel B.

      Flow batteries?

      Wouldn't it be better to just use flow batteries? That would reduce the "charging" to a simple "electrolyte change" at the station. That should work as similar as filling up the gas tank today. Is this truly hard to implement?

  7. Devon_Custard


    I have lways thought thatthis is being looked at from the wrong perspective. At the moment we drive up to a petrol station and fill up.

    Shouldnt we just design a car with a replaceable battery? Drive up to a fule station, change your empty one for a full one and drive off. The empty one can then be left to charge for as long as required for the next person.

    Rather than fuel deliveries there would just be some trucks moving batteries around to even out the spread etc

    I appreciate there might be some holes in the idea. I dont know how much a battery would cost, but the more there are, the cheaper they would get until they ubiquitous and not worth stealing.

  8. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    Oh how we laugh

    >> ...but given industrial three-phase juice they can be up to 80 per cent in under three minutes

    Hmm, lets do some figures for that. The Tesla is 50-something kWH, and it's suggested we can charge something of that sort of size to 80% in 3 minutes.

    80% of 50 is 40kWH, 3 minutes is 1/20th of an hour. So the power required is in the order of 800kW.

    A commercial supply to a garage isn't likely to be more than 100A/phase if 3 phase. So that's a maximum of around 75kW if you ignore the power it needs for it's own use - like running the lights, the pumps, the tills, the car wash, etc, etc. So the total supply available is only around 1/10th of the power required to charge a single car at that rate - so we've immediately put the recharge time up to 30 minutes, and only one car at a time. If the supply is single phase (not unlikely) then we're only looking at 25kW and 90 minutes charge time.

    No problem, the garage owner can just have the supply upgraded. Well all I'll say is that he'd better be sitting down when he gets the quote ! You want a supply capable of charging just one car at that rate - that's most likely going to mean you get your own substation, and upgrade the local distribution network to cope. In fact, the local electricity company may well prohibit you from putting that sort of intermittent load on the existing network because of what it will do to their other users* - a look back in history at the JET project shows the sort of things you may have to do if you want to attach a large intermittent load to the electricity supply. So think new cables dug under the road back to the nearest grid substation and your own 11kV feed - that's not going to be cheap.

    * You stick an 800kW load on the local 11kV ring main and chances are you'll drop other users below the lower voltage limits for the supply. If that results in tap changers upping the voltage to correct, then at the end of charge, other local users will get an overvoltage. Anyone doing monitoring will report the electricity company who will get fined - and they'll be looking for the culprit to pass the bill onto.

    Or to sum all that up is a few words - fast charging like that will only happen on some very well supplied industrial estates and in cloud cuckoo land. Elsewhere it's complete fantasy as the electrical supply infrastructure just couldn't support it without **MASSIVE** investment.

    Easier to make methanol where the electricity is available (ie sunny places where PV arrays would work) and ship it around in the infrastructure (tankers and pipelines) we already have, to be used in vehicles that we already have and that could be made flex fuel for peanuts at the design stage, and dispensed with existing equipment that can effortlessly supply hundreds of miles of fuel in a matter of minutes.

    1. Rogerborg

      Oh, facts

      You can use them to prove anything that's even REMOTELY true.

      Do bear in mind that 'fuel' stations make their real money by selling milk and cat food. The pathetic range of V-tard cars will ensure you a lot of frequent visitors.

      Better yet, any V-tard pulling into your forecourt is almost certainly to be down to their last few Joules, so you've got a captive customer. Charge them whatever you want for a few pence worth of electrons - it's not like they can buy a can of them elsewhere, and - pretty much axiomatically - they've either got loads more money than sense, or they've got an expense account charged to the taxpayer anyway.

      Of course, they'll be queued up round the block waiting for the V-tards in front to 'fill up', but that's a problem for the saps at the council to solve.

      Let's try to focus on the opportunities here.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Chemist

        Re : Oh how we laugh #

        I salute you Sir - not afraid to use reason or logic.

        By the way the efficiencies of electrochemical processes fall rapidly with increased rate. This will result in HOT batteries. Even if only 10% is lost as heat then 80kW needs to be dissipated in 3 minutes

        1. Anonymous Coward


          Do you mean "80kW needs to be dissipated in 3 minutes" (meaningless statement) or "80kW needs to be dissipated *for* 3 minutes" ?

          Either way it's silly.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Hermes Conran

    The problem is that in order for leccy cars to be mainstream we have to be able to use them like a petrol car, in the same way you can use a diesel car like a petrol car, or a hybrid, or lpg.

    The key word here is "car".

    1. Hermes Conran

      So by that logic,

      I should be able to use my push bike like my motor bike, the key word is "bike"

  10. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    So a single battery design ?

    OK, swapping batteries sounds like a good idea - as long as you don't mind leasing your battery pack from one supplier, and you don't mind all vehicles being constrained to use the same battery pack.

    Ever run out of Camping Gaz and found the only supplier in the area only does Calor ? It'll be the same problem - if you rent your battery from SuperJuice Batteries, then you'll not be able to swap it at a place doing MightyJolt batteries - and vice-versa. Imagine the outcry if Ford announced that all new models were only compatible with fuel bought from BP outlets - not SHell, Texaco, ... ?

    And if we don't constrain all cars to use the same battery packs, then think of the number of alternatives that would need to be stocked (and sods law says that the charging depot has every pack but the one you need). Not only that, but once decided, the battery cannot be altered (ie improved) as it won't be compatible with all this new (and expensive) infrastructure.

    1. Nick Carter

      @SImon Hobson 13:36 GMT

      I think you've already answered your own criticisms. If battery swapping was implemented the car makers would be legally constrained to use the same battery pack, just as they are constrained now to ensure their vehicles can be refueled at any fuel station using any brand of petrol/diesel etc.

      The batteries can still be altered (ie improved), it would just be the battery container dimensions and connections that would be standardised. For example, the lead-acid batteries used now can be any brand as long as they fit into the space provided. A smaller, more efficient, battery could just be padded to size with lightweight materials.

      1. david wilson

        Batte/ries/, not batter/y/

        I presume the way to make swappable packs work, particularly bearing in mind that different-sized vehicles will need different-sized packs, would be to have vehicles taking multiple standard battery packs in the same way that portable electrical devices take multiple cells.

        Changing would involve a battery compartment being opened, and multiple empty packs being swapped for full ones, so a vehicle's battery compartment[s] could be sized and situated as a particular design required, but still using standard sub-packs with a standard connector.

        Volume-wise, with a good design, it might not be greatly less space-efficient than having a single pack, and though it would require a pack-changing robot that knew about the various vehicle layouts, that doesn't seem like a huge problem.

        On the other hand, there are real advantages, such as being able to narrow down any problems to an individual smaller pack, removing the single point of failure that a connector on one huge pack could represent, and allowing packs to be spread around a vehicle if that made a particular design work well. Also, a pack-changing robot would be dealing with much lighter individual items - maybe 50/100kg, rather than 500kg.

      2. Galidron


        They would need to maintain a standard Voltage and Amp output as well. That can be more difficult then just dimensions and connections, although doable.

        1. david wilson


          I'm not sure that having a standard voltage for a pack would be a great problem.

          I'd have thought that vehicle-bound electronics and motors could pretty easily be designed to work with a given voltage.

          Current-wise, I'm not sure there'd be any issue. All that would be needed would be a standard minimum discharge rate, which would presumably be set at a level which would be fairly easy to reach for a battery pack, given the standard dimensions and voltage.

          Since there'd need to be some intelligence inside the battery pack, it'd be easy to have a system that could potentially negotiate the allowable current upwards from the minimum level.

      3. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

        @Nick Carter 16:07

        >> I think you've already answered your own criticisms. If battery swapping was implemented the car makers would be legally constrained to use the same battery pack, just as they are constrained now to ensure their vehicles can be refueled at any fuel station using any brand of petrol/diesel etc.

        Actually no, and your comment simply re-iterates the issue. For mass battery exchange to work, then both the battery pack dimensions AND voltage AND current AND chemistry would effectively be fixed - allow any of those to be variable and it creates huge complication (ie extra cost and weight) in both charge and discharge control. It would effectively fix EV battery design at todays technology until the technology advanced so far that people were forced to take the huge performance hit and upgrade the infrastructure (again).

        Og course, battery manufacturers could introduce new technology if it was sufficiently close to the original to make it within the adaptation range of existing vehicles and chargers - but then who would want to take their new vehicle out with (say) a 400mile battery in it, and find that at the next swap they only have a 250 mile battery ? Once that happens, you are back to stocking multiple batteries again.

        It really is NOT the same as saying that current vehicles have to run on standard fuels. Legislation does not dictate where the filler is sited (apart from some safety rules like "not inside"), and it does not dictate the size, position, or capacity of the tank. Manufacturers will engineer the tank to fit a convenient space in the vehicle. For road passenger cars it is typically underneath, for some off-road vehicles it's higher up to avoid impact damage from the ground. Fixing a standard battery pack size AND having it exposed for the benefit of the robotic pack changer would significantly constrain the floor pan design of all EVs, and the layout of the oily bits underneath. I'd like to see the robotic pack changer even find the battery pack under my vehicle sometimes - can it see through inches of mud ?

        There are, as already pointed out, (at least) two demonstrated methods for making liquid fuel from atmospheric CO2 and sunshine. Liquid fuel is easily transported, easily stored, has a high energy density (both by weight and by volume), works with existing infrastructure (including manual storage methods like barrels and cans - handy where there isn't a refuelling infrastructure in place which is the case for a lot of the worlds population), and works with existing vehicles (even carburated vehicles can be run on methanol). it's been demonstrated that given the will, IC engines can be made fairly clean at the point of use, and with some developments (which are already in progress) can be made significantly more efficient.

        EVs have their place - but it isn't as a general replacement for IC engined vehicles.

        1. Nick Carter

          Peak Oil

          Intervening replies seem to have addressed the issues of voltage & current; I'd assume that the battery container would have the necessary electronics to cope with whatever brand of battery(ies) it contains. I don't see how the internal chemistry of the batteries is relevant here, that's covered by the V/I issues.

          As has already been said we are in the early stages of EV manufacture where there is little thought to standardisation (e.g. Betamax versus VHS), but it will come eventually.

          It would be more efficient to standardise all our land based energy requirements to electricity rather than the present hotch-potch of separate distribution systems (Natural Gas, Heating Oil, Diesel, Petrol, LPG, Sperm Whale Oil etc.).

          We have already reached Peak Oil in 2006 when demand exceeded supply. The price spike we saw then gave us the global recession we're still stuck in which reduced oil demand below the inexorably reducing supply. We have to convert to renewable energy for all forms of energy use.

          You could faf about making liquid fuel from atmospheric CO2 and sunshine and trying to maintain the existing distribution systems but HVDC from CSP is my favourite.

        2. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: @Nick Carter

          My camera takes any type of batteries as long as they are AA sized. When there are improvements to the chemistry of AA batteries, my camera takes them quite happily, and the only thing it notices is that it can run longer before the battery goes flat.

  11. Pet Peeve

    Revisionist History

    I like how the GM folks said the EV-1 "failed", when they had to pry the cars out of their owners hands. They weren't for everyone, but for those they worked for, they were liked a LOT.

    They failed because GM failed, not because of the well-documented use case of the EV-1.

    1. TimeMaster T

      Watch this!!

      The documentary "Who killed the electric car" is available from Netflix if you have it.

      Well worth watching, plenty of factoids to throw around.

  12. Tom 13

    The thought of yet another trademark on plain use words

    makes me want to go postal on yet another set of executives.

  13. WonkoTheSane

    Range Anxiety is not restricted to EVs

    When horseless carriages first went on sale, one had to purchase tins of petroleum spirit at a pharmacy.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought the plan was to swap the batteries out?

    Even so, I still don't see the point.

    Diesel is more efficient, more green and readily available.

    1. RobAtAscolti

      Alternative sources of diesel

      The other thing about "diesel" is that it can be sourced from other sources other then crude oil.

      So it's quite possible to mix and match sources to compliment the source and used in conventional engines.

      That's so long as you believe that oil is a finite resource of course ;-)

  15. graham crocker

    80% Charge in 3 Minutes!?

    Blimey - I don't fancy standing anywhere near an electric car battery-pack stuffing itself with megawatts* of energy! Could be a great 'forecourt emptier'. (*OK ,Megawatt seconds - pedants).

    1. Steve X

      megawatt seconds

      You mean megajoules?


      1. James O'Shea

        all you need

        is a DeLorean, a flux capacitor, and a lightening bolt. <>

  16. max allan

    Oil runs out but not "bio-oil"

    OK, so diesel will run out one day but bio diesel from vegetable oil will probably not run out. So what's the problem with ditching petrol and all-electric and everyone going over to bio-diesel hybrids?

    1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge


      We currently produce a tiny, tiny percentage of our liquid fuel needs from plant sources. Even so, it is causing real hardship in some countries, because it is taking up a huge amount of arable crop land.

      This will get better as things like oil-bearing bacteria get more efficient, but overall I don't think it will ever have the capacity to replace dino-juice. After all, if you think about it, bio-fuel is a three dimensional fuel source, dino-juice is a four dimensional fuel source, we're burning millions of years worth of accumulated bio-mass, in a couple of centuries.


      1. Charles 9

        Solution: Synthesized diesel.

        Another arm of research (who has among its potential customers space and military bureaus) is looking into artificially producing hydrocarbon fuel (this includes diesel) using the excess power from, say, a nuclear reactor. Space firms like it because it solves a problem for eventual deep-space exploration: how to transport fuel as compactly as you can. A similar issue fits the military (especially navies with carriers) since fuel takes up space (a limited quantity) on ships.

    2. Mips
      Jobs Horns


      You can burn it as well as "rub it on those unsightly scars"?

  17. oldcodger

    How many power stations to fast charge 20 eleccies at once

    @ Simon

    Thank god for an engineer, who understands POWER

    You wouldn't like to extend that concept would you? How much power would a recharge station take if it had to deal with 20 cars at once? I make it 1.6 Gigawatt !!

    Back in the day I used to work at the big wind tunnel at Bristol Aircraft Filton. The fan was driven by a thumping great 2000 hp electric motor that took a miserly 2Mwatt from the Grid. Before the tunnel engineers could start it to do a run, they had to ring the CEGB grid switch control and tell them to expect the surge current! Sometimes they were told they could not use the tunnel if there was already a heavy load on the area sub.

    And if eventually there are as many electric cars as there are IC cars today, how many more power stations will there need to be to provide several tens of thousands country wide fast charge stations? Double our present generating capacity, triple?

    And lastly 50KwH batteries are tiny, think in future to get a reasonable range there will be 250 KwH batteries. Think how much power you are going to have to stuff down the wire to charge 20 of those up!



    1. david wilson


      >>"Thank god for an engineer, who understands POWER"

      >>"You wouldn't like to extend that concept would you? How much power would a recharge station take if it had to deal with 20 cars at once? I make it 1.6 Gigawatt !!"

      So you multiply 800kW by 20 and get 1.6GW?

      1. Blain Hamon

        Great Scott!

        Good eye. It'd be 16Mw, an order larger than the wind tunnel. To charge 3 cars, which would be the 2.4Mw, then you'd need to call the CEGB grid switch control.

        More importantly, if you want to charge 1,513 cars, you need 1.21 Gigawatts. And they don't even go back in time when they hit 88MPH.

        Personally, I'm waiting for my car to be powered by Mr. Fusion.

        1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

          The delorean was still run on petrol.

          True story. I know I am being pedantic but Mr. Fusion was only for the time travel bitz. Persumably they had "Range Anxiety"

          But yeah, I would really like Mr. Fusion. Instead of taking out the rubbish we could actually (legally hopefully) burn it. Or... something exotic like Iron Man's portable fusion reactor.

          What is really worrying is people have been working on fusion for a long time.... and the lengths that they have gone to already to try to get it to work (ie bizarre things like NIF).

          Almost like the trouble with leccy cars, but leccy cars actually work for more than brief moments.

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      How many power stations to fast charge 20 eleccies at once


      We just burn more coal, faster! :P

  18. John Robson Silver badge


    "GM feels that "range anxiety" is a major reason why its original EV-1 battery car of the 1990s failed"

    It failed because you refused to sell it to your customers - who (at least a large proportion) wanted to buy them at the end of the lease period.

    1. Robert Sneddon

      Law and the electric car

      The people who wanted to buy the EV-1 cars they were leasing wanted to drive them, not put them in museums. Under US law that would mean GM had a legal obligation to supply spare parts for ten years after they were sold and provide maintenance facilities to keep the cars in safe working order. The cars cost over half a million dollars each as it was (a small production run of very non-standard vehicles) and the ongoing costs of selling the cars would not be met by the money the owners would pay for such services. The experiment produced some data on electric car operation, mostly showing how difficult it was going to be to have EVs in widespread use. Once the experiment was over GM's liability ended when the EV-1s were scrapped which is WHY they were scrapped.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    End of the ICE age

    The trouble with the internal combustion engine is that you lose up to 90% of the potential energy released through burning your fuel as thermal energy conversion. You're basically just running a huge heater with the byproduct of a small amount of remaining energy being used to actually move your car.

    Electric motors on the other hand are massively efficient.

    The railway industry discovered this a long long time ago and rather than simply try to power their trains using diesel, they just use the diesel to spin turbines creating electricity to power the motors giving much greater energy conservation for the job at hand and overall better fuel economy.

    So if battery-powered electric cars aren't the immediate future, and with any form of traditional ICE power being the obvious past, surely diesel-electrics are the most obvious mid-term solution.

    One serious issue with the current trend to hybrids is that you're doubling up weight where you shouldn't need to. When you're running on batteries you're lugging a huge mass of dead weight in the form of the ICE, plus unsprung weight in the form of transmission/driveshafts et al. And vice versa when you're running on the ICE - you're lugging a huge chunk of batteries. Either way this means current hybrids are going to be much less economical in either of their modes than a 'mono-fuel' version of the same model unless a lot of weight is reduced somewhere else in the chassis.

    1. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

      RE: End of the ICE age

      >> Electric motors on the other hand are massively efficient.

      Yes, as long as you conveniently forget the bit about burning fuel (with massive energy losses*) to spin a generator, transport the leccy about, convert it to chemical energy (more losses**), then convert it back to leccy, and finally convert it (as you say, fairly efficiently) back to mechanical power.

      * As you say, IC engines are massively inefficient, turbines a little less inefficient

      ** Charging a battery is far from 100% efficiency

      >> The railway industry discovered this a long long time ago and rather than simply try to power their trains using diesel, they just use the diesel to spin turbines creating electricity to power the motors giving much greater energy conservation for the job at hand and overall better fuel economy.

      Whilst the turbine may well be more efficient, the prime driver for diesel electric was the flexibility. You do away with a great big heavy and expensive gearbox that gives a jerky drive. You do away with complex and maintenance hungry flexible drives from the loco chassis to the bogies, through a gearbox, and then on to the individual axles (with more gearboxes). Instead, one engine direct coupled to a single generator, some easy to arrange flexible cables to the bogies and axles, and a direct drive motor on each axle. Net saving of weight, massive saving in maintenance, and a smoother drive as well. Of course, being able to run the engine at constant speed also makes a turbine more suitable, turbines are notoriously slow at spooling up and Rover demonstrated just how unsuitable they were for road cars many years ago.

      And incidentally, that is a big part of the drive train of a Prious. The 'gearbox' actually has a lot in common with the drive in a diesel electric loco, and a big part of the efficiencies of a Prious are down to running the engine under more efficient conditions for more of the time than you can with a fixed ratio gearbox. Mind you, a lot of that can be achieved by other (simpler) means - eg

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Good stuff

        Excellent info Mr Hobson. So what you're basically saying is, you agree with me ;)

        Like I said - this is only an idea for a stop-gap. But any way we can possibly improve efficiency is a way to prolong the amount of time we have to perfect the successor to the ICE before the current fuel source runs out.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Just one point though...

        >> ** Charging a battery is far from 100% efficiency

        This depends on you initial energy source for producing the electricity. Well, actually the choice of energy source doesn't increase efficiency, but it if you use a completely reliable and renewable source it certainly becomes irrelevant. :)

        So when ICE proponents talk of 'a longer tailpipe' it's a potential strawman.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      I'm going to have to call Shenanigans on this post

      The average internal combustion engine is about 20-30% efficient (2-3 times more efficient than you quote above). This might not sound like much, but fossil fuel power stations are only about 35-50% efficient (depending on what technology they use). Once you have filtered in transmission line losses, power conversion losses, power leakage from batteries, production of multiple battery packs over the life of a car etc., the actual efficiency is somewhat better in an internal combustion engine than in an electric car.

      Now, going on to your argument about the diesel-electric locomotives. There are many reasons that the diesel electric design makes sense for a locomotive. Let me list the most important:

      1) A locomotive is driven by lots of wheels. Connecting all those wheels mechanically to an engine is very difficult. They used to do it with steam engines, and they did it by linking all the drive wheels on one side with a big drive arm. That is ok if you have all your drive wheels on a single bogey, but most trains now need drive wheels on multiple bogeys to get the required speed and acceleration. Also, with the old system when one wheel started to spin, they all would. It is a lot easier to have electric motors in the wheel/axle housing and connect cables via bushes than it is to connect a drive shaft.

      2) Diesel engines operate efficiently (and with the highest torque) at a very narrow rev range. Just think of the number of gear changes that lorry drivers have to go through (often with 20-30 gears on the vehicle). Also with the loads in a locomotive, transmissions would be very difficult to build to take that load and allow gear changes. Maybe you could use an inefficient fluid transmission, but the better solution is to run the diesel engine at an optimal rev range and use it to drive a generator. Have you noticed how when a diesel electric locomotive sets off the engine revs up quite a bit, then the locomotive starts to move a few seconds later, without the revs dropping on the engine. Electric motors have a great feature of high torque across the entire range of speeds - that is why electric cars don't need gearboxes.

      3) You can use the same running assembly for both diesel-electric and purely electric trains.

      Diesel electric cars seem like a good idea, but the idea starts to break down quite quickly. The range of powers that a car has to put out varies a lot more than the range of powers that a train has to put out. A train has a max gradient that is tiny compared to the gradients a car has to deal with. A car is expected to do fast acceleration in order to merge with other motorway traffic or overtake - a train isn't. All this tends to mean that you end up with some storage requirement in a diesel electric car. Currently the best storage we have is batteries. This is the space we need to improve at for either diesel electric, or even pure electric cars to work. I would like to see more hybrid cars where the transmission has been done away with though, there seems to be no good reason to connect the internal combustion engine to the road, when you need it, use it to charge the batteries, and use the batteries to drive electric motors in the wheel. It would be far cheaper and easier to do 4 wheel drive with that set up. And you could easily set the engine up to start trickle charging automatically if the power levels in the batteries drops below, say, 70%; and start hard charging if it drops below, say, 30%; with an override available to the driver.

      You are quite right to point out the poor efficiency of hybrids though. They are fine if you drive them like your Grandmother would drive - 20 miles an hour and insanely slow acceleration. As soon as you push them at all, the efficiency falls through the floor.

  20. RTNavy

    Hazzardous Materials

    With Electric cars, we are missing a SIGNIFICANT point about power sources! Take all automobiles off their petrol, and the ELECTRICITY will come from where? Our electric grids are already overloaded AND mostly powered by COAL! How green is that?

    Not to mention the now VERY toxic materials in the batteries that will be released during a collision and then have to be "properly" disposed of when they do fail.

    How many of you have had any of your UPS's "sealed and maintenance free" batteries fail and leak all over your server room?

    We would be increasing our demand on an overloaded distribution system and trading one toxic mess for another all in the name of "green". Green, of course, refers to the money necessary for the entire system to actually work.

    1. Nick Carter

      Re: Hazzardous Materials

      What is all this crap about "VERY toxic materials in the batteries"? Plutonium? Cyanide? If you're depressed about the prospect of electric cars then get your doctor to prescribe some Lithium pills.

      As for our 'overloaded' electric grids, I suggest we upgrade them.

      And get the electricity from CSP like the Desertec project.

      1. Blain Hamon

        Like drugs are ever dangerous!

        Make sure that when you take your lithium pills, they're highly monitored by the doctor so you don't get an overdose, as the effective level is close to the toxic level. Symptoms include slurred speech, tremors, coma, and kidney failure.

        But you're right. We can just make our electric grids to handle several orders of magnitude more power than normal with no cost or problem!

        1. Nick Carter

          @Blain Hamon

          I like your tongue-in-cheek remark "just make our electric grids to handle several orders of magnitude more power than normal with no cost or problem!".

          Have you (or anyone) calculated how much extra load would be put on a smart grid if we converted all road transport to electric (with extra rail freight lines to replace road freight)? I doubt it would be "several orders of magnitude more".

          Do you think that the present sized grid has always been this size? I was under the impression that it has been expanded over the decades. Yes, it costs money but so does every infrastructue upgrade. It's called investment.


          Keep taking the tablets.

    2. TimeMaster T

      To ponder ...

      A few things to consider;

      A coal burning electric plant is a point source or CO2 and is much easier to regulate and scrub the emissions. It is also easier to upgrade/replace a single big power plant with green tech than a few million cars. By the way, a coal burning plant releases more radioactivity into the atmosphere per month than 3-mile island released in the entire incident, also the coal ash is Hellishly toxic in its own right, and there is A LOT of it.

      The "VERY toxic" materials in batteries are most cases solid/gel, easy to contain and clean up.

      A leaking battery can be contained by a suitable enclosure, even in an impact (petrol tanks that don't leak or explode on impact are a case in point).

      When Electric car batteries fail you treat them just like the wet cell lead/acid battery in your car now, recycle it.

      Point to you, the load on the distribution network might be an issue, remember that a lot of the cars would be charging at night when the load is lower so it may balance out.

  21. blackworx


    Roll on nuclear fusion.

    Then we can all move on to the Next Big Problem™ i.e. how to get rid of Apple.

    To the first commentard who replies thanking me for my razor sharp insight in exposing the fact that this is really a story about Steve Jobs: you're welcome.

    1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

      The solution is in the question

      Nuclear fusion would be an *excellent* way to get rid of Apple.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Big Brother


        Could I propose nuclear FISSION to get rid of apple (and others)?

        Anon because you are not supposed to talk about this unless you are called Sam and have a niece or nephew.

      2. TimeMaster T


        You would have to do it from orbit. Its the only way to be sure.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    GM invents Range Anxiety™ FUD

    Reminds me of Ballmer and his `naked PCs' ...

  23. Dave 15

    Alternative power

    Batteries and electric motors are NOT the answer...

    a) The batteries take too long to charge

    b) They have such limited range they are a joke

    c) They are expensive and not going to get cheaper as the Chinese now own all the materials needed to make them.

    The alternative is steam... scoff ye not...

    a) You do NOT need a fire, just use a steam tank like the fireless locos of old (used to run on railways in places like munitions and flour factories where a fire was dangerous, and ran all day, a few still remain in museums)

    b) You can recharge very quickly at a 'steam hose'

    c) The storage is cheap and simple (a tank!)

    d) The 'motor' is understood and simple (well at least we've made them for a lot of years).

    e) The steam can be provided by many means, and can be 'green'.

    1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

      Chinese economics 101

      Yeah, 'cos the Chinese are *so* well known for driving prices up and introducing scarcity into the market, aren't they?

      Oh, hang on a second, they aren't? Damn, looks like you're wrong.


      1. JohnG

        Chinese and rare earth metals

        "Yeah, 'cos the Chinese are *so* well known for driving prices up and introducing scarcity into the market, aren't they?

        Oh, hang on a second, they aren't? Damn, looks like you're wrong."

        Look for recent news items concerning the Chinese and rare earth metals. You will find the story of how they dumped product on the world market in the 1990s to push other producers out of business. Now they have a monopoly, they are hiking the prices to the rest of the world. The Yanks reckon it will take them 15 years to rebuild their rare earth mining businesses, during which time the Chinese can charge what they like or use scarcity to drive manufacturing competitors out of business.

        The Japanese spotted the potential problem and have been stockpiling rare earth metals for some time.

        So, the other bloke was not wrong.

  24. Arnie

    who killed the electric car?

    must see doco.

    However it claims that GM recalled all the electric cars and had em sitting out in the desert, even though the customers were happy.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    the Volt works for "the rest of us"-the Tesla is "let them eat cake"

    for millions of people who live in apartments where there's no charging outlet, or are forced to use on-street parking because the section 8 family who needs three cars for two drivers has used up all the covered public parking, or can't trust some "desperate soul" won't steal the cord at night, a Volt type system makes the most sense with onboard charging capability.

    It also means, on cold morning when the Tesla's battery would be flat (except those rich folk with the dedicated heated garage who then fire up the Escalade when the weather's bad) a Volt simply needs to stay on fuel until the battery warms up and charges.

    It's the closest thing to a "real car" where one doesn't need to own multiple vehicles among the two competitors. Also shows another reason why the Prius is so successful.

    Tho the Volt may not be quite enough. I understand the risks of a completely new model of vehicle, requiring an almost completely new parts bin in the supply chain, as well as all the training to be invested for the mechanics... but with government backing mitigating the risk, they should've licensed the VW diesel technology for running the genset.

    If the VW diesel pulls 60mpg at varying RPMs and start-stop usage, imagine how well a constant-speed variant running an EV drivetrain would have done. :)

    Flames because those who have the scratch and arrogance to buy into the Tesla lifestyle will never admit that their Emperor is naked and acknowledge a mistake.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Forget quick charge electric

    As numerous posters have already mentioned, its just not going to fly. Your average service station currently has about 12 pumps, and during commute hours its not uncommon to see 10-12 of those going at once.

    10 electric "pumps" going at once would draw 7 or 8 MW of load to rapidly charge the cars--thats nuts! Your average service station would have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get their own infrastructure in place to accomodate that much intermittent load. The utility would have to spend a million $ or more to put in at least a 50 KV circuit just to distribute to the service station.

    At the system level, rush hour refueling would spike system demand so that the generation and transmission systems would have to be significantly altered to accomodate the load from all the cars recharging.

    As for changing batteries, these batteries weigh several hundred pounds. You aren't going to zip that in and out of a car in a few minutes, and again, you would need a surfeit of expensive spare batteries to deal with the commute hour rushes and weekends in out of town tourist destinations. People aren't going to pull into their service station and be told that they have to wait half an hour until the battery that somebody just dropped off is fully charged and can be swapped into the second person's car.

    We have to have a system where you can charge these cars overnight in home garages or during the day in workplace carparks.

    Then you need an internal combustion/diesel/fuel cell vehicle for longer-range trips.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Leccy cars...

    "The railway industry discovered this a long long time ago and rather than simply try to power their trains using diesel, they just use the diesel to spin turbines creating electricity to power the motors giving much greater energy conservation for the job at hand and overall better fuel economy."

    I won´t even begin to describe on how flawed that concept is. The only reason trains (locomotives, it is) use diesel engines attached to a electric generator is because there is no friction-based clutch capable of transferring 6.000 HP or more (at a low RPM, huge torque) to a stationary axle, with that kind of load (5 miles of wagons is enough?).

    Don't compare to drag racing, where it is transferred during *ONLY* 30 seconds and the car doesn´t weigh 80 metric TONS!. Could you do that 24/7?. The electric drive covers that easily.

    Anything based on thermodynamic energy release is by definition inefficient (30% tops, on a good day, in rankine cycle). But, since diesel has huge amounts of energy in a small package, the net result is rewarding. The rest is fine though: Brayton cycle turbine (like the Abrams tank) or 2-stroke diesels can do. 2-stroke diesels are a whole other beast than 2-stroke gasolines, they are rather clean, since the piston travels such a large course, the valve timing allows better compression and scavenging, pretty much like Otto 4-strokes. I've never seen a locomotive using brayton cycle turbines, burning Diesel (or pretty much anything fluid enough)

    Your daily commuter subway, on the other hand, is viable because it has one (electric) engine on every car of the composition (maybe two), attached to a minimum 750V third rail.

    Those with aerial pickup tend to use 3000V or even 15kV or even yet 25kV, so the currents will be acceptable (and nobody is likely to trip and fall on it, not to mention water insulation). These trains, on 3000V, suck 700 Amps easily on each station departure. The power grid substation to power those beasts are held exclusively by the rail company, because their loads are totally irregular and the equipment is heavily loaded (abused) on daily use. Locomotives can't use electric feeding straight from the grid, because the amount of power even for a single one is HUGE. There were some projects in that direction, but they required substantial investment in the grid supply. It was envisioned to be used when inside urban areas, where the locomotives would deactivate the diesel source (and pollute ZERO) and extend a pickup to use the grid instead, to power the generator. When leaving the grid, it would power up the Diesel and travel over areas where grid power supply would be unfeasible or costly.

    On other subject: don't mention laptops and standards on the same sentence. Try to replace a Panasonic Cd-rom on a Sony Vaio (oldish) and see what I mean :) With any luck, it will work without the cover (or keyboard, or screen). Cell phones follow no standards too. The full-USB is becoming a make-shift standard, since most modern cell-phone can steal some current from the PC using USB cables (using their own cables, but the plug is the full USB on the other end.)

    Once standard connectors (and therefore voltages) are enforced or agreed on, the rest is easy. Old batteries should be maintained (by whom?) or should you have 2 sets of batteries? Keep one charging at home, while using the other?

    1. Daniel B.


      Aren't the ICE and TGV trains running on full leccy engines all the way? There are quite a bunch of those doing 300+ km distances on those. The power requirements would probably go down if you factor in the MagLevs like Transrapid, where the linear motor is more energy-efficient than the mechanical one.

      Of course, this model works on trains, but it doesn't work with EVs because they can't be currently plugged in to a catenary or third rail like the regular trains do. Cars thus require to haul with big-ass batteries that take a lot of time to recharge. Flow batteries, maybe?

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Fuelish humans!

    Obsessing on your four-wheeled trinkets. Rocking furiously on your showroom hobby-horses. Clamoring to stay ahead of that fool in the other lane, your neighbour, the rest of your cohort, your social circle, the public at large... Pathetic!

    There is no such thing as a free energy drink. Anywhere. The cost of your fueled vehicle is not the sticker price. It's not the fill-up cost. It's not the anxiety charge (ahem!), if applicable. It's the cost of (jerkily transforming) the entire infrastructure - which has been changed, and will have to be changed again, globally, to accommodate the vanity of the wealthy and/or egotistical and/or ecologically-misguided, self-important few who are too dense to realise that the answer to the whole pin-wheeling galaxy of concerns and questions turning on the axis of energy and transportation is already to hand, and requires for its operation only a tiny part of the fuel humans consume/produce daily: the bicycle. Get on it.

    1. Rex Alfie Lee

      Jerkily Transforming...

      A bicycle doesn't cut it for many mate & as for your jerkily transforming comment how do you propose upsetting the controlling oil magnates position when they have been defiant for so long. These things take time & will ensue. Of course it's difficult, that is the nature of major change but it will come to a point where it becomes viable & the world needs this change. Initially it won't change our power usage but ultimately it will.

      Stop being the Missionary of Nihilism & see the benefits this will have in the end.

  29. wake up inbreds

    do a little research before posting nonsense

    There are a lot of dumb people posting here.

    1) Oil refineries use electricity to refine, well oil. What a concept. It doesn't take a phd to figure that out.

    2) The Tesla roadster will get the advertised 244 mpc, if you charge in range mode. If you are too stupid how to figure out to charge in range mode before taking it out on a trip close to 200 miles, guess who is to blame?

    3)Hydrogen cars? What a joke. Not only does it take electricity to produce hydrogen, it is wayyyy more flammable than gasoline. If it does catch on fire, you cant see the flame. That's why firefighters were trained to wave broomsticks in front of them in a suspected hydrogen fire. If you are too stupid to even learn this, well you will burn in an event your hydrogen car catches on fire(if you don't die in the explosion)No thanks

    4) Has it ever occured to some of you EV bashers that the reason you don't have the money to buy an EV now is because "not all stupid people are poor, but all poor people are stupid"?

    Have a good day.

    PS do a little research before posting

    1. Rex Alfie Lee
      Thumb Down

      All poor people are stupid...

      What about everyone in say a starving country? What about those brought up without? Your comment comes from ignorance & being a complete wanker.

    2. M Gale

      Ever tried to pierce a compressed gas canister? You might need DU cannon rounds...

      "3)Hydrogen cars? What a joke. Not only does it take electricity to produce hydrogen, it is wayyyy more flammable than gasoline. If it does catch on fire, you cant see the flame. That's why firefighters were trained to wave broomsticks in front of them in a suspected hydrogen fire. If you are too stupid to even learn this, well you will burn in an event your hydrogen car catches on fire(if you don't die in the explosion)No thanks"

      Hang on, what? So you have a choice, in the event of a tank breach, of dying by hydrogen flame or dying by petroleum BLEVE. Well, what a choice that is.

      Do you know how armoured the average compressed gas canister is? How about "enough that you can slam into a brick wall fast enough to reduce yourself to a stain on the crumpled bodywork"? By then I don't think the manner of your conflagration is going to matter.

      Yes, hydrogen requires electricity to produce by electrolysis. It can also be produced anywhere, say in sunny countries where solar is feasible. Or by a nuclear power source. Petrol, on the other hand, can only feasibly be produced by the fractional distillation of rock juice. There are other ways of making usable liquid fuel, such as methanol, however they also tend to use boatloads of electricity. By the way, methanol also burns with a near-invisible flame (I've nearly burned myself playing about with the stuff on a nice summer day), so you're about as fucked with that as you are hydrogen. What I would suggest for both types of fire is "if it feels all burny hot, get away from it quickly".

      Hydrogen and fuel cells are probably about the best way you're going to get kilowatts of instant-on 'leccy into your car in an easily rechargable form. At least, until someone invents batteries that have the charge cycle of a capacitor, and all fuelling stations have their own miniature power stations (possibly powered by a gas pipeline) to deal with the demand.

  30. Chris Walton

    EV's are a pink elephant

    there are so many problems with electric vehicles - limited range, slow recharge times, heavy batteries which lose there capacity and so on.

    And don't worry about fossil fuels running out because you can make petrol out of fresh air and sunshine

    1. Rex Alfie Lee

      Even with the batteries...

      ...the oh so heavy batteries, an electric car is still less than the weight of an petrol-driven car. Things are never perfect when you first begin a massive change in habits but those changes develop over time & things get better as it's being used. How many petrol supply stations were there when cars originally came out? How long did an original car last, I bet it wasn't that long before there were problems with fuel getting through, overheating issues which continued until...oh I don't know...NOW. There are still ongoing concerns with the cars we drive today it's just at the moment you're ignoring them & blaming the EV.

      Wake up & see the future...

  31. TeslaMotors

    Tesla's point of view

    Re: The Car & Driver piece, here's Tesla's side of the story.

  32. Doug 3

    EV1, really GM, you pulled out the EV1 card?

    "GM feels that "range anxiety" is a major reason why its original EV-1 battery car of the 1990s failed"

    are you talking about the 100% electric car you built and refused to sell in the late '90s and early '00s? The came EV1 which was using NiMH batteries and got 126 miles per charge? And was that the same NiMH battery technology which GM purchased a 51% stake in the patent from Ovonics and then turned around and sold said patent to one of the big 3 US oil companies( Texaco IIRC ).

    Really GM, do you want to bring up the EV1 and tie it to your Volt in any which way? I don't think you really want to go there.

    The beer because GM must be high on something to want to talk about the EV1.

  33. eleventeen

    ha ha

    ""GM feels that "range anxiety" is a major reason why its original EV-1 battery car of the 1990s failed"",,,,that is so funny. The car didn't fail GM failed the car. Don't be stupid, be cynical about anything/ everything that company says. period.

  34. AndrueC Silver badge

    The answer

    As suggested by a couple of posters is to tackle the root problem. Specifically "Why the hell do I have to drive 12 miles to and from a remote location every day to sit at a desk and use a computer?"

    In my case it's doubly stupid because I'm effectively outsourced (I work for an American software developer but am based in the UK). I actually leave a house with a dedicated study and 14Mb/s internet connection to sit in a converted barn with an unstable 3Mb/s connection.

    I'm pretty sure that a lot of workers (probably the majority) in the developed world could do their job perfectly well from home or from a more local office that is rented for them. We have town centres dying because people prefer out of town shopping so why not convert the empty buildings into rentable office space. If everyone lived within fifteen minutes walk of their office perhaps we could reverse the obesity epidemic.

    Oink, oink. Flap, flap.

  35. Mips
    Jobs Halo

    Why would anyone...

    .. want to use an electric vehicle for a long journey?

    If you want a long journey or to tow a trailer get a fuel burner. You just need room for both in the garage.

  36. Doug 3

    volt wikipedia page compares Li-On battery to Pba instead of NiMH

    ya gotta love how they talk about comparing the Li-On battery with 16.5kWh of energy with the 1310 lbs lead acid( Pba ) battery originally used in the EV1. I bring this up because in late 1999, GM upgraded many EV1's with a new NiMH battery with 26.4kWh of capacity and weighed 300lb less at around 1030 lbs. So the Volt battery is around 400 lbs at 16.5 kWh with 62% of the capacity of the EV1 NiMH battery. 400 lbs represents about 40% of the 1030 lbs NiMH battery so there is an advantage in weight and capacity with Li-On but at what cost? We can't tell that because we can't compare the pricing of the EV1 NiMH battery because it is illegal to make them with such high power, just ask Toyota and Panasonic. They got sued for building the AH-95 high power NiMH battery modules for the Toyota Rav4 EV.

    Still, gotta love how GM, or whom ever is editing Volt on wikipedia, uses the worst case battery pack to try and show how good the Volts Li-On pack is. You'll notice how good it is in the price tag of the vehicle. ouch!

  37. xj25vm

    Thank you Lewis for another heavily biased article

    So much for journalistic standards. Or lack of.

    I guess it is impossible to juts present the facts and stay objective. The temptation to smear left right and centre at what you don't agree with is far too great.

    "GM feels that "range anxiety" is a major reason why its original EV-1 battery car of the 1990s failed."

    No kidding? EV-1 failed? Or has it been pulled off the market because California watered down it's zero emission requirements - and GM couldn't be arsed? Or somebody received some kickbacks from who knows which corner? Whatever the reason, the EV-1 didn't fail - you can't call it failure when the people it was leased to were begging to keep the cars. That's just a way of avoiding the fact that, for whatever reason, they have taken a moronic decision at the time - and now, 15 years later - can't even produce a car as good as their own EV-1. But they do have enough money to invest in useless PR stories. Nothing changed then.

    "and manufacturers can't publicise the worst-case (or even perhaps the likely-case) figures. If they did, nobody would ever buy their products."

    Typical example of pulling a statement out of your backside - then passing it on as some sort of hard fact. Says who? Based on what? Well, don't let the facts get in the way of a good story.

    "This devastating account by a Car & Driver journo of his recent failed attempt to make a round trip of 181 miles by Roadster (rated range 244 miles) shows that "range anxiety" is definitely a big deal for a prospective battery car purchaser, ..."

    'Devastating'? Did anybody die? Has anybody lost a limb? Has there even been any damage to the car? Hmm - not that I can find in that article. Gratuitous use of adjectives. Another ticked box. You are certainly qualified to write. But not for an IT or technical publication. Or any serious journalistic publication. More likely for a soap opera. Your skills will be valued there.

    I can't even be bothered to dispute the facts of the article (are there any?) or the fact that GM know they have a crappy product and are slinging mud at (what they perceive to be) their competition. Or that fact that the idiot in the linked article doesn't understand that Tesla is a different product then a regular car - and should have made sure he was happy with his purchase before dishing out 130 grand for it. I will merely try my very best to forget that I have even wasted my time reading such a low grade, biased, undocumented, unprofessional, subjective piece of writing.

  38. Sameer

    My grin is real

    You should actually drive one of Tesla's roadsters before writing articles like this. They are beyond belief, no need to plaster an imaginary grin on anybody.

    I wish GM well with their Volt, but I think The Register missed the point by miles (definitely more than a hop over the pond). It is GM that is on the defensive here. Their Volt is not going to get HOV access stickers (even the current Prius does that), because they couldn't even put enough thought into the engineering process to make sure that they designed it without evaporative emissions. Think about how absurd that is for just a minute. Then let it slowly sink in that GM's range extended EV pollutes more than a hybrid Prius even when it's just sitting in the driveway. What kind of moron would come to market with a product like that?

    GM was hoping to get HOV access anyway, but it's not going their way in California, the US state that by legislative quirk, get's to dictate a higher standard for emissions in the US than the national government. GM is the one with the anxiety, hence the attack. They may not have range anxiety, but they have a much scarier one called, "nobody's going to spend extra cash for my fatally maimed high tech car" anxiety. Tesla is still miles ahead of them ... and laughing.

  39. mmiied


    to all thouse pepol dismissing the volt/ampper (I hope I got that right) what exactley do you not like about it as far as I can see it is the perfect mid turm solution at least for my needs and I can see for a lot of others

    1. it will do 95% of my travle (<30 miles) on battry power but will still allow me to do longer jorunies (300+miles) id I need to so I do not have to own 2 cars

    2. if I ever for get to plug it in at night it will still work on the petrol genrator

    3. it seames a more effectent way of doing a hybrid you only need 1 drive gearbox etc

    4. if we get better battry tech of some sort of new gen tech it can be easley changed in desine

    apart form the price I can realy see no problem with it and price is a issue with any car I want

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Long train comin...

    I envisage a beautiful time on the next planet we inhabit where instead of the M1, M6 etc we Have large capacity freight/ car trains ala euro star which take our fancy but limited range leccy cars on long journeys. Stops would work like motorway exits and we still get our town runabout with all our luggage stuffed into it. I've done a fair bit of motorway driving, sometimes fast sometimes slow but we're all going the same way between zero and $legal_number miles an hour. We could all be sitting on the back of some great train beast at twice that speed watching our in-car dvd of who killed the electric car/ An Inconvenient truth double bill.

    Short electric range? solved

    long journey tiredness road deaths? reduced a bit

    Using the best of our mass transit and personal independent solutions? Not priceless but about 50 years to make.

    We are so doomed.

    1. Ru

      Re: Long train comin...

      Used to have motorail services in this country a few years back. All got stopped as part of the larger 'lets get rid of rail because the road freight lobby is so strong'. I doubt they will ever come back for the same reason. Seems like the future is heading towards bus, bike and truck for most people and things as the cost of car ownership and use will rise ever higher.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    It's not a conspiracy, or is it?

    I have always wondered why a EV-1 from 10 years ago, with 10-year old crappy battery tech, and 10-year old control tech beats about all the electric car offerings from ALL the manufacturers.

    The reason you won't see the Big 3 or any other large car manufacturer selling a true electric car is simple, servicing costs. There are no spark-plugs, oil changes, clutch replacements, bearing replacements, belts, lifters, rods, u-joints, or any other of the hundreds of things that complicate a ICE car to go wrong and need replacing on an electric car. The VOLT and other hybrids are a wet dream to car companies, twice the complexity equals twice the number of things that need repairing.

    Also the 3-billion dollar a year PROFITS from each oil company could never cause them to spread crap statistics or buy up any competing tech and keep it locked away, or try to influence laws. Oil companies are owned by wonderful people that care nothing for money, they always work in the best interest to their fellow man, right?

    Hydrogen is the carrot on the end of the stick that the oil companies are holding in front of our heads, it will always be out of reach, it takes too much energy to make, it can't be compressed easily and there will never be enough service stations. But we sure do hear lots of great things about it all the time don't we? Plus, it's still an ICE. 1kw to make 700w worth of hydrogen, to get 70w of usable energy to the tires, sounds like a great idea? I don't think so.

    The power grid cannot support all these EVs, bla bla bla, so what? Of course it can't, there are lots of reasons we need to update our electric grids, EVs are only one of them. Trees, drunk drivers, lightning, and A/C units can all take out a whole country's power grid, and people think there is nothing wrong with that? They need a good upgrade anyway.

    Coal is dirty, bla bla bla. Yep, but it's in one place (ok not one place, but it's less then millions right?), and it's a lot easier to clean up a few sources than it is to fix millions of little sources.

    Batteries are made with radioactive spider venom, bad for the environment and will kill us all if thrown in a river, bla, bla... So recycle them, it's not like batteries are breaking into houses at night and shiving the elderly, plus the metal in them is expensive, why would we not recycle them? Stoopid argument.

    There is plenty of oil, bla bla bla.. Great, but lets agree at the very least that it's finite, and most of it is hard to get to, or in countries I would rather not be giving billions of dollars to, or in places where accidents can be hard to fix and cause an environmental disaster. It's way past time to ween ourselves off it.

    Bio-diesel is swell, bla bla bla.. Unless you live in a country that lives off corn, then your food prices triple, and you all die. Great!

    There are so many possibilities with solar, wind, tidal energy sources. They will only get better, and we will only make them better when the need arrives, but the need will never arrive if we don't start trying to build and drive fully electric cars. The Tesla cars are not perfect, but it's a start, and everything has to start somewhere. 90% of people would be just fine on a daily basis with a Tesla car, and if they ever sell a little "gas powered travel trailer generator" to tow behind it, we could use it for that other 1% of the time, on vacation.

  42. Max Lange
    Big Brother

    Hotel to charge? Not here!

    It might be prototype technology, but one of the entering criteria for this year's round-the world zero-emission race - - was that participants needed to recharge to 80% over lunch break at a regular gas station, and be able to travel 200km with that. It takes some effort - you have to find a suitable high-current fuse, or combine several outlets - but it works. And since modern batteries work perfectly well with a partial charge, that's a practical way to go. Of course, these cars use less power for driving than your typical car, but at least it shows one of the ways to go.

    If you can drive from Geneva to Shanghai using only regular outlets to charge, sure it won't be long before you can go from Detroit to your cabin on the shore of lake Michigan and back!

  43. John Savard

    Typical Electricity

    If global warming were taken seriously, we would be making plans to stop using fossil fuels to generate electricity. Then, fully electric cars would emit no carbon.

    As for range, that can be solved by no longer charging for electricity, and putting a plug at each parking space. We don't have time to wait for a technical solution, we need to stop putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere now (except, of course, for the necessary minimum caused by our breathing).

  44. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    @Geoff Campbell, what you said made no sense. This is not some pre-production prototype, or a proof of concept, it's a car that Tesla themselves is marketing as a direct replacement for a regular car (except avoiding the inconvenience of gassing it up). If it can't stand on it's own two feet in that regards, that's just too bad.

    Regarding EV-1, it was a failure. There were high profile cases of some celebrities wanting to buy them (and I really don't know why GM didn't sell them to them), but the fact of the matter was the lease was very very expensive, it was a loss to GM at the price they were charging, and although they generated a lot of buzz they were not that popular. And regrading the use of NiMH batteries, the EV1 was made almost 20 years ago, lithium ion batteries were not as mature as now and cost a fortune.

    I'm fine with electric cars, if they can be made to work. As a city car I think they are fine, but they just aren't workable for road trips right now. And, as several people have pointed out, I have my doubts, period, as it is because the power grid just couldn't handle that huge an increase in power usage. I know about peak oil, but worrying aobut it doesn't effect the fact that using entirely electric cars is unworkable. Hopefully a solution will be come up with, but maybe it won't and it'll take weeks to get from, say, Chicago to New York like it used to.. who knows?

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't think we should do it for Global Warming or even for The Environment

    If pandering to popular memes leads to "green" devices (cars, houses, ...) that when looked at from a suitable objective distance are in fact more polluting and less efficient than what we have already just to enjoy the aura of greenness or some subsidy trough or other, then politicians, engineers, even marketeers and ultimately consumers, all are doing something horribly wrong.

    We should push ahead the technology, up the efficiency, perhaps reap some "greenness" where we can, mostly because we _need_ to improve our technology at a steady pace or we fall by the wayside. Our population pressure is one reason. Another is that our ever improving technology is showing the masses of have-nots things they want too, and they're slowly gaining the means to join in. But our current state of the art simply doesn't scale that big. So we need to keep on moving forward. That's the price of living at, on a global scale, the cutting edge of creature comforts. So now those at the bleeding edge must figure out how to do the same thing for a small fraction of the energy cost. In all areas, not just automotive.

    In that respect, the best american policy possible right now is not to subsidise anything, but to simply add a large uniform tax on all forms of energy. The market will howl but assuming the inevitable massive lobbying corruption can be kept at bay, hte market will eventually sort itself out. For they simply currently use too much power for the entire world to sustain in the long run. And while europe might follow, this is something america must take up soonest for they are the largest energy users and therefore de facto must take the responsibility to lead.

    As to 'leccy, as soon as wireless power, even just as induction loops under roads, turns out feasible, we'll see more of that. Perhaps as a nice match for autonomous taxicab systems to cart you around the city. That, too, would require political backing and genuine vision to pull off. Perhaps a city or two in latin america or china will look into it first. It'll be a while off yet, though.

  46. de704
    Thumb Down

    Those who hate the future are destined to fail.

    I don't understand how this writer could be sucking Government Motors dick so hard.

    Tesla is on the CORRECT path.

    Oil = Death.

    Save the EV, Save the World.

  47. de704

    The truth...

    GM & the oil companies are afraid of Tesla Motors. Their afraid that every thing that Tesla does shoes the world how crappy their cars are.

    1. Will Leamon


      That's the price of a Tesla Roadster and I hear the S is going to be something like 50K. So that's going to rule out most of the world then.

      Let's face it you should just add cars with smokes, booze, fatty foods and coffee on the list of things only really, really rich wankers get to have. All in the name of saving the world.

  48. Keith T
    Gates Horns

    So basically these things plug into a standard North American clothes dryer plug?

    So basically these electric cars will charge in a 3 minutes if plugged into a standard North American electric clothes dryer socket (30A 220V)?

    Is that right?

    That means refuelling installations will cost a few hundred dollars to build, versus a few hundred thousand dollars for gas/petrol stations.

    Gas stations will become obsolete as convenience stores, motels, office buildings, etc. put in coin-operated refuelling points. Even with just a few customers a day, they'd recoup their investment in a year.

    1. Rex Alfie Lee

      30 Amps, WTF...

      Do your dryers really use that much power? Here in Oz that would blow every fusebox in every household. We use 16 Amps at 240 Volts. That's a lot of power for the little heater that spins...

    2. Chemist

      @ Keith T

      Are you joking ?

      30 amps * 220 volts is 6.6kW so in 3 mins. you'll get (at 100% efficiency) ~0.33kWHrs. That's not going to get you very far as from what others have said it's less than 1% of a Tesla's battery capacity

      (BTW do American systems include 220V - thought it was all 120V )

  49. Martin Usher

    Its real

    I know someone's who's been lent a Tesla to use. Its an interesting car, a piece of very advanced technology that excels at smoking traditional sports cars (and rapidly wearing down its rear tires in the process). Its quiet, small and rather nice. But the battery life thing is a problem. One of the most prominent displays is the screen that gives you the estimated range which, when I looked over this car said "151 miles" (about 85%). That's OK for a commute but its not going to get you anywhere in California. Charging is also very well done but if you use the small cable shown in the picture you're going to have to wait maybe 12 hours -- you need a high current 220v outlet to charge in less than an hour.

    The Volt appears to have all the right ingredients -- it looks like a winner. Its electric for day to day, fuel powered for longer trips. I daresay that over time the motor/generator will be replaced by a fuel cell but for now the mechanical system will work fine.

    The Tesla's got one other drawback. Its made from a lot of custom carbon fiber parts -- even a minor crash is going to be rather expensive to deal with.

    1. Rex Alfie Lee

      Carbon-Fibre doesn't help me go... to the loo

      Sorry but had to make that silly statement. If all cars were made using carbon-fibre then the cost of making it would decrease because of the focus on using it. New ways are always found to reduce the costs of producing expensive products when they are needed or they find a new product to replace it. Things always evolve.

  50. Rex Alfie Lee


    Horses have limits as well. If you abuse those limits horses die.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    Forget batteries, give me protable nuclear

    Why are they wating time with developing better batteries. Give up already. Get R&D working on protable nuclear generators and never worry about running out of power.

  52. Giles Jones Gold badge


    Surely carrying half a ton of combustion engine around isn't going to help the range of the Volt?

    Replace the space with more batteries and you'll get more range.

  53. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    The main issue is fuel *independence*

    If you're driving a long stretch and don't know if you'll see a petrol station in time (translated as "you don't have a map, GPS or similar on you) you can always sling a 10 liter can of fuel in the back which buys you another 70 to 160 km or so, depending on what car you drive and in which style(*).

    I cannot see *ANY* backup or range extending measure for an electric car. Worse, if you then run out you cannot buy a bag of batteries a few miles further and put it in the car, whereas you can do this with combustible fuel. What is roadside assistance going to do other than tow you off? Would they now have to carry a serious mother of a generator to recharge people?

    Electric is cute, but the energy density and portability of combustible liquid fuel makes that a lot more practical. If they got anywhere with hydrogen I'd see more of a future as I could see that be supplied in some kind of cartridge format. And for those who state it's "new" - just how long have you had electric milk carts in the UK? :-)

    (*) Just to annoy the greens out there, in my experience you wouldn't last 20 km in any modern V8 at top speed (Audi (R)S4, AMG Mercedes E50 etc). Naturally, you'd be a bit daft doing that if you're running short of fuel :-)

  54. TonyHoyle

    @Keith T

    "So basically these electric cars will charge in a 3 minutes if plugged into a standard North American electric clothes dryer socket (30A 220V)?"

    No. See earlier in the thread why this is unrealistic - and always will be, due to pesky laws of physics.

    They're talking about 3 minutes connected to industrial power supplies - assuming you can pull that much power off the grid, and the heat problems don't cause a fire.

  55. Catroast

    In other news...

    GM sucked so bad they had to be Socialized. /shrug

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Throwing stones in a glass house

    GM has "solvency anxiety" and "pension anxiety" meanwhile Tesla slogged through tough times starting up. Now the only thing GM can do is attack others. What GM ought to have is "accountability anxiety"

  57. JohnG

    Horses for courses

    Electric cars available at present are suited to a limited market, mostly because of their limited range. I know a few people who use electric cars, all of them from different manufacturers. In all cases, they use them for a commute to work of known fixed distance, park them in the underground car park (and charge them from regular 220V power sockets at the company's expense). They also use them for their weekly shop, where the distance is again, known and limited. They all have somewhere to park and charge their cars overnight.

    Another point to consider about electric vehicles is what happens in winter time. De-icing or demisting windows and keeping the interior at any kind of sensible temperature usually means burning something to generate enough heat.

  58. Anonymous Coward

    Car sharing in the Netherlands

    I have been subscribing to a car sharing plan (Greenwheels, other car sharing schemes are available) in the Netherlands for over 10 years. It's great if you live in an urban area with very limited parking spaces. We use a car for about 2 trips a week and this works out a lot cheaper than owning a car.

    There's a choice between Peugeot 107 or 207 SW (at a premium). Every car has its dedicated parking spot.

    Later this year Greenwheels will start with electric Peugeot iOns in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, with chargers at the dedicated parking spots.

    There are spots all over the Netherlands, most of them near railway stations. So you can travel to another part of the country by train and pick up a car at the station if you have to go a place that can't easliy be reached by public transport.

  59. Andy Watt

    Ummmm. yeah, OK, electric cars. And everything else...?

    I've seen some electric trucks (up to about 3.5t I think) which had delivery ranges available. Fair enough.

    But what about container shipping? Aircraft? And all the other stuff which keeps the human capital-generation machinery afloat? We're not suddently going to eat internet pages y'know.

    If human enterprise has to shrink massively because we don't have the capacity to move goods and provide services anymore, then will we need that many cars?

    I can see a bizarre future where we're working with computers but living near where we work, and either walking, cycling or riding horses there. Food will be seasonal and local again (no more crap strawberries in winter).

    And there will be a damn sight less people. Especially if we spent a few decades turning vital land over to trying to keep petrol and diesel engines running.

    So all this toss about electric cars and how we continue to justify our own existence in terms of bigger/better/faster/more is exactly that. When the oil runs out we'll have a lot more to contemplate than how to keep jeremy f***ing clarkson amused.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many electric charge points in NYC? In Berlin? Why the difference?

    I don't know how many public electric car charge points there are in NYC but I'd guess it's near zero.

    So let's try a different city with fewer Yanks and more brains.

    Berlin has five hundred electric car charging points (cheers RWE).

    If you want to drive around Berlin, you're all set. Want to drive further afield, either use the other car, or wait a year or three.

    Wrt electric vans: LDV in Birmingham had a Lithium-Ion electric version of their Maxus van (think Transit size). Their Russion oligarch owner wanted the cash from selling the business there and then and wouldn't fund ongoing development. Lord "Two Resignations" Mandelson wouldn't lend them a few million for a few weeks. There is now no longer an LDV, never mind an electric LDV Maxus.

    Twenty years ago, also in Birmingham, Lucas had an electric Bedford CF (also Transit class). They even gave one to Prince Philip and it's now at one of the motor museums (Gaydon).

    Technology is only part of the issue.

    If you wait till there's 100% infrastructure everywhere, as Lewis wants us to do, we're all dead anyway.

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