# Electric vehicles to pay for detroit bailout?

by mgb_phys
Tags: bailout, detroit, electric, vehicles
P: 1,070
 Quote by russ_watters What I see implies to me that the Volt is an improperly conceived attempt to bridge two markets that should be kept separate. They should be making a low-end (say, $16k) two-door plug-in hybrid (or even pure electric) that falls into the same class as the Civic, Mazda3, etc. That's the kind of car that a plug-in hybrid should be. A commuter car. A general-purpose, full-sized family car/luxury sedan doesn't get anywhere near as much benefit from being a plug-in because it will be driven further and the extra cost of such components on a full-sized car just amplifies the problem. i think you're on the right track. what we need is something akin to the original toyota corolla, stripped down, stick shift, rubber mat on a metal floor and no maze of contraptions under the hood. something approaching a street-legal golf cart to serve the grocery-getter functions. but this is the same thing that will give GM a coronary. they want as many doo-dads and whatchamacallits as possible to drive up the sticker price. i honestly think that's all they care about. a big engine and vehicle is just a means to an end. PF Gold P: 3,021  Quote by russ_watters What I see implies to me that the Volt is an improperly conceived attempt to bridge two markets that should be kept separate. They should be making a low-end (say,$16k) two-door plug-in hybrid (or even pure electric) that falls into the same class as the Civic, Mazda3, etc. That's the kind of car that a plug-in hybrid should be. A commuter car. A general-purpose, full-sized family car/luxury sedan doesn't get anywhere near as much benefit from being a plug-in because it will be driven further and the extra cost of such components on a full-sized car just amplifies the problem.
I agree. However, there are some valid considerations likely pushing the Volt design into its current class. The Volt batteries alone will probably be $10-12k of the cost of the five-door Volt as of the 2010 release date. Yes downsizing to a two-door would also shrink the battery size/cost some, but not as linear percentage of the cost of the car. That is, it would be harder to hide the battery cost in a two-door for the moment, and in that car class cost really is everything with tight profit margins. One might then claim that the battery technology is not quite there yet, but the cost has been coming down significantly with innovation. Similarly, when Toyota first came out with its non plug-in hybrid it sold at a loss, but Toyota captured market share in the interim, the Prius is profitable now, and Toyota gained 'green' and technical prestige in the public eye. I speculate GM feels it has to make a play now to risk losing that position forever, rather than wait another five years for batter tech. to come in range. P: 343  Quote by russ_watters What I see implies to me that the Volt is an improperly conceived attempt to bridge two markets that should be kept separate. They should be making a low-end (say,$16k) two-door plug-in hybrid (or even pure electric) that falls into the same class as the Civic, Mazda3, etc. That's the kind of car that a plug-in hybrid should be. A commuter car. A general-purpose, full-sized family car/luxury sedan doesn't get anywhere near as much benefit from being a plug-in because it will be driven further and the extra cost of such components on a full-sized car just amplifies the problem.
I like this idea. Currently I don't need to drive anywhere really far. If it can last me two hours, I can get to school and back without worrying. But I take the bus to school normally, so it's a 10 minute drive to the park & ride. Or 10 minute ride to get groceries, go to the bank, etc. I don't need something that has a lot of energy capacity or physical storage space. I don't have a family to drive around.
 P: 201 China beat detroit to the punch Detroit doesn't deserve a bailout and here's why: In the 1990's, the Clinton administration had a program called the "Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles", which was a partnership between the Federal government and the automakers to develop hybrid cars and fuel cells. The automakers didn't want to do it, since they were convinced they couldn't make any money off of these cars and, for the most part, invested most of their resources into making large, wasteful SUVs and pickup tricks. They effectively dragged their feet through the program, took 8 years and who knows how many millions of dollars of taxpayer money (effectively just waiting out the administration), and as soon as Bush got elected they just threw it all in the garbage and walked away. They had their shot. They should crash and burn for it.
 P: n/a To answer the fundamental question that the NY Times rant poses: Yes, absolutely, the federal government should provide low-interest loans to Tesla (and other R&D-focused automakers that have already demonstrated a commitment to building fuel-efficient vehicles) to encourage and hasten the time to market of a sophisticated all-electric, zero-emission powertrain for affordable, family cars. If this isn't in the public interest, what is? Just to set the record straight with the good folks in at Physics Forums: The silly headline of the NY Times drivel says Tesla shouldn’t get a low-interest loan from the Department of Energy because "only the rich can afford it." Afford what? The loan would NOT fund anything having to do with the $109,000 Roadster but with future generations of more affordable sedans and a powertrain facility to make battery packs and other components for other automakers, who will also use them for affordable sedans. The columnist says Tesla's technology "remains woefully immature" and the Roadster is "not much more than a functioning concept car." Absolutely untrue, as anyone who has test-driven or owned one attests -- it's a viable production vehicle that competes on fit and finish, performance and handling with vastly more expensive cars. We have delivered nearly 100 to customers already and are increasing production starts to 30 per week in 2009. Most worrisome: Stross pontificates about Silicon Valley all the time for what is arguably world’s most influential newspaper, yet he doesn't grok something that will ring true with the most rudimentary students of technology: R&D and early-adopter technology is relatively expensive. Whether it's a cell phone (even the iPhone from Stross' beloved Apple) or photovoltaic panels, the first owners pay the most. But the technology inevitably becomes affordable within several product cycles, whether on the time frame of Moore's law or (in the case of battery capacity) at the fair clip of 8 percent per year. Given the Model S (base price expected at$57,500) and the Bluestar project (all-electric, zero-emission subcompact for $30,000), why did his rant focus on the Roadster, which isn't part of the loan application proposal? Makes no sense. Finally, the columnist does readers a gross disservice by utterly failing to grasp the difference between the Detroit Three's perverse "bailout" and what was originally a progressive and well intentioned program to encourage fuel-efficient vehicles. In fact, the columnist calls Tesla's loan application the "Bailout of Very, Very High-Net-Worth Individuals Who Invested in Tesla Motors Act" -- again, catchy but dead wrong. The loan wouldn't be used for the Roadster or ongoing operations. Our blog clarifying the distinction (published before the article and sent to Stross, who apparently didn't read it): http://www.teslamotors.com/blog2/?p=66 One of the most thorough (and hilarious) refutations of the article if you need further clarification: http://calacanis.com/2008/12/01/on-b...nd-sports-car/ Thanks for listening. FWIW, I'm all for spirited debate about public policy, but it should be based on facts, not catchy buzz words and misinformation. Blog on! Rachel Konrad Senior Communications Manager Tesla Motors, Inc. PF Gold P: 3,021  Quote by teslarachel To answer the fundamental question that the NY Times rant poses: Yes, absolutely, the federal government should provide low-interest loans to Tesla (and other R&D-focused automakers that have already demonstrated a commitment to building fuel-efficient vehicles) to encourage and hasten the time to market of a sophisticated all-electric, zero-emission powertrain for affordable, family cars. ... Given the Model S (base price expected at$57,500) and the Bluestar project (all-electric, zero-emission subcompact for $30,000), .... How does$58k qualify as an affordable family car, that will be limited to out and back trips absent an overnight charge?
 Sci Advisor HW Helper P: 8,961 The point is that the grants are to develop new technology that will become cheaper. A lot of goverment money went into developing copmputers/auircraft/etc before they were cheap enough for everyone.
PF Gold
P: 3,021
 Quote by mgb_phys The point is that the grants are to develop new technology that will become cheaper. A lot of goverment money went into developing copmputers/auircraft/etc before they were cheap enough for everyone.
That is not my reading of the history at all. Government money went into buying computers/aircraft for the government (military, etc). I don't see much evidence where the government made them cheap. Henry Ford did that. Intel/National Semiconductor et al did that. I would say that when the government tries to pick a technology winner it does more harm than good. Government funded basic research is ok. In the case of EV's and Tesla, why does Tesla rate a loan and not its direct competitor and law suit target Fisker?
 Sci Advisor HW Helper P: 8,961 They are availabel to anyone - even Detroit, they are goverment research grants. Just the same as the money spends on Nasa, NSF, University research etc. What Telsa were warning about was this future research money being used to plug a hole in the car companies current finances. That's like a university deciding to take everyone's research grant and spend it on building maintenance. Given the strange coincidence between the amount Detroit needs and the amount announced in the research program - this is probably a reasonable concern.
P: 1,070
 Quote by mgb_phys That's like a university deciding to take everyone's research grant and spend it on building maintenance.
i know the med school back at my old alma mater did just that. they are legally entitled to apply a certain percentage of grant money to facilities, and i think it was a pretty good chunk. 40% is the number that springs to mind, but my memory's a little fuzzy.
 P: 175 I just want to point out that a strictly electric car will never replace a fuel burning vehicle. It may work as an inner city commuting vehicle for some but it will always be more expensive than a fuel burning vehicle. We should start with natural gas and work are way to hydrogen.
HW Helper
P: 8,961
 Quote by drankin I just want to point out that a strictly electric car will never replace a fuel burning vehicle.
Not for all roles (yet).
But the majority of journeys are short at low speed in built up areas.
Adverts aside, you do not need a V8 truck to take a single 5year old 3miles to school.

You can already buy natural gas powered cars - but in the long term it isn't much of a solution to swap reliance on scarce middle eastern oil for reliance on scarce Russian methane!
P: 175
 Quote by mgb_phys Not for all roles (yet). But the majority of journeys are short at low speed in built up areas. Adverts aside, you do not need a V8 truck to take a single 5year old 3miles to school. You can already buy natural gas powered cars - but in the long term it isn't much of a solution to swap reliance on scarce middle eastern oil for reliance on scarce Russian methane!
According to Mr Pickens, we have a lot of natural gas in the US. Also, our land fills create an enormous amount of unnaturally accurring methane that we simply let burn away day and night thru large vent chimneys (I forget the proper term for them). There are projects going on right now to capture those gases that come from our own garbage.

What I'm getting at is that should be our focus. We have the fuels here in the states. Electric cars aren't practical. Especially if you consider where a good portion of our electricity comes from in the US... burning fossil fuels.
PF Gold
P: 3,021
 Quote by drankin I just want to point out that a strictly electric car will never replace a fuel burning vehicle. It may work as an inner city commuting vehicle for some but it will always be more expensive than a fuel burning vehicle.
Never? Major problem is energy density in the batteries and charge time. In near every other way electric has the advantage: efficiency, maintenance, complexity, energy transmission. Stick around.
 We should start with natural gas and work are way to hydrogen.
Forget H2.
http://www.physorg.com/news85074285.html
and in general:
Debunking the hydrogen economy
P: 175
 Quote by mheslep Never? Major problem is energy density in the batteries and charge time. In near every other way electric has the advantage: efficiency, maintenance, complexity, energy transmission. Stick around. Forget H2. http://www.physorg.com/news85074285.html and in general: Debunking the hydrogen economy
Looking at it energy vs energy out you are correct. I propose we make nuclear power plants dedicated to H2 recovery. Nuclear hydrogen refineries. And I'm thinking we bottle and burn it as apposed to fuel cells.

Batteries will not power a semi or trains or planes (basically, our shipping industry) or cars for winter driving in our northern states. And it's not practical for distance travel. Fuels need to be burned to get that kind of energy. Batteries have theoretical limits. Pound per pound there is more energy in fuels.
PF Gold
P: 3,021
 Quote by drankin According to Mr Pickens, we have a lot of natural gas in the US. Also, our land fills create an enormous amount of unnaturally accurring methane that we simply let burn away day and night thru large vent chimneys (I forget the proper term for them). There are projects going on right now to capture those gases that come from our own garbage.
If all landfill methane was captured (650,000 million cubic ft) it amounts to 1/35th of US consumption (23,000,000 million cubic ft/yr)

 What I'm getting at is that should be our focus. We have the fuels here in the states. Electric cars aren't practical. Especially if you consider where a good portion of our electricity comes from in the US... burning fossil fuels.
Yes, but ~all of ground vehicle transportation comes from ... burning fossil fuels, and less efficiently in the car than at the power plant. I like Picken's idea at the moment - switch to natural gas in the cars now; then I favor slowly switching to PHEVs.
P: 175
 Quote by mheslep If all landfill methane was captured (650,000 million cubic ft) it amounts to 1/35th of US consumption (23,000,000 million cubic ft/yr) Yes, but ~all of ground vehicle transportation comes from ... burning fossil fuels, and less efficiently in the car than at the power plant. I like Picken's idea at the moment - switch to natural gas in the cars now; then I favor slowly switching to PHEVs.
Maybe they could dedicate gov't vehicles to using methane from landfills (they can use our garbage :)).

Looking at a purely energy standpoint cars don't efficiently burn the fuel. But with burning H2 there is no consequence. But how much of that wasted energy is heat? That is always a useful byproduct in a vehicle. Electric cars cannot afford to create heat for the passengers (or AC). Growing up in cold winters makes me an unbeliever in the electric vehicle. And those in the southern states would be partial to having lots of AC available in their commuting.
PF Gold
P: 3,021
 Quote by drankin ...Batteries will not power a semi or trains or planes (basically, our shipping industry) or cars for winter driving in our northern states. And it's not practical for distance travel. Fuels need to be burned to get that kind of energy. ...
About 30 percent of all oil use in the US goes into commuting short distances in cars: 70% of oil goes to transportation, of that ~66% goes to cars, and of the total car miles 60-70% goes into short distances. (And obviously scratch electric trains from the can't do list.)

 Related Discussions General Discussion 10 General Discussion 0 General Engineering 2 General Discussion 13