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Old 05-23-2011, 10:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Apr 2011
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Default A Forbes Sampler

Forbes has picked up their coverage of electric vehicles lately. Like everyone, they have a decided bend to their writings.

A sampling of articles below.

http://blogs.forbes.com/joannmuller/201 ... omment-862

Initial comment “I was very impressed. It’s incredibly peppy, handles well and is, overall, a really fun-to-drive little car that seats five.”

Author trots out a grocery list of things she worried about running the battery down, and how they ultimately were not an issue.

But apparently thinking about whether the vehicle would have enough range to cover her daily driving was just too much as she concluded, “Do I want a Nissan Leaf of my own? Hmmm. Tough question. I’d like to say yes, but there’s too much thinking involved.”

So this is the state America is in. Where even a journalist at a national level magazine shy’s away from having to “think too much.”

http://blogs.forbes.com/jeffmcmahon/201 ... ery-drain/

Points to the fact that Asia has a near lock on battery production. Indicates the current administrations aim to have 40 percent of battery production domestically within 5 years. Not clear if that is “pack” production or cell production.

Noted that current pack production plants are sited near airports for ease of transport. Good golly, if they are flying those things over I don’t see the price coming down anytime soon.

http://blogs.forbes.com/jeffmcmahon/201 ... odays-car/

Suggests that efficiencies in ICE based vehicles will increase enough to make electrics unattractive. This message brought to you by Linda A. Capuano, Marathon Oil’s vice president for emerging technologies and a key player in the National Petroleum Council’s Future Transportation Fuels Study.

The Forbes columnists have a penchant for commenting on each other’s articles, their comments are often more revealing about their thinking. Consider this comment from Jeff McMahon about the Leaf article above:

Terrific post, Joann. I attended a talk Friday by Bill Reinert, designer of the Prius, and he gave us a few more things to think about when it comes to electric cars:
• Most of the cost of the car, and most of the weight of the car, derives from the battery, and most of the energy of the battery is expended driving the battery around.
• The batteries in electric cars are twice the size they need to be, Reinert said, because they lose capacity over time and manufacturers want to make absolutely sure your battery doesn’t die, for good, too early in the lifetime of the car. That means we’re buying twice the battery we need and transporting twice the battery weight we need.
• The batteries have to be kept within a certain temperature range, so the battery has its own heating and cooling system, like a heat pump, that constantly uses energy to maintain battery temperature.
Both Reinert and fellow speaker Linda Capuano contend, furthermore, that the Lithium-Ion battery is about as developed as it’s going to get.
Perhaps they’ll turn out to be wrong, who knows, but clearly the electric car is not yet at the stage, as you point out, where we can just get in it and go. There’s a lot to think about.
Capuano added a point we’ve heard before but sometimes forget: Electric cars are environmentally attractive if the electricity comes from renewables, but if you’re driving one in, say, Wyoming, your fuel is coal.

Wow he's right on message with the National Petroleum Council’s Mantra.

This reader makes some very salient points about Ethanol and its true costs but Jeff deftly side steps that issue with the aplomb of a Politician:


The mention of increasing ethanol content in gasoline is not at all accurate. Ethanol requires about as much energy to make it as it contains. Zero sum gain. It also creates other issues such as competing with our food supply and the taking of government subsidies to make it “economically feasible”. Gasoline engines are not going away anytime soon and their efficiencies are increasing, even without using electric hybridization. Toyota leads in electric hybrid tech so it is in their interest, and business plan, to push it regardless of the undo expense it adds. Natural gas for motor vehicles is another bad joke being told by those with profit motive who care not about the technical issues. Battery electric vehicles are just now starting to enter the mass market. It may take decades to grow this technology to the point where it takes significant market share. However it will take that share eventually and in doing so contribute even more to creating a sustainable transportation solution. Every gallon of gas a BEV saves reduces the stress on overall demand and pricing — so everyone benefits except OPEC and the oil companies.
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12:17 am on 05/23/11
Jeff McMahon Jeff McMahon The Ingenuity of the Commons

Jeff has no problem when a commentator states that electrics are all powered by coal. For the record, as of 2009 the latest year for which stats are available only 45% of our power comes from coal.


http://blogs.forbes.com/jeffmcmahon/201 ... omment-445

Thank you for your comments, Kovalb. Ethanol has its drawbacks, but I don’t see how your point about ethanol renders Capuano’s statements inaccurate. She’s not championing ethanol; she’s merely pointing out that conventional vehicles and conventional fuels are evolving, and that evolution could change the competitive landscape these alternative-fuel vehicles hope to enter.

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