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February 01, 2008



It is interesting that much of the industry sees market risk for plugins. I think that it is largely driven by the perception that fuel costs will not change dramatically. Currently in the US market, a reversal of fortune for the refiners -they seem to have more capacity than current gasoline demand, putting great pressure on crack spreads. Essentially the share of consumer gasoline price accounted for as refinery profits is currently very small. This has so far shielded the American consumer from the dramatic recent increase in oil prices. As long as demand remains restrained this should continue to be the case.

The real question is where the price of oil during say 2010-2015 going to be. From 2005 to late 2007, world oil production had reached a plateau, and increasing global demand drove up the price. There is some evidence that production is now increasing -although it is too early to tell. Depletion of existing oil fields subtracts roughly 4 million barrels per day per year off of production. The global oil industry has to work very hard to bring new production on line just to break even. The best description I've heard for this phenomena is "its hard to fill a bucket with a hole in it". More industry insiders are warning that supply demand should become seriously out of wack by this time period. The presidents of Shell oil, and Total are the most noted of these CEOs. If oil were to hit $150 or $200 or higher I would think the demand for plugins would exceed supply. And the upside for much higher prices should not be discounted. Even if the oil price remains similar to today, I would think the European market, where taxes mean gasoline is more than twice as expensive as in the US, would be a good market for plugins. It sure sounds to me as if most of the worlds automobile companies are being foolishly conservative here. The lost opportunity cost of having to play catchup could be large.


My thoughts exactly bigTom!


So now its official. Volt that was supposed to be a 2010 model, is now a 2011 model.

In essence, production has been delayed 6 to 12 mos, once more.

How many more delays will we see till 2011? Remember the Zeno arrow, that could never reach its target (or the rabbit that could never overtake the turtle)?

I know - Toyota will be first with lithium ion, and GM will cry bloody murder victimhood.

And Kit P will gloat: "I told you so"!



It's always been targeting a 2011 model. They are supposed to go on sale in November of 2010, selling a 2011 model.



Spot on!
Especially your comment about viability in the European market - a lot of discussion on the internet, and also it would seem in motor board-rooms, focusses too much on the US market.

Here in the UK petrol costs around £1 per litre, thats about $8 per US gallon.

Typically new cars here are bought as fleet purchases, and do a lot more than average mileage, perhaps 20,000 miles a year for the first three years.
At 30 to the gallon you can easily be spending over $5k a year on fuel.
Over the 3 years a company typically keeps a car for that is $15k.
If a plug in meant that you could halve that, you would save $7500 - about what the estimate is for the extra for the batteries for a 40 mile range.

In addition to this the tax system here heavily favours low carbon emitting cars, and some vehicles gain exemption from the £25 per day London congestion charge.
Residuals on the more fuel efficient vehicle would also be far higher, not to mention benefits to the company image.


I don't think GM have chosen the most cost-effective battery system.
Lead-acid combined with capacitors should give a lot more bang for the buck:
The lead-acid part of the battery is obviously something that is well understood, and the capacitor part has been well tested, with the
car having run 100,000 miles.
If you read on down the link you will see that it would be an excellent fit with the new Firefly advanced lead-acid battery.
Lots more about ultracapacitors on cars here:
Should be cost effective enough to justify even at the much lower fuel costs in the States.


I can't wait for the competitors to the Volt to begin their strategy. I'll buy an electric ASAP but I'm terminally cynical that the Volt's price will be significantly inflated by the amount factored in for Wagonner's posse's perks like multi-million dollar bonuses for non-performance, huge stock options as a hedge against eventual bankruptcy, clean clothes and jet for life. These guys get one thing half-right in two decades and they want the Nobel Peace Price for Marketing. They ought to be canned outright and the foremen from the remaining lines shifts hired in their places.


Dave, I don't know how much re-engineering would be needed if different battery technology wins out. IMO LiIon will probably be the battery of choice for premium priced luxury cars, i.e. higher energy storage per unit of weight and voulume is more important than price for the high end market. If modified lead acid -or some other technology is much cheaper, but requires a bulkier battery pack -or shorter range, these will beused in the plugin for the masses.

I've been a bit surprised that the current generation of hybrids, such as the Prius are popular in the US, but supposedly not in Europe. Given the higher gas prices in the EU, I would think they would be snapping these up. I hear diesels are popular. For high speed freeway driving they are probably as efficient as a hybrid, but for congested city driving the hybrid is probably twice as efficient. Do you have an explaination for the low popularity of hybrids in Europe?


Your surmise was correct, bigTom.
Diesels are the reason for the lack of popularity of hybrids.
I can only speak with full knowledge for the UK, but here a lot of new cars are bought by companies, and they tend to do a lot of time on the motorway, rather than in the city.
In practise I believe that the real fuel use of the Prius tends to be a bit more than is indicated by the rather artificial test cycles, and they can get good mileage with a diesel.
Other buyers are often older people who do a low mileage, so the expense of neither the diesel or Prius is worthwhile.
I should also point out that we have not had the rebate offered in the States for the Prius.
I would guess that in Germany,France and Italy that the Prius being Japanese rather than from those countries has led to the tax system to be biased towards their locally produced diesels.
For those seriously worried about fuel economy you have to remember that in European terms the Prius is a medium size car, and that there are a lot of much smaller very economical petrol cars on sale, also with diesel options.



Large companies are conservative. Cars in the tens of thousands per year is a good start. What if they have battery, motor, or power converter problem? Could mean lost revenue to recall work. Of course when you look at the Aptera you see that GM and Toyota are already very late to the EV/PHEV party. Small startups usually out perform big established companies. Ironic when you consider the large companies have larger resources.
Makes one wonder why the USA government doesn't pass tax subsidies for PHEVs right away? Why they don't provide investment protections to battery and car companies, as they have for the nuclear industry? ...oh yeh, Bush is still president.

I think the EU preference for diesels over the Prius is Not-Invented-Here (NIH) syndrome. They can get similar mileage right now. This is already beginning to change. CSIRO (Supercap/Pb-acid) and Ener1 (LiIon) both have new batteries for mild hybrids that are less than 1/3 the price, 1/3 the weight, and 1/2 the size of the current Prius battery. Performance of mild hybrids is going to improve and the cost differential is going to come down in the near future.
There are also the new batteries now starting to be manufactured for PHEVs. Think about living in France where you normally drive a very short distance and 80% of your electricity comes from cheap nuclear electricity. Why would you want to pay $8/gal? What about in Greece or Spain with all of their solar resouces? Both CPV and ThinFilm PV are rapidly dropping in price. No question, PHEVs will become very popular in Europe.

Lead Acid vs Li Ion is going to be an interesting evolution. Li Ion seems to have performance advantage right now. You can use supercaps with Li Ion, same as for lead acid. I don't see a lot of comparable cycle life information on the web for FireFly or CSIRO yet. (I'm no expert. Maybe I'm not looking in the right place.) Is the cost advantage really going to be with lead acid, or do you just get a cheaper battery that doesn't last as long? Do the lead-acid and Li-Ion prices over the same time period come out the same, but you have to replace the lead-acid more often?


The paradigm is going to shift -

NOT Efficient Diesels or PHEVs:
PHEVs with Efficient Diesel Generators.

NOT Flex Fuel ICEs or PHEVs:
PHEVs with Flex Fuel ICE Generators.

NOT High Efficiency Gas ICEs or PHEVs:
PHEVs with High Efficiency Gas ICE


mds said:
'Lead Acid vs Li Ion is going to be an interesting evolution. Li Ion seems to have performance advantage right now. You can use supercaps with Li Ion, same as for lead acid. I don't see a lot of comparable cycle life information on the web for FireFly or CSIRO yet.'

Lifetime for the lead acid batteries using capacitors is fine.
The one in the AFS car has done 100,000 miles:

The reason lead-acid batteries did not last long was that they hated deep discharge, with some of the materials swelling up and not returning to shape properly.
The supercapacitors avoid the need for deep discharge and so extend life many fold.

The Firefly battery also avoids problems with deep discharge, as the information on their website makes clear:

'Float and cycle lifetimes for 3D batteries have yet to be fully determined, but it is anticipated that they will be superior to those of comparable lead acid products due largely to the superior thermal conductivity levels of the composite foam relative to conventional lead electrodes, in combination with lower cell impedances and negative plate current densities. '

They are always very conservative in their claims, but reading their articles in depth reveals that there is every reason to expect that they will have comparable lifetimes to the ultracapacitor from AFS.

This is for their first iteration of the technology, the 3D.
Their more advanced 3D2 should do better yet.

The density of the energy in the fireflys should come in at the lower end of the range for lithium.

Costs should be pretty comparable to present lead-acid batteries as present production lines could be used, which is one of the advantages of building on the current lead-acid technologies.

Since they effectively cope with deep discharge, the performance of the capacitor part of a combination of Firefly and capacitors in a battery could be optimised to provide power from the batteries for longer before turning on the engine, so it would do even better than the AFS engine.

The 3D batteries are also much lighter and more compact than traditional lead-acid, and the 3D2 dramatically so.

I am not familiar with the CSIRO technologies, so I will not comment.

Another advantage of developing lead acid rather than switching to lithium is manufacturers could be more certain that they would avoid a recall due to the battery exploding, although of course if they went the route of using inbuilt capacitors that would need thoroughly testing.

Lithium batteries could also be used in conjunction with capacitors, but would still have lifetime costs of around three times as much as the lead-acid alternative, and some configurations of lithium use rare and dangerous elements like cobalt.

Ronald Brak

BigTom, Toyota charges more for the Prius in Europe than it does in the USA. This is simply because with the higher fuel prices in Europe it can. Toyota quite possibly loses money on every Prius it sells in the US, but at the moment it is simply building up market share. They know that as they improve their production process and increase volume, their costs per unit will come down.


Just checked on the CSIRO battery.
It is the one in the AFS car, and so has a lifetime sufficient for a car to drive 100,000 miles on it.


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Any company making a highly complex product such as a modern car needs to be pretty conservative. The rollout of a significant new feature is usually extensively drawn out in order to minimize risk. Imagine the damage to Ford from the explorer tire problem, and you can see how even a fairly mundane problem can become really costly if not discovered until after large numbers have been manufactured. Note that the Prius has only been available in significant numbers for about a year. They had vehicles on the road for several years before they gave the go ahead for volume production. I expect the rollout of PHEVs to be similarly slow. If GM makes say 10000 Volts in model year 2011, don't expect a million units in 2012, or 2013.

Nevertheless, there is another danger to the car companies. Peak Oil. If it has really occurred -or will by 2010 as some are predicting, oil could easily be well over $200 by the mid 2010s. Even if you assign only a 25% probablity of this happening. The cost to any automobile manufacturer who wasn't well along with their post-peak-oil product lines could be catastrophic. It looks like GM has recognized, that this represents a once in a lifetime opportunity, as well as a threat. It sounds like -at least in public, the others don't get it yet.



First link was interesting, but the AFS Trinity information is misleading. The recent AFS Trinity demo car uses an Li Ion battery back in combo with separate capacitors:


AFS Trinity – Extreme Hybrid demo - Jan 2008
“AFS Trinity Unveils Plug-in Extreme Hybrid at Detroit Show”
“Ultracap/Battery Combination Delivers 40-Mile All Electric Range”
“Ultracapacitors for acceleration and regenerative braking”
“Grid-chargeable lithium-ion battery pack”
Sounds like Ultracapacitors handle load leveling found in normal “mild” Hybrid and Lithium-Ion pack is only recharged when plugged in. This is aimed at saving battery wear from short charge cycles in addition to deep discharge.

There is no question that Ener1 and CSIRO batteries will be a big improvement to mild hybrids like the Prius. The cost differential will be lower and you will probably easily get 60 mpg even in constant start-stop driving because the regenerative braking will be that much better. (Thank you supercaps!)

...BUT the better use of energy is PHEVs and they require deep cycling batteries with sufficient cycle life. 75% of drivers in the USA go less than 40 miles in a typical day. If you give them a PHEV with all-electric range of 40 miles, they will only use any gasoline (or diesel) on occasional longer trips. This is the heart and soul of the AFS Trinity concept. Use the Li Ion (or other deep cycle) battery for all electric travel with single recharge at night and single discharge during daily use. The capacitors are used to save the battery from additional wear and tear from short-cycling when stopping and re-acclerating.

PS Your comment on the "battery exploding" and "rare and dangerous elements like cobalt" seems dated me. Here are 3 other "safe" Li Ion chemistries that are now being used or developed:
FePO4 (A123, LTC, & LifeBATT)
TiO2 (EnerDel/Ener1 & Altairnano)
Mn2O4 (E-one Moli Energy & MHI)

Also, gasoline can be explosive and is a liquid fire hazard that cannot be put out with water. (nasty!)
And, supercapacitors and high power electrical converters/controllers can explode too, in HEVs, PHEVs, & EVs.
There's a lot of power in cars. It's a solvable problem. Ultimately, HEVs, PHEVs, and EVs will be safer than current ICEs ...and some won't be. It's more of a design issue than Li Ion technology issue.
Toyota thought they could fix the Li Ion cobalt problem, but they made a miscalculation and have been bad mouthing Li Ion to slow down the competition ...until last month when they admitted they too are still working on an Li Ion based PHEV.



I agree. Your first paragraph makes the point I was trying to make and I was just answering your question. I did not mean to excuse GM for not doing more, although it might have sounded that way. If I was a GM CEO, I would be pushing much harder, as you say. They are at a critical shift in the auto industry. This calls for bold moves like Howard Hewes made in the air craft industry. Land lines are becoming obsolete and cellular will dominate in the future. Same for PHEVs and EVs. It will be very clear to everyone in hind sight.



Further... Neither of the links you provided give the deep cycle life information I was looking for. My Prius rarely discharges the battery to any real depth. I think CSIRO and Ener1 do not provide this information because they are designed for shallow discharge use in mild hybrids, like in the Prius. (You're really paying for and carrying around more battery than you use most of the time.) Even FireFly is vague on cycle-life information.
These are all great improvements for use in mild hybrids and that's a great thing.
...BUT ...IF they can get the manufacturing costs down for high deep-cycle life Li Ion batteries, then they won't seem so great. They'll still be very useful for other applications, but their use in cars will fade ...unless further deep-cycle life improves are made.


You are right - the information on the AFS site is vague, and it seems I was not careful enough. Apologies.

On the exploding batteries issue, I do not think it is a very prevalent and as you say is probably a thing of the past.

But the fact that the issue has occurred in itself is a cause of delay, as even if they use a totally different technology they will be having much more testing to ensure that this is not a problem with the new technology.


No apologies. I'm just throwing my ideas out here to see where others agree or disagree same as you.

Yes, they will have to be careful. One mishap can really damage your business.


I've just come across this, it is for utility storage lithium batteries not car batteries, but they were exploding as recently as 2006 - no wonder the car companies are cautious.

Kit P

JDT, wrote, “And Kit P will gloat: "I told you so"!”

Actually I like the idea of PHEV since I work in the electricity generating industry. I have no problem taking market share from Shell. The reason it is necessarily to use a systematic approach to get the right answer not the one that fits your bias.

I will be happy to explain the basis for saying PHEV are DOA and BEV are MIA if you were not around this blog for the discussion.


Has anyone given any thought as to how the government is going to replace the loss of taxation income if EV's take over and we stop using all this fuel? Where will they recover these taxes from, they make huge money from fuel?

This sounds like a conspiracy theory but do you think the government is asking them to take their time in developing the electric vehicle?


There is a video of a nail being driven through an A123 Li Ion battery here:


There are really several problems. One is physical damage and A123 is showing they have solved this. Two is the electrode plating that occurs with cobalt. New chemistries mentioned above and better battery construction can solve. Third is charging or discharging too rapidly which can cause battery swelling to the burst point. This last can be solved/controlled with a properly designed Battery Management System (BMS).
Yes, some Li Ion batteries have exploded. No, they are not all going to do this. Kind of like gasoline tanks in cars. If you want really dangerous, what about LNG powered cars?

Not a significant impact yet. Maybe they'll tax electricity more when it gets noticed. In the mean time, don't help point it out.


Kit P - I am also in the power generation industry. Which sector is your cup of tea?

This is my pointer: "retaking at gmail"

Let me know - JDT


Sorry mds but I think they have already thought of this, hence the conspiracy theory. I can't help but think that they already know. After watching "Who Killed the Electric Car", which was before oil went up in price, the government knew something was coming (higher oil prices, big money in their greedy little hands). Maybe it is a stretch but we would all be driving a lot of EV's right now if someone (whoever that is) hadn't stopped GM and the others from producing the EV's.


I'm not much for conspiracy theory, but do believe you can "follow the money" to explain many otherwise odd occurances. I have the DVD "Who Killed the Electric Car". Actually, I side with GM on the EV1, except it wasn't really necessary to grind them up. The EV1 was not an economical option at the time. Few USA drivers would have purchased one. USA drivers talk the talk, but have not been purchasing higher mpg cars ...until very recently.

As a colleague used to say: "That was then and this is now."

Here's the start of the EV/PHEV revolution:

GM missed the HEV boat, but they are going for the next step, PHEVs. Toyota has fallen a little behind on PHEVs. GM has a chance to regain market share. All of the major car manufactures must move fast or startups like Aptera will eat them alive.

Matt Montagne

I have no confidence that an american auto maker will bring a vehicle to market that is a leader in fuel economy/low emissions. In the 70s fuel crisis, they missed the boat and the foreign auto makers beat them to the punch with low cost/high mileage vehicles. The big 3 continued to produce highly inefficient, large vehicles with poor reliability.

The same scenario is repeating itself now. The Volt won't be the answer. From what I've seen and read, the car is not designed to be the utilitarian vehicle that appeals to the average family. It looks like it is going to be a sports car/performance car-what is that all about?

At the end of the day, I really don't care whether or not the big 3 is responsive to the market demands/environment or not. I think the real solutions will continue to keep coming from abroad. And I'm good with that.


The technologies the car companies have chosen to emphasise will not solve the problem as they rely on rare materials which can't scale up enough.
The argument is here on my blog:

I will duplicate it here in sections, to avoid the spam filter.



The car companies are putting their resources into battery technologies which use materials which are too uncommon to be able to provide for most cars – notably Lithium, but Nickel Metal Hydride batteries, although nickel has somewhat better availability, would still not be able to provide power for enough cars to make a substantial difference.

Due to this misjudgement we are likely to be severely limited in oil available to get around until at least 2020, when perhaps we can hope that they will have changed to the more suitable zinc-air technology.

Oil from both conventional and unconventional sources such as tar sands are unlikely to be able to cover more than 30% of present volume in the developed world by that date, as demand from China, India and other places is increasing whilst supplies are static, and present exporters are using increasing amounts of their own oil with less availble for export.

I am prepared to argue this case, and it is one held by large numbers of responsible analysts, but for the purposes of the present post we just want to see if electric vehicle and battery technology will dig us out of problems of short supply, first through increasing mileage inplug-in hybrids, and later through all electric vehicles.

As will be seen critical materials for the batteries the car industru is emphasising are in too short supply, and price will be far too high and availability too high.

It appears that the only technology with the right resource base and characteristics such as high capacity is zinc-air.
It is also the only battery alternative with the right characteristics to run heavy lorries and machinery.

Since everything but Lithium is now getting trivial amounts of funding in connection with car battery technology, then that blind alley is going to mean further delay in moving to a electric economy.

With time lags you must surely be talking about 2020 before they can be in widespread use, effectively long after oil is in serious short supply and after it has lead to large reductions in automobile use.

I therefore find it persuasive that major disruption is likely.

You will find further information on Nickel availability also here:
Meridian International Research - EV Research Papers

Download the document 'The Trouble With Lithium'

The basic problem with the Nickel Manganese batteries is the word 'Nickel', it is expensive and in short supply, although not as bad as lithium.

From the pdf I link Sodium Nickel Chloride may be the current best alternative, although it is limited by Nickel availability and price, however they use a lot less than nickel metal hydride.

Replacing the Nickel with Iron seems hopeful for the future, but this is very early days for the technology, and I had not yet looked into it so I omitted it from the analysis as for present purposes it seemed sufficient to show that there were batteries available which could potentially do the job but none of them were being funded, and Zinc air fills that job whilst also providing the possibility of discharging and recharging a slurry so effectively using a similar refill technology to the present.



Sodium nickel chloride batteries use nickel a lot more efficiently than Nickel Metal Hydride, but probably not enough to solve the availability issue, and may have other problems as detailed below.

A Google using the terms 'Sodium Iron Chloride battery' or 'Sodium Nickel chloride battery' comes up with results which are mostly around 1995.

This perhaps provides some indication of the level of interest in research in this technology and shows that it would not be possible to scale production to significant levels anytime soon.

The term 'Zebra battery' brought up this:

Wikipedia shows that many molten salt batteries have issues if shut down and not left under charge, taking days to pre-heat them:



Another alternative also uses zinc, there is the possibility of using solar energy to make zinc from zinc oxide which is then powdered and transported to filling stations, where it is used to make hydrogen by combining with steam and the car is filled with hydrogen.
The zinc oxide is then transported back to be re-cycled.

This is the only practical way I am aware of of going to the hydrogen economy without incurring huge inefficiencies.

However, AFAIK the only practical way at the moment of using a fuel cell to utilise the hydrogen in the car is a membrane as developed by Ballard, and they also utilise rare materials.

This might change with future development of Fuel cells, but as of now they cost a fortune and have resource issues even graver than for lithium.

One possible technology which might use the hydrogen is this:
Super Soaker inventor touts solid state heat-2-leccy | The Register

This consists of a closed cycle engine which uses any heat source to force hydrogen through a membrane between two different temperature regimes.
Much further work needs to be done to perfect the membrane, but efficiencies of 60% seem possible.

This if it works is very efficient, much more so than burning the hydrogen in an ICC, which I would guess would require prohibitive amounts of hydrogen and vast scaling up of the zinc production, likely more so than would be practical in it's early days would be my guess.

In summary, there are good prospects of running everything including heavy machinery and road haulage using batteries and/or hydrogen, but the time horizon is some way out, and currently alternatives which would not do the job are those being pursued.

Severe fuel constraints are therefore likely at least until the 2020 time period, and likely until around 2025

The only potential 'Get out of jail free' card we would appear to have which would enable similar consumption patterns of liquid fuel as in the past to continue in the immediate future would seem to me to be liquid fuels from algae.

Since this is a immature technology any idea that it could be ramped to substantially replace oil within the next few years up to 2020 would seem to me mind-bogglingly optimistic.

We are still at prototype stage.

Liquid fuel and car use would appear to be likely to suffer severe constraints for many years.



Assumption is the "root of all error".
Your link on lithium resources is a very good one, but it states:
"Therefore when we consider the future availability of Lithium we can only rely on the salt deposits."
Now if 1/5 of current lithium carbonate production is from Spodumene deposits, then why can't more be produced from these? It will cost more, but perhaps newer production processing will improve this. Perhaps newer Li Ion battery production processes will cost less and a high Lithium cost will be tolerable.

What if there isn't enough lithium? Then the market is going to migrate to other less costly sources: (a) NaNiCl (Zebra) batteries are still being used in prodution of EV trucks, (b) Zinc air could be used as you suggest, (c) FireFly and CSIRO have Lead Acid batteries that support radically increased deep charge cycles and will ultimately cost less than regular lead Acid much less Lead is use {these may prove more cost effective than Li Ion anyway}, (d) EEStor capacitive battery possiblility is not dead yet, (e) in ten years we are likely to see increased performance capacitors at a reduced cost from nanotube technology. I think a competitive market can handle the mix and pick the winner.

What about CAT cars? What about bio-oil from algae, Jatropha, or grasses combined with high mileage ICE/HEV cars with composite bodys? Maybe improved cost for hydrogen production (from electroysis or E-coli), storage, and fuelcells will change the economics back to favor hydrogen.

The link you provided suggests a tripling in production of lithium would mean depletion at the rate of 6% of known resources per year. That's 15 years of PHEV/EV production that will reduce our fossil fuel use. That's 15 years for these other technologies to continue improving. Note that all of the other car options are basically electric drive technologies that will not change if we change the energy storage technology in our cars.

There will be some level of disruption because we're running out of sweet oil (not other oil) and we're seeing a major transition in our energy infrastructure.

However,I see more up-side than down-side.
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."


The figures for spodumene indicate that it is only around 1/5th of the salt pan deposits, IOW not enough to make a substantial difference regardless of whether it is exploited.

As for the rest of your argument, they centre around other technologies being possible.

I not only agree with this, but I specifically argue that zinc-air batteries could do the job.

The question is though, when?

Up to the time frame 2020 or so, the car companies have gone for lithium, with NiMiH as their other alternative.

The prices of either will shoot through the roof if they start to be used in any quantity, although lithium more so.

It is fine for use in your laptop, but just does not have the resource base for use in large car batteries.

Since the car companies have plumped for those options, they simply have not got time to switch now and start producing cars using zinc-air or whatever in major quantities before that date.

You can't just switch the battery pack, you would need to sort out your battery for use in cars, getting the pack together is likely 5 years, then you have to design the car, then start your production run.

And they still haven't realised they have picked the wrong option yet, and don't seem likely to until the price of lithium goes up hugely.

I don't doubt that we can do electric cars to run the economy, but wrong choices mean that it won't come for a fair few years.


mds, as usual you have made me think - I do wish you would stop doing this , as it is very distracting.

Your suggestion on the use of Firefly batteries sounds good.

As you pointed out in another thread, they do not provide as much power as lithium to make plug-ins, but do the job for mild hybrids.

The combination of capacitors with the Firefly would result in further increases in performance form the use of either alone, but I would suggest that we could perhaps more realistically project a light, short range vehicle which is all electric.

It is interesting that the Japanese companies have rather downplayed plug-ins, and say why not go for a full electric vehicle, which even at low range would make an excellent fit for the Japanese market.

All this would be a lot better than not being able to get to work or the shops, and producing them in fairly short order should be possible.


Yep, sorry, JDT seems to have succeeded by persistent petty nastiness in dragging me down to his level. It must make him very proud.
My apologies to others on this forum.


Sorry, posted in wrong thread.


DaveMart wrote: 2020 [...] effectively long after oil is in serious short supply and after it has lead to large reductions in automobile use.

If oil is about to be in seriously short supply, why is it so cheap right now? How do you figure it is about to be in seriously short supply? How do you figure seriously short supply of oil would lead to large reductions in automobile use?


DaveMart wrote: there are good prospects of running everything including heavy machinery and road haulage using batteries and/or hydrogen

Why not run things on liquid fuels made from oil?


Thanks. You've made me think also. Maybe there is not as much lithium as I thought. It will buy us some EV/PHEV reduction in oil use though. (I'm sure there will be a mix of EVs and PHEVs. In Japan, Isreal, and on the Hawaiian islands EVs may be more prevelant than PHEVs because distances traveled are shorter.)

Did you see this link:


Think they're targeting mild hybrid's like the Prius. Better battery than current NiMH at a third the price, and it's an improved lead acid battery.


nucbuddy, I sometimes think that you have already left the surface of this planet!

Where are you where oil is cheap?

Last time I looked it was around $90/barrel.

For the arguments about why it will get dearer in future, see the thread on this blog based on the writings of Maxwell, a senior oil analyst.

Even the most optimistic, and in my view incredible, forecasts have oil peaking by 2030, just 20 or so years away.



A barrel of oil buys a lot more value today than it did three decades ago -- when it also happened to be more-expensive than today. Also, today, oil is sold for a lot more than it costs to produce.

Is today's $5-15 production-cost oil really threatening to society? In what way? What kinds of prices are you assuming oil might reach when it supposedly-soon gets scarce -- $1,000/bbl? Even if it were to reach that price, how could that be threatening to a society that sees oil as so cheap and plentiful that it burns 99% of what it buys for sheer frivolty? When a commodity gets more expensive, society naturally reserves its use for less-frivolous purposes -- and society has plenty of reserve, because society has plenty of frivolty. Society's frivolous use of oil is the very thing that makes society so immune to its price-spikes.

If oil prices were indeed about to spike, why would so few today be taking speculative advantage of that? If indeed few are taking advantage of a supposed great investment opportunity, why are you talking about techno-fixes for automobile efficiency, instead of talking about reductions of investment (capital gains) taxes?

The only things that your premature efficiency techno-fixes could achieve would be increased severity of, and increased societal-sensitivity to, oil-price spikes. Why, because your efficiency techno-fixes would decrease both a. demand for oil (a bad thing, decreases in demand are, if one is concerned about future price-spikes), and b. frivolous use of oil -- the very thing that protects society from the effects of price-spikes.


By the way, regarding efficiency techno-fixes making future price-spikes worse, we can think of how tsunamis work. How do we know when a tsunami is about to strike? The water recedes. The receding water before a tsunami is analogous to commodity-use-efficiency before a price-spike. You statements seem to imply that you would be that guy standing on the beach warning people about the tsunami, but demanding that even more of the receding water be pumped away before the tsunami hits.

Any student of tsunamis and/or wave-action should know what effect that would have. It would make the tsunami even worse. Why? Waves have peaks and troughs. One of those two things cannot be amplified without causing a corresponding amplification of the other.

If one wanted to do something to lessen the severity of a tsunami, the correct action would not be to pump water out of the trough. The correct action would actually be to pump water into the trough.

What society would be doing by following your repeated-suggestion of artificially conserving a commodity in anticipation of a price-spike would be decreasing the already-low price-pressure before a price-wave-peak. This would do essentially the same thing as would pumping water out of the way of an approaching tsunami -- something which only makes the tsunami even-more-powerful as it hits shore.

To complete the analogy: investment-legalization would be the pumping of water into the trough before the approaching wave-peak -- and thus would be an action that could actually hope to resolve a price-tsunami.


DaveMart wrote: Where are you where oil is cheap?

The truth about global oil supply

In the huge and easily exploitable Saudi oil fields, the cost of installing one barrel per day of additional production capacity is only US$6,000 or less.

The whole job could be completed within five years for around US$108 billion. The increase would be more than enough to absorb current Chinese demand of 6.5 million barrels per day. It would absorb projected growth in world demand from the present 84 million barrels to a projected peak of 90 million in 2010.

$108 billion is not a daunting sum in relation to the Saudis’ 2005 budget surplus of $26 billion, but there are many other calls on their cash. [...]

Saudis refuse to allow foreign oil companies to invest in additional capacity in return for production shares. Aramco retains a monopoly, but lacks the [intellectual ability] to manage expansion [...]

Cheap oil reduced investment in new, higher-cost production capacity which would have exploited deeper offshore oil, heavy oil and tar sands. It reduced investment in long-range pipelines and shipping to exploit remote natural gas finds. It reduced investment in other energy sources such as nuclear and coal [...]

logic and experience tell us that - in spite of added demand, uncertain reserves and Saudi unwillingness to help - today's $61 oil will itself be the chief cause of a fall in the oil price to come.

Expect to see it return to $40, then $30 - and maybe even less.



I pretty much agree on the future of oil prices. Ironic, since I'm very bullish on the future of solar PV, CPV, CST, other renewable energy sources, nuclear, and on the future of PHEVs and EVs. I'm no longer sure we'll hit $40/barrel oil, but this is because of inflation and the devaluation of the USA $. I think it will drop back down though.
Question for you:
I don't see peak oil, but think there might be significant level of disruption during transition to other oil sources and other sources of energy. This disruption would be the result of time it takes to build new infrastructure.
What do you think about this?







vigilon security

I can say its now official.

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