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September 05, 2006


Greg Woulf

This is great, the more the merrier. I hope they can take a chunk out of the auto market share.

PHEV's are a great step, but we're already at EV technology. Why stop half way to the goal.

Stephen Boulet

I look forward to the day when we are at pure EV technology, but I don't believe we're there yet. Most importantly, there is no recharging infrastructure for long trips, battery capacity is too little, and recharging takes too long. This is a good interim step.


Charles S

First of all, I totally support a for-profit initiative for CalCars. But I'm not sure if I can totally agree with parts of the statements above. Automakers may be right on some points, and something as radical as PHEV probably will not do all that well but amoung the diehards.

I think hybrids are only doing well right now, because of the "perfect storm" of events in the last five years. There may be enough momentum to carry PHEV into the mainstream, but I'm not so optimistic. I think things have to be a LOT worse (and/or more favorable to EV) before people are capable of matching "value" to the cost premium.

Larry Azlin

I don't see why this needs to be considered an "interim" step, unless by that you mean only the next 50 years. The liquid fuel infrastructure is already well-established and convenient for long distance trips (< 5 minutes to refuel). If PHEV's can replace 75% of our oil use with electric power from the grid, and alternative fuels can supplant another 10% (or more?) then fossil fuels should last quite a long time.

Greg Woulf

My reasoning behind saying this is an interim step is based on cost and environmental issues.

It doesn't make sense to pay more money than we need to, and gasoline per mile costs more than electricity per mile. Gasoline engines break down more than electric motors will and cost money, belts and hoses and all the other supplemental parts cost money and I don't want to pay for it all.

On the environmental side any combustion emits green house gas. Even if you don't believe the majority of scientists who have believe in warming it's definitely not a benefit to the environment to have any combustion.

Alternative fuels, like bio-diesel are interesting and if we needed them to stop the importation of oil I'd be all for them, but I think we're at a point we can jump right over them.

Maybe wishful thinking, but even at worst I think we'll see electric cars travelling around the country without worrying about finding a place to charge up before this car leaves the production line.


Cal cars should sell the conversion kits for hybrid to plugin hybrid, then branch out into electric vehicle conversions for economy cars. As well as various types of EV backup generator addons, like internal combustion or fuel cell/microturbine.

They could sell whole conversions by contracting assembley lines that would do mass production conversions of certain models in manufacturing time blocks. Cal cars could presell conversions to car owners.

The cities that signed on to buy plugin hybrids could help fund the startup effort and get the first converted cars.

Don't start a car company, that is the wrong focus for the limited capital available. I think the other electric car startups need to go to kit conversion also. Maybe that's the kind of deal cal car could make, offer different conversion kits based on different battery and power packages from different companies.

Like the Dell computer business model. It was very successful with PCs it might work for personal electric cars too.

Make Calcars the idea and marketing and financial template to connect consumers with manufacturers that make conversion components and packaged systems and do conversions.



I think you're totally right! Hybrids and PHEVs are a major step towards less smog, GHG and dependency on ME oil. And they give ethanol and bio-diesel a real chance of making a difference.

Still, once (if) EVs achieve 250+ miles range and charge times >10 min, at a reasonable cost, I think they will start to dominate the market.

And don't worry about burning the remaining oil reserves. Existing cars, trucks, heavy equipment and airplanes will take care of that just fine ;-)


Regardless of the fast charging capability of new battery technology, the limiting factor in electric vehicle recharging is the available electricity infrastructure. A typical home outlet is 15 amps/120 V, which allows a maximum of 15 amp/hours per hour, or 1.8 kwh, depending on which measurement you would prefer. Typical automotive applications that I have seen are in the 70 amp/hour range, which means slightly less than 5 hours of recharge time (reading between the lines of the press on the new Tesla roadster, it will be about 300 amp/hours for a full 250 mile charge, which would require a lot longer on regular home current). If people were to retrofit their houses with a heavy duty industrial machinery type outlet and switch, you could do 60 amp/hours in an hour, which cuts recharge time down to a bit more than an hour. However, this is not an insubtantial expenditure, and there are safety issues involved, not to mention the drain on your home circuit capacity (many homes, particularly older ones, have a maximum 100 amp total capacity).

The "EVSE system" delivers about 70 amps, but is a substantial expenditure that requires electrical permits for installation in most places. The Tesla roadster seems to assume that every purchaser will get such a system, and if you are spending $100k on the car, it is probably reasonable that you can spend whatever it takes to allow you to recharge the batteries in 4 hours. For the typical car buyer, however, it might be a different story.

Getting down to the magical 10 minute recharge times will require either very high amp/volt circuits, which are not practical in home or even small business applications, or they will require stationary battery packs that themselves slowly load up over time, and then can fill up a car battery quickly. This kind of equipment would be a substantial expenditure, that no one is currently figuring into the EV model.

All of this is to say that plug-in hybrids, which allow for local EV driving (slow-charged over night using existing electrical equipment), but fuel-based long-distance driving (using the existing gas station infrastructure), may well be the logical way to improve fuel economy, reduce greenhouse gases and save money for the next 30 to 50 years.



It's not at home you need fast recharge, but on the road. How often do you drive 200+ miles home, stay for 10 minutes and then drive off again for another long trip? I'm sure you will be able to find some who will testify that this capability is essential - fine, a hybrid for those folks then. Unless they are willing to stop by a fast-recharge station on the way...

But for a lot of commuters this is a non-issue.

I agree that high-amp charging in private homes has serious feasibility and safety issues, but it's not necessary for EV ownership. This is whole other matter at e.g. gas stations that could invest in higher power "bandwidth" and spread the costs over hundreds of fast-charges per day.

Btw, don't most American families have more than one car?


pelinoc, I agree with Thomas that rapid recharge would rarely be required at home. Typical recharge times would be overnight, also possibly taking advantage of cheaper electricity. You are also being too pessimistic about typical home electrical infrastructure. 30 Amp circuits are very common, and 200 Amp panel upgrades are done all the time and are not very expensive, relative to the cost of a car. Converting a circuit from 110 to 220 volts is trivial for an electrician and this alone would double the wattage available to a charger.

Electrical infrastructure is not going to be the rate-determining factor in EV utilization; cost-effective batteries and/or ultracaps are.


"cost-effective batteries and/or ultracaps are."

And the only thing that is lacking is mass production of these latest nanotech batteries. Capital is being with held in order to protect vested interests in internal combustion, fossil fuel powered transportation.

The resulting persistent emmission of CO 2 in turn is triggering massive releases of methane, with 21 times the effect as a green house gas as CO 2. Permafrost and undersea methane hydrate layers that hold back catastrophic releases of methane are melting.

We need mass production of these batteries on a scale large enough to replace internal combustion with battery electric transportation charged up with renewable energy in 10 years.

The Gates Foundation could do it. How about a billion dollar battery order or two Bill? Then donate the batteries to cities that signed on to the agreement to purchase plugin cars. NYC is converting cars to use as taxis.


I like your idea about the Bill Gates foundation, Dr. X :-D

cheap computers

This kind of equipment would be a substantial expenditure, that no one is currently figuring into the EV model.

used computers

Since I have these operating systems all running on a variety of not so new hardware, the tests are more for fun than for serious debate.

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Batteries/Hybrid Vehicles