Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Electric Cars: Inches away from the Goal
Only inches away from the goal.
So some good news on the electric car front.
It's my position that when we achieve the ability to produce an electric car more or less comparable in size and interior space to todays vehicles which can drive for 8-10 hours at a reasonable speed (say 60 miles an hour) and be fully recharged in a reasonable time (say less than an hour) then we have hit 100% substitution.
Well we're close to that goal.
Recently the German Electricity company Lekker Energie converted a full size Audi A2 without taking up the trunk (i.e. a fully functional Audi A2) to an all electric car. The battery was a high efficiency polymer battery produced by German company DBM Energy. What makes that battery special is that it can be recharged fully in less than 10 minutes.
The test driver, Mirko Hanneman took the car for a pretty chunk ride of 375 miles without recharging at a speed of 55 miles an hour. He did the ride in just under seven hours. He drove from Munich to Berlin and when he reached Berlin he drove around a little and did a few chores before re-connecting.
Now call me a techno-cornucopian or whatever other slur you want but I reckon that covers about 90% of the anti-electric-car whining I have heard over the last ten years.
I'll go further than that: I declare this to be victory. Given that the charging time is less than an hour we have de facto achieved 100% substitutability. Not every vehicle on the market is capable of driving 400 miles without having to refill the tank. I'd say, in fact, that nobody realistically drives until their tank is completely empty in practise either. Most people will stop after say three to four hours driving and take a rest-room break or eat something and while they're doing that likely top up the gas tank. In this case the same paradigm would apply: take a rest-room break and maybe eat something while the battery is being topped off.
You could effectively drive round the clock to the maximum realistic human ability, same as you can now, assuming of course the availability of charging points.
The point is, now all the hard technical R&D has been done.
All that's left now is process engineering and construction of a network of charging stations to get this down to a reasonable price (and process engineering is just the thing multi-national companies are expert at and given that multi-nationals are the ones with the money invested in this then I'd say what we're looking at is a slam-dunk).
So we can now say with some certainty that we have the technology available for the pieces to enable the current paradigm to continue.
So much for "dieoff".
FYI The photo above is the Audi A2: kind of like a small-ish SUV. Other than die-hard pickup freaks, this would be more than adequate for the average North American driver and certainly surpasses the average rest-of-world vehicle.