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Shai Agassi: A bold plan for mass adoption of electric cars

Gabriel

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Clearly this is indeed a daring solution to petroleum based combustion engines. Yes the downside is infrastructure implementation.. I think this would be a great federal project at this time that is completely acceptable. Considering the trillions spent on wars and bailing out private sector wouldn't this be a good investment for the future? Creating this infrastructure would have huge return on investment. Of course it would also have to include car manufactures to comply with certain standards on battery standards.

After creating the infrastructure the fed could run it and use revenues from the rental of charged batteries to pay for the infrastructure then sell it off to private interests after acceptable revenue is generated. This would be a long term implement obviously but it would be a huge move towards energy independence. All the oil pundits can make a stink about this if they like however it isn’t time to make arguments like this. America can wallow in the past or move into the future. Other countries will be moving away from the combustion engine and the electric car market is indeed the market of the future. Car manufacturers are going to need to move away from the combustion engine.

In my opinion America missed the boat on being the manufacturers of the car of the future by killing the electric car project in the 1990s. It would have advanced the sector head and shoulders in front of the competition. Instead.. American car manufacturers went on to create even larger and more gas guzzling vehicles.



Preview of “Who killed the electric car?”

EDIT:I recomend watching this documentary. It was eye opening for me personally.
 
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spud_meister

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i'm personally think hydrogen fuelled cars are a much better option, they run just like normal petrol cars, and you just stop and fill 'em up like a normal car, and their energy is clean, unlike electric cars, which still get the energy from coal fired plants.
 

Gabriel

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i'm personally think hydrogen fuelled cars are a much better option, they run just like normal petrol cars, and you just stop and fill 'em up like a normal car, and their energy is clean, unlike electric cars, which still get the energy from coal fired plants.
Hydrogen fuel cell technology is insanely expensive and unrealistic. It isn't anywhere near viable.

 

spud_meister

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Hydrogen fuel cell technology is insanely expensive and unrealistic. It isn't anywhere near viable.

that video is a bit out of date (and highly biased), hydrogen fuel cell cars no longer cost $1000000, the honda clarity is down to $140,000, and technology will keep on improving.
 

Gabriel

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that video is a bit out of date (and highly biased), hydrogen fuel cell cars no longer cost $1000000, the honda clarity is down to $140,000, and technology will keep on improving.
Still what is an even stronger argument for electric cars is the technology is known and inexpensive comparatively speaking. There are a lot of complex technical problems associated with hydrogen vehicles.. the video was made in 2007. I would say hydrogen fuel cell viability is years away.

Further even using coal fired power plant electricity you still are producing far less greenhouse gasses then driving using gasoline. Alternative forms of power generation that don't burn coal would produce zero Co2 emissions.
 

rathi

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i'm personally think hydrogen fuelled cars are a much better option, they run just like normal petrol cars, and you just stop and fill 'em up like a normal car, and their energy is clean, unlike electric cars, which still get the energy from coal fired plants.
Hydrogen is made in bulk either from fossil fuels or by electrolysis. Thus, calling it "more clean" is not true at all, especially considering that is fuel cells are far less energy efficient that using power lines and batteries.

The primary issue with electric cars at the moment is batteries. Current models are too expensive and too heavy, which seriously cuts into the competitive ability of the electric vehicle. Funding battery technology should be a top priority, especially considering better batteries would be incredibly useful in other applications.
 

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i'm personally think hydrogen fuelled cars are a much better option, they run just like normal petrol cars, and you just stop and fill 'em up like a normal car, and their energy is clean, unlike electric cars, which still get the energy from coal fired plants.
Generating the hydrogen requires a significant amount of electricity.
 

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Yeah I think the feds ought to stop financing big oils little game with regards to hydrogen fuel cells. Clearly it was big oil that shut down the original attempt to bring electric vehicles to the market. Hydrogen is still being pushed even though electric cars have been a clear winner for over ten years.


Hydrogen economy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Currently, global hydrogen production is 48% from natural gas, 30% from oil, and 18% from coal; water electrolysis accounts for only 4%.[13] The distribution of production reflects the effects of thermodynamic constraints on economic choices: of the four methods for obtaining hydrogen, partial combustion of natural gas in a NGCC (natural gas combined cycle) power plant offers the most efficient chemical pathway and the greatest off-take of usable heat energy.
 

Apocalypse

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It's too bad that Agassi doesn't even get support from his own government.
No one is willing to take the risk that is funding this project, we don't know yet if this is even a viable solution, let alone how expensive it'd be.
 

Gabriel

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It's too bad that Agassi doesn't even get support from his own government.
No one is willing to take the risk that is funding this project, we don't know yet if this is even a viable solution, let alone how expensive it'd be.
Israel and Japan are both implementing some form.. the Chinese are stealing it.

Shai Agassi: Israel will have 100,000 electric cars in 2 years
Shai Agassi: Israel will have 100,000 electric cars in 2 years — Autoblog Green

Shai Agassi: A Trillion Dollar Transportation Opportunity
FORA.tv - Shai Agassi: A Trillion Dollar Transportation Opportunity

 
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Gabriel

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I know this is coming off like Agassi spam but there are some interesting ideas also expressed in this lecture as well.

 

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He does a really good job of describing some of the fundamental problems we're having with transitioning off of gasoline-based cars. The infrastructure has to be in place or nobody will buy the cars, but how do you get the incredible amount of investment necessary to build this infrastructure before you have a product to service? It's a big project for any one or two companies to try and take on. But it's not too big for a government.

I bet you could shave $100 billion per year from the US Defense budget for the next ten years and spend it on electric car infrastructure and have a net positive effect on our national security and end up saving ourselves tremendous amounts of money. We just need the political willpower to take the plunge.
 
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Gabriel

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He does a really good job of describing some of the fundamental problems we're having with transitioning off of gasoline-based cars. The infrastructure has to be in place or nobody will buy the cars, but how do you get the incredible amount of investment necessary to build this infrastructure before you have a product to service? It's a big project for any one or two companies to try and take on. But it's not too big for a government.

I bet you could shave $100 billion per year from the US Defense budget for the next ten years and spend it on electric car infrastructure and have a net positive effect on our national security and end up saving ourselves tremendous amounts of money. We just need the political willpower to take the plunge.
Agreed. Just spreading the knowledge and creating the political will is all it takes. But it needs to be done in short order.
 

Deuce

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Agreed. Just spreading the knowledge and creating the political will is all it takes. But it needs to be done in short order.
I was thinking of proposing several ways to cut $100 billion from the defense budget per year and then I realized it's pretty simple:

Leave Iraq. Bam. Free* electric car infrastructure in a decade's time.


*Not actually free
 
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Gabriel

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I was thinking of proposing several ways to cut $100 billion from the defense budget per year and then I realized it's pretty simple:

Leave Iraq. Bam. Free* electric car infrastructure in a decade's time.


*Not actually free
Seems like a no brainer. : /
 

rathi

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He does a really good job of describing some of the fundamental problems we're having with transitioning off of gasoline-based cars. The infrastructure has to be in place or nobody will buy the cars, but how do you get the incredible amount of investment necessary to build this infrastructure before you have a product to service? It's a big project for any one or two companies to try and take on. But it's not too big for a government.
That isn't true. Anyone can use existing infrastructure to plug in electric vehicles without issue. If electric cars started to seriously replace gasoline vehicles, upgrades would be required, but that doesn't impeded the early players. The simple problem is no alternative vehicle of any kind is going to make an impact until it can match the Camry on price and performance. Electric cars have the potential, but better batteries are needed to make it reality.
 

Deuce

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That isn't true. Anyone can use existing infrastructure to plug in electric vehicles without issue. If electric cars started to seriously replace gasoline vehicles, upgrades would be required, but that doesn't impeded the early players. The simple problem is no alternative vehicle of any kind is going to make an impact until it can match the Camry on price and performance. Electric cars have the potential, but better batteries are needed to make it reality.
The issues with this:
1) Electric outlets are not commonly found at parking spaces
2) A battery takes hours to charge. If we increase their capacity, it also increases charge time. (as he explained in the video, the batteries we use now would require a 2 megawatt line to charge fast enough to be as fast as a gas station fill) This leads to the necessity of the swap stations because otherwise long-distance driving becomes impossible.
3) We would still need an increase in our electric power generation. While he says that it would only be a 6% increase in total electricity consumption, I expect we'd need a bit more total capacity because the extra load will probably be concentrated at the end of the work day when everyone gets home and plugs in.

The swap stations are the biggest change, but there's issues with that too. Gasoline is pretty easy because it's a liquid. The tank's size, shape, and location aren't important. Even the gas itself can vary, your car doesn't particularly care what octane fuel goes in. Batteries do not share this versatility. A swap station, most likely, would have to use batteries that are in a standardized location, size, shape, installation method, and even energy capacity. This makes future changes to the infrastructure difficult, as now every car and every station have to be compatible with any upgrade. Tricky stuff, it would pretty much require some government-mandated standards from the start so that we don't have issues with GM cars working at company X's stations while Toyota's work with company Y's stations, etc. If the convenience is not equal to or greater than a gas-powered car, people will shy away. We need full market penetration as fast as possible.

As for vehicle performance, that's actually quite simple. You can get a crapload of torque instantly from an electric motor. Speed wont be a problem. Battery capacity is the last domino, but the swap station idea can work around that. We can build high-capacity batteries, but for the time being it's unlikely that we'll be able to do it cheaply.
 
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Shai Agassi says it’s electric cars or apprehension if we wish to appulse emissions. His company, Better Place, has a abolitionist plan to yield absolute countries oil-free by 2020.TEDTalks is a circadian video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, area the world’s arch thinkers and doers accord the allocution of their lives in 18 minutes. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development
and the arts. Watch the Top 10 TEDTalks on TED.
 

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rathi

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1) Electric outlets are not commonly found at parking spaces
Thankfully there is a handy device called the extension cord.

2) A battery takes hours to charge. If we increase their capacity, it also increases charge time. (as he explained in the video, the batteries we use now would require a 2 megawatt line to charge fast enough to be as fast as a gas station fill) This leads to the necessity of the swap stations because otherwise long-distance driving becomes impossible.
That isn't going to be a hurdle to selling the first few cars. Most families have more than one car, and its common enough to have separate cars for everyday driving and a larger suv or truck for going on vacation. Once electric cars have managed to build up a sizable market that way, there would be enough demand to start including high-speed charging at gas stations.

3) We would still need an increase in our electric power generation. While he says that it would only be a 6% increase in total electricity consumption, I expect we'd need a bit more total capacity because the extra load will probably be concentrated at the end of the work day when everyone gets home and plugs in.
Thousands of cars all throughout the country get charged on off-peak hours at night is not going to put a noticeable strain on the power grid. We are not even close to the point where we need to upgrade our infrastructure to handle the cars.


The swap stations are the biggest change, but there's issues with that too. Gasoline is pretty easy because it's a liquid. The tank's size, shape, and location aren't important. Even the gas itself can vary, your car doesn't particularly care what octane fuel goes in. Batteries do not share this versatility. A swap station, most likely, would have to use batteries that are in a standardized location, size, shape, installation method, and even energy capacity. This makes future changes to the infrastructure difficult, as now every car and every station have to be compatible with any upgrade. Tricky stuff, it would pretty much require some government-mandated standards from the start so that we don't have issues with GM cars working at company X's stations while Toyota's work with company Y's stations, etc. If the convenience is not equal to or greater than a gas-powered car, people will shy away. We need full market penetration as fast as possible.
Battery swapping is not the optimal strategy. It is much easier to build a super high powered charging station than deal with the insanely complicated logistics of battery swapping. Trying to force manufacturer compliance, making it easy to remove hundreds of pounds of batteries, and trying to maintain a proper inventory of charged batteries is a nightmare. A charging station just needs a few extra power lines and rapid-discharge capacitor.


As for vehicle performance, that's actually quite simple. You can get a crapload of torque instantly from an electric motor. Speed wont be a problem. Battery capacity is the last domino, but the swap station idea can work around that.
No you can't. Batteries has terrible energy density, and thus getting equivalent range weight requires a huge weight penalty. Swap stations won't make the car weigh less, nor will they mitigate the fact that people don't like going to the gas station every 50 miles. Battery technology needs to improve to the point where price, range and driving performance match the Camry. At this point, we are only at one 1 for 3.

We can build high-capacity batteries, but for the time being it's unlikely that we'll be able to do it cheaply.
Which is why we need better and cheaper batteries to make it work. The paper battery concept uses no expensive components, although the manufacturing process for the nano-tubes needs to be scaled up to the industrial level.
 

Deuce

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Battery swapping is not the optimal strategy. It is much easier to build a super high powered charging station than deal with the insanely complicated logistics of battery swapping. Trying to force manufacturer compliance, making it easy to remove hundreds of pounds of batteries, and trying to maintain a proper inventory of charged batteries is a nightmare. A charging station just needs a few extra power lines and rapid-discharge capacitor.
I agree with Shai Agassi that if it takes more than 5 minutes, people aren't going to be very interested. You can't charge a 100-mile battery in 5 minutes, let alone a 300-mile battery. A power station would need like 10 or 20 MWs of power output to feed several cars this much energy in that short amount of time. That's assuming the batteries don't melt in the process and nobody kills themselves by mishandling a cable with that much power running through it.
 

rathi

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I agree with Shai Agassi that if it takes more than 5 minutes, people aren't going to be very interested. You can't charge a 100-mile battery in 5 minutes, let alone a 300-mile battery. A power station would need like 10 or 20 MWs of power output to feed several cars this much energy in that short amount of time. That's assuming the batteries don't melt in the process and nobody kills themselves by mishandling a cable with that much power running through it.
The power station can simply store the power in capacitors which can easily handle the megawatt discharge capability. Small gas stations could use normal grid power and store it, while high-use stations would need extra power lines. Safety issues are minimal, especially compared to gasoline. You can insulate the cables, and it isn't hard to design a plug that prevents morons from electrocuting themselves. While it will take some engineering work, none of the problems can't be solved with known and reliable technology. The political problems of standardizing battery swaps are infinitely more complicated than doing some electrical work. Even from an engineering perspective, the heavy lift machinery and design compromises for easily removable battery packs are probably more complicated and expensive.
 

Deuce

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The power station can simply store the power in capacitors which can easily handle the megawatt discharge capability. Small gas stations could use normal grid power and store it, while high-use stations would need extra power lines. Safety issues are minimal, especially compared to gasoline. You can insulate the cables, and it isn't hard to design a plug that prevents morons from electrocuting themselves. While it will take some engineering work, none of the problems can't be solved with known and reliable technology. The political problems of standardizing battery swaps are infinitely more complicated than doing some electrical work. Even from an engineering perspective, the heavy lift machinery and design compromises for easily removable battery packs are probably more complicated and expensive.
I'll be the first to admit that I have very little knowledge of electrical engineering, but it seems to me as though the capacitor doesn't really solve the power draw issue, it merely provides a buffer. You still have to charge the capacitors, and if a charging station is receiving steady business, the end result is you still need incoming power enough to charge the capacitors as fast as they're being used, right? I suppose the swap-station could run into a similar issue if they just ran out of batteries.

There's still the issue of the battery, though. Can a battery take in that much electricity in that small amount of time without bursting into flames? A near-dead battery being hooked up to that strong a charger seems like it would draw too many amps. Working with jets, we were always cautioned that if the battery was too low so as to require a "jump-start," it is likely that the generators would charge the battery too fast and you'd risk a fire.

Eh, I'll let the smart people figure it out :)
 

rathi

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I'll be the first to admit that I have very little knowledge of electrical engineering, but it seems to me as though the capacitor doesn't really solve the power draw issue, it merely provides a buffer. You still have to charge the capacitors, and if a charging station is receiving steady business, the end result is you still need incoming power enough to charge the capacitors as fast as they're being used, right? I suppose the swap-station could run into a similar issue if they just ran out of batteries.
The key is to charge the capacitor even when you don't have customers, so you can smooth out the peak power draw over the entire day. Wholesale electricity costs are dependent on the time of day, so it would make sense to charge it during off-peak hours for economic reasons anyways.

There's still the issue of the battery, though. Can a battery take in that much electricity in that small amount of time without bursting into flames? A near-dead battery being hooked up to that strong a charger seems like it would draw too many amps. Working with jets, we were always cautioned that if the battery was too low so as to require a "jump-start," it is likely that the generators would charge the battery too fast and you'd risk a fire.
It is possible to make energy storage mechanisms that can be charged quickly and safely. However you need a battery that is fast charging, safe, reliable, has good energy density and affordable all at once. Currently we have batteries that feature a few of those qualities, but not all of them combined.
 
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