Audi has announce that it plans it’s own EV design to compete with the Tesla Model X. The Audi E-tron quattro will be an SUV and one of the few vehicles planned with a 300+ mile range. The combination of an SUV sized vehicle with a range over 300 miles makes the e-tron quattro a first. Tesla’s Model X plans a 270-mile range in a crossover format. The smaller Chevy Bolt planned for 2017 and the 2017 Nissan Leaf both are planned to have 200-mile ranges.
Audi will unveil their EV SUV concept car at this September’s Frankfurt auto show.
Audi expects the vehicle to be available in 2018. With this announcement, Audi has set the bar higher for EV ranges. Todays 80-100 mile range vehicles work well for commuter cars and local trips. Many people are finding that they work well as commuter cars. The 200 and 300 mile range EVs planned in the next few years will allow EVs to compete head-to-head with gas burning vehicles.
Charged EVs’ article on the Audi e-tron Quattro:
CNBC article on the Audi
This recent blog post by Ian McClenny at Navigant Research discusses some of the recent developments in battery technology.
The post discusses some of the history of batteries. How Lithium Ion battery technology made the 275 mile range EV a reality and 80 mile range EVs a price effective alternative. Prior to that the weight of lead acid batteries limited range to 40-50 miles. NiCad batteries reduced the weight restriction, but had a limited number of recharges. Lithium ion (Li) battery technology increased the number of recharges and further reduced battery weight.
New developments in solid state technology for Li batteries promise even more energy per pound, more charges per battery, and faster recharge times from better temperature regulation. This will result in long EV range and reduced wait times for charges. The technology will also be useful for the grid by providing energy storage, load leveling, frequency regulation, and voltage support at the utility scale.
Not mentioned in the post are some of the alternate battery chemistries, such as zinc-air or aluminum-air batteries. Here’s a link to a recent article regarding zinc-air batteries. The potential of zinc-air batteries exceeds even the solid state Li technology.
For the second month in a row, EV Sales are down for both month-to-month and year-to-year sales. As with last month, the causes are similar.
- No major new introductions. Just the new Mercedes S550 Plug-in Hybrid.
- The end in production of Toyota plug-in vehicles in favor of fuel-cell vehicles that are not available yet.
- The switch over of production in both the Volt and Leaf from 2015 to 2016 models that promise better range.
- Even Tesla sales were below 2000 in July also as they prepare for the new model X.
With the manufacturers and consumers looking forward to new models and better ranges, EV sales will probably continue to move sideways or show decline until the fourth quarter.
For more details and model-by-model analysis, follow the link below:
California regulator Mary Nichols is looking to transform the auto industry. In order to meet emissions reductions in California, the state will need 100% of vehicles to be zero emissions or almost zero emissions by 2050. As a practical matter, that means that all vehicles sold in California will need to be battery electric vehicles, plug in hybrid vehicles, or fuel cell vehicles by 2030. The conventional internal combustion engine will be a thing of the past and California will eliminate gas burning cars.
Will this be technologically feasible? Yes, all three technologies are available now and offered to the public. The current limitation for the adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEV) is range and charging infrastructure. Battery improvements have meant that acceptable range of almost 300 miles to a charge is available at a high price with the Tesla, and more affordable 200 mile range vehicles are expected in 2017. Charging infrastructure is growing by leaps and bounds. With electrical supply available in almost all but the most remote areas, making chargers available is often a matter of running wires and installing the chargers.
Fuel Cell vehicles don’t have the range issues that BEVs have, but the infrastructure doesn’t exist. California plans to build more fuel stations but they cost 10 times or more the cost of a DC Fast charger for a BEV. The method of generating hydrogen can also be an issue. It takes four times the energy to create hydrogen that is zero emission vs using natural gas methods. Natural gas methods don’t cost as much or use as much energy, but don’t reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions as much.
Plug in hybrids are a compromise solution that doesn’t give the energy efficiency of a BEV or completely eliminate emissions due to their gas engine. These will probably be the car of choice until BEV technology and costs come down or fuel cell vehicle infrastructure and costs become competitive.
Here’s the link to the original article in Bloomberg:
Curious about Electric Vehicles?
They’re not only fun to drive and good for the environment, they’re also cost effective! Learn more at the Expo.
- Admission is FREE!
- Ride in or drive a variety of electric vehicles – cars from last year included BMW i3, Tesla, Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus, Chevy Volt, and Kia Soul.
- Talk with EV owners about their experience
- Talk with owners of cars converted to electric.
- View Charging Station Maps and learn about EV charging
National Drive Electric Week
National Drive Electric Week is a series of events put on nationwide to educate people about electric vehicles. EV’s have several advantages over gas vehicles and a few disadvantages. EV’s tend to have more acceleration, better handling, smell better, cost less to operate, cost less to purchase or lease in California, give access to the diamond lanes, are more efficient, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and are better for the environment than gas burning vehicles. While most are currently range limited to <100 miles freeway driving, newer models coming in 2016 and 2017 will have from 100 to 200+ mile ranges.
Visit driveelectricweek.org to learn about other events throughout the country and volunteer to attend.
Several articles and studies have been done recently regarding whether electric vehicles (EV’s) are really green. Are gas cars better for the environment? If we could switch to battery electric vehicles, should we?
In reviewing this question, there are three areas that I feel merit review:
- Energy efficiency
- Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
- Cost comparison
Each is worth looking at independently. So I’ll look at each in a separate post, this being the second.
GREENHOUSE GASES AND EMISSIONS
So with this second article, we’ll take a look at greenhouse gases.
The internal combustion engine generates a lot of toxic gases. There are definitive links between auto exhaust and asthma as well as cancer. There are also links between high levels of air pollution and heart attacks. Several studies have linked auto exhaust, especially diesel exhaust, to autism, Alzheimer’s and dementia, though I will point out that these studies do not necessarily show a cause and effect relationship. There are a lot of factors that have improved the quality of the exhaust from an internal combustion engine through the years. These include catalytic converters, filters, fuel injection, and other methods. Through the years, auto manufacturers have reduced the amount of poisonous emissions from gas burning engines dramatically. So much so that suicides by carbon monoxide poisoning from running a car in the garage have pretty much been eliminated and the number of accidental deaths from someone running the engine to make the heater work in a snowed-in vehicle is a rare occurrence. Even so, the nature of the internal combustion engine is that hazardous emissions, while they can be reduced, cannot be eliminated.
Electric Vehicles have no emissions at all at the point of operation. There are no gases generated at the point of use. Batteries are sealed and generally have a gel rather than a liquid core, so there are no harmful fumes. Recent breakthroughs in solid-state batteries may eliminate any liquid or out-gassing risk for battery electric vehicles. While there are no emissions generated at the point of use, the source of power used to generate the electricity may generate gasses. The generation of electricity is where an electric vehicle might not be green. On the other hand, the polluting power plant is probably not in your garage, backyard, or neighborhood, so the quality of the air one personally breathes will probably be improved by trading the gas burner for an electric vehicle. The gas burning car’s exhaust will always be a few yards away from your nose when you drive, though the electric power plant is probably miles away.
Each source of energy used to generate electricity has its own total GHG emission levels. To keep the analysis simple, I’ve chosen four sources for power and will compare GHG equivalents, which converts various pollutants into CO2 equivalent factors. First and last are Coal and Solar, which represent the worst and best GHG emissions for commonly used sources of energy. I’ve used grid mix emission numbers for comparison in the second and third positions. The US grid mix is used for the average. Those who live in high coal using states will have an emission level somewhere between the coal and US grid mix level. Since most EVs being driven today are in California, I’ve also included the CA grid mix, which is significantly cleaner than the US grid mix.
EMISSIONS AT POINT OF USE
Unlike the prior article, where it made sense to show the Pump/Plug-to-Wheel (PTW) efficiency, because EVs have zero emissions, there’s no point in putting up a chart comparing PTW of gas to EV vehicles. The gas cars give off toxic gases at the point of use, the EVs don’t.
EMISSIONS IN GENERATION
The chart below shows the well-to-wheels (WTW) emissions using the GREET application to generate our numbers. For the gas cars, I’ve compared a fuel-efficient 35mpg vehicle with a Nissan Leaf and BMW i3, the next comparison is between a luxury sedan/average car (both get the same MPG on average and generate similar emissions in the model) and the Tesla. The last comparison is the most apples to apples comparison, the RAV4 2 wheel drive gas burner vs. the RAV4 EV.
Total GHG emissions for Gas and Electric Vehicles of similar classes with multiple forms of generation
Note: The GHG emissions from solar (.027 g/mile) have been exaggerated in order to display on the chart.
Using grid power and especially solar power, the electric vehicles are significantly less polluting than gas burning vehicles. Only when comparing pure coal generated electricity against gas cars does the balance shift. While it is true that when using coal, the WTW emissions of an EV can be as much as 20% more than a comparable gas burning vehicle, when powered by solar generated electricity the balance shifts in favor of the electric vehicle by more than 10,000 to 1 (3-400 g/mile vs. 0.027 g/mile = 11,000-14,000 to 1).
It can be argued that coal plants are favored when generating marginal electric power. For example, a grid running at night has a single EV plugged in and is forced to generate more electricity. The additional electricity will probably come from a coal plant. Under this marginal analysis, the EV uses coal, which is the dirtier alternative, thus EVs are dirtier. However, marginal analysis only works when there are small quantities of EVs. There were over 119,000 plug-in vehicles sold in the US last year and that is a number large enough that marginal analysis breaks down. With enough EVs on the road, the power companies will need to keep more efficient plants on line or build new plants. The power companies would build more efficient and less polluting power plants to generate the electricity needed to meet the new baseline power requirements caused by the EV usage. Which means it’s fair to compare the EVs using the average grid power mix rather than marginal power.
EMISSIONS IN VEHICLE PRODUCTION
If one stopped the analysis at generation and Operation, EV’s are the clear winners. However, making batteries uses a lot of power and can generate a lot of GHG emissions. It’s pretty difficult to analyze the GHG emissions during production; firm numbers are not available. Even if they were, a change in the supply chain can dramatically impact emissions. The Leaf is built at an energy star compliant factory in an area with higher than average coal mix in the electric grid, is it a cleaner or dirtier factory because of it, or is it a wash? The BMW i3 is built at plants that are primarily powered by low emissions electricity such as solar and hydroelectric. These clean energy sources reduce the GHG emissions for the vehicle production, but how much does that reduce the emissions generated in building the battery? To generate an answer that is reasonable, but is really just an educated guess, I’ll go back to the Argonne National Lab and use an average number based on the weight of the batteries installed. A 2010 report on battery life-cycle costs gives an average of 12.5 kg CO2/kg of battery. Adding the other pollutants generated creating the battery gives a total average GHG CO2 equivalent of 13.0 kg/kg of battery. Multiplying by the weight of the battery gives ~2800 kg GHG for the battery of a Leaf, ~3000 kg for a BMW i3, ~7200 for a Tesla, and ~4900 for a RAV4. These numbers are probably high because EV battery producers have been working to reduce the emission profile of batteries. How much has been reduced is up for debate, so we’ll run with these numbers and just remember that the numbers are probably on the high side.
From the chart, you can see that the GHG emissions from production of a gas car are somewhere between one half to one quarter the amount of GHG emissions from building an electric vehicle. The EV doesn’t look as good from an emissions point now, however, the one year operating GHG emissions of a gas car are almost twice that of the production emissions. What’s the best way to make sense of this information? Perhaps a good way is too look at the point in time where driving an EV equals the same emissions as driving a gas car. Here are several charts comparing emissions over time. The calculations below assume 12,000 miles per year of driving. Please note that the emissions from the operation of a solar vehicle have been exaggerated greatly in order to display something on the chart.
FUEL EFFICIENT CAR vs LEAF and BMW i3
The source of the generation power makes all the difference. EV’s powered by coal start out with an emissions disadvantage and never recover the emissions deficit. EVs that use US grid electricity or CA grid electricity will make up the deficit within 2 years and when solar energy is used to generate the electricity, the deficit is made up for in less than one year. Does the same ratio hold true with the larger EVs?
TESLA AND RAV4 vs GAS CARS
These charts are similar to the more fuel-efficient vehicles above, but the larger battery packs mean a larger emission deficit to overcome and more time required to reach parity with the gas burning vehicle. As with the smaller vehicles, using straight coal to generate electricity means that the EV never recovers from the emissions deficit and actually creates more emissions than the gas car over time. The time to make up the emissions deficit is longer with these larger vehicles, with grid generated power being made up in the third year and even Solar generated power takes until early in the second year of operation to make up the emissions deficit caused by production.
I didn’t add in the replacement of the battery pack into this equation because the packs last 5+ years and I’m only looking at three years on the graph. However, battery packs degrade over time. If one assumes total replacement at 5 years, the EV will still create lower emissions than the gas burner, except in the case of coal generation. Why? Because the gas burner generates more emissions in two years than a battery lasting 5 years will generate. Replacing the battery still ends up giving the EV and edge over the gas burner. You might ask what happens to the old EV battery? Well, even an EV battery that can hold only a 50% charge has a smaller footprint than the lead acid batteries currently used in solar storage. There is a fledgling industry in taking those used batteries and using them for solar storage, which extends the life many more years. Because the batteries can be repurposed, they don’t need to be scrapped or recycled.
Given the average 10-year life of an automobile, the electric vehicle using US grid power for generation will be cleaner than any gas vehicle in its class. When using cleaner grid power such as that of California, the EV fairs even better. If the owner uses solar energy to power the EV, then the EV is dramatically cleaner. A gas car would have to stop driving somewhere before two years in order to generate the same amount of GHG as an electric vehicle powered by solar would in 10 years.
1) At the point of use, the electric vehicle will always have fewer emissions than a gas-burning vehicle. Due to modern zoning regulations, electric power plants are usually not located near residential areas. So, if you want to clean up the air around your home, school or just in the area you’re driving, an electric vehicle will do the trick.
2) When adding in the emissions caused by generation, under most circumstances, the EV is going to generate fewer emissions than a gas-burning vehicle of the same class. The exception is when coal is used to generate electricity. There are a few states, such as Kentucky, where coal is the source of almost all grid electricity generated. However, when solar is used to generate the electricity, the EV is practically a zero emissions vehicle, with less than three one-hundredths of a gram of emissions per mile. If one lives in a state with US grid level emissions or better, such as the Pacific Coast states of California, Oregon, and Washington, the EV is going to be the greener vehicle. If you can add solar to your house and use that to generate electricity for your EV, regardless of the grid power mix, you’ve pretty much eliminated GHG emissions from your driving.
3) Adding in the production emissions give EVs a slightly less rosy picture, but, still the EV looks better over time. The initial emissions deficit the EV has when it rolls off the production line is made up for in as little as one year of driving a gas burner and at most 3 years. Coal generated electricity is the exception to this rule.
Battery Electric Vehicles are generally cleaner than gas burning vehicles of the same class. When powered by renewable energy sources such as solar, they are significantly cleaner. So much so, that driving a gas burning vehicle for more than one year is worse than all the emissions of driving an electric vehicle until the battery needs to be replaced.
The tremendous (over 11,000 to 1 ratio) operational emissions reduction of driving on solar generated power is one of the reasons Sunspeed Enterprises is committed to using zero emissions power sources for our charging network.
This article is courtesy of ChargedEVs, a publication that covers the electric vehicle industry.
Once again, Tesla has come up with an innovation that could be far more significant than is apparent at first glance. Speaking at the latest shareholders’ meeting, Elon Musk said that Tesla has “just introduced” a liquid-cooled cable to the Supercharger system (around 24 minutes into the video below). Liquid cooling allows the cable to be thinner and more flexible while carrying the same amount of current.
The first working model is at the Mountain View Supercharger location.
Okay, it’s easy to see that recharging your car with a thin and supple cord is more convenient than having to wrestle with a big stiff snake of a cable, but what’s the big deal? The possibility of a big deal is implied by Musk’s next remark: “It also has the potential for increased power of the Supercharger long-term.”
The two main drawbacks of current EVs are limited range and long charging times. Even DC fast chargers can take up to half an hour to deliver a full charge. While the range issue is slowly but surely receding, some believe that there may be an unavoidable limit to how quickly a battery can be charged.
For the complete article, please click here.
This article is courtesy of ChargedEVs
Chemists at Canada’s University of Waterloo have described a key mediation pathway that explains why sodium-oxygen batteries are more energy-efficient compared with their lithium-oxygen counterparts.
“Our new understanding brings together a lot of different, disconnected bits of a puzzle that have allowed us to assemble the full picture,” says Professor Linda Nazar. “These findings will change the way we think about non-aqueous metal-oxygen batteries.”
In a paper published in the journal Nature Chemistry, Nazar and her colleagues describe their discovery of the so-called proton phase transfer catalyst. By isolating its role in the battery’s discharge and recharge reactions, they were able to boost the battery’s capacity, and achieve a near-perfect recharge of the cell.
Unlike the traditional solid-state battery design, a metal-oxygen battery uses a gas cathode that combines oxygen with a metal such as sodium or lithium to form a metal oxide, storing electrons in the process. Applying an electric current reverses the reaction and returns the metal to its original form.
To read the full story, please click here.
Several articles and studies have been done recently regarding whether EV’s are really green. Are gas cars better for the environment? If we could switch to battery electric vehicles, should we?
In reviewing this question, there are three areas that I feel merit review:
- Energy efficiency
- Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
- Cost comparison
Each is worth looking at independently. So I’ll look at each in a separate post, this being the first.
First Energy efficiency
Is the EV more energy efficient than a gas burning car? The short answer is yes. In any given class, the EV is more energy efficient than a gas burning car.
How did I come to that conclusion and why is it so definitive?
First, electric motors are tremendously more energy efficient than gas engines used for vehicles. About 80% efficient for the electric motor, and 20% efficient for the gas engine. A quick look at some of the EVs on the road shows that the comparison holds with EVs getting about 3-4x the mileage of gas vehicles in the same class. A Tesla gets about 98 MPGe vs 24 mpg for the average luxury sedan. The best EVs get 100-120 mpge vs 30-40 mpg for the best small cars. The BMW i3 is rated 137 mpge city, a full 100 mpg higher than just about any pure gas burning vehicle’s city mileage. The above numbers are EPA ratings, many EV drivers get better mileage by driving in the EV’s economy mode most of the time. My personal average after 36,000 miles in a 2012 Leaf is 4.1 miles/kwh or ~135mpg combined city and highway.
But this phenomenal mileage may be a little misleading. It is based on the power from the plug or pump to the wheels (PTW), the EV gets an advantage because the electricity has to be generated elsewhere. What about the power required to generate the electricity and for the gas vehicle, what about the cost to drill, refine, transport and pump the gas? So how bad can generation costs be?
Electricity can be generated a number of ways. Solar generates electricity directly from light, wind and hydro electric use the motion of wind or water to generate electricity. Nuclear power uses fission to generate heat to run steam turbines. Natural gas, coal, and bio-combustion generators burn fuels to generate motion directly through an engine or to generate heat to run steam turbines. All of these have different energy costs to build and energy costs to operate. However, even fuel burning generators are more efficient when used to generate electricity rather than motive power. This is mainly because the generator can always be run at the most efficient speed for energy generation while a car’s engine speed is based on the desired speed for the vehicle, which may not be most energy efficient.
Gasoline is pumped from ancient reserves of oil in the earth, refined from oil (or coal, for synthetic fuels) into gasoline, and transported to the gas station for use. There is an energy cost for bringing gasoline to your local gas station that can also be measured and taken into account.
Fortunately, someone has already done most of the legwork on the energy cost for generation also known as the Well-to-Pump (WTP) cost. The Argonne National Laboratory has developed a program called GREET – Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation. This model is designed as a well-to-wheels model for many forms of transportation. The model allows users to add their own data for analysis while building in research that is already complete. I’ll be using data generated using this model for my analysis.
In addition to operational and well-to-wheel energy costs, there’s the energy cost to build. The gas burning car uses about half the power to build that an EV does. The energy cost to build a gas car is equal to around 6-8 month’s worth of driving at the average of 12,000 miles per year. For a gas car, this represents about 5% of the total energy used. If the EV burned gas, the energy cost to build would represent 10% of the total energy used, or the EV uses five percent more than the gas car over the average life of an average vehicle driven an average number of miles. For purposes of this analysis, I won’t be adding this energy cost to the comparison. Just keep in mind that the EV starts with an energy deficit that is balanced out after 6-8 months of driving.
Operational Energy usage of Gas and Electric Vehicles of similar classes
The chart above shows that from plug/pump-to-wheel, in each class, the BEV has a much higher energy efficiency than the gas burning car. However, the electricity has to be generated somehow and there are additional energy costs in drilling and transporting the gasoline. So the chart below adds those generation and drilling costs, to provide the well-to-wheel energy costs.
Total Energy usage of Gas and Electric Vehicles of similar classes, with multiple forms of generation
The graphs show that the electric vehicles are more energy efficient, even if powered by coal.
A Leaf or i3 using a Coal generated source saves somewhere between 20-25% of the energy vs. a fuel efficient car. A Tesla using the same source saves about 30% vs an average car while the RAV4 EV saves about 17% vs its gas burning counterpart.
A Leaf or i3 using US Grid generated power saves somewhere between 45% – 50% of the energy vs. a fuel efficient car. A Tesla using the same source saves about 55% vs an average car while the RAV4 EV save about 33% vs its gas burning counterpart.
The real savings starts to show when solar power is used to generate electricity. All of the EVs get 75% or greater fuel efficiency than a gas burning car when renewable solar energy is used to generate electricity.
A note about hybrids
I deliberately am not including hybrids in this analysis. There are may hybrids and electric assist vehicles on the market and some increase fuel efficiency while others use the electric motor to create more power. To generalize, the hybrid will use more energy to build than a gas car and possibly more than even a battery electric vehicle, but possibly less depending on battery size. The fuel efficiency will be between the gas car and the EV. The hybrid trades lower fuel efficiency for higher range.
The EV is more energy efficient than the gas burning vehicle. That applies even if coal is used to generate the electricity. The transition from gas burning vehicles to electric vehicles will reduce energy consumption in the US. Combining that with solar electricity generation will free up tremendous amounts of power for other purposes.
Next, Part 2 – Green House Gas Emissions
The Nissan Leaf, already a smash hit in the U.S., is poised to become a similar EV sensation in Europe. The Japanese automaker expects to increase European sales of the Leaf electric car by “double-digit” percentage points in 2015 following record sales in 2014.
European executives likely see sales rising by 25 percent, thanks to a reduction in price, government subsidies that make the Leaf an attractive option for buyers, and favorable lease terms. For instance, in France, the Leaf can be leased for 169 euros a month because of generous government incentives.
The Leaf made its European debut five years ago.