Op-Ed: How to Counter Anti-EV Canards? Just Say, “Never Show a Fool a Job Half-Done.”

OCT 19 2015 BY ASSAF ORON 92

Nearly all the criticism we hear in the media against electric vehicles is based on two very simple fallacies. It has taken me a while to figure this out, but now that I’ve had my epiphany I’m glad to share it with you.

The main fallacy is ignoring that modern EVs are a new technology. Almost universally, if a new technology is commercially and practically viable, then it will experience rapid improvement during its first few generations (the technology’s generations, not human generations).

Caption: Oldsmobile Curved Dash, the first mass-produced assembly-line ICE car (1901-1907; 1904 shown. Attribution: Wikipedia).

Caption: Oldsmobile Curved Dash, the first mass-produced assembly-line ICE car (1901-1907; 1904 shown. Attribution: Wikipedia).

Most negative critique of EVs pretends (implicitly) that EVs are a mature technology, and therefore what we see from EVs now, is as good as they’re going to get.

To understand how ridiculous this is, go no further than the early history of ICE cars themselves. It took ~15 years after the first ICE automobile, for an automaker to figure out how to build cars using an assembly line. From that point onwards, progress was incredibly swift.

GM's First Generation Chevrolet Volt (PHEV) and Spark EV (BEV)

GM’s First Generation Chevrolet Volt (PHEV) and Spark EV (BEV)

The first line-produced car was the reasonably-affordable Oldsmobile Curved Dash (pictured above). The 1901-1903 model’s 1-cylinder engine had 4 HP output and 20 MPH top speed. The 1904-1907 improved to 7 HP and 25 MPH. Hand-cranking was needed to start it. Range is hard to find, but with 5 gallons and a primitive engine it couldn’t have been much.

Now, envision a journalist with a mindset like present-day EV critics, coming onto the scene in 1904. He would “Meh” at the Dash’s improvements, point out that its speed is barely more than a good-quality horse carriage (not to mention a train) – certainly not worth the price, the noise and the hassle of looking for expensive fuel. America’s first filling station would open only the following year, and the first one resembling what we’d envision as a gas station wasn’t opened until 1913.

Our critic would end up ridiculing the entire automobile concept as a stupid toy for the rich to throw money at. Even considering up-and-coming rival Ford’s 1904 offering, the Ford Model C with somewhat superior specs (2-cylinder 8 HP), would not convince the critic otherwise. True, in 1904 a Ford car set an land-speed record of 91 MPH. But that was a one-of-a-kind monster with a 19-liter engine; definitely not anything resembling a consumer product.

Dial another half-decade forward, and in late 1908 Ford came out with a moving assembly-line and the Model T: an electric-ignition, 4-cylinder, 20-HP, 40+ MPH automobile having a somewhat higher price point than the Dash, but essentially a supercar by comparison (pictured below). And within 6-7 years a new Model T cost less than half its original price, with specs and design continuously improving.

Caption: Ford Model T, the car that brought the automobile into the mainstream (1908-1927; 1919 shown. Attribution: Wikipedia).

Caption: Ford Model T, the car that brought the automobile into the mainstream (1908-1927; 1919 shown. Attribution: Wikipedia).

Of course, I’m not suggesting a literal comparison between EV and ICE early history. One clear difference is that… well, now we have ICE cars to compete with. And I’m sure that real antique-car afficionados can spot minor errors in the Wikipedia-based narrative above. But that’s beside the point.

When car technology was young, improvements were made on a constant, continuous basis, to everything from motor to wheels to chassis to body, to arrangement of parts, and everything in between. Because the first way you manage to slap something together so that it works, is nowwhere near the best way. And humans are superb at tinkering and upgrading stuff.

GM Introduces 2nd Generation Chevrolet Bolt In 2015, Arrives in 2015 (InsideEVs/Tom Moloughney)

GM Introduces 2nd Generation Chevrolet Bolt In 2015, Arrives in 2016 (InsideEVs/Tom Moloughney)

Similarly, the modern EV is still very young. Improvements can and do happen across the board, and fairly rapidly. That’s how it been throughout history with any new technology. So it is utter idiocy or brazen mendacity, to pretend that for EVs, somehow, the story will be different. In fact, we are already seeing those improvements happening.

This main fallacy is often accompanied by the following related fallacy, which has to do with timelines on which it is reasonable to expect things to happen. A car’s effective lifespan on the road is typically a decade-plus. This means, among other things, that

– Even if a new car type immediately conquers the entire market, it will take more than a decade to replace the entire active fleet. A more realistic timeline for technological fleet-replacement is on the order of a human generation, i.e., a couple of automotive generations, because it takes time to build the production capacity.
– Barring exceptional cases, it takes at least a decade to fully characterize a new car model’s track record (reliability, behavior in the used market, etc.)

And yet, many people keep expecting changes in EV technology and market to happen nearly overnight in terms of a car’s life-cycle. To be fair to EV critics, even people inside the EV industry fall prey to this one. The most egregious example is Better Place, whose CEO thought he could wave a magic wand, and automakers will step up with hundreds of thousands of swappable-battery BEVs within a couple of years.

The Original Better Place Demo Center In Israel

The Original Better Place Demo Center In Israel

But Renault-Nissan and GM leadership, too, were way too rosy in their initial sales predictions. The issue was not so much that customers didn’t like the Leaf and the Volt, but rather that you cannot force on the auto industry and market, a heartbeat that’s too fast for its life-cycle.

Together, these 2 fallacies can be summarized by the old saying “Never show a fool a job half-done.” One cannot show a fool a work half-done, because fools (whether innocent or willful) don’t get what “work in progress” means, cannot envision beyond what they see right now, and certainly don’t have the patience to wait the amount of time that’s natural to the system they are so busy not liking.

So… does this mean we are not allowed to critique EVs as a whole, just because it’s a new technology and it will take a while to see how it shakes out? Of course critique is needed and welcome. But it must pass the test of minimal relevance and realism. Here are some questions one could ask, instead of the stupid ones we see in the press:

– Do the 1st-generation products show enough potential for classic new-technology improvement, including cost and footprint reduction, resulting in solid mass-market viability?
– Given that this is a radical alternative to an existing dominant product, does it seem capable of providing equivalent experience and consumer value on the basic aspects, together with a qualitative jump ahead on other aspects? A jump ahead that makes consumers want to join this alternative future?
– Speaking of which: does the cohort of early adopters like this product? Is excited by it?
– Last but not least: assuming the answers to the questions above are encouraging, what should we expect within one automotive generation (a decade or so)? Within two generations?

This is the type of questions we need to ask in order to understand where EVs are headed.

2nd Generation Chevrolet Volt (w/53 miles of electric range)

2nd Generation Chevrolet Volt (w/53 miles of electric range)

That’s why I was more excited than many other EV bloggers, to see the 107-mile Leaf and 53-mile Volt. Not because it’s the end-all and be-all, but because the two leading makers of affordable EVs have both succeeded in improving the most critical performance metric – electric range – by 50% over half a decade, while maintaining the same price point.

This, despite less-than-stellar sales, middling oil prices, internal conflict of interest (the vast majority of their revenue still coming from ICE models), and a very hostile press. I was even more excited to see Nissan bump its battery-pack warranty up to 8 years or 100k miles, indicating reliability parity with ICE even on the Leaf’s Achilles heel (and superior reliability everywhere else, of course).

Ok, now see if you can apply the principles I demonstrated here, to shut up the following common anti-EV canards:

  1. “EVs are too expensive and ordinary people cannot afford them.”
  2. “EVs lose their value too fast, no one should buy them!” (aside: hark the contradiction with #1…)
  3. “EV range is too short to make EVs relevant for ordinary people.”
  4. “EV automakers are desperate, they’re losing money.”
  5. “With all the hype, so few EVs are sold, because people hate them, they’re not real cars.”
  6. “EVs are a really government pet project. We will never be able to take them off the subsidies lifeline – they will wilt right away.”
  7. “EVs are lousy unsustainable products, because their batteries don’t last.”
  8. “EV battery-pack production footprint is so huge, that it drowns out all the potential environmental benefits.”
  9. “Where coal dominates the grid, EV footprint is worse than ICE.” (this one requires sophisticated use of the second fallacy)

Try *not* to answer by directly countering the specific content (even though usually one can find good answers that way too). Rather, rise above it using the “Never show a fool a work half-done” principle. Feel free to give your answers in the comments!

PS: in my language, the saying in the title is known as “One doesn’t show a half-job to a donkey”. Personally, I like donkeys.

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92 Comments on "Op-Ed: How to Counter Anti-EV Canards? Just Say, “Never Show a Fool a Job Half-Done.”"

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Well written, couldn’t have said it better.

Thoughtful article with great points, if a bit long for a snappy comeback when you hear these criticisms. LOL But essentially true. Also not far off what most automakers believe.

Truth is we will have EVs because of government regulations so long as the technology is good enough, and it certainly seems that it is good enough.

The missing link to me is more a marketing than a product problem. Tesla is great at marketing, Nissan and BMW are Meh, and GM is atrocious. Once Nissan and GM, which have the much lower priced product, figure the marketing out, EVs will take off.

Thanks for a thoughtful comment. I wager to say we can be more optimistic than just expect EVs to exist as long as governments support them (although this has definitely been essential in an oil-company-dominated economy and a fully-developed ICE infrastructure).

The way EV tech has been going, in a couple of decades we might see ICE relegated to a niche. In 30-40 years, almost sure to happen.

Um, Tesla does no official marketing Don.

The product is the marketing because it is so good that the Tesla owners are doing much of the heavy lifting including delivering videos that blows away the pathetic drivel coming from GM and tops the adds of every other EV maker. See here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgXvE_kYNRY

It’s fair to say that Tesla does not do “traditional marketing” but don’t be fooled into thinking they don’t have a very sophisticated marketing strategy. Consider just the product launches (similar to Apple) that garner significant media coverage. That’s not incidental.

Tesla has a marketing dept. And does a great deal of marketing. What they do not do is ad buys. Other OEMs measure ad buys by the $billions.

Seen that video, and it is spectacular. But as Tim says don’t confuse lack of advertising with lack of marketing. The product launches are the best example. Tesla lets the media do their advertising for them, which is always the best way.

“GM Introduces 2nd Generation Chevrolet Bolt In 2015, Arrives in 2015 ”
——
There’s already a Gen2 Bolt.. and it’s going to show up this year?
🙂

You mean you don’t have one? It drives great, I’m getting like 215 miles easy out of it.

Heeh, ok I fall on the sword on at one. I added the caption on that photo after Assaf had written the piece. /fixed, (=

Haha, already asked Jay to fix that typo… Thanks for the sharp eye. See if you can spot any others 😉

Yeah, on the picture of the Volt and Spark EV it says (PHEV), which should technically be EREV for the Volt. Is there someplace to submit article corrections or is that done just in the comments?

You can email us through the contact icon above…or just though the comments.

Just as a sidenote: we don’t use the terminology “EREV” in most wider knowledge stories (regardless of the accuracy), just because it is brand-specific and causes confusion to the wider audience (and big long debates in the community)

Thanks Jay. Been reading insideevs for quite a few months now and it’s my favorite place to get news.

Sorry but the Volt is a plain PHEV. It’s in it’s structure. GM is playing with words here, as it does telling people it is a pure electric with a small generator. Marketing lie.

Only the i3-REx is an EREV.

And it begins….

And so it…ha, you beat me to it!

RexSee, I humbly disagree. Both the Volt and the i3-REX are the only plug in vehicles with extended range gasoline engines that can perform to full spec (acceleration and topspeed) without use of the ICE. It is for that reason that they both deserve to be in a category above that of “PHEV”. I understand your distinction that the i3 has no mechanical coupling between the gasoline engine and the wheels and that is not true of the Volt. What I think is more important however is that the Volt COULD run this way, but the engineers found that under certain loading conditions, it was MORE efficient to be able to directly couple the ICE to the wheels. You seem to be excluding the Volt from the same category as the i3-REX because it can do something above and beyond what the i3-Rex is capable of. If anything, the Volt should be called an EREV+ whereas the i3 should only get the distinction of EREV. I don’t disagree that there is a distinction between the two. But I think the greater distinction is between PHEVs vs. the Volt and i3-REX. We can only have so many categories before we just… Read more »

Exactly Greg, +1

Rexx, I applaud your enthusiasm for pure BEVs. I share it. But, there are lame PHEVs and then there is the Volt and the I3 Rex that stand alone, above the rest.

No no, the only true EREV is the bycicle of my son, when i have to carry it because he is to tired to drive.

RexxSee,

I would not call the Volt a “plain PHEV.” Sure it is a PHEV, but it is anything but plain, and it has better specs than any other PHEV. That includes the BMW, Ford, Mercedes, Hyundai, Volvo, and Porsche PHEVs, and all the others.

As for the i3, its gas power and range are not just worse than all of the other PHEVs, they are pathetic.

GSP

Good resume.
I couldn’t have written it so well, but pretty much my thought anyway.

Thanks. As I say at the start, it took me too quite a while to give words to that “this crazy dissing makes no sense” reaction I was having to all that anti-EV press.

I disagree with the author: the majority critics of EVs do not presume that EVs are a mature technology. They simple compare today’s EVs to today’s ICE cars and find them wanting in the overall analysis.

Things like out-the-door costs, available configurations (SUV/CUV/minivan), and the lack of range and charging infrastructure are valid considerations for families considering a new vehicle. Simply put, if EVs don’t align with the needs of consumers, EVs worthy of criticism.

+1

-1.

You are comparing a mature technology which has dominated for 100+ years, with what is essentially a first-generation product.

And you’re comparing (in your comment) on metrics that are classical advantages for the mature incumbent technology.

I did not say EVs are not “worthy of criticism”, in fact this is addressed explicitly in the post.

What my post shows, is that comparisons such as those you espouse, are ridiculously not apples-to-apples.

Q.E.D.

At the very least, whoever makes such a comparison should put a caveat front-and-center, about the EV numbers being almost certain to improve over the coming decade.

More broadly, no one is claiming first-generation EVs are for everyone. That is again by definition, a given considering the 1st-generation reality.

Sorry but you can stuff a battery and a electric motor in every chassis. This has nothing to do with a technology becoming mature.

You can compare the drivetrain to another drivetrain. And because of the new technology not all parts are solved. Stuff like, “where do we put the battery”, ” how does the drivetrain affect the climate controll”, “what charging levels are needed”.

It is no problem stuffing a 8-10kWh in the trunk if a minivan and create a PHEV minivan. Why no one did this is a good question, since the bigger the car the higher the savings.

Disagree completely. Stuffing a battery somewhere in the trunk is a formula for an EV with compromised trunk space and a higher center of gravity. You can see the Focus EV for an example.

Ah, but you are falling into the same trap. It is valid to compare a 2015 EV to a 2015 ICEV, if your purpose is to buy a car in 2015 that fits your needs. What is NOT valid is then concluding that EVs are a dead end because the 2015 EV didn’t measure up to the 2015 ICEV. And we see just that in the press all the time.

Yep, same trap – ironic. Wonder what Yogi Berra would have said?

No one said in the comments the EVs are at a dead end. He only said a 2015 EV is in certain cetegories not as good as a 2015 ICE.

Align with the actual needs or perceived needs? Do people solely buy vehicles based on “needs” or based on wants?

taser54 said: “I disagree with the author: the majority critics of EVs do not presume that EVs are a mature technology. They simple compare today’s EVs to today’s ICE cars and find them wanting in the overall analysis.” Indeed. And it’s my impression, from listening carefully on the rare occasion when people I meet in everyday life talk about EVs, that the average person understands that current EVs are “not ready for prime time”, but that the tech may well improve a lot in the not-too-distant future. Sorry to be negative about this article, because the author’s heart is in the right place, and he makes a lot of good points. But attacking everyone criticizing the current crop of EVs as being “fools” isn’t likely to persuade anyone. Furthermore, if you say “Never Show a Fool a Job Half-Done”, you’re going to have to explain how that applies to those looking at the “early adopter” era EVs, so quoting that saying doesn’t accomplish anything. I think a far better way of dealing with the arguments spouted by those who go out of their way to bash EVs — particularly those with a financial or political motive to do so —… Read more »

“attacking everyone criticizing the current crop of EVs as being “fools” isn’t likely to persuade anyone.”

You are right. That’s why I didn’t do such a thing.

I also begin to wonder: will there ever be a post on this website that you’ll approve of?

….so, I hop over to the links you have so warmly recommended instead of my piece that’s supposedly “attacking everyone”….

…and I find posts from 2011 (slightly…. mmm… outdated, of course), posts full of snark and derision towards EV critics. Yup, that will convince the skeptics, snarky posts from 2011. No question about it 😉

Thanks for writing what most of us where already thinking. As Djoni said, I’m right there with you, but I hadn’t had the “aha” moment yet. Thanks for sharing yours!

It’s funny that EV hypocrites then turn around and apply these same critiques to FCEVs. You can indeed be bullied and be the bully at the same time.

Uh, no 3E.

Smart EV enthusiasts who understand physics realize that Hydrogen is simply grossly inefficient/much more costly then battery-based EVs and those physics-based limitations on hydrogen are never going to change. Virtually all the independent scientists who have studied the inherent problems agree.

Might want to read this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hype_about_Hydrogen

Personally I’m not anti-FCEV as other EV enthusiasts are… so you’re aiming your arrow at the wrong person here.

I see certain important niches for plug-in hybrid FCEVs in a BEV-dominated, almost completely fossil-free transportation future.

That said, there are some structural issues with hydrogen vehicles that don’t seem to have a promising answer, even looking 2-3 decades down the road.

In particular, the fuel source. With BEVs as long as you clean the grid and continue reducing general household electricity (and Goodness knows there’s plenty of waste in Western households), you’ll be fine.

With hydrogen, there’s not a massive sustainable source identified, that would supply the needs of the entire fleet. There are sustainable sources, but they would probably be enough only for a fraction of the market. Hence my words about niche usage, for high-powered machines, off-road vehicles, long-range trucks, etc. etc.

and forklifts.

With BEV, there was clear path to cost reduction via economy of scale. With FC, there isn’t a clear path. With scale, it’ll be 2 to 3 times more expensive, not to mention drive to fuel station just like gas cars. FCEV have battery (like hybrids) to allow regenerative braking, making the cost even higher. I don’t see why people would pay more to buy and fuel FCEV with inconvenience of gas cars.

That is, unless they find revolutionary way to cut hydrogen cost. So far, there doesn’t seem to be any way. But maybe in 10 years?

That seems a bit unfair as whereas the ev world has show rapid progress the fcev has not and probably will not show much progress in the years to come.

It’s funny how some people, even when proven wrong all of their belief, keep going trying to prove they have the truth.
Just in case you might ignore it, hydrogen is the oldest element that exist, and it hasn’t change since zzillion years in energy density and it won’t in the next grizzzllion years.
Battery on the contrary just keep improving.
Is it so hard to understand? Don’t answer, I know for you it’s very hard.

Three Electrics said:

“It’s funny that EV hypocrites then turn around and apply these same critiques to FCEVs.”

::rolling eyes::

Gosh, I didn’t realize that understanding the implications of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, as it relates to using hydrogen as a transportation fuel, made us “hypocrites”.

Tell us, Three Electrics, are you also gonna predict a comeback for steam engine cars? That would be just as likely to succeed as “fool cell” cars, and for the same reason: very poor efficiency. (For steam cars, it’s the steam engine which is hopelessly inefficient; for “fool cell” cars, it’s the process of generating, transporting, and dispensing the H2 fuel which is too inefficient to be useful.)

EVs have pros and cons just like ICE vehicles, but I really don’t notice much anti-EV sentiment any more. In fact, now the vehicle most often called the “best car ever made” is … an EV.

It’s because you are following this site 🙂

Just step outside the sustainable-blogging bubble, and you’ll see.

And even Tesla, the Model S’s accolades are mentioned in the mainstream press far less often than snarky articles about its price and the various ways rich people can get tax breaks for the S/X – or generally about what a bubble company Tesla is, or the latest personal antic/anecdote from Musk.

Check it out.

True, but we should also keep in mind that their is and will continue to be very well financed anti-EV (and anti-RE) campaigns that are spreading huge amounts of FUD online.

Absolutely. But when people can walk out of a dealership (or order online) a 200-mile BEV with quick-charge from a reputable automaker at $20k before incentives, or <$30k for a 200-mile minivan, it will be bye bye ICE, regardless of what the press says.

“Just step outside the sustainable-blogging bubble, and you’ll see.”

I read lots of sites, and many are right-leaning, yet I can’t recall a clearly biased anti-EV article in the last year or two. Since 2010 or so, such articles have diminished to almost nothing IMO. Can you provide some examples?

Sorry OM, no. I’m tired and need to put in some work at work 🙂

You’re free to keep your opinion that mainstream media don’t have an anti-EV bias. Per my experience, at best they are now finding it a non-story, because EVs have already been “covered” and “proven” to be useless and not interesting anymore.

Regardless, the talking points and fallacies I listed are still out and about, doing damage.

I just searched FNC (aka “Faux News”) to find any recent negative stories, but I can only find positive ones like this:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/09/28/elon-musk-tells-tesla-competitors-to-bring-it-on/

Certainly there is some anti-EV bias and ignorance among individuals, but that’s true of every new technology. Heck, in it’s first year, the iPhone was deemed a stupid idea destined to be a colossal failure. For example…

“There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item.” – Steve Ballmer, Microsoft

“The iPhone’s impact will be minimal. It will only appeal to “a few gadget freaks.” Nokia and Motorola haven’t a care in the world.” – Bloomberg

“The iPhone is deeply flawed. Apple will sell lots at first and then sales will plummet.” – PC Magazine

“The ‘one phone fits all’ concept is ridiculous. Apple needs to roll out many variations, or the iPhone will immediately become passe.” -Market Watch

See what I mean? Good phones had buttons, just like good cars burned gasoline. Bias and ignorance is a universal truth. It’s not a new conspiracy.

Right… except in the case of EVs there is – well, perhaps not a conspiracy as in the smoky-shady-backroom sense, but certainly a *very* strong collusion of well-heeled interests, with a proven track record of pushing any kind of BS they can get away with in order to remove any threat to their money-making machines.

(hint: the global warming denial industry, etc.)

Well it only took a 2 second google search to find this recent and recycled FUD about EVs on Faux News.

http://nation.foxnews.com/2015/06/24/take-party-science-new-study-finds-electric-cars-may-be-worse-environment-gas-powered

“The issue was not so much that customers didn’t like the Leaf and the Volt, but rather that you cannot force on the auto industry and market, a heartbeat that’s too fast for its life-cycle.”
———-
I think one of the major hold-backs that is understated is the ‘weirdness’ of EVs. Meaning, people are just not used to the idea of plugging in a car; or being propelled at 70mph by a battery. It’s strange to most and therefore they have reservations. However, education and familiarity are spreading, and I think this is what it will take. Water-cooler conversations where people can talk to friends or family members who are successfully using a plug-in car, will help mitigate weirdness and build confidence in a new product.

Evidence for the thrust of this article, that ev’s are improving, can be found with the continual and rapid improvements in the Tesla Models. Also the very nature of the ev allows for a safer, more stable vehicle.

There’s a good book I just read that is along the lines of what Assaf is talking about.

It is called “Clean Disruption of energy and transportation” by Tony Seba

http://www.amazon.com/Clean-Disruption-Energy-Transportation-Conventional/dp/0692210539

It clearly explains how the learning curve on both Solar and Electric vehicles is so rapid it will result in the obsolescence of conventional centralized power plants and our ICE automotive industry…….and all by 2030.

If you are a solar and EV person it’s a good read. Heck it’s good read if you are NOT. Although you may feel threatened. Your horse and buggy will go away. Your land phone line will go away. Your Kodak film camera will go away.

Those auto makers that can not change will go out of business.

Thanks George!

I’m not sure I’ll buy into the book’s “it’s all thanks to Silicon Valley” byline. Both Solar and EVs are very much an international effort, with Silicon Valley playing an important role but not nearly as dominant as with computers.

Otherwise, I’ll keep my eye out for this book.

Seba is pretty out there with predictions.

2030 is only 15 years. In order for the entire fleet to be replaced in that timeframe, we must jump the automotive lifecycle forward substantially. This will not happen by 2030. Maybe by 2050 or 2060 half of all cars sold will be EV. Maybe.

His analysis totally ignores the fact that F150 is the best-selling vehicle in the US. There are still zero EV pickups being built or even shown as a concept.

We are decades away from every style/type of light vehicle being offered as an EV. Much less displacing their equivalent ICE models.

I think the BMW i3, the Tesla Model S and coming Chevrolet Bolt are all pretty mature EVs build from scratch. What we really need are better and cheaper batteries.

So it was great news to hear that LG Chem cells are priced at 145 dollars per kWh for the Bolt. Also the capacity has been increased by around 50% in seven years. Hopefully progress continues and we can expect mass-production of EVs in just a few years.

How can the coming Bolt EV be a mature EV? It’s not even released yet. We don’t have the specs. We just have a nice concept to look at and a couple of test mule photos.

Well, the problem with that view is then no one will buy these early generation cars!

If it is available for sale, it is done product and it will be judged as such.

And that is why these early generations of pure EVs (with the exception of the Tesla Model S), are purchased by environmentalists, new technology fans, national security mavens, etc. Unless you fit into one of the above categories, you just are not going to get people to buy a sub 100 mile range EV when they can buy a similar gas car for a much lower price.

hmmm…. I think you are missing the point of the article a little bit…

(hint: it wasn’t about “who might buy 1st-gen EVs” but about “what is a proper vs. improper approach to analyze the technology and where it’s headed”)

Have a great afternoon 🙂

Assaf said:

“hmmm… I think you are missing the point of the article a little bit…”

Sorry Assaf, but Speculawyer has pointed out a rather obvious flaw in your argument. If you respond to those criticizing current EVs by saying “Never Show a Fool a Job Half-Done”, then you’re saying (or at least implying) that current EVs are only half-built. Nobody wants to buy a car that’s only half-built, any more than anyone would go to a bakery and buy a pie or cake that was only half-baked.

Once again, I never wrote such a thing.

1st-generation EVs are not “half-built”. They are viable products. Not for everyone, b/c 1st-generation products rarely are.

But they will look half-built from the vantage point of 3rd-generation EVs.

Yeah, for those having a *really* hard time connecting the headlines to the content, despite numerous attempts inside the article:

“A job half-done” refers to the technology, not to an individual EV.

That said, whoever buys a 1st-gen product and expects mature-tech experience, has probably misunderstood something as well.

If you’ll settle for nothing less than the mature-tech experience, regardless of any other consideration, then, well…. don’t be an early adopter. It’s this simple, really.

I would rather plug in at home than go to a gas station. My gas cars have failed to live up to their advertised range anyway; I inherited a Cadillac that got 13 mpg and only had a 17 gallon tank, and now I have an ’08 Focus that only gets 20 mpg with an 11 gallon tank. So 200 miles is what I’m stuck with.

With SparkEV, I take on most of those points head on. It’s cheaper than gas version ($15K), and it’s quicker in 0-60mph than any gas car under $20K. It’s little harder to argue directly with other EV.

Besides, unless they’re socialist dolts who like to give to bigger government (much of it to make bombs), why wouldn’t you want to get some of it back via EV tax subsidy?

In addition, I don’t pay ISIS with EV (US electric grid is largely energy independent) whereas gas cars use about 60% of oil from imports.

http://sparkev.blogspot.com/2015/05/vs-gas-car.html

“I don’t pay ISIS with EV (US electric grid is largely energy independent) whereas gas cars use about 60% of oil from imports.”

60% of oil used in the US is not imported from the ISIS world. Closer to zero percent. We do however, spend billions making sure that the area is operational.

Spark EV is not available in all of the US except CA, OR, and MD.

Until EVs are available in the form-factor people want (pickups and SUVs and all types of cars), they will not be mainstream. Not saying this won’t happen eventually, just not in my lifetime (30 years).

Closer to 0% from ISIS, but no 0. Out of millions of barrels per day, even a tiny percent is huge amount of money, especially for small outfit (relatively speaking) like ISIS.

Not Lately. Putin et al just kicked the US out of the middle east.

For the moment it seems my country only has Africa and China to play with.

I remember when I bought my first digital camera back in 1996. Quite a few people I showed it to said 1. how expensive, 2. who would buy it when there are photo centers everywhere, and 3. only computer enthusiasts will get into it. I sense a similar thing will happen with PEVs, it just takes a bit longer.

Haha +1, we were definitely dig-cam late adopters, took us till Black Friday 2004 to get one (which was naturally a lemon).

Then, last month our 17-year-old son took up photography at school. They needed an analog SLR. I go dig ours up: it still had a half-finished film inside! And… there was a never-opened lithium battery in the camera case. Luckily it still works.

Like you mention, the EV transition takes longer – and the reason is, as I write in the post, the product life-cycle is different. Dig-cams are directly affected by Moore’s Law, and so a generation there is only a couple of years.

Perhaps the most important point is that automobiles have long ago reached their operational limits. 65 miles an hour is the general speed limit. 200 to 300 miles is the general effective range of gas cars. Refilling takes about 5-10 minutes.

All of these can be improved. Cars can go far in excess of those speeds, go much farther with simple changes, and high speed pumps exist for refueling (mostly used to fill large commercial vehicles).

However, none of these features are common, simply because the need does not exist (and in one case, speed, is illegal). Thus, EVs are gaining on a stationary target.

EVs will, in fact, reach all of the common parameters of gas engines, and sooner rather than later.

Good point! Although, EVs might never quite reach the gas refill speed (without battery-swapping, at least), but it will be “quick enough” for people.

“Although, EVs might never quite reach the gas refill speed”

Let’s look at that argument from the perspective of the article:

EV recharging is not a mature technology. This leaves room for speed up. Obviously limited by the battery specs. We should look at how we can improve recharging speed.

Furthermore let me introduce a different measure for “recharge time”

Gas mobile:
Worst case:
-Drive to gas station
-Wait in queue (yes there are frequently waiting queues at gas stations at least where I live…)
-get out of car (if it’s a self service gas station, which are common in europe)
-plug in the hose
-wait 1-3 minutes (depending on “state of charge)
-go inside to pay (wait in queue for some time)
-get back to car
-get into car
-done

EV:
Best case:
Come home. Plug in. Sleep. Plug out. Done 😉

I know I am comparing the best case with the worst case. But at least for those who have the possibility to recharge at home, total time spend “refuelling/recharging” Might already be close to similar depending on the circumstances.

I would really like one real world comparison where for the period of one year people measure the time spend for refilling vs. recharging and see which concept wins under which circumstances.

And while I don’t really like the concept of inductive charging, this technology would enable approaching near zero effort on recharging…

So, there are already use cases (commuter, no/few road trips, home charging) where EV’s outcompete the classical system in terms of Total time spend refilling/recharging.

“– Given that this is a radical alternative to an existing dominant product, does it seem capable of providing equivalent experience and consumer value on the basic aspects, together with a qualitative jump ahead on other aspects? A jump ahead that makes consumers want to join this alternative future? – Last but not least: assuming the answers to the questions above are encouraging, what should we expect within one automotive generation (a decade or so)? Within two generations?” Unfortunately, this is exactly where EVs fall down. Is there potential to provide an equivalent experience and consumer value equivalent to a gas car? Not really. Everyone knows that even quick charging is not as fast as filling up with gas. It’s highly unlikely that it ever will be either. It’s also starting to look like even ChaDeMo charging will even be as *cheap* as gas. In the places where companies are charging for that privilege, it’s typically double or more the equivalent cost of gasoline. The stations are also hard to keep running, meaning that the cost of maintenance is high, as are downtimes. Is this likely to improve in 10 or 20 years? Maybe? I can see 10 or 15… Read more »

By predicting the impossible reduction in charging time, you are falling in the same fallacy the article mention.
Who knows for sure that stupendous amounts of power couldn’t be safer than what we know today.
Future quick charging station might use energy storage themselves in order to throw it back into a suitable battery that could accept a 15c or more rate as needed.
It could be done with multiple circuit charging in a united connector ( a super CHADEMO6XXX or else), keeping safe voltage under control, probably with robotic to help doing it.
Although, it probably won’t be a very much needed feature as battery capacity will increase to the point of exceeding the need of almost every user as you point.
I just won’t rule anything out.

BraveLilToaster said: “I can see 10 or 15 minute charge times on large batteries, but anything shorter than that would require stupendous amounts of power that are outright dangerous to people within a 50 meter radius. And that’s just the physics of putting that much power into anything in a short amount of time.” Are you an electrical engineer, or an electrician? I doubt you are. We discussed this very topic with an actual electrical engineer on another forum; one familiar with high-voltage equipment. He was of the opinion that a 100 kWh charge in 10 minutes was entirely feasible, and safe enough for everyday ordinary citizens to use. JB Straubel, the Chief Tech Officer of Tesla, says Tesla wants to get charge times down to 5-to-10 minutes. I presume he knows what he’s talking about. I suspect, BraveLilToaster, that if you look into this issue more extensively, you’ll come to realize that charging an average sized car sufficiently for 300 miles of range can be accomplished in less than 10 minutes, using off-the-shelf parts that are widely used today. Probably most of those parts exist in that large green metal box found sitting on the ground next to any… Read more »

“Probably most of those parts exist in that large green metal box found sitting on the ground next to any large commercial building.”

A mail box?

what straubel had in mind was a charger that delivered 1,500v@480a – that’s 720kW and hardly what could be called “safe”. the “actual electrical engineer” who suggested delivering 100kWh in 10 minutes is talking about a 600kW charging station. both of these ideas are well into level 3 evse territory and would definitely not be equipment that an average joe would be handling.

…nor would “Average Joe” need them.

Such “L4” stations would sit on highways, for road-trips or cross-country trucks.

they don’t even have standards for level 3 charging; i’ve never heard of a “level 4” charger…but the fact that tesla has had to send out notices to model s owners asking them to stop using the tesla supercharger stations so much would suggest that your observation is not correct.

as hard as it may sound, if you lived in a major metropolitan area, you would be surprised at how easy it is to run up lots of miles in a day, as in, well over 100 miles. it’s not something that you would necessarily do every day, but when you want to do it, you don’t want to be limited because you bought a bev that only covers 90% of your driving.

there are times when at home charging is not going to be sufficient. if i am driving an ice which i can count on as being reliable for all of my driving uses versus a bev that i can count on for over 90% of my driving uses, i’m going to worry about what happens in the other 10% and what if that 10% happens at a really bad time?

Right, you’re driving an ICE. We’ve been driving a limited-range affordable BEV for 3+ years, and living in a 4-million-people major metro area. Not once did we need quick-charge to make it on a metro-area drives and errands day. The only scenarios we needed them on, were out-of-town trips with lots of time to plan ahead. Not saying that need doesn’t exist, but it’s far less common. And surely with a 200-mile Tesla the need is almost nonexistent, provided the drivers are not too lazy to plug it in at night, at least once a week. The Tesla thing seems more like a turf war between the company and some drivers. Company: “this is free for inter-city travel”, some drivers: “we payed a zillion $$, including $2k specifically designated to set up this thing, and you’re telling us we can’t use it?” Last but not least, “L4” was in quotation marks, and all I meant was some super-duper-quick-charger that would really rival ICE in its speed. Clearly there’s no such standard yet, and IMHO a good few years before we know whether there’s enough demand for something like that (which cannot be resolved via, e.g., reviving the swap idea). But… Read more »
i live in a large metropolitan area, and i assure you, it is very easy to run up over 100 miles in a day. when you do that in a cold climate area, the “200 mile” aer becomes a lot less than that. then you find yourself having used up all the range running weekend errands and then you are behind the 8-ball to recharge for enough range for next week’s driving. i appreciate that the ev enthusiast is willing to make sacrifices to make bev’s work (the mind has an amazing ability to deny when you are actually making sacrifices). but that’s the problem with electric vehicles, even to the non-luddite; bev’s do not inherently perform the transportation function better than do ice’s. so when it comes to the question of buying a bev, there are non-luddites who would ask, why? the “super duper quick charger” (meaning 5 or 10 minutes) is currently envisioned as a level 3 charger. the current tesla supercharger is probably at the upper end of what you can do with 240v. for example, a level 3 charger being envisioned by tesla is 1,500v at the head. the problem is, that’s not the kind of… Read more »

Ugh. Allow me to refer you to this post’s title.

Have a good rest of the day.

Actually a frequent criticism I hear is that EVs existed even before ICE cars became popular and that proves EVs will never be viable (because they had the “same” amount of time to develop the technology). They ignore that the modern EV didn’t really come about until the 2008 Roadster, and that much of that century the battery technology stagnated until the consumer electronics industry kick started it.

this is an interesting article, but it does make the mistake of considering all *EVs as being the same. the Volt, for example, is not a radical leap for existing drivers – you can drive the Volt the same as you can drive an ICE; it provides all of the convenience and adds the ability to use electric driving. what is a more radical leap is the BEV… there is a difference between cars vs. horses a century ago and ICE vs. *EV today. the car performed it’s function in a way different from that of the horse and it was easy to see the difference. the difference between the ICE and *EV is much more nuanced – but once you get in the car, they largely perform the transportation function in the same way. i might add that while sales of ICEs were slow a century ago, as the cars were expensive (until henry ford sorted it out), another difference in the current corporate environment is that the level of hostile takeover strategies have evolved to the point that companies today have less ability to “wait” for markets to develop. this drives more short term thinking, which (along with… Read more »

Cars like the Volt (which is a great car) are mostly a stopgap, a necessity due to the constraints you mention, and the need of a new technology to start somewhere.

At some point, there will be little need/justification to carry a second, ICE drive system in the same vehicle.

my point is that the ice is in a volt, not for technology, but for convenience and to make the car more appealing to car buyers who would be chary of buying a bev. so the “justification” for having the ice in the volt is that if you take it out, what you have left is a bev; then you have the challenge of convincing people as to why they would want to buy a bev. “good for the environment” is unfortunately a rationale that is not going to cut it for most people.

Right, but this is still 1st-generation thinking.

By Generation 3, most non-Luddite drivers won’t be scared of a BEV anymore.

By Generation 5, most Luddite drivers will have died out or lost their ability to drive.

So going forward, this will be our standard response to See Through?

Absolutely. “Never Show a Fool a Job Half-Done”, with a link to this post 🙂