5 Concerns About Electric-Car Batteries
Electricity may be the auto fuel of the future, but a lot remains to be answered about the batteries that house it.
If you believe the headlines, electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are about to take over the world. Soon we'll all be silently gliding around in Trader Joe's parking lot, free from foreign oil, climate-change anxiety and all other earthly cares. This year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit drove the point home as Ford, Tesla, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and others flaunted electric cars of all species. More importantly, the first real EV offerings, the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, recently hit the streets to much fanfare.
Indeed, it seems that electricity is winning the alternative-fuel war, which makes us both excited and a bit concerned. Carrying all those electrons around requires big, high-voltage batteries. And many questions are yet to be answered about these oversized copper tops — some good, some not so good.
Here, we examine five of the most troubling concerns about EV batteries.
1. Will This Thing Die on Me?
People don't like being guinea pigs, and many would-be EV owners are wondering if the large, pricey batteries that power electric cars are going to last. The bottom line: Nobody knows yet. Makers of plug-in hybrids and EVs tell us their batteries will last "the life of the car," but that is vague. Both the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt carry an 8-year, 100,000-mile warranty on their battery packs, which is encouraging. Also, the track record for conventional hybrid batteries has been strong, with Toyota Prius batteries easily living beyond 200,000 miles.
But the lithium-ion batteries used in plug-ins like the Volt and pure EVs like the Leaf are different from Prius batteries. They are composed of different chemistries and are much larger. They also endure greater punishment during daily use. A Prius battery delivers power in short bursts as it helps the gasoline engine along, and is then recharged as the car brakes. EVs and plug-in hybrids, on the other hand, deplete their batteries nearly all the way — a process called "deep discharge" — which is significantly more taxing on the cells and can diminish their life span.
However, your primary concern with these batteries should not be their outright death, but rather a gradual drift into senescence. Lithium-ion batteries lose storage capacity over time; how long does your 5-year-old laptop battery hold a charge? This means your EV's range will decrease as it ages — and the more aggressively you drive, the faster that happens. Nissan and GM both acknowledge that their high-voltage batteries will hold less and less electricity over the years, and that their battery warranties cover only what they deem abnormal decreases in range. This means that if you buy a Leaf, which has a 100-mile range, and your commute is 50 miles each way, you might have to move in a year.
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2. Will There Be Enough Lithium to Support EVs?
News headlines like "Will Afghanistan become the 'Saudi Arabia of lithium'?" have appeared in the press a lot recently. As the name suggests, lithium-ion batteries, of the sort favored for electric cars and plug-in hybrids, are based on lithium, a mineral mined from the earth or extracted from brine. The world's current supply of lithium comes from very few countries. A third of the current supply comes from Chile, but Bolivia and Afghanistan also have massive deposits. If Americans start driving electric cars in earnest, the question naturally arises: Will we be at the mercy of the world's producers? It's a question that sounds eerily familiar, right?
At least for the foreseeable future, it seems we're in good shape. A recent research paper from the Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Ill., concludes, "It appears that even an aggressive program of vehicles with electric drive can be supported for decades with known supplies." Analysts also argue that as the demand for lithium ratchets up, new deposits will be unearthed. Greg Cesiel, engineering group manager for the Chevy Volt, says General Motors isn't worried: "There's a lot of lithium out there. We don't anticipate any shortages."
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Stations can use whatever power source they want for charging, range is extended indefinitely, and we don't have to rape Canada, Montana, Wyoming for oil sands.
Yeah, I'm sure that'll happen. Think you'll still have warranty support from the car company after letting a minimum wage grease monkey work on a 60k-100k car? Besides, as it is, these electric cars have powertrains built in korea and china, with assembly in places like finland. I would bet money there aren't five people in the entire USA that can work on, or repair these cars.
After reading lots of posts and studying this problem for years I have come to this View. Existing known power sources will not replace Gasoline, Diesel, Propane. I have dabbled and built Hydrogen powered lawn mowers, seen the math results of compressed air "compressed air is the most costly resource in any manufacturing environment" actually own a working Stanly Steamer and drive a Hybrid pickup and car. I see we are on the wrong road, nuclear, wind, solar, electric etc... Until we find a "NEW" energy source we are just modifying known designs and uses thus continuing a vicious circle. I don't have a clue what that source will be but if we continue on our existing path well our children's children will be back to horse and buggies. I also feel that any and all design, engineering, hands on ideas should be applauded when venturing out of oil based transportation.
When Toyota came out with the Prius, I read an article stating that the battery replacement would run 5 to 8 thousand dollars. If true, how do battery-powered automobiles provide a savings over gasoline vehicles?
-- The price tag for E powered vehicles is considerably higher than conventional cars.
-- Charging an E vehicle is not free.
-- Replacing an E battery @ $8,000+ does not encourage most buyers.
-- E-cars may not have good trade-in values. Dealerships might deduct the cost of installing new batteries from trade-in values, in order to attract used-car buyers.
Considering just those 4 points, puts costs of an E-car well over my available sheckles. But for those who are considering an elec. car, listen to the salesperson, then do your own credible research.
Throw a lithium battery in the fire and ask yourself what happens if there is a fire during an accident for some reason.
Look if you live within a mile from your work just walk or ride a bike. Most people wo live in a city are only a few miles from everywhere they need to go and rarely leave the city. They can walk or ride a bike most of the time, if you don't feel safe get a liceense tocarry and carry a gun or take some self defence classes and also carry pepper spray. But if where you live is really too dangerous to ride a bike or walk then I suggest saving up some money and moving or figuring out a way to help clean up the crime in your area.
I personally don't believe the gasoline prices are rising for any reason other than someone who can stand to make a lot of money wants you to buy some crappy electric cars that probably won't even last 10 years before the battery needs replacing, which will probably cost amore than the value of the car by then and require taking it to a specialest that knows how to replace the battery in that spacific car.
Why not make a car that runs off of alcohol, we can produce that in our country easily, we already are. Or if it must be an electric car that depends on a battery then how about a battery that uses citric acid, we have plenty of oranges, grape fruits, and other fruits that have citric acid. Or how about whatever the acid is that is in apple vinager, we also have plenty of apples. I am not sure if it will work ir not, I have never heard of anyone trying to use acid found in fruits to power something as large as a car.
Even if we transfer to electric cars our semi trucks still run off of gas and will for a very long time because a battery simply can't produce the necessary amount of power to hull goods accross country. We don't have a nation wide electronic train network either to replace conventional freight trains so everything else is going to get higher and higher as a larger portion of the population reduces their consumption of conventional fuel because the oil and gas companies will demand more money to make up for the lost buisness, not because they need to, but because they are going to milk the whole oil thing as long as they can. The Middle eastern companies will also demand more money for their oil because they will be pumping less oil but won't want to ake a cut in profits. Further more, ou an expect the poor people in those countries to blaim America for their woes instead of their country because they lost their jobs pumping oil, which will have a backlash on the entire Middle Eastern economy and eventually come back and bite us in the ***. We are quite good at making people hate us more and making more enemies though, I think our politicians and big buisnesmen need to put down the alcohol and durgs and realize that the party has ended and sooon, if they don't do something, we are either looking at a complete economic collapse or a lot more enemies to fight later as civil war and violence destabiolizes the Middle east and other parts of the world, we will see more terrorest attempts and more terrorest organizations until we can stabilize pretty much the whole world, which is impossable since we are not in a perfect world, like the liberals and a lot of other people don't seem to realize. The only ways to end the war on terror is to provide these countries with a stable economy and a government that will protect them that is not corrupt, or commit genocide of an entire people. I don't think I would want to live under a government that is willing to carelessly whipe out an entire people like the NAZIs tried to do, and almost succeeded to do to the Jewish.
Lets face it, we are in a tight situation as a result of the US having one of the largest economies in the world and being the most power country in the world, although China is poised to take that title.