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Thread: Mr. Buzz ?

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    Default Mr. Buzz ?

    How's the electric car doing? I read on the internet that cold temps take a lot of miles out of the battery, like 50%. But I figured that you being a EE & a supporter of stupidity, that you would have one & know how to make the thing work!!!!!!!!!
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    I don't believe in 100% electric. To be practical it has to be a hybrid that you can also plug in like The Volt. When the battery runs down, the gas engine kicks in and operates similar to they way an electric locomotive operates.

    Until some miracle in battery tech comes along, that's the way it is.

    Unless gas goes a lot higher, I don't really see the hybrids working out too well either. The battery in something like The Volt costs a small fortune.

    Unless you do all your driving in the city, I don't see how a hybrid works out for you at all. As you can imagine, the vast majority of my miles are put on "out of town."
    Last edited by Buzz; 02-08-2011 at 02:10 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzz View Post
    I don't believe in 100% electric. To be practical it has to be a hybrid that you can also plug in like The Volt. When the battery runs down, the gas engine kicks in and operates similar to they way an electric locomotive operates.

    Until some miracle in battery tech comes along, that's the way it is.

    Unless gas goes a lot higher, I don't really see the hybrids working out too well either. The battery in something like The Volt costs a small fortune.

    Unless you do all your driving in the city, I don't see how a hybrid works out for you at all. As you can imagine, the vast majority of my miles are put on "out of town."
    Technically, the Volt is not a hybrid vehicle. Hybrids use 2 or more distinct power sources to propel the vehicle. The Volt only uses electricity (like you said, similar to a diesel-electric locomotive). That's why the call it an "electric extended range vehicle." The internal combustion engine in the Volt acts as a generator and only supplies electricity to the battery once it is depleted. It has a 9.3 gal. tank, and you have a range of about 375 miles on a full charge and a full tank of gas. That works out to about 40 mpg. If you need to go farther, you can always get more gas and keep going.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackstone View Post
    Technically, the Volt is not a hybrid vehicle. Hybrids use 2 or more distinct power sources to propel the vehicle. The Volt only uses electricity (like you said, similar to a diesel-electric locomotive). That's why the call it an "electric extended range vehicle." The internal combustion engine in the Volt acts as a generator and only supplies electricity to the battery once it is depleted. It has a 9.3 gal. tank, and you have a range of about 375 miles on a full charge and a full tank of gas. That works out to about 40 mpg. If you need to go farther, you can always get more gas and keep going.

    Right. I stand corrected on the terminology. Back in the 90's I did designs for all electric vehicles and some hybrids. At the time I was doing the work for GM as a supplier to their Hughes Electronics Division out near Long Beach. At the time there was way too much political battling going on in the company. For some reason they had both Hughes and AC Delco working on parallel projects and there was way too much bad blood and back stabbing going on between divisions. I could never understand wanting to go with the complexity of hybrids. It just didn't make sense to me compared to the concept of the "electric extended range vehicle." But then, back in the 80's I worked on diesel electric traction systems.

    So Blackstone... You seem to know something about these things. What can you tell us about the impact that cold weather has on the battery technology used in The Volt?
    "For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required." -- Luke 12:48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzz View Post
    Right. I stand corrected on the terminology. Back in the 90's I did designs for all electric vehicles and some hybrids. At the time I was doing the work for GM as a supplier to their Hughes Electronics Division out near Long Beach. At the time there was way too much political battling going on in the company. For some reason they had both Hughes and AC Delco working on parallel projects and there was way too much bad blood and back stabbing going on between divisions. I could never understand wanting to go with the complexity of hybrids. It just didn't make sense to me compared to the concept of the "electric extended range vehicle." But then, back in the 80's I worked on diesel electric traction systems.
    GM never really wanted to get into the hybrid car market. We developed the hybrid system for buses, which was more practical at the time (all city stop and go driving). The redundant systems in passenger cars makes it too expensive to be profitable for manufacturers. They are just charging what the market will bear and spreading the rest of the cost out over the other vehicle lines. GM, Ford & Chrysler realized the future was electrification and hydrogen vehicles. They only got forced into the hybrid market because of $4 per gallon gas, which led to the success of the Toyota Prius. Consumer demand for more hybrids led everyone down that path. The U.S. manufacturers were caught unprepared. Of course, as soon as gas went to $2 per gallon, Prius sales fell 47.5%, so the U.S. manufacturers were glad they hadn稚 committed a lot of money and resources to hybrids.

    Quote Originally Posted by Buzz View Post
    So Blackstone... You seem to know something about these things. What can you tell us about the impact that cold weather has on the battery technology used in The Volt?
    The Volt has a Lithium-ion battery instead of the nickel-metal-hydride batteries used in most hybrids. Lithium batteries perform better at colder temps, and lose less power. There is some loss, about 15% at 0 degrees, and about another 10% at -10 degrees. However, it is a 16 kWh battery, and it only take about 8 kWh to go 40 miles, so there is some extra capacity built in. Plus, the Volt battery has a liquid thermal heating and cooling system to keep the battery temps in more suitable range for maximum performance. Now, that is the GM press release information. We will have to see how it actually performs in very cold weather.

    As a matter of fact, I am going to be driving one Thursday in Chicago, so I値l get to see first hand how it handles the cold. I値l let you know if the battery holds up or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackstone View Post
    The Volt has a Lithium-ion battery instead of the nickel-metal-hydride batteries used in most hybrids. Lithium batteries perform better at colder temps, and lose less power. There is some loss, about 15% at 0 degrees, and about another 10% at -10 degrees. However, it is a 16 kWh battery, and it only take about 8 kWh to go 40 miles, so there is some extra capacity built in. Plus, the Volt battery has a liquid thermal heating and cooling system to keep the battery temps in more suitable range for maximum performance. Now, that is the GM press release information. We will have to see how it actually performs in very cold weather.

    As a matter of fact, I am going to be driving one Thursday in Chicago, so I値l get to see first hand how it handles the cold. I値l let you know if the battery holds up or not.
    I read somewhere recently that Lithium will not be available in the quantities required to meet needs, I vaguely remember the article being about a deposit in Bolivia?. That along with the fact that the Chinese control a major portion (90%) of the rare earths known in the world, which are also necessary for a lot of this free energy. When I was at Mines there was a Spodumene mine in Hill City, owned by Foote Minerals, neither exist today. Lithium is also used in lubricants as its molecular structure is log like, but I would venture it could be replaced by Molybdenum which is circular in nature, MolyLube anyone?

    Add to that the comment by Myhrvold, former CTO at MSFT, that too many of the best & brightest are getting into non valued added pursuits such as Facebook, Twitter, Zinga which are little more than internet gossip columns but quite lucrative for the founders, when what is really needed is research breakthroughs on nano sizing dellvery systems.

    But it will be interesting your take on the car & it's performance. We used battery loco's underground in the mines, very heavy, bulky & easy to run down with any deviation from the norm on current withdrawal.
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    Let me preface the by saying I work for GM. However, I will try to be as unbiased with my opinion of as possible.

    The car was very quiet, handled and rode well, and performed well (surprising acceleration). On a full charge, I got 35 miles before the gas engine came on. Outside emps were about 10 degrees. In all fairness, the car had been stored inside, so the battery wasn’t really cold. Once the car was running, the heating and cooling system for the battery kept the battery at an efficient operating temperature, even though it was very cold. I am sure my range would have been less if the vehicle had been sitting outside in the cold all night and not plugged in to start and warm up before driving.

    I learned some interesting things about the Volt and electric cars in general. All of the batteries will lose some of their charge when temps are below about 30 degrees or above 85 degrees. Although, Li-ion batteries, like what’s in the Volt, are less affected by temperature extremes than NiMH, like are used in most hybrids. Also, Li-ion batteries don’t have a memory, so you don’t have to discharge them fully to prevent the “memory effect.”

    Range is also affected by driving conditions as well as how you drive. The charge will deplete faster in hilly terrain, or if you accelerate hard or brake hard. Running accessories (heater, A/C & defroster) draw charge from the battery as well, and will decrease range. The more demand you put on the battery, the sooner it discharges. That’s why, the range touted by electric vehicles makers is somewhat exaggerated. I believe the true range for the Volt on a single charge is probably closer to 32 - 35 miles on average (real world) than the 40 that is advertised. Nissan says the Leaf will go 100 miles on a charge. However, again, that is only under optimal conditions. The reality is it will probably only go about 70 miles on a charge under normal driving conditions, less if it’s really hot or cold (they have no heating and cooling system for their battery). This gives them a pretty limited range. When traveling, you always have to wonder if you will have enough power to make it where you’re going and back, or to where you can recharge. If you get caught in a traffic jam or get caught in inclement weather, you may risk of running out of juice. Once these batteries are fully discharged, you’re done traveling. The Leaf takes almost 20 hours to recharge on a standard 120v household plug. You can recharge in about 3 hours if you have their special high capacity quick charger. Either way, you’re not going anywhere for a while. This pretty much limits electric only vehicles, like the Leaf, to shorter range commutes, which means you must have a 2nd vehicle if you plan to drive any long distances. With the Volt, your range is extended indefinitely by the electricity generated by the gas engine. You can drive from NY to CA if you want without recharging. All you have to do is add gas. You can go about 330 miles on the 9.3 gallon tank.

    The only thing I didn’t like about the Volt was the effort it takes to get into the back seat. The rear seats sit atop of part of the battery pack. A man with size 10 – 12 feet (or a woman with big feet) will find it difficult to just step into the rear compartment and sit down. You have enough leg room, but you can’t get your feet in without turning your foot sideways to step in, then turn your feet straight after you get in, so that your toes fit under the front seats. The other solution is to move the front seats forward, get in, them move the seats back again. It’s kind of hard to explain, but if you try one out at the dealership, you will see what I mean.

    So that’s my impression of the Volt. It is an interesting vehicle to say the least. One other thing I found interesting is that a 20 amp circuit is needed for charging, a 30 amp is recommended (so you don’t pop a breaker if some other appliance is running on the same circuit), but they are encouraging a 40 circuit to accommodate “future electric vehicles,” and future equipment upgrades. Obviously, there are plans in the works for bigger and better things.

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    So Blackstone.
    What you are saying is that the VOLT would have sucked if you were on Lake Shore Dr. the other week?
    Honestly, how practical is this car if you lived in Chicago? I mean how do yu plug in based on the fact that most houses have street parking?
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    Quote Originally Posted by luvmylabs23139 View Post
    So Blackstone.
    What you are saying is that the VOLT would have sucked if you were on Lake Shore Dr. the other week?
    Not at all. You always have the gas engine to act as a generator to provide a charge to the battery. As long as you have gas in the tank, you are never without electricity. Even if the battery has been depleted, the car will still operate. The only thing the cold will affect is how far you can go on a charge before the gas engine has to kick on and provide electricity.

    Quote Originally Posted by luvmylabs23139 View Post
    Honestly, how practical is this car if you lived in Chicago? I mean how do yu plug in based on the fact that most houses have street parking?
    I知 no expert on housing in Chicago, but most modern houses have driveways and/or garages that you can pull the car into. If push comes to shove, you can always run an extension cord from the house to the power cord that plugs into the car, and charge it on the street. People that live in extremely cold climates have been finding ways to plug in their engine block heaters for years. This wouldn稚 be any different.

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    Blackstone - Thanks for the informative post! Sadly, it doesn't appear the industry is much further along than when I was working underground.
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