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When Will Electric Cars Go Mainstream?

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Petrol is only going to get more expensive. Whilst there's some scope for more homeworking, denser cities, less commuting, it looks like we'll be reliant on cars for a good while yet.

I'm no engineer but I find it hard to believe that a couple of billion couldn't get decent battery cars going. Maybe not for motorway driving but probably 80% of use, save the petrol for lorries and agriculture. However, despite all the incentives there must be, these just aren't happening.

When do you reckon we'll be driving electric cars? My prediction-At least another 20 years until they reach 30% of cars on the road in the UK .These will be relatively well off people though, the idea of people driving to minimum wage jobs will soon be over

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When driving one makes more sense than drving a traditional car.

It is also scary investing a lot of money in an electric car if you buy a diesel golf you expect that it will remain desirable for a few years at least.

With a limited electric model you could suddenly be left with somthing horrendously out of date with depriciation more akin to a laptop purchase.

Prices at the moment do not reflect the risk or the limits of the cars involved.

Saying that I am considering a hybrid electric golf/passat when they come out.

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Guest UK Debt Slave
Petrol is only going to get more expensive. Whilst there's some scope for more homeworking, denser cities, less commuting, it looks like we'll be reliant on cars for a good while yet.

I'm no engineer but I find it hard to believe that a couple of billion couldn't get decent battery cars going. Maybe not for motorway driving but probably 80% of use, save the petrol for lorries and agriculture. However, despite all the incentives there must be, these just aren't happening.

When do you reckon we'll be driving electric cars? My prediction-At least another 20 years until they reach 30% of cars on the road in the UK .These will be relatively well off people though, the idea of people driving to minimum wage jobs will soon be over

I don't think it'll happen. I work as an engineer designing fuel cell technology. It's still a long way from being an alternative to fossil fuels. The energy to power electric cars still has to come from burning fossil fuels

It's more likely that less and less people will drive. That is the simple reality. In a small nation like the UK, we can get by better using mass transportation systems. In a country like America, they are going to have to completely change their lifestyles. I just returned from there and people are still driving those monster trucks with V8 petrol engines that get 10 miles to the gallon on a good day. Incredible really. I didn't even see a petrol station selling diesel.

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so even with peak oil back in the news there's no takers for this?

It can't be done. You'd need to double the number of power stations planned, particularly nuclear, to supply the extra power needed to replace all that petrol. And we won't have enough power stations over the next twenty years as it is (cue brownouts), even without bringing the grid to its knees by inviting 80% of car owners to plug in.

In fifty years, maybe. In the next couple of decades - forget it.

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There's definitely been a change in car manufacturing towards R&D in eco cars.

It's just a case of watching it's evolution with interest. As a wild guess, around five years before we start to see things really changing.

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Petrol is only going to get more expensive. Whilst there's some scope for more homeworking, denser cities, less commuting, it looks like we'll be reliant on cars for a good while yet.

I'm no engineer but I find it hard to believe that a couple of billion couldn't get decent battery cars going. Maybe not for motorway driving but probably 80% of use, save the petrol for lorries and agriculture. However, despite all the incentives there must be, these just aren't happening.

When do you reckon we'll be driving electric cars? My prediction-At least another 20 years until they reach 30% of cars on the road in the UK .These will be relatively well off people though, the idea of people driving to minimum wage jobs will soon be over

What do you base the 20 year prediction on? Not much point in putting a figure out there if you've nothing to back it up! I'm employed in transportation, and predict it will not be the car driver but commerce that will drive acceptability of this fuel source. Bit like diesel really....

In and around my area there are several companies working on battery technology (google axion or St Andrews Air) that will make short distance delivery companies sit up and take note. Once the battery-powered Ford Transit is out there, electrically powered vehicles will take off big time.

It's not 20 years away, but I wouldn't put my neck on the line and give a hard and fast figure. Depends on the development work of companies mentioned above, and the building of the infra-structure required to support everybody plugging their motors in at 6pm every night!

I suspect there may be an off-shoot industry in micro-generation to off-set wholesale increases in electricity prices by the way!

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We'll all voluntarily drive electric cars when the following are met:

- They can produce at least 120bhp for £12k new and around ~200-250bhp for £20 - 25k.

- Size is comparable to today's family cars - two seat sports cars with massive battery packs where the rear seats should be is a no-no.

- They last around 10 years with no significant problems if you maintain them. That means no loss of charge duration.

- They can be recharged in around 5 minutes and run for 300-500 miles on a single charge.

- A full recharge is less than £75.

Until those conditions are met the majority will cling to their petrol cars for as long as possible. The level of freedom and entertainment that would be lost by giving up cars is too much for most to do unless absolutely forced to. I don't think electric is the solution.

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Electric cars do not really offer many advantages at present. The eletricty to power them needs to be produced somewhere, and when production, transmission and battery storage losses are factored in, Diesel cars are more efficient. As a country we would reduce our emissions far more easily by replacing the power stations we currently use with efficient ones providing combined heat and power and building wind farms and other renewable power plants. However this would be a huge challange currenly, without increasing electricity demand by another huge factor.

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We'll all voluntarily drive electric cars when the following are met:

- They can produce at least 120bhp for £12k new and around ~200-250bhp for £20 - 25k.

Not going to happen. Low powered electric cars could be viable now.

When I went looking for a working cashpoint this morning, the pavement into town was EMPTY.

The road however was packed with cars doing 20 mph, 90% of them with only one person on board and I bet most of that was entirely local traffic!

The day of the one ton overcoat will soon be over.

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We'll all voluntarily drive electric cars when the following are met:

- They can produce at least 120bhp for £12k new and around ~200-250bhp for £20 - 25k.

Hmmm. More than any car I've ever owned.. and much more than most small cars nowadays. In any case, acceleration generally isn't a problem for electric cars.

- Size is comparable to today's family cars - two seat sports cars with massive battery packs where the rear seats should be is a no-no.

This is a valid point. It is annoying that they produce 2-seat cars with no one pointing out the obvious problems..

- They last around 10 years with no significant problems if you maintain them. That means no loss of charge duration..

Mechanically, electric cars should be far more reliable than ICE cars, so there is a tradeoff there.

- They can be recharged in around 5 minutes and run for 300-500 miles on a single charge.

You'd typically recharge overnight; there is an issue here with range which can be fixed with something like a towable generator for when you really need the range - for many people this could be perhaps 10 times a year. For the majority of journeys, 100-mile range and charging at home over hours is fine.

- A full recharge is less than £75.

That is already met, by a massive margin.

Until those conditions are met the majority will cling to their petrol cars for as long as possible. The level of freedom and entertainment that would be lost by giving up cars is too much for most to do unless absolutely forced to. I don't think electric is the solution.

I think that electric cars are a solution for -

- 2-car families, as a second runaround.

- City dwellers who are happy to take trains on rare longer journeys

- Anyone prepared to hire a diesel when really needed.

Running costs should be much, much lower.

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In order for electric cars to be viable, the government should construct a network of overhead wires along the motorways, and build cars with rubber bumpers and long poles to pick up the current. They should then pay unemployed youths to jump from car to car collecting tolls. Every mile or so they could build booths and pay old gypsy women to sit in them playing loud music and saying 'scream if you wanna go faster' through loudspeakers.

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We'll all voluntarily drive electric cars when the following are met:

- They can produce at least 120bhp for £12k new and around ~200-250bhp for £20 - 25k.

- Size is comparable to today's family cars - two seat sports cars with massive battery packs where the rear seats should be is a no-no.

- They last around 10 years with no significant problems if you maintain them. That means no loss of charge duration.

- They can be recharged in around 5 minutes and run for 300-500 miles on a single charge.

- A full recharge is less than £75.

Until those conditions are met the majority will cling to their petrol cars for as long as possible. The level of freedom and entertainment that would be lost by giving up cars is too much for most to do unless absolutely forced to. I don't think electric is the solution.

Your first, 2nd and last comment can easily be met currently, electric motors are more powerful by weight and size than IC engines (except maybe undriveable engines like F1 cars). The problem , which you probably know is storage, and this is 'ok' using lithium at significant cost. This can also be solved by using a series hybrid, in which a small efficient IC engine charges the battery, resulting in 100+mpg on fuel alone. The estimates I have seen are mostly using quite large engines, I think it would be possible to use a very small engine 100cc or something. Even a big car only needs a Kw or 2 to cruise.

You can currently convert almost any car with a basic electric drive for a few thousand (doing the work yourself), that will give a 30 mile range on lead acid batteries, add a standard portable generator and you can have as much range as fuel you can carry. The only problem is portable generators are noisy, but someone should make more suitable ones soon.

It is quite possible to make these but any hybrid or decent plugin is going to cost more than a pure IC car. Car makers are concerned people won't pay the price, and also don't want to throw away all that money spent on engine development.

I can imagine that once the economy figures are well known, that pure IC cars will be seen only as a short term 'cheap' option.

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In and around my area there are several companies working on battery technology (google axion or St Andrews Air) that will make short distance delivery companies sit up and take note. Once the battery-powered Ford Transit is out there, electrically powered vehicles will take off big time.

Like milk floats?

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I don't have any need for an electric car with such a limited range and expensive replacement costs of batteries. Got a light weight dahon fold up bike, a smart phone with sat nav, the tube, the buses and an 80mpg+ diesel car.

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Hmmm. More than any car I've ever owned.. and much more than most small cars nowadays. In any case, acceleration generally isn't a problem for electric cars.

This is a valid point. It is annoying that they produce 2-seat cars with no one pointing out the obvious problems..

Mechanically, electric cars should be far more reliable than ICE cars, so there is a tradeoff there.

You'd typically recharge overnight; there is an issue here with range which can be fixed with something like a towable generator for when you really need the range - for many people this could be perhaps 10 times a year. For the majority of journeys, 100-mile range and charging at home over hours is fine.

That is already met, by a massive margin.

I think that electric cars are a solution for -

- 2-car families, as a second runaround.

- City dwellers who are happy to take trains on rare longer journeys

- Anyone prepared to hire a diesel when really needed.

Running costs should be much, much lower.

Running costs would only be lower because electricity does not have an extra fuel duty applied to it when sold to the consumer. Imagine the running costs of a diesel car doing 60 mpg if there was no fuel duty to be paid.

As soon as eletric cars took of, the government would either want to tax electricity for cars more, which would be very hard, so instead would probably seriously increase road tax.

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When will Electric Cars go mainstream?

NEVER!

It's not in the interests of Car Manufacturers, Oil Companies or Governments to allow Electric Cars to go mainstream and be adopted by the majority of Motorists as they are making too much money at the Pumps and in VAT, Fuel Duty, Congestion Charges and so-called "Green Taxes".

If Electric Cars really were a viable alternative, (and believe me the Technology exists and has existed for a long time) then the Government would have to make up loads of new crazy Taxes and Laws to penalise people for driving those types of vehicles...not worth the hassle for them.

mspL4

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All depends what you call mainstream.

Renault / Nissan are investing an awful lot of money in EV.

They say a mainstream EV (not hybrid) will be sold in Europe by 2012.

http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/06/renault-ev/

The first production electric vehicle from Renault will feature a replaceable battery pack designed to work with the $500,000 battery swap station designed by Silicon Valley startup Better Place.

The car, which is based on the Megane sedan (pictured) and called the Fluence, will place the battery behind the rear seat. An opening under the car will allow the Better Place swap station to remove and replace the battery in about the time it takes to fill a car with gasoline. We’ll see the car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, according to Israel’s Globes Online.

Renault is working with Better Place to bring electric vehicles — and the infrastructure needed to keep them going — to Israel and says the Fluence will be launched in Israel during the second half of 2011. Better Plans to have 150,000 plug-in charging stations and about 100 battery swap stations throughout the country by then.

The Fluence is one of three electric cars the French automaker is bringing to Frankfurt.

In addition to the Fluence, Renault will show off the too-cute Kangoo be bop Z.E., which has a claimed range of 60 to 100 miles from a lithium-ion battery, and a concept car of some kind.

Renault isn’t saying anything about the concept, but Autocar says it is a hatchback probably based on the Renault Clio or Nissan Cube (Renault owns Nissan). The French magazine Auto Plus says it’s a hatchback that is based on the Twingo and looks a bit like the Smart.

Whatever the case, Renault says all of its EVs will feature unique, but not outlandish, styling.

“We want a real signature for our electric range, so when people see one in the street they will know it is a Renault electric car,†development chief Christian Steyer told Autocar. “The key is to do this without frightening customers away. Customers must be tempted, and not rushed too fast.â€

The Fluence’s battery and drivetrain specs haven’t been disclosed, but according to Globes, car will feature two charging options besides the swap technology Renault calls “Quick Drop.†You can recharge the pack in six to eight hours using a 220-volt line at 10 to 16 amperes. A second option uses a 440-volt line — often available in industrial settings and large office buildings — with a three-phase 32-ampere socket to give you an 80 percent charge in about 30 minutes, according to Globes.

“For some car users, the economic arguments of electric cars will be too good to resist,†Steyer said, according to Autocar. “With the Quick Drop system there is no excuse – you can get a new battery faster than you can fill up with fuel at a pump.â€

Better Place founder Shai Agassi wants to bring the cell phone subscription model to electric cars. The company will provide the infrastructure for motorists to charge their batteries and bill them for the power they use. Subscribers also will be able to “swap†the batteries at a swap station similar to the prototype Better Place unveiled in Japan in May.

“We’re an electrical services provider,†is how Sidney Goodman, Better Place VP of auto alliances, explained it to us recently. “We buy batteries and electricity, and we sell miles.â€

The swap station works a lot like an automated car wash, and Better Place says it can swap your dead battery for a fresh one and have you on your way in less than five minutes. Because people will subscribe the the service and not actually own the battery in the car, Goodman says people will be guaranteed a fresh battery. Better Place sees the swap stations as something people would use only occasionally - during a long trip, for example - and it expects most people to plug their cars in overnight.

Renault also is working with French electricity company EDF to develop a charging network in France that would allow cars to communicate with charging stations using something the two companies call “power line communications.†The technology would allow for the secure transmission of data between the charging stations and the cars, including vehicle identification numbers and billing information.

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I think it will be a long time before pure electric cars will replace petrol / diesel cars for the mainstream general purpose family car e.g. Ford Focus / VW Golf category. The only thing stopping this is battery range.

However, I think that within the known limitations, battery electric cars will have a future. For commuting in cities or for other local work, electric cars are ideal. Many manufacturers are seriously working on electric cars - often variants of their existing small cars. Today I read that Toyota are working on an electric car based on their little IQ model.

Also electric urban delivery vans have a promising future - the Modec van looks interesting.

For general motoring I think hybrids of one form or another will become popular as they recover braking energy through the motor-generator(s) and use it to assist acceleration. Diesel engines are likley to oust petrol ones as they are more efficient. I can see the hybrid option replacing that of the traditional automatic gearbox - so that instead of two-pedal gearshift-free motoring having a fuel consumption penalty it would have a bonus.

Future developments for the electric car and hybrid markets include supercapacitors, that can charge and discharge much quicker and many more times than batteries - and individual wheel-hub electric motors. I also read of one new battery under development that is claimed to give 3 times the range of a lithium-ion battery but I can't remember what it was.

Supercapacitors and batteries would be used together - batteries for back-up charge and supercapacitors for rapid charge or demand. Individual wheel hub motors do away with the need for driveshafts and a differential, which you'd still need on a car powered by a single electric motor.

Personally, I'm not convinced that fuel cell vehicles will become widespread, I think that if fuel cells become popular at all it will be as portable static power sources.

Electric cars and hybrids will be able to share much of their technology, which could lead to economies of scale.

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Renault also is working with French electricity company EDF to develop a charging network in France that would allow cars to communicate with charging stations using something the two companies call “power line communications.†The technology would allow for the secure transmission of data between the charging stations and the cars, including vehicle identification numbers and billing information.

This is the key part. They will develop the system such that the battery will not charge unless it is given permission by a central system, which will then by able to charge you a different (much higher) for the electricity used. Initially it will not be used in that way, but once enough were in use, the government would force this.

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Series hybrids will probably become popular within the next 10 years. That is to say they will account for a decent chunk of production (say 20%).

Full electric cars will only work if battery tech improves or more importantly the price decreases. I think that could happen within the next 20 years.

Everything else is easy to fix. It is just the price of the batteries and the range (and those two are linked somewhat)

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