Report claims more work is needed to look into battery life and weight in electric cars

Electric cars will not be viable as everyday transport for at least 10 years and further research needs to be undertaken into battery life and weight, according to a new report.

The Institution of Engineering Technology’s (E&T) report claims long-term limitations of battery technology will cap electric cars’ range at 100 miles and fast charging points will damage battery life.

It has called on the government to instead invest in high efficiency diesels and hybrids instead.

Highlighting the current limitations of electric cars, E&T said an average VW Golf could travel 375 miles on a single tank of fuel in mixed driving conditions at 70mph. To undertake the same journey in an EV, the batteries would weigh in excess of 1.5 tonnes and the car would cost more than £100,000.

E&T’s research reveals that although breakthroughs on the cost of batteries will be achieved within 10 years, similar progress in reducing their weight will not happen. It also believes drivers will not be satisfied with the performance of batteries for at least 10 years.

It also says that to achieve a respectable life from lithium-ion batteries, they should not run from full to empty and should be kept at between 20-80 per cent of their charge. This has knock-on effects to the range.

E&T also says that constant fast charging will damage battery life and the impact of these fast charging points on battery life has yet to be looked into.

E&T editor in chief Dickon Ross said: “Some of the performance improvement claims being suggested are likely to stay pure fantasy for the foreseeable future.

“While we believe electric cars overall are a good idea, particularly for short-range commutes, there’s a need for more honesty on whether they can really be the solution to our transport and environmental needs in the mid- to long-term.

“Do people really have to invest in more than one car, and all the resources they demand, to take care of commuting and family holidays? We need to encourage alternative solutions.”

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Comments
42

17 June 2010

How incredibly sensible, shame the government will completely ignore it!

17 June 2010

[quote Autocar]Electric cars will not be viable as everyday transport for at least 10 years and further research needs to be undertaken into battery life and weight[/quote]

As Sherlock Holmes was given to saying upon hearing such amazing feats of insight and perception: "NO SH*T!"

17 June 2010

"Further research needs to be undertaken..."


What does the IET think car manufacturers are doing? Sitting on their laurels? Do they think the pronouncement a revelation? And should it not be among the first researching advances in EV technology?

EV's capable of anything from 60 to 100 miles on a single charge are more than enough for city use. One quarter of all vehicular journeys are 2 miles or less. You don't need a petrol hybrid to collect your copy of Autocar.

17 June 2010

[quote Los Angeles]


What does the IET think car manufacturers are doing? Sitting on their laurels? Do they think the pronouncement a revelation? And should it not be among the first researching advances in EV technology?

[/quote]

No, the manufacturers are sucking in huge government grants in order to produce EV prototypes that generate good will and favourable press without actually producing anything resembling a useful vehicle.

[quote Los Angeles]

EV's capable of anything from 60 to 100 miles on a single charge are more than enough for city use. One quarter of all vehicular journeys are 2 miles or less. You don't need a petrol hybrid to collect your copy of Autocar.

[/quote]

That's all well and good, but how many cars are *never* driven more than 30 miles (+return trip) in a single day? Not may I'd wager.

How many people who think they *might* be happy with that limited range will actually risk investing money in buying such a car? Again, I'd guess not many.

And let's not forget the other point from the IET - using these batteries (especially with fast charging) will result in range decreasing over the vehicles lifetime. What might start out as a maximum range of 60-100 miles could drop within 3-4 years to 20-50 miles.

No consumer is going to tolerate that.

I'd love an electric car, if someday they can build me one that will enable me to visit my folks 350 miles away without having to use a train or aeroplane. If the electric car is only any good for short distances, then I think I'd rather have a bike - much cheaper!

17 June 2010

[quote Oilburner]No, the manufacturers are sucking in huge government grants in order to produce EV prototypes that generate good will and favourable press without actually producing anything resembling a useful vehicle.[/quote]That's one mightily universal con. Pretty smart when only you see through the ruse. I'm afraid asking for an electric car that can take you personally 350 miles (rather than a train or bus) is merely a personal expression of your ideal. In the meantime feel free to use your bicycle ... in all weathers and traffic situations. I look to cheap and clever EVs for most city use.

Whenever one gets statements from institutions it is best to check who is making the statement and on behalf of what staff or members. I believe the IET has 150,000 members worldwide. I can guarantee that statement does not represent the membership's collective view. And as ever it arrives timed to coincide with a new government, one that might be easily swayed away from one technology to another, or perhaps to stick with yesterday's technology

17 June 2010

2 points:

Firstly, forget ideals it's about what the consumer will or won't accept in a car. 300 mile + range (with 10 minute refuel) is the norm. Asking consumers to go backwards on this is folly. Those that could make do with EVs for city use may take the plunge, but remember we don't all live or work in cities (or even live and work in the same city) and fear of new, compromised technologies is rife.

Secondly, the IETs views are not merely subjective. Battery life and density vs weight issues are well known problems with battery technology and always have been, something that may be solved in the future, but hasn't yet. These are indisputable facts.

17 June 2010

[quote Oilburner]These are indisputable facts.[/quote]"Asking consumers to go backwards on this" is your personal interpretation, not a fact.

Who does the institution represent when making general statements? I can stand in the middle of the Acropolis to proclaim democracy dead but the surroundings do not give my words veracity, it only lends false context. Using headed paper - institutional status - to add academic plausibility to a personal view is an old trick.

EVs are here to stay no matter how hard vested interests try to delete them - GM did all it could to that end in the late nineties, won, and now failed. It's attitude was the same when Honda produced an engine that needed no cat. GM and Ford lobbied hard against its introduction ... because they had invested heavily in catalytic converter companies. So now we all pay more than we need for our cars.

In any event, claims of no one interested in EVs is pure hokum. City dwellers have yet to be tested in any number who might buy them.

17 June 2010

[quote Los Angeles]

[quote Oilburner]These are indisputable facts.[/quote]"Asking consumers to go backwards on this" is your personal interpretation, not a fact.

[/quote]

Stop playing straw man. You know full well that was in the context of my second point. Battery technology is limited and has problems that are specific to this kind of application, i.e. motor vehicles.

My personal interpretation is that consumers won't buy this technology in its current state because it does not meet either their expectations or needs. Your interpretation is that it will.

I appreciate that vested interests have caused problems for EV technology in the past, but the biggest issue of all is that they have to compete with the cheap, flexible ICE. Only ever tighter emissions regs and more expensive oil can ever change that.

So let's wait and see what the consumer actually does eh? :)

17 June 2010

Al last a breath of reality.

The Mini trial is showing that if you try to use an EV as a conventional car, the range is pathetic. Even the e-Mini, with nearly twice the battery capacity of most EVs can only manage 50 miles or so if driven on A and M roads at normal speeds.

Autocar recently tried to get from London to Alton (35-40 miles) in an EV and used 75% of the battery capacity, more than the 60% recommended for good battery life. In a new EV with no heater, aircon or lights. At night, in winter, in a three year old EV, Autocar wouldn't make it.

Have you worked out how much per mile battery cost amortisation is going to be over the life of the battery? Leasing or battery swapping may spread the pain but it isn't going to be cheap. Some rough numbers for others to shoot at, with the typical 15-25 KWh battery installation:

£5000 battery cost, 1000 charge cycles (20% to 80%) over its life, realistically 30-40 miles per charge, so about £5 for 40 miles (forget the electricity cost, its negligible). In petrol terms at current costs less than 40 mpg!

17 June 2010

[quote Oilburner]My personal interpretation is that consumers won't buy this technology in its current state [/quote]I'm glad we got that settled. I look forward to reading your back-up research.

My motivation for a keen interest in city EVs issues from the last oil crisis when drivers lined up in panic at the petrol station for a can of gas, trapped in a mono-system of vehicular transportation decided by multi-national corporations.

Condeming EVs because of their perceived limits now, even before consumers have had the choice to test them in any significant number, is an attempt to condemn development for the future, an attitude similar to GM's self-interest. Reading auto history tells us, when first invented, the car had extreme limits to its use. To own and use one you needed to employ a full-time mechanic and chauffeur.

What was it the founding head of IBM said of the computer - "I see a definite use for one in at least six cities." A man of vision.

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