EV’s – not cost, heat management the issue.

The advisor to the minister responded to a call from a colleague – we want to talk about saving an industry. Advances in electric car technology can make it viable to say many of the limits for production are no longer the problem – the batteries that is.

We went looking for the facts, and a quick search then found a story ( http://www.bbc.com/autos/story/20140204-a-false-charge ) Why do electric vehicles use so many batteries? From that story we learnt the cost of batteries are only part of the issue. It is the battery technology that is the dominant problem. “The world’s most recognisable electric vehicles (EVs), such as the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf, run on hundreds, or even thousands, of small battery cells.” Then there is the type of battery construction “BMW’s new i3 electric runabout spreads 96 battery cells across eight modules in its pack. The Leaf uses almost 200 thin laminated film cells that are packaged into 48 modules, and the Model S has more than 6,800 small lithium-ion battery cylinders.”

However, cost is important in the decision on the number of cells to be used. Explaining Tesla’s decision to use lap top type batteries: “Leigh Christie, an EV engineer, says manufacturers’ embrace of smaller batteries boils down to cost. “The capital cost for manufacturing equipment for 18650-size cells is as about as low as it gets,” he wrote. “This cell has been manufactured longer than pretty much any other lithium-ion cell.”

From what is said http://www.quora.com forums note “a nuanced view of why so much variation exists around how many batteries an EV uses, and why the industry is not quite ready for a mega-battery.” So it is not that mega batteries are not available, it is they are more expensive to produce. And, smaller batteries offer temperature control benefits, and were “easier to stack in unique ways to distribute weight and make use of small spaces in a vehicle chassis.”

All that said on further reading it becomes obvious heat is and the managing of heat is the bigger cost issue. Yes, that is correct the cost of managing heat and heat from EV battery cells is something all manufacturers must learn to manage. “The gaps between the cells allow for cooling and minimize the possibility of thermal runaway,” and “That’s why Nissan’s flat laminated cells are designed with a large surface area that quickly disperses the batteries’ heat. Because of this, the Leaf does not require a separate battery-cooling unit, such as those in the i3 and Model S.”

Co2Land org must now conclude electronic vehicles still need more time to be mainstream and the issues with the batteries are the matter that needs the most attention. Namely,

The cost of manufacture, the number required to be diverted from other product needs for similar batteries, the size range available, the matter of managing heat.

Therefore to be fully desirable those problems and issues need to be overcome for long-term success.   It follows we have success in making plant available, we just need technology to catch up with the battery needs.

Not selling – suburban transport EV dream.

The evidence to date suggests the socio-economic structure of suburban life is partly to blame for car dependent suburbanites rejecting electric vehicles. It might also explain the lack of patronage for City of Sydney recharging facilities infrastructure. And, now we have a political bidding war for public infrastructure in Western Sydney it will be even more difficult, or more correctly a major barrier is being put up to suppress the EV market even more.

The reference to City of Sydney patronage can be read on a previous post – Posted on February 27, 2013 by co2land – ‘Not selling – no better place to charge your EV!’ In particular the quote  “the first two power point stations were installed in September 2012: ”We haven’t had a customer yet,” but there have ”been a few drop-ins”.

When CO2Land org was researching the uptake of EV’s in suburbia it started with the premise of electric vehicles being a favoured solution, the dream technology is another way of putting it, and the best fit to solve our a families transport challenges and mitigate them from the economic and environmental impacts from oil dependence and how our lifestyles pose significant environmental threats. No such evidence exists that it will happen this way. The sales of EV’s are not happening as hoped, and the technology use indicates the problem occurs in a social context, and seemingly the discussion of electric vehicles has not included suburban social patterns among which electric vehicles might be adopted.

That said, someone else said, on 14 Feb 2013, we have looked deeper for the reasons and provided evidence . This was taken up by The Conversation and we quote “what Neil Sipe, Terry Li and I have assembled suggests the socio-economic structure of Australian suburbia, in combination with the distribution of public transport infrastructure, constitutes a major barrier to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles, especially among the most car-dependent households.

Relying on electric vehicles as a solution to energy and environmental problems may perpetuate suburban social disadvantage in a period of economic and resource insecurity.

Australia’s five largest cities are the most car-dependent national set outside the United States. Our previous studies (Dodson and Sipe 2007; 2008 have shown that outer suburban residents, especially those with lower socio-economic capacity, are among those most exposed to the pressures of higher transport fuel prices.

Future transport fuel costs are likely to be even higher (currently oil is approximately US$100 per barrel). Unconventional oil sources such as shale or tar sands may be abundant, but they have much higher production costs than conventional light crude. Their current production boom is underpinned by expectations that global oil prices will remain high or increase further over the long term.

Higher oil prices and the need to constrain carbon emissions will likely lead to much higher transport fuel costs than have prevailed in the past decade.

Electric vehicles are often presented as the most likely way to resolve this transport conundrum. Australia’s 2012 Energy White Paper alludes to a transition to electric vehicles as the economy of conventional fuels wanes.

Much of the Energy White Paper and the rhetoric around electric vehicles assumes an unproblematic transition – consumers will change their behaviour in response to price pressures. There is little discussion of potential barriers and impediments to this comforting, convenient narrative.

It makes sense that households who are most car dependent and least able to afford higher fuel prices would be the most eager to switch to an electric car. But, it turns out, the social structure of Australian suburbia means these groups are poorly placed to lead such a transition.

In our study of Brisbane we created datasets linking vehicle fuel efficiency with household socio-economic status. In our analysis, high vehicle fuel efficiency, including hybrids, serves as a proxy for future electric vehicles. We linked motor vehicle registration data with the Green Vehicle dataset on fuel efficiency, plus travel and socio-economic data from the ABS Census.

Our analysis builds a rich picture of how the spatial distribution of vehicle efficiency intersects with suburban socio-spatial patterns, using Brisbane and Sydney as case studies.

We found that the average commuting distance increases with distance from the CBD while average fuel efficiency of vehicles declines. So outer suburban residents travel further, in less efficient vehicles, than more centrally situated households. Outer suburban residents are also likely to be on relatively lower incomes than those closer in.

The result is those living in the outer suburbs have relatively weaker socio-economic status but are paying more for transport. For example, one-third of the most disadvantaged suburbs in greater Brisbane also have the most energy-intensive motor vehicle use.

A socially equitable transition to highly fuel efficient or electric vehicles ought to favour those with the highest current exposure to high fuel prices. Yet our research finds it’s not likely to happen.

26 February 2013, Jogo Dodson, Associate Professor and Director, Urban Research Program at Griffith University “

CO2Land org still maintains it is the politics that drives community attitudes and where it may be immoral, it is not illegal. Thought of today – more politicians face charges with illegal activities each year than illegal immigrants! Source ABC.

Not selling – no better place to charge your EV!

The promise of electric cars is getting down to the power point. The promise of the dream technology solving our transport challenges is now best described as uneven! The problem might just be the socio-economic structure around us, and where the most car dependent households are distributed.

It seems at odds, that for instance, the City of Sydney is staunchly promoting a sustainable future, that the leading edge they wish to protect and serve with examples of what is the correct thing to do is also being meet with stern and robust opposition. If we put aside the concerns over the city’s trigeneration project and the claims and counterclaims. A very interesting story develops from an article published on http://www.drive.com.au under the heading “Not Selling”.

The story centres on the City of Sydney council having held a press event last week. The announcement being it had bought 10 Nissan Leaf electric cars, and it planned to buy 50 similar vehicles over the next few years. The story said “the event was supposed to be a shot in the arm for electric vehicles, which have barely registered a blip on the sales charts. But instead, it provided an insight into the failure of the Better Place electric vehicle-charging network”. Co2Land org is now very interested in the history of the Better Place network as Canberra and others also touted the wonderful concepts and the advantages of such a network.

What happened to the wonderful network at Sydney: Again, Drive.com published “In 2011, the City of Sydney put out a project to tender for 12 new electric car-charging stations – a perfect opportunity for Better Place to gain a foothold in Sydney. Better Place was considered, but ultimately the tender was won not by a multinational technology provider but a local electrician, who simply installed power points”.  It got down to there is no need for propriety displays and charge points – all based on subscription arrangements. What was needed according to the manager for strategy and assets at the council was 15-amp, 240-volt power points with a timer and flow meter. CO2Land org then though they already have them in most council owned caravan park around the country – interesting thought to think the old technology is suitable for the new, yet we were going to pay more without the need!

Council is also quoted as saying there is a lack of customers to even support installing the power points. The story continues to say after the first two power point stations were installed in September 2012: ”We haven’t had a customer yet,” but there have ”been a few drop-ins”.  Oh dear, or is it still too dear?