Blog: Electric vehicle solutions

Six Electric Vehicle Myths

Tesla at auto showThese six myths are now fading into the fake news landscape. Here are the facts:

FACT 1: ELECTRIC VEHICLES ARE WELL PROVEN

They are inexpensive to operate, quieter, healthier, and better for the environment. There are more than 600,000 fully electric or hybrid cars in the USA. Sales grew 37% in 2017, 28% in 2017 and are expected to grow by about 100% in 2018. Tesla is sitting on about one half million orders for the affordable Model 3. GM just announced they are beefing up production in Michigan of the all-electric Bolt, because it’s selling faster than they thought. In Norway about 30% of all car sales are fully electric. All of the world’s biggest car makers in Detroit, Europe and Asia have spent millions developing modern electric cars and trucks, and in the past few years have made numerous launch announcements. Frito Lay has 280 fully electric trucks, DHL has 45, and New York City has 389 electric vehicles and big plans to expand. Pacific Gas & Electric also has several hundred.

FACT 2: ELECTRIC VEHICLES NOW COST LESS, NOT MORE

During the life of the car you will save about $20,000 on fuel and a few thousand on maintenance, when compared to a gas car. Fleet vans travelling 300,000 miles save about $97,000 in fuel costs. The Chevy Bolt has a starting price of about US $37k, but after the federal tax credit, this drops to about $30k. A Tesla 3 costs about the same. A Nissan Leaf costs about $23,000 after the credit. On top of that, 16 states and utilities offer a variety of cash incentives, plus parking, tolls and retail sales tax exemptions. Ontario offers grants up to C$14,000.

“We’re saving more than 80% on fuel compared to gas vehicles and 50% on maintenance. The maintenance savings even apply when we compare the all-electric vehicle to our hybrids,” says Keith Kerman, Chief Fleet Officer in New York City.

FACT 3: LONGER RANGE – YOU WON’T RUN OUT OF POWER

On average, Americans drive cars and vans about 30 miles per day. When fully charged, electric vehicles now have a lot more range than they did before, eg. Model 3 Tesla 310 miles, Chevy Bolt 238 miles, Nissan Leaf 150 miles. These go down in cold weather if you use a lot of accessories.

FACT 4: CHARGING IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK

You become accustomed to it quickly. It’s like plugging in your phone each night, or your power tools for work. A Level I charger is included with your vehicle. You can get a faster Level II charger installed at home. Level II is normal for fleet depots, and Level III for highway service stations. In the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, the latter will give you 75 more miles and get you home. Public chargers are being added to America’s roads at about 10,000 per year. There are several web sites that show exactly where they all are, making it easy to plan longer trips.

FACT 5: THE BATTERY WILL NOT FAIL & COST A FORTUNE TO FIX

Many of the electric car batteries are now coming with 8-year warranties. Tesla reports average lost performance at just 10% after 160,000 miles. The Zenith van warranty is 100,000 miles. Other carmakers have similar offers. Used lithium ion car batteries can be recycled as part of home batteries. Panasonic, Tesla, and Toyota are working on solid-state car batteries, due out in five years. They will make everything faster and easier.

FACT 6: ELECTRICS HAVE LOTS OF SPEED, TORQUE & PAYLOAD

The Model S goes 0-60 in about 5 seconds, quicker than a Ferrari or Lamborghini off the line. Except when deliberately limited, most electric vehicles are as fast or faster than gas cars, because of instant torque. Workhorse vans can tow 5,000 pounds and carry a payload of 2200 pounds. The 80-mile Zenith van has a payload of 3800 pounds, and 530 cubic feet of cargo space. You can get a kit to make a Ford F-150 fully electric using the same mountings and holes, from Torque Trends in Surprise Arizona. Motiv makes an all-electric package for the Ford F59 truck that can carry a payload of more than 13,000 pounds, offers 1550 foot-pounds of torque, with a range of 60-85 miles after 8 hours of charging. The uniform service AmeriPride has had 10 of these in service for several years, and has just ordered 20 more. Tesla is now selling an all-electric 18-wheeler.

I hope you have enjoyed this unfake news announcement from your friendly neighborhood man with a plan. The long version journalism piece for engineering types can be found here.

 

Lifecycle comparison – The gap will grow

There’s always a lot of misinformation being peddled during any big technology-based market disruption, but it’s even more ridiculously misleading and ruthless when there is a lot at stake. Given that the energy business is among the most lucrative on the planet, and affects numerous other major industries, the stakes are high and fictions are colourful.

Thalia Verkade seems to have done a thorough and pretty balanced comparison here of the C02 emissions during the entire lifecycle of electric vs gas-powered cars. We have modified Thalia’s graphic. It originally also showed emissions based on Holland’s electricity mix, which includes natural gas power plants. Removal of that part simplifies the comparison, especially for places generating virtually clean electricity, like Ontario says it is generating (agreement depends on you view of nuclear power).

At more than 60% less carbon the discussion obviously favours electric cars and we think the gap is actually already bigger, and will grow as more people put solar panels on their roofs and as battery technology advances. Furthermore, the only part of the process where an electric car loses is in the manufacture of the battery, claimed by fiction-spinners to equal 8 years of driving distance. This was recently debunked by Popular Mechanics quite convincingly. They say the difference disappears in just over two years of driving. It’s likely even less.

Electric vs gas car lifetime C02 low res

Source: Verkade, Thalia, 2017.

2018 Electric car ranges

Many factors affect range including cold weather and accessories used, but EV owners report that planning for these variables is not that challenging. Numerous stories are emerging showing how long trips are basically uneventful. There are now hundreds of public chargers in Ontario. You quickly become accustomed to plugging in at home, just like with a phone, and you can get faster chargers paid for by government grants. Here’s a great new graphic from Fleetcarma.ca that summarizes the new model ranges.

artboard-13x

Manufacturers at Toronto Auto Show say electrics go mainstream within 2 years

Auto Show EV workshopElectric cars are taking off quite simply because they represent better, safer automotive technology and a solution to greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, according to François Lefèvre of Nissan. “As a company we are targetting zero emissions and zero fatalities.”

Lefèvre was one of eight speakers at an electric vehicle workshop at this year’s Toronto Auto Show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Also represented were spokespersons from General Motors, Ontario Hydro, Toyota, Flo the charging company, University of Michigan Auto Research, Volkswagen, and the Electric Vehicle Association in Norway (see separate story item about Norway).

Lefèvre also noted the importance of government incentives for at least a few more years, and pointed out that the US Congress recently kept in place a $7500 tax credit on electric vehicle purchases.

”GM IS ONE DEVELOPMENT CYCLE FROM PROFITABILITY”

Dave Paterson, from GM Canada said that sales of electric vehicles are up 83% in Canada and that GM is currently selling one third of all electric vehicles in Canada. I think we’re one development cycle from profitability. We will soon bring battery costs down by about another 50%, and within a few years we will be offering about 20 electric vehicle models.”

He suggested that the tipping point for electric vehicles to go mainstream is within sight. Although economies of scale are important, further product development is equally critical for the success of the industry, during what is expected to be a significant disruption.

SAVING $20,000 ON FUEL IS NO SMALL THING

Brookes Shean from Flo, thinks the tipping point could come as soon as 2020 as consumers begin to fully realize how much money they can save. Saving $20,000 on fuel is no small thing. Stephen Beatty from Toyota pointed out that a cultural change will also accelerate the tipping point, when doing anything to add to greenhouse gas will be like smoking tobacco. It will just be the wrong thing to do.

Scott Hollinshead from Volkswagen agreed with the 2020 tipping point, noting that governments are flooding our society with emissions regulations. He talked about manufacturing regulations and also about cities regulating what kinds of vehicles can be driven downtown. He also noted that one of the industry’s key challenges will be to introduce bigger fully electric cars. He said 65% of Volkswagen’s sales in Canada were SUVs, so we still love our big vehicles.

Electrics are the stars of the Toronto Auto Show

SHOW COMPOSITE LOW RESConsumers were all over the Teslas, the Chevy Bolts, Nissan Leafs and other fully electric vehicles at this year’s Toronto Auto Show. Sales are zooming into the stratosphere, helped along by generous incentives from the Ontario Government. Buy now before they start reducing the grants!

BOB on egolfYou can still sense the reluctance of the industry itself. The spokespersons are saying all the right things in public speeches about their commitment, and to some extent I believe them, because they are too invested by the billions, and surrounded by regulations, governments and citizens who want a greener future. Also they can’t deny the sales success to date, despite that there has been surprisingly little electric car marketing undertaken by the major OEMs.

But you can tell manufacturers are not happy about the development work still to be done to bring them into profitability. You can tell dealers are not happy that they will have to to re-train their salesforce and reinvent their business models as the after-purchase service and maintenance market begins to shrink. One of the tell-tale signs is that it is still hard to get inventory. So if you order an electric, you usually have to wait several months before you receive it. This will change. Every time there is a show like the Toronto event, industry insiders realize that this disruption is primarily about what consumers want.

In one of the auto show workshops an industry expert reminded the audience that “We all know what happened to Kodak,” referring to a classic case of a market leader underestimating the eagerness of consumers to embrace a better product like digital cameras. In the case of electric cars they are far less expensive to operate and maintain, quiet, safe, healthy and green. Bring them on!