The Future of the Electric Car

Shai Agassi, who's not quite the household name T. Boone Pickens is, has an even more radical plan to end the planet's oil addiction.

"But oil, in the end, supplanted volts on American highways because of one perennial problem: batteries. Car batteries, then and now, are heavy and expensive, don't last long, and take forever to recharge. In five minutes you can fill a car with enough gas to go 300 miles, but five minutes of charging at home gets you only about 8 miles in an electric car. Clever tricks, like adding "range extenders"-gas engines that kick in when a battery dies-end up making the cars too expensive.

Agassi dealt with the battery issue by simply swatting it away. Previous approaches relied on a traditional manufacturing formula: We make the cars, you buy them. Agassi reimagined the entire automotive ecosystem by proposing a new concept he called the Electric Recharge Grid Operator. It was an unorthodox mashup of the automotive and mobile phone industries. Instead of gas stations on every corner, the ERGO would blanket a country with a network of "smart" charge spots. Drivers could plug in anywhere, anytime, and would subscribe to a specific plan-unlimited miles, a maximum number of miles each month, or pay as you go-all for less than the equivalent cost for gas. They'd buy their car from the operator, who would offer steep discounts, perhaps even give the cars away. The profit would come from selling electricity-the minutes."

Thanks to robert bregoff

Full Story: Shai Agassi's Audacious Plan to Put Electric Cars on the Road

Comments

Comments

Sounds interesting, but ...

.... what creates the electricity?

Errors About Electric Cars

"They'd buy their car from the operator, who would offer steep discounts, perhaps even give the cars away. The profit would come from selling electricity—the minutes."

A great business model, until someone invents a little device that lets people save money by plugging in the car at your own house. You could get the free car, without paying the extra for electricity that supports their business. No doubt, that would be illegal under the contract you sign, but people would do it any way.

"Clever tricks, like adding "range extenders"—gas engines that kick in when a battery dies—end up making the cars too expensive."

Not true. Those are called plug-in hybrids, Toyota and GM will start selling them soon, and at current prices, the savings on gas more than pays you back for the extra cost of the hybrid engine.

Which just leaves us with the question that the other commenter asked: what creates the electricity? I haven't seen any figures on how much the shift to plug-in hybrids would increase US electricity demand, but I would guess 50% to 100%

Charles Siegel

Wired is a worthless rag...

The biggest advantage of the 'range extended' plug-in hybrid is that the electricity need not be used to drive at all. The plug-in hybrid portable power supply will prove invaluable in an emergency, grid failure or Enron-style utility company price gouging. Rooftop photovoltiac solar panels are a perfect technological match. Household electricity use can be more closely monitored, further advancing energy conservation. And a choice is created, whether to drive or use the electricity to power household appliances. That choice affects routine trips, reducing their length, ultimately building more destinations that are accessable without having to drive. Walking and bicycling become more viable travel options, and mass transit more practical to arrange.

The 'range extender' idea was created by powerful interests who profit from automobile dependency. "Don't worry, you morons, we'll build a car that you can drive forever, never stop, and never even think about it. Morons." It's no wonder this article was printed in that worthless rag, Wired.

Car batteries, then and now,

Car batteries, then and now, are heavy and expensive, don't last long, and take forever to recharge. In five minutes you can fill a car with enough gas to go 300 miles, but five minutes of charging at home gets you only about 8 miles in an electric car. Clever tricks, like adding "range extenders"—gas engines that kick in when a battery dies—end up making the cars too expensive.

Yes, car batteries are heave and expensive. But don't last long, hmmm... I looked around on a couple of different electric car manufacturers and found one, Aptera that has an all electric vehicle that can get 120 mpg. Even though every car manufacturer's estimated mpg or range is usually exaggerated, I highly doubt they said 120 and really only get 8. And as for "clever tricks," the hybrid version of that electric car I just mentioned, it gets 300 mpg. And that's not just for a little while because the generator is running at full power and the batteries are pulling little current. No, the Aptera vehicle can manage this 300 mpg for 350 to 400 miles. And after that, it still gets 130 mpg!!! What's the secret? Aerodynamics, efficiency, and a well designed plan.

Resources

If all the cars in the world were to convert to this new means of propulsion and utilize battery technology, would we have enough resources? In other words, were are all the resources necessary to manufacture (and subsequently replace) the hundreds of millions of batteries per year?

Has anyone worked out these numbers? I would like to believe that we are not trading one master, oil, for another.

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