Over at Tallbloke’s, there’s an article about Obama and his electric car promises
( a million on the road by last year, 150 Miles / US Gallon).
I did some math, and attempted to post a comment there from my tablet, and it failed, dropping the text in the process. That happens sometimes with the tablet ( I think it is a timeout of some kind from a long slow typing process). Rather than (painfully) do the math and type the text one finger at a time on the tablet again, I’ve decided to just put it up here as a posting. This also lets me flesh it out a lot more.
That article points to the original here:
Which has this “promise” critique of the 150 MPG claim:
Despite spending billions, Obama delivered less than half of the electric cars in the time frame he promised. And let’s not forget his insistence that these cars would achieve the equivalent of 150 miles per gallon. A 2016 US Department of Energy list of the 11 most efficient electric vehicles indicates that not a single one meets that criteria. BMW’s i3 achieves 124 miles per gallon. The Chevrolet Spark is in second place at 119, and Vokswagen’s e-Golf is in third at 116.
The 11 best-case-scenario electric vehicles on the road eight years later fall 25% short of what Obama said would be entirely normal. Between them, they average only 112 miles per gallon. In other words, Obama and his speech writers were pulling numbers out of the air in 2008, confidently promising to meet goals they had no reason to believe were actually feasible.
Which has me wondering where the fish I’m smelling is hiding…
First off, how in blazes can you claim any kind of Miles per Gallon for electricity?
I presume this has to be some kind of Money-Equivalent-to-Gallon. But when I “do the math” with my local costs, it is nowhere near even 124 MPG-$-Eqiv. Let’s do some math, shall we?
Telsa Model S gets about 250 miles / charge. (It varies some by model and type of driving…
yes, YMMV ;-)
It varies some by model and driving cycle, but several values are near 250. And no, I don’t drive 65 on the freeway.
Variant 65 mph Range 75 mph Range 85D2 295 249
Now here in California, electricity runs 19 ¢ / kW-hr at the low tier. Anything over your lifeline rate jumps up to 35 ¢ or so. The PUC presently has a rate plan for $0.50 “soon”. My home usually bumps over into the 35 ¢ tier when using the AC which has, thankfully, not been needed this cool summer. Not Once. ;-)
In the Central Valley with Time Of Day pricing, there is a tier of a couple of pennies under $1 for middle of the day middle of the summer (right when you need AC most and it is:
“110 F in the shade and there ain’t no shade. -E.M.Smith”).
I’m going to use the lowest tier of about 19 ¢ in the calculations, even though it is a bit bogus. Anyone who charges a Tesla with any regular use is going to blow through lifeline rate almost instantly… Oh, and any “special” rate for charging an electric car is just “Subsidy Farming”, so would need to be un-subsidied for the comparison anyway, so why bother with it. It is an economic lie to use that number when we know the real price for electrons in the non-subsidy market. That is, the PUC tariff for home use.
Pacific Gas and
San Francisco, California
ELECTRIC SCHEDULE A-1
SMALL GENERAL SERVICE
Schedule A-1 applies to single-phase and polyphase alternating-current service (for a description of these terms, see Section D of Rule 2*). This schedule is not available to residential or agricultural service for which a residential or agricultural schedule is applicable, except for single-phase and polyphase service in common areas in a multifamily complex (see Common-Area Accounts section). Customers that are otherwise eligible to take service on Schedule A-1, but are purchasing power to serve electric vehicle charging equipment, are not eligible to take service on this rate schedule.
Effective November 1, 2012, Schedule A-1 is closed to customers with a maximum demand of 75 kW or greater for three consecutive months in the most recent twelve months, or with usage of 150,000 kWh per year or greater, and who have at least twelve (12) months of hourly usage data available. Eligibility for A-1 will be reviewed annually and migration of ineligible customers will be implemented once per year, on bill cycles each November, using the same procedures described below for Time-of-Use (TOU) rates adopted in Decision 10-02-032 as modified by Decision 11-11-008.
So no car charging on the general tier tariff, how about that pure ‘residential’?
FWIW, there are dozens of odd tariffs listed on the top page, I’m only going to look at two of them, but you can amuse yourself with more if you like. This next one is the basic residential, not including all the time-of-use stuff:
This schedule is applicable to single-phase and polyphase residential service in single-family dwellings and in flats and apartments separately metered by PG&E; to single-phase and polyphase service in common areas in a multifamily complex (see Special Condition 8); and to all single-phase and polyphase farm service on the premises operated by the person whose residence is supplied through the same meter. The provisions of Schedule S—Standby Service Special Conditions 1 through 6 shall also apply to customers whose premises are regularly supplied in part (but not in whole) by electric energy from a nonutility source of supply. These customers will pay monthly reservation charges as specified under Section 1 of Schedule S, in addition to all applicable Schedule E-1 charges. See Special Conditions 11 and 12 of this rate schedule for exemptions to standby charges.
Customers receiving a medical baseline allowance shall pay for all usage in excess of 200 percent of baseline at a rate $0.04000 per kWh less than the applicable rate for usage in excess of 200 percent of baseline.
Total Energy Rates ($ per kWh)
101% – 200% of Baseline
Over 200% of Baseline
Somewhat different from the last bill I inspected, but then again I’m not sure just which tariff I’m on. At any rate, I’m going to use the 19 ¢ number and ignore the 24 ¢ tariff bit as it gets blown through pretty quick. “Baseline” varies by location and last time I looked was based on average use in your area. It MUST be below average by some amount, by definition, so also by definition, most folks are not below it… even before they buy that e-Car…
Pasting in a chart from the pdf didn’t work well at all, so you get my summary. It ranges from about 6.2 kW-hr / day to 12.6 for the “basic” home, and from 7.7 to 29.6 kW-hr/day for the All Electric home (highest value in the winter time block, dropping to 16.4 in the summer for that same location, so hope you don’t meed much AC…)
Now notice that to charge your Tesla is going to suck up somewhere between 2 and 10 DAYS of your total electric service at the lifeline tier. Poor folks need not apply for an electric car… or better not drive it more than every other weekend…
The Tesla has about a 70 kW-hr battery.
2016 Tesla Model S (70 kW-hr battery pack)
38 kWh/100 mi
While one wonders how they get to 89 MPGe, I’ll leave that for now. I’m more interested in my costs, here and now.
250 miles / 70 kW-hrs = 3.57 miles / kW-hr
The government number of 38 kW-hr / 100 miles gives:
100/38 kW-hr = 2.63 miles / kW-hr. Significantly worse, so I’m wondering how they got that number, but I’m going to use my number anyway.
19 ¢/kW-hr / 3.57 miles / Kw-hr = 5.32 ¢ / mile
Common cars in that class get about 30 miles / US gallon. It’s a wide range, but the new ones are quite good. Using a Diesel can get even better, but I’m looking at gasoline. Gasoline here sells for about $2.50 / US Gallon (often more with Super presently about $2.75, but cheaper in the Midwest). So:
$2.50 per gallon / 30 mpg = 8.33 ¢ / mile.
8.33 / 5.32 x 30 = 47 MPGe or Miles / gallon US equivalent by price.
Nice. Very nice in fact. But a very long way from 89 MPGe and not in the same State as 124 MPGe… or 150 MPGe.
Now what happens if we use the Midwest Regular gas price?
Right now, Gasbuddy has this listed for Oklahoma City, OK for Regular Unleaded:
2040 NW 10th St & N Pennsylvania Ave
Oklahoma City – NW
$1.72 / 30 = 5.7 ¢ / mile.
5.7 / 5.32 x 30 = 32 MPGe
Hmmm….. Clearly the MPG Equivalent is highly sensitive to the cost of a gallon…
But maybe it doesn’t cost 19 cents / kW-hr in Oklahoma… Some folks back there are paying a dime. So lets just call it a half of California rates. That would make it 64 MPGe. Very nice indeed, but still nowhere close to 89 or 124 or 150…
I note in passing that the electricity price is something else that the MPGe is very sensitive to…
But wait! I’m using “today pricing” for electricity in a world where I know that the California PUC has a $0.50 tariff on the planning boards (need to subsidize those solar and wind boondoggles, don’t you know…)
Furthermore, that “dime” rate is based on historical use of well depreciated coal plants. Facilities that Obama and Hillary have worked hard to kill. “Going forward” will not be based on cheap effective coal, but on more expensive new plant and very pricey solar and wind. So what tariff would that be? IMHO, it MUST be more than the 19 ¢ / kW-hr California Lifeline Rate. That is the MINIMUM that a household is expected to use just to get by at an OK minimal lifestyle. Oh, and California is consuming a lot of Arizona Palo Verde Nuclear power and a lot of Washington State hydro via the Pacific DC Intertie… and a whole lot of cheap and relatively efficient gas turbines. It isn’t like we’re running on the Solar & Wind Green Dream Power… and even with that, run your AC in summer or use anything but gas heat in winter and you are in the next tariff rate up.
So what this says to me is that the Electric Car MPGe is based on historical coal electricity costs, and very much not on the future power sources (whatever may survive Obama / Clinton) prices.
Aerodynamics dominates energy use by cars at freeway speeds. Most cars consume about the same energy/mile in town (acceleration) as they do on the freeway. Mass and drag are your factors. Everybody can get the same drag by designing the body right. Batteries add mass, but the regenerative breaking more or less makes up for that. Net, the e-car uses about the same energy as the gas car.
What changes the MPGe is assumptions about price of electrons vs price of gasoline, not energy used.
Price is supposed to reflect the combined efficiency and combined losses of the whole generation cycle. It often doesn’t as tariffs are set by political commissions, not competitive markets. Distortions of both gasoline and electricity costs via gas taxes, sales taxes, PUC rulings, subsidy farming solar and wind, and so much more makes direct comparison of MPGe in some ways an exercise in:
“Given these conclusions, what assumptions can we draw?”.
What is clear to me is that the 150 MPGe and the 124 MPGe and even the 64 to 47 MPGe figures are very price sensitive to both gasoline and electricity prices; AND the Global Warming / EPA / Obama Nation folks have all said “electricity prices must necessarily skyrocket” while fracking and horizontal drilling assure oil prices can’t.
Perhaps that is why the American Public is staying away from e-Cars in droves. They can look ahead while The Government can only see in the rear view mirror…
I saw my FIRST Chevy Volt the other day (that did not have a government tag on it). If you take out the cars governments bought, how many were sold to the public?
Perhaps instead of “price” they mean for you to use CO2 generated?
As that is the main reductiion aim.
To really compare apples to apples we would need to know the amp hr rating of the battery…convert that to btu/hr then we can get btu/mile. Then we also need to know the charging efficiency of the battery so we know total watts in and actual watts out. Gasoline has 115,000 btu/gal so your average car gets about 3833 btu/mile.
While looking to an answer to the question “what percent is govt bought”, I ran into this 2011 status report:
Click to access 1_million_electric_vehicles_rpt.pdf
so $4.4 BILLION of
slush fundrecovery money sunk into the pockets of makers
bribe moneyrebate per buyer for Friends Of Obama Plans
An unknown slush fund for “R&D” outside the existing set of slush.
Bribe-O to the local communities so they get a share too. So Cities can install a charging station in their fleet garage on the US Taxpayer dime, get kick-back on the price of the car, that’s being built in a subsidy driven factory… and they STILL can’t meet a 1.7% market share goal…
I think the kW-hr rating gives you the BTU equivalent…
So a 70 kW-hr battery ought to have 70,000 W-hr/ 0.293 W-hr/BTU = 238,907 BTUs
Or about 2.3 Gallons of Gas… Which, at 250 miles range would be 108 MPGe-BTU_based.
Not on anyone’s list of values…
But then, to get that in comparable units, you need to start down rating. Approximately 10% loss in the charger, 1% / day standby loss (IF lucky.. can be up to 10% depending on battery type), something like another 10% loss in transmission, whatever the round trip discharge loss is (often about 8%, sometimes more, very rarely less), losses in the motor controller, then the loss in the generator (if running on natural gas, that gas could just be burned in a CNG car instead…) of about 50%… and on and on…
So yes, on a BTU in the Tank basis, it’s efficient. On a full cycle BTU basis, not so much… but I think they use some different formula to find MPGe anyway… but I could be wrong as I’ve not gone digging into their method.
California PUC fixes the base line price of wholesale Electrical power by the cost of natural gas in mega therms. I don’t know the formula used. and it seems that when the cost of nat gas raises rates go up but when they fall, that is temporary so forget it or later we get a rebate credi…pg
Here’s why the whole world hangs in a balance today!
Also forgotten, it seems, is that about 100 years ago, electric battery cars competed with ICE cars. Batteries have fixed properties due to their chemistries, which must account for the electrolyte, the anode half reaction and the cathode half reaction. So why did ICE vehicles win in the marketplace? ICE became cheaper to build and operate. It really is that simple. So why do these folk want to ignore a century of hard chemistry and physics? /rhetorical.
The sad thing is that they’re basically compariing energy stored in the battery with energy stored in gasoline…and then stretching the truth a bit. The problem with that is that the energy stored in the battery is only about 30-50% of the energy that would have been in the coal, gasoline…or whatever was the initial source of heat in the power plant that created almost all of it. So instantly, even if they suggest 150 “mpg”, it’s REALLY 45-75 “mpg”. And of course…those are overly optimistic figures, so in the end they work out to basically…what a good gasoline powered car gets, only with horrible range, over-night refueling, etc.
Yes complicated, I can think of about a dozen ways to compare electrical cars with gasoline on an energy basis.
Actual energy in (at the power plant) to fully charge the battery, would be a pretty much apples to apples comparison to the energy in a fuel tank.
Watt/hours into the electric motor compared to the fuel energy burned to produce the same energy at the tire contact patch.
Life cycle energy including energy to mine and manufacture the materials
(one question is we don’t really know what the long term mean time to replacement is on the batteries, if that is short it could totally negate any energy savings)
Energy in at the charging port vs fuel gross energy in the gasoline put in the tank
CO2 produced at the power plant to charge the electric car vs CO2 produced at the tail pipe of the IC engine car.
etc etc etc
I think it would be very fair to assume they are cooking the numbers somewhere in the comparison, I have yet to see and “environmental claim” that did not use dubious assumptions or math.
My grandmother drove a Baker Electric. It looked like an overgrown telephone booth, steered with a tiller, and the interior was a bit like a sitting room with kerosene lamps inside. She stopped driving when my grandfather bought a Model-T; too hard to start and steer.
We have a
Facilities Charge of $19/month +
Energy Charge of $0.0897/kWh
Local gas is $2.47 / gallon
Summer temps can go to 100, winter to -15.
How useful is the EV at -15°F?
I live 50 miles from a major regional hospital, and also COSTCO.
Singapore rates electric cars as poor in energy efficiency for conversion of fuel to mpg/load, . Most ICE compacts rate much higher. Hmmmm… don’t remember where I read the article. But it looked to be a well done investigation by their government specialists…pg
“Now here in California, electricity runs 19 ¢ / kW-hr at the low tier. Anything over your lifeline rate jumps up to 35 ¢ or so. The PUC presently has a rate plan for $0.50 “soon”. ”
This is just another example of liberals robbing the poor to feed the rich. The poor pay ridiculous prices for electricity so that rich people can ride around in electric cars subsidized by the gumment.
Fortunately the liberals have not seized power in Florida yet so I am still paying $0.11 per kVAh.
You can make a case for electric cars achieving the equivalent of more than 100 mpg which implies $0.025/mile in terms of fuel cost. That sounds like a great saving until you factor in the limited life of the battery.
Sony made a movie about electric cars in California. Enjoy:
That was just a snippet. You may want to download the entire feature length movie.
Yes camel, chefio forgot to compare the cost of replacing the battery with the cost of replacing the gas tank.
The biggy is the loss.
Coal (or what ever) ===(loss)===> electric generation ===(loss transmission lines)===> house/building/terminal ===(loss charging of battery + loss due to battery aging)====>(loss converting electric to motion) ===> travel
Electric cars only make sense if you can charge them using cheap nuclear, hydro or perhaps on site solar and the goal is preserving fossil fuels for use as chemical precursors.
TonyfromOz, often commenting at Jo Nova’s, does a much better job of this than I could.
Here is some of his information (Loss due to alternating current)
Electric car == Remotely Polluting Vehicle
John Silver says:
17 September 2016 at 9:47 am
Yes camel, chefio forgot to compare the cost of replacing the battery with the cost of replacing the gas tank.
Yes the lifetime ‘cost of ownership’ are more important than the cost and performance new. That should also consider the cost of time to ‘refuel/charge’ the vehicle where it is out-of-use.
I would also be concerned about running out due to unexpected traffic delays or snow, A good Samaritan can always loan a gallon of gas; it is somewhat more difficult to recharge in the snowdrift that is if the car isn’t bricked once the batteries are discharged.
Assume the development of a source of mobile electrical power generation is at hand, which at standby is available for other purposes. What would be the application options available with a $.06 kWh end user cost, with the maximum capacities of a sustained resistive load in a range between 30 kw and 250 kw?
The equipment noise is largely circulation pumps and heat ex-changer blowers, which combined are no louder than a large residential air conditioner. Waste heat rejection at a temperature less than 100 °C, will average a multiple of ~1.5 times the electrical output power.
Powering a residence, commercial building, car charging stations, grid feed, remote site power needs, are obvious choices. Beamed power and electrochemical synthesis of ammonia in solid electrolyte cells are two outliers in the field of options.
Need to inspire out-of-the-box applications to utilize the ~95% down time available, when the personal vehicle (driven less than 10,000 miles annually) is not in use, to achieve overall cost parity with traditional IC engine powered vehicles.
Um, I didn’t “forget” about battery costs. I did focus. I’m only looking at the MPGe thing (since an entire exposition of e-car failings would take a technical book… and need to include things like exploding L-ion cells…)
I don’t mind folks discussing the other bits, but please don’t accuse me of forgetting when I chose a focus point… (I’m usually criticized for being too prolix, so work hard for tighter focus, and that accusation of forgetting is counter productive to my development goal…)
I thought you’d covered MPGe when you did the BTU in the tank equivalency, E.M., which didn’t add up to anything published. I couldn’t find fault with your calculations or assumptions.
Now to digress…
But the whole issue always comes back to range for current usefulness to Americans. So what? (Shrug) An EV gets 108 MPGe but the tank only holds 2.3 “gallons.” My car gets about 34 MPG combined City/Hwy and the tank holds 10 gallons.
Oh wait! If they rounded 2.3Ge to 2 Ge, to allow for some losses, then we get 125 MPGe. So the trick is to make battery-stored energy seem as low as possible before calculating against actual range and Viola! you have a miracle car! Shenanigans, I say.
ERRrrr, The one ton pickup truck Hubby has out today has 130 gal capacity. My 3/4 ton has 30 gal tank We get ~ 20 to 24 gal highway if we are not hauling a trailer.
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Chefio, I didn’t accuse you, I was trying to be funny.
Sarcasm towards the believers.
Any thoughts out there on the Hybrids?
The Camry Hybrid enjoys a pretty good reputation ( about 45 MPG) and pretty good zip ( lots of 0 to 60 reports at about 7.2 sec.) with The usual Toyota dependability and a quiet silky ride.
With a pure EV, the range may not be enough. Although if you get stuck in a traffic jam there’s the advantage that you’re not using fuel to keep the engine ticking over, if it’s at night and it’s raining/snowing and you thus need the lights on, the windscreen wipers going and maybe a bit of heat, then you could be stuffed. Most of the time it’ll be quite adequate, especially if the route you’ll take every day is planned (like the old electric milk-floats) and there are no unplanned extras, but that small percentage of the time it is not enough will be pretty annoying. The quoted range is best-case and not worst-case, and of course as the batteries age the battery capacity drops and there’s less slack in the calculations.
Rule-of-thumb is that a standard saloon car needs around 10kW to drive at 55mph on a flat road. This can be reduced by improved aerodynamics and skinnier tyres, and the major part of that power goes into drag which rises as the square of the speed. An ICE normally has a peak of efficiency and a minimum of pollution fairly close to the maximum power it can deliver, and most of the time it’s running at a small fraction of the maximum. It seems logical, therefore, that using a small engine running at maximum efficiency, running a generator to charge a combination of batteries and supercaps, and with braking energy recovery, should give the best mpg (real figures) and the lowest pollution levels. This would also give the instantaneous performance people like and the ability to refill the tank quickly rather than an overnight charge.
The mpg(e) rating is an obviously crocked figure, and doesn’t seem to relate to any logical derivation. If instead the real drag figures were published as the number of kW needed to push the vehicle at various speeds (flat road, no wind, type of road surface etc.), then we’d have something to hang a hat on. As it is, people often publish the coefficient of drag which is how slippy it is relative to a brick of the same cross-sectional area, but since that cross-sectional area is not published you need to do some research and calculations to get back to that kW figure which still does not include the losses in the transmission and tyres. Doing this for a number of cars would get a bit wearing so what we’re left with are the published mpg or mpg(e) figures which bear little relation to reality.
What’s important is the cost-per-mile over the lifetime of the system, and of course whether the actual range is enough that getting from A to B is sufficient that you don’t spend a large part of the travel-time filling the thing up. Maybe also that the range is enough that you don’t spend the trip wondering if you’ll get home….
Given the way power is currently generated, an EV just pollutes elsewhere, though power-stations will normally be less-polluting that an ICE. However, massive use of EVs will mean that we’ll need a bigger grid and more power-stations, and given the time needed to build nuclear power stations (and the political problems of that) it seems like that they would largely be powered by Natural Gas (or maybe Coal). If you go for Hydrogen power, the cheapest way of producing Hydrogen is to reform Natural Gas, and of course that throws away the energy that would be produced by burning the Carbon and just produces CO2 so despite the hype it’s not really much “greener”.
It seems that the better solution would be a Natural Gas-powered hybrid, as something that reduces the overall fuel consumed and is about as clean as is currently possible. I wonder what the advertisers would tell us the mpg(g) equivalents are?
No worries. I just get tired of folks saying ‘chiefio forgot’ when I rarely do…
Hybrids are a good idea. They add hardware expense to reduce fuel expense.
The best way to think of them is as a gas car with regenerative breaking energy recovery used to boost off-the-line acceleration. The battery only has to hold about 5 minutes of energy, not 5 hours, so is much cheaper to make, or buy a replacement. Toyotas seem to get about 6 to 10 years on the battery, but that’s a guess based on used cars I’ve seen advertized. Many have not yet worn out the battery…
IFF your driving is lots of very long freeway drives, it won’t do much for you as the regen breaking doesn’t help when you don’t stop. For lots of around town or stop and go traffic jams, it can help a lot.
Plug in hybrids are a little bit better if you do many short runs (like under 10 miles). So run to the grocery and back, plug in. Pick up the kids, plug in. Commute 10 miles, plug in. Then for that weekend 50 miles to play, use some gas… IMHO, they would work well for most folks.
IFF you do lots of 100 mile+ to 1000 mile freeway runs, just get a Diesel and be done.
Ian Wright, one of the co-founders of Tesla, retained a fascination for the electric drive-train. His expertise has been applied to a niche market which reaped great reductions in energy waste.
Wrightspeed, located in Alameda, California, applied the technology of the electric drive system to heavy trucks, in particular the trucks which experience short hauls and frequent start/stop service. Their current prime mover is a company produced gas turbine which maintains charge on battery modules when the vehicle is in service. The system has more than doubled fuel mileage; and, also reduced maintenance.