GM (Government Motors) Announces Next Bankruptcy Date (All Electric Plan)

The Wired article was top of the search, and it gives a “3 more articles left” nag, so to save folks “burning” your “free” views, I’ll quote more heavily than I usually do.

Alex Davies
10.02.2017 12:01 PM
General Motors Is Going All Electric

The giant automaker will start with 20 new all-electric models by 2023.

Yup, as the “model year” arrives before the calendar year, right now is the clearance of 2019 and start of 2020, so that’s just 3 years from now for your All Electric General Motors (motors, what motors?) future.

This came up in the context of their current workers strike. Seems all the folks in the “Engine & Transmission” assembly areas are not keen on being unemployed in 2022 (when they start making all those e-cars) as most of the future expansion will be in a battery factory that is largely automated. So far nobody has mentioned all the parts stores, repair shops, and other companies that go POOF! with this change too.

So first off, realize if you live in Florida, you can not get out of State and away from a hurricane on one charge. You also will not be able to charge a few million cars at the 1/2 way out of State point. So very few folks in Florida (at least those with any hurricane smarts) will be buying a GM car after 2023.

Next up, realize that a lot of spares & repair parts come from manufacture of common parts over generations of the same motor and transmission in many cars and years. So all you folks who presently own a GM Car / Truck, can plan on a hard time getting parts and repairs starting about 5 years from now (and dropping resale prices even sooner).

Now my favorite point: Ever try to cross West Texas on I-10 / I-20? I have. Several times. While it IS better than it had been, it is still quite the challenge on range. At one point there was a 270 mile stretch of no gas stations. Near Van Horn, Texas. More than once I’ve made it to the only gas station choice with the reserve light starting to flicker. Part of why I like my Diesel is it gets 450 miles to the tank. West Texas is No Problemo! However, if you have a 300 mile range, you must plan to fill up at the last station and again at the first one you see. Last time I looked, e-stations were more scarce and further apart. Now that’s if you are on the freeway already on a straight run. Folk out in the boonies, well, that’s harder to do… I suspect West Texas is about to become FORD Country ;-)

Then there’s Nevada. There are a lot of times I’ve crossed Nevada at night. There’s a few LONG stretches of nobody open at 3AM and even in daytime there are long runs of empty. Leaving Utah to the salt flats, IIRC, it’s about 120 to 140 miles, then there’s a couple of casinos at the Nevada border, then another long run of nothing. Now either somebody will need to run a BIG high voltage tower set to that little border casino cluster to support a freeway worth of traffic all stopping at once (and a LARGE charging area for them to sit in for several hours – hope you like hot desert and overpriced food – or a lot of people are not going to be driving Chevys out there.

My Subaru only gets about 350 miles on a tank, and it already makes me a bit nervous on some long empty runs. But I just drop a 2 gallon can in the back and I’m comfortable. There better be a BIG gain in batteries and range ’cause if it doesn’t do 350 or more, I’m not interested.

Now the other fun bit is that batteries don’t work well when cold. Chemistry just slows down. So how’s the Chevy sales in Alaska, Canada, Minnesota, The Dakotas, etc. etc. going to do after the winter horror stories start? Remember that “waste” heat from your gas engine keeps the windshield clear and you warm enough to not die… eCars burn battery to do that so your range shortens a lot. Don’t expect to do any long distance driving in winter in your Chevy…

Further, from the article:

After more than a century peddling vehicles that pollute the atmosphere, General Motors is ending its relationship with gasoline and diesel. This morning, the American automotive giant announced that it is working toward an all-electric, zero-emissions future. That starts with two new, fully electric models next year—then at least 18 more by 2023.

That product onslaught puts the company at the forefront of an increasingly large crowd of automakers proclaiming the age of electricity and promising to move away from gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. In recent months, Volvo, Aston Martin, and Jaguar Land Rover have announced similar moves. GM’s declaration, though, is particularly noteworthy because it’s among the very largest automakers on the planet. It sold 10 million cars last year, ranging from pickups to SUVs to urban runabouts.

“General Motors believes the future is all-electric,” says Mark Reuss, the company’s head of product. “We are far along in our plan to lead the way to that future world.”

OK, so you can also kiss off Volvo, though Aston Martin and Jaguar were already non-starters for me due to the cost thing.

I note that GM is hedging their bets a little. Though when you put 20 new platforms into production, that takes away plant and equipment from making others. Something will have to give pretty quickly.

Reuss did not give a date for the death knell of the GM gas- or diesel-powered car, saying the transition will happen at different speeds in different markets and regions.
The new all-electric models will be a mix of battery electric cars and fuel cell-powered vehicles.

The fuel cell vehicles is a nice hedge too. One wonders if they will run on gasoline, alcohol, or the methane that’s showing up at truck stops.

France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Norway have all said they plan to ban the sale of gas and diesel cars in the coming decades. More importantly, China—the world’s largest car market—and India, a rising star, plan to join them. No automaker can compete globally without a compelling stable of electric cars.

All places without a lot of oil production (or with dropping North Sea production) and a big oil bill to Saudi Arabia. I note in passing that France, India, and China all have large nuclear electric abilities and Norway has a huge hydroelectric infrastructure. Netherlands and Britain make less sense though. From where will they get the electrons? Perhaps larger interties to France and Germany…

I have heard before that the major Saudi oil field was up to pumping about 1/2 water (sign of a field nearing end of life). Couple that with them setting up to sell off their Oil Company and it sure sniffs out like maybe Saudi is prepping to run dry on oil (or at least ramp down production at a good rate) and maybe Europe has caught a clue on that.

Nothing like finding out all your oil suppliers are planning to exit the market to suddenly make e-cars sound like a good idea, eh? It makes more sense to me than the Global Warming garbage. British Petroleum and Saudi Aramco would not want the word getting out that they were starting their ramp down to oblivion and growth was a thing of the past… so would need a cover story.

Then, the EU, to remain in any kind of competitive posture vs countries that DO have oil, would want to convince them to eliminate their major cost competitive advantage… Good way to cripple places like the USA and Australia as competitive producers. Get them to lock in their coal, oil, and gas reserves.

But I live in the USA, not the EU, India, or China. We have LOTS of gas, oil, and coal. So I’m keeping my oil burners, thanks.

Lose A Little On Every Sale, But Make It Up On Volume!

GM intends to grab as large a slice of the Chinese market as possible. It has previously announced plans to launch 10 electric or hybrid electric cars in the country by 2020. This summer, it started selling a two-seat EV there, for just $5,300. Last year, it sold more cars in China (3.6 million) than it did in the US (3 million).

Oh, so OK, Government Motors is a Chinese Car Company. That explains a lot…

The crucial question for the American automaker will be how, exactly, to make money from all these cars. By one report, GM loses $9,000 on each Chevy Bolt it sells. Reuss’ strategy hinges on bringing costs down thanks to steadily dropping battery prices, more efficient motors, and lighter cars. Massive scale and global supply chains helps, too. “This next generation will be profitable,” he says. “End of story.”

It’s not impossible. “If they’ve really been laying this groundwork, they could be closer to not just having this tech but having a profitable and high volume way of supplying it,” says Karl Brauer, an auto industry analyst with Kelley Blue Book.

“This time for sure!”…

Over the past decade, the Detroit giant has positioned itself for a different sort of future. First came the hybrid electric Chevy Volt. Then came GM’s great coup, the Chevy Bolt, the 200-mile, $30,000 electric car that hit market long before Tesla’s Model 3.

So cars in China $5k, cars in the USA $30k… and who bailed out GM?… I’m certainly not interested At All in a $30k compact that only goes 200 miles AT THE MOST in warm weather, no head wind, and fully charge / discharge cycled. I’d not call that a “great coup”. Sounds more like an overpriced turd to me.

Oh, and clearly we ought never to have legalized Marijuana where the GM Executives hang out. Someone has a serious smoke problem going on:

GM is seriously pursuing semi-autonomous and fully driverless cars. It offers the first car on US roads with vehicle-to-vehicle communication capability. Now, it talks about its plans to eliminate vehicle pollution, congestion, and traffic deaths.

Uh Huh…. sure it will…

I fully expect a few $Billion of bail out cash to go up in smoke trying to make this work. I also fully expect most people will not be buying electric cars any time soon (and then only as a 2nd car not for long trips). I also suspect that as “old battery” problems start showing up, there will be a lot of folks getting out of their electric cars.

I saw this same thing with natural gas cars. The tanks had a 5 year life. Later extended to about 10 years. Now I think some are even at 15 years, but it’s too late. Damage already done. I looked at a fine old Ford Crown Vic. Great condition. Very nice car. Very cheap asking price. Then asked about range and tanks. Range was “Over 110 miles” (that I could live with for a commuter car as gas was, then, about 1/2 the cost and the airport filling station was on my way home) and the tanks were… out of certification. That’s a $4000 price tag for replacement tanks. The owner assured me I could just fill up anyway… (yeah, right… one DMV letter and it’s toast).

That’s the problem of a technology that has a Very High Priced part that goes POOF! before the rest of the car. Now this might not matter in Detroit or Chicago where they salt the roads and cars rust out in 5 years, but in the rest of the country, that’s a deal killer. As those $40,000 and $60,000 dollar cars age, and get sold into the used market, and their batteries age, and range decreases to 200, then 100 miles… You get a $10,000 to $20,000 price tag for a replacement battery pack. Even if GM manages to get that down to $5,000 what do you think that does to the resale value of a 5 or 6 year old car? Zero comes to mind…

Oh Well. I always liked Ford and Chrysler products better anyway. Though realistically, I’m probably done buying cars. I’ve got enough “inventory” for my probable remaining driving years. I’m gasoline and Diesel, Subaru and Mercedes to the end. No way GM is even going to get me into a showroom… And two of them will always be kept fully fueled for a long dash out of Hurricanes or a slow meander away from the Great Quake rubble pile. I sure don’t need a car that can’t “go” when the electricity is out, especially with PG&E instituting blackouts any time the wind blows and it’s not raining…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Economics - Trading - and Money, Global Warming General and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to GM (Government Motors) Announces Next Bankruptcy Date (All Electric Plan)

  1. I suggest that you are right. The company is set to disappear. I note that the share price is going down. It has a very low P/E ratio 5.9 which means investors think that there is no growth. The market Cap @ 53Bn is not big. It is smaller than the CBA bank in Australia.and make less profit. It seems the CEO is a woman -that is bad news. A car manufacturer really needs an Engineer at the helm -someone who understands manufacturing and ROI which all professional engineers should be learning as part of there University course. Some of the larger car manufacturers have given up the idea of an all electric car. I read somewhere that Bosch predicted by 2030 30% of electric vehicles will be powered by fuel cells. Fuel cells using LPG are already being used in large/heavy forklift trucks.rather than battery which are only good for light work.

  2. Another Ian says:

    Edsel and Republic Seabee come to mind for light reading

  3. Hanrahan says:

    “I have heard before that the major Saudi oil field was up to pumping about 1/2 water (sign of a field nearing end of life). ”
    Ghawar, the biggest Saudi field was pumping water into the reservoir decades ago. It was part of the “peak oil” story. I was a true believer at the time :(
    But how could I know about fraccing? I wasn’t alone.

  4. rhoda klapp says:

    The fossil fuel cars are gonna get cheap fast. I know EM won’t accept anything electronically controlled but I can say that when I worked in TX we rented many cars, and there is no mile-eater known to me that matches a V6 Impala. Wonderful car. I did 906 miles in a day, Dallas to Cinci and got out able to walk. Be on the lookout for a cheap one to keep until the fuss is over, as it will be one day.

  5. H.R. says:

    In 1994/1995 I was part of a team that produced the shaft encoder for the GM EV-1 electric vehicle. They didn’t make many of those cars and then GM dropped the program.

    Anyhow, it’s not like GM has just recently taken a sudden interest in EVs. I think GM has always bought into the running-out-of-oil-any-day-now doomsayers and didn’t want to get caught without an alternative to ICE vehicles. I don’t recall any talk from the GM team about cutting CO2 to save the planet, but then we were just focused on getting everything to work, so maybe CAGW was the impetus.

    Here’s the Wackypedia on the EV-1. I don’t recall the scuttlebutt from the GM team at the time, so I can’t assess the accuracy of the wiki.

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    Electric transportation is just as foolish as the rest of Ecoloon brain farts. They are are all just wishful thinking that demand we find some way to suspend the laws of physics. In this case efficiently creating and transporting the needed energy.density for effective transportation of people and their material. High energy density liquid fuels are the only solution, even if they are synthetically created. Modern is as good or even more efficient at energy conversions and transport then any electrical generation, distribution and storage system. ..
    This drive toward the Ecoloon Utopia, is not about saving, it is about destruction, Destruction of Western civilization of personal freedoms and replacing it with the old way, of slavery of the masses to a small privileged ruling Elite. …pg

  7. Serioso says:

    It would appear that Mr. Smith understands neither capitalism nor the law of supply and demand. See:

    How EV Range Anxiety Will Give Way to an EV-Charging “Gold Rush”

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    On one long night drive to Los Angeles, I kept the brain busy by doing counts of cars on the freeway. Realize this was NOT peak traffic time. This was late and light time. Then I asked: How much electricity would be required to run just this one freeway from San Francisco to LA (that has nearly constant shuttling back and forth between the two for God only knows what reason… I did it for 4 years while The Son was in UC at Riverside for visits… as did he.)

    I don’t remember the exact numbers. It wasn’t a “study”, just a brain game. IIRC at the end of it all the number was roughly 1 – 2 Nuclear Power Plants and they would need to be running all the time as the Freeway runs all the time and you can’t make the run on one charge so even if you charged off hours before the trip EVERYONE would need to stop in the middle of nowhere and get charged up again.

    IIRC there was about 1 car per second in the oncoming traffic. It is a 6 hour+ drive time (usually 7 with short fuel and food stops). So figure 60 x 60 x 6 = 21,600 cars. Times 2 for the two directions of travel is 43,200. (Oh, and you would need to add something for the large trucks…)

    So, somewhere in the middle of nowhere nothing with no major power cables, will need to have space to park 20,000 to 40,000 cars for a few hours. IIRC fast charges take at least an hour and a real charge more like 3 or 4. In any case, you are talking a modest sized town of cars, all at about the 1/2 way point and all sucking juice.

    Says the Tesla has 3 charging rates. I’ll skip the 115 VAC 15 Amp normal wall socket as it takes 4 DAYS to charge the car. (Forget plugging a long drop cord into your hotel room…)

    240 V / “up to 80 Amps” (senses what the circuit can deliver and scales it) 6 to 30 hours.

    480 V / 300 Amps 30 minutes to a 170 mile range (i.e. just a top up, not a charge)

    Depending on exact starting points and ending points, the trip to L.A.might be able to get by with just one charge in the middle at a “rapid charger”, but more likely will need more than that. Being stuck in L.A. traffic trying to cross town to your destination with near naught reserve charge is, um, not going to cut it. In my ICE cars I can do one gas stop in the middle. They have more range than the EVs…

    So what’s the Suckage? At a minimum you would need 480 x 300 = 144 kW for 1/2 hour. I think in reality the minimum is more like 2x that for 144 kW hrs / vehicle assuming it leaves fully charged and arrives with a little left in the batteries and NOT doing deep discharge in the middle.

    144 kW-hrs x 43,000 = 6,192 MW-hrs. (Spread over a 6 hour window that’s only one nuke plant, assuming the folks all on the road at one time started on a regular basis over my drive time)

    Now realize this is for the traffic on the road during one 6 hour trip. That can happen 4 times / day… And, while there is some variation in ranges, most of the “out of electrons” will happen at about the same “end of range” point on that trip. The middle +/- 100 miles or so.

    Now also note that when you arrive at your destination you will need to fill up. That’s another nuke plant. And you charged up before you left. That’s another another nuke plant.

    I-5 doesn’t start and end in L.A. / S.F. but continues on to the Oregon Border. It isn’t the only N-S major freeway. Highway 99 parallels it and has about the same traffic on the other side of the central valley. We also have a variety of E/W freeways and the urban metroplexes.

    The bottom line is that once you start looking at total energy needed just to keep the freeway traffic moving, it’s a massive increase over present electrical supply.

    Says California consumed 1,720.8 Trillion BTU of gasoline and 577 Trillion BTU of “distillate fuel oil” (i.e. Diesel). 1 Watt-hour = 3.4 (and a dinky) BTU, so converting those to something sane:

    Gasoline = 505 Trillion W-hr
    Diesel = 170 Trillion W-hr

    Let’s knock 6 zeros off to make it MW-hrs… So Trillions to Billions to Millions…
    505 Million MW-hr
    170 Million MW-hr

    Call it 675 Million MW-hr / year. A nuke plant runs about 1000 MW and runs about 8000 hours and change a year. So call it 8 Million MW-hr (1000 x 8000 = 8,000,000 MW-Hrs or 8 Million)

    Now provided I’ve done all this seat of the pants math right, we end up at 675 / 8 = 84 Nuclear Power Plants of supply needed. You are NOT going to get that out of windmills and solar panels in this State.

    It can’t come from Hydro (pretty much all exploited and Greens are having that removed.)
    It can’t come from solar (we DO need to drive at night and when it’s raining).
    It can’t come from wind (not that much resource and we DO need to drive when it is still air).

    That pretty much leaves a choice of building 84 nuclear plants, or using fossil fuels.

    Now, extend those numbers nationally…

  9. rhoda klapp says:

    500KWH at a gas pump takes around a minute, give or take. That is over six teslas-full. In a minute. OK, your car can’t convert the 500KWH into motive energy at any better than 35% efficiency. If you arrive at the pump and it is occupied by some other car, you will be on the pump in a couple of minutes. Maybe five. If you arrive at a tesla charger and it’s occupied, how long will you wait before you can even plug in?

  10. rhoda klapp says:

    Oh, that gas pump provides energy at (correct me if I’m wrong) 30 megawatts. Wow.

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh, I see Serioso has popped up with insults again.

    Dear Serioso,

    I’d like to thank you for so consistently starting off with Alinsky like “attacks to the person”… it means I don’t have any reason at all to pay any attention to what you say… Made easier by your link being to an advertisement for Gmail…

    Now, to the “points”:

    And yes, there’s a “Gold Rush” in charging. A lot of people rushing to move your gold to their pockets… I’m quite certain that Elon will be made nicely comfortable on his Vig.

    Also, as you well know, as an Economist I’ve spent years immersed in Supply / Demand equations and graphs. You really must up your game on the insults. That one was just lame.

    Now if you will just address from where the CONSISTENT and RELIABLE 24/7 supply of all those GW-Hrs of electrons will come and how they will arrive where they are needed in the middle of nowhere, you might have a start on grasping the size of the problem.

    Don’t forget that:

    a) The present grid is built to capacity.
    b) The e-Car load is all Added Demand, so will need new capacity.
    c) Cars run every day, rain or shine, wind or not.
    d) Grid electricity is not stored and will not have any significant storage size for decades. Well past the GM drop dead date.
    e) Vehicle demand is variable throughout the day so loads will not be even so supply will need to be added to meet the peak demands They tend to arrive on top of the present peaks, not in the valleys.

    So just ponder those bits for a little while. Maybe learn some basic math. Size Matters in supply and demand problems, and especially so in “just in time” products like electricity.

  12. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; Easiest way to solve that problem is to FORCE people off the road and into mass transport that runs from a few mega cities that are the only places they are allowed to occupy. Only a few Elite are allowed to have personal transport.. Hummm. Agenda 2030 or sustainability….pg

  13. Power Grab says:

    Not that I want things to go this direction, but how much juice does a trolley suck?

    I’m thinking the demand for batteries could be greatly reduced if there were a way to provide energy all along the way.

    Of course, that reduces the flexibility of travel…but say you could accommodate car-sized vehicles on a trolley power line…

    So…what do you think? Start tossing those rotten tomatoes!

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    @Power Grab:

    There’s a modestly successful car / train on the East Coast taking folks to Florida and back each year. It’s energy efficient but the prices are way high (union labor, captive market, only one rail).

    There’s also all the “containers” that drop onto trucks for the last 100 miles or so but ride a train in between.

    Technically, the idea is sound. Logistically it “has issues”. Like you get to leave at ONE time of day once. You MUST return at the appointed time and day. Bookings made way in advance. Loading the cars has limits (forget your camper or 4×4 Crew Cab…) and you pay the same for a Crown Vic as for a Geo Metro (so the Geo Metro guy is just more likely to pay the gas and go as they get about 50 mpg…)

    Then there’s just the fact that California has sunk a few $BILLIONS into the “train to nowhere” (that comes from nowhere too). So the capital cost to build the thing would blow any gain out of the water for a generation. (Freight containers usually don’t mind sitting on a siding for a day or two… people not so much. So just adding a car-train to the freight lines would have logistics issues. They have already cut down the passenger runs from LA / SF on Amtrak).

    Frankly, I’d love to have a “rolo” (Roll On Roll Off) to L.A. for me and my car. However, since I can do the drive door to door in about 7 hours or less and it costs me about $45, I’m not interested in a 10 hour “adventure” that costs me $200…

    Lorton, VA (Washington, DC) Sanford, FL (Orlando)
    17 hours 29 minutes
    The Auto Train transports you and your car (or van, motorcycle, SUV, small boat, jet-ski or other recreational vehicle) nonstop from the Washington, DC area to sunny Florida, just outside of Orlando. This is the best way to drive I-95 without even driving. And remember, you can pack your car as if it were your suitcase.

    Note that this is an 11 hour 44 minute drive per Google Maps. So you have an added 6 hours of “stuckness”. It is an overnight run, loading the train about 11 am and arriving about 9am the next day. So there’s about 4 hours of loading / unloading not in the train time. Then realize your start / end times are not ideal. Oh, and I think the pricing is for the car only and you get to also buy a passenger ticket…

    For Coach customers: a new dining experience and low fares

    The debut of the Cross-Country Café for Coach customers (beginning 1/15/20), offering an expanded café menu, fresh offerings for sale and a festive environment during the trip
    One-way fares for Coach remain low — starting at $89 + the cost of your vehicle

    Expanded Share Fares now includes Auto Train on select departures, offering discounted travel up to 35% for small groups

    Amtrak seems to try their best to break good ideas by making them slow, expensive, and with a set of rules a couple of pages long (see the link per car requirements… like all roof racks MUST be factory installed only)

    Hope that helps give perspective on the question…

  15. Larry Ledwick says:

    Serioso’s link sends you to google and you need to put in your email or phone number to proceed – Uhhh not happening.

    Here is the article – predictably from the New York times!

    From Fortune

    My biggest issue with electrics is that the government or hackers or the Utility companies could once EVs are the dominant mode of transportation, instantly cut off public transportation with the flip of a switch by pulling the plug on commercial power or with smart metering, throttle power to homes so it would take days to charge a car.

    Would be a great way to quarantine a city, just pull the plug on all the charging stations and transportation grinds to a halt in the time it takes to drive 90 miles or so.

    Not to mention the sudden economic impacts of suddenly making 50 years of installed infrastructure for internal combustion engines obsolete and zero value.
    (think gas stations, fuel delivery operations, refineries, oil pipe lines etc.)

    To avoid economic turmoil – even if the problems EVs have are resolved the switch should be spread over several decades at minimum to avoid wrecking the entire economy.

    It will be interesting to watch the first time a mass storage warehouse for lithium ion batteries catches fire and they all go up at once.

  16. Larry Ledwick says:

    Never the less other aspects of transportation won’t change any time soon regardless of mode of propulsion.

  17. Power Grab says:

    Re “…pulling the plug…”

    I have had the same concern, only more with regard to having an entire town dependent on one high tension line from wherever the solar farm or wind farm is located.

    Using coal or natural gas and having the generating plant located at each town has served us well for quite a long time.

    If we were ever to switch from local FF to NIMBY solar/wind power sources, what’s to prevent the PTB from cutting all the power all at once and claiming it was due to something like a Carrington Event?

    So many things in the MSM are so patently false, and have been for so long, I have no trouble believing they would pull a stunt like that. What’s another way of saying it? “Pi s sing on my leg and telling me it’s raining”?

  18. Power Grab says:

    @ EM

    I was unaware of the car train. I had heard of shipping containers being carried on ship or train, then removed to 18-wheelers when near their destination.

    I was envisioning something more like a “string of pearls” (series of cars powered by the continuous energy cable like trolleys). I don’t like the idea of putting a mega-battery (as it were) into each car. I’ve read horror stories about how when they catch fire, you try to put it out, then find out it’s re-ignited after you towed it to the salvage yard.

    If the greatest part of the trip that might otherwise be taken on an interstate highway were powered like a trolley is, then maybe only a smaller battery might be needed to get you the last 10 miles or so. Also, since some seem to think it’s a great idea to have self-driving cars, they might well engage a self-driving mode while on the trolley line.

    Of course, in “flyover country” the distances are much larger. It might be the same distance from the trolley-line “depot” to the person’s destination as it currently is from a major airport to the person’s destination. An hour’s drive might still be required.

    All in all, though, I prefer the freedom of the ICE and FF. EVs and their infrastructure really are much more fragile than the trusty ICE. That really is your best option in the event of evacuation due to hurricane or earthquake.

    One time I read an article on the web about how Tesla got a few items from a hardware store and put them together on IIRC a Model T and demonstrated how it could drive without fuel. But people were so insulting and disbelieving that he tore it all apart and destroyed his notes so no one could ever emulate what he had done. Has anyone ever figured out how he made that work? Is it a matter of harnessing what you might call “ambient electricity” to power the car?

  19. E.M.Smith says:


    The “pull the plug” is in some ways worse than you think. ALL the systems I’ve looked at require you have an “account”. That means any TLA (or political hack with connections) can get your “account” suspended for a while… piss off the Mayor? Maybe you just can’t drive to work tomorrow… Have VERY VERY common name? Maybe the police get confused as to just which John Smith they were chasing and suddenly you can’t get back from 1/2 way to L.A.

    Until and unless there is a “pay cash” or at least a Debit Card option, I’m very much not interested. California killed Methanol the same way. Back in the late ’70s early ’80s California was building out a methanol fleet and fuel suppliers. I was drooling over a 3 way flex fuel car at the VW dealer (Ethanol, Methanol, Gasoline any mix).

    Then the State decided it wanted to know where every drop of methanol was used. You had to apply to the State for your “fueling card” so they could gather all the data on use and such. I decided I did’t want a flex fuel car that much…

    Per “electrons on the go”:

    What you are talking about is the Powered Road, not a trolley, but I can see your connection. Like the pantographs of trolleys, you need a power pickup.

    The biggest problem is having 480 to 600 Volts exposed to the elements for miles and miles. A LOT of folks will end up fried over the years (crashing into the thing not so good…) So folks have tried other ways. Like electromagnetic pickups and such.

    Nothing works very well as roads are a harsh place, bad things happen, and inductive pickups only work well at close ranges (so you are back at that quasi contactor thing…)

    But yeah, it’s been pondered a lot by a lot of folks over the years… and never made to work. Does well in a small dense urban area with limited vehicles on fixed tracks at 40 MPH and slower. Not so good on freeways with huge numbers of vehicles going 80 mph…

    I think Elon Musk’s / Tesla’s idea is that you drive onto a sled in his underground tunnel and it whisks you where you want to go…

    Per Telsa:

    His whole thing was exploring very high voltage very high frequency transmitted power. It was highly inefficient, but you could light fluorescent bulbs a good ways away. That tells me you also could put a coil in the field and get direct power to the motor… Not fee electricity, but electricity from that giant tower he built to transmit it… I suspect a lot of his stuff was making microwaves… and doing God only knows what to all the folks in his lab. But sending a few kW of uWaves to an antenna and then driving a modest motor (as cars then had) isn’t that hard to make go.

    I wouldn’t want to live in that open air microwave oven while in use, though ;-)

    It was claimed that the frequencies were so high all the charge stayed on the surface of things (and people) so no damage done inside you. Well, since they didn’t have equipment to measure that, then, I’m not so sure. There is a tendency that the higher the frequency, the more you get skin conduction and the less bulk conduction, so the theory is right… but someone else can test it first ;-)

  20. Sera says:

    300 amps?!? When I was working as a pressman, I stepped on a power cord that was 220V at 20 amps and it melted my Rainbow sandals. It also took a couple of seconds for my eyes to adjust from the flash.

  21. cdquarles says:

    Folk have forgotten, or never knew, history. Some 100 years ago, electrics competed well with ICEs. Electrochemical batteries are *old*, and ICEs are also old, they are not as old. Improvements came rather quickly to ICEs. Chemistry is still chemistry; though our knowledge has increased some, batteries are as much their electrolytes as they are their active redox chemicals. That being so, batteries have not had the improvements come nearly as quickly.

    One of my aunts worked for Ford. One worked for Chrysler, back in the day. Granddad was a Chevy man, so that’s what I knew and bought primarily, a 68 Galaxie 500 excepted (the first I bought with my own money). I’ve owned Fords, Chevys, Oldsmobiles, Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans and Chryslers. All have been good. All have had trouble.

    About hydraulic fracturing, that’s some 70 years old. Horizontal drilling, that one’s newer. Combined, that’s even newer, but we’re talking 90s or so when they first tried it, on certain kinds of fields.

    That all said, as long as there is carbon based life on this rock, we will *never* run out of carbon compounds for energy. Want oil? Steam reforming coal works. You can even do that underground. Fisher-Tropsch has been around 100 years or so.

    The one I wouldn’t want to work with much, though, is hydrogen. That one’s nasty, for it has a penchant to intercalate itself into many metals, rendering them brittle.

  22. E.M.Smith says:

    @CD Quarles:

    In about 1960 the “Lady Down The Street” who had an antique shop, also had an old electric car in her garage. It was circa Model-T era and I’m not sure what kind it was. We talked. It didn’t run anymore as the batteries had given out, so needed a full battery replacement. it was “only good for around town” and the cost of new batteries was prohibitive. I often wonder what happened to that car…

    The problem is that the laws of chemistry don’t change much over the years so not a lot you can do but “discovery”; while a mechanical device has all sorts of things some creativity can improve.. as it is a creation of ours, not a law of physics or chemistry.

    Hydrogen? Not interested. Leaks. Explodes. Embrittlement of metals. Invisible flames. Clings to surfaces (so walk through some and for “a while” your clothes are WHOOFF! flammable), etc.

    FWIW, my Diesel is happy on kerosene (aka Jet Fuel), and with some of that mixed in to thin the mix likes vegetable oil too (or you can heat the vegetable oil). As long as the grocer sells cooking oil, I’m set. (I’ve done the conversion to bio-diesel in the kitchen. That makes a MUCH better fuel than straight cooking oil, so longer term I’d do that. It splits the glycerin off of the fat molecule and that improves viscosity and burn characteristics along with getting rid of deposit formation.)

    I started to make a posting about all the things that can be turned into motor fuel, and other fuels, and the processes, but the map became rather large very fast. Pretty much anything to anything… so stopped ;-) Maybe a cut down version would be good…

    But really, as Larry L. pointed out, the USA has a lifetime of oil yet to pump, so I don’t see the need right now.

  23. Bruce Ryan says:


    Tesla has a 3rd generation supercharger that will give a good charge in less than 30 min.
    When I take a trip I note how many charging stations for tesla there are. Pretty impressive.
    But I agree with all your points. Electric cars are for early adaptors.
    Until nuclear power becomes more commonplace electric cars don’t contribute to the believers stated goal. I certainly don’t imagen EV will ever take the place of ICE.
    As an engineering exercise tesla cars are pretty nice. IF any of you are offered a ride I suggest you take it. Until you experience the torque and silent acceleration you can’t appreciate the difference.
    I’ll admit some of the long trips I’ve taken have given me some anxiety. But I’ve found a way.
    Usually means I stop more often than I need.
    Day to day driving is easier than an ice car by quite a bit, plug it in at night once a week or so.
    @ 240V.

  24. Bruce Ryan says:

    That is embarassing isn’t it. But to be fair, an ice might have run out of gas if it hadn’t been filled the night before. It’s the novelty of the ev that makes this a story. For some reason, there seems to be an antagonism to evs that people love to exploit. As I think about it, likely a result of the overtly GREEN religious nutcases who misguidedly think evs are the ticket to heaven and the normal people who are not interested in buying pardons for their sins.

  25. rhoda klapp says:

    My nephew has a model S here in the UK. It’s a nice car, very nice. But it just could not go 906 miles in 14 hours elapsed like my rented Impala. I can see how an EV second car would make sense if you had a proper car for the long trips.

  26. Larry Ledwick says:

    I have a co-worker who has a Chevy volt hybrid, its pure electric commuting range is about 50 miles, after that it runs on the gasoline gen set, it will be interesting to see how it does in really cold weather. He charges it every night because he uses most of its pure electric range just getting to and from work.

    I have another co-worker who has a Tesla S which she loves (she likes performance cars) but at $80,000+ price tag, a bit steep for my blood. I could buy 10 used 2010 Subarus like I currently have for that much money. I am getting 31.5 mpg on my daily commute, which gives me a full tank range of just a tad over 500 miles, to her 360 or so miles. My fuel fill time is about 10 minutes her charging time for a full charge would be 43 hours on a plain jane home power connection or 2 hours for a super charge connection. If you just want to get down the road a bit farther a rapid charge will get her to 80% capacity in 40 minutes.

  27. David A says:

    Bruce Ryan says ” For some reason, there seems to be an antagonism to evs that people love to exploit.”

    Perhaps it is because Statist are exploiting them. Tesla, a car for the rich, partially paid for by the middle class, driven on roads paid for by the middle class and poor.

    If evs were competing on their own none would object.

  28. Power Grab says:

    @ EM re “pull the plug”:

    Yeah, it all sounds inferior to the ICE and FF. I don’t even like to stream music, so I’m pretty sure I would not care for the over-connectedness of those options.

    You would think a person could get sufficient range and utility from a golf cart if they’re stuck in a limited area anyway, but I can’t help but wonder how that might encourage more crime. Golf carts aren’t known for their bullet-proof nature, or even weather-proof nature, are they? I wouldn’t want to end up on the wrong side of town in one.

    If a person can’t hop into their chariot and dash on down the road at a moment’s notice, then what good is are all these new-fangled shiny contraptions that take hours to energize?

    OK, so I recently traded in the Avalon for a Honda Odyssey. It’s eleven years old and has more than 224K miles, but they were asking less than $4,500. It’s in amazing shape and only has a faint odor I can’t quite place. ;-) I had wanted something bigger than the Avalon anyway, when I hit the deer earlier this year.

    One reason I got it was so I can haul my family around in one vehicle when we get together for holidays. (I’m the first in my family to have something this big.) The last time they wanted to travel together, we had to take 2 of our little cars and a couple of walkie-talkies. Heh! We may still need the walkie-talkies to converse from the front to the back of this thing! It has 3 rows, or 2 rows and a cargo deck.

    The other reason is that my offspring has this crew from high school (now college-graduated) that travels to anime cons. The last one they went to was in Denver. Three full-size people and their luggage. They went in a Honda Civic.(!) I was surprised that their families let them do that. (At least they didn’t take my older, more “experienced” Civic!) They don’t even consider flying because they have to haul a bunch of costumes (a/k/a cosplays) and stuff with them.

    I had looked into renting something bigger before they took that last trip, but it looked like a rental would cost upwards of $500, maybe even $1,000 to rent a vehicle like this one I just got. If they take two trips a year in this thing, you could say it’s not that much more per trip (6 months @ 118, or around $700). We’ll see how the other expenses pan out. Mom the Worrier will feel better to know they’re in something bigger than a Civic, anyway.

    I know everyone is all into down-sizing, but I find myself picking up sweet deals on stuff I never could afford before. It’s really hard to resist buying a solid-wood dining table and 6 matching chairs for a couple of hundred bucks. And a sort-of-matching china cabinet for a bit less. I knew some people who liked to furnish their home with all antiques. If you knew your stuff, you might end up with furniture that appreciated instead of depreciated.

    OTOH, if the SHTF and you had to burn the furniture so stay warm (God forbid), I think it might be less unhealthy to burn solid wood instead of particle board made in China. Of course, that’s an extreme case. I would like to think the 115 year old piano would be the last to go, especially since it still works and sounds pretty good.

  29. H.R. says:

    Oops! Seems EV cop cars might not be such a great idea. This happened out your way, E.M.

    Just fuel up that 450 mile range Mercedes of yours, rob a bank, and yell “Come and get me, coppers!” ;o)

  30. beththeserf says:

    Say, H.R., where’s Mel Brooks when you need him? )

  31. E.M.Smith says:

    @Bruce Ryan:

    I’d be quite happy with an EV as a 2nd car. It would have been great as a commuter to worksites near home. But it would fail me for an L.A. Run as I just don’t stop on that run for longer than 5 minutes.most of the time (15 max).

    I do note in passing that on the news recently was the PG&E “fire prevention blackout” for several counties… So periodically here your ability to re-fill your car “goes away”…

    FWIW I was at an IEEE presentation in Palo Alto where we got to see / ride in if desired (I didn’t) the first prototype roadster. Had a nice tech talk about what makes it special, engineering design choices, and more. It is very neat tech and as you point out, fast and quiet.

    Only problem is my spouse doesn’t like the idea of Flaming Batteries Batman(!) as several have gone all crispy critters… Some all by their lonesome… One was FOD (foreign object damage) from some junk on the road. Some look to just be the usual “flaming laptop” problem of dendrite growth in lithium cells. Tesla recently reduced available range on some models / years to extend battery life (and is being sued under warantee…) as repeated deep cycle promotes dendrites promotes flaming shorts…

    Per the Super Duper Chargers: Battery heating is a significant limiting factor in the design of EVs. Telsa put a lot of work into the heat removal system… but… Showing that many kW into that small a space at that kind of speed is just asking for bad things to happen. Doing it regularly is not going to cut it. (Note they typically they limit to about 1/2 a charge… not wanting to melt anything or cause flaming batteries…)


    Yes, the charge current in some of these stations is just crazy. You are dealing with a power level normally reserved for linemen with protective gear…

    @Larry L:

    Yeah, that price tag is just insane…. I’ve got about $6,000 in the spousal Mercedes Wagon in 4×4 and it’s nice, Very Nice. (Someone was selling it cheap as it needed some fixes ;-)

    @David A:

    For me, the “antagonism” is from things like GM saying it will be my ONLY choice and all the Gang Green saying it will be my ONLY choice and it’s the answer to everything. The ol’ bums rush doesn’t sit well.


    I really liked Get Smart ;-)

    @H.R. & Larry L. per cops & EVs:

    For most chases the Tesla would be great. The acceleration and speed are spectacular and you will not get away from one inside of the charge range. That one started shift less than fully charged. Not a problem for an ICE as a coffee stop gets the tank full at start of shift. For the EV, taking an hour or 2 at start of shift will be frowned on…

    @Power Grab:

    “FF” – Fire Fox? Freedom Fighter? Fuel Funnel?

    In Florida there’s a large Golf Cart retirement cohort. Folks use them to get from the retirement resorts to stores in the area and more. It works rather well. What I don’t “get” is folks spending $25,000 for some of them… (Your choice, gas or electric)

    Also most folks have a car or truck for long trips. So golf cart down the trail to the shopping center, but car or truck to downtown. It works pretty well.

    I looked at rental car costs for one 2 week trip and instead bought a used Mercedes for less than the rental cost… Used it for about 6 months… I really can’t bring myself to rent cars for more than a day or two…

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