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Drive Angry

I always thought the electric car would create new and exciting jobs. I just didn’t think that the jobs it would be create would be in the fire-fighting and home rebuilding industries:

An electric vehicle manufacturer that received a $529 million loan from the Energy Department is recalling 239 vehicles.

The Transportation Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Thursday that the company, Fisker Automotive, will recall its Karma vehicles made between July 1, 2011, and Nov. 3, 2011, because of a faulty electric battery component that could cause a fire.

Oh yeah, about those jobs:

The administration has come under fire for issuing the loan after ABC News reported in October that Fisker is making its vehicles in Finland because it could not find a contractor in America to manufacture them.

But the Energy Department has countered that the loan was intended to help Fisker develop the vehicles, which the company did in the United States.

Look, electric vehicles are new technology. We’ve had over a century to develop gas-powered cars to the point where the most dangerous part is the sack of meat behind the wheel. So it’s not surprising that electric cars have problems, although the spectacular nature of the problems is a bit shocking. And maybe Fisker will recover and become the next century’s Ford.

But did we need to loan half a billion dollars for this? They couldn’t find some private lender like Warren Buffet (now ridiculously called the fifth most admired man in America because 2% of Americans said so)? The government should not be financing speculative technology; especially not at the cost of basic fundamental research.

Pull the plug on this whole program, guys.

16 comments

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  1. Mississippi Yankee says:

    We’ve had over a century to develop gas-powered cars to the point where the most dangerous part is the sack of meat behind the wheel. So it’s not surprising that electric cars have problems, although the spectacular nature of the problems is a bit shocking.

    Electricity is one of the oldest automobile propulsion methods still in use today; it predates the invention of Diesel’s and Benz’s Otto cycle-engines by several decades.

    The invention of the electric vehicle is attributed to various people. In 1828, Ányos Jedlik, a Hungarian who invented an early type of electric motor, created a tiny model car powered by his new motor. In 1834, Vermont blacksmith Thomas Davenport, the inventor of the first American DC electrical motor, installed his motor in a small model car, which he operated on a short circular electrified track.

    It’s been over 180 years and electric cars are still inefficient (miles per charge), much more costly,(rare earth components in batteries and short battery life life times).

    How much more time time does this failing industry need before anyone outside of an urban enclave can own one of these pregnant skateboards affordably and with confidence?

    Oh here’s the link The history of the electric vehicle

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  2. hist_ed says:

    MY beat me to it.

    While electric cars will do doubt get better, they have a huge inherent inefficiency problem to overcome. Electricity has to be generated somewhere.

    A science teacher colleague explained it to me something like this:

    So in a standard car fuel is burned. This converts energy stored chemically into kinetic energy (along with heat) which moves the pistons that move the wheels.

    For an electric car you take the energy stored in fuel* and convert it into kinetic energy to drive a generator. The generator converts the kinetic energy into electricity which is transmitted across long distance wires. It is then converted into household current (220v for car chargers). This electricity is stored in the car’s battery as chemical energy. It is then converted into kinetic energy to drive the wheels.

    At every step in each process above you introduce inefficiencies. Every conversion loses some energy (mainly in the form of heat). Even running electricity along wires loses you some energy. Burning fuel at the location that you actually want the work done is far more efficient that doing so hundreds of miles away.

    *Or kinetic energy of falling water, or heat energy from a nuclear reaction, or, if you dream the Obama dream, kinetic energy from a windmill, etc.

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  3. Hal_10000 says:

    I more or less agree, hist_ed, which is a big reason I’ve always thought hydrogen cars were bunk. With electric cars, the greens NEVER want to talk about where the energy is going to come from since they oppose nuclear. They want to use solar or wind. But solar and wind ALSO use rare earth metals.

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  4. Mississippi Yankee says:

    I seem to have picked up a stutter.

    The only problem with hydrogen is it can’t be transported by pipeline. However it is marginally cheaper to manufacture than refining foreign oil into gasoline.

    The man that figures out how to create hydrogen (from say gray or waste water) at the distribution point will rule the western world. If you see a migration of solar panels and windmills to the local gas stations you’ll know where to invest your money.

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  5. Seattle Outcast says:

    Electric cars will always be a complete waste of time due to simple physics. They are converting electricity to mechanical power, and the electricity itself was produced from mechanical power previously and then sent over distribution lines, and every step involved adds more inefficiency and power loss to the equation. The most efficient method of powering a vehicle is to directly use the original source of energy.

    And before you say something really, really stupid like “solar powered cars”, go figure out how much raw energy there is in the sunlight that reaches the ground, and then figure out how you’re going to run a truck on the same amount of power used by a few light bulbs. And if you want orbital solar stations that beam the energy to earth via microwaves, just remember that such a thing is commonly referred to as an “orbital microwave cannon” by the good people at DARPA and is considered a weapon of mass destruction – good luck getting that built without a war.

    Electric cars are really “coal-fired” or “gas-fired” cars, because that’s where the power comes from. For every gas powered vehicle you take off the road, you have to add that energy demand onto our already over-strained electrical grid (thank you envirotards, for stopping nearly every power generating plant in the last 30 years from being built). By simple logic, this isn’t going to happen – the grid is incapable of supporting the demand without massive upgrades costing trillions of dollars, which the envirotards will fight tooth and nail (with tax dollars given to them by the government). You would be better off investing in new engine technology, perhaps one that runs off of water by cracking out the hydrogen for internal combustion.

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  6. HARLEY says:

    maybe we need to look at putting micro piles in cars?

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  7. Seattle Outcast says:

    Mini-nukes for a car? Basically that’s putting a dirty bomb in every car on the road, just waiting for a rear-end accident or a drunk driver. Too much radioactive cleanup potential, and nuclear material isn’t exactly plentiful.

    If I were to guess the future I’d say we’re going to end up with some version of today’s hybrid that uses hydrogen for the combustion engine.

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  8. HARLEY says:

    ok ok maybe micro pile are a bad idea, but i honestly think natural gas powered cars are the future, given the abundance of the fuel available and ease of transport.
    oh technically all autos that use a hydrocarbon for fuel are Hydrogen powered., and is we burn hydrogen for fuel, we are really not tapping the potential in hydrogen! tokamaks! for every car!

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  9. Mississippi Yankee says:

    HARLEY,
    I watched this country, and quite a few friends, try the whole natural gas power in the late 70′s. It was a disaster. Natural gas powered engines have about 20% less power and get less gas mileage, also about 20%. Not to mention the added weight from a much thicker and studier fuel tank. Putting natural gas infrastructure everywhere, and I mean everywhere, will be very costly too.

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  10. HARLEY says:

    well we got to do something,with modern materials i think we can cut into that 20% pretty good. and it would be perfect for urban areas…

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  11. Mississippi Yankee says:

    See, this is where I must disagree. Having huge LP gas tanks all over an urban environment would be (IMO) just begging the occutards to light them on fire.

    Natural gas, because it’s becoming so abundant, is and will be an excellent alternative to coal powered power plants.

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  12. hist_ed says:

    Having huge LP gas tanks all over an urban environment would be (IMO) just begging the occutards to light them on fire.

    We already have a natural gas infrastructure. How many houses use it for heat and stoves? There are gas lines all over the place.

    I actually looked into a natural gas car several years ago (bought a turbo rice rocket instead-now selling it for a mini-van–sigh, the cost of an ever expanding family). In California Honda sold a version of the Civic powered by natural gas. You paid a couple of thousand to get a fueling station in your home and then you never had to visit a gas station again. It was slow to fuel (a few hours) but had about a 300 mile range on a tank. The other problem was essentially no trunk-that was replaced by a big armored tank for the gas. I did the math on fuel at at the prices then, fuel costs were about 30% less than a gas Civic. I would have had to ship it from California, too. In the end, my mid-life crisis caught me and I went for speed.

    Natural gas would work for a lot of people-at least much better than electric cars. Obviously not something to take on a road trip, but for 98% of people’s usual driving, a 300 mile range would be more than enough.

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  13. Seattle Outcast says:

    But that infrastructure isn’t universal, and upgrading it to the needed level will cost billions (minimum). You also have to account for additional dangers of natural gas – trust me, if it wasn’t already in use it would be banned as a safety hazard.

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  14. AlexInCT says:

    But that infrastructure isn’t universal, and upgrading it to the needed level will cost billions (minimum).

    The current gasoline infrastructure is worth trillions and one to support electrical vehicles because of complexity and the expensive hardware would cost multiples of that. Think about that.

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  15. Mississippi Yankee says:

    hist_ed.

    I wasn’t aware that vehicles could now be fueled at a home station. Interesting, I wonder why it takes so long though.

    As I said I haven’t looked at it since the late 70′s. And even then the price per gallon compared to the miles per gallon made LP gas not such a good deal especially pulling a RV and putting on mega-miles every year.

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  16. HARLEY says:

    See, this is where I must disagree. Having huge LP gas tanks all over an urban environment would be (IMO) just begging the occutards to light them on fire.

    Well, That would give us a reason to start shooting the bastards then.

    As I said I haven’t looked at it since the late 70′s. And even then the price per gallon compared to the miles per gallon made LP gas not such a good deal especially pulling a RV and putting on mega-miles every year.

    Oh, most certainly not, but in urban areas short distance travel, it would do very well.

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