Wednesday, 25 July 2018

more-on Electric Vehicles

I noted the other day an interesting propaganda piece in the ABC in their ongoing desire to push their religion, and one of their agendas is pushing Electric Vehicles. The article was written in a "no questions asked" "please just believe me" manner common to the (failed) modern journalistic manner.

This is a link to the article (maybe they'll change it in part later, as they've done in the past).

I'd like to discuss some of the major points.

Warnings played down

The headline and about the 4th paragraph warn that its dangerous to do your own home brew setups. I'm an engineer myself and I agree entirely with that. However its not till near the end of the article where the real points are brought out when they add interview with a professor of engineering who says:
"I don't think this is something that anyone can do and I don't think economically or financially it will stack up just for the average person to go and do.
"It makes more sense if you have some kind of vintage or classic car that you want to retrofit."
Dr Whitehead said it was important anybody interested had an appropriate background as an electrician or an electrical engineer and consulted relevant groups to obtain expertise.
If someone's thinking this might be a cheap way to get an electric vehicle I would say it isn't, unfortunately," he said.

This point should be at the beginning, so as well as brushing over the (hard for most to grasp) main dangers they don't explain what sorts of fire hazard this thing is should it be involved in an accident (probably even minor). The Fire Department would be horrorfied if someone was trapped in the vehicle and would have to face even higher risks in helping them.

But of course, it won't happen to me right?

The Costs and the economy of it

To me being "economic" means to not spend more on doing something one way than by doing it another way.

In Australia a new Nissan Leaf costs AU$33,000 yet this guy has spent $35,000 on munging up an old (unsafe in a crash to start with) shitbox ute into something which has undoubtedly got far less sophistication and far worse aerodynamics than the Leaf ... meaning it will chew more electricity to drive ...  I encourage you (if your interested in an EV) to go look at a Leaf as its a well appointed little car (see wikipedia or other sources).

Any sane person would stop here.

What else is wrong then?

Claim that "its well and truly paid for itself"

Quoting directly from the article I see it says:

He spent about $35,000 converting the Hilux to electric but believes the amount he's saved on fuel means the car has "well and truly paid for itself".
"This is now 11 years as electric drive, this ute, and … the kind of savings I've had, just in fuel alone, is more than $40,000," he said.
The car is charged for free at home using off-grid solar, or at free electric charging stations up and down the Queensland coast.

Qick Analysis

Ok, first, lets look at what he spent to "save fuel" and how much money he's saving on that. Assuming that fuel costs $1.50 per Liter (which it does at the time of writing) and assuming your shitbox old Hilux:
  • gets horrible fuel economy like 10L/100km and
  • that you drive 20,000km per year
the costs of doing that driving are $3000 per year using fuel; less if you get better than 10 (as I expect you would). So with his electric home brew mung up he's had to pay more than that and we haven't even counted the cost of electricity yet. For those who will say "but he did this over 11 years" ... what's 11 times $3,000? Would it be $33,000?

Then he says he has a "Off Grid" solar setup (not shown, nor discussed) that charges it for free at home (meaning its not driving around in the day) and claims it charges it in 2 hours. Quote:

"If I charge from a public charge point I can charge it in two hours, if I charge from my own solar I can do it in two hours, if I'm charging from a standard wall outlet it will take me about eight hours."

We don't know how often he uses his solar rig, how far he drives, but he does sponge of the community in "free outlets".

As a side note the substance of that claim "free charging outlets" is referring to this article: in the ABC. Which uses wording like "will be installed" and "would be made free for at least 12 months", so the long term freebie-ness will indeed be questionable.

So are you smelling that carrot for what it is?

Anyway, we don't know anything about his battery system, but lets assume its as perhaps good as the Leaf (or he won't get far in said car, given the newer Leaf with a 24kWh battery gets a range of 135km on a full charge) and say that its 24kWh capacity ... meaning you have to supply it 24,000Watts for an hour, or 12,000Watts for 2 hours or (as he uses 8 hours for wall charging) 3000W for 8 hours

Now because most people don't have the faintest clue about power (even though they pay for it) I'll put that in context.

A typical fan heater like this one, sucks 2400W. Most people soon learn that they cost a lot to run (indeed they should be given away free by the electricity companies to help drive consumption).

So if you would balk even more at running one of these for 8 hours you'd probably balk at charging that shitbox death trap EV for 8 hours.

Unless you're a nutter hippie who wants to have the cachet of saying "I've got an EV, that I made myself , that saves me money" (when it doesn't).

Then if his Off Grid PV system can charge it in 2 it has to be producing 12,000Watts ... FuckMeSideways ... that's a big rig. 

8Kw is expensive if its installed, but if you go to eBay and buy Chinese Pannels (which may or may not be good, that's a whole can of worms there) you'll pay a minimum of $135 for a 250W roof top panel (which is bloody good compared to a few years back, so one wonders what he paid for his rig (or if he's just telling porkie pies or is a dope and didn't do his sums right)).

Four 250W pannels gives (in theory, on cool days) 1000W costing $540, and you'll need 12 more bundles like that to get 12,000Watts, so add another $6,480 to that (and we haven't costed frames to hold them, where to put the fuckers or wiring needed to adapt that and charge controlers (so it doesn't all go up in smoke).

So that's a bit over two years petrol right there ... probably 3 years if you bought a more efficient car.

Its well worth reading the Wikipedia on the Nissan leaf and its energy requirements: here. And keep in mind the figures there are based around a 11c per kWh of electricty. In Australia its commonly 27 or more (unless you use off peak when its 17c (see here, and be careful to read the terms and conditions on that)).

Wikipedia reports that the power usage of the Leaf is 2.19 cents per km, which works out to be about 3 cents Australian,  but when you also factor in the difference in what they pay for power (its less) we would pay about 7.3c per km.

Assuming you get 10L/100km that would be 15c per km ... and of course less if you drove a more fuel economical vehicle which is comparable to a Leaf ... say a Hyundai i30, which uses about 6L/100 (or 40% less) thus you'd use about 9c per km.

Hmm ... 9c per km VS 7.3c per km ... not exactly "free" is it. When you add in that an i30 can be had for less than the Leaf (like $23,000 vs $33,000) that ten grand must buy you something .. maybe you could invest it in something or even just put it in a term deposit.


He says: 
"The battery pack I've got in there is $23,000, so most of the electric stuff is not that much [money], but batteries are the biggest expense. But that battery pack is going to give me more than 10 years of use"
But hasn't he already done 11 years? Does this mean that its about dead then??

Like so many "believers" reality seems too hard to accept ... and worse they're often putting others at risk with their own delusions of "doing the right thing".


nissan cedric said...

Like every new technical change is always puported to be the best ever.(For research funding)
After that it becomes apparent that the proposer has been economical with the truth and there are some serious technical or cost repucusions.
The Prius is the secont wright plane developed.
Then comes the Mercedes Benz of WW1 vintage.
At this juncture I would personally think that we are are technology based at the T Model stage.
Ford and everyone, financial or those seeking power based recognition /challenge are becoming interested to do it better than Ford cars.
Electric cars are the fashoon now because we have not technically made the quantum leap to a more efficient storage at a sensible cost. Those "in the Know"(I dont knoW what that means) have some guru status because the average citizen does not understand the argument
It seems that the future may be at the mollecular level.
I hope that we allow IC engines for my lifetime so as I can enjoy my special cars.
There endeth the hypothesis.
Nissan Cedric.

gnarlydog said...

Thank you for doing this in-depth analysis of the common crap that is currently getting fed us and gullible and hipsters seem to lap it up. I always suspected I was smelling a big rat with so much hype around the Electric Vehicles and now you seem to confirm my suspicions. Electric cars aren't ready for prime time just yet. I wonder if they will ever be cost efficient and replace the common fossil fuel burning ones?... somehow I am not holding my breath.