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In light of the self driving car discussion I thought I'd start revving folk up about the electric cars we have today.

For me it was almost by accident I moved into my current EV which is a 2014 Nissan Leaf SV. I have a nice enough van but I wanted something for short trips about town. So I had a thought to "Google it." I googled "Worst resale value cars." At number 2 was the Leaf. I know this car but not very well and decided to take a deeper look. The reasons for its poor resale value are many but the short list is the new models showing up with 200+ mile range and the rebates here. Example. If your state/country hands the buyers back 7,500USD then the resale price is instantly that much less. There are other reasons such as new models get free charging for 2 years and some fear the battery life issue.

Just these two factors alone were slamming down the prices. So off I went shopping (this was November 2016.) I found a spotless 2014 Leaf SV for 11K USD, 30K miles and drove home. Prices have eroded since then. I didn't bother installing a quick charge system since I'm fine with overnight charging. That's more savings.

Range is at most 80 miles due to some battery wear and that's well inside where I need to go 98% of the time so since November 2016 I have spent 55USD in gas. That's for one trip in my van and the tank is full there so how much will I spend on my personal transportation in a year looks to be on target at 55USD. What I didn't know was the local Gas&Electric company offers a 200USD a year payment (to me) for owning an EVcar so I missed on that for this year but did sign up for 2018.

As you can guess, EVcar owners will talk to one another and not one is ready to go back to ICE (internal combustion engine) cars. Here we see a lot of Leafs, Chevy Sparks, BMW i3s, Teslas of all models and now the new Chevy Bolts. Charging stations are slowly growing but for me I have yet to use one as where I need to go is well inside my Leaf's paltry range.

There was one person that claimed my car was just as dirty as the next but here, we have solar power. EVcars get cleaner as the electric grid gets cleaner (not counting my solar system.)

Yes, I'm lucky to have the capacity to move away from my ICEcar and I don't intend to go back. There are those that are just lucky to have any transportation and I recognise that. My view is that all of us should do our bit for each other.

And a sad footnote. After I bought my first EVcar, I started reading about Venezuela's meltdowns. Did I cause this? No, but I sure didn't help.

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Last Post by JamesCherrill
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  • To AssertNull, I'll try to answer since I've been driving my 2014 Leaf since November, 2016. 1. I use the 110V charger the car came with since I'm cheap and it works for me. To get a discount on the SDG&E rate you have to install a second meter and … Read More

  • > the cost is nearly identical to the Prius today That's surprising. We run a Zoe EV and have a Citroen C4 Picasso that can do about 50 mpg. Here's how the costs compare in France: Zoe: 16.6 kWh/100km. Using standard domestic off-peak elecrticity at €0.127/kWh = 2.11 Euros per … Read More

  • > if you are on the grid, you are not entirely clean even on the EVcar Depends where you are! The electricity sector here in France is mainly nuclear power, which accounted for 72.3% of total production in 2016, while renewables and fossil fuels accounted for 17.8% and 8.6%, respectively … Read More

  • Looks like Norway - with vast supplies of hydro-electic is going to lead the way http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/norway-electric-powered-country-first-fully-green-energy-clean-cars-a7898701.html Read More

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I think it is inevitable. Our next vehicle will definitely be electric as will my younger son's. Our elder son has a Prius that he swears by. As battery technology evolves, older, lower capacity batteries could be swapped out with newer ones without the expense of a complete car replacement. Swapping would be a matter of minutes rather than the hours it takes to replace a conventional engine.

Elon Musk will continue to revolutionize the solar/electric industry. He just released the cost of his new solar tile roof system. It will be about 20% cheaper than a conventional tile roof and will be durable enough that he is willing to guarantee it for the life of the house.

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We bought a new Renault Zoe at the end of last year and are glad that we did. It has a realistic range of 250km after an overnight charge which covers almost all our driving needs. We kept our big old Citroen C4 Picasso for those occasions where we needed to go farther, or carry more people/luggage/shopping, but so far we have used is less than once a month.
Despite the government's subsidy I don't think we are saving much money compared to a comparable ICE. It's more that it is the quietest, smoothest, best equipped small car I've ever driven. Helping to save the planet also feels good.
In the past 12 months Renault almost doubled the range of the Zoe's battery packs for only a small increase in price. That's a good example of why (a) resale values are/will continue to be very low (we leased ours) and (b) yes, it's the future, no doubt.

ps: Re battery swaps - Renault have announced that owners of the previous Zoe version will be able to buy an upgrade to the new batteries without changing the car; cost of replacement €3500.

Edited by JamesCherrill

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I agree with Jim, it will become inevitable. The city of Antwerp is already forbidding older diesel cars and trucks to drive into the city.
I guess this will turn into a worldwide acceptance.
Wonder what the Arabic petrol lobby has to say about that.
An electric car would be ideal for me. I drive about 100 km a month with my petrol car.
Only drawback: too expensive, but I see progress.
Drove one once, the silence of that thing is something else to get used to!

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I don't know if this is an option, but shouldn't electric cars have solar panels built in to the roof so that they would charge in the daylight without having to be plugged in? I would think that sitting in the employee parking lot for 8 hours would allow some significant charging. Any electrical engineers out there who could add some numbers to that thought?

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Based on a news story from Winnipeg this week there are also other things to be considered. A woman in a condo here in Winnipeg has been charging her electric vehicle in the condo parking lot. In response, the condo association has turned off the power to the lot figuring (and rightly so, IMO) that the rest of the condo owners should not be subsidizing her driving.

Currently (pun intended) apartment, condo and employee parking lots provide power for cars in the cold winter months. They typically allow for one block heater per vehicle and some even allow for an interior car warmer (although I have never used one). As electric cars become more prevalent, infrastructure will have to evolve to allow residents/employees to charge their vehicles with some type of auditing to determine how much power is personally used.

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Great idea - but a quick Google suggests maybe 1 kWh in an 8 hour day for a 1 square meter panel. even my little Zoe battery takes 41 kWh

Edited by JamesCherrill

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There's an alternate problem to having an electric car for most of one's driving and an ICE for occasional long trips. Cars like to be driven regularly. If they are not, they have problems. I would suggest renting a car for the occasional trip. I believe (I could be mistaken) that Tesla is giving 3 rental trips away per year when you buy their car.

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When many more people buy EV cars, government subsidies will disappear - they might even switch over to ICE vehicles - which have been getting cleaner, too! In Canada, for instance, approximately 40% of the price of gas is tax. So, how else will governments deal with their revenue shortfall? I suspect that ICE vehicles will still be around, for a long time - despite the present advantages of EV cars!

  • William F. Sheehan
    Toronto, Canada
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how else will governments deal with their revenue shortfall

In Manitoba, the bulk of our power is hydro-electric. Government already charges tax on every kwh I use. On top of that, the provincial government charges Manitoba Hydro a hefty fee every year for "water rental". Basically MH pays for the right to use the waterways for generation. They will collect less in taxes from gasoline but more in taxes from electricity.

Personally, I'm hoping to get one of those solar roofs Elon Musk has been touting.

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So, how else will governments deal with their revenue shortfall?

The gov't will never run out of ways to make revenue. I'd bet on luxury water-usage taxes on fountains, pools, etc... as climate change affects the water supplies. There will probably be taxes on emissions from fossil-fuel power stations, of one form or another. Solar and wind farms will generate gov't revenue through property taxes (solar/wind farm is much more valuable than vacant land so will incur higher property taxes). Hydropower can face water-fees. Once EVs are the norm the gov't will probably institute some kind of disposal fee/tax on the batteries. Plus depending on the country electricity may be taxed or be publicly owned.

OTOH the oil industry recieves pretty high subsidies too so the net revenue from personal ICEs might not actually be that high. Not to forget that the trucking industry probably won't switch to ICEs for a long long time so there will still be a fair amount of revenue from gas taxes.

As with everything it is more a problem of getting the public to accept the taxes/fees than finding sources of revenue.

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To all that replied, thanks for the insights. As this is my getaround town car I get to hear and chat with others that are ICE people, EV shoppers, owners and more.

Very few brought up the change in government revenue angle. So I'll write that here, California, USA has tacked a flat 100USD fee in 2020.
http://insideevs.com/california-adds-52-billion-gas-tax-100-annual-fee-for-ev-owners/ for details.
ICE owners will start to yelp soon as the first increase takes effect November 1, 2017. It's billions at stake there.
Using round numbers here, California drivers use 1.5 Billion gallons of gas yearly at a current 38 cents a gallon. Source
The 12 cent increase should land this at about 50 cents a gallon but won't be the highest in the USA.

It took about 50 years to transition from horse powered transportation to what we have today. We get to see the next transition unfold over the years.

-> I was asked about Hydrogen powered cars but here, there is one filling station in town some 15 miles from home. And there is no alternative to filling up. With EVcars you can charge at home or elsewhere. All the EVcar owners charge at home with one or two being absolute cheapskates that have charging at work available (for free!) They drive to work, plug in and drive home and use that as they only means to charge. The businesses get a credit for this setup.

What I was surprised to not read above is the performance of EVcars. Many new to EVcars think they are like driving a golf cart. All the models I have driven have no trouble keeping up or nearly silently pulling smartly away from others from a stop.

The takeaway is that EVcar subsidies are going to end but gas/diesel taxes or a flat out CO2 tax is happening which you can take as a win/lose for either technology. My view is with 200+ mile or 300+ kilometer models becoming the norm, there will be a lot more of these on the road. ICE power isn't going away for decades as I see it. Just like the horse.

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A few questions for anyone who might know...

  1. What's the price to charge the car? Same rate as elecricity rates everywhere else? If so, at least here in California the electricity rates are much cheaper at night than in the day so I assume folks charge it in the garage at night? Any special equipment required to charge it?
  2. What "mileage" do you get and what is it measured in (ie kilometers per kilowatt-hour)?
  3. How large / heavy is the battery? Is it light/small enough to stick a spare battery in your trunk to double your range?
  4. Does the "mileage" vary based on around-town versus freeway travel, hills versus flat terrain, etc. as it does with gasoline cars?
  5. I've only seen small light passenger cars. Is the current technology scalable to larger vehicles? Could you tow a boat or transport a half ton of bricks in your electric pickup truck, or an even bigger vehicle, or are Diesel engines here to stay?
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To AssertNull, I'll try to answer since I've been driving my 2014 Leaf since November, 2016.

  1. I use the 110V charger the car came with since I'm cheap and it works for me. To get a discount on the SDG&E rate you have to install a second meter and charge off peak hours. The cost to install that meter when I asked was over 1K. So that would blow my savings from ICE to EV. Even with my increase in electrical consumption it works out to 20 to 22 cents (USD) per KWH.
  2. Here's my current math. The car is averaging 4.0 to 4.1 miles per KWH so we can use that to calcucate our per mile or KM cost. Our Prius gets 54 MPG so current per gallon cost is about 3USD. 3USD divided by .22 gets us how many KWH we can buy or 13.64KWG or 54.54 MPGe. So the cost is nearly identical to the Prius today. When November 1, 2017 arrives, the EV will win this round. (2a) Maintenance is every 15,000 miles which is just a battery, brake fluid check and maybe a cabin air filter so maintenance is less. Also no smog test for the EV. Here that runs 50ish every 2 or so years.
  3. The battery pack is pretty large, there is someone that has a booster pack that doubles the range but the economics have me say you should shop the new 200+ mile per charge models.
  4. This is where pure physics rules. The neat part is that on the downhill you reclaim a good portion of your energy. I don't go far with the 2014 Leaf and look forward to a 200+ mile EV next year.
  5. That scaleability is so far only on prototypes. I do run to Home Depot and carry home a few bags of mulch, etc.

There are long articles about where this vehicle fits. Let me state how I wish we would cleanup today.

Push the big trucks onto nat gas. Some fleets already do this since there's a cost savings and then leave the short commuters to EV. Don't break your economy by moving too fast but we can get there.

I fall right into the 95% of all trips are under 100 miles as noted by https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/pubs/pl08021/fig4_5.cfm . This is why the EV works for me. The long distance ICE car we have were used once in the past 10 months. And the Prius will soon go on a long roadtrip so that will make the case for when you need 2 cars. OR some EV car makers have a rentail plan for those that will only have one vehicle.

My view is this is going to play out just like the horse. It will take decades and we still have horses.

Edited by rproffitt: Spelling error correction.

Votes + Comments
Good feedback from an actual owner
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the cost is nearly identical to the Prius today

That's surprising. We run a Zoe EV and have a Citroen C4 Picasso that can do about 50 mpg.
Here's how the costs compare in France:

Zoe: 16.6 kWh/100km. Using standard domestic off-peak elecrticity at €0.127/kWh
= 2.11 Euros per 100 km

Citroen: 4.5 litres/100km at €1.23 per litre
= 5.71 Euros per 100km

So the EV is less than half the fuel cost of an ICE. (Not to mention the maintenance costs that are approx 0% of the maintenance costs for an ICE or hybrid)

@assertNull

  1. We have a simple socket in our garage - Renault paid for it as part of the deal for buying a Zoe. We use the car's charge timer to charge using off-peak electricity at 0.127 Euros/kWh (15 US cents)
  2. kilowatt hours per 100 km. Over the last 8 months we have averaged 16.6 kWh/100km
  3. It's massively heavy (300 kg = .33 US tons) and buried under floor under the rear seats. Carrying a spare is not feasible. We fit in the "95% trips < 100miles" category, so a 200 mile battery wouldn't affect us. A 500 mile battery would take us up to 98%. Maybe next year?
  4. Yes, of course. A heavy right foot does use more energy. Hills are less of an issue because the batteries recharge when you go downhill. Slowing by "engine braking" to recharge the batteries does make a big difference compared to slowing by using the brakes.
  5. Certainly for now we need a larger longer-range car for those times when a small/short range car won't do. I can't envisage dumping our Citroen until I can get over 700 miles without recharging (ie 2019, 2020 ???)

Edited by JamesCherrill

Votes + Comments
Nice to read about Zoe.
Nice info, thanks for sharing. Here in Italy electricity costs €0.28/kWh, while fuel is almost the same.
Good feedback from an actual owner
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Not to mention that when you are stuck in traffic, waiting for lights to change, trains, etc. you are using zero power as opposed to idling in your ICE.

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Re: rproffitt

The Prius is a hybrid so it gets most of the energy savings of EVs : no idling at traffic lights, recharging during braking and downhills, and more efficient torque generation by an electric motor. So considering that most electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels (and renewables cost about the same for electricity generation anyway) I'm not surprised there isn't much difference. The only real savings for EV vs hybrid is maintenance and possibly manufacturing costs.

That's also why I suspect hybrids might be the replacement of choice for long-haul vehicles - trucks, buses, etc... Battery range is always going to be a trade-off of weight vs range - the bigger your battery the less efficient your short trips are because of luging around the battery weight but the longer your maximum range - it will be interesting where the optimum is going to end up for consumer vehicles. Or perhaps a creative company will come up with a flexible design so people in different countries can have different sized batteries.

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most electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels (and renewables cost about the same for electricity generation anyway) I'm not surprised there isn't much difference.

Even if the electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels, consider that it is cheaper to generate the power centrally at one plant and distribute that power than it is to generate the power at hundreds of thousands of ICEs. It is far easier and more cost effective to put scrubbers on a smokestack than on each vehicle. Power plant generators also burn fuel much more efficiently than cars.

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@Agilemind. Let's focus on electric power generation. You're right that for the grid here, it's mostly fossil fuel. Here's the stats:
http://www.energy.ca.gov/almanac/electricity_data/total_system_power.html for California.
https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3 for all of USA.

For those lucky enough to have solar panels, this changes the results for that person.
Takeaway? If you stick with the grid, how clean your EVcar is tied to the grid cleanliness.
However an ICEcar can't be cleaned up by improvements in grid power generation or adding a solar roof.

@ JamesCherrill, the electicity rate really throws the calculations around. In Nebraska, US and in Vancouver, BC, Canada the KWh rate is under 10 cents (both USD and CAD) so there you instantly have the results you are seeing. Also, petrol cost is higher in Canada and most parts of the world so to compare you get to do the math for each city you are in.

Just for fun, let's look at Berlin, Germany.
Spot price for petrol is 1.27 a litre. Or 5.64 USD a gallon. That really moves the energy cost advantage to our EVcars. Even with 30 cents per KWH there. Again, these numbers do bounce around as you travel so you get to do the math over and over and each time you end up from 1/2 to same energy cost from EVcar to ICEcar.

Back to world electricity generation. https://www.c2es.org/technology/overview/electricity has the breakdown and for now fossil fuel is two thirds of the mix. So if you are on the grid, you are not entirely clean even on the EVcar. They are right about that and the ICEcar is all fossil fuel so from that view, the only fix if you can swing it is to install solar at parking areas and your home.

Change is happening and for me, it's been a lot of fun.

Edited by rproffitt: Grammar.

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Seems like the electric car beats the internal combustion car as far as cost per X distance goes, and wow, you Europeans are paying A LOT for gasoline. But then again you're also paying way more for electricity than we are. Why is that?

Seems like range and lack of quick charging options is the main problem for folks who drive distances. Even if you stick charging stations at all the gas stations to solve the range problem it won't work since it takes so long to charge, nor will it work for folks parking at the curb as opposed to in a garage or some other place where you can charge. No battery swapping since the battery is so huge and expensive and is integeral to the car.

So it breaks down to battery technology, it would seem. If you can increase the range or quicken the recharge time or make the battery lighter/smaller/cheaper, you're quickly running out of reasons to keep a traditional car.

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if you are on the grid, you are not entirely clean even on the EVcar

Depends where you are!

The electricity sector here in France is mainly nuclear power, which accounted for 72.3% of total production in 2016, while renewables and fossil fuels accounted for 17.8% and 8.6%, respectively

That's 91.4% non-fossil

Votes + Comments
Correct. This is also a good example of how an EVcar can get cleaner over time.
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@AssertNull. I admit it's not an one size fits all solution. JamesCherrill and I both fall neatly into the 95% model noted where 95% of our trips are done with the EVcar and rest via ICEcar and other transportation.

I see a lot of folk try to say this is not a good solution because of the 5% use issue.

-> And EVcars are not as expensive as they used to be. Here the few year old Nissan Leaf prices are hovering below 10K USD. At full price, I would have waited for the Tesla 3, Chevy Bolt or another 200+ mile range EVcar. This is how I met my first EVcar.

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From this thread and online, it appears that the range issue is improving dramatically as we speak, though I do see that the top of the line Tesla Model S has a 632 km range TODAY, under optimal conditions and a six figure price tag. But most EVs today have a far lower range.

But it looks like if I wait three years till 2020, I'll be able to get that range for a much lower price tag. Depending on what you read, it's looking like we need to create a Moore's Law for EV's, at least for the immediate future: you get twice the range or half the cost or half the battery size in three years as you can get now. Thus I'm going to hold off buying for a few years.

I had no idea the technology was progressing so fast. I know a few high school students who are trying to figure out what to major in in college. Sounds like they should major in Electronic Engineering and try to get in on the inevitable avalanche of jobs involving improving those batteries? I knew this was happening, but I had no idea it was happening so fast. I've been looking to invest some money and was going to put it in some of the traditional safe industries, but I'm thinking now's the time to invest in battery technology.

Edited by AssertNull

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it's looking like we need to create a Moore's Law for EV's

Yes indeed. Last November Renault casually announced an increase of almost 100% in battery capacity for the Zoe at almost the same price. If they do that twice more (and why not?) then it's all over folks.

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it's looking like we need to create a Moore's Law for EV's

I think we're seeing something like we see in PCs. Power goes up, price is about the same and used gear fetches a fraction of the new prices.

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