January 15, 2010, - 12:15 pm
**** SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE ****
This week, the NAIAS–the North American International Auto Show (also known as the “Detroit Auto Show”)–is taking place. And the biggest talk of the show is the Chevy Volt, the electric car that GM will put on sale, this year. But the Volt is not the panacea for dependence on gasoline and oil that we thought.
In fact, the Volt isn’t completely electric and GM says it has no plans to make a completely electric Volt, though that could happen (not anytime soon).
General Motors has not confirmed it would build a pure-electric version of the Chevrolet Volt.
“It is not currently on the production timeline,” said Rob Peterson, GM’s electric vehicle spokesperson.
That said, Peterson didn’t deny the possibility, either, noting that such a vehicle could be a possibility.
That’s disappointing to me because I’d love to stop financing Islamic and America-hating countries and their Saudi soda (oil) production, and their many terror-financing gas station owners.
GM will be building a battery-only Volt, but it acknowledged the car’s range drops in cold weather.
But there’s even more disturbing news. Many experts have warned that with an electric car, there’s no way we’d have the electric capacity to charge everyone’s car at high-demand times, like, say, after work and overnight, or even at low-demand time periods.
And Tuesday evening, I heard an interview with Anthony Earley, CEO of DTE Energy (formerly known at Detroit Edison) electric company. He told Detroit’s CBS all-news radio station, WWJ-AM 950, that it would be difficult if everybody or even many people to own an electric car and charge it when they come home from work.
We can’t have everybody charging their car at the same time. It would cause outages and blackouts of neighborhoods.
He said there wasn’t yet a plan to deal with that. And here’s basically a repeat of that statement in an interview with one of Earley’s subordinates, Haukur “Hawk” Asgeirsson, manager of power systems technologies for DTE Energy:
Recharging a car at 220 volts can be done now in about three hours — maybe less. And five-minute charges are technically possible, at a higher voltage. But such fast charging could be rough on today’s grid.
“If we plug in thousands of cars at times when our circuits are stressed — in the middle of a hot day when the air-conditioning load is great — we’re going to have serious problems,” Asgeirsson said.
“We’re also concerned about bunching in cul-de-sacs and other places where there will be several customers wanting to plug in at the same time,” he said. “If you have six homes all wanting to plug in at once, that’s going to be a shock to that transformer.”
The industry already has a name for fear of being stuck out on the road with an electric car and a dead battery. “We call it ‘range anxiety,'” says Nancy Gioia, Ford’s director of global electrification.
Creating electric vehicle infrastructure will be a bigger challenge than building electric vehicles, Gioia says.
“We have to collaborate at a level that we never have before,” she said. “In an electric world, navigation systems become mandatory. You’ll rely on it to find out where to charge and how long it will take to charge, and to reserve time to charge.
New solutions always come with new problems. And for many things, there is never a complete panacea.
Still, I’d like to get away from oil. And I’m hopeful they can come up with new solutions to the new potential problems.
Would you buy a Chevy Volt? Why or why not? What do you believe is the solution to getting away from our oil and gasoline dependence?
Some other interesting info about the Volt:
* There’s no need to stop and recharge if you travel beyond the 40-mile range of the Volt’s batteries. An onboard generator starts automatically to provide more electricity.
* The Volt’s generator uses a new 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine GM builds in Flint. A turbocharged version of the same engine will help the Chevrolet Cruze get 40 m.p.g. on the highway.
* A safety system makes it impossible to drive off while the Volt is plugged in for charging.
**** UPDATE: Reader Ted writes that these are all scare tactics designed to keep us addicted to oil:
Just reading your item on the electric car. Geez, some of these people really want to preserve the gas and oil consumption. I’ve read an article some time ago that if everybody switched to electric cars, that our current electrical grid could handle 85% of that load.
I think studies have also found that a susbstantial number of trips are well within the range of electric car capabilities.
In terms of overtaxing transformers and such, we already have mechanisms you can attach to your electric meter that shows you energy usage on a real time basis. I expect it could be adapted to interface to an electric charger to regulate the voltage draw of the charger. So, as you move into the evening and early morning hours, the charger could ramp up to full draw.
Sounds like a bunch of ill-informed “chicken littles” when it comes to adopting electric car technologies.
To me, it sounds like a business opportunity and a way to create new business.
And we can stick it to belligerent oil nations and finally be able to tell them where to go…
Amen. I hope you’re right, Ted.
Tags: Anthony Earley, Anthony F. Earley, battery, blackouts, Chevy Volt, cold weather, Detroit Auto Show, Detroit Edison, DTE, DTE Energy, electric car, electric vehicle, energy, General Motors, GM, Haukur "Hawk" Asgeirsson, NAIAS, North American Intertnational Auto Show, outages, power grid, Rob Peterson