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By a brietzke
#11687
In a previous entry I wrote about a design for a "rubber band car", But after watching the documentery "Who killed the electric car?" (a movie I highly recommend!), I think I have a much more practical idea:

It is currently possible to make an electric car that can run for at least 150 kilometers on a single charge and be recharged at home or anywhere using a standard electrical outlet in as little as a few hours. These EV1 created by GM in the mid 90's were one of a few of these cars made and the vast majority of those who leased them thought they were fantastic. They were affordable, required little servicing, eliminated trips to the gas station, and had more then enough range for average daily commuting needs. The batteries they used were good for that era, but battery technology has improved significantly since then.

GM (as well as Ford, Toyota, and Honda) did everything they could to sabotage their own product for various reasons, including obvious pressure from oil companies. Their official reason was that consumers would not accept the limited range and length of charge time, despite the fact that users of the cars had no problem with these limitations.

I believe that these limitations could be overcome with one added feature - a gas or diesel generator trailer that would plug directly into the car. This product could be purchased with the electric car or seperately if the user wanted it. For the majority of the time the trailer could be parked in the driveway or garage while the driver used only electicity for the majority of their commuting, but if they wanted to take a longer trip they would simply attach the trailer, start the generator, and drive as far as they wanted, stopping at gas stations to refill.

The trailer would'nt need to be very big, somewhere between a motorcycle trailer and a tent trailer. The trailer itself would also be useful in that it would be a portable gas generator like any other, handy for power outages, camping, etc.

Hydrogen is never going to be practical or affordable for cars or small trucks, and the car and oil companies know it. They are simply using the promise of hydrogen to stall for time. Battery technology will continue to improve, but in the mean time I think this would be a marketable alternative.

Reward: A free set of solar panels and a windmill so I can drive the electric car I'll eventually have for free!
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By Michael D. Grissom
#11952
"Hydrogen is never going to be practical or affordable for cars or small trucks, and the car and oil companies know it. They are simply using the promise of hydrogen to stall for time."

Why do you say that hydrogen is never going to be practical? I think just the opposite and the internet is buzzing with new breakthroughs on faster cheaper ways of 'cracking' the water.

As for the generator trailer idea, those are already made and would be easy to connect it to an electric car but not many people would be willing to pull and/or store this trailer when Hybrids are basically the same thing without the trailer. The advantage to your idea is that there would be more space in the car for more battery. The problem with that is that when 'payback time' comes (replacing those huge batteries) you find that your savings really weren't all that much when combined with how much it cost in electricity to keep them charged for those 3 to 5 years of life.

Call and ask Honda how much a new set of batteries are for their hybrid and then double or triple that for an all electric car. Convert that battery money AND the kwh total charging power into gallons of gas that you would have used in an all gasoline car that gets say 50 mpg. and then it becomes apparent that electric cars still need a much better battery to attract consumers.

Google "super capacitors" using the quotes and you'll find one of the things I've been watching as an almost instant charging replacement for batteries. The problem is that in a collision they would be capable of releasing all of that stored energy just as instantly. Fully charged, one of these could kill a lot of bystanders.

I saw "Who killed the electric car?" and I also highly recommend it even though I think they intentionally left out a lot of the 'cons' of electric cars.
By a brietzke
#11972
I agree that hydrogen could eventually be useful in larger vehicles like buses, trucks, and even for back up home generators, but for smaller vehicles I simply don't think they'll be practical. Even if the cost came down (way down) ,no one will buy one unless there is an abundance of hydrogen service stations already in place, and no one will build these stations until the cars are on the road. I could see a small network of stations in say, 10 to 15 years for buses and trucks, but by that time battery and/or supercapacitors will likely be so greatly advanced that the idea of a hydrogen commuter car (or a generator trailer for that matter) will seem pointless. As far as battery life goes, I guess it depends on what source you believe. When I googled "hybrid myths" I found a few sites that say batteries in hybrid cars are usually warranteed for up to 160 K, but they are actually supposed to last for the life of the vehicle. Since writing this original post, GM has introduced it's "Volt" concept car, a plug in hybrid that they supposedly plan to put on the road as early as 2010. If they are actually serious about this and other car makers follow (assuming the lithium battery technology progresses and the cars really are competitevly priced) , then the electric engine should become dominant in as little as a decade.
By Rishi
#11990
Michael D. Grissom wrote:"


Call and ask Honda how much a new set of batteries are for their hybrid and then double or triple that for an all electric car. Convert that battery money AND the kwh total charging power into gallons of gas that you would have used in an all gasoline car that gets say 50 mpg. and then it becomes apparent that electric cars still need a much better battery to attract consumers.



There is an electric car Reva, which is made in Bangalore. Sells for about USD8000 (Including federal subsidy). Range 100 KM/Charge. Battery replacement cost is about USD 800. Lot of plastic composites, regenerative braking, two seater. Looks rather like an ant with the abdomen cut off.

There are quite a few on the road. With the very slow (bumper to bumper) speed possible in the city, the low top speed and slow pick up do not matter. I understand that a fuel cell version is almost market ready.

rishi
By cowtoy
#13326
All of this sounds great but, the production of hydrogen requires electricity, so do electric cars. The production of electricity creates pollution save solar and wind. if everyone were to right now trade their cars for electric, the only thing that would change is instead of having so much pollution build up spread around by cars, you would have huge concentrations around power plants.
By Rishi
#13331
cowtoy wrote:All of this sounds great but, the production of hydrogen requires electricity, so do electric cars. The production of electricity creates pollution save solar and wind. if everyone were to right now trade their cars for electric, the only thing that would change is instead of having so much pollution build up spread around by cars, you would have huge concentrations around power plants.


Quite right. A fuel cell however, converts other fuel into electricity as a primary cell. This will have a lot less pollution.
rishi
By cwarren
#19418
Your idea is genius! I thought it was my idea but you posted it long before I though of it. Most of the responses are pooh-poohing your observations on Hydrogen. The real guts of your idea is the trailer that solves the occasional need for electric vehicle extended range. Hybrid cars must haul around there range extenders all the time, by separating the two your also separate the soul of he vehicle. All-electric vehicles will be eligible for all kinds of tax credits, the trailer on the other hand will not be subject to vehicle emissions standards. As your electric vehicle batteries age you can trade in for a new vehicle and still use your trailer for the occasional long trip. One trailer could support multiple electric cars, (popular rental item). U-haul could bring a trailer to juiced out electric cars to get them home or on there way.
I would like to see a variety of trailers and power plants. My preference would be a CNG powered trailer that I could recharge by hooking up to my gas line at home. Ultra quiet generators could recharge batteries while the vehicle was parked and shut down automatically. The trailers could be multipurpose, pop-up camper, pickup bed, all would act as a wilderness power source and home generator during power outages.
This idea would seem to be the logical way to save jobs in the RV industry which has been decimated by the economic recession.
By hdsims
#22498
It seems the hydrogen powered vehicle remain unheard unlike the popularity of today's electric car. The power plants of such vehicles convert the chemical energy of hydrogen to mechanical energy either by burning hydrogen in an internal combustion engine, or by reacting hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell to run electric motors. Widespread use of hydrogen for fueling transportation is a key element of a proposed hydrogen economy. One of vehicle who uses such technology is the Honda FCX Clarity, a hydrogen fuel cell demonstration vehicle introduced in 2008.

Well, for the hybrid trailer car, it will be difficult but i do believe it still possible.
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