Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Cheap electric cars from China

Imagine the following scenario. Oil prices suddenly jump to $150 a barrel because of fighting in the Middle East. Gasoline prices head toward $5 a gallon. Your "typical American car" is getting 25 miles per gallon, and gasoline costs are starting to eat you alive because you commute 30 miles each way to work every day. What are you going to do?

What if you could go down to Wal-Mart and buy an electric car made in China for $4,000?

The car will be on the small side, obviously. That will be one thing that keeps the cost down. It might have a range of 125 miles. You would not use this car to drive 1,000 miles for a family vacation in Florida. You would use it for all of your day-to-day driving, and you would plug it in every night just like you do with your cell phone.

The small size would also mean that it is efficient. It might use 150 watt-hours of electricity per mile. If electricity is costing 20 cents per kilowatt-hour, then you will be spending only 3 cents a mile on electricity (compared to 20 cents a mile for gasoline).

Here are some of the articles that point in this direction:See also this post on peak oil.

Comments:
I have no idea why you aren't a cultural phenom, Marshall, but once again you never cease to amaze me.

As I posted once before, I've been contemplating electric, self-driving cars for years now, and so it's great to see Mr. Futurist himself proposing that similar ideas may take off in the very near future.
 
What I would like to see is more employer acceptance of work-at-home employees. With todays networking technologies, it is very easy to participate in a virutal office environment, and save the cost of commuting 30 miles to work entirely. Obviously, this does not address those that have jobs that do not involve an office environment, so it would not fix everything. But it could help some.
 
I can see this working in some places, but most places simply don't have a powerful enough grid for this to work on a very large scale today. Didn't we discuss this before?
Obviously, plug-in cars and wind power or nuclear are a perfect combo. Use the cheap power from when the network is over capacity.
 
What happened to this blog?

This op-ed is interesting.
 
This post really tells it like it is: the technology to prevent peak oil doomsday scenario's is already here.

Assuming this as a hard fact, it is easy to see why Marshall thinks people will simply 'look for cheaper alternatives as soon as oil hits 100$'.

The change will indeed by gradual.


Once we've reached a point where it's clear that the sky isn't going to come down, I'm gonna look me up a peak oil scaremongerer, and make him apologize for taking part in actively perpetuating America's fear based culture. ;)
 
OK, I'm a middle-of-the-road guy on this, I believe neither in the "non-event" nor in the "die-off." I think we will have economic displacement of some degree or another (maybe something a little worse than the 70's recessions). We will probably adjust to a new way of life. That way of life will probably be similar to the one Europeans already enjoy.

That said, I think the "don't worry" crowd scare me as much as the "die-off" guys. We will only solve these problems if we address them, and the don't worry you can drive your SUV while we develop a Hydrogen Highway nonsense could hurt us as badly as any panic.
 
Well said odograph ...
 
Odograph,

What do you mean by the life Europeans already enjoy?

Furthermore, I suppose everything is relative...

A "non-event" person might be a person that does not have anything to do *directly* with matters such as oil, thinking of ways to stay clear from doomsday, coming up with alternative energysources, etc. A "doomsday" person might be somebody who's got his nose pressed up against the window looking out on previously summed up stuff.

While the doomsday people may be completely off, they are doing a nice job of informing the world. Here in Holland the government is already talking about switching back to coals to spare oil. We've also got 10% renewables planned in 2010.

Since the renewables doubled recently in a very short timeframe, and with great popularity, I don't think I need to be worried about anything. Then again, I'm a computer scientist, and nothing I do is directly related to oil.

But who do you think has set up all this stuff? Right... that would be the guy who was worried about it.
 
Re. Euorpeans and Happiness

I've heard that you guys (in general) score higher than we do in tests/surveys of personal happiness. At the same time, people here say they need their SUVs to be happy. I've always thought this represented a disconnect.

I went looking recently, for a good link to those surveys, and found only this bbc story. The interesting thing there is that energy-rich societies do not score the highest, indeed:

"The researchers for World Values Survey described the desire for material goods as 'a happiness suppressant'.

They say happiness levels have remained virtually the same in industrialised countries since World War II, although incomes have risen considerably.

The exception is Denmark, where people have become more satisfied with life over the last "

... anyway, as you read this remember that the average US citizen might consume twice the energy you do, right now.

Here is a story on that:

"Europe as a whole, about 6000 watts per capita. Developing nations use substantially less -- the average for Africa as a whole is about 500 watts per capita. The US, conversely, runs about 12,000 watts per person."

Ask yourself are you (6000 watts) only half as happy as I (12000 watts) am?
 
>but most places
>simply don't have
>a powerful enough
>grid for this to
>work on a very
>large scale today.

This article shows one place where the electricity could come from.
 
I'd like to buy a plug in electric car. The GM EV1 would be a no brainer for me, but they refuse to sell them and are now crushing them EV1

I'm surprised that Mr. Brain is not a celeb. But then again I find my friends (educated, professional, some wealthy) don't care about anything except next weekend, their SUV and Survivor.

Yes, what happened to the CW blog? I guess getting extremely rich at the expense of others is the new American Way and therefore nobody cares?

Drew
 
I think this is funny. These cars are comming from China...this is the last place we should be purchasing our next main method of transportation from. China grew at 8% last year. The world average was somewhere in the low 3's. They are set to overcome the US in oil consumption within a decade.

Of course, it won't be too long before American car companies copy the idea, I hope.

I think the peak oil doomsdayers, and I think I am one, are looking at 50 years into the future, not 5-10. Of course there will be supplies in 5 years, thinking otherwise would just be silly. But it will be a gradual decline, not a fast drop of the bell curve.

Also, has anyone looked at the Jevons Paradox? It basically states, "as technological improvements increase the efficiency with which a resource is used, total consumption of that resource may increase, rather than decrease."

By becomming more efficient, you speed up the rate at which you use the resoure. For me to grasp this concept I had to think in parallel, not serially. A savings of energy in one system can be used in another system, but in parallel so that both the original energy and the "saved" energy are being used at the same time. Interesting thought experiment...

I think I will live in a very interesting time in a few decades. Maybe even experience a neo-renaissance.
 
I don't know erik, some sources go for pretty fast schedules of depletion:

"According to sources, Bilderbergers estimate the extractable world’s oil supply to be at a maximum of 35 years under current economic development and population. However, one of the representatives of an oil cartel remarked that we must factor into the equation, both the population explosion and economic growth and demand for oil in China and India. Under the revised conditions, there is apparently only enough oil to last for 20 years."

- more here

I'm not sure how good that Bilderberger report is, but if that is what leaders are really telling themselves ... oil for 20 years isn't good!
 
Odograph,

For every source saying that we're up shit creek, there's a source explaining why nothing will go wrong.

Wells that have supposedly run dry have started giving 8 times as much oil as before.

Peak oilers claim that oil does not refill and that we're running out in 5 years. If it does refill (and it really looks like that), it's safe to assume we have at least 2 to 3 decades worth of the stuff left.

This would be more than enough. We can easily reduce the oil dependancy by a great percentage in that time. Nanotech will likely revolutionize renewables.
 
Jaytje, I think both ends of the discussion (nothing, chaos) forget simple facts.

A simple fact to deflate the "nothing" is the pain and economic displacement we had in the 70's fuel shocks.

A simple fact to deflate the "chaos" is that we have so much coal.

.. as I've said, I think we will have someting in the middle ..
 
Odograph,

I agree about deflating the chaos scenario, but not the nothing scenario.

You see, the crisis in the 70's was completely artificial: somebody decided to close the oil valves.

Nothing like that is going on now.


Anyway, I wanted to post something in addendum to my talks about refilling fields in my previous post. You can find some stuff about refilling fields here:

http://peakoiloptimist.blogspot.com/
 
The problem with cheap electric cars is probably that Detroit(/Stuttgart) can't figure out how to build piles of cheap cars that will cannibalize their existing business AND still pay the salaries and health benefits that they've promised to

a.  the workers they're contracted never to downsize, and
b.  the retirees who get generous health benefits outside their pensions.

If you wanted cheap transport, it probably isn't difficult or expensive to put a bunch of lead-acid batteries inside a rail, put wheels at either end and a bullet shell around it and call it a recumbent electric motorcycle.  The coefficient of drag of those shapes is amazingly small and a one- or two-person shell doesn't have to either weigh or cost much; should get plenty of range at good speed and still be inexpensive.

But like I said, the people with the money to put into vehicles like that have a strong interest in them not going to market.  This probably spells the end of the current crop of companies; for examples of this happening in other industries, read "The Innovator's Dilemma" by Clayton M. Cristensen.
 
I agree with the opportunity for cars ... designed by Dick Rutan, as it were.

But right now we have dueling mileage and safety standards. We want small cars - that can also be hit by a Hummer and survive.

If gas goes to $7 that second demand may fade ...
 
If gas goes to $7/gallon, the Hummer is going to cost ~63¢/mile to drive.  Aside from a few rich assholes, nobody will be driving them.
 
You mean "when" gas gets to $7 a gallon.

I say by 2010, it will be over $7 a gallon. That's about 54 months. The nice thing about the internet is if google or the wayback machine caches this page, I can do a search, come back and see if I was right or not.
 
It may never get to $7/gallon.  If demand destruction and substitution happens fast enough in the $3-5/gallon range, we might not see spikes that high.

I wouldn't put money on it, though.
 
Why assume it'll be China that makes the first cheap electric car?

India has made one already in production for $5300

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1370848.stm

France has made a concept one that interestingly uses compressed air as the power storage method and has a top speed of 65 mph and a range of around 124 miles

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2281011.stm
 
There is one problem with that senario, if there was such a significant increase in oil prices then there would certainly be a significant increase in the cost of electricity. Althought an electric car would still prove more efficient I am sure the margin would not be as large.
 
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Go back to school, asshat, and while you're at it stop spreading right-wing non-science around the internet.
 
Well, for now, I might go with electric cars but not from china... :)
 
I don`t have to imagine that szenario...
Diesel costs around 1.20€/liter...If I am not wrong a gallon is about 3.79 liter. Gas is around 1,50€/l.

Electric cars are the future.

http://www.lightningcarcompany.com/
 
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