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What do you think, can I buy a plug-in electric car in 5 years?


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#1 of 60 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted October 05 2008 - 01:52 PM

I happened to catch 60 Minutes tonight, with an interesting story on the new and upcoming electric cars, like the Chevy Volt and Tesla's Roadster. The Atlantic Monthly has an interesting article on the Volt earlier this year. And Newsweek had an article this month on the state of the foreign competition for all-electric and plug-in hybrids.

My car is 5 years old, so will be due for replacement in 3 to 5 years. Prognosticating, it seems a plug-in electric / hybrid will be a good choice then.

Do you think it will happen? Will we really have sub $30k electric cars in five years?

#2 of 60 OFFLINE   Francois Caron

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Posted October 05 2008 - 02:53 PM

You don't have to wait. Existing hybrids can already be retrofitted as plug-in electric hybrids by some specialty shops. Not only do they add a plug to your car, they also replace the existing battery with a higher capacity model which will ensure you'll do the most mileage possible before the gas engine kicks in.

BTW, the Tesla Roadster is not a hybrid. It's a pure electric car with a rated range of 250 miles and a 0-60 time of under 4 seconds. The Tesla Corporation is also developing an all-electric sedan for the mass market.

The British television show Top Gear did a little fuel economy experiment on their test track. They drove a Toyota Prius flat out while an eight cylinder BMW M3 followed closely behind.



#3 of 60 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted October 05 2008 - 03:08 PM

I drove my last car for 13 years (before picking up a new one last year). In fact, I still have my old car, and it still runs well for short trips and errands. Hope you have at least 7-8 years left in your current vehicle.
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#4 of 60 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted October 06 2008 - 03:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Francois Caron
You don't have to wait. Existing hybrids can already be retrofitted as plug-in electric hybrids by some specialty shops.
I just learned that you can convert a Prius to plug-in for $5000. But I'm looking towards manufacturer warrantied, showroom-floor plug-in / hybrids.

Quote:
Originally Posted by -Patrick Sun
I drove my last car for 13 years (before picking up a new one last year).
That may come to be. But just because I can drive it 13 years doesn't mean I want to. Posted Image And if gas prices continue to increase it will make eventually make financial sense to replace my V6 with something more economical.

#5 of 60 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted October 06 2008 - 03:44 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveF
I just learned that you can convert a Prius to plug-in for $5000. But I'm looking towards manufacturer warrantied, showroom-floor plug-in / hybrids.
The plug-in-hybrid coversions are in no way comparable to true electric vehicles like the Volt. All current hybrids have both the electric and the gas motor connected to the drivetrain. The Volt is an "extended range electric car". The gasoline engine drives a generator only, the drivewheels are running 100% on electric motors. I don't know how the Volt will fare when the A/C or heat is engaged; climate control seems to be the biggest bugaboo for electric vehicles.

Yes, you will be able to buy an electric car with aux gasoline power like the Volt when you buy your next car, IMO. I'm hoping to get at least 5 more years out of my 5 year old (very well cared for) car, then go electric after that.
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#6 of 60 OFFLINE   Garrett Lundy

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Posted October 06 2008 - 08:26 AM

Now what if they had a hybrid car that ran off an electric motor and a stack of batteries, but used a 25cc gasoline engine just to charge the battery pack?

Makes sense to me.

PS: Nevermind, guess thats what the Volt® does.
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#7 of 60 OFFLINE   BrianW

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Posted October 06 2008 - 09:42 AM

Quote:
Do you think it will happen? Will we really have sub $30k electric cars in five years?
I think so. And I really hope so.

If GM's Volt actually goes into production, GM will be, for the first time in decades, the leader in automotive technology and not playing catch-up. Honda has expressed a disdain for PHEVs, and Toyota, though researching the field, is in no hurry to get one into production.

I agree with the sentiment that converting one of today's hybrids to plug-in won't give the same driving satisfaction as a serial hybrid like the Volt. The idea of a PHEV is to have the first few miles after charging to be all electric. But the Prius's electric motor is intended for low-speed solo operation, or to assist the gasoline engine during acceleration. Asking it to exclusively fulfill the driving demands of the first forty miles after charging is asking too much of such a small motor.

In a serial hybrid, the gasoline engine will have to produce about 50 KW to keep the batteries charged while driving on the highway. That's not a tiny engine, though I expect GM to have an expert understanding of this field and bring an efficient solution to market.

Even so, I'd prefer to wait for all-electric vehicles to come to market and do away with the gasoline engine entirely.

But why wait? I've been driving the same car for 20 years, and I'm seriously thinking about converting it to all-electric. It would be cheaper than buying one when they come out, and I wouldn't have to wait three to five years. And after it's converted, I get to drive the same car for another twenty years.

Wait a sec... Is that a good thing?
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#8 of 60 OFFLINE   KurtEP

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Posted October 06 2008 - 10:21 AM

Based on the brown outs I used to suffer living in Ohio during the summer when everyone was running their AC, I doubt we have the electronic infrastructure to handle widespread use of electronic cars. Of course, where I live now, they generate electicity using oil, so it's probably damned if you do, damned if you don't...
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#9 of 60 OFFLINE   Ken Chan

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Posted October 06 2008 - 10:41 AM

Quote:
The British television show Top Gear did a little fuel economy experiment on their test track. They drove a Toyota Prius flat out while an eight cylinder BMW M3 followed closely behind.
Because flat out is how most people drive all the time Posted Image

#10 of 60 OFFLINE   Francois Caron

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Posted October 06 2008 - 01:27 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by KurtEP
Based on the brown outs I used to suffer living in Ohio during the summer when everyone was running their AC, I doubt we have the electronic infrastructure to handle widespread use of electronic cars. Of course, where I live now, they generate electicity using oil, so it's probably damned if you do, damned if you don't...
Use the car as a full-house UPS. No more brownouts! Posted Image

#11 of 60 OFFLINE   Henry Gale

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Posted October 06 2008 - 01:51 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Francois Caron
Top Gear ... drove a Toyota Prius flat out while an eight cylinder BMW M3 followed closely behind.

Funny, with all that time for laughs no one mentioned that a Prius "flat out" is about 105 MPH.

They didn't seem to be doing 105, now did they?

If I'm gentle on the accelerator and don't go over 55, I can get 50+ MPG in my Prius.
Will that work with the BMW?
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#12 of 60 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted October 06 2008 - 02:22 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry Gale
If I'm gentle on the accelerator and don't go over 55, I can get 50+ MPG in my Prius.
What type of driving is that? Urban, highway, mix? What's disappointed me about the current "economy" cars is that their mileage isn't that much better than my V6 Accord. 50mpg (double what I get in mixed driving) is where I start to get interested. I'm hoping for my next car to have at least 2x my current mileage, if not more.

#13 of 60 OFFLINE   gene c

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Posted October 06 2008 - 03:30 PM

Most people I've talked to who have a Prius (there are quite a few of them out here) say 40-45 mpg average in everyday type driving. Some as low as 30-35. Big variation. You know, "your mileage may vary". Still better than my 23 mpg Nissan Hardbody.
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#14 of 60 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted October 07 2008 - 12:30 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianW
If GM's Volt actually goes into production, GM will be, for the first time in decades, the leader in automotive technology and not playing catch-up.
Exactly. They will be able to use the advantage they gained through the EV-1 experiment.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianW
That's not a tiny engine, though I expect GM to have an expert understanding of this field and bring an efficient solution to market.
There's no doubt that GM is far ahead of all other car companies in this field. They have actually manufactured and distributed an electric car already! The lessons learned from the EV-1 experiment are being filtered into the Volt. My prediction: $5/gallon gas will make the Volt a very hot seller, even at the $40K+ price tag it will command. They won't be able to make them fast enough.
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#15 of 60 OFFLINE   drobbins

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Posted October 07 2008 - 01:20 AM

Is the Volt going to be $40K? They will have to be MUCH cheaper than that before I jump in. Believe me I want a electric or hybrid being as I drive 500 miles per week. But do the math. Currently I drive a 2004 GrandAm. I bought it from my Mother-In-Law because it had very low miles and my teens are too big to climb in and out of the back of my 2 door Escort. The GrandAm gets about 28mpg and our Altima does also. These cars can be bought with very low miles for around $20K or less. So $40k - $20K = $20k. $20k / $5.00 per gallon = 4,000 gallons. 4,000 X 28mpg = 112,000 miles. So I don't even reach the break even point until about 5 years of driving.

#16 of 60 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted October 07 2008 - 01:31 AM

I think I saw the same interview with Bob Lutz on CBS this past sunday while I was waiting for The Amazing Race to come on. Lutz mentioned he was aiming for around $20k for the Volt but after realizing that batteries are not cheap and neither is R&D, he mentioned the $40k pricepoint.

I dunno, I would find it extremely difficult to buy anything from a company who brought us those ugly Hummer fiascos.

As far as mileage goes, my MR2 gets about 36mpg highway even when I'm driving around 75mph at about 3800 rpm (5spd).

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#17 of 60 OFFLINE   Steve_Tk

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Posted October 07 2008 - 01:36 AM

The GM pres said that at first they wanted it to be around 20k, then around 30k, and it slowly has crept up to 40k. He says the big hurdle right now is the software in the car. They said they want the car to know how much more driving you plan to do before you get home. They said they want it to adapt if you plan on driving to the store from work in the afternoon instead of going straight home. He said they plan on taking a loss on all the new vehicles because 40k would be way too much, but plan on taking the loss in the short term in order to make money in the long term.

#18 of 60 OFFLINE   BrianW

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Posted October 07 2008 - 01:37 AM

Whatever price the Volt happens to be, deduct $7500, thanks to new federal incentives. Would you pay $33,000 for a Volt?
-Brian
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#19 of 60 OFFLINE   Hugh Jackes

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Posted October 07 2008 - 01:42 AM

Read recently that one glitch to the Volt, and its aim to help reduce energy dependence is the battery. Made in China or Japan (depending on which one Chevy finally goes with).

Also, a consideration, the cost of changing the battery in 8-10 years (I keep a car that long), expected to be huge.

Lastly, the excess cost of the vehicle (over a similar all-gas vehicle) means that you've got to drive it 100k miles or more before it makes economic sense. (Though much of the allure of the Prius and Volt has little to do with economics.)
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#20 of 60 OFFLINE   Steve_Tk

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Posted October 07 2008 - 01:43 AM

I'm not jumping at any new technology. It's just like anything, if you want it new, you pay the price. The volt is going to be released in two years, hopefully in five years there will be more options and better prices.


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