Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. An Unexpected Argument for Electric Cars

 

Leaving all the politics of climate change and all that aside, here is something to take notice of.

An all-electric car that is faster than a Formula 1 car. In certain configurations, it produces more downforce in kilograms than it actually weighs.

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There are 64 comments.

  1. Arahant Member

    Cool. How applicable is it to everyday life?

    • #1
    • January 4, 2020, at 8:54 PM PST
    • 1 like
  2. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    And what’s its range? One, or two laps of the track?

    • #2
    • January 4, 2020, at 9:32 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. The Reticulator Member

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    And what’s its range? One, or two laps of the track?

    It took a few minutes to find it, but the course (Goodwood Hillclimb) is 1.16 miles long, and the 2019 winner (presumably the car shown in this video) won with a time of about 42 seconds. The configuration was optimized just for that race.

    • #3
    • January 4, 2020, at 10:00 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  4. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    One day the electric car will be better than the gasoline powered car. This is not that day, or even decade, but it will happen. Not through government fiat, or the will of Gaia, but because science will discover or engineers will refine that better vehicle.

    I’ll kind of resent it because the cars were cool and the world was new and the highways went on forever and were full of possibility and not more cars than they could manage. And because romance of the road.

    But I’ll trade eventually trade in my Ludditemobile for a half-ton battery with a plastic car wrapped around it.

    • #4
    • January 4, 2020, at 10:37 PM PST
    • 14 likes
  5. Gary McVey Contributor

    A racer once told me that a quarter-miler (a dragster or “Funny car”) was the only car that needed a substantial engine rebuild every 1,320 feet of elapsed “mileage”. 

    The electric car advantage in racing is torque, as in having all of it, just about instantly. (Steam engines share some of those advantages). Torque is what gets the car moving. Pure electrics don’t yet have the range for long road races. Hybrids are doing very well. 

    Gasoline engines have to gear down sharply to get a ton and a half of car in motion. That’s one reason why GM tried an interesting, largely successful experiment with the early Pontiac Tempests, the so-called “rope drive” Tempests. They had the transmission at the differential, for better front/back weight balance (they used the transmission from the rear-engine Chevy Corvair), and the relatively low torque of the gas engine meant the driveshaft (“propshaft” in the UK) could be skinny enough to be bent into a curve, also minimizing the intrusion into the passenger area (the “hump”). 

     

    • #5
    • January 5, 2020, at 12:49 AM PST
    • 15 likes
  6. GrannyDude Member

    I realize that, at the moment, anyone driving an electric car is still using fossil fuels. But electricity can, in theory, be generated in dozens of ways, right? That does seems like a significant advantage. 

    • #6
    • January 5, 2020, at 5:42 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  7. Full Size Tabby Member

    TBA (View Comment):

    One day the electric car will be better than the gasoline powered car. This is not that day, or even decade, but it will happen. Not through government fiat, or the will of Gaia, but because science will discover or engineers will refine that better vehicle.

    I’ll kind of resent it because the cars were cool and the world was new and the highways went on forever and were full of possibility and not more cars than they could manage. And because romance of the road.

    But I’ll trade eventually trade in my Ludditemobile for a half-ton battery with a plastic car wrapped around it.

    “Better” depends on your criteria for “better.” In my estimation, electric cars already are better than gasoline powered cars for certain purposes.

    I previously owned an electric BMW i3 (to borrow from TBA, a battery on an aluminum chassis with a plastic body on top), and loved it for urban and suburban use. The immediate acceleration made it fun to drive around town, the front seat was roomy (no engine block and transmission intruding into the passenger cabin), I had instant heat in the cabin (no waiting for an engine to heat up, I lived in a cold and snowy climate), and its tight turning circle (enabled by the lack of an engine block between the front wheels) made it very maneuverable. We also owned a gasoline powered car for trips.

    I would love to have it now, as most of my driving is short trips around the town to which we recently moved. I miss the acceleration and maneuverability. But, in our new location, we need to have long distance capability for both of our cars now, so I had to swap the electric car for another gasoline powered car. 

    • #7
    • January 5, 2020, at 6:05 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  8. Full Size Tabby Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    And what’s its range? One, or two laps of the track?

    It took a few minutes to find it, but the course (Goodwood Hillclimb) is 1.16 miles long, and the 2019 winner (presumably the car shown in this video) won with a time of about 42 seconds. The configuration was optimized just for that race.

    Many gasoline powered race cars are optimized for particular races (or at least types of races). As noted by @garymcvey , many drag racing cars require an engine rebuild every 1/4 mile. Many other racing cars have engines engineered to last only a bit longer than length of the race.

    Much of the technology in today’s internal combustion engines that allows little 2 liter 4 cylinder engines to power relatively large cars and SUVs at to speeds the public demands was developed in special purpose race cars. I expect the same to happen in electric cars. 

    Electric cars may never completely displace cars powered by gasoline, diesel, or natural gas, but it looks like there’s room to include them in the world fleet mix. 

    • #8
    • January 5, 2020, at 6:16 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce Caward Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    TBA (View Comment):

    One day the electric car will be better than the gasoline powered car. This is not that day, or even decade, but it will happen. Not through government fiat, or the will of Gaia, but because science will discover or engineers will refine that better vehicle.

    I’ll kind of resent it because the cars were cool and the world was new and the highways went on forever and were full of possibility and not more cars than they could manage. And because romance of the road.

    But I’ll trade eventually trade in my Ludditemobile for a half-ton battery with a plastic car wrapped around it.

    And when you and I and everyone eventually does this, I will still be asking the question: Where are we going to get the electricity to charge the batteries?

    • #9
    • January 5, 2020, at 6:28 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. Hugh Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Cool. How applicable is it to everyday life?

    Scare those cyclists!

    • #10
    • January 5, 2020, at 6:31 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    I realize that, at the moment, anyone driving an electric car is still using fossil fuels. But electricity can, in theory, be generated in dozens of ways, right? That does seems like a significant advantage.

    Yeah, but … well … most of them are not economically feasible and they come with trade-offs. Turbines take up a lot of space and eventually they wear out. Nobody has figured out how to recycle the blades. Solar takes up an enormous amount of space and requires a lot of water to keep the collectors clean. The sun doesn’t shine all the time.

    Nukes would be good. Tell that to a hippie. Stand back when you do.

    • #11
    • January 5, 2020, at 6:39 AM PST
    • 15 likes
  12. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Cool. How applicable is it to everyday life?

    How applicable are windshield wipers? A great many of the every day features in modern automobiles came from the track at a time when most people thought they were nonsense. So when they run a 600+BHP car on the edge, they’ll find things out that will help future cars. Luddite.

    • #12
    • January 5, 2020, at 8:04 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. Henry Racette Contributor

    I’m with TBA (#4) on this. I enjoy driving, and I’ll be sorry to see the eventual passing of the gasoline engine. (Well, to be fair, I don’t expect to be around by that time, but the thought still makes me wistful.)

    All-electric vehicles will be practical long before the day when the power-to-weight ratio of batteries approaches that of gasoline — assuming it ever does for batteries that are safe and affordable. I’m sure they’ll be technological marvels, and that the people who drive them will take all the electronics and artificial intelligence and gaudy features for granted. They’ll just work, quietly humming along until they don’t and they get hauled to the shop where some guy with a Ph.D. in EV repair is required to diagnose the problem and identify the part that must be replaced.

    The word “effete” comes to mind. That probably isn’t fair, but there it is: people driving big plastic video games slathered in digital safety stickers, all beeps and hums and touch screens that warn you not to touch them while driving.

    My aging SUV weighs just over three tons, with a miles-per-gallon figure that’s a two digit integer — but barely. Gone are the days when it carried active kids and all their stuff; now it’s usually just me and my laptop bag and coffee cup. It stopped making sense, if it ever did, a couple of years ago. But I like it. I like it a lot. I fully expect to outlive it, and to look for another.

     

     

    • #13
    • January 5, 2020, at 8:06 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  14. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    And what’s its range? One, or two laps of the track?

    It took a few minutes to find it, but the course (Goodwood Hillclimb) is 1.16 miles long, and the 2019 winner (presumably the car shown in this video) won with a time of about 42 seconds. The configuration was optimized just for that race.

    And the Nordschleife is almost 13 miles long. The ID.R did that in just over 6 minutes. The top of that list is the Porsche 919 EVO Hybrid, driven by Timo Bernhard. That car did the lap in 0:5:19.

    • #14
    • January 5, 2020, at 8:08 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  15. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    TBA (View Comment):
    One day the electric car will be better than the gasoline powered car.

    Today the Hybrid is best. Not on the road, mind you. Not yet. But as I’ve been saying: the pinnacle of motorsports, both WEC and Formula 1, have been using hybrid cars reliably for a decade.

    The problem for a lot of folks is they don’t seem to be able to leave the politics out of it. Even though I said at the beginning, forget the politics. But alas, this is Ricochet, and we have to argue about something.

    The fact is, and it is a fact, that someday the car that is only powered by an internal combustion engine will be the exception. There is just too much wasted energy not to reclaim it.

    • #15
    • January 5, 2020, at 8:13 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  16. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):
    Where are we going to get the electricity to charge the batteries?

    This is where politics do come in to play. We need nuclear, and we need it now. Incidentally, I was reading VDH’s assessment of the Iran business. He made the claim in that piece that we (the US) are nearly energy independent. Is that true? Does anyone have any particulars on that?

    • #16
    • January 5, 2020, at 8:30 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  17. cdor Member
    cdor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    TBA (View Comment):

    One day the electric car will be better than the gasoline powered car. This is not that day, or even decade, but it will happen. Not through government fiat, or the will of Gaia, but because science will discover or engineers will refine that better vehicle.

    I’ll kind of resent it because the cars were cool and the world was new and the highways went on forever and were full of possibility and not more cars than they could manage. And because romance of the road.

    But I’ll trade eventually trade in my Ludditemobile for a half-ton battery with a plastic car wrapped around it.

    And I hope one day those batteries can be built with recyclable materials. There seems to be a diverse opinion on that matter currently.

    • #17
    • January 5, 2020, at 8:50 AM PST
    • 1 like
  18. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    The Greens keep on rejecting nuclear energy because their positions are driven by feelings as opposed to facts and science. Give me enough power and I can scrub carbon dioxide from the air and mass-produce fresh water.

    • #18
    • January 5, 2020, at 8:50 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  19. Mark Camp Member

    I wish they’d electrify the roads. Then the batteries in an electric car would be small, light, and cheap instead of big, heavy, and expensive, range would be unlimited instead of limited, and losses due to charge/discharge cycle would be eliminated.

    Maybe the cost of safety and onboard power transfer technology would kill the business case, but I’ve never seen a single article thoroughly addressing those issues; until I do, as an engineer I’m very skeptical.

    I assume power distribution would be under the road surface and integrated with the power rails. If step down transformers were needed to reduce conductive losses, those might be in-line as well, so that only one trench would be needed. I guess the rails (if conduction rather than induction were used for transfer of power to the vehicle) might be exposed (cheaper and less obtrusive than tucking them away in a channel) electrically isolated segments, switched on by solid state power switches or mechanical weight-activated ones, when the vehicle was over or nearly over them. Short enough that an animal or pedestrian who was close enough to step on the part of the rail in front of the car would be killed by being struck anyway.

    Much energy, proportionally, is consumed on higher volume roadways like interstate highways–intercity, airport and other spurs, loops/bypasses, and urban commuter segments. The investment could be focused there, initially, to justify early investment in on-board technology.

    • #19
    • January 5, 2020, at 9:01 AM PST
    • 1 like
  20. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    A racer once told me that a quarter-miler (a dragster or “Funny car”) was the only car that needed a substantial engine rebuild every 1,320 feet of elapsed “mileage”. 

    That quarter-mile is now just 1000 feet. The speeds were too high at 1320 feet. A “car” with 14000 HP can still reach over 300 mph. 

    Some small European countries will go all-electric starting in 2030, but big countries (US, Canada, Australia, Brazil, India, France, Russia,…) will probably take 40 years to cross the 50% mark. 

    • #20
    • January 5, 2020, at 9:16 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  21. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    I enjoy driving, and I’ll be sorry to see the eventual passing of the gasoline engine.

    When Audi released their turbo diesel car, the R15, in 2006, the designer said “Noise is waste. If sound comes out of the muffler, then it isn’t being used to make the car go fast.” That’s a paraphrase, of course. The drivers said that suddenly they could hear road noise, the sound of the air going past their heads (the R15 was the last of Audi’s open cockpit LMP race cars).

    The point? Electric cars can be fun to drive, and your driving pleasure shouldn’t rely on a noisy combustion engine. I mean, the VW ID.R did the Nordscheife in 6 minutes. That’s two miles per minute. An average speed of roughly 120mph. 

    And as someone said above: the torque makes acceleration so much better. In fact, when Audi first fielded their hybrid, the R18 e-tron, it had so much acceleration, the sport banned the use of the electric motor under a certain speed. This is because they (Audi) put the electric motor on the front axle. So it was AWD, basically, and nothing could touch it off the line. So out of a pit stop you’d hear that diesel engine (which did sound cool) at first, then as it reached the proper speed, the electric motor would kick in with a bang and off it would go. Amazing.

    I think the problem is when someone hears electric or hybrid they think Prius. Which is a stupid, ugly car.

    • #21
    • January 5, 2020, at 9:34 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  22. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    I wish they’d electrify the roads. Then the batteries in an electric car would be small, light, and cheap instead of big, heavy, and expensive, range would be unlimited instead of limited, and losses due to charge/discharge cycle would be eliminated.

    Maybe the cost of safety and onboard power transfer technology would kill the business case, but I’ve never seen a single article thoroughly addressing those issues; until I do, as an engineer I’m very skeptical.

    I assume power distribution would be under the road surface and integrated with the power rails. If step down transformers were needed to reduce conductive losses, those might be in-line as well, so that only one trench would be needed. I guess the rails (if conduction rather than induction were used for transfer of power to the vehicle) might be exposed (cheaper and less obtrusive than tucking them away in a channel) electrically isolated segments, switched on by solid state power switches or mechanical weight-activated ones, when the vehicle was over or nearly over them. Short enough that an animal or pedestrian who was close enough to step on the part of the rail in front of the car would be killed by being struck anyway.

    Much energy, proportionally, is consumed on higher volume roadways like interstate highways–intercity, airport and other spurs, loops/bypasses, and urban commuter segments. The investment could be focused there, initially, to justify early investment in on-board technology.

    My company is working on this sort of technology for electric forklifts. The idea is you park the forklift in a spot, and it charges by induction over night. I’m not sure how feasible that is at speed, or to do it over a long distances, with different climates, etc. But hey, you are an engineer. So you know that there is a solution for every problem.

    • #22
    • January 5, 2020, at 9:36 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    I can scrub carbon dioxide from the air and mass-produce fresh water.

    “Like with a cloth?”

    (see what I did there?)

    • #23
    • January 5, 2020, at 9:40 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  24. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    cdor (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    One day the electric car will be better than the gasoline powered car. This is not that day, or even decade, but it will happen. Not through government fiat, or the will of Gaia, but because science will discover or engineers will refine that better vehicle.

    I’ll kind of resent it because the cars were cool and the world was new and the highways went on forever and were full of possibility and not more cars than they could manage. And because romance of the road.

    But I’ll trade eventually trade in my Ludditemobile for a half-ton battery with a plastic car wrapped around it.

    And I hope one day those batteries can be built with recyclable materials. There seems to be a diverse opinion on that matter currently.

    That is a huge problem for non-lead acid batteries. But, the efficiency of lead acid is climbing. I just don’t know if they will ever be right for the application.

    • #24
    • January 5, 2020, at 9:41 AM PST
    • Like
  25. Mark Camp Member

    Spin (View Comment):
    My company is working on this sort of technology for electric forklifts. The idea is you park the forklift in a spot, and it charges by induction over night. I’m not sure how feasible that is at speed, or to do it over a long distances, with different climates, etc. But hey, you are an engineer. So you know that there is a solution for every problem.

    Induction and conduction both work fine at speed. The engineering/cost issues are

    • you need to power the whole length of the roadway, not just one spot
    • if you use conduction, you have to solve the safety problem of exposed high-voltage conductors. I don’t know off-hand how dangerous inductively coupled rails are to humans, less than conductive, to be sure. But they necessarily carry AC, so they are big old antennas, so you might need to switch off unused segments to reduce radiative losses.
    • #25
    • January 5, 2020, at 9:54 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  26. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’ve been smiling as I read all the above comments. I live in a retirement community, and my electric mobility scooter serves very well and with no maintenance issues. Since I gave up my 1992 Miata five years ago, reading about modern autos is like science fiction to me. It’s all a matter of perspective, I think.

    • #26
    • January 5, 2020, at 10:06 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  27. Mark Camp Member

    Spin (View Comment):
    That is a huge problem for non-lead acid batteries. But, the efficiency of lead acid is climbing. I just don’t know if they will ever be right for the application.

    The efficiency of lead acid batteries is irrelevant. They have abysmally low gravimetric energy density today. A pound of gasoline has about 360 times as much energy as a pound of lead acid batteries! A pound of Li-ion batteries has about 5 times as much energy as a pound of lead acid batteries.

    They have higher theoretical potential (bipolar lead batteries could help, in theory), but there hasn’t been much progress in exploiting it.

    • #27
    • January 5, 2020, at 11:05 AM PST
    • Like
  28. JoelB Member

    I wonder if the competitive nature of cordless tool technology will help lead to a transportation application. I really enjoy my cordless string trimmer and will not go back to gas. Granted it only works for about 45 minutes, but by then I’m ready to take a break anyway. :-)

     

    • #28
    • January 5, 2020, at 12:42 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  29. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):
    My company is working on this sort of technology for electric forklifts. The idea is you park the forklift in a spot, and it charges by induction over night. I’m not sure how feasible that is at speed, or to do it over a long distances, with different climates, etc. But hey, you are an engineer. So you know that there is a solution for every problem.

    Induction and conduction both work fine at speed. The engineering/cost issues are

    • you need to power the whole length of the roadway, not just one spot
    • if you use conduction, you have to solve the safety problem of exposed high-voltage conductors. I don’t know off-hand how dangerous inductively coupled rails are to humans, less than conductive, to be sure. But they necessarily carry AC, so they are big old antennas, so you might need to switch off unused segments to reduce radiative losses.

    Again: there is a solution for every problem. I know very little about this sort of technology.

    • #29
    • January 5, 2020, at 12:51 PM PST
    • Like
  30. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    JoelB (View Comment):

    I wonder if the competitive nature of cordless tool technology will help lead to a transportation application. I really enjoy my cordless string trimmer and will not go back to gas. Granted it only works for about 45 minutes, but by then I’m ready to take a break anyway. :-)

     

    Perfect analogy. We also switched to a cordless trimmer that uses the same batteries as my various other cordless tools. Very handy. And 45 minutes is all the time I want to spend trimming. And no mixing gas, no loud noises, etc.

    • #30
    • January 5, 2020, at 12:53 PM PST
    • 1 like