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Friday, July 30, 2010

Expensive electric cars

The Chevy volt is going to cost around $41,00 dollars. That puts it out of reach of the average Joe. Good way to make sure the electric car stays a plaything of rich people.

Too bad, really. Make one that goes for $10,000 and you'd have a transportation revolution. Put a solar panel on the roof and really change things.

Am I a dreamer? Of course, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be done. Heck, I could do it. Take any number of good EV conversion kits. The ones that are designed for converting small cars like VW bugs or Geo Metros. Build a light weight but strong frame and chassis. You could use plenty of off the shelf parts. Maybe do some custom fiberglass work. If you didn't have to worry about all the government regulations, it could be built cheap. It probably will be built cheap, but in a country with less stringent laws: India? China? Moldavia? Albania?

Put a good sized solar panel on the roof and it could be self powered. Now I know most electric car guys say that's not a good idea. It isn't for the way most people drive and for the electric cars we have now. A small light weight car would not need as many batteries so it would charge faster. Maybe you don't need to drive 50 miles to work everyday. Maybe what you really need is a once a week trip to the market that's 25 miles away. It could be you need a car for emergency trips to a hospital 50 miles away.

Take the way I live. I don't commute to work. Occasionally I have to go into town. Waiting 3 or 4 days, maybe even a week or more, for the batteries to solar charge is no big deal. I can do my errands when the vehicle is ready. My schedule is flexible. Maybe I will convert a small car or truck and see what happens. I don't even have to go faster than about 45 mph. So what if it takes me an extra 5 or 10 minutes to get to town?

Should I want to go to town more often, the car could be charged from my house's solar electric system, or even from the grid. Going into town more often would be feasible if we charged up there. For example, if my wife wanted to babysit the grandkid, I'm sure my daughter would not mind letting us charge the car at her her place.

There's hope for electric cars, but only if we change our assumptions on what we need a car for. Also, it's going to have to cost a lot less than $41,000



  1. One problem with silicon solar cells is that they don't handle vibration well. This is why you don't find them mounted on electric vehicles as a general rule. Thin film amorphous cells would work, but their other characteristics are poor - lower efficiency, relatively short lifetime and much higher cost. (Example: 1ftx3ft TFA = 0.7A@14.7v or 10W in full sun, costs $170) For this reason I would recommend planning on a greater house solar array in order to charge the vehicle.
    Another factor to consider is battery efficiency and life. Lead-acid batteries are 60% efficient - 6W out for 10W put in, assuming no overcharging and constant conditions. After 500 discharges to 50% charge, even deep cycle golf-cart batteries will only have 50% of their original capacity left. Other battery types are much more expensive and have their own issues, from the memory effect of Ni-Cd to the high self-discharge rate of lithium-ion cells.
    Proper planning and design can deal with this, but facts must be known and taken into consideration.

  2. Sixbears,if people like the druid are right and we are running out of oil,or if it will be priced out of reach of us commoners.Then your kind of thinking is what will save us.Solar,alternative fuels.Much of this is expensive now but as it becomes more common prices will come down.Look at computers and flat screen T.V's.Dreamers are the ones who make progress!


  3. SixBears I agree if they made an electric car for $10-12,000 like they should be priced, they couldn't make them fast enough. Electric cars have a future with at least one in every driveway.

  4. i believe that you hippies should just go back to driving hippie vans, because electric cars will never take off. and yall are wastin yalls time, when yall could be at an orgie