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WHEN I STARTED SIMANAITISSAYS more than a decade ago (its longevity, quite amazing!), I figured a lot of it would reflect my 33+ years at R&T. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize I enjoyed researching and writing about more than just cars; to wit, books old and new, opera and other culture, travel old and recent, Sherlock Holmes and other sleuthing, and any stuff that tickled my interest—and I hope that of my readers.
Nevertheless, I return from my now traditional Holiday Hiatus with an automotive item: Everyone and their dog are hyping battery electric vehicles, but why not hybrids?
I’ve been reading my weekly Automotive News and monthly SAE Automotive Engineering and find I’m not the only one asking. Here in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow are tidbits about this.
EV Efficiency. It’s easy to see the attraction of pure EVs. Automotive News, December 12, 2022, exhibited a most telling comparison of electric versus ice (internal combustion engine) propulsion.
I might quibble with some of the values. For instance, EVs would seem to have drivetrain losses as well. But the key ice 70-percent hit versus EV’s 18 percent is formidable.
ICE Locality. Infrastructure, of course, favors the status quo. I can refuel my conventional car at a multitude of gas stations seemingly at every corner and around the country.
Sure, we all have electricity at home. But many of our homes aren’t equipped for adequate EV replenishment. And a goodly number of us live in complexes sans handy plug-in capabilities.
Plus, even the best of EVs fail to have the range of average ice counterparts.
J.D. Power EV Index. Hans Greimel says “EVs Near Gas Cars on Cost, But That Clears Just 1 Hurdle,” Automotive News, December 18, 2022. In discussing the other hurdles, he cites J.D. Power, the highly respected auto consultancy, which has recently launched an EV Index assessing customer views on this matter.
Greimel writes, “But wide gaps in four of the six categories measured — including charging infrastructure and consumer interest in EVs — show there is still a long way to go before the two forms of propulsion are on equal footing.”
Infrastructure—a Complex Matter. Even in built-up areas, readily available charging stations aren’t as slam-dunk-reliable as gas stations. Greimel reports, “J.D. Power says more than 20 percent of EV drivers have been unable to use a public charger because of poor maintenance, software glitches or equipment damage.”
Based on my one-person ice-propelled observations, other public chargers are already in use as I blithely motor by.
Time for Fillup? Greimel notes, “The California Energy Commission last week approved a $2.9 billion investment plan to accelerate the state’s 2025 EV charging and hydrogen refueling goals. The investment will fund 90,000 new chargers across the state.”
“Meanwhile,” he continues, “at the federal level, last year’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill provides $5 billion to help states install chargers along interstate highways over five years. In September, the U.S. Transportation Department approved the charging station plans for all 50 states; Washington, D.C.; and Puerto Rico, covering about 75,000 miles of highways.”
Again, confessing to be something of a Luddite, I find the prospect of an interstate highway trip interrupted by a time-consuming recharge as ludicrous. The whole point of an interstate drive is to get there quickly.
What About Ultrafast Charging? Oren Ezer, CEO of Electreon, a wireless technology firm, writes in Automotive News, November 28, 2022, “Ultrafast Charging Could be a ‘Problem in Disguise.’ ” He notes that commercial recharging at high power levels (far exceeding 150 kilowatts) have major drawbacks including “increased costs and emissions, faster battery degradation, and additional pressure on an already overworked electric grid.”
No surprise, Ezer proposes an enroute wireless recharging for commercial operations: “While ultrarapid charging may have an important role to play in reducing range anxiety and supporting consumer EV adoption, for fleet operators the answer could lie in a more practical, lower-powered and sustainable solution…..”
I’d wonder whether consumers would accept faster battery degradation once experienced. There is no ice equivalent.
Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll see a pitch for a concept already proven. Ask any Toyota Prius driver. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2023