Doesn't a fully electric car end up costing you more?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by waloshin, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. waloshin macrumors 68040

    waloshin

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    #1
    Example Nissan Leaf uses 3300 watts an hour and within 20 hours is fully charged which will let the car run 160 kilometers.

    So if you do the math isn't that ridiculously expensive as the average cost per 1000 watts an hur is 0.10.

    Unless your running your house from solar power or wind power it seems this car would cost more money over 10 years then would a Honda Civic, or Honda Fit.
     
  2. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #2
    Let's look at recharging, since that's the electricity you're paying for.

    At 120V/12A, a full recharge takes 20 hours - there are some losses associated with this, typically on the order of 5-10%, but I won't count them here. The total power here is 1,440 W, over 20 hours that's 28.8 kWh.

    At $0.10 per kWh (a completely reasonable value for most of the U.S.), that costs $2.88, or roughly the cost of about 1.2 gallons of gas in my part of the country.

    Let's compare this to actual usage - the Nissan Leaf Wikipedia page says a full charge will get you 70 miles at "highway" speeds (actually 55 mph) with the A/C going (real world conditions). To do that on 1.2 gallons of gasoline in just about any car would be an impressive feat.

    So, if you're in the market for a very small car that doesn't go very fast or very far, and you don't plan on keeping it long enough to replace the batteries ($18,000?!?), then yes, your per-mile cost for energy is less than that of a gasoline-driven car.
     
  3. Illuminated macrumors 6502a

    Illuminated

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    #3
    It's not really about cost...it's about how much cleaner it is and better it is for the enviornment....
     
  4. Mr Kram macrumors 68000

    Mr Kram

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    #4
    bingo.
     
  5. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    #5
    BUT...that electricity 95% of the time is created by burning fossil fuels.
     
  6. Mr Kram macrumors 68000

    Mr Kram

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    #6
    still less than directly burning gas or diesel.
     
  7. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    #7
    Overall, is it better for the environment? The batteries of those cars are made up of some pretty toxic materials. How are they going to be disposed of?
     
  8. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #8
    Is it?
     
  9. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    #9
    Well thank God for that! Show me the way to my prius and my obama sticker.
     
  10. R94N macrumors 68020

    R94N

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    #10
    This is still early technology, I suppose. Maybe that's why there's all these problems. We still don't have much electricity generated from renewable sources either - other countries in Europe are far ahead of us although we are building some.
     
  11. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

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    #11
    No, for most people, it is about price. While many people may be concerned about how much cleaner it is, reality says price is the big concern.

    Again, price plays a big part. The Nissan Versa hatchback, for example, is rated at 28/34 MPG. So, figure about 2 gallons to go that same 70 miles. Not quite 1.2, but still pretty good. Here's the kicker: I speced out a Versa hatchback with decent options (automatic, cruise, power locks/windows, remote keyless entry) for about $16k. The Nissan Leaf starts at over $32k. The home charging dock is another $2k. That extra $18k will buy a lot of gas.
     
  12. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #12
    Another thing about electric cars is they are more designed for getting around the city. They will still pull 60 miles in the city. My car I can pull 28 mpg Highway (75mph AC on) but in the city driving I have been doing lately 21-22 mpg is what I am getting. Leaf would be really cheap because I would be buy 3 gallons of gas for the same range for my little sentra.
     
  13. r1ch4rd macrumors 6502a

    r1ch4rd

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    #13
    Before I start, these are using MPG figures from the UK (these will be generally higher than the US as a gallon is bigger here and we use a different method).

    I have recently been very impressed by moving from a petrol to a diesel engine. I went from running a 1.2litre VW Polo to a 2.0litre Audi A3 TDI. There is a massive leap in performance, but also a small gain in economy. If I had moved from a similarly powered petrol engine, I think the cost difference would be even more pronounced.

    I was never able to accurately measure my fuel consumption in my more basic Polo (no computer), but the ideal figures quoted by VW are 35.8mpg urban, 58.9mpg extra urban and 47.1mpg combined.

    For the Audi the figures quoted are 38.7mpg urban, 61.4mpg extra urban and 50.4mpg combined. I am now able to see what I am actually achieving through the trip computer and it seems that in urban conditions I am able to beat the quoted figures at around 40mpg and I can hit 55mpg on the motorway at 80mph with the climate control on.

    Driving a diesel is a bit different. The power delivery isn't the same (terrible off the line but brilliant in-gear acceleration) but after a few weeks, I definitely prefer it. When the turbo kicks in it can really fly!

    Anyway, I would definitely advise looking into a diesel engine for those looking to save a bit of money without having to make anywhere near the compromise required to take on an all-electric vehicle.
     
  14. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #14
    Economical gasoline and diesel cars are still considerably more cost-effective than electrics or hybrids. Until the latter can compete on price with the former, or at least come close (maybe with in 10%-15% of the price), I don't think people will be buying them in droves.

    The quest for an affordable, eco-friendly car will be completed only when our infrastructure begins to change, so that the electric car becomes unequivocally greener than internal combustion.

    I think the two key changes are a greener electrical grid and greener, more efficient batteries, since those are the current bottlenecks.
     
  15. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

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    #15
    Yeah, diesels are way more economical than gas engines. It's a shame demand isn't any higher in the US so more manufacturers would bring them over. A lot of problems in the US cause them to not be as popular here. Most people think big truck when they think of diesels, and think of them as noisy and smelly. Also, diesel isn't subsidized here like it is in Europe, so it is more expensive than gasoline and not as widely available. The difference can be amazing, though. The VW Golf, for example, is rated at 23/30 for its base 2.5L inline 5 engine. The TDI diesel is rated at 30/41 with the manual transmission. It's a buyer's decision if the improved mileage makes up for the more expensive fuel.

    And there is the root of the issue. It's a classic supply and demand issue. Companies won't build more of those vehicles and more infrastructure won't get built until there is a demand for it. And people won't buy until there is sufficient infrastructure. If your daily commute, for example, is on the edge of the vehicle's range, let's say 35 miles in the case of the Leaf above, do you want to risk driving it to work where there is no recharge infrastructure? What if you have to run an errand on the way home from work?
     
  16. GFLPraxis macrumors 604

    GFLPraxis

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    #16
    And...how much of the electricity you're using to recharge it is generated from fossil fuels...?

    I mean, it's nice in theory, but in practice...

    EDIT: Oh darnit, already been said.
     
  17. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    Electric cars are only as green as their batteries and power source. Without a breakthrough in either technology, I don't expect electric cars to proliferate outside a few niche markets in the forseeable future. I believe they will eventually be much more common, but not for many years.

    I think it's an idiotic situation, and while I blame manufacturers for half-assedly promoting diesels here, the majority of the blame goes to ignorant consumers who don't bother to educate themselves and resort to hoary myths and misconceptions about diesels when shopping cars. A contributing factor is of course the embarrassingly bad diesels GM has sold in the past, but that's not a valid excuse anymore.

    The few diesels that are being sold in the US showcase the benefits of diesels in smaller cars, but in our SUV/truck-happy country we should be putting more diesels in those vehicles. the Big Three have put diesels in their heavy duty trucks for decades, so truck afficionados are familiar with them. Now they need to extend their diesel truck engine line to include 6- and 4-cylinder turbodiesels for popular trucks like the Ford F-150 and Dodge Dakota. Diesels make powerful, economical truck engines that are great for towing and hauling, plus the fuel savings of course.
     
  18. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #18
    The greenest thing to do is not to buy a new car.
     
  19. Statik macrumors member

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    #19
    +1 For sure! Even with the poorer fuel economy, keeping your old car takes a lot less resources than having a new one built.
     
  20. jknight8907 macrumors 6502a

    jknight8907

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    #20
    Seems like hydrogen would be a much better long-term solution.
     
  21. Statik macrumors member

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    #21
    What I don't understand is why they don't develop something akin to what Cat is doing right now. Diesel electric hybrid, but instead of batteries they use the diesel engine to power a generator which directly powers the drive train. No batteries, less moving parts, better gas mileage, smaller & more efficient engine while still giving you more torque.

    linky --> http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/automobiles/autoreviews/24DOZER.html
     
  22. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #22
    This is the real crux of the issue.

    There was a website some time ago (I can't recall it off the top of my head) where hybrid owners could enter their "real" gas mileage (as opposed to what the sticker said). Across the board, it looked to me like having a hybrid added anywhere from 2-5 extra miles per gallon to the fuel efficiency, and about $8k - $12k in price - not even close to worth it, IMO.

    I don't dispute that hybrids may have made some progress with efficiency in recent years, but so have other cars. My new truck has the same size engine as my old one, but gets about an extra 4 mpg over the old one - and neither is a hybrid.

    QFT - you actually said it better than I did.

    I might add that, for many buyers, a third bottleneck will be range. Even if you could stop and recharge every 50 miles or so, not too many people are going to be happy with that, even if recharge times could be brought down to the same as fill up times.

    I already have to buy gas about every four days (about every 430 miles), I can't imagine having to stop eight or nine times :)eek:) in the same amount of time to plug in.

    And the maintenance. An oil change for a diesel truck goes for about $80 because the engine uses much more oil than a gas engine.

    Diesel engines have their own unique drawbacks - block heaters, ether, emissions, etc. (Granted, emissions got much better in 2009 with the low-sulfur fuel requirement)

    IIt's a great fuel, but right now the only real way to get it is to break down water, which takes more energy than you get back out of it.
     
  23. snberk103, Nov 9, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010

    snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #23
    Depends where you live. I live in BC, 95% of the electricity is Hydro.

    Where electrics and hybrids are best used are in an urban environment. When they are stopped, they don't idle. So the more time they spend at traffic lights, the more they save the driver (compared to a regular diesel or gas vehicle). Plus, small cars rated for urban use can be much smaller and lighter. Just the weight savings saves an enormous amount of energy (fossil fuel or electric) to just physically move the vehicle. Add the fancy brake system that generates electricity and puts it back into the batteries when slowing, and they get even more cost effective.

    In Vancouver a really large portion of the cab fleet are hybrids. I've talked to the drivers, and they save an enormous amount of money on gas.

    The other economic factor is that car owners don't pay the full cost of fossil fuels. Oil companies get tax-breaks, oil-refineries get tax incentives to build in a particular jurisdiction, the roads that fuel trucks use to deliver the stuff are free. To be fair, the companies selling electrics and hybrids are also getting tax-breaks - but I read somewhere (sorry, no link that I can find - so take this with a grain of salt) that the tax breaks still favour fossil fuels in the US and Canada. So in essence, everybody in those two countries are subsidizing the cost of driving a gas powered car, whether they themselves drive a car or not.

    Finally, drivers of gas powered cars contribute nothing extra to the cost of providing healthcare for the illnesses caused by car pollution, or habitat restoration needed for car pollution. Cars exhaust is the single largest, by far, of air pollution in North America. My late uncle, who knew a thing or two about Fleet Management (since he was for many years the ED of NAFA) thought the best thing America could do was to add 10 cents to the price of a gallon of gas (when gas was 50 cents a gallon). He figured that with the reduction in car traffic, taxpayers would save more money in not having to repair roads, and build new roads, etc. than what they paid in increased fuel. Plus, the economy would see a measurable uptick as companies could get their goods delivered faster (i.e. more efficiently), plus the savings in healthcare, etc etc Sadly - no one listened.
     
  24. steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

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    #24
    This is basically what Diesel Electric trains have done for decades.
     
  25. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

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    #25
    Oh, I agree 100%. I love modern diesels and I'm amazed and the power levels and efficiency they can produce. The whole thing with the GM diesels of the 70s is rubbish. Most car buyers today aren't even aware that happened. And I have no idea why diesels aren't offered in the smaller trucks and SUVs when they have sold so well in the larger trucks. You want to brag about payload and towing capacity? Stick a diesel in there, and you will smoke most gas engines. VW's Touareg with the V6 TDI, for example, can tow 7700lbs, which is more than a GMC Yukon with a V8, and it returns better mileage at 22MPG combined. (Not bad for a 5000lb SUV)

    Ford has been bragging about the new line of engines for their trucks. That VW TDI diesel produces more torque than all of them except the top of the line 6.2L V8 (wonder what the mileage will be on that sucker?) and twin-turbo Ecobost 3.5L V6. So, yeah, I don't get it.
     

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