2011-07-16 03:48:58Is the Ampera better than a hybrid?
Paul D

chillcast@googlemail...
82.18.130.183

It could well be for many drivers who do short daily journeys:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/green-living-blog/2011/jul/15/vauxhaul-ampera

I could probably survive using the electric motor alone.

2011-07-16 04:13:41
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

Neat!

2011-07-16 04:20:13
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Um, Chevy  beat them to the market with the Volt.  The article says Ampera will be the first (spring 2012 in the UK), but the Volt is already being sold in some US states and will be available nationwide by the end of 2011.  Maybe the article is focusing on the UK market.

Plug-in hybrids are better than standard hybrids in terms of emissions, unless the electricity comes from close to 100% coal.  The clear benefit over EVs is the lack of range anxiety.  For example, if I own a Nissan LEAF and want to drive from Sacramento to San Fancisco, I might just barely have enough juice in the batteries.  Then I'd have to wait for a full recharge before driving back, or anywhere within SF.  Without rapid charging stations, that's a problem.  And I might get range anxiety just trying to make it to my destination.  That's not a problem with a plug-in hybrid.  The problem with the plug-in is that for long trips you're still relying on fossil fuels.  But if you rarely make driving trips longer than 40-50 miles, you'll hardly be using any gasoline.  So it's a pretty smart compromise.

2011-07-16 04:22:19
Paul D

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I think it is a Chev Volt, at least that is what the article says.

2011-07-16 04:23:30
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

They're doing basically what the Volt does.  Right?  It's just a gas generator that kicks in to start charging the battery as you drive.

Call me a purist but I really like the inherent simplicity of an all electric.  I'm not a big fan of hybrids because you essentially have two full systems and therefore more ways things can go wrong.  EV's are far more simple.  The reliability and upkeep of an EV should be greatly improved over anything that uses gas.

If you want to see a really cool development in electric motors watch this video.

2011-07-16 04:36:45
Paul D

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82.18.130.183

Um it is a Volt!
Vauxhall was bought up by General Motors years ago. Lets not forget folks, that there are only about half a dozen mainstream car manufacturers (excluding the new boys on the block in India and China).

Spot the difference

http://www.vauxhall-ampera.co.uk/index.php/eng/gallery/Photo-Gallery/Photo-Gallery

http://www.chevrolet.com/volt/

 

2011-07-16 04:43:23
Paul D

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Rob thanks for pointing to the Fully Charged videos. Didn't know they existed. I have seen Roberts other series. It would be good if this series got onto a (free) TV channel as well.

2011-07-16 04:50:39
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Oh, it is a Volt. Well that's confusing!  But yeah, plug-in hybrids have advantages and disadvantages as compared to EVs.  Gonna be a tough decision on my next car purchase in a few years.  I hope the EV range increases enough (and battery price drops) by then to make the decision an easy one.

2011-07-16 04:57:40
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

Dana...  Based on everything I've read battery prices are supposed to drop 10 fold this decade, and battery efficiency is supposed to improve by 3-5X within the next 5 years.  I think hybrids are going to be gone pretty quickly.

Part of my thinking in getting an electric only car has to do with resale value.  I certainly wouldn't buy a gas vehicle right now, not because of the price of gas going up but by the time I'm done with the car and want to sell my old car... who's going to buy it?  If I buy an EV, well, it might not have the latest batteries and might be more expensive but it's going to have resale value.  By the time the batteries are at the end of their useful life the replacement batteries should be far cheaper and have much greater range.

2011-07-16 05:00:47
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

Paul...  I really love that series.  Great fun to watch.  And I particularly like that episode about YARA.  Those motors look amazing!  I can't hardly believe they get 120 brake HP out of that small a motor.

2011-07-16 06:41:31
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

I don't understand the point of charging the battery while the ICE is being used, that puts more pressure on the engine and requires additional energy to obtain the same travel performance that you would otherwise obtain from a non-charging system; then you also have the issue of slight energy loss during conversion, and potential long term loss of battery potential since constant charging/de-charging degrades their performance.

Can someone enlighten me to the logic here?

2011-07-16 07:02:01
Paul D

chillcast@googlemail...
82.18.130.183

The engine runs at an optimum constant speed(s), rather than revving up and down. That would offset many of the inefficiencies elsewhere.

Jaguar use a similar technique in their hybrid super car. they use two micro gas turbines instead of a piston engine to generate the electricity.

2011-07-16 08:28:14
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

Ah, OK, thanks Paul.

2011-07-16 08:36:33
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

Alex, the other big advantage you retain is being able to use regenerative braking.  Honestly, once these things get out on the market people are going to start to realize what kind of range they require and most are never going to even use the 40 miles available on the battery.  By the time range anxiety starts to subside batteries are going to become more efficient and the small percentage of the population that really does need more range will be able to get it from an EV.

If you look at the Nissan Leaf (all electric) that car is only going to appeal to a specific subset of the market.  That size, price range and driving range will only apply to a limited number of drivers, but that's a significant enough of a market to establish the category.  From there, as the technology improves, they will extend the offering to larger cars and longer range cars, as well as a wider price range of cars as battery costs go down.

I think this is all going to happen pretty quickly.  Once the competition heats up between automakers I expect the price of automobiles is going to drop significantly.  This is probably an opportune time to buy stock in automotive companies.

2011-07-16 09:41:40
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.34.133

I think the weakest point is the battery technology.

2011-07-16 17:58:53
Paul D

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82.18.130.183

It's an interesting idea, decoupling the ICE engine from the wheels via a battery and electric motors.
It's a bit like running a power station with energy storage on the grid. I assume they work out how much energy is needed over a typical journey, then design the engine to provide that output running at a constant speed. Then the batteries are used to smooth out the difference between the peaks and troughs of the journey, by either storing the energy output of the engine when the wheels are doing less, or providing more energy than the engine is capable of providing when more power is required.

I'm wondering if the 50 mile limit is low so that the batteries can hold a buffer reservoir of energy so that the car doesn't run short of juice. A lot of EVs seem to be able to do 100 miles or more, although they don't have the extra weight of the engine and may have greater battery capacity.

2011-07-17 01:15:53
MarkR
Mark Richardson
m.t.richardson2@gmail...
134.225.187.197

Seems like the most sensible way of doing it to me.

 

Doesn't need a gearbox like the Prius does, and can go much farther than the Leaf. It looks like battery capacity will eventually be good enough for pure electric cars, but we don't know how long that will take. 2 years, or 10? This is a much safer bet IMO...

2011-07-17 07:53:21
Paul D

chillcast@googlemail...
82.18.130.183

The first Fully Charged video in the series is pretty good:

http://youtu.be/YfTiRNzbSko

2011-07-17 09:56:35
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

My only objections to adding in the generator motor is that it's added complexity.  Most cost, more things to break.  The beauty of an EV is the simplicity.  No gears.  No transmission system.  No switching the system from one source to another.  Just motor and wheels.  Tons of torque.

2011-07-18 00:41:32
Paul D

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82.18.130.183

The CABLED results have been published:

http://www.thechargingpoint.com/2011/07/14/uks-largest-ever-electric-vehicle-trial-debunks-range-anxiety/

Although I am not sure where the info came from, the cabled web site doesn't seem to have any new info.

Added: BBC Midlands have a report as well, so it's probably a press release:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-14141248

2011-07-20 08:35:52
Paul D

chillcast@googlemail...
82.18.130.183

Robert posted a video of a test drive in the Ampera 3 days ago:

http://youtu.be/3emYdFEWyJ8

He points out the the petrol engine generates the electricity directly to the electric motors, so my comment earlier is incorrect.