Electric cars

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monophoto

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I understand the need in a place like California, but I've always wondered a few things:
- how good are batteries in frigid environments
- how will the gas tax be migrated toward energy grids
- how bad is mining for battery-metals (lithium, etc) for the environment
- how much life will the battery packs have - especially in very cold environments
- how will residential grids have to change to accommodate 100 percent uptake in electrical car buy-in
- is this better for the environment than investing in hydrogen fuel, which would theoretically result in harmless emissions and no-strip-mining (with obvious challenges, of course)
- how do batteries get recycled at end-of-life, if at all
- how does this work in rural areas distanced from urban areas, especially frigid rural areas
- if my battery can't turn a small flywheel in -40, how is a battery going to operate a vehicle in the same temperatures
- Does the technology provide enough torque for a work truck?
- if we're not using it for trains, big rigs, heat, etc - is it just 'environmental theatre' in that we're think we're making a difference, but not addressing other substantive issues?
- are batteries made from sustainable and ethically mined materials, and are they recyclable
etc.
We HAVE to make changes for the environment, but I think hydrogen might be a longer-term solution despite early issues with figuring out safety.
Andrew

You are asking the right questions. I don't have all the answers, but here goes - - -
- Batteries have problems in cold weather - both for electric vehicles and ICE vehicles. And ICE vehicles have other cold-weather problems - that's why you guys in Canada have engine-block heaters in your cars.
- gas tax is a problem for the politicians to solve (yeah, that thought doesn't inspire confidence) - in most places, funding for highway maintenance is derived from taxes on gasoline. The optimum solution is to transition to some other mechanism for collecting highway maintenance revenue, but that will require creative thinking by politicians (a major oxymoron)
- actually, most of the rare metals used in making high-performance batteries are byproducts of mining for less exotic metals. So there is quite a bit to be had in the tailings of old mines. Also, a lot of the exotic materials can be found on the seabed. The issue is whether the mining companies wlll utilize responsible methods for recovering these materials - those methods exist and are well known, but the mining industry is very slow to adopt new technology.
- residential grids will require reinforcement. Having worked in that industry, I know that some very smart people have been anticipating those problems for a couple of decades and they have solutions in hand.
- battery life cycle is currently one of the factors that limits adoption of electric vehicle technology. But like everything else, the thing that will drive solutions is expanding adoption - as more people buy electric vehicles, they will create a market demand for batteries with longer life.
- there is a place for hydrogen, but it may not be an ideal fit for personal vehicular transportation because the logistics are complicated, and there are some very serious safety issues.
- battery recycling is a thing today with conventional lead-acid batteries for ICE vehicles - you just don't hear a lot about it. Recycling will be more important with batteries based on exotic materials.
- rural vs urban is a problem that affects many aspects of life. I suspect that electric vehicles will be adopted by people who live in rural areas, as the charging infrastructure is built out, but I also suspect that ICE technology may linger for quite a while in farm machinery - farmers buy new cars as often as anyone else, but they tend to hold onto tractors.
- torque isn't an issue for electric vehicles. In many places trains are electric today. The entire Amtrak system from Washington DC to Boston is electric, and most (probably all) urban public transportation is electric. A number of urban bus companies are switching to battery-powered buses. And the large off-road machines used in the mining industry are also electric - some powered directly from the grid (literally, long extension cords), and some powered by electric motors powered from on-board diesel generators. Even modern cruise ships and naval vessels are electric drive (supplied by on-board generators), so the idea of using electric motors as the source of motive power isn't an issue. Electric motors generally outperform internal combustion engines - the only thing that is different about electric vehicles is that batteries can only deliver that performance for a finite period of time.

People have been toying with electric vehicles for since powered vehicles first came into use - in the late 1800, Charles Steinmetz built an electric car that he routinely drove on a regular basis. The problem has always been batteries - which is why ICE technology became dominant. But things are changing, and problems you identified are being solved (at least the technical problems are - not sure about the political issues) - while I would like to have an electric car today, but I don't think that the recharging infrastructure is ready in the areas where we travel today. But even that is changing pretty rapidly.
 
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jttheclockman

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I understand the need in a place like California, but I've always wondered a few things:
- how good are batteries in frigid environments
- how will the gas tax be migrated toward energy grids
- how bad is mining for battery-metals (lithium, etc) for the environment
- how much life will the battery packs have - especially in very cold environments
- how will residential grids have to change to accommodate 100 percent uptake in electrical car buy-in
- is this better for the environment than investing in hydrogen fuel, which would theoretically result in harmless emissions and no-strip-mining (with obvious challenges, of course)
- how do batteries get recycled at end-of-life, if at all
- how does this work in rural areas distanced from urban areas, especially frigid rural areas
- if my battery can't turn a small flywheel in -40, how is a battery going to operate a vehicle in the same temperatures
- Does the technology provide enough torque for a work truck?
- if we're not using it for trains, big rigs, heat, etc - is it just 'environmental theatre' in that we're think we're making a difference, but not addressing other substantive issues?
- are batteries made from sustainable and ethically mined materials, and are they recyclable
etc.
We HAVE to make changes for the environment, but I think hydrogen might be a longer-term solution despite early issues with figuring out safety.
You bring up many of the points I mentioned and they need to be answered before we are all in on electric cars. I just believe an electric car is just a short term backdoor end around run just like solar panels are and wind turbines. Have to remember it is not only our country that has to change but others such as China and Russia and many other large polluting countries. I won't be around to see the results of many of these experiments so hopefully everyone can get along and put their heads together and save the planet. Good luck.
 

sbwertz

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I love gas engines. Love cars with some guts and a throaty exhaust. Never gave any thought to electric….However lately I’m giving considering electric for various reasons. Anyone here that owns electric …what do you/don’t you like about it.
I rented a hybrid two years ago...Ford Fusion. Runs on battery until the power gets low then switches to gas and recharges the batteries. I drove it for two weeks taking the boys all over CT and MA and only filled the tank once. But I had to call the rental agency to ask how to start it, because it was running when they brought it to me and the next morning, I had no idea how to get it going again...no manual in the glove box!
 

WriteON

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I rented a hybrid two years ago...Ford Fusion. Runs on battery until the power gets low then switches to gas and recharges the batteries. I drove it for two weeks taking the boys all over CT and MA and only filled the tank once. But I had to call the rental agency to ask how to start it, because it was running when they brought it to me and the next morning, I had no idea how to get it going again...no manual in the glove box!
I had a 2014 BMW X3. No idea how to get the wipers on. Push this. Pull that. I miss my 55Ford stick 8 w/push button am radio
 

jrista

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Oh man... all you have to do is do a little research yourself. The Lithium itself to mine is an incredible expense.
There are a lot of potential issues with EVs. They are high technology, so they require a lot more of the rare earth metals that are so hard (and often environmentally destructive) to mine, etc. Batteries don't last forever and have to be replaced as well, and if you look into what's been happening with disposed EV batteries, its a very sad situation environmentally speaking. :'( Battery replacement is pretty costly, too.

----

Tesla's are better than most of the other EVs out there. They are definitely more efficient, however you do pay for that up front in the cost of the vehicle. My boss purchased a Tesla...he added on some features, but he dropped $120k on it. The base price was just shy of $100k. Its crazy fast, super powerful, amazing...but, you can buy a nice little house for that!!!

----

One of the things that has kept me far away from EVs is the time it takes to charge. Charging time is no joke, and while the latest, greatest, and absolute BEST chargers out there can potentially charge an EV in ~40 minutes, a lot of the time it takes significantly longer to charge. (Supercharging, or fast charging, is also not without its drawbacks...it tends to be less efficient in a few ways, from actual power used, to shortening battery life, etc.) It is not like a combustion engine car, where you drive up to the pump, fill up, and are off in a few minutes. There is also the looming issue of charging station demand...since it takes a while to charge, as more and more people move to EVs, the lines at charging stations will get longer and longer. So the wait time isn't necessarily just charging itself...but also waiting your turn to charge. There are certainly plans to expand the charging station capacities and locations, especially by Tesla, but to plaster the country in enough stations to actually serve all the drivers of EVs in a timely manner, especially as their popularity starts to soar? I'm rather skeptical...

(Just for some perspective, there are ~160,000 gas stations in the US, ~135,000 in the EU. Tesla has ~20,000 charging stations...in the entire world.)

Oh, also, don't forget that not every EV can use the same type of charging plug. There is no standard for those yet. I believe there is some consolidation of plug in the EU, but in the US I don't believe there has been any real effort to standardize. There have been some adapters created, but again they don't work with every car. Something else to consider...even if you find a charging station, depending on how new it is, you may not be able to plug your EV into it.

Long range trips can be problematic, as currently there are some pretty long swaths of road without any charging stations at all. It may be that some day charging gets faster and there are more stations around, especially on long open stretches of road. Tesla of course is interested in putting stations along critical stretches of long open roads in the US. It takes time, though, and such stations are rather expensive (a single charging tower is tens of thousands of dollars, so something like a bank of four or six costs a couple/few hundred grand just for the towers, let alone bringing all the necessary power to that location).

The other thing to consider is just how much electric grid capacity is needed to charge the growing number of EVs on the road. Look into that a bit before you buy an EV. Moving 100% of the cars on the road to EVs within the next couple of decades simply isn't possible, as we just don't have the capacity nor a dynamic enough energy grid to handle it, and there are no viable plans to implement the kind of energy grid upgrades we would really need to handle significantly increased capacity or the more dynamic load shifting that I've read are required.

The charging problem has kept me away from EVs so far. Its a non-trivial issue, and something to research well before you decide on an EV (especially if you are hoping such a car will last you for say the next decade.)

The day may come when we truly have the infrastructure to really support EVs anywhere, over the long term...but my honest opinion is, we aren't quite there yet (in fact, I think we are quite a ways off). If your habits are just local driving and you never take any long trips, then you may be fine...but, I would research things, beyond just technology and efficiency, and make sure you won't run into any trouble with an EV for your personal use case.
 
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monophoto

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I'm a retired power engineer. There are many things that, during my working career, we called 'pipe dreams', 'impossible', 'never gonna happen' - but that today are reality. I worked on the first commercial wind turbine generator in North America back in the late 1970's - everyone on the team believed that the project was just an academic exercise that would go nowhere. But before I retired, our company was (and still is) one of the major suppliers of practical wind turbine generators across the world. Likewise, around 2003, I talked with our research people about lighting options - and was told that the wave of the future was compact fluorescent - LED might be 'better', but there were technical hurdles with that technology that meant that it would take a long time before LED lighting could become practical. But today, CFL's are obsolete and everything is LED.

Technology is moving at an amazing rate.

I think it was the Army Corps of Engineers who used to say 'we do the difficult things right away, but the impossible takes a bit longer'.

My point is that yes, there are problems making electric vehicle technology practical, but smart people are working on those problems and solutions are coming. What we need is for the damn politicians who aren't interested in solving problems to just get out of the way and let the creative people do their thing.
 

Larryreitz

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This has been a very good and informative discussion. The thing I see as missing, and no one seems to address it, is just how much would a 100% electric fleet of cars reduce carbon emissions? Electricity has to be generated somehow and right now much of the generation depends on carbon fuels. As others have pointed out, solar and wind generation have some serious problems should they be scaled up to handle the demand created by an electric fleet. Hydroelectric hasn’t been popular due to environmental concerns over wildlife, primarily fish. Nuclear could be an answer however there doesn’t appear to be much appetite for more nuclear plants. So the question remains, how much of the carbon dioxide generated by our cars would just be generated by an alternative source.

The really good thing about this is that research is being done to improve the electric car viability. The major car manufacturers have said to expect all of their production to be electric by a date in the not too distant future (can’t remember exactly when they said). I hope their optimism is based on promising research and not purely on political pressure.
 

PatrickR

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The powers that be have have put the cart before the horse. We need the power to be available first not the vehicles.
There are many white elephants in the room. Instead of facts, fear tactics are being used. “Save the planet” - it was here before us and will be here after us. “Existential threat” - there is very little chance that slow climate change will wipe out mankind. “12 years left” - Doomsday profits have come and gone, along with their predictions.
Let the free market decide.
 

WriteON

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In New Jersey where service attendants still exist…, do you say Full Charge or 10 volts? Do we say how Shocked we are with the mileage. Will prices go up due to power outages. Or hey I need a jump.. can I borrow your cord.
 

jttheclockman

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Would like to say without getting political, we have been kicking that can down the road way too long and that is the planet will cure itself. It will not and is being proven with every passing year. someone and many someones need to get this right and change the course we are on. Look at the extreme weather changes and they will only get worse. But this has to be the world taking on this problem. It can not just be the USA. we are a small portion of the problem. Population is growing quickly and with it those everyday problems such as living places, travel, waste removal and so on gets worse. We can not even find a good solution for waste removal. Can't even recycle well. We as humans have the ability to adapt on the run. See a problem and tackle it. Yes a big problem is the politicians and that seems like a division that is growing apart more and more. But also is big corporation and the power they control. The USA is a leader but again can not do it alone. It will be the human race that destroys this planet from within.

People here have mentioned technology that was a pipe dream not many years ago but is here today. I worked on one of the largest solar fields ever built at the time when they first were being talked about. Back then the panels had a 10 year life span and today that has doubled and am sure will get even better and smaller. But with all new technology comes waste and we need to address that as well as we move onto the next generation of ideas. We need to recycle more and use this for power sources. Cost always is the bottom line that derails many of these ideas. But what are the alternatives?

This has been a good discussion but I see it is also becoming a repeating one. The future is in Nanotechnology in all fields of science. That is where the answers lie in my opinion.
 

sbwertz

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I had a 2014 BMW X3. No idea how to get the wipers on. Push this. Pull that. I miss my 55Ford stick 8 w/push button am radio
I miss ALL my stick shift vehicles! We had nothing but stick shifts for as long as they were available. My Citroen was a hybrid transmission. You had to shift it but it had an automatic clutch. Let up on the gas and shift like the old Hudson. I will admit that driving a stick shift VW Rabbit in San Francisco was challenging. You needed three feet when you caught a red light on one of those hills!
 

WriteON

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I miss ALL my stick shift vehicles! We had nothing but stick shifts for as long as they were available. My Citroen was a hybrid transmission. You had to shift it but it had an automatic clutch. Let up on the gas and shift like the old Hudson. I will admit that driving a stick shift VW Rabbit in San Francisco was challenging. You needed three feet when you caught a red light on one of those hills!
I have 2010 Mini.... It "Holds". Push the clutch in and it will not roll for 2 seconds. Nothing worse than being stopped on a hill in the rain wanting to make left and the car behind is way too close...
 
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I just bought a hybrid. It's a little bigger than the vehicle it replaced, otherwise fairly comparable. With the driving I do most of the time it averages about 4 MPG better. On the road trip it was a little worse than the old car. I find driving through Montana isn't good for fuel economy. My biggest complaint is it needs a bigger gas tank. Ay highway speeds through the hills you stop for gas a lot.
 

MikeG

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"Last fill-up was in August of 2020"
I hope your gas is better than what we have here.
I wish, but probably not. The manual gives this warning:

If you operate your vehicle mainly in plug-in power mode using
electricity from plugging in without refueling, the gasoline in your tank
eventually becomes old. Old fuel can damage the engine and fuel system.

Note: It is recommended to use a fuel stabilizer if you consume less
than a full tank of fuel during an 18 month period.

I only need 6 oz. of Sta-Bil to treat my 14 Ga. tank.
 
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I miss ALL my stick shift vehicles! We had nothing but stick shifts for as long as they were available. My Citroen was a hybrid transmission. You had to shift it but it had an automatic clutch. Let up on the gas and shift like the old Hudson. I will admit that driving a stick shift VW Rabbit in San Francisco was challenging. You needed three feet when you caught a red light on one of those hills!
My first care was a 1959 Chevrolet Impala that was originally an automatic, but a previous owner put in a Herscht conversion kit to make it a 3 speed shift on the floor... the shift lever was short so that I had to sorta lean over to reach the knob and make the shift... don't think he changed the rear end to make up for the additional torque you got from the stick shift... I bought the car in Chandler AZ and drove into SFO where I was stationed on Treasure island.... I was 19 or 20 and had been driving only since I was 18 (My dad didn't teach me or let get my license when I lived with him, after I moved out at 17, I was taught to drive by a 70 year old lady in a 1954 Plymouth Savoi)...
My first few attempts to drive in the hills of San Fran, I think I rolled back into about half a dozen cars before I got used to the slow take off and learned to hold the car until the clutch engaged.... First few times I think I rolled back the length of the car more than once.

I've gotten used to the "one legged man" cars (My father's term for automatics), but I still miss the driving the stick shifts.
 
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I only need 6 oz. of Sta-Bil to treat my 14 Ga. tank.
I drive a KIA Soul... the gas tank is about 12 gallons.... usually when I fill up I put in 10 gallons, then the dash indicator says I have about 410 miles before I'm empty... 40 mpg on a car that's not driven much over 40 miles a week....
I bought about 2017 with 5980 miles on it... today it has about 36K +/-....
 

Ray-CA

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I love gas engines. Love cars with some guts and a throaty exhaust. Never gave any thought to electric….However lately I’m giving considering electric for various reasons. Anyone here that owns electric …what do you/don’t you like about it.
This is why I won't park any where near charging stations: https://redirect.viglink.com/?forma...avidson Forums&txt=pic.twitter.com/hHQx79srth

Also, there is this recall on the Chevy Volt: https://arstechnica.com/cars/2021/0...olt-ever-made-blames-lg-for-faulty-batteries/
 

PreacherJon

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VROOM!
 

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WriteON

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My neighbor is a car salesman. But I forgive him. He says nobody wants an electric car after x amount of years/miles or as a “trade in”after so long. Would like to hear some more about this. Is it bunk or some truth to it.
 

jrista

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My neighbor is a car salesman. But I forgive him. He says nobody wants an electric car after x amount of years/miles or as a “trade in”after so long. Would like to hear some more about this. Is it bunk or some truth to it.
Batteries.

They don't last forever, and efficiency declines over their lifetime. The cheapest battery replacement is about $5000 (plus labor), but they can get significantly more expensive than that, tens of thousands. The labor costs to remove, replace and dispose of them can get quite expensive, some batteries are as high as 1400 pounds in weight. Even before replacement is necessary, their efficiency will drop. There are also inherent fire risks with these kinds of batteries, which can increase with age. Especially as fast charging becomes more readily available...that tends to use very high voltage (hundreds to nearly a thousand volts), which increases the risk of fire even more...so either you accept the higher fire risk, or use the normal charging (120V) which will usually take 6-12 hours to fully charge (so you aren't necessarily free to just hop in the car and drive whenever you want to.)

The technology for EV batteries is moving very quickly as well, new designs are created for just about every new EV model, so who knows how long batteries of older designs will be around and available for replacement.

As EV batteries age, they become more problematic...so it is not surprising that older EVs are not in demand.
 

WriteON

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Batteries.

They don't last forever, and efficiency declines over their lifetime. The cheapest battery replacement is about $5000 (plus labor), but they can get significantly more expensive than that, tens of thousands. The labor costs to remove, replace and dispose of them can get quite expensive, some batteries are as high as 1400 pounds in weight. Even before replacement is necessary, their efficiency will drop. There are also inherent fire risks with these kinds of batteries, which can increase with age. Especially as fast charging becomes more readily available...that tends to use very high voltage (hundreds to nearly a thousand volts), which increases the risk of fire even more...so either you accept the higher fire risk, or use the normal charging (120V) which will usually take 6-12 hours to fully charge (so you aren't necessarily free to just hop in the car and drive whenever you want to.)

The technology for EV batteries is moving very quickly as well, new designs are created for just about every new EV model, so who knows how long batteries of older designs will be around and available for replacement.

As EV batteries age, they become more problematic...so it is not surprising that older EVs are not in demand.
The remarks were “There is no exit”. What happens when the lights go out. For now I’m out. Our current gas fueled vehicles are fairly predictable and reliable. And if electric takes over someday the cost of an Amp or Volt will be astronomical. I can visualize pulling into a charging station and you choose from a trickle or full charge or a few sparks
 
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jttheclockman

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Another good question to ask here is for those that have electric cars, did you have to do anything different with your insurance both with your car and or home insurance. Being you now have to add a charging port in the house somewhere, is there restrictions as to what has to be done?? I have not installed any of these being I am retired now. Also due to the higher risk of fires due to charging.
 

jrista

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The remarks were “There is no exit”. What happens when the lights go out. For now I’m out. Our current gas fueled vehicles are fairly predictable and reliable. And if electric takes over someday the cost of an Amp or Volt will be astronomical. I can visualize pulling into a charging station and you choose from a trickle or full charge or a few sparks

The reliability and distance capabilities are big ones for me. I can drive a gas-powered car anywhere. I can fill up a bunch of extra gas cans and take a long haul trip out into the middle of nowhere if I need to. I can drive in extreme heat, or extreme cold, with a gas powered car. Etc. etc.

Its a huge factor. Another thing to consider about batteries is their efficiency in different temps. Think about deep cold starts, and the need for special kinds of regular car batteries, or car battery heaters, if you live in the polar regions... Battery efficiency plummets in the cold. It ain't so good in high heat as well... And as you said...when the lights go out...

Perhaps some day these issues will be resolved, but, until they are resolved and the resolutions well vetted, I'd at least make sure you fully understand the potential drawbacks of the batteries that power EVs. Gas powered cars are already quite efficient in the grand scheme of things, and you can get a hybrid as well if you want a balance of electric and gas powered.
 

PatrickR

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Batteries.

They don't last forever, and efficiency declines over their lifetime. The cheapest battery replacement is about $5000 (plus labor), but they can get significantly more expensive than that, tens of thousands. The labor costs to remove, replace and dispose of them can get quite expensive, some batteries are as high as 1400 pounds in weight. Even before replacement is necessary, their efficiency will drop. There are also inherent fire risks with these kinds of batteries, which can increase with age. Especially as fast charging becomes more readily available...that tends to use very high voltage (hundreds to nearly a thousand volts), which increases the risk of fire even more...so either you accept the higher fire risk, or use the normal charging (120V) which will usually take 6-12 hours to fully charge (so you aren't necessarily free to just hop in the car and drive whenever you want to.)

The technology for EV batteries is moving very quickly as well, new designs are created for just about every new EV model, so who knows how long batteries of older designs will be around and available for replacement.

As EV batteries age, they become more problematic...so it is not surprising that older EVs are not in demand.
So these are basically disposable cars. About the longest I’ve had a starter batt last is 7 years. The lithium are supposed to last longer but I’ve had to replace quite a few small ones in far less time.
in the summer I drive an 89 Toyota truck. No idea what the gas mileage is but it’s pretty good. With the CA emission package it runs clean also. When was the last time you saw a car on the road that left a smoke trail? It used to be common. At the rate i drive it, it could outlast me.
there would be no way I’d even think about an EV unless the batt was fully warranted for a long time. Maybe 12 years?
 

dogcatcher

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A 48v ion battery weighs about 5 to 6 pounds, will fit in a box about 10x3x4 costs about $125. Will zip my bicycle along as fast as it is safe. The battery lasts longer than my rear end can sit on the bike. This is not a car, but technology will be there shortly for the same results. The electric cars are not practical for everybody, but a 3/4 ton pickup is not either., nor is a 400hp hotrod.

In New Mexico, I see more and more UTVs o the streets, along with golf carts. Fully licensed and insured. I also see small electric car that looks like an egg. Great for running around town.
 

PatrickR

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A 48v ion battery weighs about 5 to 6 pounds, will fit in a box about 10x3x4 costs about $125. Will zip my bicycle along as fast as it is safe. The battery lasts longer than my rear end can sit on the bike. This is not a car, but technology will be there shortly for the same results. The electric cars are not practical for everybody, but a 3/4 ton pickup is not either., nor is a 400hp hotrod.

In New Mexico, I see more and more UTVs o the streets, along with golf carts. Fully licensed and insured. I also see small electric car that looks like an egg. Great for running around town.
Interesting. Those vehicles(?) would not be considered street legal here. The closest thing I see here are mopeds, or as some call them DWI scooters.
 

Scott

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Our two primary vehicles are Toyota Hybrids, a Prius and a RAV4. We have had no problems with either of them. For those interested, our pickup is a 3/4 ton diesel.

We have friends who have a Tesla. After driving around with them, I have to say I would buy a Tesla!

Scott.
 

jakoop

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Location
Carson City
We bought a 2016 Chevy Spark EV. It is a very small car, and on a full charge it will travel 90 miles. We didn't buy it for long road trips. That is what we have my RAM 1500 for. But we drive that Spark all day around town. We have never seen any spike in our power bill in the 2 years we have owned it. It gets better mileage in warmer weather compared to cold weather. And forget about it if there is snow and ice (RAM 1500 does that) I love the Spark. It does exactly what we wanted it to do, commute 2 miles to work and drive around town instead of using the truck. If EV suites your needs it is a good option, but it is not for everyone.
 
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