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September 30, 2008


Chris C.

Article in the NYT about Shai Agassi's company Better Place, which is working to launch a network of battery exchange (refueling) stations for electric cars by 2012:


I don't think this passes the sniff test. Those batteries are big and heavy, requiring heavy equipment to get in and out. I would have serious concerns about the quality and safety of station installed battery packs -- imagine an improperly closed latch mechanism that causes you to drop your battery at 60 MPH on the highway.

What is more interesting, albeit much further out, is work being done by researchers to develop nanoscale synthesized fuel technology (I wish I could find the article). They're working on processes that synthesize particles that hold electric charge, that can then by delivered as a fluid. Thus you'd literally be able to "pump electricity" into your car, thus opening the door to using the same fuel distribution infrastructure that we have today for gasoline. However, that's probably at least a decade out.

Chris C.

More great info from CalCars.org; they've got quite a daunting website, and here are just two gems I've discovered in it:

Automakers electric vehicle status

http://www.calcars.org/commercializing-090202a.pdf (PDF)
Slick analysis/presentation on the last 5 years of progress, where we are now, what's next

Apparently they keep these updated. Lots more on their downloads page. Really good stuff!

Chris C.

All electric vehicle come with automatic transmissions; actually, it would be more accurate to say they don't shift manually. In the case of the Tesla it's a single speed gearbox and there's no shifting at all. With other EVs I imagine that there might be some models that have a multiple-speed transmission, but none have manual control of that.

Thus I note with some sadness that I will give up manual transmission in my next car. I have been driving a stick since I got my learner's permit at 16 1/2. I'll never forget the first time I acheived things like a standing start on an uphill or shifting from 1st to 2nd while turning in an intersection. Of course since those early days I've grown addicted to the total control that manuals give you, from being able to downshift in preparation for a hole in traffic, to staying in a higher gear but punching the accelerator to get instant acceleration at highway speeds without the annoying lag and noise of a drop in gears.

Of course, with an electric, certainly with something like the Tesla and I hope with all models, you get all this by the nature of the electric motor -- lots of torque and no lag. So I'll really just be giving up the romance of rowing through gear as I tear up the road. My left foot will atrophy.

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