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One Gallon – the Achilles’ Heel of Electric Cars
Red State ^ | 2-19-12 | Brookhaven

Posted on 02/19/2012 12:09:07 PM PST by Brookhaven

The Chevy Volt's batteries hold the same amount of energy as one gallon of gasoline—one single gallon.

Would you buy a car that held only one gallon of gasoline? Neither would I. Yet, we've invested billions of dollars developing and promoting a car with a “gas tank” (the batteries) that only holds one gallon's worth of energy.

I've heard that new super batteries are just around the corner. All we have to do is invest enough money and they'll appear. Just like computers (in the 1950's they were the size of rooms, today they can be held in the palm of your hand), battery development is whizzing along at a blurring pace. Unfortunately, that isn't true. The development pace of batteries is nothing like that of computers.

A better analogy for battery development is radio. In the 1950's most people listened to music on AM radio. In the 1970's, FM radio became the standard for listening to music. Digital radio was introduced in the 2000's. Each of these was a step up in quality, but they weren't such a huge step that they made the old standards obsolete.

Alkaline batteries were commonly used in the 1950's, and they still are today. Plug a C, D, or AA battery into any device; odds are it's the same alkaline battery technology they were using back in the 1950's. Nickel batteries appeared in the 1970's. Lithium batteries appeared in the 1990's, and have three times the capacity of 1950's alkaline batteries. Truth is, the change in battery technology is slow, slow, slow.

The Chevy Volt battery pack weighs 435 pounds. That's what's required to store the energy found in one gallon of gasoline. If you wanted to create a Volt that had a “five gallon” energy tank, it would require at least 2,175 pounds of batteries—literally over a ton. Even if batteries suddenly became dirt cheap, the weight alone makes creating a car that holds more than a couple of gallons of energy unfeasible.

When Consumer Reports tested the Volt, they managed to get 28 miles on a full battery charge; which sounds about right for one gasoline gallon's worth of energy.

The Nissan Leaf did a little better. Consumer Reports got 68 miles out of a full charge (about two gallons worth of energy). Nissan didn't use more advanced technology than the Volt. The Leaf has a larger battery than the Volt (660 lbs. Vs 435 lbs.) and the non-battery part of the car weighs less (2,694 lbs. Vs 3,346 lbs.). Nissan just put more batteries in the car, and made the rest of the car lighter.

So, why isn't just adding more batteries and making the car lighter a solution? Look at the Tesla Roadster. It gets 211 miles on a full battery charge (that's what Tesla claimed in a lawsuit against the show Top Gear—who said they only got 55 miles per charge—so we'll go with that over the 250 plus miles Tesla claims in their advertising). 211 miles is still a great range, but how did they achieve it? They increased the battery pack to 992 pounds (557 pounds more than the Volt) and decreased the non-battery weight to 1,731 pounds (2,053 pounds less than the Volt). The Tesla Roadster is a small, small car. I'm sure it's fun as a sports car, but if ask it to do any of the mundane tasks in life (carry a family, or bring home a load groceries) it's not anywhere near to being up to the task.

The fact is, when it comes to practical vehicles, the Chevy Volt is the state of the art, best in class as far as electric vehicles go. The best electric vehicle available only holds the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline—one gallon.

This might still be workable, if you could refill the “electric gas tank” in just a few minutes. Unfortunately, it takes at least 8 hours to fully recharge the batteries in the Volt. A drive from Atlanta to Birmingham (about 150 miles) takes about three hours (I drive slow and like to make a couple of stops along the way). If I tried to make that trip in the Chevy Volt, it would take about 50 hours, because I would have to make five 8-hour stops to recharge the battery.

Would we be calling a car with a conventional internal combustion engine with a gas tank that only held one gallon of gasoline “the car America had to build?” Would we have spent billions of dollars developing that car? Would we be offering $7,500 tax credits to encourage consumers to purchase that car?

Yet, that is what we've done with the Chevy Volt. We've put all our money and efforts behind a car with a “gas tank” that holds the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline. The Chevy Volt, or any other electric car, will not be the answer to our energy problems until we can equip a car with a battery pack that can hold the same energy equivalent as the gas tanks in current cars. Given the history of battery development (tripling capacity every 40 years), that will be somewhere between 120 and 160 years from now.

Buying an electric car today is the same as buying a regular car that only holds one gallon of gasoline. Building one is, well...I'll let you answer that one yourself.

 


TOPICS: Government; Science
KEYWORDS: chevy; electric; green; michigan; volt
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1 posted on 02/19/2012 12:09:17 PM PST by Brookhaven
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To: Red Badger; steelyourfaith

Ping.


2 posted on 02/19/2012 12:10:58 PM PST by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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To: Brookhaven
I read somewhere that in 1910 there was an electric car with a range of 30 miles or so on a single charge. Here we are 100 years later and not a whole lot has changed.

I see a world in which the Left has us all drive golf carts to the train station, we commute to central workhouses, and no one needs a vehicle with serious range. Who needs freedom?

3 posted on 02/19/2012 12:14:35 PM PST by ClearCase_guy ("And the public gets what the public wants" -- The Jam)
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To: Brookhaven

I view all of the new electrics and hybrids as the Gremlin.Pacer, and Vega of the 1970’s.How many of those do you still see on the road?


4 posted on 02/19/2012 12:21:53 PM PST by chris_bdba
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To: Brookhaven

I was talking to a guy that said that it would take 1200 pounds of lead acid batteries to equal 10 gallons of gas.


5 posted on 02/19/2012 12:24:12 PM PST by mountainlion (I am voting for Sarah after getting screwed again by the DC Thugs.)
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To: chris_bdba

The world I see has our academic and bureaucratic masters living in the shiny city, while we labor ceaselessly below.


6 posted on 02/19/2012 12:25:02 PM PST by steve8714 (Yoda's speech to Luke; copied from Jack Webb in "The D.I.")
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To: Brookhaven
This was known by the developers before the electric cars were put into production. The cars are performing at 100% of what was expected. The problem is the ignorance, then, and the passivity, now, of the American people.

7 posted on 02/19/2012 12:26:30 PM PST by I see my hands (The old sod ne'er shall be forgot.)
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To: ClearCase_guy

http://green.autoblog.com/2008/02/07/zap-alias-will-revive-detroit-electric-brand/


8 posted on 02/19/2012 12:28:06 PM PST by Paladin2
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To: Brookhaven

‘The best electric vehicle available only holds the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline—one gallon.

‘This might still be workable, if you could refill the “electric gas tank” in just a few minutes. Unfortunately, it takes at least 8 hours to fully recharge the batteries in the Volt. A drive from Atlanta to Birmingham (about 150 miles) takes about three hours (I drive slow and like to make a couple of stops along the way). If I tried to make that trip in the Chevy Volt, it would take about 50 hours, because I would have to make five 8-hour stops to recharge the battery. ‘

This is why, in reality, “efficient cars” are NOT efficient at all. They are wasteful extravagance (without anything pretty or exciting about them).


9 posted on 02/19/2012 12:33:11 PM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: Army Air Corps; TenthAmendmentChampion; SolitaryMan; Dr. Bogus Pachysandra; grey_whiskers; ...
Thanx for the ping Army Air Corps !

 


Beam me to Planet Gore !

10 posted on 02/19/2012 12:35:52 PM PST by steelyourfaith (Expel the Occupy White House squatters !!!)
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To: Brookhaven

“I’ve heard that new super batteries are just around the corner.”

Yeah, they’ve been just around the corner for 40 years.


11 posted on 02/19/2012 12:38:44 PM PST by July4 (Remember the price paid for your freedom.)
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To: ClearCase_guy
We drove experimental electric cars decades ago, and here's a dirty little secret: miles per charge will be seriously dependent on the terrain in which you drive. Your electric vehicle used in a coastal town might do OK, but in even slightly hilly country, that cute little electric car will be a a sterling under-performer.
12 posted on 02/19/2012 12:46:42 PM PST by July4 (Remember the price paid for your freedom.)
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To: July4; Brookhaven

>>“I’ve heard that new super batteries are just around the corner.”

>>Yeah, they’ve been just around the corner for 40 years.

Same thing for solar photovoltaic panels that are cost-effective vs. conventional electrical generation.


13 posted on 02/19/2012 12:55:37 PM PST by FreedomPoster (Islam delenda est)
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To: Brookhaven
Just a tad disingenuous, since your car's engine can't use braking to put gasoline back into the tank.
14 posted on 02/19/2012 1:01:30 PM PST by Yo-Yo (Is the /sarc tag really necessary?)
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To: Brookhaven
Interesting article and has a lot of truths but this is wrong:

This might still be workable, if you could refill the “electric gas tank” in just a few minutes. Unfortunately, it takes at least 8 hours to fully recharge the batteries in the Volt. A drive from Atlanta to Birmingham (about 150 miles) takes about three hours (I drive slow and like to make a couple of stops along the way). If I tried to make that trip in the Chevy Volt, it would take about 50 hours, because I would have to make five 8-hour stops to recharge the battery.

The Volt has IC engine as well. As Chevy presented it, they made it sound like a diesel electric locomotive (or a Tiger tank) where the IC engine drives a generator that drives the electric motor that turns the wheels so he doesn't have to re-charge five times, it just switches to the IC engine when the batteries die (it also charges the batteries) but it still only get 28 MPG.

Chevy also pulled a fast one, if you know how a planetary gear works, if you look at the way the Volt's IC engine is connected to generator and drive train, it cheats around 70MPh and the IC engine drives the wheels directly so it's not really like a diesel electric.

Larger image, click on the small one.

15 posted on 02/19/2012 1:01:47 PM PST by Lx (Do you like it, do you like it. Scott? I call it Mr. and Mrs. Tennerman chili.)
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To: Brookhaven

There’s something I like to call “physics” and “chemistry” that puts limits on battery technology.


16 posted on 02/19/2012 1:07:52 PM PST by FastCoyote (I am intolerant of the intolerable.)
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To: Brookhaven

The used Chevy Volt market may have some unexpected problems. Buying a used Chevy Volt may also include the cost of a new battery. These batteries are warranted to 150,000 miles. That’s probably the projected lifespan of the battery. The battery replacement cost? $10,000. Ouch!

At $10,000 one could buy one hell of a lot of gasoline!


17 posted on 02/19/2012 1:10:33 PM PST by jonrick46 (Countdown to 11-06-2012)
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To: chris_bdba

The best car I’ve had in my lifetime was a 1972 Chevy Vega GT. It taught me how to wrench on top of the fact that I was born with instinctual mechanical skills no one could touch which allowed me to go everywhere if I fixed someone’s car or motorcycle in Jr High.

It was the fastest car in school and it had the 2300CC engine in it, with modifications of course. I still had to change the head gasket at least ten times and I had a sleeved and milled block and milled head. I don’t know what genius thought it was wise to have an aluminum block and an iron head. Even using the special Fel Pro gasket it would blow a gasket but since the block was sleeved, the water didn’t destroy the aluminum-silicon stock cylinder bores.

I thought the the ‘72 was a good looking car; it looked like a small Camero if you cut the front bumper like a Z28.


18 posted on 02/19/2012 1:11:05 PM PST by Lx (Do you like it, do you like it. Scott? I call it Mr. and Mrs. Tennerman chili.)
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To: the OlLine Rebel
This might still be workable, if you could refill the “electric gas tank” in just a few minutes. Unfortunately, it takes at least 8 hours to fully recharge the batteries in the Volt.

And how much energy needs to be generated to charge that battery? And how is it generated?

19 posted on 02/19/2012 1:12:18 PM PST by Jim Noble ("The Germans: At your feet, or at your throat" - Winston Churchill)
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To: Jim Noble

The generally accepted range of a Volt is 375 miles (caveat’s not withstanding).

The author supposedly could drive to his destination and back on a single tank of gas, and a full charge.


20 posted on 02/19/2012 1:26:57 PM PST by tickedoffnow (No more...)
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To: Brookhaven

Here in TN they have built a network of charging stations at Cracker Barrel restaurants. The idea being you can make a triangle between Knoxville, Nashville and Chattanooga and have refueling stops for the Leaf along the way. I looked at one of these stations to see if people are paying for the electricity (they’re not). I did some googling and discovered that there is a (subsidized) company that you can get a card from that lets you activate the charger. there is no cost for the card, nor the energy. They are trying to get more grants to put in more of these free stations. This is how they are trying to push this through; make it where you can charge up for “free” and put the cost off on those evil gas consumers.


21 posted on 02/19/2012 1:27:25 PM PST by jdub (A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.)
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To: jonrick46

About 90 thousand miles worth of gas.


22 posted on 02/19/2012 1:31:18 PM PST by fudimo
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To: Lx

Direct mechanical drive is far more efficient than conversion. That’s not “cheating”, that’s common sense.

The ONLY reason they have diesel electric locomotives is the necessity to power all the small wheels because of the low coefficient of steel wheels on steel rails.


23 posted on 02/19/2012 1:34:32 PM PST by nascarnation (DEFEAT BARAQ 2012 DEPORT BARAQ 2013)
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To: Yo-Yo

If it takes hours to recharge a Volt’s battery from a wall socket or charger, then just how much does a couple of seconds of braking (i.e. the time it takes to completely stop the vehicle) each time you approach a stop sign or traffic signal?


24 posted on 02/19/2012 1:38:35 PM PST by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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To: tickedoffnow

I think that the author’s point is this:
“What is the point of the battery pack and the electric drive?”

For the cost of the weight of the battery pack and electric drive, the car could have a larger petrol tank or just save weight by not carrying the extra weight around. Also, the battery’s weight remains the same as you deplete the charge. At least petrol tank loses mass as the fuel inside it is expended.


25 posted on 02/19/2012 1:44:56 PM PST by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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To: Army Air Corps

My Chevy Cruze is the same basic platform as the Volt without the motor and batteries. Similar 1.4 l engine but with a turbo and a 6 speed trans.

It weighs approx 1000 lbs less, cost $18,000, and gets 40 mpg on the highway using regular instead of premium.

I love it.


26 posted on 02/19/2012 1:51:37 PM PST by nascarnation (DEFEAT BARAQ 2012 DEPORT BARAQ 2013)
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To: Lx

Hehehehe...! Similar here. Besides a Vega my buddy and I autocrossed, I got REAL good at replacing head gaskets in those 2.2 -2.5 Chrylsler 4 cylinder engines as well as the Vega. I could replace the head gasket in my ‘94 Voyager in way less that an hour.

Oh and rebuilding the Weber on my FIAT X1/9. I kept a coffee can filled with cleaner in the trunk. When it wouldn’t idle at less than say 3k I’d pull over, clean and rebuild the carb in a couple of minutes. The Fiat would be good to go for another week or so.l

Don’t ask about the carbs on my Mom’s ‘71 XJ6 though. I hated those as well as the inboard rear brakes.


27 posted on 02/19/2012 1:52:51 PM PST by prisoner6 (Right Wing Nuts bolt the Constitution together as the loose screws of the Left fall out!)
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To: jdub
Pure electric cars are not viable right now.

There are two viable niches:

1) gasoline cars with a SMALL battery (a few minutes capacity) that would allow for regenerative braking, and electric power assist for acceleration or going up hill, to enable having a smaller gas engine but still have decent peak power, and

2) Electric golf carts to enable old people to get around their gated communities and get to the community supermarket and back. The cart doesn't need to have long range, nor be capable of high speed.

28 posted on 02/19/2012 1:53:14 PM PST by PapaBear3625 (In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. - George Orwell)
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To: nascarnation

There ya go! A much better buy than the Federally subsidised Volt.


29 posted on 02/19/2012 1:56:46 PM PST by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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To: Army Air Corps

Apparently consumers have figured it out....

2011

Cruze sales - 232,000
Volt sales - 7,600


30 posted on 02/19/2012 2:02:38 PM PST by nascarnation (DEFEAT BARAQ 2012 DEPORT BARAQ 2013)
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To: Lx

Ok, the Volt has an internal combustion engine that burns gasoline to produce electricity, which is then used power the electric motors that drive the car.

(1)What’s the point of having a battery pack?

(2) Is it really more green to burn gasoline to produce electricity to power a car, than to simply burn gasoline to power a car?


31 posted on 02/19/2012 2:03:03 PM PST by Brookhaven (Mitt Romney will right-size the economy--just like he did your job when he bought your company)
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To: Yo-Yo

There’s nothing disingenuous about it.

Consumer Reports said they could only drive 28 miles on the Volt’s batteries before they were drained (including the braking). 28 miles per gallon is typical for a gasoline only powered car.

Of course, there are plenty of gasoline powered cars that get a lot more than 28 miles per gallon. By that standard, the Volt’s batteries how less than the energy in one gallon of gasoline.


32 posted on 02/19/2012 2:06:59 PM PST by Brookhaven (Mitt Romney will right-size the economy--just like he did your job when he bought your company)
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To: jdub

In Washington State somebody in the legislature, a democrat, is trying to add a tax on owners of electric cars because they don’t pay gas tax. A real WTF moment.


33 posted on 02/19/2012 2:07:26 PM PST by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: nascarnation

Indeed. And the Cruze isn’t subsidised out the wazoo the way that he Volt is.


34 posted on 02/19/2012 2:07:52 PM PST by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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To: Brookhaven

The Volt’s battery pack performance becomes more ridiculous when compared to a Diesel-powered car.


35 posted on 02/19/2012 2:11:29 PM PST by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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To: mountainlion
I was talking to a guy that said that it would take 1200 pounds of lead acid batteries to equal 10 gallons of gas.

Optimistic. This article just stated that the Volts 430lb battery = 1 gallon and the Leaf's 660lb batter = 2 gallons of gas. So 10 gallons of gas would range from 3,300lbs to 4,300 lb. 1200 pounds for 10 gallons gas equivalent would be a MASSIVE leap forward from today's battery technology. MASSIVE.

36 posted on 02/19/2012 2:11:29 PM PST by Freedom_Is_Not_Free (Priority 1: REPEAL OBAMACARE)
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To: Brookhaven

The old rule used to be that it takes longer to recharge a battery than to discharge it.


37 posted on 02/19/2012 2:15:07 PM PST by Citizen Tom Paine (An old sailor sends)
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To: FastCoyote

That’s what it comes down to. The laws of physics aren’t suggestions. Energy density has always been the Achilles’ Heel of these things. There is simply no way portable electric storage can match the energy content of a similar volume of gasoline. Limited range and lack of environment control (most people want heat in winter, cooling in summer) will make these things pretty impractical for most people.


38 posted on 02/19/2012 2:18:04 PM PST by chimera
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To: Brookhaven
Of course, there are plenty of gasoline powered cars that get a lot more than 28 miles per gallon. By that standard, the Volt’s batteries how less than the energy in one gallon of gasoline.

And how! A new BMW 328i (4-cyl.) has an EPA rating of 36mpg and costs less then the Volt (MSRP of $34,900). Plus, the 328i's 4-cyl. engine produces 240hp.
39 posted on 02/19/2012 2:24:47 PM PST by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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To: Brookhaven

FYI, the Volt is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, so it can store energy in both a battery *and* a gas tank. According to Wikipedia, the gas tank has a capacity of 9.3 gallons, giving it a range of 379 miles. GM calls the Volt an ‘extended range electric vehicle,’ terminology that may be more confusing than informative, but one *can* continue driving after the battery is discharged. On the other hand, the Leaf and the Tesla cars are pure electric vehicles, so you are indeed stuck for a while once their batteries are empty.


40 posted on 02/19/2012 2:28:07 PM PST by Hetuck
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To: Hetuck

What is the point, then? Without the several hundred pounds of battery and electric drive gear, the range would likely be greater. Hell, the weight savings could go to a larger petrol tank.


41 posted on 02/19/2012 2:34:23 PM PST by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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To: Brookhaven

And it takes about ten hours for that one gallon of energy to drip into the “tank”. An Owsley County, Kentucky whiskey still pumps out moonshine faster than that (don’t ask me how I know - old family secret).


42 posted on 02/19/2012 2:35:46 PM PST by katana (Just my opinions)
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To: Brookhaven
The Chevy Volt battery pack weighs 435 pounds.

Yet they want to ban spare tires because they weigh too much.

When Consumer Reports tested the Volt, they managed to get 28 miles on a full battery charge

That wouldn't get me to the grocery store.

43 posted on 02/19/2012 2:39:25 PM PST by bgill (Romney & Obama are both ineligible. A non-NBC GOP prez shuts down all ?s on Obama's admin)
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To: nascarnation; Lx

The main reason locomotives use the diesel/generator/motor combination is that such an arrangment provides an infinite speed transmission.

The engineer can transmit an infinite range of horsepower to the drive axles, from a couple horsepower to the 4400 rated horsepower and beyond.

The locomotive can also respond nearly instantly to slippage on any single axle, reducing power to that axle. Dynamic braking, something difficult for a mechanical connection, is also available.

It has nothing to do with the number of drive wheels.


44 posted on 02/19/2012 2:43:02 PM PST by Balding_Eagle (Liberals, at their core, are aggressive & dangerous to everyone around them,)
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To: the OlLine Rebel

You do know that the Chevy Volt has a gasoline engine. The trip would take no longer than it does now.


45 posted on 02/19/2012 2:43:46 PM PST by brooklin
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To: Brookhaven

Good post!


46 posted on 02/19/2012 2:45:16 PM PST by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: Brookhaven
If people want to buy an Electric Car, go for it.
The caveat of course is that there should absolutely no Government Tax Credits or other assistance.

Newt just gave a speech where he noted the average Volt owner, along with $7,500 in Tax Credits (that Obama wants to increase to $10,000 BTW), makes $170,000 a year.

It's a One Percenter car that runs on Coal and / or evil “premium” gasoline...

47 posted on 02/19/2012 2:47:16 PM PST by Kickass Conservative (Liberals, Useful Idiots Voting for Useless Idiots...)
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To: nascarnation

GM is now offering a $369.00 a month Lease on the Volt with no down payment.

3 years, 36,000 miles with a $.20 per mile charge for any overage.

They will be leasing a lot more cars, especially with $5.00 per gallon gas on the way. The Volt requires Premium Gas which is currently $4.19 a gallon where I live.


48 posted on 02/19/2012 2:55:48 PM PST by Kickass Conservative (Liberals, Useful Idiots Voting for Useless Idiots...)
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To: July4

“I’ve heard that new super batteries are just around the corner.”

“Yeah, they’ve been just around the corner for 40 years.”

...and so is the fusion energy source with which to charge them.


49 posted on 02/19/2012 3:08:19 PM PST by The Antiyuppie ("When small men cast long shadows, then it is very late in the day.")
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To: Kickass Conservative

Still, the car’s range is not better than the competition. Even if gasoline climbs to $5/gallon, I am not going to exchange my car which averages 35mpg on the highway for a Volt.


50 posted on 02/19/2012 3:10:08 PM PST by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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