• May 30th 2006 at 7:58PM
  • 19

The lovable curmudgeon Jerry Flint directs his keen analytical eye towards plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and why the market shouldn't expect them any time soon. The concern seems to mainly revolve around battery technology, or rather the lack there of. If one simply looks at the current state-of-the-art in nickel metal hydride (NiMH) cells, it's an understandable source of skepticism, but one that is almost certainly on the verge of becoming an outdated argument. For proof of this, we simply need to take a look at two markets that have recently taken advantage of significant leaps forward in lithium battery technology - RC models, and power tools. We're guessing that Flint doesn't play with many toy cars or gut his bathroom on a regular basis, and that's understandable. But for anyone that has seen what modern lithium-polymer and lithium-manganese battery technology can do when combined with the latest in motor technology, it seems almost laughable to ignore the possible applications for PHEVs.

Certainly, there's a large difference between getting a Sawzall to cut through more walls per charge and somehow incorporating the same technology into an automobile, and Mr. Flint is technically correct when he says that PHEVs are "not now" viable. But give battery technology a few more years to mature, and we suspect that the anti-anything-new crowd will need to find some other reason to complain.

 [Source: Forbes.com]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      Mike, You're kidding right? Most Hybrids don't store the batteries anywhere NEAR the engine compartment.

      Don't be a moron.

      Discharging at 20C ( That's 20X times the charge rate) is extremely harsh. And yes, sealed lithium polymers can survive both climates as long as you don't puncture the casing (Saltwater is used to neutralize lithium polymer batteries. I guess since you haven't ever worked on a vehicle made after 1975, that it hasn't occured to you that batteries don't have to be located under the bood?

      RC Fan, NIMH batteries are NOT more power dense, and they have a lot of problems with internal resistance, and power loss over time that Li Polymer batteries don't have. In addition NIMH batteries require heavy metal outer casings where Li-Polys don't

      • 9 Years Ago
      The solution to the grid problem is to decentralize power production. Photovoltaics are advancing nearly as fast as lithium ion batteries. PVs are cheap, easy to produce, sustainable and very local. Remember that you lose 7 times the energy for every 100 miles you send electricity (that's what massive transformers and substations are about). Grid based power production is viable for the future only when configured for decentralized, individual power production. It will be here soon...if our government has any sense.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Number 28 - Your skepticism is somewhat misplaced! The USABLE EV battery technology is just about ready!

      Number 20 - leave that "50 cycles" stuff behind and make way for "9,000 use cycles at charge/discharge rates at which other battery types simply cannot function . . . temperatures as low as -50 degrees C and as high as 75 degrees C"!


      "Altairnano has invented and developed a nano-structured negative electrode material called nano Lithium Titanium Oxide, or nLTO, that replaces the graphite used in "standard" lithium ion batteries with safe, nanomaterials."

      "The ALTI stock opened at $2.93 this morning and is currently trading higher at $3.22 at the Nasdaq."
      • 9 Years Ago
      Mr. Flint is like a closed book to new Ideas.. At this point if we had plug ins for short trips we could use a removable battery pack (make it removable like the seats in a SUV) for trips 50 miles and under and then use the car in traditional Hybrid mode for long travel. We can't say all alternate fuels and systems don't work we just have to open our minds to new ideas! And there is no reason to keep waiting a E85 hybrid plugin could provide every family a second car for light duty.
      • 9 Years Ago
      "Im not quite dead yet!"

      To paraphrase Monty Python, the internal combustion engine still has the legs to get us to get us to the NiCad, Li whatever electric future.

      What #14 finished his post with is more interesting. Plug into where exactly? So we drain more from the grid to make a cleaner car... then what?

      Plug-in cars need a better electric infrastructure than we have now. Remeber a couple years ago when a faulty breaker in an Ohio power plant shut the entire NorthEast down in the biggest black-out since the 70s? We have a pretty archaic grid, one that relies 95% on massive power stations which are increasingly close to death.

      Even the best battery tech will mean nothing without equally advanced power generation and distribution. Whats the answer? Nuclear? Solar? More likely than not its gonna take another hybrid -- personal power generation and redistribution -- to get us there. But until everyone has solar panels, an at-home hydrogen reformer and there are some new-gen nukes built...

      ...we're all gonna still be driving on dinosaurs.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Tell anyone who had a Rav4 EV or a Saturn EV1 that batteries are not viable.

      Then factor in several years of advances in battery technology. Yes, batteries are expensive, but so is maintenance on engines...and EVs have fewer moving parts than either a hybrid or an internal combustion engine.

      The truth is, you could build a completely plug-in commuter car now - and in fact some companies do - it's just the big automakers aren't ready to go there.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I'm ready to buy a next gen Prius, especially if I can power it with anything other than petro, be it electric on/off the grid, E85 or whatever.

      I have cold hard cash and will pay extra for it.

      Someone please produce one.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Richard Carling
      • 9 Years Ago
      The solution to the Grid problem is Wind Power. U.S. Energy Dept survey 1991; North Dakota, Texas & Kansas have enough constant Wind Power to supply the entire country. The landowners love wind farms because they can still use the land and get paid as well. See Plan B 2.0 Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble by Lester Brown (Earth Policy Institute.org) Wind Power is the perfect compliment to Plug-In Hybrids. Add in conservation measures and we are a long way toward solving our energy problems. RC
      • 9 Years Ago
      Plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles get plugged in at night, primarily. Using existing off-peak capacity, the current U.S. grid could handle about 80 million plug-in hybrids before we'd need to think about expanding the infrastructure. Even if we introduced plug-in hybrids today, it will be years before that many are on the road, which gives us time to build more wind and solar power.

      And let's put the environmental question to rest. See an overview of the emissions question (from both car and power source) in the FAQ of my website, www.sherryboschert.com. (Compiled during research for my upcoming book, Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars that Will Recharge America.) Bottom line: plug-in cars reduce greenhouse gases compared with gas cars and hybrids.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Subaru & Nissan have both pledged to launch electric-only vehicles for the public by 2010. Subaru's R1e, which is currently testing on Japanese streets, uses a lithium-ion battery (developed jointly w/NEC) than can be recharged to 90% of capacity in five minutes. The current prototypes can be driven about 75 miles without recharging, but the distance is expected to be expanded to about 125 miles.
      As the author says, Jerry Flint's argument is about to be outdated.
      • 9 Years Ago
      College student built, solar powered cars have been racing several thousand miles across the country on lithium ion batteries for years.
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