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Last Friday, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa celebrated the installation of Coulomb Technologies' 500th plug-in vehicle charging station. That's interesting in and of itself, but it was something Chu said that captured our attention. First, Chu opened with this obligatory statement:
The Department of Energy is happy to be a part of this, but more importantly we're very happy to be really trying to push for the electrification of vehicles in the U.S. The reason is very simple. We have to diversify our transportation energy.
Then, with some overly optimistic claims thrown in, Chu discussed the future of plug-ins, stating that batteries are the "heart" of electric vehicles, adding that the Department of Energy (DOE) is funding research to slash the cost of batteries by 50 percent within the next three to four years. Chu continued by claiming that batteries will boast double, or perhaps even triple, the energy density within six years:
These are magical distances. To buy a car that will cost $20,000 to $25,000 without a subsidy where you can go 350 miles is our goal.
Magical, indeed. Do we have the wizards to pull it off? Hat tip to Josh!
[Source: Los Angeles Times]


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  • 58 Comments
      Marcopolo
      • 3 Years Ago
      All over the world, researchers are working on developing superior energy storage units for EV's. It's very heartening to see Secretary Chu providing incentives to US industry to achieve a target. Large capacity battery technology is relatively underdeveloped, and technologies such as super-capacitors, and other energy storage devices (ESD)are still in the process of becoming 'breakthrough' technologies. If the naysayers, and deranged negative conspiracy theorists are discounted, (as they should be) then the future of EV' technology is not only very positive, but inevitable.Governments have a legitimate role to play in in supporting the development of EV battery (and other ESD), technology, since governments are stakeholders in reducing the cost to the taxpayer of adapting to a post-oil economy . Secretary Chu's optimism and enthusiasm does him credit, even if a little exaggerated.
      super390
      • 3 Years Ago
      350 might be optimistic, but the trick is to attack the problem from the car end as well, and use a smaller battery pack. For instance, if you have a 150 wh/pound battery that costs 25 cents per watt/hour, then a highly aerodynamic car that weighs under a ton (which is really the toughest part - see Loremo) could run at highway speeds at 100 wh/mile, using a 30,000 wh battery that weighs 200 lbs and costs $7500. The newest VW One-liter looks to actually use less than 100 wh/mile, but it's a 2-seat diesel hybrid. Take out the diesel, add in child seats.
      xxxZOMBIExxx
      • 3 Years Ago
      ...In related news the Surgeon General has determined that crack does not smoke its self...
        Noz
        • 3 Years Ago
        @xxxZOMBIExxx
        DUDE...stop acting like an idiot.
          Noz
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Noz
          Yeah and once upon a time a cell phone cost a few grand...so what's your stupid point? Stop being such a whiner and instant-gratification seeker and start supporting stuff that perhaps at least one day your children will be able to enjoy - don't be so freaking self-centered and selfish.
          Noz
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Noz
          Yeah and once upon a time a cell phone cost a few grand...so what's your stupid point? Stop being such a whiner and instant-gratification seeker and start supporting stuff that perhaps at least one day your children will be able to enjoy - don't be so freaking self-centered and selfish.
          xxxZOMBIExxx
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Noz
          You clearly don't work in the auto industry and don't have a clue about the average price of a ICE vehicle today. If you did you would know that the average price of an ICE vehicle today is over $20,000. EV tech will have to become less expensive than current ICE's in less than 5 years to allow the auto industry to retail EV's in the $20,000 - $25,000 dollar range with out subsidies. I would LOVE to see a 350 mile EV under 25 grand but inflation and the current rate at which the price is dropping for EV tech wont allow for it. 30,000 + is far more realistic....and at that price I'll be buying one.
      Noz
      • 3 Years Ago
      Greed and money will hinder all progress...all it will bring it to the forefront. Which view do you want to have? Half empty or half full?
      Ben Crockett
      • 3 Years Ago
      Good to hear that EV development has strong government support.
      FREEPAT75014
      • 3 Years Ago
      That guy is a pure asset for EVs expansion, not just for the US, but also inspiring the World. Congratulations sir. While un-consequent politicians in France just decided, by lack of vision, that first up to 24KWH Batteries would be enough for many years, so the home charging infra should be calibrated based on 3.7KWH slow chargers and plug should be limited to their ridiculous little plug made with the Italians that all persons who visited last Paris Motor show rejected in seconds, only looking at German Minekes or even US plugs instead, this guys admits the evidence, that men will want that doubled, trippled, and possibly more than that, and investments have now been put in place to make that possible. For me the "plateau" will be reached when batteries will have same mileage as current cars, means 500 Miles corresponding to # 130KWH. So we should design the charging infrastructure on that 130KWH basis, and plan the various steps required to get there, instead of explaining on could leave with 24KWH forever. To recharge overlinght such a 130KWH battery, will require 22KW tri-phase chargers that Germans are currently testing. So this is what should be deployed now, taking some models providing also the capability to do 3.7KW to best fit current 24KWH Batteries (planned OK), but also 6.7KW for tomorrow 50KWH next step (not yet planned in European standards. Needs to be added), and may be something in between like 13-15KW for 100KWH batteries. Should not be so difficult to do... Assuming Chu predictions on $/KWH materialize which I'm sure they will as brakthroughs will occur in that heavily funded Batteries business.
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      The EPA rates the Leaf at 73 miles. That means we need a battery with five times the capacity. Good luck.
      Naturenut99
      • 3 Years Ago
      Since Tesla is getting ready to release a 300 mile EV, adding an additional 50 miles in about 5.5 years is more than doable. The question is.... how to drastically reduce the price?
        Chris M
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Naturenut99
        Tesla is also reducing prices, with the upcoming Model S being almost half the price of their Roadstar, Further price reductions in 5.5 years are possible - the question is how much reduction will there be? The next decade is going to be very interesting!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Everyboby needs a little humor everday.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      we don't need 600km range Chu, we need EVs now. not in 2017. if light weight, aerodynamic and 200km range then that's plenty to be practical and commercially viable today if only we have quick charge stations at key locations. I hope he is just incompetent and not intentionally evil but he seems to be stuck in a long term research mode at the expense of what can easily be done now. a wet rag could have done better than him on getting the ball rolling because total inaction would make us look elsewhere for a solution. token action is a huge disservice.
        FREEPAT75014
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Dan, 500M tanks did not occur by hazard arround the World. They best correspond to what people need on their various usage of their car. Plug In EVs will really be called "Progress" after that match that again, while providing extra benefits vs old ICE engines. For sure EVs can start now with lower batteries matching the "minimum" local commuters range, but that will mainly be used as 2nd car, limited to local commutes, except for the VOLT adding a Range Extender that makes it a real car replacement right now. For my case running on beloved BMW 535DA in Europe, I use one tank per week for my local commutes, so a 130KWH battery providing same 500M would only need to be recharged once per week for that usage (Not EVRY NIGHT esclavagism !). Then I have 1 or 2 x week-end per month where I need a full tank each time (Full electric too with 130KWH !). Then my Summer vacations where I need at least 4 x times that (Range Extender needed to secure that, plus fast charging on the road to remain Petrol Free as much as possible even then). Humans want progress, not argumented regresssion. People planning for that will win, others will loose.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Everybody needs a little humor everday!
      paulwesterberg
      • 3 Years Ago
      So does this mean that Chu is leaning toward leasing rather than buying his leaf?
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