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Old 04-16-2009, 12:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Fisker Karma: Even More Impressive in Real Life

For more photos of the Fisker Karma, check out our gallery at the bottom of this post. Before I saw the Fisker Karma in person at the 2009 New York International Auto Show, I didn’t think much of the cars. To me, it was just another high-priced, luxury eco-mobile competing with Tesla Motors for the [...] Related posts:
  1. 2011 Ford Fiesta: An Unexpectedly Impressive Car
  2. One Big Reason Not to Trust “Real World” Fuel Economy Testing
  3. Tesla Motors is an Environmental Fail (and More!)


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Old 04-16-2009, 03:22 PM   #2 (permalink)
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This comment applies to the Fisker, the Tesla, or any plug-in, whether by conversion or production by Detroit.

Switching from gasoline to electric methods of propelling cars has a benefit of reducing USA dependence on foreign oil. Emissions are quite another matter. First, the "Zero emission" claim is offensive. No person should be allowed to graduate from high school who believes this nonsense. It had some historical validity when the "zero" meant that there were no local emissions, but even then it just meant someone else got to deal with them, and maybe if diluted it was ok. But now that we know CO2 to be a problem, the "zero emission" claim is idiotic beyond belief.

As far as CO2 goes, the only possible redemption for electric cars is if they use a lot less energy. Tesla has a very low frontal area so it works ok in that regard. However, the high performance is not without cost. Sure they get some of their energy back with regenerative braking. (But try to find out what the battery charging and discharging efficiency is.) Correction, the original little Tesla had that low frontal area - - not so low with the big one. Fisker Karma is worse yet, having no redeeming efficiency in its vehicle form.

Now to address the never ending claims that somehow coal will not be the fuel source used to respond to additional load of each EV. Even if we in California switch to more natural gas, the effect of using that natural gas, under basic economic rules, would be to increase the market price of natural gas. The rest of the USA will have none of that, so they will buy less of that natural gas, and of course, they will buy and use more coal. Thus, the intended accomplishment in California is a myth.

The problem is that there is no real way to change this without greatly penalizing coal. That might happen with "cap and trade" or simpler taxation; if and when it does the marginal (response to incremental increase in use) fuel will shift to natural gas. Watch out for the price of natural gas under that scenario.

Now look at the NRDC-EPRI study (widely quoted as proof that plug-ins are great)at IEEE Spectrum: Why Plug-Ins Will Make (Dollars and) Sense and look at comments for references, to see that for natural gas based electricity, there could be some reduction in CO2 emitted by making a Prius into a plug-in, but not a lot; but for coal which is the more probable source, the plug-in substantially degrades the production Prius and CO2 emissons increase.

Now think about a Hummer converted into a hybrid and then into a plug-in hybrid. (Yes that could happen. Look at what Andy Grove says at McKinsey: What Matters: An electric plan for energy resilience ) Do you think converting the Hummer to a hybrid Hummer will be a big efficiency gain? There will be some gain, but I can assure you it will not begin to perform like the Prius. Now make that Hummer hybrid into a plug-in and see what will happen. By comparison with the Prius plug-in we should expect the plug-in Hummer to be worse than the hybrid Hummer for coal based electric power; probably the CO2 will be worse than the original gasoline guzzler Hummer. For natural gas based electric power some time in the future there will be a slight gain in CO2 as a result of making conventional cars into plug-ins.

If you think I am being silly about the Hummer, check out how GM planned to proceed about a year ago. http://fastlane.gmblogs.com/PDF/presentation-sm.pdf Watch for the bait and switch when they pretend to be developing fuel efficient vehicles in response to government demands.

And wait to see how the games start when we get to CAFE mileage standards. We already have our national laboratory, Argonne, willing to fake the calculation of electric "miles per gallon equivalent" by pretending the heat needed to produce electricity is the same as the heat that can be produced with that electricity. Maybe someone with this level of idiocy could be allowed to pass out of high school, but they certainly should not have passed freshman physics in college. And Argonne and even SAE fails on this. The published SAE standard on equivalent mileage of electric vehicles carries forward this error as well.

To see apparent bias in promoting plug-ins by Argonne, see Miastrada Motors - References for the Argonne paper on testing the Hymotion Prius where they accidentally let out that the production Prius engine efficiency for UDDS cycle driving is 38% but the plug-in mod degrades it down to 33%.

In the end we will have continued production of large, inefficient vehicles, and a public believing that something significant was accomplished. For global warming mitigation, that will be a disaster because it will be the ruination of any future efforts that could have real merit.
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Old 04-16-2009, 04:24 PM   #3 (permalink)
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What's your motivation for this post?

Quite simply, getting people into electric cars WILL have a positive effect on our environment and economy. Does it make you feel good to bash the people in charge of beginning the research and development required to get this shift rolling?

I'm not even going to dignify your giant post full of speculation with counter-points.
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Old 04-16-2009, 08:11 PM   #4 (permalink)
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answer

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Originally Posted by MazdaMatt View Post
What's your motivation for this post?

Quite simply, getting people into electric cars WILL have a positive effect on our environment and economy. Does it make you feel good to bash the people in charge of beginning the research and development required to get this shift rolling?

I'm not even going to dignify your giant post full of speculation with counter-points.
My motivation is to point out the mistaken impression that electric vehicles will solve global warming. I add however, that if there is a companion effort to make the cars actually use much less energy for propulsion, then things could come out right in the end. But if you look at the references I think you might see that the auto industry is not thinking much about how to make the cars themselves efficient.

And no, I do not like telling well intentioned people that they are being misled. But I would rather tell them now than after they spent a lot of money doing things that will probably not help much.
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Old 04-16-2009, 08:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm not sure people think they can fix global warming as much as decrease their negative effect
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Old 04-16-2009, 10:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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While EVs are better on the pollution / energy consumption front than the regular fossil fuel cars, using them to imagine it will solve our energy woes is false comfort. It is actually like using a pallet gun to commit suicide in preference to a shotgun - you die anyways, but with the 'better' option, it is long drawn and excruciatingly painful.

On the scale that the global economic activity has reached, nothing can be sustainable. We will eventually have to pipe down our activities to go back to pre-industrial age levels in our consumption of resources in terms of volume and usage pattern, but I doubt the world retains enough sanity to be able to reverse the course of the explosive uncontrolled cancerous growth that we have seen in the last century.
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Old 04-16-2009, 11:42 PM   #7 (permalink)
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kitaimdao

Sure it is a big job but I think there are ways to fix it. The first thing to do is to stop doing phony things. Then we can get on to actually using less energy.

I wish I knew how to make progress without first pointing out the things that stand in the way. Unfortunately there is no great surplus of resources that would enable us to go off in all directions at once. So we need to make meaningful choices.

I certainly have my solutions to offer, which are roughly discussed at Miastrada Motors - Side view, large model High vantage point for driverFortified enclosure for safety200-300 "MPGe" for plug-in operation 120MPG diesel operation long trips(At 80 MPH) I would be glad to discuss these here. If anyone wants to throw stones at my approaches, I would appreciate a good dialog.
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Old 04-16-2009, 11:44 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Just click that underlined stuff to get to the Miastrada site. I have no idea why it put out all that when I just put in a simple website url.

I will try again:
Miastrada Motors - Side view, large model High vantage point for driverFortified enclosure for safety200-300 "MPGe" for plug-in operation 120MPG diesel operation long trips(At 80 MPH)
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Old 04-17-2009, 02:39 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The concept of vehicle as energy producer might have merit ie. reducing transmission losses.

The design and layout of that vehicle proposal looks naive as hell to me. High cg, worse r.r., really not the best Cd, and ergonomics? Forget it.
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Old 04-17-2009, 09:10 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Don't bother to give a starving man a sandwich. That will never solve world hunger.

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