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Old 12-13-2008, 07:53 PM   #1
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Politically inconvenient truth about electric cars

FT.com / Columnists / World View - Politically inconvenient truth about electric cars
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Old 12-13-2008, 10:31 PM   #2
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Pity that it's for registered users only, though I'm sure it's full of gloom and doom, heh.
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Old 12-14-2008, 01:06 PM   #3
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Copyright by Financial Times (Ft.com)
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Politically inconvenient truth about electric cars

By Paul Betts and Song Jung-a

Published: December 11 2008 19:24 | Last updated: December 11 2008 19:24

President Nicolas Sarkozy would dearly like to end France’s rotating presidency of the European Union on a high note by brokering this week a deal on a grand European response to global warming and energy efficiency. The ultimate plan is to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent with member states at the same time drawing their future energy needs from clean renewable sources by the same percentage amount. Under the circumstances, it is no surprise that the automobile industry has found itself at the heart of the climate change debate.

Indeed, Mr Sarkozy’s own government commissioned months ago one of France’s leading energy experts – Jean Syrota, the former French energy industry regulator – to draw up a report to analyse all the options for building cleaner and more efficient mass-market cars by 2030. The 129-page report was completed in September to coincide with the Paris motor show. But the government has continued to sit on it and seems reluctant to ever publish it.

Yet all those who have managed to glimpse at the document agree that it makes interesting reading. It concludes that there is not much future in the much vaunted developed of all electric-powered cars. Instead, it suggests that the traditional combustion engine powered by petrol, diesel, ethanol or new biofuels still offers the most realistic prospect of developing cleaner vehicles. Carbon emissions and fuel consumption could be cut by 30-40 per cent simply by improving the performance and efficiency of traditional engines and limiting the top speed to about 170km/hr. Even that is well above the average top speed restriction in Europe, with the notable exception of Germany. New so-called “stop and start” mechanisms can produce further 10 per cent reductions that can rise to 25-30 per cent in cities. Enhancements in car electronics as well as the development of more energy efficient tyres, such as Michelin’s new “energy saver” technology, are also expected to help reduce consumption and pollution.

Overall, the Syrota report says that adapting and improving conventional engines could enhance their efficiency by an average of 50 per cent. It also argues that new-generation hybrid cars combining conventional engines with electric propulsion could provide an interesting future alternative.

By combining electric batteries with conventional fuel-driven engines, cars could run on clean electricity for short urban trips while switching over to fuel on motorways. This would resolve one of the biggest problems facing all electric cars – the need to install costly battery recharging infrastructures.The report warns that the overall cost of an all-electric car remains unviable at around double that of a conventional vehicle. Battery technology is still unsatisfactory, severely limiting performance both in terms of range and speed. The electricity supply for these batteries would continue to come from mostly fossil sources.

The misgivings over the future of the electric car may explain why the French government appears to have spiked the report. It probably considers it politically incorrect, especially when some of Mr Sarkozy’s big business chums such as Vincent Bolloré and Serge Dassault are developing either electric cars and lobbying hard. Renault too has struck a deal with Israel to jointly develop a mass-market electric vehicle. To paraphrase Al Gore’s documentary on climate change, Paris may feel it is not the best of times to publicise the inconvenient truth about electric cars.

A clear line into S Korea

South Korea has finally taken a step forward to liberalising its much regulated telecoms market by lifting a technical requirement that has made it hard for foreign handset makers to break into the market. The Korea Communications Commission has said that adopting WIPI, a homegrown technology on which all local handset applications are based, will no longer be mandatory from next April.

The move will allow foreign players, who previously found it too expensive to produce handsets tailored for South Korea in line with the WIPI rule, a way into a market. Samsung and LG together control nearly 80 per cent of the market.

Nokia, global leader in the handset market, has been virtually absent in South Korea, and Apple, the US technology group, has kept its iPhone out of the market because of the WIPI rule. Motorola is also a minor competitor in South Korea with less than 5 per cent of the market.

South Korean telecom groups on Thursday welcomed the move, saying that the removal of one of the main barriers to foreign entry to the market would help widen choice for their customers.

Nokia is in talks with SK Telecom to provide the country’s biggest operator with handsets, while Apple is discussing with KTF, another local operator, to supply its next-generation iPhone.
I don't really get why they put the South Korea story in the article, but I copied it with it.
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Old 12-16-2008, 07:32 PM   #4
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Copyright by Financial Times (Ft.com)


I don't really get why they put the South Korea story in the article, but I copied it with it.


Thanks Vincent Vega

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Old 12-17-2008, 11:48 AM   #5
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Wow, that article reads like it was written several years ago.

The problem with continuing to rely on gasoline is that it'll be gone someday, no matter how efficiently we use it.

The problem with bio fuels (like ethanol) is that food crops are being plowed under so that farmers can grow corn for ethanol (and collect government subsidies, in the US at least). Also, bio fuels have a very poor return ratio. You only get something like 1.3 units of energy from ethanol for every 1 unit put into making it. This is compared to 4-1 for gasoline.

The range/recharging problem with an electric car is not so much an issue as stated. For example, a Tesla has a 250 mile range, which would satisfy the daily driving needs of a huge percentage of the general population. And even for road trips, you wouldn't recharge your existing battery. The trend right now is going toward having service stations stocked with fully charged batteries. You pull in, swap batteries, and drive off. Your old battery then goes on the chargers for another customer.

I'm not saying that electric cars are the end-all, be-all solution, but they're far from dead. Sure, you have to generate the electricity somehow, but there are lots of clean ways to do that. Besides, wouldn't it be easier to clean up the power plants than it would be to clean up the power plants AND all the millions of cars on the road?

It'll be interesting to see where technology takes us. Lots of things we use today were "impossible" at one time.
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Old 12-17-2008, 12:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by cydewaze View Post
The problem with bio fuels (like ethanol) is that food crops are being plowed under so that farmers can grow corn for ethanol (and collect government subsidies, in the US at least). Also, bio fuels have a very poor return ratio. You only get something like 1.3 units of energy from ethanol for every 1 unit put into making it. This is compared to 4-1 for gasoline.
They are also apparently not very clean burning and their emission levels are nearly the same as gasoline.
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