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Electric Vehicles Can Meet Drivers' Needs Enough To Replace 90 Percent of Vehicles Now On The Road (phys.org) 990

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Phys.Org: Researchers at MIT have just completed the most comprehensive study yet to address whether or not existing electric vehicles could bring about a meaningful reduction in the greenhouse-gas emissions that are causing global climate change. Yes, they can. The study was published today in the journal Nature Energy. Phys.Org reports: "'Roughly 90 percent of the personal vehicles on the road daily could be replaced by a low-cost electric vehicle available on the market today, even if the cars can only charge overnight,' Trancik says, 'which would more than meet near-term U.S. climate targets for personal vehicle travel.' Overall, when accounting for the emissions today from the power plants that provide the electricity, this would lead to an approximately 30 percent reduction in emissions from transportation. The team spent four years on the project, which included developing a way of integrating two huge datasets: one highly detailed set of second-by-second driving behavior based on GPS data, and another broader, more comprehensive set of national data based on travel surveys. Together, the two datasets encompass millions of trips made by drivers all around the country. By working out formulas to integrate the different sets of information and thereby track one-second-resolution drive cycles, the MIT researchers were able to demonstrate that the daily energy requirements of some 90 percent of personal cars on the road in the U.S. could be met by today's EVs, with their current ranges, at an overall cost to their owners -- including both purchase and operating costs -- that would be no greater than that of conventional internal-combustion vehicles."
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Electric Vehicles Can Meet Drivers' Needs Enough To Replace 90 Percent of Vehicles Now On The Road

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  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Monday August 15, 2016 @10:32PM (#52709185)
    How about all the people that live in apartments with first come first serve parking? Or people that park in the street? Or way down the street? Overnight charging is not simple for everyone.
    • by TheMiddleRoad ( 1153113 ) on Monday August 15, 2016 @10:39PM (#52709205)

      People don't have gas stations at home either. Building up infrastructure at home, work, and shopping centers can solve that issue. Every powered kiosk for street parking in urban areas can become a paid charging station. I know plenty of workplaces that offer charging during the day. As for people in dense urban areas like NYC, they largely don't have cars.

      We have two 240v charging stations in the garage, for our two super-cheap EVs (Chevy Spark EV and Fiat 500e). Our rooftop solar power production offsets approximately 100% of the power we use, including the cars and electric water heating. We have two other cars that rarely get used.

      Rock and roll.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 15, 2016 @10:45PM (#52709233)

        The difference is that people don't have to sit at a gas station overnight. Because filling up your car only takes 10 minutes at a gas station (max), not everyone needs to have one. When you can pull into an electric charging station and leave ten minutes later with a full charge, people will start using electric cars. Also, when it becomes as cheap to buy an electric car with equivalent range (thinking about $12K Honda Civics that get 40mpg).

        • by Kobun ( 668169 )
          If you left the house every morning with a full tank of gas, how often do you think you would need a refueling station on a typical day?
        • The point is you don't sit around and do 'nothing'. Since my wife got her Leaf she's never spent time just standing around waiting at the pump. Come home, pop the flap, plug it in walk inside. Stop thinking of filling up an electric car in the same terms of 'filling up' a gasoline one.

          Yes, it is different but it's not that difficult to figure out. The farthest the Leaf has been from home was we tried a 2 charge excursion. Drove to a neighboring city. Ate at a restaurant near a charger. Visited the city. Sta

        • the other difference is i dont want an extra car. yes, i could get by on 75 miles a day on a charge. i can do that.

          until i want to go to the beach. or go shopping in another town. or visit family or friends or go anywhere else and drive around all day and come home. 100 mile charge wont get me to the city i want to go to on the weekend so....what, have a travel car? now i have a commute car and a travel car? boo that.

          i do sort of want an electric car with good range. its on my things-i-hope-to-have-in-a-dec

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        People don't have gas stations at home either.

        True, but it only takes 5 minutes to fill up your car with gasoline.

      • As for people in dense urban areas like NYC, they largely don't have cars.

        Bloody oath. I live in a city with urban sprawl where it takes 140 minutes by public transport to visit my brother (a 45 minute car journey) in 'Greater' Melbourne.
        I would happily trade a life in the 'burbs for an apartment in a metropolis with a world class subway. Madrid springs to mind, if only it had a coastline...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by whoever57 ( 658626 )

      How about all the people that live in apartments with first come first serve parking? Or people that park in the street? Or way down the street?

      Where I live, lots of people charge at work, often free.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Well, it's only a problem if the way we get to 90% electric cars is by waving a magic wand and converting all our ICE cars instantaneously. Assuming the change is incremental over several decades I assume that the standards for "normal" infrastructure associated with things like apartment buildings and parking garages will change.

      I brought Internet into an organization back in the days you had to prove you were an educational, government or military organization to do it. Back in those days the idea of br

    • I'm not interested in a car that gets me to 90% of the destinations I need to go to. Odds are those 90% are able to be handled in lots of ways (including borrowing the neighbors car). I'm interested in the other 10%. Do they have an electric vehicle that can carry lumber and sheets of plywood from the hardware store? Do they have electric vehicles that I can take on a remote and rough dirt road so I can watch the sunrise from a vista? Do they have an electric vehicle that I can put the kids in along wit
      • When you have an issue like that a free market can step in and provide a solution.

        Why not a surplus of cheap uber type truck rentals? Why do you even need a vehicle that can carry a lot of stuff? Go to the store with a barcode scanner, walk around, pick out everything you need. (Lumber and all) and schedule it for deliver. No lifting. No moving it multiple times (shelf -> cart -> car -> house).

        Same for minivans. Have soccer practice? Have the self driving van drop itself off at your house (So that

        • I have a sneaking suspicion that the "freemarket" already has a solution. People want the freedom to do what they want, when they want, and how they want. People own the cars they want now.

          Uber isn't going to have Uber Trucks in small rural towns. They especially aren't going to have it if you live on a ranch far from a small rural town. Uber Trucks won't be happy if you dump a bunch of bricks in the back. I for one am not entirely excited about the idea of having to find a special vehicle every time m

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

        Do they have an electric vehicle that can carry lumber and sheets of plywood from the hardware store?

        If you're going to buy a Ford F-450 for the once every few years you need lumber and sheets of plywood at your house, it would be cheaper just to have it delivered.

        Lumber yards do deliver, you know.

      • You might want to take up classes for reading comprehension. It says that 90% of the cars could be replaced by various EVs that are available today, and it would cover 100% of the driving needs. So 10% of the population would not be met. yet.
    • This ^^

      Where I live, there are too many cars for the available spaces. I sometimes have to park a block or two away if I get home late. Even if you go with "public charging" spots that you just pay, what happens when their full? "Sorry boss I can't come in today, my car is still charging..." What happens when some kids go through and unplug everyone's car?

      While I think electric is great, and today can work for a lot of suburban, semi urban areas. They are a LOT of logistics that haven't been worked out for

  • as soon as they send me a cheque for $36K I'll get one asap, until then I'll keep driving my 2011 Yaris, 2015 Journey, 1984 D150 and a lifted 1988 Bronco.

    • I'd say go to your Chevy dealer and check out the Spark EV, but judging by your selection of vehicles, you don't live in a state that offers them. The lease deals are killer.

    • as soon as they send me a cheque for $36K I'll get one asapas soon as they send me a cheque for $36K I'll get one asap

      A Nissan Leaf has a list price of less than $30k. Nissan had (probably still has) a $4k incentive program and the Federal Government will give you $7.5k. There may be state incentives also. So your out of pocket cost is only about $20k or less, depending on the state incentives.

      Depending on your electricity cost, you may spend a lot less on energy for a Leaf than your Yaris.

      And the Lea

      • by Izuzan ( 2620111 )

        Depends on where you are. in ontario here, the cost of a basic nissan leaf starts at $32k. then there is delivery and taxes on top of that. (taxes would ad 13% onto that price). Then there is the insurance. A chev cruz was going to cost me over $2k a year in insurance. whereas a 2010 dodge charger hemi cost me less than 1000 a year, and gets as good mileage as my minivan. that thousand plus a year pays for a lot of gas. and it is a hell of a lot more fun to drive than a cruz.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        The Nissan Leaf is generally comparable to a typical 4-door compact sedan... which as an ICE vehicle you can buy brand new for half the price of what the Leaf *starts* at.

        Compact sedans are pretty fuel efficient, probably running at less than a thousand dollars in gas in an entire year. If you are running more, than you are probably doing extensive travelling that an electric vehicle would be inadequate for anyways.

        So, with the difference in price between a Leaf and a typical compact sedan being on t

  • Great, send me the electric vehicle that replaces my '98 Ford Escort at trade in value. And it better not be a used golf cart.

    • I will have to wait for used cars too. The last car I bought cost $2K. I wonder if electric cars will ever get that low?
  • By working out formulas to integrate the different sets of information and thereby track one-second-resolution drive cycles, the MIT researchers were able to demonstrate that the daily energy requirements of some 90 percent of personal cars on the road in the U.S. could be met by today's EVs, with their current ranges, at an overall cost to their owners -- including both purchase and operating costs -- that would be no greater than that of conventional internal-combustion vehicles.

  • by Strider- ( 39683 ) on Monday August 15, 2016 @10:45PM (#52709235)

    I would love to switch to an electric vehicle, but the reality is that after moving into the city, I might go weeks at a time without touching my car. Also, I tend to make 8 or 10 long-haul trips a year, which wouldn't be feasible in even the best electric vehicles. Yes, I could rent a vehicle for those trips, but then in my situation, I'm renting the vehicle just to drive 500km, park it for a week, then drive the 500km home.

    If I wound up in a family situation where we became a two car family, absolutely, an electric vehicle would make sense for one of them. On the other hand, my car (a 10 year old Jetta TDI) is still extremely reliable, and very cheap to operate, and still one of the more efficient vehicles on the road.

    • > long-haul trips a year, which wouldn't be feasible in even the best electric vehicles.

      While on a long haul trip this year I came up with a plan (admittedly stupid one) for that. It was to put a loop on a extending pole on the front of an electric car. I would get it to catch on a semi bumper, then run the car in charging mode having the semi pull me, borrow just 50 hp or so. The loop would have a magnetic release, and the car would have autonomy to increase safety.

      Heck with a phone app, willing part

  • When they can get the batteries to last properly in Ontario Winter temperatures, and go further than 100km on a charge il consider one. until then i dont plan on having to make a overnight stay in the closest city before heading home the next day just so i can go shop at costco.

  • Ok, lets NOT talk about a power grid that would be completely overwhelmed and collapse without billions in investment..
    I grew up in the mid west, where winter temperatures frequently spend weeks in the below zero range - battery efficiency simply doesn't work well enough there... so cross off 1/3 of the country..
    Now I live in the PNW (pacific northwest, for you non-tree huggers) , I commute about 15 miles to work, and yes and EV would suit my commute need - BUT, I pull a camper for vacations and hunting,
    • Ok, lets NOT talk about a power grid that would be completely overwhelmed and collapse without billions in investment..

      The power grid is very lightly used at night. That's the sane time to charge most vehicles, and to buffer energy for the following day. There's no power grid problem in the sense of "not enough power." It's a logistics issue.

      I grew up in the mid west, where winter temperatures frequently spend weeks in the below zero range - battery efficiency simply doesn't work well enough there... so cro

      • by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Tuesday August 16, 2016 @05:34AM (#52710583) Homepage
        "The power grid is very lightly used at night."

        That won't be true once you're charging millions of vehicles overnight. Plus, millions of homes are heated by electricity in the winter. On a cold January night the grid could very easily be overloaded.

        Same thing is true during the day in summer. Air conditioning plus millions of vehicles charging at work could stress the grid.
    • I grew up in the mid west, where winter temperatures frequently spend weeks in the below zero range - battery efficiency simply doesn't work well enough there... so cross off 1/3 of the country..

      WHOA? I live in the mid west currently, and teslas are all over the place. They work just fine in the winter (albeit with slightly less range), but what's going from 320 mile range to 250 mile range when you are only drive ~40 miles?

  • That's nice. (Score:2, Insightful)

    Wake me when they can fit in 90% of drivers' wallets.
    • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      Once they can fit in 90% of drivers' wallets they'll be way too tiny to be useful.

    • Jeez! Even George Jetson's *FLYING* car only fits in his briefcase.
  • Spin up those coal fired generating plants.

  • Elon Knows (Score:2, Interesting)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 )
    A couple years ago Elon stated that he was focusing on decreasing cost instead of increasing range, precisely because of this sort of thing.
  • by Idou ( 572394 ) on Monday August 15, 2016 @11:10PM (#52709331) Journal
    Some pros:
    - The lack of engine noise definitely reduced my daily commute stress.
    - Way better USABLE acceleration means I can easily change lanes anytime (I am sure a race car driver in a comparably priced ICE standard transmission could beat me, but most people are not race car drivers. An ICE car driven at the same routine acceleration would not last very long, runs the risk of going out of control due to the inconsistent torque, and is embarrassingly loud at pitiful speeds. When we occasionally rent an ICE vehicle, I am blown away by how crazily loud a little punch on the pedal is, resulting in an unsatisfactory driving experience in comparison. Having an EV has killed the joy of driving an ICE for me. . .
    - Guiltless endless A/C when parked.
    - For my routine driving, I never have to worry about "stopping to fill up" because I am doing that every night at home.
    - Even at these gas prices, electricity + battery is cheaper.

    Some cons:
    - The endless times I get to hear "resale value sucks for EVs" because an entire industry is unable to factor the $7,500 tax credit new purchases get. . .
    - Range. . . though Austin, TX has put in a network of supercharges, so not really the case for me anymore. Range never comes up during my usual driving routine, though.
  • I have a gasoline car. Sure, 90% of what I do could be done with an electric can. But I still need a gas car. An no, if you think I'm going to go out and rent a car when I do need a gasoline car then you're full of it. I'm not going to own a gasoline and an electric car for one simple reason, the insurance industry is running a huge scam in getting the state legislatures to force us to have liability insurance on each vehicle we own even if we can't be driving them all at once.

    If you have a teenage driver

    • Liability insurance is on cars because in some instances the owner can say "It was stolen/borrowed/rented - not my fault."
      Most insurance companies offer a discount for more cars than drivers. Shop around.

      Nonetheless, legally mandated insurance is a violation of the principle "innocent until proven guilty", and should be ended immefiately.

  • I think this study fails to see people as people instead of only in aggregate. If an electric only met my needs 90% of the time, I still need a different vehicle for 1/10 trips - and so would almost everyone else. That's not the same thing as 90% of people not needing internal combustion - and the study even mentioned a need for car sharing. And that is not a small percentage, when you consider the overhead of coordinating a car share.

    So yes, the road could be mostly barren of internal combustion if ever

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday August 15, 2016 @11:32PM (#52709417)
    I don't subscribe to Nature so I can't read the article, but from the abstract:

    We find that the energy requirements of 87% of vehicle-days could be met by an existing, affordable electric vehicle.

    It sounds like they analyzed in terms of vehicle-days, not in terms of owned vehicles. The press "helpfully" converted this into "90% of vehicles" which is inaccurate. Yes, probably 90% of vehicles driven on any given day could be replaced by current EV ranges. But I'd guess probably 95% of vehicles can't be replaced by current EV ranges. See, the vast majority of cars are driven short distances nearly all days. But a few times a year they're called on to drive 200-500 miles in a day, for things like that drive to Grandma's for Thanksgiving, weekend trip to Vegas, etc.

    If you applied the same type of analysis to car safety, you'd find that 99.99% of vehicle-days, seat belts don't protect you. And therefore it'd be ok to get rid of seat belts in cars.

    The flip side of this is that vehicle-days is a valid metric if you can convince people to rent an ICE car for their few trips a year which exceed an EV's range. People erroneously think they've paid a lump sum for the car when they bought it, so driving it for that one long trip is "free" while they have to pay "extra" money if they rent a car. I've been trying for years to convince people that the cost of a car (as well as most other things) is a rate, not an amount. The cost of fuel, maintenance, and depreciation to operate a car is usually in the ballpark of 40-50 cents/mile (insurance drops out since it's mostly based on time).

    So driving 500 miles (round trip) to Grandma's for Thanksgiving actually costs you about $200-$250 of expenses and depreciation. Renting an ICE car for those few long trips is very competitive. And you can use your EV as for the other 95% of days.

    • It's not just range. Rentals are common for special purpose. Need to tow a trailer or go camping on a sand island? People wouldn't think twice about a rental because often these rare events make it cheaper to have an affordable care and rent a large SUV or Utility vehicle instead.

      But talk about range and suddenly everyone losses their minds, literally, and are unable to think or apply math.

      • Ever read a rental agreement? Much of the time you aren't even allowed to drive out of state, and nearly all of the time you are not allowed to drive on gravel or dirt roads. There goes a trip to grandma out of state or camping. Want to drive to another country in a rental? You can't that is illegal. Further you can't make an argument for rental only on the long parts of trips as renting a car, if it's even possible, as typically you need the rental for the entire duration or you have no viable transp
  • by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Tuesday August 16, 2016 @02:09AM (#52709985) Journal

    Electric cars won't ever work because I drive 3,000 miles each way to work every day across all the peaks of the Himalayas hauling seven shipping containers filled with concrete. And if an electric car can't do that without me having to stop along the way, it's a useless piece of shit that nobody can ever use for anything. /UsualElectricCarNaysayers

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