Category Archives: Transportation

Transportation: LA Times suggests EV sales are primarily due to “coolness” factor

This is reminiscent of the Volvo study:

Some analysts think buyers don’t necessarily want an electric car when they buy a Tesla — they primarily want a Tesla, which has replaced the latest iPhone as the coolest accoutrement in Silicon Valley and similar cultural enclaves around the world.

Source: The only electric vehicles that have had success are Teslas – Los Angeles

Most EVs are not selling well – only Tesla has appreciable market share and sees year over year growth. Sales, they suggest, are due to the “coolness” factor and that Tesla sells a “lifestyle” image – versus people buying an EV for other reasons. Tesla is just cool to own.

A survey by Volvo,  found that about 75% of buyers said virtue signaling plays a large role in purchasing an EV.   Paradoxically they said that owning an EV “helps them to feel better about making less environmentally conscious decisions in “other areas of life. Oops.

Transportation: One-third of cars sold in U.S. no longer carry a spare tire

One third of cars sold in the U.S. no longer include a spare tire. Instead, they provide a limited puncture/sealant kit and a 12 volt air compressor. “Sealants” are convenient but extremely expensive to replace. Third party puncture kits are good for fixing a nail or screw puncture and the tire can be sequently repaired properly in a tire shop.

AAA notes that these kits only work for selected situations, and won’t work for big punctures, side wall problems, blow outs, or failed air valves. For that the manufacturers expect you to call for roadside assistance.

Which is great for AAA and insurance companies to sell you roadside assistance solutions.

Where you have cell phone service.

If you do not have cell phone service, you are stuck in the middle of no where until someone happens to come by and help you out. I’ve had 2 tire blow outs and one valve stem failure – but I had actual spare tires. I’ve driven in off road locations where it is even recommended that you carry two spare tires.

Continue reading Transportation: One-third of cars sold in U.S. no longer carry a spare tire

Transportation: Other than Tesla, EV sales not doing well

EV sales have actually gone down year over year. And sales have gone well primarily where government offer deep discounts through subsidies.

Source: EV Sales Fizzle

The article blames cost, range anxiety, style and gas prices are low. A related issue, that I do not understand, is that auto makers, especially in the U.S. have abandoned the small vehicle market – they only make trucks and SUVs. Supposedly, few people in the U.S. want to buy small, fuel efficient, less expensive vehicles.

Not surprisingly, US auto manufacturers are planning a lot of very expensive, very big, SUV-type EVs in 2020.

Continue reading Transportation: Other than Tesla, EV sales not doing well

Transportation: Tesla cars do not have a spare tire

No spare tire. No jack. No lug nut removal tools.

Most drivers are expected to call for Tesla Roadside Assistance. A few, I see, carry tire puncture repair kits and/or sealant, and a small air compressor, to potentially make a tire functional and drivable until the puncture is properly repaired. And that may work for simple punctures.

Tesla’s expectation is you’ll call for help and they’ll send a truck out to lift you on a flatbed to a repair center, or send a truck out with a jack and new tire – the environmentally inefficient way to get a spare! And Tesla, apparently, does not repair flat tires – they replace the entire wheel, which can cost up to $800 or more, according to some online posts (if you do not have a service/warranty policy in effect). It does appear that tire shops might be able to do the repairs for you at lower cost.

What if you have a tire blow out, or a valve stem failure (both have happened to me) – and you are in the middle of no where? What if this happens where you have no cell phone service? Puncture repair kits are useless for these situations.

Being in the middle of no where without cell phone service is common in the mountainous west. 50 minutes traveling on the state highway to my west we then lose cell phone service for about an hour of travel. Headed east, there’s almost no service for 100 miles, then service in one small town area, then no service for another 75 miles.

Continue reading Transportation: Tesla cars do not have a spare tire

Transportation: E-scooters do not work well in the winter?

This is in Sacramento – that’s California – they do not have real winters and they have to pull scooters because of weather?

On the safety front, Lime notably temporarily pulled its scooters off Sacramento streets this winter for both safety and economic reasons. Lime officials said scooters are used considerably less in inclement and cold weather, and they are more risky to use.

….. The scooters will be back on the streets, Lime said, when the weather improves and ridership demand spikes.

Source: Electric scooter injuries skyrocket nationally, new study reports – oregonlive.com

Transportation: How Safe is Bicycling? No one actually knows

It’s not that there is a lack of data. Instead, it is that the data are inadequate to answer the questions. No one has good statistics, for example, on crashes per mile ridden

Source: How Safe Is Cycling? It’s Hard to Say – The New York Times

Decent data is available only on bicycle versus vehicle collisions as many of these crashes are reported to police.

Somewhere I read an estimated 90% of bicycle crashes do not involve a vehicle and as such, are virtually never reported. Most bike crashes are bicyclist versus road hazard or cyclist colliding with another cyclist and even drunk bicyclists. No motor vehicles involved.

Media stories focus on car versus bike and rarely  mention the far more common bike crashes.

As a consequence , there are no useful statistics on bicycle safety (except for car versus bicycle).

We know that about half a million bicycle related injuries are treated in ERs each year (CDC, 2015 data) but some estimates are even higher – there is no estimate on the number treated at doctor’s offices. Some think this could be low millions per year with estimates ranging (typically) from 1 to 2 million. And many are self treated (road rash, lacerations, soft tissue injuries).

Continue reading Transportation: How Safe is Bicycling? No one actually knows

Transportation: Hitting an ordinary pothole causes $2700 damage to Tesla Model 3

Tesla strikes a  highway pothole in Illinois, flattens two tires and destroys the rims. Everyone else just whizzes by without suffering the same fate. 100 minutes later, his vehicle is towed  to a Tesla service center and he gets a bill for $2668 to replace the two tires and rims and do the alignment.

I was shocked by this. First, pot holes are pretty common in our part of the country. Regular vehicles rarely suffer blown tires and rims. And the cost for repair is vastly less than that for the Tesla as shown in this video. Wow.  Seriously, I just lost interest in the Tesla after watching this, which is not what either the presenter (a good guy) or us want.

Transportation: Do electric fire trucks make sense today?

Electrified fire trucks:

It can drive for up to 30 minutes on pure electric power, with a diesel generator for backup power.

Source: Fire Truck – Electric Fire Truck – Electric Vehicles

On the plus side, most fire trucks travel limited distances from their station to an emergency scene (by design) making them ideal for EV platforms with limited range. Of course they occasionally travel longer distances for out of district support and training.

During a fire, the truck must also power large water pumps. However, the majority of fire engine responses are not for fighting fires. When I was a volunteer firefighter, about 2% of calls were for fires, about 10%+ for vehicle accidents, and almost 90% for medical aid. Each department will have different ratios, of course.

On the negative side, the typical city fire truck averages about 5,000 miles per year:  converting to EV platforms has little impact on overall CO2 emissions compared to other options. They just don’t drive very far (by design!). By comparison, a typical large diesel semi truck used in transportation travels almost 70,000 miles per year.  Which EV conversion would have a larger impact on CO2 emissions?

(Click on image for larger view)

New ICE fire trucks appear to now cost about $500,000 and up; prices have risen rapidly in recent years due to new  safety requirements from the NFPA and that new trucks are generally larger than the vehicles they are replacing. Paying $1 million and more for a fire truck has become routine –  which seems pretty obscene but no one bats an eye because public safety.

Transportation: EV battery life

Tesla does not say how many times its batteries can be re-charged.  Since the number of charge cycles is dependent on many variable factors, that is understandable for Tesla not to provide a number. They do provide an 8-year, 90% capacity guarantee option, however.

Panasonic, which makes the batteries, citing laboratory tests (which may be very different than real world conditions) says about 6,000 cycles. An EV that drove 200 miles between charges would then see 200 x 6,000 or 1.2 million miles; the vehicle and various components would give out before that, if true.

Let’s assume half that rating or 3,000 cycles – then we’d see 600,000 miles, possibly in line with the maximum real world life of other components, and  way ahead of most vehicles on the road today. Amortizing your vehicle costs over 600,000 miles with minor maintenance (EVs need less maintenance than ICE[1]), tire replacement and so on, would provide a surprisingly low cost per mile. As noted below, this could be a very important factor in applications such as taxis which may drive 200 miles per day, every day. (And note that newer Teslas can get well over 300 miles on a full charge.)

At 200 miles/day, a car would rack up a million miles in just over 13 years. A taxi with a more normal 250,000 mile life (which is how long New York taxis last) is worn out in 4 to 5 years. If you can make the vehicle last that long, you seriously reduce the depreciation part of the robotaxi economics model and thus reduce the cost of a ride, since today depreciation is the largest cost factor in operating a car. Depreciation of the battery has been one of the largest costs of operating (and fast charging) an electric car. In fact, you can reduce depreciation so far that it becomes secondary to other costs like energy, risk, maintenance and logistics.

Source: Tesla’s Battery Guru Describes A New Cell With Massive Lifetime

Related: What causes batteries to lose capacity or fail more quickly?

From that web page leading factors in reducing capacity are:

  1. High temperatures.
  2. Overcharging or high voltage.
  3. Deep discharges or low voltage.
  4. High discharges or charge current.

Not shown, but cold temperatures reduce the operating range which can then, in turn, lead to deep discharging the battery.

There isn’t a one size fits all answer then to how many charge cycles are available in a battery. Some real world users have reported significant degradation at 50,000 miles while others have said they see minor degradation as they have passed through 100,000 or 200,000 miles. The number of cycles varies based on which EV vehicle you have, battery capacity and chemistry, whether the vehicle does effective pack and thermal management, and how the vehicle is used and how the battery is re-charged.

Nissan claims 8+ year battery life for their smaller 30 kwh pack in the Leaf. In fact, their real world data suggests much longer life, resulting in batteries being usable well beyond the life of the vehicle. This had led to suggestions that “old” EV batteries might be repurposed in a second life after the car wears out, such as in solar PV installations.

VW, meanwhile, expects its batteries will have 70% of capacity after about 100,000 miles.

[1] Tesla maintenance, which generally can only be done at a Tesla authorized dealer, is said to average about $500 per year, which is considerably less than ICE vehicles, serviced at dealers (over time). That, however, includes routine items like changing wipe blades, some fluids, light bulbs and what not, which are presumably items that the end user could elect to do themselves, saving money.

EVs, however, do depreciate faster than ICE vehicles, at least for now.

Installing a home charger can cost $1,000 and up, depending on availability of a 220 circuit and/or the need to run a long line and install a subpanel.

Transportation: 56% of Norway’s new cars are EV-based – but geesh, crappy journalism

42% of Norway’s car sales were pure battery electric, and almost 14% were plug-in hybrid. Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling car, with 11% of the market.

Source: 56% of Norway’s new cars had a plug in 2019, Tesla Model 3 overall best-seller – Electrek

In other words, the government pays consumers massive subsidies to purchase EVs today.

The reporter says EVs are a success in Norway and if they can be so successful in Norway, EVs can be successful anywhere!

The reporter does mention  oil subsidies (exaggerated by converting ordinary business tax credits that apply to all businesses into “oil subsidies”) but does not mention anything about Norway’s EV subsidies. The result is a fake news article by a dufus reporter.

So yes, EVs can be successful in any country with pre-existing cheap, non CO2-producing power and where 50% or more of the EVs’ purchase price is subsidized by the government. This model  surely works in all countries! Not.

What a crappy piece of journalism.