Electric cars are suitable for everyday use

Aug 04, 2011

Electric cars are an excellent choice for everyday use, in particular for daily trips in the city. This conclusion is the result of user analyses in two projects in which Siemens plays a decisive role: the internal 4-Sustainelectromobility (4-S) project involving 20 moveE cars and the external "Electromobility Model RegionMunich - Drive eCharged" project involving 40 BMW MINI E cars. The latter is a joint project with BMW Group and Stadtwerke München, Munich’s municipal utility.

The research organization Corporate Technology is managing both projects. The overwhelming majority of users confirmed that the BMW MINI E is suitable for everyday use. They attested to the fact that the little 200-HP electric speedster is a lot of fun to drive. Private and commercial users drove 40 MINI E cars on Munich streets over a period of ten months. During the model trial the electric vehicles were driven 300,000 kilometers, with zero emissions. Siemens developed the technology for charging.

The scientific survey revealed that the range of the MINI E was sufficient for 89 percent of the private users in day-to-day use. 88 percent of the private users found charging the cars at a charging station (at home or at work) to be more pleasant than driving to a gas station, while 79 percent of the private users said that environmental friendliness and zero-emissions driving were important advantages of the electric car. And 59 percent of the private users would like electric cars to be charged exclusively with electricity from renewable energy sources. 

The test drivers of the movE cars had similar positive experiences. In the 4-S project, which is funded by the German Ministry for the Environment, Siemens employees in Munich and Erlangen have been testing 20 electric cars based on the Suzuki Splash since November 2010. On weekdays, the test drivers drove an average of only 40 kilometers, which means that the range of approximately 100 kilometers was fully adequate. The cars are charged at charging stations in specially marked parking lots at the Siemens locations where the test drivers work and at home charging stations in their garages (so-called wall boxes). 

Thus, the drivers usually have sufficient opportunity to recharge the batteries during the day. The usage as second cars for driving to work or for shopping imposes almost no restrictions on mobility. In the meantime the were equipped with high-speed charging systems with 11 kilowatts, meaning that the batteries can now be charged within a period of two hours. In the near future, Siemens departments in Berlin will have the opportunity to test car sharing with a fleet of 13 electric vehicles.

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User comments : 31

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freethinking
1 / 5 (3) Aug 04, 2011
Great! I for one am against internal combustion engines. So if the study is true, then these things will start taking over without government involvement or funding!
Waterdog
1 / 5 (1) Aug 04, 2011
My only problem with them is the purchase cost. I know they can save money over the life of the car but if the batteries go bad, they are very expensive to replace. Also, according to my insurance company they are expensive to insure.

Companies need to do something to bring down the costs.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Aug 04, 2011
They left out the strategic question: "Would you want to have this car as your only car?"

To which 89% would probably say no. Simply because the car hasn't got enough juice to drive to the next city and back.

And that concludes the viability testing, because you really need to own two cars to do the job of one car, if the other one is electric.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Aug 04, 2011
My only problem with them is the purchase cost. I know they can save money over the life of the car but


They don't.

The Leaf costs £30,990 while a simple VW Golf costs around £20,000 or less depending. For ten thousand pounds you can buy a lot of gasoline or diesel.

In fact, it buys you about 7000 litres of fuel, and that's enough to get you from here to about the same 100,000 miles away where the Leaf's warranty (and battery) will end.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Aug 04, 2011
Plus, the Golf will have resale value at 100,000 miles whereas the Leaf will not, because its battery is dead.

Who would want to buy an electric car without a working battery, when a new battery will cost them as much as whole car?
krundoloss
1 / 5 (1) Aug 04, 2011
Poor electric car, will you ever be viable? I think we should just make Hybrids better, where they run on electricity until they are about to run out, then start charging the batteries with a weak gasoline motor(being used as an electricity generator ONLY). Once some new battery technology comes out and is actually allowed to be used (and not bought and buried by the oil companies), electric cars will be mainstream.
Hengine
1 / 5 (1) Aug 04, 2011
It sounds very viable for high traffic city transport where regular combustion engines fail badly.

We still need a lot more nuclear power to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.
Koen
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 04, 2011
The well-to-wheel efficiency of electric cars is better than that of i.c.e. cars. Secondly, I don't believe the story that the manufacturing of electric cars requires 50% more energy than ice cars. Thirdly, The innovation of batteries and solar cells is in full swing, and will continue for many years to come, with very good prospects for higher efficiencies. Is this also true for fossile fuel technology and nuclear (disaster) energy? I don't think so.
stripeless_zebra
3 / 5 (2) Aug 04, 2011
Range no less than 500kms /-10% always. Recharging no longer than 5 minutes available at every gas station. Battery size 2x gas tank size max. Maintenance costs comparable with gas cars. Total mileage at least 350K kms.
So far these cute cars are just toys for so called environmentally aware hippies.
Deesky
4 / 5 (9) Aug 05, 2011
They left out the strategic question: "Would you want to have this car as your only car?"

They didn't leave anything out. If you read the whole article you'd see that they specifically mentioned that BEV would be viable as SECOND cars, for shopping and running errands. In that context, your objection is moot.

And that concludes the viability testing, because you really need to own two cars to do the job of one car, if the other one is electric.

No. Many families have two (or more) cars already. In those situations (or if you're thinking of getting another car anyway), you can get a BEV, if it suits your needs.

I can see BEV being quite popular with the elderly, who don't work or travel much, just go to the shops or the local club, or visit fiends, etc. As a bonus, they'd have lower maintenance and fuel costs.
Buyck
not rated yet Aug 05, 2011
Electric cars are suitable for everyday use... if you life in a city and making short trips YES! Otherwise for long ranges its a BIG FAIL dont use it for long trips!
Eikka
2 / 5 (5) Aug 05, 2011

They didn't leave anything out. If you read the whole article you'd see that they specifically mentioned that BEV would be viable as SECOND cars, for shopping and running errands. In that context, your objection is moot.


No. That's just my point.

Who can afford to have an expensive electric car as a second vehicle?

Let me give you a tip: it's much much less than 89% of people.
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 05, 2011

No. Many families have two (or more) cars already. In those situations (or if you're thinking of getting another car anyway), you can get a BEV, if it suits your needs.


The reason why most families can afford to have multiple cars is because they buy them second hand. Or, they simply give the old car to junior when mom and dad buy a new one on a loan.

There is no such thing as second hand electric cars because of the limited life of the batteries. You always pay the full price and you get nothing back, which makes it impossible for most people to own.
Eikka
2.7 / 5 (3) Aug 05, 2011
When talking of cars, you have to think "Where is this car going to be 10-15 years from now?"

If you take the average gasoline car, it's probably going to be owned by some student who bought it for maybe a thousand quid, fixes it, and drives it back to the family on the holidays.

If you take the electric cars of today, well, they've been in the dump for a decade by then.
Javinator
not rated yet Aug 05, 2011
Too bad the batteries aren't more easily replaced.

The gas station equivalent could be something like a battery exchange. The exchange station would have a stock of fully charged batteries that would be swapped out and placed back into cars. The battery taken out would be put on charge at the station removing the issue of long charging times.

There would have to be a way to factor in the cost of the degrading batteries over time. Possibly included in the exchange fee for the battery. A flat fee some price for the amount of energy that will be needed to bring drained battery back to full.

The cars could still have smaller permanent batteries so the car's computer doesn't get reset when the main battery is swapped.

Probably not realistic, but fun to think.
Eikka
3 / 5 (2) Aug 05, 2011

Probably not realistic, but fun to think.


Well, you could expand the thought and calculate how many batteries you need when the maximum distance to a changing station from anywhere needs to be 15-20 miles at most, so people don't get stranded trying to get there on their last bits of charge.

And each station has to be prepared to handle a number of customers who may come at any time, one at a time or ten at a time, so you may not have the time to recharge the empties before the next one arrives.

The result is a staggering number of stations, and many many more batteries than there are cars on the roads.

Who's gonna pay all that?
Javinator
5 / 5 (1) Aug 05, 2011
Well, you could expand the thought and calculate how many batteries you need when the maximum distance to a changing station from anywhere needs to be 15-20 miles at most, so people don't get stranded trying to get there on their last bits of charge.


You can make the same argument about people who try to squeeze the most they can out of their tanks. Too bad so sad in my opinion.

The batteries would be a capital investment of the owner of the station and the costs would be factored into the price of a battery swap with some kind of expected payback value. The rest would just be the cost of power which would also be factored in to the cost of a change (this could/would be marked up as well).

There would need to be a lot of stations sure, but if a profitable business model can be drawn up for it, investors will invest and open franchises.

They would probably only be built on high traffic roadways/interstates once someone was going city to city.
david_42
5 / 5 (1) Aug 05, 2011
"Who can afford to have an expensive electric car as a second vehicle?"

Lots of people, with jobs, that live in a metroburb and have 20-25 km commutes. Same people that have expensive first cars. That describes about 25% of the US population, including my wife.
donjoe0
not rated yet Aug 05, 2011
Why is it that so many people are obsessed with OWNING things they're going to keep inert and useless for 90% of their service lifetime? Why is the first model that pops into your head one where you have to OWN an electric vehicle just like you own your gas-guzzler now? If it's been demonstrated that they're good enough to use with the city limits but not outside, why is it that the first idea that pops into your head isn't about a system of public transportation based on rentable electric cars or on electric taxis?

I daresay this ownership obsession is in fact our biggest ecological problem. Think of all the stationary cars and hideous parking lots that would disappear if people just accepted that renting a car exactly when you need one and returning it when you're done is sufficient and that ownership is just a childish whim.
stripeless_zebra
1 / 5 (1) Aug 05, 2011
Too bad the batteries aren't more easily replaced.

The gas station equivalent could be something like a battery exchange.


That's funny! Imagine a gas station, sorry an EV Station that serves thousands of vehicles every 24 hrs like an average gas station and requires every battery to sit on a charger for a few hours. Do the math my friend!
stripeless_zebra
1 / 5 (1) Aug 05, 2011
"Who can afford to have an expensive electric car as a second vehicle?"


Right! Purely electrical cars have too many limitations to be practical. The best option available today is a Plug-in Hybrid like Prius that gets let's say 40-45kms per charge and then the gas engine kicks in to keep you moving.
Unless we can get 500kms per charge and charge it in 5 minutes at every corner we will not be able to go mainstream with this still primitive technology.
Javinator
not rated yet Aug 05, 2011
That's funny! Imagine a gas station, sorry an EV Station that serves thousands of vehicles every 24 hrs like an average gas station and requires every battery to sit on a charger for a few hours. Do the math my friend!


The average gas station serves thousands of cars a day? I'll give you hundreds, not thousands. I'm assuming people could still charge at their homes as well.

I can't see storage of that magnitude isn't really a big deal given that you can easily stack vertically.

The real challenge would be the high capital cost and whether it could be justified/would people be willing to pay the price. That's dependent on the cost of these mythical replaceable batteries that don't exist. There's no math to do at this point.
pubwvj
2 / 5 (4) Aug 05, 2011
That car is a joke. It won't get through our mud season. It won't get through our winter snow weather. It won't haul ten 300 lb finisher pigs, a 700 lb sow or a 1,200 lb boar. It won't bring the meat back from the delivery. It won't haul two tons of apple pomace or spent barley on the back haul. It won't make the 900 mile delivery route on a single charge. It won't last 20 years. On top of all of that people fail to keep in mind that electricity has to be generated which currently is almost exclusively done with coal, petroleum or nuclear power. That car is not zero emissions. It just does a good job of hiding the emissions from the consumer. That car is a joke.

I've got real work to do with a vehicle and that car won't do it.
stripeless_zebra
1 / 5 (1) Aug 05, 2011
The average gas station serves thousands of cars a day? I'll give you hundreds, not thousands.


A passenger car brings a gas station less than 50 cents in profit on gas sale and spends less than 5 minutes at the pump. How much profit do you expect from a battery that spends a few hours on a charger? How do you solve logistic problems of moving tons of batteries in and out, disposing off used ones and so on, so on.
Impossible to make profit! It will never happen.
The battery has to stay in the car for at least 100k miles and be replaced after that for a few hundred dollars max. It's like a timing belt replacement. Other requirements as mentioned before.
Moebius
1 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2011
But what do I do if I need to go 50 miles and the electric gauge says I can only go 25? According to Top Gear the car is worthless and I should try making the trip anyway just to prove it.
Sin_Amos
not rated yet Aug 07, 2011
@Mobius

Top Gear is a joke. Any knucklehead that believes those scumbags needs to get their head checked.

@Everyone

Electric vehicles are worth it. A majority of people's commutes are actually less than 40 miles a day. Sadly, the IDEA that they need to go 350 miles is a joke. Buying an electric car for daily commuting is worth the investment. As soon as knuckleheads stop believing propaganda and ASTRO-turfers, the sooner we can enter the future.
bluehigh
1 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2011
The average gas station serves thousands of cars a day? I'll give you hundreds, not thousands.


If California is any guide then 4,400 gallons a day divided by whatever you reckon is the average daily fill.

http://www.energy...ary.html

Electric Boats? Electric Motor Cycles? Electric Lawn Mowers? Electric Leaf Blowers? Electric Forklifts? Electric Airplanes?

Wheres all this electricity going to come from? Solar Panels? Dream on.

Norezar
not rated yet Aug 08, 2011
The average gas station serves thousands of cars a day? I'll give you hundreds, not thousands.


If California is any guide then 4,400 gallons a day divided by whatever you reckon is the average daily fill.

http://www.energy...ary.html

Electric Boats? Electric Motor Cycles? Electric Lawn Mowers? Electric Leaf Blowers? Electric Forklifts? Electric Airplanes?

Wheres all this electricity going to come from? Solar Panels? Dream on.



Gasoline powered generators, and coal plants of course!
ParadigmShift
not rated yet Aug 08, 2011
Electric cars will never be viable because new technologies are definitely not advanced upon in the least. My DynaTAC is so impractical.
epsi00
not rated yet Aug 08, 2011
Or you can buy a Canadian Zenn ( which stands for zero emission no noise ) for about $13000 canadian and charge it from a regular plug ( like the one you plug your coffee maker in ) and commute to your heart content. The problems arise when you want to make an electric car to cross a whole continent. For big cities, there is a potentially big market for them ( governments, cities themselves ( with big fleet )...). Just like in any other field, there is no such a thing as one size fits all. There is ample room for diversity.
Lordtimothy
not rated yet Aug 08, 2011
Electric cars will remain a niche market for now. Future though will be electric in some way. So many products have started out as way to expensive and few people thinking it is needed. As price comes down and the price of gas goes up at a certain point the curve will meet to make it worth it.

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