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Chevy Volt a Failure - GM to Layoff 1,300

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Evil Bastard (aka Chris_L), Mar 2, 2012.

  1. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    That isn't very profound.

    There have been way more attempts to market things that never found a market than there are things that caught widespread use, such as cell phones and TVs.

    You essentially told me that where there is demand, supply will find it. OK. And I'll say that 130 years (or whenever it was) after the first electric car was manufactured, and people are still largely driving around in cars with internal combustion engines, that it's a technology -- randomly subsidized at all of our expense recently -- that has not found that demand.

    Also, to state the obvious, the advent of cell phones and the advent of TVs weren't attempts to replace. ... cell phones and TVs that already existed. If you want to pull that kind of thing off, you had best provide a cell phone or TV that is as good or better than the existing cell phone or TVs and do it at a price that is as good or better than the ones that already exist. Which again, is why EVs right now are still niche products.
  2. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

  3. swingline

    swingline Well-Known Member

    They can pry my Red Barchetta out of my cold, dead hands.
  4. Scout

    Scout Well-Known Member

    Like an iPhone and a Blackberry?
  5. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    EVs compete against other EVs, realistically, much the way a compact sedan competes against other compact sedans, not against SUVs or supercars.

    You keep saying that UNLESS the value proposition changes, EVs will remain a niche market. Well, obviously. But it seems to me it's practically inevitable that the value proposition WILL change. Battery technology will continue to advance, creating better, cheaper batteries; electric engines will continue to outperform combustion engines; and at some point, world events will drive oil prices above $4/gallon, maybe higher. It's more a matter of WHEN that happens, not IF.

    My point about EVs affecting oil prices is that, when EVs proliferate enough to become more than a niche market, yes, oil prices will come down. That may affect the value proposition, but it will mean that EVs have become well established enough that it isn't likely to matter.

    Also, I never once suggested anything close to "forcing electric cars on people."
  6. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    EVs aren't "randomly subsidized." You're aware of carbon emissions from fossil fuel consumption and its effects on the environment, right? There's a very specific reason the government sees value in encouraging development of EVs.
  7. justgladtobehere

    justgladtobehere Well-Known Member

    Cars compete against cars. Auto companies are abandoning sedans because people are buying SUVs instead of sedans.
    It is not a given that the price of batteries will come down. Size is a problem that has to be solved and cobalt might be a limiting factor.
    Oil will be cheap for a long time and it's not because of EVs.
  8. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    Yes it is.
  9. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    It is?

    Cause the price of cobalt, just one thing that really makes lithium-ion batteries so expensive is only getting more expensive. I just looked. When this thread was started, the cost of cobalt was less than $31,000 per ton. Today, it is north of $55,000 per ton. At times during that time frame, it has spiked as high as $95,000 per ton.

    Everyone involved in that industry, including Elon Musk, would love to get cobalt out of their batteries. But they have not come up with a way. The cobalt is what gives those batteries any amount of life cycle, and that is the only thing that even makes those cars viable -- when you don't have to recharge them every 25 miles. In order to offer any sort of value to induce anyone to buy one of the cars, they guarantee that their batteries will retain 80 percent of their original capacity for 8 years. It still makes it a losing proposition financially, for anyone comparing an EV to a gas-powered vehicle. Over 8 years, or even 10 years or even 15 years, you aren't going to make back the additional cost of the car in gas savings. But those are the warranties they offer. If the battery can't do that, they will replace it under warranty. And that is more expensive than any savings they can gain from reducing the amount of cobalt in the batteries. On top of that, to decrease the amount of cobalt, they have to increase the amount of nickel. Which makes for much hotter batteries, which can create a safety issue, because there is a chance of those batteries catching fire. And it's also still pretty expensive, because manufacturing low-cobalt batteries needs a really dry environment, which runs up the manufacturing cost.

    Unless you know something about battery technology, that nobody else seems to know, and which hasn't been solved in 130+ or more years since they have been trying to power cars with them, I have no idea why anyone would be so sure that the costs are going to come down. Perhaps an entirely new energy technology will emerge that can power a car, but if that is the case, I get back to the opportunity cost of having had clueless politicians hand-picking the wrong technology all of this time, essentially funneling capital away (forcing all of us in the process) from potentially more cost-efficient technologies that have been disadvantaged and could have been way farther ahead by now.

    Either way, I have no idea why anyone would be so sure today that the cost of lithium-ion batteries is going to get cheaper. The people who would most benefit from that, such as Elon Musk, haven't been able to figure out the problem and they have been really trying. We are hundreds of years beyond when battery technology was first discovered, and nobody has figured out a way to get decent capacity out of a large battery (one big enough to power a car) in a more cost efficient way than existing fuel sources. I am not saying that won't change someday. But there is nothing right now to suggest that is on the horizon.
  10. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I just read this.

    What I am aware is that there is little evidence that a proliferation of electric vehicles -- even at a large economic cost relative to how we get around currently -- would have any effect on fossil fuel consumption or carbon emissions. The power plants that create electricity run on fossil fuels. The manufacture of those cars have a pretty big carbon footprint, too. Battery disposal, if we had a billion + EVs driving transportation in the world, would have a huge environmental effect.

    The choice to throw money at that particular technology (instead of potentially more viable technologies that were disadvantaged as a result) may not have been random, per se. But these were political decisions made at best for emotional or evangelical reasons, and at worst due to corruption -- politicians lining their pockets. Even within that microdecision to force all of us to subsidize the EV industry, why did Elon Musk get a half a billion dollar freebie, plus the benefits of several other subsidization schemes, from a dollar-for-dollar credit at the consumer level to the ZEV credits that forces other car makers to subsidize his company. ... when Bright Automotive spent three years begging for even less money from the Energy Department, but they were turned down? Elon Musk is a bullshit artist who knew how to grease politicians. He has now blown through other people's money to the tune of billions of dollars. It has been incredibly wasteful, and his company is just a vanity project / money pit. John Waters was a businessman who didn't know how to play the graft game. When the "government sees value" in something, as you put it, and it forces people to hand over what they have earned to fund who the politicians that make up the government decide in their wisdom to enrich, we all pay a price.
  11. justgladtobehere

    justgladtobehere Well-Known Member

    The talk about subsidies brings to mind hydrogen powered vehicles. There is still some development taking place even though it is well behind electric.
  12. Scout

    Scout Well-Known Member

    How much do we subsidize oil to keep it $2 and gallon and not $7 a gallon like they pay in Europe?
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