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Killing the Electric Car Again – Part II

By Climate Guest Contributor on March 14, 2008 at 8:00 am

"Killing the Electric Car Again – Part II"

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Part 1 described the background leading up to the March 27th California Air Resources Board meeting that will decide the fate of Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEVs) in a dozen or more states.

Because the 1970 Clean Air Act allows only two sets of regulations in the U.S.: the EPA’s, and California’s (which must be stricter than the EPA’s), California may be regulating for your state, even if you don’t live in California. Roughly a dozen states routinely adopt California’s stricter standards, and sometimes as many as 18, and collectively these states can represent as much as half of the U.S. population. Since non-Californians may not be familiar with making their opinion known outside of their own state, this post explains how you can let California regulators know what you think.

First, the Air Resources Board (CARB) takes comments at its website. These comments are printed and given to each board member prior to the meeting. You may also FAX or write to CARB. A FAX, postcard, or letter addressed to Chairwoman Mary Nichols will reach the entire board.

Second, a phone call to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger helps, since the Governor appoints many of the board members. The Governor’s phone number is 916-445-2841. Press 1, then 5, and then 0 and you will be transferred to an operator to leave your opinion about this “hot issue.” Alternatively, FAX or write using the Governor’s FAX and postal address, or use his web contact form.

Californians should also let their Assemblymember and State Senator know their opinion.

– Earl K.

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12 Responses to Killing the Electric Car Again – Part II

  1. Jonathon Yeardly says:

    The fool strikes again. When will these morons like Earl ever get it through their heads that California doesn’t control the state of automotive technology. In fact, california’s Zero Emission laws are given credit for
    killing the idea of a plug-in hybrid (the only practical and effective zero emissions technology out there). Instead it fostered research in the fuel cell car. Just ask execs at both Toyota and GM why they ditched ideas for a plug-in and went the other direction with fuel cell cars. Now the totally braindead california environmentalists ahve changed their minds and decided that fuel cell cars are not desired. California can take its zero emissions laws and stick them up Earl Killian’s fat ass. Zero emissions has been the most environmentally destructive laws ever passed by a bunch of yahoo, technically incompetent lawmakers. California, you people are
    real wonders.

  2. Joe says:

    Jonathon — you have this almost completely backwards. CA’s law pushed EVs until the hydrogen FCV took over. Toyota and GM pushed CA to push FCV’s because they knew they were hopeless.

  3. David says:

    If California wants more ZEVs on the road, here’s what they need to do. The government of California needs to bid a contract, for say 100,000 ZEVs. The contract will specify things like occupant capacity, safety ratings, minimum travel distance on a single charge/fillup, warranty, etc. Then open up the contract to bids. Lowest bid wins, although other things would probably factor in as well, like availability of whatever kind of fuel the cars run on. The cars are delivered in batches of, say, 5,000 each, and the state government makes full payment on each batch.

    Then the state government turns around and auctions the cars to California residents. The highest bidders get the cars.

    Automakers win because they have a guaranteed buyer and guaranteed profit. Car buyers in California win, because they can, possibly, get a ZEV for what they feel is a fair price.

  4. Earl Killian says:

    David, that is perhaps one model for change, but remember that California is following is the process that gave us seatbelts, catalytic converters, low-sulfur diesel etc.

  5. David says:

    “California is following is the process that gave us seatbelts, catalytic converters …”

    Really? So then California is mandating that automobile manufacturers apply specific, proven, tested technology to their cars to make them all ZEVs? And this technology, like seatbelts and catalytic converters, will increase the cost of the car, at most, 1 or 2 percent? Wow! If it’s that easy, then I do wonder why we don’t see ZEVs everywhere then?

  6. Earl Killian says:

    David, what is unproven or untested about ZEV technology? The 5,600 vehicles that were put on U.S. roads by the major automakers in response to the CARB ZEV program performed quite well. Our family now has 76,000 miles on our RAV4-EV we bought in 2002, and it continues to go strong. Several RAV4-EV owners have over 100,000 miles on their vehicles, and Southern California Edison’s fleet of them has lots of data to suggest this is proven, tested technology.

  7. David says:

    Earl. You were the one that equated California’s current attempts at driving ZEV technology to seat belts and catalytic converters. I was not aware that it was that easy. So, since we’re talking about the RAV4, I have a simple question. What specific technology is California proposing that Toyota add to the RAV4 that would make it ZEV, and how much would this additional equipment add to the cost of a RAV4?

  8. Earl Killian says:

    David, it sounds like you are not aware of all the electric cars that have been built over the years. This is old, off-the-shelf technology. Batteries have improved since then. The circa 2000 BEVs used NiMH batteries, which last a long time, but are heavy. One built today would probably use LiFePO4 batteries (unlike LiCo batteries, these don’t wear out in a few years, and they don’t catch on fire).

    A BEV is a car without an internal combustion engine, and all that entails (belts, oil, oil filters, air filters, radiators, most fluids, catalytic converter, muffler, spark plugs, fuel tank, alternators, etc.), and also without a transmission (since electric motors have fairly flat torque curves, and so a simple gear box substitutes for a transmission). What they add are a battery pack, some high-power electronics (e.g. DC to 3-phase AC inverter), and of course an electric motor. The expensive addition is the battery pack. Modern LiFePO4 batteries cost 500/kWh, and you probably want 30-40kWh for a BEV (the 2002 RAV4-EV has a 27kWh battery pack.), which means there is 15-20K there. However, the cost of operation of a BEV is so low that one recoups this over the lifetime of the vehicle.

    Don’t take my word for it. Go to the U.S. government website http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/sbs.htm and click on the 2002 Toyota RAV4-EV. Then “compare-side-by-side” to the 2002 Toyota RAV4 2WD Automatic. I suggest you click on “Personalize” and enter your own guess as the average cost of a gallon of gasoline over the next 12 years. My guess is 5/gallon. If you use that number, then you get 362/year for the EV, and 3261 for the gasoline vehicle. Then enter your guess for the cost of gasoline vehicle maintenance over 150K miles on the components listed above that are missing in a BEV.

    It would be nice if there were a way to lease the battery pack, to reduce the up front cost. If you did that, they the monthly cost between a gasoline vehicle and a BEV would be about the same.

    The primary maintenance items on a BEV are tires, brake pads (but regenerative braking lightens the load on these a lot), and windshield wiper fluid.

  9. David B. Benson says:

    Earl Killian — I’ve seen (fairly responsible) estimates of $9 per gallon by the summer of 2009.

  10. Earl A. Killian says:

    David B. Benson, I would be interested in seeing a fairly responsible estimate like that. Do you have a pointer? What is it based upon?

    (If Paul Krugman is right about the direction of the economy, it is possible that gasoline will actually fall in price in the near term as demand contracts with the recession.)

  11. Daniel says:

    it doesn’t seem likely to me especially when Co’s like Zap are growing.

  12. Kirsten says:

    Thanks for publishing all these links to respond to yet another betrayal by the CARB. I have been pissed ever since I heard of the most recent boneheaded decision. Now I will put that outrage to good use phoning, faxing and writing letters.

    I have wanted pure electric since 1992 and have had been so disappointed so many times. I have 3 kids and so need 3 seatbelts. I just missed out on getting a RAV 4 ev, couldn’t afford the payment at that time. Now wish I had sold one of the kids. (Just kidding, for those of you that are so serious.)