Tesla motor car
There was a fascinating piece on the History Channel last week concerning batteries. One segment highlighted the work of the Tesla motor car company. It has a prototype that goes to 60 MPH in 4 seconds, top speed of 130 MPH and can go 200 miles on a charge. It takes 3 hours to fully recharge at a cost of between 2.00 to 4.00. The piece validated the contention in the 2006 documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car" that EC's are viable. I would like to think that the free market economy will make it possible for all of us to own an electric car within the next 5 years at prices the general buying public can afford.
The big economic limitation to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) is the price of large batteries. To date, there has been a chicken-and-egg problem where cheap cars couldn't be made because batteries were too expensive. Batteries couldn't be made cheaper because there was no volume to drive the prices down.
Tesla has chosen a high performance, very expensive Roadstart to start to tackle this problem since at the high end, the Roadster is economically viable for it's existing market. Tesla plans to follow up with more economical cars as the battery market responds to its initial vehicles.
Prius in reverse
You and I have corresponded re: my first question about the 2006 documentary film. I have now owned a Prius since May 2006 and wondered if Toyota, or anyone else, could reverse the role of the power train. What are the technological impediments to having the electric motor power the drive train and having a high-end gas-powered generator to recharge the batteries?
In the movie, it was implied that GM acquired the Flint, MI company that developed a battery system that improved the feasibility of the EV's. Then they sold the division to a oil-company partnership. The implication was that the oil companies stopped the battery's future use, thus limiting the viability of todays hybrids and tomorrows future EV's. Is this an accurate read of that series of events?
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One certainly can reverse the roles of what drives the wheels from the gasoline motor (as is done in all of today's production hybrids) to the electric motor. This is the Serial Hybrid topology described elsewhere on this site. The Chevrolet Volt concept car is such a design. Personally, I see a lot of great potential for this scheme, however, it will quickly point out the weaknesses of the gasoline motor so it isn't likely to be popular with companies who's business is in gasoline motors.
I, personally, can't testify as to the accuracy of the series of events surrounding the NiMH battery. You should probably do the research on the records of the acquisitions independently.
Personally, I believe that the NiMH battery has been superceded by the Li-ion battery so that effort by the oil and auto industry will have been futile.