Wednesday, December 03, 2008

San Francisco and The Electric Car

We've sort of figured that if electric cars get a full hearing that they will not be plugged into a house socket, even a specialized one, but that a market will develop to sell voltaic gas. This seems at least intuitive, since the displacement of gas stations would encourage the development of an industry to replace them. We may well be wrong about this - how long it takes to juice a car may determine how it has to be done - but clearly some ideas need to start percolating.

Here's one, courtesy of the always progressive city by the bay:

The scheme involves a number of ground-breaking proposals to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, including speeding up the installation of electric vehicle charging outlets on streets and in homes, and offering incentives for companies to install charging stations in the workplace.

Local government will also work to harmonise standards across the region so that drivers of electric vehicles can travel the length and breadth of the Bay Area – roughly equivalent to the south-east of England – without being concerned that they cannot find the right charging station.

Well, that's a start, though as we know, folks in England tend to be constrained by being on, as it is, an island. Americans take in a much wider swath of land. But it's a start - we don't quite get who pays if people fill their cars at workplace outlets (a new employment perq, maybe?) - and if the state spreads the charging stations to its other cities and especially to the immense - and rural - inland empire, then you're cooking with, um, gas.

Read the whole thing - there's more involved - but if the idea proves to have value, then we'll start wondering whether the staggering logistical and financial challenges of a national "smart grid" will suddenly get an extra motivational push. We can think of one energy source that could nicely complement this electric bonanza - if California gets on the stick.

Oh, all right, this picture of the Elettrica, sold in England, might well cause horror and dismay, but we had to have our fun. Take a look at the Chevy Volt if you want something that suits current tastes a little better. But note also what Chevrolet says about the Volt: "Chevy Volt is designed to move more than 75 percent of America's daily commuters without a single drop of gas." What they mean is not all that far on a charge. This is the problem San Francisco means to address.


Anonymous said...

How do these do on range and, perhaps most importantly, environmental control? Can their power plants handle AC and heating? Where I live, it gets very cold in winter and unbearably hot and humid in summer. Granted there was a time when AC was considered a luxury in vehicles, but almost everyone had a heater for cold weather. I'd hate to have to forgo that for lack of power, or at the expense of range.

Robert Hargraves said...

Charging my electric car seems like a great opportunity to get some real value from the coins I put in a parking meter! How about 8 KWH for a dollar coin?

Matthew66 said...

I'm guessing that there are a number of possibilities for billing for the electric charge. If people were plugging into outlets at parking meters, I'm guessing the electrical cable from the car, or the socket on the car, would have some kind of chip with a unique identifier, that the electricity provider would use to bill the car owner. No ID, no juice. If companies were providing outlets in parking lots, the juice would also have to be billed for, otherwise it would be a taxable fringe benefit. The IRS has probably already worked out how to calculate the tax on this.

Headless Blogger said...

This is a completely misguided idea from Frisco's BANANA crowd.

Considering their Jihad against any existing or proposed source of electricity that produces even a puff of CO2, the ban on new nuclear production in California, and the feeble production from new wind and solar facilities; where do they expect to get the power for daytime charging of electric car batteries? These workplace and streetside charging stations will contribute overwhelming additional electric demand during daytime peak usage.

The optimum time for battery charging is off-peak. When is that? At night while vehicles are parked at home. Any other time, without agressive development of new fossil and nuclear power plants, is a recipe for diaster for the California grid.