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John Petersen  

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  • U.S. Energy Information Administration: Electric Drive Forecasts Running in Reverse Since 2009 [View article]
    It will take across the board cost reductions of 50% before a plug-in will have the same capital cost per annual gallon of gasoline savings as an HEV. I believe it will happen someday, but not in the next decade. If it won't happen for sure in the next five years, investments in EV and component manufacturers will be guaranteed losers.
    Jan 26, 2011. 09:11 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Plug-in Vehicle Subsidies: Taxing Peter to Buy Paul's New Car [View article]
    I've been writing about energy storage and vehicle electrification for 2-1/2 years and a consistent theme has been that we need to minimize waste across the board and cars with plugs are inherently wasteful when compared with current best available technology - the Prius class HEV.

    This particular article focused on a single issue – whether it is a justifiable exercise of government power to tax on class of citizens to underwrite the cost of consumer durables for another class of citizens.

    This is an extraordinarily complex subject matter that people tend to gloss over with unreasonable assumptions. The only way to analyze the theory is to consider one assumption at a time before moving on to the next.

    The thing that scares me half to death is the reality that six billion people in the world are working very hard to earn a small piece of the lifestyle that 600 million of us assume is a god-given right. Our biggest challenge as a species over the next 50 years will be finding relevant scale solutions to chronic shortages of water, food, energy and every commodity you can imagine. If we don't act voluntarily to make more room at the table by minimizing waste, the six billion will most certainly force the issue.
    Jan 26, 2011. 02:15 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Alice in EVland, Part III: Cost Benefit Analysis for Dummies [View article]
    As a lawyer who (a) carried a dual major in chemistry and biology for a couple years before shifting over to accounting, (b) worked with the top staff and management of the Livermore lab in the late-80s, (c) worked with the carbon nanotechnology team at Rice in the early 90s, (d) served as board chairman of a battery technology developer in the early 00s, and (e) works with several different battery technology developers at present, I get by.

    I don't have the skill set necessary to do the work, but I most certainly understand the goals, technical challenges, materials challenges, manufacturing challenges, anticipated costs and potential markets.
    Jan 26, 2011. 01:59 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Alice in EVland, Part III: Cost Benefit Analysis for Dummies [View article]
    I fully expect a rational economic being to take subsidies into account when making a purchase decision because it would be foolish to do otherwise. But I don't confuse the purchaser's buy-don't buy decision with the question of whether the subsidies are good policy.

    It is impossible to get past the reality that it takes $46 of capital investment to save a gallon of gasoline per year with a plug-in and $24 of capital spending to save the same gallon of gasoline per year with an HEV.

    I view government officials as fiduciaries for their citizens. Even if you assume that the government officials are obligated to save a gallon of gasoline per year, it's still a breach of their fiduciary duty to spend $46 in public funds to accomplish that goal when they could do it for $24.
    Jan 26, 2011. 01:50 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Alice in EVland, Part III: Cost Benefit Analysis for Dummies [View article]
    The Fluence uses a 22 kWh battery pack. Your quoted price of €6,200 for cells (which is not supported by a link) would still bring the pack cost into the €9,000 range, which is still a 1/3 discount to the price Renault's other half is paying for the Leaf pack.

    A monthly payment of €67 will not amortize a €9,000 pack over its useful life without government support. Numbers that will not satisfy the simple calculator test will not be accepted without question by me.

    Please prove it.
    Jan 26, 2011. 01:42 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Plug-in Vehicle Subsidies: Taxing Peter to Buy Paul's New Car [View article]
    There's no question that the subsidies are large as absolute numbers, but when you start looking subsidy per unit of energy, the oil subsidies are a miniscule fraction of the subsidies for ethanol and renewables.

    Remember, your graph covers a six year period and renewables production was an insignificant contribution to the total fuel mix during those years.

    Modeling is one of those things I hate doing because people get far too bogged down in assumptions to get the fundamental message. My last article calculated that it takes $46 of capital spending to conserve a gallon of gasoline per year with a plug in and $24 of capital spending to save the same gallon of gasoline per year with an HEV.

    That simple calculation tells me that no matter how I model the costs, the payback period for a plug-in will be twice as long as it is for an HEV. The inescapable conclusion is we'll get the most benefit by first upgrading everything to HEV and then worrying about plugs.
    Jan 26, 2011. 01:21 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Alice in EVland, Part III: Cost Benefit Analysis for Dummies [View article]
    Your argument is logical sophistry. The big problem is you can't say anything intelligent about the fact that it takes $46 of capital investment to save a gallon of gasoline per year with a plug-in and you can save the same gallon of gasoline per year by investing $24 in an HEV.

    That's the only issue here. The solution you worship is obscenely expensive and costs twice as much to accomplish the same goals.

    Deal with economic reality in this comment section or go write your own articles.

    I've never taken well to bullies and you're no exception.

    By the way, where's that proof you've been promising that show how prices of automotive grade lithium ion batteries are falling rapidly?
    Jan 25, 2011. 03:59 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Alice in EVland, Part III: Cost Benefit Analysis for Dummies [View article]
    The entire point of this article is that it takes a $46 investment to save a gallon of gasoline per year with a plug in and a $24 investment to save the same gallon of gasoline per year with an HEV.

    Nobody with a first grade education would argue that spending $46 to reach a goal is appropriate if you can reach the same goal for $24.

    You really should think before venting.
    Jan 25, 2011. 03:53 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Alice in EVland, Part III: Cost Benefit Analysis for Dummies [View article]
    Actually my framework is over a century of jurisprudence from the perspective of a lawyer and CPA who was a tax specialist before shifting over to securities law. There are any number of questionable government subsidies that intelligent people can debate about. You've named several of them. Using government funds to buy toys for the wealthy is a modern day equivalent of using government funds to support the lifestyles of the wealthy in pre-revolutionary France. It is unsustainable and flies in the face of a century of sound public policy.
    Jan 25, 2011. 03:51 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • U.S. Energy Information Administration: Electric Drive Forecasts Running in Reverse Since 2009 [View article]
    Actually I'm a battery guy who knows that all the happy talk of economies of scale is meaningless in materials intensive manufacturing.

    For Tesla to be the Apple of the 2020s, it will have to spend the next 10 years as the Apple of the 1990s, a time when the company was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Unlike Apple, however, Tesla won't be able to count on Bill Gates to come swooping in with rescue financing to avoid antitrust problems.

    If you really think Tesla will be a great company in the next decade, the time to buy will be the end of this decade when its price has been pounded down by an unrelenting string of losses.
    Jan 25, 2011. 03:44 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Alice in EVland, Part III: Cost Benefit Analysis for Dummies [View article]
    It's my understanding that the acids are neutralized, the lead and plastic are used to make new batteries and the amount of lost material is insignificant.

    The Ultrabattery is at the same point in its development as Axion's PbC. That means it's really hard for anybody but automakers to get their hands on a device they can play with. I think the PbC will prove to be a superior alternative because the Ultrabattery does not eliminate lead on the negative poles and will always have some problems with sulfation. That being said I'm not courageous enough to make comparisons without hard data.

    Maxwell's supercapacitor solution does a great job of making sure the cranking power is available when needed, but it can't contribute much to the accessory load that seems to be the major culprit in stop-start systems to date.

    It's fun to get questions from a quick study.
    Jan 25, 2011. 01:50 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • U.S. Energy Information Administration: Electric Drive Forecasts Running in Reverse Since 2009 [View article]
    Using metrics from information technology and electronics to forecast progress in heavy manufacturing will have you paying 10x book value for a company like Tesla.

    The hard reality is it takes $46 of capital investment to save a gallon of gasoline per year with a plug in and $24 of capital investment to save the same gallon of gasoline per year with an HEV.

    Unless you believe the new generation is mathematically challenged, the laws of economic gravity require a different conclusion.
    Jan 25, 2011. 01:39 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Alice in EVland, Part III: Cost Benefit Analysis for Dummies [View article]
    The stop-start market is going to be far bigger than folks can imagine. Lux Research is forecasting 34 million vehicles a year by 2016. I've written extensively on this topic in the past and will be doing so again soon because instead of sounding like a crazy prophet I'll simply sound like somebody who understands the industry.

    You may want to review the following:

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    Jan 25, 2011. 12:40 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Alice in EVland, Part III: Cost Benefit Analysis for Dummies [View article]
    Natural gas vehicles are coming because the economics are so very attractive. I'm not sure whether the retrofits will catch on because there are some regulatory issues that keep them pretty expensive, but Fiat is talking about bringing their NGV technology to Chrysler and in Europe the price differential works out to about $4,000. Longer term, my ideal vehicle is a natural gas fuel system with full hybrid drive. It would be cleaner than an EV plugged into the average grid by a wide margin and cost less.
    Jan 25, 2011. 12:35 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Alice in EVland, Part III: Cost Benefit Analysis for Dummies [View article]
    Which means your hobby will continue to draw adherents and the commercial vehicles will fail. It really is odd that you keep disagreeing with me about the virtue of EVs and then agreeing 100% that the EV business plans are doomed.

    You truly are becoming my best advocate.
    Jan 25, 2011. 12:30 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
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