Revenge of the Electric Car

Friday, October 14, 2011

Director Chris Paine and Elon Musk of Tesla Motors, discuss the documentary “Revenge of the Electric Car.” Paine (who directed the 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car”) goes behind the closed doors of Nissan, GM, the Silicon Valley start-up Tesla Motors to follow the race be the first, the best electric car, and to win the hearts and minds of the public around the world. "Revenge of the Electric Car" opens October 21 at Landmark Sunshine Cinemas.


Elon Musk and Chris Paine

Comments [14]

David Hrivnak from Kingsport, TN

Some very good questions. As to increasing our dependence on the electrical grid if we do it right we can definitely come out ahead.

Some examples are to charge cars at night at off peak. By limiting charging to off peak times we can actually replace all imported oil without having to build new power plants.

Another way the move to electric cars help is that it takes a lot of energy to refine gasoline at 7.5 kw/gal. That is enough energy to propel an electric car about 30 miles. As we get more electrics on the road then the need for refining drops allowing us to redirect that energy to transportation.

As far as locking us into another source of energy, that is the beauty of electricity. We can make it from oil, or coal, wind, hydro, solar and nuclear. I tried making my own gasoline and it is near impossible. But I CAN make my own electricity. And we make that electricity in USA not through imports.

Oct. 15 2011 09:04 PM
Note for Elon : Please forward from Lowering costs of electric cars while extending range.

1) Tram-like strip on major highways to recharge batteries WHILE YOU DRIVE
(for example using a conducting wheel on a metal charged strip).

2) Battery mini-trailers/"uhauls" to hitch to
the back of the electric cars to extend range. (Rent/Swap them at highway filling stations, rest stops).

The first would give unlimited highway range to ANY electric car - even with a fairly small supply of onboard batteries (therefore less expensive to build/buy).
(But it requires some infrastructure investment by states, regions or feds).

The second would allow for very rapid "refueling" at highway rest stops (swapping-in a charged battery minitrailer for a decharged one). It'd require some minimal investment, or tax incentives, or
regulations to encourage highway rest stops to rent these battery trailers out.
This would also allow for lower onboard battery capacity in the basic low cost electric car - while allowing for long road trips without stopping long to recharge.

Please forward this to Elon Musk.
Please consider and share this.

Oct. 14 2011 06:34 PM

My friend has a Prius (in Gemany, not sure if they're the same as here) - she says you have a smaller footprint because when the prius uses gas, it charges its own battery - so the car feeds itself

Oct. 14 2011 06:07 PM
Roy from Lebanon, nj

I'll be up front I'm not a point of the electric car (hydrogen car though I do like) I'm also the one that called in about the battery life, Peter already coves my concerns about the financial issues with the battery, but a key aspect about the environmental impact was missed and that was the actual creation of the battery and the mining of rare metals needed to build it.

Oct. 14 2011 03:01 PM

We all want Elon and the others that work to perfect the electric car (or the hydrogen fuel alternative) to be right, but there really are still problems in the way of true electric cars, and Elon glossed to sell not to inform on these, I'm afraid.

1. Cost for batteries that allow 300 mile radius is and will remain high. Other parts of the process may become cheaper: lithium will not. And Tesla's Model S (whitestar) promises to come in at $77000 late next year per unit for that range, not the $57000 advertised for only a 160 mile range.

2. Battery useful life at Tesla is advertised at only 5-7 years, not the 10 years supposedly required by California per Chris' report. The cost of the battery will be about half the price of a new car. The "used car" market and economy will cease to exist with this feature, and a large portion of the USA's economically challenged folks won't be able to afford one. The "mass model" (bluestar: with pricepoint at or below $30000) scheduled for 2015-2017, if it follows the same practice as the Model S, will be $50k for any model capable of long distance driving.
The cost of recharging and a hotel room needed to wait the 3 hours for a 110v charge will dramatically exceed $7/gallon for gasoline that we will likely be paying in 2020. The economics are dicey even then.

3. The 420v quick charge solution to the battery drain at destination locations is really more of a prerequisite than anyone lets on, and the fitting in all household garages and motel parking lots for these chargers is a long, long way off. Even with the quick charger, an hour or so is required to charge a drained battery, which (by the way), if "too" drained, will void the battery warranty as recharges don't "take" as well and battery life deteriorates badly.

What is required is a government insistence that cars be electric or hybridized in much shorter order to force the automotive supporting industries (from service stations to the power grid) to provide for the future Elon envisons.

The fact is, I can build a steam car that has nearly as much torque, more range and 1/10th the carbon footprint of gasoline that will burn anything from KFC grease to cakes of bunker #5 that needs no hookups, special service, etc. Here's hoping that the continued technological advances make this practical and practicable in the next five years. Tesla isn't there yet, nor is the Volt or Leaf.

Oct. 14 2011 02:19 PM
Amy from Manhattan

That's great that electric cars can be charged at Muni-Meters! 1st time I've heard that. Now I'm wondering how many cars can be plugged in to 1 meter machine.

Oct. 14 2011 01:02 PM
John A.

jg-, the counterpoint is that they potentially release us from fossil fuels, but when will they Actually release us? That keys into ericf's concern. Attention has to be paid from the government and that's been shut down for election season, lucky us.

Oct. 14 2011 01:00 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

It was just stated that comparing the cost of electricity versus gasoline in terms of "miles per gallon," electricity costs only a dollar a gallon. I other words, electic cost is now at least 2/3rds cheaper than using gasoline. And gasoline will be going up faster than electricity costs, for sure.

Oct. 14 2011 12:59 PM
Steve from Long Island, Ny

Is it true that there's no advantage to driving an electric car in certain parts of the country where electric power costs more than gasoline?

Oct. 14 2011 12:56 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Well, the beauty of the electric car is not only that it is so much more efficient and uses so much LESS energy than a internal combustion cars that require gasoline, diesel, biofuels, etc., is that any source of energy can be used to make electricity. The main issue now is the batteries, and how to improve them to store more energy.

But the point is, the electric car potentially releases us from fossil fuels altogether eventually, when alternative clean sources really become viable and competitive.

Oct. 14 2011 12:52 PM

I suspect that inevitably most of the vehicles in much of the world will be electric. My questions are more about the timing than the end result.

I'd like to hear some exploration of the prospective effects of adding a lot of new electrical consumption on the production and distribution of electricity. If we demand more service than the current infrastructure can provide and renewables can't keep up, will we in effect be asking for more fossil fueled and nuclear plants?

Should large scale transition to electric vehicles be tied to improvements in the grid and in local electrical storage that will help renewables like wind and solar compete more effectively with fossil fuels and nuclear? If so, how should that relationship be managed?

Given the current mix of electrical generation today's electric cars are in effect coal-powered cars by proxy. Can we change that so electric cars become in effect wind and solar powered cars by proxy, or will just compound the problem?

Oct. 14 2011 12:42 PM
John A.

Sarah, I believe the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf and Elon's exotic Tesla are all on sale now.

Oct. 14 2011 12:40 PM
Estelle from Austin

Whenever I hear about electric cars, my first thought/concern is about increased dependence on the electric grid. Isn't it dangerous to be consolidating our lives around one source of power?

Oct. 14 2011 12:23 PM
Sarah from LES

As exciting as it is to see this documentary and as great as the last one was where are the cars? Bloomberg just signed a deal for new taxis and they are not going electric until 2017! And new cabs will only get 25 miles per gallon. What is going on here.

Oct. 14 2011 12:14 PM

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