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Clean Transport tar-sands-alberta

Published on August 18th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro

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A Gallon Of Tar Sands Oil Can Send An EV Over 30 Miles

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August 18th, 2014 by  

tar-sands-alberta

The Alberta tar sands are an all-around environmental disaster, though its defenders will claim that the energy wrung out of the ground is worth it. A new report published over at Hybrid Cars, however, reveals that the energy it takes to produce just one gallon of gasoline from the Canadian tar sands could propel an electric car or plug-in hybrid for more than 30 miles.

I’ll readily admit that math isn’t my strong point, and as with any report or study on energy consumption, the Devil is in the details; some refineries are more or less efficient, closer or farther to the tar sands themselves, so on and so forth.

But as a whole, the logic is fairly simple; digging up the tar sands and then separating the oil from everything else is an energy intensive process, each 42-gallon barrel of oil (of which only about half is actually converted into motor-grade gasoline) requires about 301 kWh of electricity to produce. A generous estimation puts the total amount of refined petrol at about 23.4 gallons from each barrel, which places the electricity cost of each barrel of oil at about 12.86 kWh (13 if you want to just round it up).

13 kWh of electric per gallon of gas from the tar sands? That’s a lot of wasted electricity turned into even more carbon emissions. But, if instead that energy were pumped into a plug-in car like the Chevy Volt, you could drive about 37 miles without burning a gallon of gas. The Nissan LEAF could go 38 miles, and the Tesla Model S about 34 miles on the same amount of electricity. Meanwhile, the average new car fuel economy hovers just about 25 MPG (rather than the 23 MPG quoted in the report), or about 30% less driving range.

The Alberta tar sands only make financial sense if oil prices continue to rise, and the energy industry is instead seeing demand drop and prices stabilize. This means ventures like the tar sands could become money-losers, especially if more and more consumers make the switch to plug-in cars. That’s good news for those of us who put the planet before corporate profits.

Want to get all the details? Check out Hybrid Cars for all the nitty gritty.

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or esle, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • Chris_in_Raleigh

    Nice article, but the headline is just plain wrong.

  • Mint

    Umm, LCD monitors cost a bit less than new cars do. Just a bit.

    A Prius already gives you enormous fuel savings over a very old 15-25MPG car, but the latter is still on the road because $25k is a lot more to pay right now than $0, and there’s only so many used Priuses out there to buy. If it works and isn’t falling apart or butt ugly, someone will buy it.

    In fact, a Prius saves you more in fuel costs today over an average 2004 car than an EV will save you in 2025 over an average 2015 car. So the net economic incentive to replace an old car with an efficient one isn’t really going to change.

    EVs need to compete with new cars, not old ones, and they will. But carmakers need to follow Tesla’s lead and go after all of EV’s advantages, like the low marginal cost of increased performance (that tiny 416hp motor) and gobs of interior room (extra trunk, no drive tunnel even with AWD).

    • Bob_Wallace

      ” LCD monitors cost a bit less than new cars do. Just a bit.”

      The dollars differ. The principal holds.

  • http://fractalicious.ca/ Adam Grant

    The price of oil is complex. There are still lots of old wells producing oil cheaply, although these are gradually depleting, but the price paid for crude appears to rise to the price of the most-expensive-to-extract barrel that was pulled out of the ground to meet world demand. So most of the oil companies’ profits are coming from old wells, not from tar sands, fracking or deep water drilling.
    As time goes on, depletion reduces the volume and cheapness of oil coming from older wells, cutting into oil industry profits and reducing the capital available for exploration, research and development, building refineries, and purchasing political influence.

    An orderly transition from fossil fuels to renewables requires that civilization has access to affordable supplies of fossil fuels until electric vehicles become cheap and widely available. Once a significant and rising fraction of the world’s car fleet runs on batteries, oil demand should drop to a level that can be satisfied by old conventional wells, so oil prices will drop. Deep water, tar sands, fracking and other expensive technologies will no longer be commercially viable, and oil industry profits will decline. Petroleum will eventually become a boutique fuel required mainly for paid-off legacy equipment.

    So how soon can we claim that electric vehicles are “cheap and widely available”? Ultimately, EV’s should become cheaper than vehicles with internal combustion engines. They have a lot less moving parts, less parts in general, and the single most expensive component, the battery, is on its way to becoming a commodity. Car makers would prefer to delay the age of electric vehicles because internal combustion engines, hybrids and hydrogen vehicles are more profitable; but once the dam breaks, competitive forces will force a relatively quick transition.
    My guess is 3 to 5 years before 20% of new vehicles are EV’s, and a further 3 to 5 years before the fraction of EV’s on the road is high enough to start depressing the price of oil.

  • NRG4All

    Wow is that headline misleading. It should read, “The energy to produce one gallon of tar sands oil could send an EV 30 miles.”

  • Bob Fearn

    Funny title, “A gallon of tar sands oil can send an EV over 30 miles” How about, ” the energy it takes to produce one gallon of gasoline from the Canadian tar sands could propel an EV over 30 miles”
    Whatever, it seems very silly to bugger up our planet when we have a free nuclear fusion plant putting out more energy than we can use and it will keep working without repair or maintenance for billions of years!!

  • David

    Every time I see aerial shots of the tar sands and the epic destruction that they are causing I shake my head in disbelief and ask what are we doing. Tar sands are truly the bottom of the barrel and reeks of desperation from the fossil fuel industry. Unfortunately they own the Canadian government and will not stop until Alberta is a moonscape. It will never be reclaimed or restored in a human lifespan.

    • rockyredneck

      Don’t know much about Alberta, do you.

  • Poechewe

    Of all the fossil fuels, tar sands are the least efficient from source to final use.

    The biggest problem is simply that natural gas has to be used at the tar sands fields to melt the bitumen so that it flows and can be usefully handled. But the end product is also difficult to handle at refineries.

    Among the major fossil fuel sites around the world, the energy returned on energy invested in the Alberta tar sands is the worst there is in the fossil fuel industry. Why are we using the tar sands? Because the age of cheap light sweet crude is over.

    Because of global warming, the rising costs of producing fossil fuels, and additional environmental issues, we need to switch to alternative energy as quickly as possible.

  • http://www.michaeljberndtson.com/ Michael Berndtson

    I’m confused. Actually the 23 gallons of gasoline is generous. It’s more like 20 or less. Refinery out put by products is on a mass in, mass out basis. You can’t take 42 gallons of crude oil and expect to get 42 gallons of various products. Assuming major products are turned into gasoline (petrol) equivalents here’s the breakdown:

    Gasoline: 19 gallons
    Diesel: 12
    Jet/other: 10
    LPG: 2
    Distillates: 1
    Heavy residuals: 1

    That equals to 45 gallons because about 3 gallons of carbon and hydrogen and other stuff were added in the refining process, i.e. hydrotreating and blending.

    Tar sands are a messy mess simply on its own merits. Tar sands is mined and extracted via steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD). It’s about 50/50 between the two right now. New SAGD leases have been put on hold by Alberta due to the uncontrollable nature of heating up tarry matter and expecting all to flow into a capture well. It really goes pretty much all over the place. Only 20 percent of all tar sands can be strip mined. The other 80 percent have to be extracted by SAGD or some alternative in situ extraction method.

    Basically after-the-fact environmental controls up in Alberta may shutdown tar sands mining more than anything else. It’s already flowing at about 1.5 million diluted barrels per day and will increase to about 2 million this and next year. Despite keystone.

    That’s why mining (or extracting) companies and those benefiting from mined materials don’t want to do environmental impact assessments before hand. And want to have state (or federal) environmental indemnification for any potential impact or degradation (i.e. paying for it).

    • Bob_Wallace

      Perhaps you should read the report.

      “Now we need to take into account that a 42 gallon barrel of synthetic crude can produce up to 45 gallons of product using 100 percent external energy input. But as mentioned most refineries produce 36 gallons of refined product as they are built to consume part of the barrel for the energy required during the refining. Of the 36 gallons, (30 percent of 42) or 12.6 gallons of diluent (required in Step A to process the bitumen into dilbit) needs to be recycled back into the process. That leaves us with 23.4 Gallons of which at most only 19.6 gallons is motor grade gasoline.

      Let’s use the 23.4 gallons figure to be generous. That’s 301 kwh / 23.4 gal = 12.86 kwh /gal.”

      http://www.hybridcars.com/the-oil-sands-surprising-new-nemesis-plug-in-vehicles/
      .
      The author put his thumb on the conservative side of the scale. Had he used 19.6 gallons then the kWh per gallon of gasoline numbers would have been higher.

      301 kWh / 19.6 = 15.4 kWh per gallon of gas. At 0.3 kWh per mile that’s 51.2 EV miles.

      • http://www.michaeljberndtson.com/ Michael Berndtson

        That doesn’t sound right. Why go through an elaborate math exercise to only default to the rule of thumb? Tar sands are flowing like crazy already and only to increase this and next year. Every environmentalist and his brother have prepared thought exercises to stymie developement to no avail. Sadly while the world was focused on Keystone XL, Enbridge with the help of Illinois politicians, Obama included, rerouted all that flow through Illinois.

        Tar sands were developed in Canada just like fracking here in the US, behind closed doors and with minimal baseline impact study. Kind of like an EV manufacturer wants to. You can’t have it both ways. Unless EV sales is your goal, not environmental protection.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Perhaps to explain how one gets from 42 gallons to 19.6 gallons.

          That should have been obvious to you.

          • http://www.michaeljberndtson.com/ Michael Berndtson

            A energy business simply goes by energy balance and the first law of thermodynamics. If energy in is less than energy out by a large enough margin, then there’s a business. Another metric is Energy Return on Investment (EROI). Saudi crude it’s about 25 to 1, US crude about 10 to 1, and oil sands it’s about 7 to 1. Oil sands using in situ extraction methods may even be less. The amount of electricity or heat or work put into making gasoline is part of the energy in. Probably the worst fuel right now is corn ethanol at about 1 to 1.

            Here’s a nice primer on EROI from Gail Tverberg. I’ve read here stuff on energy collective. It’s pretty good.

            http://ourfiniteworld.com/2010/12/14/adjusting-energy-return-on-investment-eroi-for-time/

            and more on the subject (data from DOE):

            http://energeopolitics.com/2012/09/19/energy-return-on-investment-of-unconventional-resources/

            The analysis is silliness. Like a marketing dude who thinks he discovered gravity . Most importantly, the author doesn’t explain oil sands exploitation correctly. Oil sands is upgraded to bitumen. Some is further upgraded to “Syncrude” in Alberta. Some is simply diluted using NGL or natural gas liquids from shale gas fields and sent down to refineries like BP Whiting and Exxon Joliet as diluted bitumen and refined as heavy crude.

          • Bob_Wallace

            When editing what you posted please indicate the change.

          • http://www.michaeljberndtson.com/ Michael Berndtson

            OK, now this is getting silly. I have absolutely no idea what I edited. I’m sure I didn’t change high concepts or thoughts. It was probably bad grammar and/or sentence structure. I’m assuming you have vested interest in cleantechnica. Maybe not as an employee, but maybe as an independent contractor working for an advertiser or renewables company with image concerns. Most of the comments seem to be by cleantechnica branded commenters. Many seem to not have environmental protection as an interest. Especially if environmental concerns impair technology marketing.

            My comments are very much pro renewables as is my overall concern for a successful deployment. I’m coming from the perspective of environmental protection first, not technology shilling. We aren’t talking smartphones here. You don’t like my comments and that’s fine. Delete them or ban me from the site. Case in point, you were really upset a while back about me raising concerns about environmental impacts due to natural gas and specifically fracking. These concerns were avoided to fast track deployment. Essentially a workaround. Environmental concerns with fracking are real. People are being forces to use alternative water supply because private well water is becoming impacted. States are being sued. You dismissed my comments as trolling. Now I’m concerned that cleantechnica is pushing renewables and more specifically EVs, over environmental protection. This would be the Tesla issue. As I said before that exact same approach was done with natural gas. Your interest is not me inciting anti renewables or negative comments to others (that comes from cleantechnica branded commenters at me), which I don’t. My comments are pretty much positive. Your interest seems to be message control. Maybe that’s your expertise. That’s fine.

            My point is that these studies to prove one fossil fuel or another isn’t as feasible as an alternative. Maybe EVs maybe something else. These studies have to be concise and accurate or they get used by fossil fuel as an example of environmental activities stirring up something or other. My comment was critical in approach of this study. I only became more thorough as cleantechnica branded commenters swarmed. Like they always do. I realize you’re not a scientists or engineer and math isn’t your forte. That’s fine. But this blog/comments could act as a “red team review” (I’m sure you’re familiar with what that is) before a study or approach goes too far into commercialization and marketing to the public at large. There’s a heap of environmental studies to support renewables or alternatives that get blasted by incumbent industries and fossil fuel. They got the money for consultants, scientists, engineers, marketers, PR personnel, lawyers and what not. I’m giving a review from an overall environmental protection standpoint for free. Obviously, cleantechnica branded commenters are not interested. And that’s OK. Like I said, I’ve gotten the gist of this blog, as an active commenter. It usually takes that, since the posts are written in general marketing terms.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” I’m sure I didn’t change high concepts or thoughts.”

            Actually you did. What I received via email was different than what I found when I looked at the revised version.

            It’s fine to change ones mind, but please document changes.

            ” Most of the comments seem to be by cleantechnica branded commenters. Many seem to not have environmental protection as an interest. Especially if environmental concerns impair technology marketing.”

            Bullshit.

            “Now I’m concerned that cleantechnica is pushing renewables and more specifically EVs, over environmental protection. This would be the Tesla issue.”

            This is more bullshit. You have created an apparent lie that Tesla is trying to skirt environmental regulations. You’ve been asked multiple times to back up your charge and have failed to do so.

            “Environmental concerns with fracking are real.”

            Find one single incident in which I claimed they were not. Find one single incident where an article on this site claimed they were not. (I would image that you can find a few comments from commenters state that, but those comments are not coming from CT.

            ” I realize you’re not a scientists or engineer and math isn’t your forte.”

            Ignorance on your part.

            “I’ve gotten the gist of this blog”

            No, you’ve created a false belief in your head.

            What you have gotten is pushback from people who don’t agree with you and you don’t like that.

  • Mike333

    Title: The Energy used to Crack One Gallon of Tar Sands could Power an EV 30+ miles, with no Tar Sands Pollution Tax.

  • Steve Grinwis

    I average around 15 kWh per 100 km, suggesting I’d get pretty close what Brennan is suggesting as well. Agree the report is really conservative.

    • Vensonata

      We live 15 km up a gravel dirt road, off grid. How would that Smart fortwo Ev do on that surface? It has a narrow wheel base which helps sit up out of ruts, but how is the clearance and traction in snow?

      • Steve Grinwis

        The ground clearance is 5.2″, slightly less than the leaf. I’ve gone through 7″ of snow in my old diesel Smart, since the lowest part is just a bit of suspension, which is easy to push through the snow.
        Previous Smarts that I’ve owned have been phenomenal in the snow, with a good set of snow tires. The traction control system is ripped straight off the Mercedes C class, and it’s very capable. It also helps that the weight distribution on the car is nearly perfect.

        • Vensonata

          I actually got driven around on our bumpy road by a fellow who had a smart car diesel. Certainly ok in the dry. We plow our road so no depth of snow but icy hills often. Might be a cute addition charging up under the solar panels

          • Steve Grinwis

            With a good set of snow tires? Not a problem at all.

  • Brennan

    This article is being awfully conservative…

    Since the start of 2014, I’ve averaged 7.7km per kWh of electricity in my Nissan Leaf, doing a 70km round trip. Factor that by the alleged 13kWh of electricity to produce a gallon of fuel, and my Leaf is doing 100km (or 62.5 miles) for the same energy to produce a gallon of gasoline; nearly twice the mileage the article suggests.

    • GCO

      If you rely on the info on the dash, it doesn’t include charging losses, so real numbers would be about 10% lower (the on-board charger on the 2011/2012 Leaf is 91% efficient at 240V; I don’t know about other plug-ins).

      With maybe 2/3 highway use, I average 623 J/m or 173 W⋅h/km, wall to wheels… or maybe I should say, rooftop to wheels? :-)

      That’d put me at “only” 75 km (47 miles) per 13 kW⋅h “gallon”.

  • Bob_Wallace

    People should read the original. The author does a well sludge pit to wheels report.

    http://www.hybridcars.com/the-oil-sands-surprising-new-nemesis-plug-in-vehicles/

    A large part of the 13 kWh assumes taking the natural gas used in the process and turning it into electricity. It isn’t 13 kWh of “clean” electricity, but it does show that we’d be better off not making a big mess by leaving the sludge where it is.

    • Vensonata

      Yes, and I wonder how much energy it took to get the natural gas to begin with. If it was compressed first, something like 25%? of the gas is used to generate the power to liquefy the gas…or is it 40%, some outrageous hidden gas monster behind the “clean gas” which is suddenly so abundant in British Columbia that we are happy to sell our souls to peddle it to China and Japan.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Fossil fuels are just one big damned mess.

        Let’s hope the price of EV batteries comes down very quickly. With Tesla and China pushing we may get there soon and stop this petroleum/natural gas foolishness.

        • jeffhre

          It’s not just batteries. It’s learning curves in developing efficient production technologies for EV’s. And it is the potential network effects that will propagate with production at scale. So even without battery costs shrinking significantly, the auto industry will lower the costs of producing EV’s over time. And fortunately battery prices are falling also :)

          • Bob_Wallace

            Correct. I’ve recently seen articles about cheaper battery “packing” and about significant cost cutting in the power electronics for EVs.

    • Mike333

      Doesn’t Canada produce it’s electricity from Hydro?
      This points out the Total Waste the Tar Sand Process is.
      Just to crack the fuel, could power equivalent or better miles in an EV.

      With no pollution of Canadian water, air and destruction of vast forest and hunting ranges, tar sand train transportation or gas distribution costs, or train accidents.

      • Steve Grinwis

        Not in Alberta. They’re in the coal belt between a hydro powered Ontario, and a Hydro powered BC.

        http://www.energy.alberta.ca/electricity/682.asp

        • Vensonata

          Hydro powered Quebec. Nuclear, but now coal free Ontario…but leading the charge on wind and solar. B.c. Just got lucky, giant hydro resources and it even made sense to cranky right wing government in 50′s and 60′s to go hydro. But here is some startling news. A new 1.3gw dam in b.c. In the initial stages would only supply enough power to liquefy the natural gas that we plan to export to china and Malaysia. This is not generally known how energy intensive compressing natural gas is, they do it with, guess what? Natural gas and lose a lot in the process….25%? Engineers, got an accurate figure?

        • Tom Gray

          Alberta also has a good wind resource, and this is a perfect application for it. Our EV, a Mitsubishi, could get 40-50 miles on 13 kWh, depending on the season (more in summer).

      • Mint

        Unfortunately, we don’t have enough EVs to charge with the electricity used to produce tar sand oil, and electricity isn’t a limited resource anyway.

        Tar sands extraction and refining don’t have to make energy or environmental sense. They just have to make economic sense, as they turn a BTU of cheap natural gas into a BTU (or more) of 10x more valuable gasoline.

        To say we don’t need tar sand oil is to ignore the billion+ cars on the road today (plus another few billion cars for developing countries to become productive), and we aren’t even producing half a million EVs/PHEVs per year. Sadly, tar sand oil will be powering transportation for 50 years and more.

        We need people to choose EVs. The US is offering $7500+, much of Canada (BC, Ontario, and Quebec) are offering $8000+, and now it’s time for consumers to take the final step.

        Once there’s demand, we need Tesla to achieve its production and sales target of 500k battery packs by 2020, which is already more than 10x what they currently do, and then we need Tesla’s success to be multiplied by a further factor of 100 (yikes) across the industry to still be a bit short of 50% of new sales, and then after continued growth we need to wait 20-30 years for already built gas cars to get flushed out to the scrapyard.

        Only then will we stop needing tar sands oil. But until then, the owners of the rapidly growing vehicle base in China and India have every right to seek oil as Americans and Europeans do.

        • jeffhre

          Fortunately we could “only” need about five more years of battery development to see EV’s that sell in vastly more varied financial circumstances, than the price limited economic opportunities for EV sales now, IMO.

          Many analysts are looking at renewable energy being substantially lower than fossil fuels across the board, with about five more years of development as well, coincidentally. Looking at renewable energies most recent cost curves, I am beginning to believe this could be quite true.

          “Sadly, tar sand oil will be powering transportation for 50 years and more.”

          While this may be true because drivers will not agree to strand their transport assets willingly, changes in new and replacement vehicle choices may occur much more rapidly. Accordingly, old ICE’s may stay on the roads for many years, but fewer new ICE’s may be purchased, spurred by purely economic reasons.

          Examples, California has 7 GW of solar installed, nearly all after 2008. The global fleet has over 500,000 plug ins, again, all were purchased after 2009. Growth of the two technologies is not linear. With further development, what will the growth curves look like in five years? Wind as of November 2013 was lower priced than any other form of US electricity generation, and the price continues to fall. You can drive on wind for half the price of gas now! In five years?

          Near future EV proliferation seems to point to a far lower level of the replacement of ICEs with ICE’s, after that five year development time period. Will new tar sands developments be viable investments much longer after that?

          • Mint

            You obviously didn’t read my post. Let me repeat and emphasize:

            Once there’s demand, we need Tesla to achieve its production and sales target of 500k battery packs by 2020, which is already more than 10x what they currently do, and then we need Tesla’s success to be multiplied by a further factor of 100 (yikes) across the industry to still be a bit short of 50% of new sales, and then after continued growth we need to wait 20-30 years for already built gas cars to get flushed out to the scrapyard.

            To add a little more, by the time we get to 50M EVs/yr (don’t underestimate how long it will take to build 100 gigafactories), the auto market will have grown to maybe 130M/yr as new markets develop. So even then (maybe 2035?), we’ll be getting as many new ICEs on the road as today, and the global oil market won’t be any smaller. So EVs keep growing in the decades beyond, and finally we get more ICEs going to the scrapyard than new ones being built, and oil demand slowly shrinks, but so does our supply of cheap conventional oil. So now it’s 2050 and oil sands are still needed, but demand keeps dropping and maybe by 2060 oil price drops enough that oil sands aren’t worth it anymore.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “don’t underestimate how long it will take to build 100 gigafactories”

            Should I make my estimate based on building 10 or 20 simultaneously? Or, perhaps, we might want to break ground on even more at the same time..

            Let’s see, if every major country started one a year that would be three in North America, at least three if not more in South America, Australia could start one, China should probably do two on its own, ….

          • Mint

            It doesn’t work like that in an unplanned economy. You build a few, see if demand is there, then build more, then see if demand is still there, and so on.

            Even wind took 15 years to go from ~1,000 MW/yr in 1995 to ~40,000 MW/yr in 2010, and there, a wind kWh is identical to a coal kWh. An EV, OTOH, is not 100% equivalent to a gas car. As much as you may want to think otherwise, charging is not the same as refueling at a gas station. The market needs to see if more people are choosing EVs before it will build more giant battery factories.

            Go look at all of Panasonic’s statements about the gigafactory. They’re really cautious, wanting to ramp up slowly to see if demand is there. I think it’s needless caution right now, but beyond a few million EVs/year, it’ll be a legit worry.

          • Bob_Wallace

            So only Tesla will have a battery supplier capable of meeting its needs as EVs take off?

            Ford and GM won’t need a source? BMW and Mercedes will sit on the sidelines due to not enough batteries? None of the other car manufacturers won’t need a source? And none of them will need sources on multiple continents?

            Think about it.

            We’re likely short years from 150 mile range, less than $30k EVs. Reach that point and markets build quickly.

            They’ll build with <$25k, 100 mile range EVs and <$40k, 200 mile range EVs and those are likely only a couple of years away.

          • Mint

            I don’t know how anything I said implies the other automakers won’t require batteries. I explicitly said “we need Tesla’s success to be multiplied by a further factor of 100 across the industry“.

            But all of them will scale up bit by bit, not monstrously in parallel. The tax credits aren’t going to last forever, either, and that will seriously impact sub-$30k EV sales. Nissan saw Leaf sales triple after a $6k price cut.

            Subsidy-free EV demand beyond 10% market share is not in any way a given, and no company will assume rapid adoption. A factor of 100 growth from 2020 to 2035 is very aggressive, and beyond all of the EV projections out there. I’m not being conservative at all. You need to find flaws in other parts of my argument regarding oil demand.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “But all of them will scale up bit by bit, not monstrously in parallel.”

            Here we simply disagree. I’ve watched a few technology shifts during previous years and, over and over, I’ve seen many slow starts and high prices soon replaced by rapidly falling prices and an avalanche of change.

            It takes, in general, three years to bring a new model from initial concept to the dealer’s showroom. GM did the Volt even faster.

            Tesla is going big on batteries. That, they think, will mean the ability to sell a moderate priced 200 mile range EV.

            I simply cannot believe that most other car manufacturers have design and engineering teams working full speed on doing their own version of the ’3′ and giga-factories right now.

            The car companies know the price of materials in a battery. They know the labor and energy input. They know how to cut cost via volume.

            GM and Ford have empty factories. I’ll bet they’ve already designed large battery factories tailored for those spaces.

            Most manufacturers already have an EV in production or in prototype. They are short months from large volume production as soon as the market heats up a bit more.

            You can bet against the avalanche, but I’d suggest you stand somewhere that won’t put you in the way of getting covered.

          • Mint

            A lot of technologies peter out after initial growth. Hybrids took off in sales for a few years after a slow start, showing exponential growth, but then suddenly started flattening out at 3% share in the US, and less elsewhere.

            That’s exactly the kind of lesson that will tell them to be cautious about investing too quickly. The recession is another one. Financing idle factories is a killer, so they want to be absolutely sure before investing.

            And no, the car companies do not share your opinion on projections for battery cost or EV demand. If they did, Toyota would not be putting so much effort into H2 and so little into EVs. We also wouldn’t see everyone but Tesla investing in low power permanent magnet motors: As Marc Tarpenning said, they’re out of their minds paying for permanent magnets just so that they can use simpler motor control software.

            If you don’t think 100x scaling in 15 years
            *is* an avalanche, I don’t know what to say. It’s not going to happen in 5 years.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “And no, the car companies do not share your opinion on projections for battery cost or EV demand. If they did, Toyota would not be putting so much effort into H2 and so little into EVs. ”

            Toyota + Hyundai = “the car companies”.

            All the other vehicle manufacturers who aren’t pursing FCEV but building EVs and PHEVs are “not car companies”.

            “f you don’t think 100x scaling in 15 years *is* an avalanche, I don’t know what to say”

            You could start by not claiming that I made statements which I didn’t make.

          • Mint

            Why do you keep cherry picking individual sentences? Am I not allow to give multiple pieces of proof to back an assertion?

            Why isn’t anyone else using low cost AC induction motors? Listen to Mark Tarpenning here:

            What about the lack of higher power motors that would encroach on the domain of the ICE, and make EVs desirable?

            I estimated 100x scaling in 15 years (i.e. 36% growth per year on average), and you not only said “I disagree”, but also that I “bet against the avalanche” with my stance. So obviously, you think my stance is not an avalanche.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I really don’t think you and I speak the same language.

            We both use English words, but …..

          • Mint

            …but you make snarky statements like “Toyota + Hyundai = “the car companies””, as if that in any way represented my opinion.

            Still waiting to hear what statement I claimed you made that you didn’t.

  • Vensonata

    Brilliant. I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of this little factoid. Thanks

    • Michael B

      More than 30, I presume!

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