Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Cars

Psst, Hey, New York Times, The Real Issue with EVs Is Not the Miles, It’s the Money

The Tesla vs The New York Times battle has been hashed over all week, and the consensus in many quarters is that electric vehicles are ready for prime time, but Times reporter John Broder is, to put it kindly, not ready for electric vehicles. Lost in the sauce is the only real obstacle to getting more people behind the wheel of an EV, and that is affordability. Sooo… who’s doing what about that? Well don’t look now but the Obama Administration is doing something precisely about that with $20 million in new funding to develop affordable EV batteries.

Tesla vs NYT ignores EV affordability issue

Tesla vs New York Times vs Affordability

As Times reporter John Broder aptly demonstrated, the Tesla Model S is a brilliantly designed car, but no amount of cutting edge engineering can make up for a driver’s lack of common sense (obviously the same goes for gasoline powered cars, too).

For EVs, the problem isn’t within the battery range itself, it’s the expense involved in engineering high-range batteries. Unlike conventional cars, for which the gas tank is a negligible factor in the selling price, the battery pack is a key feature of an EV. Its size, weight, and configuration make all the difference between affordability and not.

That’s the challenge addressed by the Obama Administration’s latest project, the $20 million Robust Affordable Next Generation EV Storage Project (Range).

The EV Storage Project will be administered by the Energy Department’s cutting-edge research arm ARPA-E, which has just released a notice of the funding opportunity, though it does note that the $20 million is subject to the “availability of appropriated funds.”

The end goal is to come up with cutting-edge solutions that will triple the range of a typical EV from around 80 miles to 240 miles per charge, while chopping costs by around one third. The end result will be an EV that costs under $30,000 and can go on long trips before recharging, pretty much what you’d expect from a conventional vehicle.

At this first stage of the project, ARPA-E is focusing on the battery itself. That means breaking out of the conventional lithium-ion box and trying new approaches like these:

“Aqueous or other low-cost inorganic electrolyte based systems and novel cell geometries are of particular interest, as are flow battery architectures employing liquid or slurry-based reactants that enable physical isolation of active materials.”

It also means developing a “robust” battery that can shoulder other tasks aside from making the vehicle move. That would help extend the vehicle’s range, since it would enable the elimination of redundant equipment and/or structural elements.

Other considerations include the use of little or no flammable or combustible substances, and the reduction or elimination of waste heat.

President Obama and EV Affordability

When President Obama used his State of the Union Address to promise executive action on climate change if certain members of Congress continue to throw up roadblocks, he wasn’t exactly leaping into unknown territory.

Despite pushback from the aforementioned members of Congress (okay, so Republican leadership), for the past four years, the Administration has pushed forward with clean technology initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, including a raft of projects aimed at bringing down the cost of EV tech.

With the goal of making EV ownership affordable and accessible to the mass market, the Administration has already marshaled scores of public and private EV stakeholders together, including many of the top employers in the U.S., such as utilities, tech companies (Google being a big one), major fleet owners (FedEx for example), and manufacturers of all kinds both within and without the automotive sector.

One key element is EV Everywhere, which like the SunShot solar initiative is designed to accelerate new technology and overcome structural obstacles. As part of that program the Administration has just recruited 13 major U.S. employers to serve as role models for workplace EV charging, with the goal of getting many others to follow their lead.


The Administration also launched a partnership with Google to develop a national online database for EV charging station locations, an online guide for communities to accelerate their EV readiness, and a major energy storage research center called JCESR (Joint Center for Energy Storage Research).

One Last Word about that Tesla vs New York Times Thing

Not for nothing, but there was a long period of time not too long ago during which the conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh made a cottage industry out of bashing GM’s Chevy Volt. That seems to have died down, partly squashed by an aggressive ad campaign by GM featuring happy Volt owners.

Now, along comes The New York Times with a Limbaugh-style whack at Tesla, but this time it seems that EV enthusiasts have taken the matter into their own hands. Rather than waiting around for Tesla Motors to come out with a new ad campaign, a convoy of Tesla owners set out to replicate Broder’s journey this weekend under similar weather conditions. You can catch up with them on Twitter, complete with photos.

Image (cropped): Tesla Model S by Pop Culture Geek

Follow me on Google+ and Twitter

 

Advertisement
 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

Comments

You May Also Like

Batteries

New Database Provides Free, Public Access to Federal Policies, Incentives, Executive Orders, and Regulations Related to Batteries for EVs and Stationary Energy Storage By...

Cars

Beverly Hills gets a first, a Faraday Future Flagship Brand Experience Center. Sysco plans to purchase 800 battery electric Freightliner eCascadias. For those and...

Batteries

Some love the smaller cars. Yes, it’s true. Well, today you will find more to love with two new, oh-so-affordable cars in Japan. Even...

Batteries

Li-Cycle’s lithium-ion battery recycling plant in Arizona is now open. This is the company’s third operational Spoke facility in North America and it has...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.