Electric cars - a flash in the pan?

What is the staying power of electric vehicles?


Formula E Batteries
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I recently went to a conference about car electronics, components, processers and the like. It was pretty interesting to an outsider. And one of the things that was completely clear was that no one was talking about much in the automotive industry apart from the electric drivetrains and connected and autonomous vehicles.

It seems obvious now – with the benefit of hindsight - that the bigger car manufacturers clung to diesel a bit too long and a bit too hard. Manipulating their emissions data seems now to be a desperate last gasp tactic to delay the inevitable – and one that has actually had the opposite effect. The backlash has been pretty severe – and many are now suffering with hard to sell inventory (and some are temporarily halting production just to even up supply and demand).

Whilst the giants of the industry are engaging in more rapid evolution than they had hoped, it is quite interesting to look at how some of the first electric cars have fared over time.

Tesla is a disruptor in the industry – and has now been producing electric cars for ten years. Its disruptive cars can now be assessed not just for novelty, breaking new range barriers, and acceleration standards but also for longevity.

There’s a school of thought that the early adopters sometimes get incompletely developed technology (and therefore lose out) and that it’s better for markets to mature.

If we look at how some of the first Teslas are doing this may not actually be the case. It was pretty interesting to watch Hoovie’s Garage put an 8 year old Tesla Roadster through its paces. Despite the title “Here's Why the Original Tesla Roadster was a Total Failure” it isn’t quite the downer suggested:

Heres Why The Original Tesla Roadster Was A Total Failure

If you’ve not come across Hoovie’s YouTube channels you’ve got a treasure store of car videos to discover.

It seems like, as with any car, there’s some aging but the battery has held up remarkably well - it has just over 80% of its original capacity after 8 years. And this is an early model electric car – newer ones will surely be more robust.

There’s also the ‘what happens to batteries when they’re no longer useful in a vehicle’ question. Apparently even when less ‘energy dense’ (i.e. they can’t recharge to full capacity) they still can be used for storage purposes - as the video from Jalopnik points out:

What Really Happens To Electric Car Batteries?

 

And, although they’re made up from various toxic chemicals, these chemicals can still be extracted and reused. In fact, recycling is pretty important as the minerals used in car batteries are valuable and limited in supply.

Recycling Electric Car Batteries

Electric cars, it seems, are here to stay – until they’re recycled, that is.


By Beate Kubitz at 21 Oct 2018, 00:00 AM