They never seem to talk about distance

How far will it go between charges? This is the first question that pops into my head when I think about EVs. Man’s love affair with automobiles is rooted in a deep desire for freedom. There is something quite romantic about the ability to hop in my car and drive from D.C. to the eastern shore without stopping. My 2002 Toyota Corolla can go 360+ miles on a single, topped off tank. That is freedom.

When I research the current (no pun intended) state of electric vehicles, the top selling points seem to be the green factor and the top speed. Battery capacity and recharge times seem to be mentioned near the end of the pitch as an after thought. Since these are, in fact, the most critical selling points it is understandable why they are not given the spotlight. Who cares if my new EV can go from zero to 60 in 4 seconds if it can only keep it up for 30 minutes and takes 4 hours to recharge?

My EV, a Zenn, is classified as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle. It has a range of 26 miles between charges, takes 8 hours for a full charge, takes 4 hours for an 80 percent charge, and has a maximum speed of 37 mph.

So with this kind of performance, why did I buy it? It certainly can’t be used to take me to a far away beach, and definitely cannot be driven on the Interstate or other high speed highways.

The reason is, almost all of my driving is local - going to the mall, post office, school events, bank, etc… For those short trips, why use a gasoline powered vehicle (which is inefficient in slow speed city traffic)? Save it for those long trips.

Are my driving needs unusual? I don’t think so. Nearly everyone I know uses his/her vehicle mostly for local errands totaling 20 miles or less per day. If more local driving than that is required on a given day, opportunity charging can be employed. I have driven my EV more than 60 miles during one day by taking advantage of that technique, and at a significantly lower operating cost than it would be if I had used my gasoline car.

Since the purchase of the Zenn, my gasoline purchases have been cut in half or more, while my electric bill has gone up by less than $8 per month due to the “expense” of recharging the battery packs.

As they say, use the right tool for the right job.

How much did you pay to have that second vehicle? When factoring in the selling price, is it still a cost effective choice? How much will a replacement battery cost when the present one inevitably reaches the end of its service life?

I don’t mean to sound like a naysayer. I look forward to the day when a 16 year-old kid buys a used EV for five grand that he earned with a summer job. That day, however, may be as much as 20 years off. The funny thing is, my 86 year-old grandmother remembers electric trucks making deliveries in New York City. This was in the 1920s, when she was a kid. What happened? Range. Gasoline wins.

This is all changing now. Tesla motors has a car that goes 200 miles between charges, uses Lithium-ion cells which have a 100,000 mile service life, and performs like a high-end sports car. The base model gives the buyer all of this for a mere $98,000. The lithium-ion cells account for over half the cost.

Phoenix motors is by far the most exciting company I’ve found. Not so much the cars as the power source which they plan to license. Altairnano’s lithium-ion cells use nanotechnology to manufacture the carbon cathode. The Phoenix vehicles go on sale this (or next) year and will cost in the neighborhood of $45,000. These will be just like the cars that we’ve always had. I’m talkin’ soccer mom minivans that can also go to the beach.
Here is a link

The above link will display a PDF file which tells everything about this revolutionary battery.

The following is an excerpt from the PDF:

"[B][U]Battery Life:The Disadvantage of Conventional Lithium Ion Batteries[/U][/B]
During charge, lithium ions deposit inside the graphite particles and are then released on discharge. When the lithium ions enter or leave the graphite particles, the particles expand or shrink to accommodate the lithium ion’s size which is larger than the original site within the graphite particle that the ion occupies. Over the life of the battery, this repeated expansion and shrinkage fatigues the graphite particles. As a consequence the particles break apart, causing a loss in electrical contact between the resulting particles thereby reducing battery performance. The same process is repeated over the dynamic life of the battery - particle fatigue breakage and diminished performance until the battery is no longer useful.

[B][U]The NanoSafe Advantage[/U][/B]
The nano-titanate electrode material is a “zero strain” material in terms of lithium ion internal deposition and release. The lithium ions have the same size as the sites they occupy in the nano-titanate particles. As a result the nano-titanate particles do not have to expand or shrink when the ions are entering or leaving the nano-titanate particles, therefore resulting in no (zero) strain to the nano-titanate material. This property results in a battery that can be charged and discharged significantly more often than conventional rechargeable batteries because of the absence of particle fatigue that plagues materials such as graphite. Conventional lithium batteries can be typically charged about 750 times before they are no longer useful, whereas, in laboratory testing, the Altairnano NanoSafe battery cells have now achieved over 9,000 charge and discharge cycles at charge and discharge rates up to 40 times greater than are typical of common batteries, and they still retain up to 85% charge capacity.As an example of the application significance of this feature if a conventional lithium battery is charged and discharged every day then it would typically last for about 2 years. Under the same scenario, an Altairnano battery would be projected to last 25 years. This durability is critical in a high value application like electric vehicles."

The cost for my Zenn (including tax, title, and delivery) was $13000. The Discover AGM batteries are expected to last from 3 to 5 years. Today’s price from my Zenn dealer for replacements (there are six 12 volt batteries) is $1500.

Considering the simplicity of maintenance (no oil changes, no tune-ups, no antifreeze, no fuel pump, no oil pump, no spark plugs, no distributor, no filters, etc., etc.) and the low cost for recharging the batteries, this vehicle is definitely cost effective. On top of that, it cannot rust out because the structure is all aluminum and the body is all ABS (non-metallic). Barring an unforseen accident, this vehicle could last for 20 years or longer.

It can last longer than 20 years but obviously you’re going to be doing maintenance and recovering seats etc.

I’m looking to purchace or build an ev from a Ford Ranger or the like. I’ve read of several nano battery companies that are on the verge of some huge breakthrough’s. I have calculated a savings of roughly 2 grand a year for replacing my diesel truck for local trips. And that is at $3/gal fuel as I run Biodiesel in it which saves roughly $1.70/gal!

My only issue is the initial cost. I’m going with AC drives if at all possible due to efficiencies. It appears that the equipment sans batteries will run about $10,000. That’s a 5 year recovery without batteries!

I’m currently looking for alternatives to the EV major players. I think their pricing is a bit out of line but I won’t say that for sure until I get my other info. I’ve contacted several industrial drive makers about their equipment’s potential using battery banks for power versus building power. If their equipment is compatible with battery power and affordable I’ll post it.

Yes, it can last longer than 20 years, and during that time the maintenance will be a breeze to keep up with because there is so little to do.

Before I purchased my Zenn, I thought seriously about converting an ICE vehicle. What turned me off was the costs (at least $10000 for a donor vehicle in good condition plus another $15000 in conversion parts) and this doesn’t include the cost of labor. The labor really killed the idea for me. I’m too old for all of the heavy lifting that is required - and if I hired someone to do it, the cost would really get out of hand.

So when I found a Zenn, all ready to go, I bought it. It’s a great vehicle for my purposes.

I like the Zenn. Where did you get it for that cheap? I priced new one at 21000 with all options. Around 18000 without.

[QUOTE=ElectriCar;3248]I like the Zenn. Where did you get it for that cheap? I priced new one at 21000 with all options. Around 18000 without.[/QUOTE]

I purchased it from North Central Zenn in New London, Ohio. The price was reduced considerably because I enrolled in Zenn’s Ambassador Program. If this program is still available, you should join it. There are no obligations (financial or otherwise), other than passing out brochures to those that may ask about your Zenn, and you get a nice Zenn t-shirt and Zenn baseball hat.

About my Zenn - it is a 2007 model 2.22 with the DC motor. It has the sunroof and CD radio, but does not have the rear windshield wiper, electric windows and door locks, or the locking glove box.

I really like this vehicle. It’s great. :slight_smile:

I don’t mean to sound like a naysayer. I look forward to the day when a 16 year-old kid buys a used EV for five grand that he earned with a summer job. That day, however, may be as much as 20 years off. The funny thing is, my 86 year-old grandmother remembers electric trucks making deliveries in New York City. This was in the 1920s, when she was a kid. What happened? Range. Gasoline wins.[/QUOTE]

Yeah, its funny how it all worked out. With all of the years that the gasoline and diesel engines got instead of electric motors and batteries, the electric motors and battery technology might have easily been the goal that you are looking for today.

Only in the 1920s electricity availability was not the same as it is now as you had less to plug into. Not every house was wired for more than 100 amps, if even 50 amps at the time. To plug in at a house you owned in the 1920s you had mostly to grab a long extension cord to reach the middle of your home which interfered with walking normally.

Gasoline was cheap at the time but engine performance was a problem too. Think about it. 10-30HP was the best at the time. The Wright Brothers built an engine that outperformed the others at the turn of the century because everything else was too weak for the size needed. That is where electric motors are at the moment and it is in need of “The Wright Brothers” to manufacture something better. Lithium Ion and AC is currently the best but smaller motors with more torque and better batteries are needed, I think. Its getting there though.