This is Biff's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Biff's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Biff
Recent Activity
Energy security is a huge advantage that never seems to be touched on. Here in Australia, after the closure of most local refineries we now source much of our fuel from refineries in East Asia. We have very limited reserves of most fuels, which means if anything disrupts our northern shipping lanes (such as a belligerent China), we are in imminent trouble. China is beginning to push back on trade with Australia given the increasing frictions over issues such as disallowing Chinese firms to build our 5G networks, so it's no stretch to imagine some negative future scenarios. With a large proportion of PHEVs/EVs, we would be much less susceptible to aggressive neighbours. You'd think this issue would be a natural fit for the right-of-centre parties, but they're too busy bashing anything with a green tinge, while most of the population are only interested in our national obsession, the housing market, and the current fall in house prices and hence debt-fuelled wealth.
They're beginning to crack down on this in Australia as well, and it's long overdue. The problem is that this activity is almost ubiquitous now - every time I drive, I see multiple occurrences of people fiddling with their phones. The problem has worsened with increasing traffic in cities. When you are crawling along at low speed, with frequent stopping, people seem unable to resist looking at their phone to fill that 30 sec space when they're stuck at lights or traffic is backed up. I think we'll get to that point where technology will be built into the phone or car that will prevent their full use whilst in the vehicle. Sadly, there is a new menace in the vehicle, the multiple touchscreens that are becoming common. Using these on the move is just as hazardous.
DaveD, I quite look forward to these stories now and your latest satirical musings on the pollution industry! It does seem rather obvious that forcing your way through a toxic cloud every day is not a good thing to do health-wise. Being an Aussie, I've been to Tasmania a few times, which supposedly has the cleanest air in the inhabited world, but you shouldn't have to go that far to find unpolluted air to breathe.
Nice one Harvey! I have to agree though, stopping at highway food/fuel areas has never been pleasant, in my experience. This is the only downside (for me) to long-range EV charging at present. The food, for want of a better term, is of the variety that will send cholesterol levels soaring, and with the screaming kids and adults jabbering into their phones, you're pretty happy when you can get the hell out of there. Hopefully the rise of dedicated EV charging facilities will prompt an upgrade in the ancillary services offered around them as your car gets juiced. When travelling long distance here in Australia, I personally prefer to stop as least as possible, but that may be due to our ridiculous 110 km/h which places you squarely in the 'drone zone' on the very tedious Sydney-Melbourne Hume Highway. Like a bad movie, you want it over as quickly as possible.
Lol ... spot on Dave. As the insidious effects of the less-obvious pollutants such as ultrafines becomes obvious, we may well come to regard this period in a similar way to the notorious London pea soup fogs ie outright killers.
EDIT - that should be 'takeup' not 'makeup' - there's no camouflaging diesel's polluted image!
Do we know whether any of the vehicles tested had AdBlue systems? AFAIK, that is a sure way to combat NOx, although I accept that the effectiveness can vary across the driving cycle and engine load. The sooner we move to mild (and stronger) petrol hybridisation the better. Couple this with vehicle lightweighting and we can have an effective short-term panacea for the worst of vehicle emissions until battery technology improves. I hope the EU goes hard on this, they can do this type of legislation better than America. They subsidised diesel makeup in the name of green outcomes, so start pushing PHEVs harder.
Harvey is the eternal optimist and if more people were like him the world would be a better place. Larzen - given that FCVs use electric motors as well as BEVs and PHEVs, why would rare earth consumption be lower with the former rather than the latter two? Tesla state that the Model S doesn't use rare earths so it should be possible to go the BEV route and not worry that China has a tight grip over supply. Here in Australia we also have significant RE deposits that can add to supply if needed. Australians may typically now be lazy, feckless and anti-innovation but by god can we dig stuff out of the ground!
@Roger, Thanks for the trip down memory lane and a good laugh. I can remember sliding around on those bench seats when I was a nipper, and then realising as a teenager that flat seats had a whole other purpose. Here in Australia the pinnacle of automotive utility (in its broadest sense) was achieved with the legendary Holden Sandman of the 1970s (aka the 'shaggin' wagon'). Nothing said quality quite like one of these, especially with a lurid mural on the side that usually took the form of a muscled, sword-wielding barbarian figure with a scantily-clad lady(?) draped around his legs. For those interested in further reading, paragraph 5 is a classic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panel_van_(Australia)
sd Isn't that the point of what Roger is trying to say? If the engine doesn't run most of the time, then of all the design parameters, tradeoffs and characteristics of an engine you would want to tilt the balance in favour of lightness, perhaps ahead of other considerations than if the engine was for a standard ICE vehicle. The driveability of the new small displacement and turbocharged three and four cylinder engines from the likes of VW and Fiat is quite amazing. I can remember the days when a turbo was akin to a light switch but now they just produce a solid wave of torque from low in the RPM range. As you say, GM do have a new range of engines that includes a turbo triple and it would have been nice to see that used as the weight saving and more efficient packaging would have a small ripple effect on the rest of the car. I guess they have their reasons, and cost may be one of them.
This from Autocar re the Audi A3 e-tron: "The petrol engine can instantly be engaged via the kickdown button, or by using a centre console-mounted rocker switch to toggle to hybrid operation. Because kickdown can demand maximum effort from a cold engine, Audi has reworked this TFSI’s piston rings and liners for wear-protection, and included a sensor to measure oil quality." I'm guessing the VW engineers would pursue a similar strategy?
Given the price of fuel in Europe is already high, it's doubtful that adding further taxes is going to significantly drop demand. Europe is the ideal test-bed for large-scale vehicle electrification and hybridisation - relatively short distances, dense infrastructure, multiple other transport options - and such a policy should be a key focus for the EU. Reducing the dependency on Russia and its resources would be a fillip for the environment and for the economies of Europe.
Amen, SJC. I've done a 180 degree turn on nuclear energy in recent years and everything going on in the world today is helping to confirm that. IMO, what we need is concentrated CO2-free energy and lots of it. Renewables have a big role to play but I think they complement nuclear energy very well. We need to replace our fossil-fuel based liquid fuels with things like syngas, hydrogen etc as well as producing an excess of electricity for EVs. It scares the heck out of me that we are so dependent on the Middle East and (for Europe) Russia for oil and gas. The sooner foreign policy separates from energy policy the better. Maybe then we can make decisions based on what's right rather than what we need to keep our economies running.
lol, no worries Dave! Many a Down Under prefrontal cortex has been neutered after excess alcohol bathing but there you go. On a more serious note, the malaise in Western democracies seems rooted, at least in part, in our politicians being drawn from an increasingly limited pool (genetic?) that precludes science literacy and is more concerned with the acquisition and retention of power and control. I guess Max Weber was right. Many of the issues confronting us now including AGW are global rather than national and seem to have exceeded the intelligence capabilities of those running the show.
Here in Australia, I'd be happy to elect anyone with a working prefrontal cortex.
There will always be a market for larger cars, and if those cars are extremely fuel efficient for their size then I imagine they will sell well in those countries where filling up the car requires an overdraft clearance from the bank manager. I'm an avid reader of car reviews and especially real world fuel consumption figures. What I have noticed is that, regardless of the engine size or tech, if the output falls under a certain threshold for the weight of the vehicle then the fuel consumption skyrockets as you have to flog it to get anywhere in decent time. I know they're cutting the weight on this new model but given the size it won't be a petite ballerina on the scales, so having more herbs under the bonnet is better, imo. Patrick, I always enjoy reading your despairing odes to the lack of hybrid battery range. I guess we just need better batteries? In the interim, would a small bank of supercaps enable battery buffering and perhaps extend the E range out to 50-60 km? Still not great, but better.
Good to see three different storage systems going head-to-head - flywheels, supercaps and batteries. I like the simplicity of caps and hopefully this type of competition will spur some new technology in the HEV segment.
Is there any technical reason preventing supercaps being integrated with lithium-based batteries, as the CSIRO did with lead-acid + supercaps in the Ultrabattery?
Given this is from Australia, The Land that Innovation Forgot, don't hold your breath waiting for commercialisation anytime soon.
Agreed, that would be a good thing and cut down on drag considerably. Plus lending that all-important 'futuristic' look to your vehicle :) Side mirrors are pretty exxy to replace now that they're all electric and most have integrated turn signals, so getting rid of them could save some dollars in the event of a minor bingle.
Long-term familiarity with the ease of liquid fueling (or gas) has certainly raised the bar for what is considered acceptable in how long it takes to recharge. Given current battery chemistries, what are the actual limits to faster charging? Is it the battery itself or the electrical capacity required at the charging point? If you cooled a battery as you charged it, would it be able to accept a larger charge more quickly?
Well, the only way to get long range ATM is via lots of battery, which is expensive, heavy and requires a lot of space. Until some of these fancy anode technologies make it to market it seems we're stuck with around 120 km range for the average BEV. I do like that this car has a similar weight to the ICE version and also looks like the standard car. Some people seem to resent the fact that current EVs like the Leaf are a little funky-looking. What I would like to see is a REX in the form of a compact trailer that you can rent from your local VW/Audi/Skoda dealer. You would avoid the complex engineering to integrate a small REX as in the i3 and only a limited number of units would be needed. There could perhaps be two versions - a compact REX-only version that doesn't impinge too heavily on a semi-sporty driving style, and a larger version that adds extra storage capacity for holiday gear. Or just design the car with the appropriate connections and allow the market to come up with a vendor solution.
Given the size, performance and range of the i3 (REX version) this could be all the car that many people need, especially singles or couples without kids. If BMW are still going to offer the loaner program for a standard ICE vehicle for those few occasions a year when you crave a bigger car for holidays etc then even better. The range extender doesn't seem to be the most efficient unit going around and that's a little disappointing. At least it's an off-the-shelf solution that is cleverly integrated at the design stage. That colour is rather nice, BTW.
That's good to hear (pun intended) but it won't do much for aviation emissions. There will be more pressure to relax flight curfews as planes get quieter. Here in Sydney there's already huge pressure to extend flight hours at Kingsford-Smith, which is only a few suburbs away from the CBD and with flight paths across heavy residential areas (including me!). Recent research from MIT indicated that flights to/from NZ & Australia across the Pacific are the worst for climate sensitivity.
Kit, you're not saying anything I don't know or didn't say myself. I'm well aware of where to find air monitoring stats in my own country. And no, seeing a lot of smoky exhausts is not a quantitative measure. But seeing them, marrying them to our very lax emissions/rego check laws, and knowing what goes on OS leads me to infer we have a problem. But then I already knew that. Australia is the land of least resistance - if it's easier, do it. We only have 23 million people in a continent the size of the lower 48 so until recently it was no worries! about pollution. Just pump it into the air or the sea and she'll be right, mate. My basic point is that monitoring, regulating and reducing emissions in the state of NSW is going to be easier and simpler on 8 coal power stations than nearly 5 million vehicles.