Is the Obsession with EV Range All Wrong? – Slashdot

Is the Obsession with EV Range All Wrong? – Slashdot





from the pressing-charges dept.

“The obsession with EV range is all wrong,” argues a new article in the Washington Post’s Climate section. “This year, one EV on the market — the sleek $140,000 Lucid Air Grand Touring — boasts a whopping 516-mile range. Toyota recently announced that it had achieved a breakthrough with solid-state battery technology, saying it will soon be able to produce electric cars that can go 746 miles on a single charge.

“But some analysts say that all that range — and all that battery — misses the point, and wastes resources.”

Only 5% of trips in the U.S. are longer than 30 miles. The vast majority of big batteries will never be used — particularly if the owner has a place to plug in their car every day… Those batteries are massive, in every sense of the word: the battery on the electric F-150 Lightning, which allows the car to go more than 300 miles on a single charge, weighs a whopping 1,800 pounds.

But is all that necessary? Americans drive a lot, but most of our trips are not very long. According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, 95.1% of trips taken in personal vehicles are less than 31 miles; almost 60% of all trips are less than 6 miles. In total, the average U.S. driver only covers about 37 miles per day. And there is evidence that much smaller batteries could do the lion’s share of the work. In a study published in 2016, researchers at MIT found that a car with a 73-mile range (like an early version of the Nissan Leaf), charged only at night, could satisfy 87% of all driving days in the United States. Providing Nissan Leafs to everyone whose driving fit that pattern, the researchers found, would cut 61% of U.S. gasoline consumption by personal vehicles…

So most of the time, drivers are lugging around giant batteries but only using 10 to 15% of their actual power. And those big batteries require mining a lot of metals, damaging the environment and workers’ health… In a report by researchers at the University of California at Davis, the Climate and Community Project, and Providence College, experts found that simply switching to smaller EV batteries — batteries that could give a small car a range of 125 miles or so — could cut lithium demand by 42%…

The article notes that the upcoming Dodge Ram 1500 REV, with a range of about 500 miles, will need a battery “roughly equivalent in terms of resources to 16 batteries for the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid…”

“For those who need to take frequent long road trips and don’t want to have to plug in, a plug-in hybrid can be a good option. But for most Americans, an EV with medium range will do just fine.”

I have a theory that it’s impossible to prove anything, but I can’t prove it.


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