Even more American electric cars in the pipeline

Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge are working to get electic cars to market.  It looks like Chevy is going to beat to the market with the Volt though.

These new entries are still “Concept Cars,” so I’m taking their “late 2010” release date with a chunk of salt.

Keep in mind that introducing a lot of plug in hybrids or pure electric cars into the market is either going to require new sources of power (home based cheap solar and industrial scale Nuclear for example) or some serious inovations in electrical grid management.

The Tesla Sedan

Tesla Motors announced their second model, the Type S. They are following up thier popular roadster model with a sedan.  The Type S is planned to sell for about $60,000. That’s half the price of their current Roadster model.

The Type is also a purely electric car with a projected range of 200 miles on a single charge.

Taking a quick look at the Volt

Chevy is looking at an electric sedan that uses a gasoline motor to charge the car’s battery.

This is very different than existing hybrids and all electric cars like the Tesla roadster.

Current hybrids have two complete drivetrains, electric and gas powered.  The electric motor is only good for low speeds and has to be supplimented by the gas engine to drive at highway speeds.

The Volt has a single drivetrain.  The electric motor is the only one connected to it.  The gas engine is only used to charge the battery. The battery in the Volt is also smaller than that of the Tesla Roadster.  The Tesla range is limited by the ability to charge it.  Tesla claims a 200+ mile range, but it has to be plugged in to recharge.

The battery in the Volt is only designed for a 40 mile range.  After that, the gas engine is used to recharge the battery, even on the go.  Chevy claims that on a full tank (6-7 galleons of gas), the Volt has a 400 mile range.  Even at $4.00 a galleon, seven galleons will cost $28.   I’ve seen gas at $3.50 a galleon, so that cost drops to $24.5.  That’s a cost of $0.06 to $0.07 a mile.  Compare this to a four banger getting 30 miles to the galleon highway.  13.3 galleons to go 400 miles.  At $4 a galleon, that’s $53.20 in gas or $0.13 a mile.

Now the Volt won’t have the performance of a Tesla Roadster, but it won’t have its $100,000 price tag either. Chevy is looking at a  price between $30 to $40 thousand.   The Volt will be able to venture beyond it’s power cord was well, much like current hybrids.

It will be at least another year before the Volt hits the street.  So there probably will be some changes from the current planned release.

Tesla Tech

The MIT Technology Review has a look under the hood of the electric Tesla Roadster.

Some the interesting things found there include the alternating-current induction motor and the lithium-ion battery cells.

The motor is of the type advocated in the late 19th century by Nikola Tesla, and has several mechanical advantages over a DC motor.  The lithium-ion battery cells give more power for the volume than  nickel-metal hydride batteries.  The nickel-metal hydrides are what are typically used in gas-electric hybrids, such as the Pious.

Unlike the gas-electric hybrids, the Tesla roadster can go from 0-60 mph in 4 seconds, without putting a dime the pocket of Middle Eastern oil tyrants or Central American Socialists.