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Discussion Starter #1
Hello Everyone,
This is a topic I've been trying to comprehend for some time. Perhaps some of you guys are as curious and perhaps, like me, alarmed. I'm not a professional car person, ie, I don't now or have I ever earned my living in that industry. Like many of you, I like cars, I like driving cars, and I admit, I like the adrenaline rush of driving fast. Since the VW diesel scandal may well have killed mainstream diesel adoption for the foreseeable future, I am increasingly concerned about the direction of this enormous industry. Is the IC engine dead? Are we to abandon a hundred years of technological innovation as well as attempts at developing synthetic fuels? It would appear that this is a real possibility. I was struck by a few articles in The New York Times today (November 8th, 2015). The first is by David Jolly, dated the 7th actually, "Despite Push for Cleaner Cars..." The first paragraph is indeed alarming: "As United Nations climate conferees meet near here, Eric Feunteun wishes everyone could agree: If the world is going to curb climate change, there is no choice but to stop driving cars that burn fossil fuels." Eric Feunteun is head of electric cars for Renault (Nissan) and as the Times points out not unbiased. Perhaps his comments were aimed at Toyota, which prefers hybrids (Prius), not surprisingly. The thrust of the article seems to be that China and India are unlikely to adopt electric cars anytime soon. (If fact, China is rumored to be developing a Volvo that runs on coal, but that is for domestic consumption only.) In the Science section, there is an article by Justin Gillis and Chris Buckley entitled "Period of Soaring Emissions May Be Ending..." The first paragraph reads in part: "Industrial emissions of greenhouse gases rose only slightly in 2014 and appear to be on track to decline in 2015..." And later, "The new figures suggest that there is a chance that global emissions have already peaked and may be starting a long-term decline, experts said..." Additionally Edward Wong reports elsewhere on "Beijing’s first “red alert” over air pollution..." Confusing, isn't it. It's really not my intention to debate climate change however. My concern is the future of cars, and what it should be. Does anyone care to join me in this discussion?
 

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I expect hybrids will rule in the next 5 years or so. The city mpg improvement is incredible and you don't have to worry about range. I expect cars will continue to get lighter, but will still be powered by IC engines for the next 20 years. After that, who knows?

I expect Boifuel to make up a significant part of all fuel used (industrial too) within 20 years, but not much sooner. I know someone who contracted with the armed forces working on algae derived fuels for aircraft and I know that Fedex is also researching the same.

As much as technology is advancing, it will not be adapted to cars quite as fast.
 

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Without getting into debate on blah this and blah that, I can't imagine the internal combustion engine going away any time soon.
The way the US and other countries have their economy driven by the almighty barrel of oil I just can't see it.

I also think that we have a crap ton of technological advances yet to be seen. We already have electronic injection, couple that with direct injection and valves that can open and close electronically without the use of any kind of valve train.
I think we have yet to see some major improvements on fuel economy and horsepower increases with smaller engines. V6's are so damn popular now with almost any size and shape of vehicle.
I think 400 - 600 HP V6's right from the factory will be a thing of common occurrence soon.
Just my .02 cents.
 

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This is pretty interesting

 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hello,
So to sum up the comments so far:
PZ thinks light weight hybrids are the immediate future, and Andreas thinks we are on the brink of 600hp V6s.
Thanks for posting the video Andreas. It is interesting, but I am reminded of the rotary engine (invented 40 or 50 years ago), which still survives in some form or other at Mazda. I'm also reminded of the high-reving (8500rpm) Honda S600 from the sixties. It's wheels were chain driven. Essentially a 4 wheel motorcycle. Back to the future?
The question with innovations is can it be manufactured by robots, and its corollaries, is it cost effective, and can we sell them in large numbers.
The Prius has been around since 1997 and its US sales peeked in 2007. The fourth generation is about to go on sale. It is now a midsize car, and its sales have declined sharply against the Camry.
This is pretty dull stuff.
What about high-performance production cars, not the M series, AMG and RS versions, but the more modest production cars most of us will drive. Is the small displacement 4 cyl/single turbo mated to a twin clutch paddle shifting automatic the best we can hope for?
 

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What about high-performance production cars, not the M series, AMG and RS versions, but the more modest production cars most of us will drive. Is the small displacement 4 cyl/single turbo mated to a twin clutch paddle shifting automatic the best we can hope for?
This is kind of what I was referring to. I think the average car will have forced induction (turbo / supercharger) as standard equipment for the 'well equipped' models with which I refer the 400 - 600 HP range.
Then the cheaper base models with 3, 4 or even 5 cylinders with same technology but just less total HP.
Possibly with bio-fuel spread across a much wider spectrum of cars.

Koenigsegg was the one who stumbled across the benefits of bio-fuel early on. I can't remember what car it was that was in development at the time, but the car put out like an extra 300 HP when they switched to E-85.
Maybe that 300 HP number is high, but I do remember it being a significant amount of increase.

Slightly off topic, but something I've noticed the last few years as a trend with regard to smaller engines putting out gobs of HP.

This forum has them, and there are tons more people out toying around with their cars trying to get more HP out of what they got.
I have of heard people that spend huge money for top shelf cars, Porsche, Ferrari and the like that used to go to the track and race around to show how fast they can go and leave the other gaging on his dust.
But as of late some of these people don't do that anymore because they don't want the embarrassment of looking down the tail pipes of a $25K car that some kid with to much time on his hands, slaps on a huge turbo kit in his parents garage during the course of a couple of weekends.
 

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Don't forget natural gas - we've had fleets or cars, trucks, buses and IC-powered forklifts running on that fuel since the 70's. It's a cleaner-burning fuel, and we've got an abundant supply underneath the North American continent just waiting to be tapped. And it's cheaper than gasoline - I read somewhere that the amount of NG equal to a gallon of gasoline costs half as much.
Not to mention the research going on to produce a viable hydrogen-fueled engine. There's another cheap, abundant fuel source just waiting to be tapped.
So the internal-combustion engine is not yet an endangered species - it can still be used with a variety of fuels, with some minor adjustments.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
From what I've read NGVs are not likely to replace a less expensive hybrid in anyone's drive-way. Creating a new fueling infrastructure, be it NG or electric, sounds impractical.

A light weight, small displacement, turbocharged engine sounds great. Such an engine would use less gas (that would make the EPA happy) but at what cost? Surely it is a more expensive engine to produce and maintain, and no doubt the carbon expense would increase as well (by that I mean the cost of the energy needed to produce one thing as opposed to another). Are turbos a cost effective alternative for consumers? If it is performance one wants, then one wants a V8. The new Corvette leads the way back to the future via a massive 6.2L V8. But it is only 7% more efficient than my V6 designed 20 years ago (HP per liter of displacement).
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Now that gas is more affordable, there is talk of raising the US national gas tax. Fortunately, that seems unlikely given the current political climate. What I would like to see is an experiment with a new-car tax. A kind of VAT, that would encourage owners to keep their car longer. (Over production by manufacturers will have to be addressed sooner or later.) Emissions politics, ie, mandated mpg targets appear to be be fraught with unintended consequences. The more demanding these mandates become, the more extreme the unintended consequence may be. (EG, Fleet mpg targets created vehicles no one really wanted, simply to leaven the mix. Notice I'm not mentioning outright cheating.;)) Government hostility towards cars, and manufacturers' disingenuous responses is a dynamic that has to change. They must be cooperative partners, not adversaries. (Need a peace sign emo here.) Innovation and the changes it brings are welcome signs of a robust vitality, but this turmoil in the automotive market is frightening.
 

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I believe the future is here already, and Tesla has proven that BEV is the way of the future. I'm far from being a tree hugger, and I bought the Tesla P85D, this car is by far the best car I've ever owned. I'm now convinced BEV will eventually replace ICE as daily driver for the mass.
 

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What I would like to see is an experiment with a new-car tax. A kind of VAT, that would encourage owners to keep their car longer.
Hungary has a 27% VAT associated with new vehicles. The used car market in Hungary is very active and developed. Many used car dealers solely operate by finding "to order" used vehicles abroad in such places as Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands because the car markets in these nations are sources for newer, well-kept used cars at very reasonable prices. But imagine the price of the Tesla P85D going from ~$105,000 to ~$134,000 due to VAT but not including the luxury tax, registration fees, road fees and separate "car" tax.

NG at one time was a very popular conversion in Hungary but has died out. Hybrid cars are becoming more popular but the limiting factor is availability of charging options in public. Not to mention the ignorant people who have fossil fuel cars parking in the charging spots.

Now Kuwait on the other hand is an entirely different story. Diesel passenger cars are nonexistent. Fuel (95 octane unleaded) in Kuwait is so cheap that most bottled water is the same price or more expensive. The only thing more unique than a hybrid here is a diesel passenger car. The roads are dominated by SUVs of all makes, Chevy, GMC, Cadillac, Range Rover, Porsche, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan, etc.

The world has a very long way to go before the internal combustion engine loses it's majority in the auto industry. More fuel efficient engines with smaller displacement is the way to go but without an incentive (monetarily, and I'm referring to high cost of fuel) consumers will not be inclined to purchase a 1.6 L turbocharged vehicle versus a 4.2 L NA or turbocharged vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well, just when I thought this thread was languishing, there are two interesting posts.

Vuvision invokes Tesla. The P85D(85Kwatt, dual motor, AWD, 270 mile range, 0-60 in 3 seconds) is an interesting, exciting alternative. Could you tell us more about your experience? I'm curious about charging methods and duration for a full charge, and how that supercar speed effects driving range, and if a popular-priced, that is, affordable model is planned.

hu vw makes some interesting comments about car culture in Hungary and Kuwait. Hungary's VAT scheme is interesting but I'm not sure what its purpose is, other than produce additional revenue. My idea was a kind of VAT on new cars that would discourage premature turnover and winnow unnecessary new car production.

There is a kind of Catch-22 situation with regard to recharging infrastructure. It is unlikely to be built unless there is demand, and there is unlikely to be demand unless it is built. I just don't see ballot bond initiatives to build electric car recharging stations in the future of the US.

Kuwait is like Texas in the 1950s, cheaper than water fuel seems an unlikely future reality, even if it's a synthetic e-fuel.

Small displacement, fuel efficient IC engines in small, light weight cars have been a staple of the industry in Europe, but have been a hard sell here in the US. Domestic manufacturers find them unprofitable, and have a history of ambivalence towards the ones they have produced. Over the years, I have watched American manufacturers cede whole sectors of the market to the Europeans and Japanese. They seem incapable of the innovation required to provide themselves with a future in an increasingly difficult market.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
For your consideration, I give you the Chevy Bolt.

Website: 2017 Bolt EV: All-Electric Vehicle | Chevrolet

From Chevy's website: "The available 240-volt charging unit (professional installation required) is the fastest way to recharge your battery at home and offers more power than a 120-volt outlet. This higher-voltage system can provide up to an average of 25 miles of range per hour of charge and fully replenishes the battery in about 9 hours."

Wow, that's only 8 hours and fifty minutes longer than it takes to fill the Silver Beast will gas; and what, I wonder, would the cost of 9 hours of 240 volts be, everyday, for the life of the car? And what would be the full charge duration if using 120 volts? It doesn't need to be 9 hours, however, it can be charged an hour and 25 miles at a time. You drive 25 miles, charge it for an hour (using 240 volts) and drive another 25 miles.

If EV and Hybrids are the future of cars not only will it be necessary to build a recharging infrastructure, the entire electric grid will have to be redesigned to supply the additional juice required. Imagine the electric grid demand if at some point in the future all 250 million passenger vehicles in the US were EVs or hybrids charging at twice the nominal household voltage.

The real problem, as I see it, is that the Bolt cannot substitute for your primary car. Most people will want to have a conventional car as well. This does not appear to be a viable way forward, and I don't understand Chevy's decision to put this car into production. We need to reduce the number of cars, not multiply them.
 

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From what I've read NGVs are not likely to replace a less expensive hybrid in anyone's drive-way. Creating a new fueling infrastructure, be it NG or electric, sounds impractical.
Not really. Most residences, office buildings, and factories in the US are already heated by NG, so most of the infrastructure needed to distribute the fuel is already in place. It's just a matter of connecting the gas stations who'd be selling NG into that infrastructure - if they're not already connected due to having NG-fueled heating systems for their buildings or water heaters that run on the stuff. And since the NG wells are already owned by the oil companies, they'd stand to make more $$$ from offering NG to folks whose cars have been adapted or built to use it. And like I posted previously, the NG equivalent of a gallon of gasoline would only cost half as much.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Well, there is the 2015 Honda Civic NG, 110-hp, 27 city/38 highway, $27.5K; or the 2015 Honda Civic Hybrid 110-hp, 44 city/47 highway, $25.5K. Aside from a few trucks the Civic is the only NG car I could find.
 

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For your consideration, I give you the Chevy Bolt.

Website: 2017 Bolt EV: All-Electric Vehicle | Chevrolet

From Chevy's website: "The available 240-volt charging unit (professional installation required) is the fastest way to recharge your battery at home and offers more power than a 120-volt outlet. This higher-voltage system can provide up to an average of 25 miles of range per hour of charge and fully replenishes the battery in about 9 hours."

Wow, that's only 8 hours and fifty minutes longer than it takes to fill the Silver Beast will gas; and what, I wonder, would the cost of 9 hours of 240 volts be, everyday, for the life of the car? And what would be the full charge duration if using 120 volts? It doesn't need to be 9 hours, however, it can be charged an hour and 25 miles at a time. You drive 25 miles, charge it for an hour (using 240 volts) and drive another 25 miles.

If EV and Hybrids are the future of cars not only will it be necessary to build a recharging infrastructure, the entire electric grid will have to be redesigned to supply the additional juice required. Imagine the electric grid demand if at some point in the future all 250 million passenger vehicles in the US were EVs or hybrids charging at twice the nominal household voltage.

The real problem, as I see it, is that the Bolt cannot substitute for your primary car. Most people will want to have a conventional car as well. This does not appear to be a viable way forward, and I don't understand Chevy's decision to put this car into production. We need to reduce the number of cars, not multiply them.
I think there are lots of misconceptions in your post, and unfortunately this was also my thinking prior to owning my Tesla. Let me explain from my perspective an actual BEV owner for over a year. I get about 285 miles of rated range per full charge, and in actually, 90% plus of the general population do not commute over 100 mile per day. I have a HPWC (High Power Wall Charger) at home and it charges at a rate of about 58 miles/hr. The point is, I simply plug it in from the comfort of my home every night and I'm good for another 285 miles the next morning.

For out of town driving, as of now there are total of 590 Supercharger Stations with 3,419 Superchargers peppered around the country with more are being added daily. My out of town trips are limited to Austin, San Antonio & Dallas areas, any further, I would defer to flying. There are 3 Supercharger Stations between Houston & Dallas so I'm not too worried about range anxiety. The Supercharger can charge up to 340 miles/hr. Best part is, charging at any Supercharge Station is FREE for us Tesla Model S owners.

In regard to your statement about EV cannot substitute for your primary car, this is furthest from actuality, my Tesla P85D is by far the best primary/daily car that I've ever owned. After a year of ownership, it worked out so well that I'm placing an order for the Model X to replace my wife's ICE vehicle. Tesla will soon announce the Model 3 at $35K price range, I'm convinced that BEV is the future, since more and more big name automobile makers are following Tesla's footsteps (i.e. VW, Audi, Porsche, Huyndai, etc ...), with about half a dozen more startup companies working on BEV.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
OK vuvision, I get it. You (and now your wife) drive Teslas. However, you have failed to mention that Tesla is as yet unprofitable. The WSJ reported about a year ago that Elon Musk did not expect Tesla to be profitable until 2020. Put bluntly, Elon Musk is paying you to drive the Tesla; a sweet deal indeed. No doubt the $35K Model 3 is an attempt to produce a popular model, but will it be profitable at that price point? We shall see in a couple of years if Musk can turn the corner and be consistently profitable. Until then, Tesla's future is cloudy at best.
 

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Tesla has the highest gross profit margins of any US automaker. The reason they are not yet in the black is because they reinvested all their gross profit into capital expense for rapid growth (infrastructure, R&D, manufacturing plant). The Gigafactory is a huge expense, but once up and running it'll return far more than it's cost.

Elon is not paying me to drive my car, institutional investors as well as stock holders (me included) wouldn't allow for this. I think you are confusing gross profit (profit from making the product) with net profit (extra money left after all expansion costs and etc).

The gross profit margins can be seen in the SEC filings, but if you want it simple:

https://ycharts.com/companies/TSLA/gross_profit_margin

Tesla is a high-tec start up company similar to Google, Amazon, Apple once upon the time having to build infrastructure. Amazon didn't show profit until recently, don't we all wish we bought a bunch of stock into these companies early? Tip: TSLA, think long term.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Accounting aside, it will be interesting to see how Musk's gamble with the Model 3 plays out, and how conventional automakers respond. Chevy's Bolt isn't much of a car, but it is a challenge directed at Tesla. Competition will drive innovation up to the point where resourcefulness gives way to the blunt force of money. This is where profits become necessary. Musk has declared war on Detroit. Don't expect a fair fight.
 
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