Tag Archives: electric cars

Why I despise EV’s but am big on electric propulsion

Born into a car family

I don’t have blood, pretty sure I have motor oil in my veins. It started before I was even born. My mom’s dad sold Pontiacs and Hudsons while my other grandpa was a Chevy guy. My dad worked for AMC/Chrysler for 27 years and I’ve been told that I was conceived in the back of a Nash. I love everything about cars, from how they are designed, manufactured, marketed and tested. I especially love high performance cars and have driven, the new Corvette, Dodge Challenger Hellcat, Ram TRX, along with several Jaguars. It’s the sound, I love the sound, and the power when I step on the gas. I love the way they handle and have driven several of them at Road America.

Me all smiles after experiencing the Ram TRX

EV’s to me are a waste of time.

I will admit that most of them can out accelerate even the biggest and baddest V8 but outside of that see no upside. Ok tree huggers, jump in telling me how they save the planet with their zero o2 tailpipe emissions but you are forgetting one huge item, actually several. First, all the current EV’s are manufactured the same way ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles are. In a factory that uses tons of electricity to make the steel and or aluminum uses in the body, frame, and other areas, the plastic found in the interior, and carpeting. How about that glass. Forged in the same factory that supplies manufacturers of ICE vehicles. And let’s not forget about the batteries. Their carbon footprint for manufacturing is even larger and where do they go when they wear out?

Mustang Mach-E we reviewed earlier this year. Nice car but not a Mustang

Related Video: Come along with Mark as he reviews the Mustang Mach-E

So much for the manufacturing. Now let’s talk about tax revenue. With the exception of Teslas, owners receive a tax credit. Less revenue to run this country which almost always seems to be running out of money. Now since EV’s don’t fill up with gas, there’s lost tax revenue there that goes to many things like road construction and repairs. Boom, gone!

Now let’s talk about charging. It’s gotten a lot better. The longest range EV according to the EPA is the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus that will got you 263 miles before needing a charge. But here comes the downside and deal breaker for me. It requires 8.5 hours to get a full charge and that’s assuming you can plug into 220V. Sure, the standard argument is that you can do that overnight but what if you need to travel a longer distance? I hate waiting.

Tesla Model 3, Photo: Tesla

Let’s talk about them spontaneously bursting into flames. Have you read about the Chevy Bolt? Here’s a new term for you, thermal runaway. This happens when the battery overheats, over-pressurizes and boom! (I’ll talk about my experiences in a bit).This happened so much that GM was forced to recall all of them. Do EV’s catch fire more than ICE cars? There is no reliable data. What is a fact though is that because of all that energy in the battery they generate more heat and take longer to put out.

Remains of a Chevy Bolt. Photo: Electrek.com

My blogging partner, Mark, reminds me that EV’s are coming. More like the flavor of the month. With virtually no infrastructure for charging, they are decades from any mainstream acceptance. Here’s an example. Kwik Trip is a large midwestern gas station/convenience store operator and I go there a lot.

EV plug at Kwik Trip in Wisconsin

I found this example recently. Their charging station with the same 120 v plug you’d find in and outside plug at your home. Think of the charge time on that bad boy. Even with tax credits according to Pew Research about 231,000 all-electric vehicles were sold in 2020, down 3.2% from 2018. In each of the past three years, EV’s accounted for about 2% of the U.S. new-car market which is tiny. It would most likely be even smaller if it were not for government tax credits as incentives, some as high as $7,500.

I’m fine with hybrids and had a chance to drive two very different ones recently at the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) event at Road America.

First, there was the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4xe which I had a chance to take off road. The first thing I noticed, especially after just driving the Wrangler 392 with its rumble, was how quite it was. And it was never lacking for power when I needed it to climb a hill or get through some mud. FYI, it is the number one selling hybrid. What does that say for saving the planet and having a whole lot of fun doing it?

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4xe doing what it does best, get dirty.

The other vehicle was the Karma GS-6, a masterpiece of design. This car oozes cool both inside and out. The interior looks like it was designed for the 25th century. So futuristic looking but with a price tag of just over 100 grand, not for everybody.

Karma GS-6 looking like it would do well on the four-mile track.

Electric propulsion works well on a smaller scale

Here’s where I’m big on battery powered propulsion. One of my time, and money sucking hobbies, is radio controlled airplanes. This is the segment that has experienced a huge jump in technology the last couple of years. My first electric plane I was small Piper Cub, or something that resembled one, with a two-foot wingspan. It carried 6 nickel cadmium batteries slightly smaller than AAA’s. The battery took about an hour to charge and the plane flew for maybe five minutes. Charging the battery was sketchy at best. If you looked at them the wrong way, they would burn up. Sound familiar? The plane barely had enough power to get out of its own way.

Several of my LiPo batteries

Flash forward to today. Now we fly with Liquid Polimer batteries (LiPo’s) which hold tons more energy. I just sold my last gas-powered airplane and with the exception of my turbine jet am now an all-electric fleet. This wasn’t something that I had decided to do on a whim. It took a while so that I could have several planes utilizing similar batteries based on their size. While there are still electric planes that will have very short flight times, mine can fly on an average of five to eight minutes. That might sound like a short time but it’s maybe slightly shorter than gas powered planes. Care must be taken with the batteries just like the ones that go in the car because they can catch fire and have been known to burn up a car or entire garage.

EDF from my A-10.

Some of my planes are actually jets with electric ducted fans powering them. Sort of like a little turbine except with an electric motor. It takes 30 minutes to an hour to charge the batteries on one of the several chargers I have. All of the flying fields have power for me to charge the batteries. One even uses solar cells that charge storage batteries. Unlike the EV auto industry there are no tax breaks for guys like us for doing this. It is driven by demand only and doing really well. Each time I show up at the field I see new electric planes.

While converting planes from fuel to electric is popular I want to share an example of one of my planes that I built designed specifically for electric power. The Avro Vulcan was a cold-war era four-engine jet bomber the English flew. It was designed to defend England from a Russian nuclear attack. Go check out this video and turn up the volume to hear what’s called the Vulcan Howl. The Jet was so far ahead of its time.

Avro Vulcan in flight

My radio control model is a large one, 80 inch wingspan, the fuselage is 74 inches long and it weighs just 14 pounds. It’s powered by four electric ducted fans and requires four Li-Po batteries. Efficiency in the build was critical here and with a combination of balsa, ply, carbon fiber and foam it has a 14-1 thrust ratio.

A friend of mine an I both built Vulcan’s a few years ago and they are a blast to fly. We have had both of them up at the same time as you can see in this video.

My RC Avro Vulcan on display at EAA’s AirVenture

Will commercial aviation go all-electric? Not in mine or your lifetime. Right now they are just getting into that but on a very small scale. Commuter aircraft are a possiblity but that represents about 2% of all commercial flights.

And finally my point

A good friend of mine, Mike Dorna, who works at Briggs & Stratton here in Milwaukee forwarded and great article on this hole electric bruh ha ha. Mike’s dad was one of the engineers who developed an EV hybrid for the company while they were still just dreams. Jay Leno did a segment on it.

Briggs and Stratton Hybrid designed and built in Milwaukee. YouTube screen grab.

In the article by Tony Adams, who launched Engine + Powertrain Technology International brings up valid points that are often ignored by the media. He points out that gigafactories are being built but the eco-ramification of building them is being ignored. The exhaustion of cobalt and other rare earth materials with questionable supply chains are being overlooked. Then there’s the eco credentials of the batteries themselves is being disregarded and so are the weight and generally negative dynamic effects of heavily over-burdened cars.

Rather than trying to create a totally new system that will expend gobs of energy, how about alternative fuels like maybe hydrogen? It’s free and the most abundant chemical in the universe and we don’t even have to drill for it! Talk about zero emmissions, this is it and cars can be developed to run on it. Gas stations can dispense it just like they do gasoline now and it’s a much better alternative than electric.

They simply take energy and turn it into rotational movement – the difference is that in a normal electric car, this energy only comes from an on-board battery that needs to be charged up, while in a hydrogen car it comes from an on-board generator that uses hydrogen. A hydrogen car can be taken from empty to full in a few minutes at a fuel pump, like a petrol or diesel car – so in this way they’re better than electric cars, and it’s convenient.

Photo: Porsche

Porsche is testing a synthetic eFuel made out of CO2 and hydrogen and are produced using renewable energy. This creates a liquid that an engine will burn the same as if it was gasoline made from crude oil, but in theory, an eFuel can be produced in a climate-neutral manner. They expect to have its first small test batch, 34,340 gallons ready by 2022.

Ok, I’m done now. Watch carefully how the EV game is played out in Europe. The UK has set 2040 for a date where they are going to ban the sale of ICE cars. Good luck with that. Please somebody make sanity take over. This is nuts!

The perfect surprise gift for a car lover

From a giver who has lots of money to burn

How many times have you imagined what it would be like to win the Powerball? I known I have and I buy tickets when the jackpot is really big. I’m talking big six figure big! Of course I’d quit my job, or maybe buy the place. I’d buy some of the cars I’ve always lusted over, buy a home on a lake and another one someplace warm so I wouldn’t have to put up with the cold winters here in Wisconsin. Then it’s time to start giving away some of my new found fortune. Cash is good but I think a thoughtful gift is more fun.

The Submarine Sports Car

I have these two friends that taught me how to fly, Dave and Tim. These guys are over the top fun and love stuff out of the ordinary. Tim likes cars and currently owns a Triumph TR6. They both love the water which is why I would get them this gift.

Photos: Hammacher Schlemmer

I found this on Hammacher Schlemmer who are known for their unusual stuff. If you’re a James Bond fan you will recognize this as Continue reading The perfect surprise gift for a car lover

Electrifying Summer Trip

A shiny bright object

My friends would tell you that I’m easily distracted by new shiny bright objects. Don’t know why, I’m a guy and love seeing things out of the ordinary. Especially on four wheels.

My wife and I were getting our daughter Meg settled in school at
Western Michigan University where she is in their College of Aviation.  With the parking lot, jammed with cars, I spotted my shiny bright object. It had four wheels, it was yellow, and low to the ground. Like a dog with a bone, I was a man on a mission to find out more about this vehicle. Continue reading Electrifying Summer Trip

Cars your rarely see on the road

Another unusual car made in Wisconsin

The Excalibur Automobile Corporation was born by the idea Milwaukee native, and world-famous designer, Brook Stevens  who sketched a concept on a place mat while at a restaurant in 1964. He was asked by his then employee Studebaker to create buzz for their exhibit at the New York Auto Show. I love Studebaker, in many ways like AMC, in that they had to swing for the fence to get noticed by automotive buyers. It was at the auto show that Studebaker announced they were getting out of the auto business.

But that wasn’t the end of the Excalibur. The car received so much attention the Excalibur Automotive Corporation was formed to produce the cars. The engine and drive train came from General Motors while the bodies and interiors were hand-crafted in West Allis, suburb just west of Milwaukee. The car was pretty quick utilizing a Chevy 327 engine. With the same engine used in the Corvette and the standard 3.31:1 rear axle, acceleration from 0–60 mph took less than six seconds.

And it looks even better stretched

Which is why I stopped to take a picture of it. In an era where everything from Chrysler 300’s to Hummers are stretched into limos, this one would still attract a crowd. In fact, it has more value in the collector car market than the original car. You can find Excaliburs from the mid 1960’s all the way through the late 1980’s and very affordable ranging in prices from $37,000 for a Series 3, to a 1989 Roadster Convertible for $65,000.  Not bad considering there were just around 3,500 copies made.

The limo, much less, around 13, according to their website. These are the ones made in West Allis, not ones stretched by other companies. My best source for pricing came from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) where they listed the 1989 model with a low retail of $94,000, average of $177,700 and high of $280,300. You will find lots of the stretched versions around $50,000 or less. How much for this one? Good guess. Looks like it was just parked and forgotten with a group of unremarkable vehicles. Would make for an interesting restoration project and a fun ride. The body’s not in bad shape but will need some work as will the interior.

An electrifying sports coupe

My buddy and I had just finished lunch at a McDonalds in Lomira, WI and spotted two cool black cars parked next to each other near the back of the lot. One, a 1972 Chevy Monte Carlo, the other, this bad boy. I had to hop out and take a closer look, one because it was so cool looking, and two, I had no idea what it was. A Beemer? Nope. A Fisker Karma.

In case you have forgotten, and I did, here’s a little refresher.  Fisker produced the Karma and it was one of the world’s first production luxury plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The Karma debuted in Detroit at the 2008 North American International Auto Show when Tesla was just getting going with its Model S. Deliveries began in 2011 but Production was suspended in November 2012 when its battery supplier, A123 Systems, declared bankruptcy. Just over 2,400 cars were built at its manufacturing plant in Delaware which used to be owned by General Motors.

In February 2014, Fisker Automotive’s Karma vehicle design, tooling and a manufacturing facility in Delaware were purchased by Chinese auto parts conglomerate Wanxiang Group who really wanted the battery side of the business. Founder Henrik Fisker, hung on to the Fisker trademarks and the Fisker brand and launched a separate company, Fisker Inc, in 2016. Wanxiang later renamed its new company Karma Automotive.

This car is over the top cool and even though a couple thousand were built, they are not expensive at all to buy now. Getting them serviced, well that’s another story. A quick search of the used car sites like TrueCar.com had several listings starting at just $32,950, all the way up to $52,500 and with low miles. Not sure I would ever purchase one but they are sure cool to look at.

 

 

 

Tesla

Ok, yes you and I paid for this car and then the company stiffed us but the Tesla is still a cool car. Saw this one parked in the lot of my local Ace Hardware store. And I was just getting some paint.

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