Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Problem With ICE

My interest in alternative modes of transportation, specifically Electric Vehicles, has many facets.  Environmental problems, national security, efficiency, operational cost, all can be improved by shifting to EVs.  Recently I've been dealing with the shortcomings of the modern ICE vehicle, (Internal Combustion Engine), which help point out the practical long term benefits of EV's.  My 9 year old RAV4 with 80K on it has had the following problems this year that simply would not exist in an EV:

Brake pad and rotor replacement.  An EV uses regenerative braking which puts energy into the pack instead of shedding it as wasted heat through the brakes.  It's very likely that the brakes on an EV could last the life of the vehicle.

Improper shifting of the transmission caused by a faulty computer.  The fix was a new computer, or a rebuild actually.  Luckily I caught the problem before the transmission was damaged, which has happened to many and can lead to a $5K repair.  An EV can be built with a single speed gear reduction and electronically reversed.  No transmission needed.

Failing inspection because of emission sensors.  I've taken it back twice now and the sensors have still not reset and so it won't pass.  The solution is to keep driving the vehicle and keep taking it back until it passes, a huge hassle and waste of time.  Obviously this won't be an issue with an EV, ever.

Potential future problems that an EV won't have to deal with:

Radiator fluid change/flush and radiator replacement.
Exhaust system problems including mufflers, cat converters, and oxygen sensors.
Oil and filter changes.
Air filter replacment.
Fuel filters, fuel pumps, and fuel injector issues.
Any of the many potential engine problems that can develop with 100+ moving parts.

A well designed EV should need nothing other than tire replacement when they wear down.  Eventually a new battery pack will be needed, but at the current rate of battery progress if a second pack is needed it will likely be it's last, as the average lifespan of a vehicle is around ten years.  RAV4EV's  that are over 8 years old with more than 100K miles are still running on their original packs.  Of course a well built EV, using composite construction methods, will likely last much longer, and would be worth putting in an upgraded replacement pack at some point.

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