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Top 5 Speed Bumps Facing Electric Vehicles

Palo Alto Patch discussed the future of electric vehicles with SAP Labs' Geoff Ryder.

Palo Alto Patch sat down with Dr. Geoff Ryder, a Corporate Research Fellow at SAP Labs in Palo Alto, to discuss electric vehicles (EVs) and their growing presence in the United States.

Dr. Ryder received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) in Computer Engineering, where he co-instructed the Information Systems Management undergraduate class. At SAP labs, Dr. Ryder researches and develops new software solutions to support the EV's framework. The infrastructure that Dr. Ryder helps develop is used toward the deployment of the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, Tesla Model S, and other EVs.

In his interview with Palo Alto Patch, Dr. Ryder shared five speed bumps electric vehicles currently face.

1. BATTERIES

“Until [car companies] figure out how to do the chemistry on the manufacture lines and also the high voltage pieces for batteries. They have to go to the supply chains for aircraft, because the same parts that go into a Boeing 757 are going into your Leaf.  Just because [Boeing] is the only one with the specialized expertise to build these parts.”

2. FRONT COST

“The battery is kind of expensive but the operational costs are phenomenal.  If [users] charge their EV right and they are on peak with their charging, they’re paying two cents a mile to fuel the vehicle, and 15 to 20 cents per mile with the internal combustion engine.” 

 3. CHARGING TIMES

“You have a lot of time during your day that you can be charging [your EV].  And then for the times you can't, say if you are a taxi cab driver.  That’s where Better Place’s battery swap technology could be really nice, because the average taxi cab driver in San Francisco goes 150 miles a day and car company like Coda Automotive is going to come out with a battery that lasts that long.  And with Better Place you will have a new battery that you can swap out in 30 seconds or 50 seconds.

4. SUPPLY CONSTRAINT

“Manufacturers just can't make enough. And you saw the tsunami in Japan?  Our campus wanted to buy Leafs, but they were six months delayed, because of the effects the tsunami had on the factories”.

5. EMERGENCY RESPONDER TRAINING

“In an emergency situation how first responders get somebody out of the car will be a little bit different, because right now they take an axe and cut away parts of the car to rescue the person.  But they can’t really do that for a Leaf, because they don’t want to cut the battery or any of the high voltage electronics under the hood.  Because with the charge socket [under the hood], the emergency responders can’t onsite dismantle the car like they do with a gas car engine so they would have to be re-trained [in rescue].

Marty Kassowitz July 02, 2011 at 08:08 PM
The biggest problem in my mind is range. We need some fresh, long range thinking about this: http://www.carswithcords.com/perpetual-electric-cars-a-tale-of-two-technologies-91348/
Bob S. Urunkle November 27, 2011 at 01:26 AM
6.) Affordability. Those who can afford to make such "green" statements as owning an electric car tend to be sufficiently affluent due to the very industries that don't give a damn about the environment. Meanwhile the manufacturers don't find the thought of making affordable electric versions of VW Bugs particularly sexy. 7.) Transition Hostility. Even affluent corporations with the means of providing work-side recharging stations and who parade themselves as "green aware" have no interest in spending a dime to back their words up. It's worthwhile as a branding manuver, but they tend to rent commercial space so if they can't pull it up & take it with them, forget it.

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