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Links of the Day:

– Rochester has only a few dozen electric vehicles on the road, but the state is awarding the city 24 charging stations at a cost of $228,000. The Democrat and Chronicle reports:

State officials touted the move as a way to lower emissions in New York and promote energy efficiency.


But the high costs of electric and hybrid vehicles have limited their use.

On Wednesday, Honda announced its Fit electric car will get the equivalent of 118 mpg. But at $29,125 after a $7,500 federal tax credit, the electric Fit has an estimated price tag nearly twice as high as the gasoline-powered version. It would take 11 years before a driver makes up the difference and begins saving on fuel.

Some suggest if you build it, they will come. But the math shows the bigger barrier to entry is cost and technology, not the lack of charging stations.

Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before these stations will be needed, but that time could be a long way off. The U.S. is far short of its goal of having one million electric cars on the road by 2015, reports CBS News:

To get to one million, the White House pinned its hopes on 11 models of electric vehicles – including the Karma. Our CBS News investigation found that six of the 11 — Ford Focus, Ford Transit Connect, Fisker Nina/Atlantic, Tesla Model S, Tesla Roadster and Think City — either haven’t made their first delivery, stopped production, or are already out of business.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

What happened? The U.S. provided grants that tied the battery makers to aggressive timetables, requiring each to achieve production and staffing targets that would supply tens of thousands of vehicles a year. But those production timetables weren’t linked to market demand, leading to a shakeout among suppliers.

I’m all for electric cars (even if it means I have to give up my beloved stick shift one day). But installing charging stations before there is demand seems silly. Charging stations won’t create demand. Car companies that come out with better, cheaper electric vehicles will.

– Rochester is one of the top 25 Brainiest Cities in the U.S., according to a study that looked at how we perform on certain mind games.

– The state senate GOP is blocking the governor’s proposal to decriminalize marijuana. The governor would make it a violation to have 25 grams of pot or less. Majority Leader Dean Skelos said:

“Being able to just walk around with 10 joints in each ear and only being a violation I think that’s wrong.”

Just what does 25 grams of pot look like, anyway?

– It’s LPGA week in Rochester. Will our city continue to host a major championship for the tour?

– In a follow-up to the Destiny USA fallout, the Syracuse Post-Standard explains why this is such a farce for taxpayers. This quote expresses the sentiment of many:

“Obviously, Mr. Congel feels he doesn’t have to pay taxes because he’s part of the 1 percent,” (Pat) Hogan said. “Many people in the community are going to be pretty angry and upset about this. And I am, too.”

12 Responses to Cart Before Horse?

  1. June 7, 2012 at 8:28 am Wren Keber responds:

    I think that charging stations are a great idea. People who have the buying power to purchase electric vehicles are concerned about sacrificing convenience. I know that having charging stations available would make electric a viable alternative to gasoline or diesel.

  2. OK, so in another life as a favor to my boss I managed the city fleet. It was during the early ’80’s and I got pitched for propane & natural gas conversions to our pick-up trucks and could never make it financially work, even using a proposed fueling depot over at the RGE Jeff Rd. operations yard. Plus, the union folks didn’t like the idea of having a propane tank in the back of their heads while driving an S-10.

    At the retail level, all-electric and hybrid cars suffer from the same economic analysis as natural gas driven cars, for those who aren’t trying to only make a green statement. Here’s the basics that apply to fleet efficiency standards:

    When calculating your cost/per mile you have to include not only fuel and repairs but interst on a loan, taxes, depreciation and capital costs.

    Capital costs are generally calculated as the gross cost of vehicle less the estimated resale value at its planned life end (most cars have a life span of between 5-7 years, now.)

    Interest is the upcharge your paying on a car loan that’s above the principle over the life of the loan (even public fleets which don’t have loans are supposed to calculate the “cost of money” as a factor since public money can be invested elsewhere.)

    You take these figures and divide by the number of years for the planned life of the vehicle and divide again by the average number of miles you intendf to drive per year and you get the capital cost per mile for running the car.

    It’s up to you whether you put the subsidy ammount in the capital cost (denial is good when it’s someone elses nickel). It’s also very unclear at what ratio, if any, the current subsidies to electric cars will be factored into rersale values.

    It is also a big unknown if the cost of battery replacement will become a big factor when in a resale it is near the end of its life cycle.

    To this, all operating costs – gas, electric, repairs, license & registration, tolls, insurance, the cost of a new battery pack, if any, has to be annualized on a cost per mile basis much the same way as capital costs.

    You then add the two cost/mile amounts and you get the totally loaded retail operating costs for an electric/hybrid car.

    When you get this figure and compare it to a stripped-down Kia, you might want to take up walking to make your green statement.

    Or push for more bike paths in the city.

  3. Dum-de-dum:

    “But why would you need to replace the battery pack of the Toyota Prius? One of the biggest causes is accidents. Even though you are driving a hybrid car, you will get into an accident if you are not careful on the road. If you are unlucky enough to crash your Prius, the battery casing may crack and you have to get it replaced.

    The cost of getting a new Toyota Prius battery system varies. The price to get a replacement battery for the first generation Prius ranges from $2500 upwards. If the replacement involves major reconstruction on the support structure, you may have to spend as much as $4000 to get it replaced.”


  4. more dum-dee-dum:

    “A “Dust to Dust” study by CNW Marketing Research of Bandon, Ore., shows the overall
    eco-costs of automotive hybrids may be even higher.

    Released last December, the study tabulated all data on the energy necessary to plan,
    build, sell, drive and dispose of a vehicle from drawing board to junkyard, including such items as plant-to-dealer fuel costs, distances driven, electricity usage per pound of material in each vehicle, and hundreds of other variables.

    To put the data into understandable terms for consumers, CNW translated it into a
    “dollars per lifetime mile” figure, or the energy cost per mile driven. When looked at
    from that perspective, the Prius and other hybrids quickly morphed from fuel-sippers into energy-guzzlers.

    The Prius registered an energy-cost average of $3.25 per mile driven over its expected
    life span of 100,000 miles. Ironically, a Hummer, the brooding giant that has become the bête noir of the green movement, did much better, with an energy-cost average of $1.95 over its expected life span of 300,000 miles. And its crash protection makes it far safer than the tiny Prius.”

    Warning – PDF:

    Hidden cost of driving a Prius – Totaling all the energy expended, from design to
    junkyard, a Hummer may be a better bargain.


  5. It’s difficult to justify the electric car purchase on dollars and cents alone.

    I think it’s helpful to think back to other technologies in their early stages. Fax machines or cell phones were huge, costly and wouldn’t be particularly appealing by today’s standards. That said, as their adoption increased the technology got better and costs went down.

    I think the important question here is does it represent a social good to reduce our dependence on oil largely produced from unstable regions of the world and is it worth the investment of public money to do so?

    Does anyone think that the full cost of car usage in our country is simply the $3 – $4 per gallon you pay at the pump to fill up?

    I think that electric cars represent an emerging technology that should be supported and charging station infrastructure is one way to do just that.

    • funny, I don’t remember government subsidizing my fax machine purchases.

      As for cell phones, it was the other way around. The Federal Gov, FCC, made wireless companies auction bid on public spectrum for use in cellular telephony networks. So, maybe a special annual federal excise tax should be levied on all hybrids and electric cars to offset the subsudies to users in their early stages of marketing.

      There’s a lot of Prius’s (Pria?) floating around in places like Pittsford Plaza where it’s a lot easier being green.

      • June 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm Matt responds:

        My point about cell phones and fax machines had more to do with the fact that most technology starts out big and expensive and as adoption increase it becomes smaller, cheaper and faster with successive generations of that technology. I would guess that electric cars will become better, cheaper and more cost effective if they follow that same adoption curve.

        I’m sorry you can’t find a parking space in Pittsford Plaza because of all the Prius traffic. Early adopters generally have more disposable income to devote to whatever the next best thing is. I know, I know – they should pay for their own chargers if they have all this disposable income, right?

        I’m glad you asked …

        As far as the value of subsidies, that’s a legitimate point of debate. My view is that encouraging this technology (read that as: spending public money for some charging stations) reduces our reliance on oil from places that don’t much care for us and that we’ve spent a lot of blood and treasure to keep flowing.

        It’s the explicit policy of the US to consider the disruptions of oil shipping lanes an act of war – e.g. what’s our next step if Iran tries to close Strait of Hormuz… my guess is it won’t be sending them a strongly worded letter.

        From where I sit, that’s a tremendous cost (or subsidy if you will) of our reliance on oil that isn’t taken into account in our price at the pump. Spending a couple of bucks to wean us from this reliance on oil is money well spent.

        • June 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm Matt responds:

          Sorry for the typos, there’s no edit button so I need to run spell check before I post comments 🙂

  6. June 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm Reggie Henderson responds:

    3 thoughts… 1. Even with an electric charging station, how quickly cannot it recharge a car? I guess if it’s an hour you could do it while you have lunch. If it’s more then it would be better to equip some hotels with charging. 2. If you can recharge a car in a reasonable time, then it does make sense to get charging stations set up ahead; not having charging stations definitely diminishes the market for electric cars.

  7. June 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm Reggie Henderson responds:


    Charging time Power supply Voltage Max current
    6-8 hours Single phase – 3,3kW 230 VAC 16 A
    2-3 hours Three phase – 10kW 400 VAC 16 A
    3-4 hours Single phase – 7kW 230 VAC 32 A
    1-2 hours Three phase – 24kW 400 VAC 32 A
    20-30 minutes Three phase – 43kW 400 VAC 63 A
    20-30 minutes Direct current – 50kW 400 – 500 VDC 100 – 125 A

    Hmm… I bet the stations their getting are not the 20-30 minute ones, if it’s 1-2 hours, then you probably want to just stick with using the car for local trips and charging it overnight at home.

  8. I wonder if the city has looked into the public liability of having these attractive nuisances housed in their public R.O.W.’s., properties or leaseholds.

  9. Pingback: If You Build It, Will They Charge? » The Rochesterian

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