BEVs not quite ready for prime time

  • 14-Apr-2010 02:09 EDT
"The electrified vehicle is dominant in the plans of every auto manufacturer and regulator," Don Hillebrand said in his keynote address Wednesday at the SAE 2010 World Congress.

Battery electric vehicles' shortfall in range will hinder widespread commercialization for years to come. That was the bottom-line message Wednesday during a keynote address at the SAE 2010 World Congress.

Don Hillebrand, Director of the Center for Transportation Research at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, said plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEVs) are ready for prime time, but battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) are not.

The idea for the PHEV grew directly out of the EV's failure to overcome the latter's range shortcoming, Hillebrand said in an exclusive AEI interview after his speech. PHEVs are not range-handicapped.

"EVs failed in the mid-1990s for a number of reasons, but the primary reason was range anxiety," he said. "That fundamentally has not changed, and none of the technologies we have right now solves that problem."

The fact that BEVs have not fully evolved is problematic in terms of appealing to the masses. "Plug-ins have jumped the barrier from research to commercialization, and I think BEVs may have just 'jumped the shark,'" Hillebrand said using an idiom that can describe something not in its prime.

Fast charging and battery swapping are among the range-extending possibilities for BEVs, but Hillebrand said issues remained to be solved in those areas. "The cost model for fast charging isn't there yet, and the infrastructure hasn't been built out. But I think it will work when you get to that point."

A successful battery-swap model hasn't gained footing, Hillebrand continued. "It has a lot of push. But I did an analysis on the economics, and I don't see [the battery-swap model] being there yet."

Hillebrand isn't immune to the allure of BEVs, though. After dynamometer testing of a Tesla EV at the Argonne lab, he drove the car and very much liked the experience.

"EVs may have a place in the market based on excitement and performance, but not for the purpose of everyday utility," said Hillebrand, who expects it may take another 10-20 years "to really make commercialization of BEVs go widespread, and that's going to depend on battery technology and the growth of our electrical infrastructure."

HTML for Linking to Page
Page URL
Rate It
3.11 Avg. Rating

Read More Articles On

The 2018 CT6 PHEV is an engaging and efficient luxury sedan aimed primarily at China’s burgeoning New Energy Vehicle market.
A recent Engineering program at the University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus jettisoned lectures and text books and replaced them with a fresh Design, Build, and Test curriculum including new lean-Startup courses addressing customer discovery techniques.
Automakers are looking to harness the sun's energy to power electrical components in new vehicles
A U.K.-based consortium led by Nissan is aiming at greater energy density with advanced energy management from Hyperdrive Innovation.

Related Items

Technical Paper / Journal Article
Technical Paper / Journal Article
Training / Education
Training / Education
Technical Paper / Journal Article