Another Sign Our Electric Future Will Be Delayed

BMW i3 electric car comes with a gasoline powered loaner

BMW i3 electric car comes with a gasoline powered loaner

We've written before about the limitations of electric motorcycles, cars and trucks, all because the batteries we need have been promised for years, but always seem five or ten years off. I wouldn't bring this up again except I noticed what seems to me to be a glaring surrender to reality on the part of BMW as they get ready to produce their i3 electric car.

BMW’s approach is based on several years of field testing with customers of prototype electric vehicles with a range per charge of about 100 miles. The automaker found that range was only a problem with about 10 percent of daily trips. It plans to provide a gas-powered loaner vehicle for these infrequent trips. “We offer you a fallback solution in case you purchase this car and then need to go on a 500-mile trip,” says Rolf Stromberger, BMW’s vice president of business environment and public affairs strategy.

As always, the company line is how few people really need the extra range on a regular basis, so for those "infrequent trips" they provide a fallback solution, a gasoline powered loaner. Of course, 10 percent of our daily trips means, perhaps, 30 times per year in their sample. Do you want to get a loaner that often, even 10 or 15 times? Of course, the rest of us don't need a fallback, we just set our GPS and we're off, without a detour to a dealer first to pick up our loaner and we don't have to drive to the dealer to turn in our loaner when we get back. The number of times you can use the loaner each year is limited, too, but they didn't say how many times.

They almost make it sound like there's something wrong with you if you need or want to take frequent long trips, of course if you do, you won't be looking at electric cars in the first place.

So, for $50,000 you get a car you can use for short range driving, but still requires a gasoline powered backup for longer runs. It looks like BMW got tired of waiting for the promised magic batteries, but they still felt they needed to produce an electric car because that's what the greens and the government seem to expect these days. Customers? Not so much.

Hmm, ... I wonder what we could use instead of batteries to power our vehicles, something with a lot of energy density, easy to quickly refill, available everywhere, ... no, don't tell me, I'll think of it, ... let's see, what could it be?

Link: Technology Review


  1. SausageCreature says

    “…easy to quickly refill…”

    That’s the key. Range wouldn’t be such an issue if recharge times weren’t so long. If the economics worked significantly in their favor, more people would be willing to recharge every 80-100 miles or so if the process were as painless as stopping at a gas station is today.

  2. 7th_son says

    Just the fact that you have to borrow a car so you can go on outside your 70 mile range tells you something….you need an extra “fuel burning” car hanging around. The reason I stated 70 miles is, in winter you need heat…..summer you need air….gridlock?….call a tow truck before you freeze or fry!! AAA will give you one free every so often…then what. What about the North American electric grid…how many pluggins can it handle before the blackout chain of events. Anybody who thinks we can get rid of coal fired power generation anytime soon should realize that it won’t if demand outstrips supply because of the extra energy these cars will demand. Again….the chain of unintended consequences when trying to push beyond available technology too fast. Fuel Efficient Diesel is here and Americans can have it now without unrealistic pipe dreams if they want..
    Some facts:

    • JP Kalishek says

      not to mantion those places on the grid that already have issues (like Cali and it’s occasional rolling black/brown outs) and the fact these tend to be what they claim to be fighting as the power is from fossil fuel burning generation. If they want to have the lower emissions and a reliable grid for their electric dreams, they need to build more Nuke plants. Anything else is not friendly to the environment. (especially the things they claim are enviro-friendly … Wind kills more birds than anything else out there, Solar is a manufacturing pollutant except the big steam ones that create nasty micro-climates, and geothermal needs to be in too many places we have made parks)

      • Travis says

        Even if you get your power from the dirtiest coal powered plant, you will still be polluting less with an electric car than one that runs on gas.

        also if your in gridlock then electric cars will shine because when they aren’t moving the engine isn’t using any power.

        • 7th_son says

          Ever sat on a freeway in gridlock without air at 90-100 degrees. That battery won,t last long with the air running just to keep you and your pet schnauzer alive.

  3. B50 Jim says

    Nobody ever promised “magic batteries” — only slow improvement to a devilishly difficult technology. Squeezing the energy equivalent to a tank of gasoline or diesel fuel into a battery makes for some very tricky physics; all that energy keeps trying to get out. We long ago learned to transport flammable liquids safely, but we’ll need more time to do the trick with electrical energy.

    Meanwhile, diesel technology is moving forward to reduced emissions and better fuel economy. They’ve already handled the noise issues. Once American motorists get over their baseless aversion to diesels, production numbers will increase and prices will decrease to the point that diesel power can be the norm.

    I’m still enthusiastic about EVs but I realize they will be a long time coming unless someone does develop that “magic battery”. Then the game will change drastically.

    • Z_Money says


      The first Wright Brothers flight was in 1903. The first Commercial – Non – Stop – Trans – Atlantic flight was in 1939 (and that was mail, not passenger). Gotta keep the faith, it will happen. Resistance is ubiquitous. I am really not surprised with resistance to change. The world keeps spinning. Ask the Amish.

      • Oscar says

        It has nothing to do with “resistance to change”. It has everything to do with wanting to spend ones money (a very large chunk of ones yearly income, in fact) on a vehicle that meets ones needs.

        Dreamers and “Greens” can whine all they want, but you won’t convince the average person to spend that much money on a vehicle that doesn’t meet their needs, and currently, EVs don’t meet the average person’s needs.

        Once they do (if ever) that will no longer be a problem.

        • Z_Money says

          It is established fact that as technology evolves prices go down. It applies to this too. It will happen, sooner or later. There will be a car for everyone electric or otherwise.

          • Oscar says

            I’m not talking about prices. I’m talking about capabilities. A $30,000 electric car that takes an hour to recharge does me no good. Nor does it do most car buyers any good.

              • Oscar says

                No, I’m not.

                “It has everything to do with wanting to spend ones money (a very large chunk of ones yearly income, in fact) on a vehicle that meets ones needs.”

                Note the focus on needs. The price is secondary to the need. Again, it does me no good to have an electric car I can afford if it doesn’t meet my needs.

  4. says

    The only electric vehicle in my future might be an electric wheelchair if I ever need one.
    My road vehicles will be loud fume-belching internal combustion hotrods until I can’t twist the throttle or mash the gas pedal anymore.

  5. Steffen Terp Thomsen says

    Having a 1000 mile range electric vehicle is proposterous with any standard of battery, we might hit 300 miles in 10 years, but as SausageCreature note, quick refills in the key to an electric future. Which magic device could render long recharge times a thing of the past? Super Capacitors.
    If Graphene supercaps succeed we might see 200 mile rangede EV’s in 5-6 years time which can fully recharge in 10 minuttes or less via high current charging stations.
    If you want that now, take a look at the Renault Fluenze ZE, with it you can stop at a BetterPlace battery exchange station and off you go again with a fresh pack and another 100 miles of range.

  6. JP Kalishek says

    Costs of replacement are a major drag. Soon all those first hybrids are going to need battery pack replacements, and the cost of one will be more than the car is worth … with a good battery pack. Down in our local leftist hotspot (Austin) I’ve passed some rather ratty looking Pri’i (what ever the plural of Prius is) that I’d not give $3000 for … what are these folks gonna do when these things needs $10,000 batteries (and the associated labor and what ever disposal fees are included) is sure to be entertaining.

    • JSH says

      “Soon all those first hybrids are going to need battery pack replacements…..”

      Of course they will. We have been hearing that statement every since hybrids first went on the market. Of course it has been 13 years since the first hybrids went on sale in the US and the massive battery replacements still haven’t happened. I’m sure it will happen “soon” though. 😉

      • todd says

        Batteries in the Prius and other hybrids are a non-issue. As the battery life diminishes the engine just gets used more often. The engine in the Prius is still mighty efficient and will get decent mileage without using the battery that much or not at all.


          • JSH says

            Pointless? Not at all. You assume that the battery will fail before the car reaches the end of it’s service life. To date that has not been the case. Toyota warranties the hybrid batter for 10 years / 150K miles. A taxi company in Vancouver, BC that uses the Prius reports that the batteries last 350K miles. My 2005 Prius has 104K miles and still gets the same 46 mpg as when I purchased it.

            You also assume that the battery is heavy. A Prius battery weighs 64 lbs. If you include the case, battery management, cooling fan, and case it weighs 99 lbs. For comparison that is about the additional weight ticking the option box for heated and fully adjustable power seats.

            • Just Joe says

              JHS it is very difficult to have this discussion with those of a certain generation…after all, oats and hay are available EVERYWHERE, and, aside from the occasional re-shoeing, you never see a horse breaking down. These horseless carriages are a passing fad.

              As the technology matures and formats decided upon, infrastructure for support ( recharging stations etc. ) will become profitable and suddenly widespread. I love ICE as much as anyone, but can’t wait for an alternative for my transportation “needs”, as well as for off road riding. Tons of torque, zero noise, emissions and maintenance? Yes please.
              This vehicle is just a stop gap, a way to finance future exploration.

              • Paul Crowe says

                You’re right Joe, it is difficult to discuss this with those of a certain generation, but we won’t hold your youth and inexperience against you. :-)

                But seriously, you’re missing the point of this discussion. Being against special subsidies for a particular industry or technology isn’t the same as being against the technology itself. The technology needs the support of people like you to help develop it so it can succeed in the market, becoming so superior that people will freely choose electric vehicles over their ICE counterparts. If you passionately believe that electric transportation is the future, by all means work on it and make it so, don’t ask for the heavy hand of the government to force everyone to agree with you.

                I’ve featured a lot of very cool, but not yet practical or affordable, electric vehicles on The Kneeslider. If they overcome their limitations, we’ll have another option when we’re looking for something to ride or drive, but until then, they’re still just one of many possible future options.

            • Oscar says

              Yes, it’s pointless. If, in fact, the engine is efficient on its own, as todd states…

              “As the battery life diminishes the engine just gets used more often. The engine in the Prius is still mighty efficient and will get decent mileage without using the battery that much or not at all.”

              …then why add the expense and weight of a battery if “”As the battery life diminishes the engine just gets used more often.”?

              Why not focus all that R&D on making the car lighter and the engine even more efficient?

              • says

                Not to mention the fact that it has been pointed out many times that they are NOT “zero emissions”, and in some cases they have a worse environmental impact than regular cars, when other forms of pollution are taken into account.

                The most “telling” feature is that they virtually ALL need to have an internal combustion engine to back up the electric, because the electric simply can’t cut the mustard.

              • JSH says

                Yes, the ICE engine in a Prius is very efficient and the electric motor and battery might be pointless if all one did was cruise on a flat highway. However, it is the hybrid components that allow a Prius to get 50 mpg in stop and go city traffic. That is something that even the most efficient and light ICE only cars cannot do. That is something even my 90hp VW TDi could not do.

                My wife has a Prius and her commute is perfect for it (or an electric car). She drives 7 miles in stop and go traffic. That 7 miles takes 45 minutes. In the Spring and Fall she gets 50 mpg. In the Summer and Winter that drops to low 40’s mpg because of the need for heat and A/C. (In the Winter the car turns on the engine to create waste heat for the heater and in the Summer it turns on the engine to charge the battery to power the electric A/C compressor after the battery drains.)

                Last September it was time to replace my 2003 VW TDI. I looked at all the fuel efficient options available and was disappointed to see that after 10 years my options didn’t change much. In the end I decided to purchase another Prius simply because it costs less per mile to operate than the TDI due to better fuel economy, cheaper fuel, and less maintenance. (Operating costs: ’05 Prius – $0.07 per mile; ’03 VW TDI – $0.10 per mile; ’00 BMW R1150R – $0.15 per mile)

                BTW Paul, I purchased both of my Prius without the aid of government subsidies or tax credits.

              • Just Joe says

                Oscar, the point of the hybrid, which is different from the BMW featured here, is that the electric motor does the heavy lifting during light duty operation, ICE kicks in for extra power or to charge the battery. The battery having less capacity ( BTW, they last WAY longer than people originally predicted ) doesn’t change that. I was raised on the smell of Castrol R ( 2 stroke bean oil ), but I don’t live in the past.@ Paul, I have little problem with the government pushing the envelope and creating commerce. They always have. We didn’t get railways, interstates, the trucking industry, and the airline industry without subsidy. We didn’t get an auto industry without suitable roads. Broadcast radio, TV and the internet? Need I go on? Why should this be any different?

              • Oscar says

                @ Just Joe

                The reason this should be different is that in all the cases you mentioned, government subsidies resulted in cronyism and corruption, which are great for politicians and CEOs, but hurt consumers and voters.

                Government has legitimate roles to play in markets – building transportation infrastructure, protecting property rights (including intellectual property) and providing courts where individuals and companies can settle disputes non-violenty.

                Venture capitalism and picking winners and losers are NOT legitimate roles for government.

  7. Paulinator says

    There was a bank being built near my boat. It took forever. It was painful to watch. A comedy of errors. It was a small building with a steel girder facade that laced thru the glass, brick work and structure for no apparent reason. It looked like the planners didn’t have a clear vision of what they wanted or an understanding of how to get there. Cost obviously wasn’t a factor.

    The facade supports photovoltaics for the EV charge ports. They’re in the shadow of a power line.

  8. B50 Jim says

    When viable power sources (quick-recharge batteries, supercaps, swap-outs) become available, the market will accommodate them because there are profits involved. In the early days of motoring, the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cars often ran on benzine because it was the only available fuel. When a car needed a fill-up, the driver went to a pharmacy because that’s where benzine was sold. Gasoline was an undesirable by-product of kerosene refining, but it turned out to be a useful motor fuel. As soon as cars became plentiful enough and ran on gasoline, gasoline dealers sprang up, and an entire industry was born.

  9. Dave says

    All this reminds me of the old joke about Curtis Wright electric propellers. ” What’s the range of a CR electric prop?” It depends on the length of the extension cord!!

  10. Tin Man 2 says

    The Auto industry has made Great advances in Fuel Economy, dispite the publics demand for crazy Horse Power levels. Does any car need more than 200HP??? Or a Bike more than 50 HP??? If the Gov had any Balls they would limit HP to save fuel (Political Suicide). Fire Suit On, Fire at Will. P.S. I own my own share of excess power but I must say, A long time ago I owned an old Opel Kadett and my brother had an early Pinto, We had more fun racing each other on the dirt and the tarmack than in any of the Hot cars we both have owned over the years.

    • Nicolas says

      Yeah, when I was a teenager the alpha male cars were barely reaching 100hp. But now, a soccerdad’s sedan with 200p has probably a way better gas mileage than your old Kadett, right ? If you limit the “race” to performance, you’ll limit the competition between manufacturer and cut the wings to technical development and progress.

    • Matt says

      There are many relatively common automotive tasks which require more than 200 hp in a car/wagon configuration. For example, merging onto American interstates with a relatively large number of people plus some freight will almost certainly need it, or driving on the American west coast where the large hills and mountains would make life for a heavier car load with 200 hp quite the chore. Aside from the 200 hp number being off, in reality politicians will never design a bill that allows automakers to design practical cars for all, or even most walks of life. They will fail to make appropriate exceptions, make exceptions for political allies, and most likely find a way to demand a less reliable, and/or less safe car. In addition any debate featuring a measure that drastic would likely bring up the fact that there’s plenty of untapped energy, which could create millions of jobs by being uncorked, with the other side replying with the dangers of global climate change. In the end the bill would stalemate. Lastly it would likely hurt the economy by hindering car sales, and the motorsports industry, although I doubt any politicians would have the guts to bring up the motorsports industry in a debate.

      • todd says

        seriously? My wife’s old Saab has 200hp and all that power is good for is lighting up the tires and launching the car into the seriously expensive “exhibition of speed” rates of acceleration to the likes of 0 – 60 in less than 7 seconds. My VW Westfalia has no problems climbing mountains or merging onto the highway fully loaded with camping gear and happy campers with all of 90hp – though it’s not exactly “speedy.”

        200hp is still a lot of power. Now if you put that into a 8600 lb loaded Suburban all bets are off.

  11. Richard Gozinya says

    There’s obviously enough people out there who want electric vehicles to warrant building and selling them, otherwise they wouldn’t. In this society, contrary to what some people think, profit rules over everything. Are EVs the most in demand vehicles out there? Of course not, but there is a market for them, one that continues to grow. Why would any company focus on a shrinking market (People who want big engines in big vehicles) When they can focus on the ones that are growing (Fuel effecient vehicles, and EVs)

    • Paul Crowe says

      Profit selling them? How about taxpayer funded government subsidies pushing sales?

      $10,000 per car in a direct tax credit. The median price of all the Volts on is $43,200. The average household income of Volt purchasers is in excess of $170,000, around the 93rd percentile. At the 28% tax bracket (married, filing jointly), this is equivalent to $36,000 of tax-free income.

      quote from Forbes magazine
      They’re practically being given the car for free.

      Also, since the government bought GM, they’re really pushing the Volt, and GE CEO Jeff Immelt, who was also chairman of the President’s jobs council, bought 12,000 Volts for the GE fleet. 12,000 Volts times $10,000 subsidy per car is $120,000,000 taxpayers are giving to GE, which paid no taxes itself. Helluva deal!

      Oh, did I mention, GE sells charging stations for the Volt, too?

      How about electric car supporters pay the full price themselves instead of asking the rest of us to buy part of their car for them? Then we’ll see how much demand there is. My guess is there’s very little except from the celebrity crowd. The people who love electric cars but have no money to actually buy one, don’t count.

      • Nicolas says

        GE also provides a paycheck to guys (like myself) who use it to finance their motorcycling activities, and also to pay their cable bill so that they can visit The Kneeslider, get you some traffic and income … GE is not that bad :-)

        Where I live, it can take up to an hour to drive the 7 miles home to work. An electric vehicle would make lots of sense for commuting in that environment, on 2 or 4 wheels.

        • Paul Crowe says

          I spent quite a few years working for GE myself and for many like you and I, the paycheck helped pay for many things, nevertheless, it doesn’t mean the company should get special treatment.

          All businesses, large and small, should be treated the same, special benefits shouldn’t go to those who are friends of the President or who can afford to employ fleets of high paid tax attorneys. How about simple and low taxes for everyone without special tax credits for government favored industries like green energy or electric cars?

          • Nicolas says

            A tax credit is $$ not received, not $$ taken off our pockets to be given to companies or individuals. The above mentioned company doesn’t pay taxes anyways, so this additional tax credit doesn’t change anything in the equation. (not saying that I support this situation though)
            10,000 Volts sold are good business for chevy, their employees and suppliers. Good for the economy !
            Let’s consider this as little bump to the EV business, maybe it’s all that takes to generate some momentum in an industry that can deliver exciting products.
            And of course everybody should pay for their own vehicles.

            • Oscar says

              It’s far better for the economy to let people determine for themselves where their money goes, rather than have politicians confiscate it from them and hand it out to to their cronies.

          • says

            Government support will sometimes (though not always) be neccessary if the long term benefits to society are worth it. This was the case with the airline industry, which didn’t have a profitable airliner until the DC-3 came along, to mention but one example. Obviously the tax incentives offered to non-fossil fuel technologies will piss off the nay-sayers, just as the tax incentives given to – say – coal fired or nuclear powerplants will get anyone with a green mind all riled up as well. Whether electric vehicles will solve the range issue by improved batteries, by quick-charge stations or battery exchange stations matters not a bit. It will come, and those who hate the thought to begin with will never consider it possible. Probably not even after the fact.

            Keep in mind that when Charles Darwin had ‘The Origin Of Species’ published, he did not convince those who already held firm the belief that a divine hand was behind the creation of all living beings. But they eventually died out, leaving the newer generations more open to new ideas to embrace his theories on evolution.

            • Oscar says

              And, of course, the federal government is a shining example of economic wisdom. I mean, they’ve run up a $16 Trillion debt and haven’t written a budget in almost 4 years, but clearly they know exactly what constitutes “the long term benefits to society”.

              • says

                To use the example of the airline industry again: Succesive administrations of different parties made sure it was supported for decades, until it could stand by itself. You may or may not consider the fairly convenient, safe and inexpensive air travel of today “a long term benefit to society”, but my guess is that most people do. The same thing will happen with electric vehicles.

              • Oscar says

                You have that backwards. Government meddling in the Airline business kept ticket prices artificially high and prevented average Americans from flying.


                “More than 80 percent of the country had never once been on an airplane. There was a simple reason. Flying was absurdly expensive. And there was simple reason why flying was absurdly expensive. That was the law. If you want a two-word answer to why airfares have dropped so much since the 1970s, it’s this: Deregulation worked.”

                Free markets work, so let them work.

                If you can explain how a government $16 Trillion in debt that has run for almost four years without a budget can be trusted to make wise economic decisions, I’m all ears.

                But, to me it sounds like trusting a drunk, compulsive gambler to “invest” your money for you.

            • says

              @ oscar: Just read the full Atlantic article (a good read), which is about airline ticket prices in the jet age. Nobody questions what deregulation has done to make air travel affordable.

              I am, however, talking about the government supporting the airline industry in its infacy, up to the time the DC-3 came along.

              • Oscar says

                Again, unnecessary. Let companies compete on their own and they’ll figure out ways to make it on their own, rather than having government pick winners and losers, which mostly means picking losers (Solyndra being only one recent example).

      • Rob says

        There are no tax breaks in the oil industry? And petrol powered cars haven’t had billion of dollars of government subsidies to make them more fuel efficient?

      • Richard Gozinya says

        So then why are you so gung ho on petroleum fueled vehicles? The oil companies have been getting subsidized for decades. For that matter, every time you get on a plane, chances are good you’re riding in a vehicle whose development was funded with tax dollars. Heck, everybody who drives a Jeep to this day is driving something that was developed with tax dollars, the same goes for all those people who bought Hummers. Then there’s that whole internet thing, whose development was funded by tax dollars. So we’re subsidizing all the ISPs as well. And of course, one mustn’t forget the AR-15, which exists solely because of decades of the government buying them in bulk, when far superior products were available. There are no doubt an endless list of examples, but you get the point.

        Somehow though, with the government subsidizing so many industries, so many specific products, only EVs receive your scorn? If you want to turn your blog into a political blog, that’s fine, it’s your blog to do with as you please. But please, be upfront about it.

        • todd says

          The Hummer was a GM thing, not to be mistaken for AM General’s HMMWV, or “Humvee” which is more closely related to Jeep. It’s good to see that GM marketing half-truths have spawned the mis-association of their car with bonafied military vehicles.

          AM General is also known as AMC (no, not Walking Dead, or Harley bowling balls) which is what happened to Rambler, Kaiser and Nash – the ill-fated country music group.

      • Jiro says

        How about if you write about things you like Paul instead of the things you don’t. Your writing is more fun and you make more sense. A lot of your social and economic writing is not convincing.

        • Paul Crowe says

          Jiro, I don’t dislike electric vehicles, if they succeed it would be very cool, it’s the taxpayer money being thrown at them. If electrics could stand on their own, competing in the market with the other alternatives, it would be great, but government subsidies are the elephant in the room for this industry. If you don’t mention it you’re ignoring a big part of what’s keeping the industry alive.

          • Jiro says

            don’t you like and support nuclear power? That has been and still is subsidized plus the liability reduction laws and the toxic waste that has no home. The nuclear industry, more than almost any other industry is a product of the military industrial complex. It would not exist without it. Are you a libertarian? Working at GE must have disturbed your principles significantly.

            • Nicolas says

              while things get kinda out of hand here, I’d like to mention that Paul runs the BEST motorcycle blog on the web, by far. We may not agree on all things, specifically political stuff, but it’s the best spot to discover crazy builders and fantastic bikes. Keep up the good work ! :-)

        • Paul Crowe says

          As an electric car enthusiast and a builder and doer, absolutely, but as a customer representing demand for electric cars, not unless he has the money to buy one and is willing to do so.

  12. Tin Man 2 says

    No debating that a 7 mile commute would be good for an EV, I just think you should PAY for your own car.

  13. B50 Jim says

    Taxpayer funded government subsidies are everywhere. The oil and energy companies collect billions in subsidies and tax breaks despite making fantastic profits on the products WE buy. Agricultural subsides give vast amounts of cash to agribusiness and smaller farms alike, mostly for NOT planting crops — when my parents had an 80-acre farm in Michigan they filled out the forms and received big government checks, essentially for the effort of filling out the forms. Whose Navy patrols the oceans to keep things safe for those oil tankers? An aircraft carrier costs millions per day to operate, paid for with our taxes. When you buy a car, the steel and other materials come from corporations that obtain subsidies and more tax breaks, all of which are either paid for or made up by our taxes. When I fill out my tax forms I can legitimately deduct my mortgage interest payments and local taxes, which reduces my income tax load by about half, and I can use that money to buy whatever I like. Face it, every aspect of everyday life is riddled with some form of tax activity. I’m sure that if we could get the government to pay for a big part of our next car or bike, whatever brand or type, we’d jump at the chance. Why let those wealthy EV customers an celebrities get all the goodies?

    • Paul Crowe says

      “Taxpayer funded government subsidies are everywhere. ”
      … So let’s end them all.

      • B50 Jim says

        That would be a neat trick. I’d love to see it, but there are so many entrenched interests all over the political spectrum that it’s not DOA, it’s dead before it can even live. Until we take the money out of politics and start electing senators and representatives on their merits rather than their ability to raise vast campaign funds, nothing will happen.

        BTW — that BMW i3 is a strange-looking car but I like the color. They make good stuff, however — when my dad was in Germany after the fighting stopped in 1945 (he was with the 94th Army field hospital and they were sent there to help with the German wounded) he obtained a stainless-steel cutlery set manufactured by BMW for the Wehrmacht — three spoons and two forks of different sizes and a large butter knife. My sister and I took the knife outdoors to dig in the dirt and we lost it. 15 years later it came to the surface through erosion, and except for one small rust spot it was good as new.

      • says

        Yes Paul, I agree.
        End ALL the subsidies now.

        Every special interest has his “reason” why HIS favorite special interest should remain funded. That’s the reason to do away with them ALL at once.
        Time to end the “free hand-outs for political donors”, and the massive taxes and oppression that accompany those things.
        The US is not intended(or even authorized) to have a government-controlled centrally-planned economy.

  14. Russell B! says

    Would like to interrupt the political debate to note that the BMW electric pictured is a singularly awkward looking little car. It’s painful to look at, just like the proposed R-R SUV. BMW has gotten so far off message with their 4-wheel vehicles, yet stayed absolutely on target with their 2-wheelers.

    Anybody else note that Fisker quit Fisker?

  15. Gearpeddler says

    I really think they should just dump this ridiculous obsession with EVs, we should be focused on small displacement turbo diesels, Europe and the rest of the world have tons of them to chose from, and with diesel tech today your not loosing any performance vs gasoline, intro price is only slightly higher…much better than these ridiculous EVs.

    Not to mention most of those little cars are getting nearly double the mpg of their gasoline counterparts, and diesel can run on almost anything thats wet and slippery, I know of a few guys who work at a dealership that run nothing but used ATF in their F250s and they do fine…but you could make your own biodiesel for practically free if you wanted to.

    • Paul Crowe says

      Fisker is another sad story. Expensive electric cars that never quite got going, then they had a bunch of battery problems with the batteries made by A123. A123 was a poster child for supposedly successful government green investments, developing wonderful new battery technology. Then, oops, they go belly up and get sold to China, so US taxpayers financed new battery technology which ends up in China. Just a crazy idea, but how about taxpayers keep their own money and let China develop its own batteries. That green EV government money sure is wonderful stuff, every investment so far has been a loser.

      Another crazy idea, let the market decide where to invest money, if people are willing to put money in EVs, let them. If no one wants to, that’s fine, too. Everyone can support whatever technology he likes and believes in.

      • Rob says

        It will probably be these countries that pioneer electric. They won’t have to wean the locals off the idea of private vehicle ownership. I can imagine having personal electric/electric hybrid in the cities and hiring a vehicle if you have to go interstate and can’t use public transport.

  16. Hawk says

    Some years back I saw a Sparrow in Boulder, CO. I was intrigued and eventually got talking with Mike Corbin about such problems as the short range etc. I remember suggesting that they consider a small trailer consisting of a fuel tank and an alternator driven by a small displacement diesel engine. The thought was that it could be designed to run very efficiently at say, 1800 rpm and could be spun up to that speed by the alternator for starting. The idea being that you would leave the trailer in the garage most of the time … dragging it out only when you needed range.

    Mike Corbin wasn’t impressed with the idea though. He saw it as counter productive to the concept of a plugin car.

    Sadly it wasn’t too long after that when some stock manipulator got control of the company and bankrupted it. Always felt sorry for Mike and Tom ….

  17. GenWaylaid says

    All this negativity is really uncharacteristic for the Kneeslider.

    Everybody is aware of the Tesla model S, right? An electric car with a 300 mile range (as long as you don’t drive like a total Broder), with a network of 90kW fast chargers that can fill even that large battery in less than an hour.
    The Supercharger network is only in California and the Northeast at the moment, but there are explicit plans to make it nationwide.

    Whatever the challenges to electric vehicles may be, the model S proves they aren’t technical. Yes, the 300 mile version costs $75000, but according to every review I have read the car is competitive with, if not better than, any other $75k car today. That means the challenges really come down to cost, and to the very elastic curve of what someone is willing to pay for a car vs. what it costs to build.

    Elon Musk may not be much of an engineer himself, but he bought and hired enough talent to create an entire company to build a car that others said couldn’t be built. That makes him a doer in my book.

    As for electric motorcycles, take a look at the latest offerings from Zero or Brammo before passing judgment.

    • Paul Crowe says

      Doing my taxes right now doesn’t help. :-(

      But I’m not being negative, I’m trying to bring the electric discussion back to reality. When a vehicle sells because it receives all sorts of government assistance to make the sale happen, it’s likely to stop selling when the subsidies stop. Then you have created a whole industry that will demand the subsidy continue, because otherwise jobs will be lost, when you didn’t have real jobs based on real demands from customers in the first place. It’s just one more never ending government program with a huge budget.

      Elon Musk is pretty interesting and he brought a lot of his own money to the table creating the Tesla, though I don’t know all of the details, but his cars qualify for the same tax credit every other electric car gets when purchased. Was there any other government money in the equation? Without digging up the info, I don’t know though I wouldn’t be surprised. He does make some great rockets, though.

      Curious why his car gets 300 miles and other cars don’t. Is the higher cost all battery?

      The bottom line is this, I don’t have anything against electric cars or any electric vehicles, I’m just tired of the government spending huge money for a technology that may be a never ending dud, for which there is little demand. If electric cars are the fantastic technology they are purported to be, then there should be no shortage of investors willing to put up their own money instead of always looking to invest your money and mine. The government has no business investing in anything, private individuals can make their own decisions about where to put their money. Government investments too often turnout to be money simply given to favored friends or campaign donors, which explains the extreme failure rate of those “investments.” All of the discussion about whether electric cars are good or bad, successful or failures, needs to be based on the technology and whether it can be manufactured and sold at a profit, not whether it can survive with a never ending stream of taxpayer money.

      • Katya Kakhov says

        Today they announced a $2-billion energy security trust fund . Security and trust , what’s not to like ?

        • Paul Crowe says

          “… what’s not to like ?”

          The $2 billion is slated for more research on green energy and alternative fuel vehicles, which is on top of the $90 billion in stimulus funds already thrown down a black hole “invested” in the same thing.

          Don’t you think it’s about time the supporters of green energy make their own investments and put their own money at risk, and let the market decide if the results are worthwhile instead of risking everyone else’s money?

          • Katya Kakhov says

            Absolutely . The unbending laws of thermodynamics and the market should pick the winners . Unfortunately , looting has emerged as the premiere business model in a fundamentally transformed America .

          • Cowpieapex says

            Our entire economy, for better or worse, is the product of over two centuries of government policy, meddling and graft.
            Should it end now?
            I own my firearms. Produce my own water, veggies, protein and firewood from my own land. I’m not interested in doing without my American civilization,but with my foundry and machine tools I’m ahead of most of those who whine about big gubbmint .
            I’ve earned substantial income working in major refineries that were constructed during WWII by the US Government and subsequently gifted to various oil companies after the war. We have enjoyed decades of inexpensive fuel as a result.
            I’ll be outraged about government support for EV development when we invade Peru and overthrow their government in order to secure access to the lithium deposits on the Altiplano.
            PS I just paid my tax bill, I live in America, flying first class costs more, but I like the legroom and the chow is fine.

  18. todd says

    I worked for an electric vehicle start-up that was promised major funding from the Department of Energy. Wouldn’t you know it, the DOE turned around and awarded it only to companies with investors or advisors that were prominent presidential political donors and supporters. I’m sure cronyism isn’t limited to any particular branch of the government… Now it’s getting all tangled up in a law suit.

    To top it off, now there is evidence that some of our proprietary technology disclosed during the application process was shared with the likes of GM and Ford – how much did they pay the government for that?

    As for the BMW, they really should have done a series hybrid instead of going strictly battery driven. a 100 mile range is only a 50 mile trip and back.


  19. F0ul says

    Everything in this world is linked to politics in some way.

    In this case, BMW need to have an electric car in their range because it will help lower their carbon tax costs.
    The rules state that the carbon tax is payable on the average over the entire range of cars made, not sold.
    Therefore, electric cars save money for the manufacturers, and are not sold to make a profit.

    Isn’t the truth far more gruesome than the theories people can make up?

    • Roel says

      In Holland, and probably in the entire EU, we have labels for a cars fuel economy Where the higher ones give you tax benefits. Sounds ok right?
      However this is calculated by grams of Co2 emissions per KM per m3 (volume) of the car. So by making the car bigger you get a ‘greener’ car. In practice this means it can be cheaper to get a big car because the small efficient ones don’t get subsidized.

      I’m all for making a better world but that system is really stupid. I think cars should be subsidized (or fined) on impact on the environment (use, construction ánd recycling) regardless if the are electric or not. Then we can see which technologies are viable.

  20. B*A*M*F says

    While the price is more than I can pay, this car would be absolutely perfect for either my wife or I. We live within our city, about 8 miles from the downtown business district. We both work within 8 miles of our home. Our routes to work don’t use highways, so we could get some regenerative braking pretty frequently.

    I’d have about 2 trips to and from work on a single charge. I could drive out to see my brother or parents, or my wife’s uncle and aunt. Those are less than 50 mile round trips. If the cost were closer to a similar gas powered car, it would be on my short list to replace my Mazda 3.

    In the event of the 4 hour trip to see the in-laws, we could take my wife’s car, or if I had one of these, borrow a gas powered car from BMW. I don’t look at this as BMW admitting failure. They have done their homework. I’m sure these cars will be used often by some, but seldom by many. It’s just a piece of mind marketing gimmick to get people into the showroom.

  21. Ben says

    Stop whining,most people use there cars to drive to the office and back home,five days a week and thats it-thats what this car is for-get it?
    As far as i’m concerned the more variety there is on the roads the better. i’m tired of dealing with and seeing dickheads in there range rovers,cayenne’s etc clogging up our inner cities on there way to work. The more smaller efficient cars there are the nicer our towns and cities will be.

  22. Wave says

    This sounds like a great service from BMW. You buy this to drive to work every day, and then if you want to go away for the weekend you can swap it for another BMW. What’s not to love? I’m sure plenty of customers will be keen.

  23. says

    I’m with Paul on this.
    Let the market work.
    If somebody comes up with a viable electric vehicle that people actually want and will buy, then they should reap all the rewards for their efforts.
    And the gov’t needs to get/stay out of it.

    In case people seem to be worried about gas prices at the pump being high, you can thank the gov’t for that extra 40-50 cents tax per gallon too.

  24. Katya Kakhov says

    That it is has been done before , or that “they did it too” is no excuse . Theft is still theft , and the scale of it all reached a seemingly unimaginable level with the bailouts . That they passed by and were so soon forgotten like the Howerton/Hannah duel of days past gives little hope for recovery .
    Yes it absolutely must end , and it will do so abruptly . I swear it on my Friedman/Sir Ricardo tattoo . In the end , the market and thermodynamics WILL choose the winners on all fronts . It is as inescapable as gravity . They can juggle as many balls as they like , but will eventually have to stop .

    You mention food , something infinitely more important that scoots and windmills , if Paul will allow me to put a non-sequitorious bug in the ear of the other self sufficient agrarian intellectuals in our midst with a plug for someone who is doing it right . Give a few minutes to peruse the yootoob lectures “Folks’ this aint normal” for a bit of Sunday morning mental floss . It will soon be evident as to why “Everything I want to do is illegal” .

  25. Knightrider says

    Usually like your stuff, but the final paragraph is silly. Oil is a finite resource and alternatives are needed. If you spend any time thinking about energy, then you’ll realize quickly how precarious the situation is. What is that alternative we have? Or do you believe that god or elves at the center of the earth make it for us?
    As for the ‘market’ solution that is mentioned in the comments, it’s not the only solution. A managed transition is one other option. All out war over resources is another. I wonder which path we’ll go down.

  26. Decline says

    I get a bit amazed at the resistance to electric vehicles within the motorcycling community.
    Well…in one way I’m not surprised, as it is kind of steeped in tradition and a bit skeptical and reluctant to changes. But on the other hand, removing the charge times from the equation (which I admit is big removal) there perhaps is no other group as immediately accustomed to planning their trips a bit more carefully than others. Which is essential to electric/battery powered traveling.
    Especially with no fuel gauge, I’ve often had to take a moment and think, will there be gas between these two stretches. Mostly of course, there is. But not always enough so, given the limited tank size of motorcycles, to just set out on a long trip without giving it a thought.
    Both require being aware of where you are in relation to your milage and distance, and it becomes a bit second nature after awhile.

    ….and now I’m thinking of how much I hate that final gas stop going to my parents. But without it, I fall two miles short of their house and 1/2 mile to the nearest gas station.

  27. says

    Pfff. My wife drives a Citroen BX 1400 from 1991. It goes 15 km on a litre of regular. I did testride a hybride car and an electric motorcycle.

    Shaving and riding should not be done electrically

  28. gunner says

    The Swedish government has promised their transport sector shall be free of fossil fuels by 2030. That will be an interesting development to follow. In less than two decades we know how clever Volvo, Scania and their European competitors really are. Or not.

  29. Cowpieapex says

    Every option available at this time for transportation has been “picked” as a winner by my government. Highways and express ways? check so I can use my 3 cars, 3 trucks and 4 motorcycles, bike routes? not so much, though I ride a bicycle to work to pay my taxes.
    A solution to mass transportation that doesn’t involve public policy decisions by our elected representatives is a fairy tail. It hasn’t ever happened any time or anywhere yet.
    On deck for a grand social experiment? Not me I have production to see to, bills to pay and a great homeland to explore.
    If somebody has figured out how to keep from driving up the cost of my preferred motor fuel I would be an idiot to object.

    • Paul Crowe says

      Every option available at this time for transportation has been “picked” as a winner by my government

      No it hasn’t. The government didn’t decide cars were the future and everyone had to get off of their horses, people were doing that on their own, even when cars were new, crude and just getting started, it was obvious they had many advantages over the horse. Cars began using the same dirt roads ridden by horses and wagons and eventually, the government began to pave those roads, in response to an overwhelming need already demonstrated by the people who were buying cars without any incentives to nudge them along.

      Cars companies were springing up all over, too, no incentives to build cars, every guy with a shed was inventing his own version of the horseless carriage and from the many hundreds of companies in the early 20th century, some succeeded in the market, though most fell by the wayside.

      Mass transportation is really the individual car because that’s how the mass of people are transported, and the inventors and builders of cars gave people a choice which they chose over the horse and buggy, they even chose it over the train, which was definitely a government enabled industry. Passenger traffic on trains grew for a while, but only as long as the roads were sparse and car ownership was still growing. When cars and roads were everywhere, when planes became the choice for long distance and when trains lost the government subsidy of being paid to carry the mail, passenger trains quickly became the money losing operation they still are today. Again, people chose to run their own schedules on a technology that met their needs, the car, not on a government funded train that people had to work their schedule to fit.

      Mass transportation advocates rhapsodize over high speed trains and many yearn for the nostalgic days of the passenger train, but as a people carrier, it’s a poor solution in a country like the US, except in limited areas around large cities (and sometimes not even then), or in places like Europe (which they always point to) where the distances are much shorter, places where those mass transportation advocates tend to live and where they view the world through their own experience, ignoring the huge expanse of a country that doesn’t fit into their daily lives. Their policy solutions are always slanted to meet the needs of those like minded folks, not the needs of the whole population which is then asked to pay for their massive projects.

      It’s not a grand social experiment for people to make up their own minds about what is best for their own needs, like transportation, that’s called freedom, it is an experiment to let a small elite force their decisions of what’s best on everyone else, unfortunately that experiment has been run many times throughout history with very poor, sometimes disasterous, results.

      All of these government policy decisions you speak of seem like efforts to replace something that works with something that sounds good.

      • Cowpieapex says

        My point is that the thing that works didn’t become the paradigm for american mobility in the absence of public initiatives but indeed as a result. When the nation was still deep in debt from WWII our government initiated a monumental effort to create the roads and automotive infrastructure that define american freedom while simultaneously defunding mass transit systems.This fact is well sumarised in this from the Federal Highway Administratio.

        “The Interstate System has been called the Greatest Public Works Project in History. From the day President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, the Interstate System has been a part of our culture—as construction projects, as transportation in our daily lives, and as an integral part of the American way of life. Every citizen has been touched by it, if not directly as motorists, then indirectly because every item we buy has been on the Interstate System at some point. President Eisenhower considered it one of the most important achievements of his two terms in office, and historians agree.”

        The EV is only a minor adjustment to this highly successful formula.

        As to the predecessor to the auto, the government still stipulates my legal right of way on my horse who is good for 50 miles a day before he needs overnight to recharge.