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There has been a bit more news on the electric vehicle front since my last post: Tesla: The Free Market Cometh. It seems Honda might be making a breakthrough of sorts–maybe–by 2022-ish. The Drive.com reports:

According to Nikkei, the world’s largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines claims it will have EVs capable of a full charge in just 15 minutes by 2022.

The key to Honda’s plan is the battery itself. Honda currently sources batteries for plug-in hybrids from Panasonic and is looking for a partner to collaborate with on its new, quick charging battery. Honda is also working with the unique challenges of electrified cars by engineering lighter bodies that are able to go farther on a single battery charge to reduce the range anxiety that’s been plaguing EV drivers since their introduction. The goal for 2022 is for a Honda EV to go 150 miles on a 15-minute charge.

As I’ve often noted, there are essentially three ways to improve the range of an EV: lighten the entire vehicle, make it more aerodynamic, or produce a nearly unimaginable breakthrough in battery technology. Each of these factors demands substantial trade offs. Cars that are light enough to make a real difference must be very small–Chevy Bolt small or smaller–and of necessity, more dangerous in accidents. We’re pretty much at the aerodynamic limits, but an additional mile or two of range might still be squeezed out somehow. And that brings us back to battery technology.

Currently, the fastest quick chargers are able to charge an EV battery to about 80 percent in roughly 30 minutes. That’s pretty good, but still not good enough to establish widespread acceptance of electric vehicles with drivers who are used to the convenience of quickly filling fuel tanks for internal combustion engines in five minutes anywhere in the world’s massive network of gas stations.

Not mentioned is such quick chargers are very expensive, use an enormous amount of energy, and are virtually nonexistent in the real world. Even if this optimistic prediction comes to pass, even 15 minutes will not be enough to allow EVs to capture significant market share. They’ll still cost far more than comparable conventional vehicles, still have much less range, still take longer to refuel, still have all the limitations of EVs beyond range, and if generous pubic cash infusions for EVs are rescinded, as is at least possible under the current administration, that pretty much tells the story.

And there is news from Tesla, the company that promises much and delivers, well, not much of late. The Guardian reports:

In typical Musk style, the CEO had hyped the truck on Twitter throughout the week. On Sunday, he promised that it ‘will blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension’, while on Wednesday he teased that the truck ‘can transform into a robot, fight aliens and make one hell of a latte.”

There was no espresso machine to be seen, but Musk did promise a laundry list of features that he claimed would ensure the overall cost of ownership will be 20% less per mile compared with diesel trucks. Among them: faster acceleration, better uphill performance, a 500-mile (805km) range at maximum weight at highway speed, and ‘thermonuclear explosion-proof glass’ in the windshield.

Safety features include enhanced autopilot, lane-keeping technology, and a design that makes jackknifing ‘impossible’, Musk said.

The company plans to build a network of ‘Megachargers’ (as opposed to the ‘Superchargers’ used by other Tesla vehicles) that can produce a 400-mile charge in 30 minutes.

Go here to refresh your memory on Tesla’s “supercharger” technology and network.

Musk claimed it would be ‘economic suicide’ to continue using diesel trucks, saying the Tesla version, if driven in convoy, would be cheaper than shipping goods by rail.

Do you see the inherent problems, gentle readers? I mean, beyond Tesla’s dismal record of delivering promised vehicles on time? Briefly, the only way such vehicles could be remotely competitive with conventional trucks is if megachargers were ubiquitous, pretty much everywhere. And there’s the “in convoy” bit. Will Tesla place multiple chargers at each charging station? If not, a three-vehicle convoy is going to take 90 minutes to recharge, and that’s if Tesla’s promised 400-mile charge is remotely accurate. Oh, and recharging batteries of that size and power will take an enormous amount of electrical energy, which doesn’t come from unicorn farts and fairy dust. The truck looks cool, but there’s much to prove before diesels become a thing of the past.

How much power, you ask? Ft.com has an idea:

One of Europe’s leading energy consultancies has estimated that Tesla’s electric haulage truck will require the same power as up to 4,000 homes to recharge, calculations that raise questions over the project’s viability.

Why yes. I guess that would raise such questions.

John Feddersen, chief executive of Aurora Energy Research, a consultancy set up in 2013 by a group of Oxford university professors, said the power required for the megacharger to fill a battery in that amount of time would be 1,600 kilowatts.

That is the equivalent of providing power for 3,000-4,000 “average” houses, he told a London conference last week, and is 10 times as powerful as Tesla’s current network of “superchargers” for its electric cars.  Tesla declined to comment on the calculations.

I’m sure Tesla did, which didn’t keep Elon Musk from making claims that should be taken with a block of salt:

Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, has previously said the megachargers would be solar-powered but the company has not confirmed whether they will also have a grid connection for when it is not sunny.

Solar power. Right. Maybe if the chargers were all connected to the Tonopah Solar Plant, which is mostly successful in flash frying birds on the wing… But maybe I’m just being overly pessimistic:

Other experts in battery technology have claimed that charging a truck in half an hour would require technology exceeding anything available. ‘The fastest chargers today can support up to around 450kW charging, so it’s not clear yet how Tesla will achieve their desired charging speeds,’ said Colin McKerracher, head of advanced transport at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a consultancy.

Un-huh. I guess I’m not. But here is yet another battery powered conveyance breaking the boundaries of science, and causing a great many to ask “why?” Science Alert.com has the story:

As reported by China Daily, the 2,000-metric-ton ship was launched in the city of Guangzhou last month and runs in the inland section of the Pearl River.

Constructed by Guangzhou Shipyard International Company Ltd, it can travel 80 kilometres (approximately 50 miles) after being charged for two hours. As noted by Clean Technica, two hours is roughly the amount of time it would take to unload the ship’s cargo while docked.

Other stats for China’s cargo ship include being 70.5 metres (230 feet) in length, a battery capacity of 2,400 kWh, and a travel speed of 12.8 kilometres per hour (8 miles per hour).

Fifty miles? Remember how EV manufacturers claim 50 miles, which tends, in the real world, operated by real people, to be about half that?

“As the ship is fully electric powered, it poses no threats to the environment,’ said Huang Jialin, general manager of Hangzhou Modern Ship Design & Research Co, the company behind the ship’s design.

Of course not. The environment has always been the top priority of murderous Communist dictatorships. The electricity to recharge this particular ship must be generated by uniquely Chinese unicorn farts and fairy dust. Actually, irony abounds:

Ironically, the world’s first all-electric cargo ship is being used to move coal, according to Chen Ji, general manger of Guangzhou Shipyard International.

And why would it need to transport coal?  Why, to heat and cook, and to fuel electric generating plants, which provide the electricity to charge–you guessed it–the ship transporting coal. That’s kind of like no-calorie chocolate truffles: all of the benefit, and none of the downside. Clever, those Chinese.