The Empulse is looking pretty good. Brammo should be releasing final specs next week, and showing off the final product in a month.. good times indeed.
Here's a response to steve.m, and chilipeppernorm .. you guys have some good points, but here are my thoughts as a rider and an EV enthusiast.
to anyone who touts themself as a hippy tree hugger...food for thought.
the oil we burn is has a massive amount of energy density, it's the most efficient form of transportable energy we have.
Yep. Oil's going nowhere for a long time, it has fantastic energy density, we have a very mature oil distribution infrastructure, and we're very well accustomed to it. As long as charge rates are slow and range is low, EV adoption will remain supplemental at best. Widespread distribution of fast charging stations and improvements in battery capacity and charge speeds will help here. Still, they work well for short trips and commuting for some people - not everyone of course.
batteries require mining lithium, a process that requires huge amounts of energy that exceeds the energy consuption of drilling rigs. this mining (at the moment) is primarily taking place in central and south america, where it is strip mined from underneath what used to be rain forest.
batteries have hazardous chemicals that the earth can not convert to something else. carbon can be absorbed by the planet naturally. it's been here all along, it'll stay here, we're not creating anything new.
Argonne National Laboratories (DOE research lab) has some of the best reports on material and environmental impacts of various battery technologies.
"Costs of Lithium-Ion Batteries for Vehicles", ANL 2000, http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/TA/149.pdf
Lithium batteries don't use metallic lithium, they use lithium carbonate (Li2CO3). As I understand it, these are produced from brines rather than mining lithium metal ores .. but I'm not sure how much environmental damage is caused in the production of the battery materials.
The 7.9 kWh pack in my Zero electric bike has about 2.5 kg of lithium carbonate in it. It can be disposed of in the landfill or recycled at end of life. The lithium salts inside are non-toxic.
The planet can indeed absorb some amount of atmospheric carbon. The problem is that we've taken 100 million years of stored carbon and released it into the atmosphere in the last 100 years. The scientific debate is how much impact that will have for our children, not whether it will have an impact.
the energy consumption required to deliver a finished battery is greater than that used to produce gasoline (read larger carbon footprint)
If you're honestly interested in this sort of thing (er, 2 years later ; ) I would suggest leafing through this report on the energy costs of manufacturing lithium batteries.
"A Review of Battery Life-Cycle Analysis: State of Knowledge and Critical Needs", ANL 2010, http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/B/644.pdf
The "cradle-to-gate" energy inputs for lithium batteries are 1.6 MJ/Wh, or approximately 450 times the energy capacity of the batteries. I plan on putting about 1500 cycles on my bike in its lifetime (figuring 100k miles over 10 years), so we're looking at roughly 2000 times the energy capacity of the batteries all told. (7.9 kWh = 16 MWh total lifetime energy).
100k miles on a similar gas bike (Ninja 250) would use about 2000 gallons of gas. Not counting the actual gas itself, a gallon of gas consumes about 6 kWh of energy to refine (again, per ANL). 12 MWh of energy in a similar lifetime just for the energy used to refine the gas consumed
.. not counting the gas itself, or the energy used to produce the bike.http://gatewayev.org/how-much-electricity-is-used-refine-a-gallon-of-gasoline
so logically being a "tree hugger" is not that at all, as we're cutting them down to obtain the material to make batteries. that justification simply isn't a viable reason for driving electric vehicles unless the technology improves the point that we no longer rely on relatively scarce minerals buried beneath rain forrests to to power our transportation.
just hoping to shed a bit of light on the problem we're facing. we're not going cleaner or better, we're just trading one ecological disaster for another. The solution isn't how to obtain energy from other sources, it's reducing the energy we already consume.
Both reducing energy consumption and using the right type of energy for the job have their role. For example, it makes more sense to heat with natural gas than electric heaters (burning a fuel for heat is more efficient than burning a fuel for heat into steam into a generator into transmission lines into a resistance heater) - and for that same reason, in colder states combustion vehicles make more sense vs EVs than in warmer states.
"There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch" absolutely applies to battery EVs .. but some lunches cost a lot more than others. Even in a coal-heavy state, the Zero emits about as much CO2 as a 100 mpg bike .. and other emission types (at the power plant) are radically lower. And it will get even cleaner as it ages and the grid slowly becomes cleaner, vs a gas bike whose catalytic converters (if any are even installed!) break down over the lifetime of the bike.
Thank you Steve! In addition to your points we also have to consider that the generation of the electricity to charge the battery still comes from a fossil fuel power plant most likely. Additional points:
1) Electric cars or bikes barely have the legs to get you out of town, much less to the next county, or across the state or country.
That's true - but it misses the point a bit. The last month I rode 1000 miles on my electric bike (all of my commuting and short trips, 30-70 miles per day), 400 miles on the gas bike (200 mile trip to visit friends), and drove about 80 miles in my gas car (groceries and hauling cargo).For me
the electric bike's range (65-75 miles at 45-55 mph type speeds) is enough for the majority of my riding, and so it makes sense.
2) Should you have a month or so to take a modest road trip, who's going to let you plug your bike or car in to charge the battery at their expense. My GSA gets 350 miles on a single tank with a heavy throttle hand. You'd have to stop and recharge 4 or more times for that range.
Electric bikes aren't presently well suited for long road trips. Using an electric bike today for touring makes about as much sense as using a big SUV for single person commuting : P Use the right tool for the job.
The largest battery for Tesla's Model S (releasing very soon) has ~250 miles of freeway range and can charge ~120 freeway miles in 30 minutes. We're 5+ years away from being able to do the same on an electric touring bike.. but here's what a day on an electric touring bike might look like.
0600-0900 200 miles
0900-0930 stop and charge for 30 minutes
0930-1130 120 miles
1130-1230 lunch, stop and charge for an hour
1230-1530 200 miles
1530-1600 stop and charge for 30 minutes
1600-1800 120 miles
1800-1900 dinner, stop and charge for an hour
1900-2200 200 miles
800+ miles in a day won't win any Iron Butt rallies, but I need to stop every couple hours on my gas bike anyhow.
We're a long ways off from the infrastructure to do this - we need 30 kWh battery packs, fairings, and widespread 48 kW charging stations. And even assuming batteries continue to drop in price, an electric touring bike (250 freeway miles, 120 mile charge in 30 minutes) in 2017-2020 might cost $20-25k .. so not cheap.
3) Electric vehicles have NO SOUL. Who doesn't thrill to the sound of the lumpy idle of a big block Chevy, Ford, or Mopar engine, or the song of a Ducati, Aprilia V4, or Triumph Triple at full throttle?
EVs are quiet, not silent. Believe me, there's an advantage to being able to blast down the road without advertising your presence to every cop nearby .. or to sneaking out of the house at 5 am. I run with a friend at 5 am a couple times per week, and it's nice to not have neighbors complaining about being woken up while my carb'ed bike warms up for a few minutes outside..
EVs have a different visceral feel than combustion engines. You can call that "SOUL" if you like. To me, the way they accelerate feels like you're on an express elevator .. a sort of effortless shove forward. Riding an electric bike doesn't diminish my appreciation for my gas bike or vice versa.
4) Imagine going to an AMA Superbike or MotoGP race with electric racers. You look up from reading your Golf Digest which you brought to add some excitement, and here they twaddle by. The bikes and riders leathers are all adorned with new sponsorship decals and patches; Amy's Silken Tofu Burgers, Birkenstock Racing Sandals, Ridex Dreadlock Delousing Treatment, while the riders proudly tuck in with their Man Purses trailing in the modest breeze. You wander down to the pits and paddock with the smell of ozone and patchouli oil in the air. The umbrella and booth girls are dressed to kill in sleeveless knee length billowing tie-die moo moo's sporting enough hair in each armpit to look like they have Don King in a headlock on both sides, and calves like a Sasquatch. Mechanics in the pits are wielding battery chargers on carts and repairing broken Man Purse straps. Welcome to the Save the Earth, Sustainable, Eco Friendly 18 Mile at Infineon Raceway.