Getz it on (bang a gong )

by Gareth on September 26, 2008

getz(notstan).jpg Hyundai has announced that it will be the first manufacturer to sell an electric car in New Zealand – a Getz modified in NZ by engineer Ross Blades. The petrol engine will be removed and replaced by an electric drive unit and battery pack. Range will be 120 km, with a quick recharge able to boost that to 200 km. Top speed is 120 kph. The first production unit has been sold and will be delivered in November, and Hyundai is planning to produce 200 cars per year. No news on price yet. [Hat tip: frog]

The range is more than enough for most of my needs, but I’d still rather have a Tesla.

[Title reference]

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

cindy September 29, 2008 at 12:17 pm

hmmm. So if all NZ cars were electric, how many more coal-fired power stations would we have to build? How many more dams? How many more windfarms?

Electric cars get us away from oil… but will they get us away from coal?

I heard a reference once that if all German cars were electric, they’d have to build 40 new coal-fired power stations to power them. No reference here, and no stats on how big they’d have to be… but you get my point.

Stephen September 29, 2008 at 12:23 pm

It will take a very very long time for the entire fleet to convert to electric cindy – decades, easily. You don’t expect at least some of progress on the energy production front (new or simply more efficient forms), or even the CCS front in that period of time? Worth noting that with the ETS, one would expect the prospect of building non-CCS coal plants would have to be pretty low.

greg September 29, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Cindy,

It is worth noting the internal combustion engine in a car is very inefficient at turning petrol in motion. The best cars achieve ~30% efficient at optimum rpm.

An electric motor in comparison is about 80% efficient and doesn’t waste energy idling, and maintains efficiency across a wide range of rpm. It is also much easier to shift electrons around the country than tankers.

The point is even if you were to run the entire New Zealand vehicle fleet of coal power, you’d end up with less GHGs not more. Also air quality would be better as coal power stations have much better scrubbers than the exhaust of a car.

Also worth noting that since we’re already so inefficient at using electricity here – even if which were to switch the entire vehicle fleet to electric the total electricity consumption wouldn’t rise very much. I’ve seen the numbers – but forgotten them (I think it was around a 20% increase – Any one here remember?)

If you don’t buy it – do the calculations yourself – look up the kwh/km ratings of some electric cars, and multiply that by the number of km driven in NZ each year. You’ll be surprised at how low the number is.

Were also lucky to have a good renewable resource here – and a strategy to have more – which means electric vehicles will become and even better option.

But despite all the advocacy I’m happy on my bicycle….

Stephen September 29, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Well said greg, i’d forgotten about all that.

cindy September 29, 2008 at 2:17 pm

Stephen/Greg

If I’m waiting for technological advances, perhaps I’d wait for that on cars as well. Even if powered by electricity, they still take a large amount of energy to produce in the first place (some of Solid Energy’s coal goes, for example, to the Mitsubishi factory in Japan). OK we may not produce them here (therefore use the excuse that they’re not our emissions?) but we buy them.

Whichever way you look at it, we need to reduce the number of cars on the road (yay for your bike Greg!).

In the meantime some basics here in NZ would help: look at central Govt subsidies to Regional Govt. Right now it’s 100% for roads; 50% for public transport. And some efficiency standards for cars would also be handy. Most others in the western world have them… even China.

CCS? Weell, that’s still a HUGE unknown. Unproven, expensive, and certainly not the excuse the coal industry is currently using to build new plants. Then there’s the liability issues…

rata September 29, 2008 at 2:35 pm

not convinced greg. internal combustion are inefficient, but so are coal fired power stations <50% for the most part (huntly is <40% efficient, but thats not a good example). multiply that by 80% efficiency of the electric motor and you’re not looking much better than that of the internal combustion engine. add in losses in charging batteries and your energy efficiency just aint that great.

whats important of course, is GHG emissions per km, and since coal puts out more GHG per energy than petrol, running coal fired power stations to run electric cars just doesn’t add up.

“renewable” generation, especially when it includes damming wild rivers like the mokihinui isn’t a great way to go either.

really we need to reduce our dependence on cars, rather than pushing the problem around without solving the underlying issue.

i’m pretty happy on my bike too.

Greg September 29, 2008 at 11:18 pm

Ok – this is what I get when I plug in the numbers….

First a comparison between electric and combustion efficiency:

An electric car requires on average: 0.1–0.23 kW·h/km [1]. Petrol has an average energy content of around 9.7kW.h/l (35Mj [2][3]). This adds up to 0.485 kW.h/km[4] even if you take a very efficient petrol car (i.e. 5l/100km). So the average electric car is 2-4 times more efficient at using energy than a very efficient petrol car.

Second – what percentage increase in electricity generation would New Zealand require to power 100% of our vehicles:

New Zealanders travelled 37.33 billion vehicle kilometres in 2000[5]. So if this entire fleet were changed over to electricity – the total electricity use per year is: 3,700 – 8,700 GW.h [7]. New Zealands yearly electricity consumption 38,545 GW.h 2007[6] So thats about 10 to 23% of New Zealands current electricity generation.

I’m not advocating powering cars on coal. I’d just like to point out that our existing electricity system will be able to handle electric cars.

Thirdly, I think when you include the embodied energy in petrol is likely even greater than coal – especially if you take into account that the US military burn through as much fuel as their entire domestic economy! Also remember that petrol is at a big disadvantage already given the 2-4 time efficiency advantage of the electric motor.

So I still think even if we were to fuel our vehicles from coal we’d be ahead on GHG emissions and particulate emissions – luckily the whole point is moot given that we already have 60% renewables and it looks like our wind and geothermal capacity is growing fast.

Fourth, I completely agree with you Cindy that doing without a car is the less-resource option, however if someone is facing a choice between an electric or a petrol vehicle – I’d suggest that the electric is the far better option in terms of GHGs and air pollution.

Thanks for the interesting discussion.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_car#Energy_efficiency_and_carbon_dioxide_emissions
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline#Energy_content
[3] http://www.unitconversion.org/energy/megajoules-to-watt-hours-conversion.html
[4] 9.7 kW.h/l * 0.05 l/km = 0.485 kW.h/km
[5] http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/ser/enz07-summary-dec07/html/page4-transport.html
[6] http://www.med.govt.nz/templates/ContentTopicSummary____21417.aspx
[7] 0.1KW.h/km * 37.33 billon km = 3,700 GW.h. 0.485KW.h/km * 37.33 billon km = 8,700 GW.h

Owen McShane October 6, 2008 at 11:20 am

Why do you assume that public transport is more energy efficient that private vehicle transport?
The facts show otherwise.
The “whole of day use” of the private motor car is more energy efficient that the “whole of day use” of trains and buses. (think payloads – even the car with only the driver is 25% loaded.)
And this efficiency gap will increase over time especially with electric cars managed by intelligent transport networks.
And nuclear power solves your difficulties with coal.

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