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Old 02-13-2019, 05:53 PM
Translucent Daydream is offline
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Is keeping my car better for the environment than getting a new one?


I have a 1992 Olds Cutlass Ciera that is my daily driver. I bought it about 5 years ago for $600 bucks, 3.3 liter V6 and an auto tranny. I have driven it across the country, its pretty reliable. Its starting to run a little rough, its time for another tune up. Its got 170,000 miles or so, and still passes emissions testing with flying colors.

The last time I had an emission test done on it, they did it three times because they didn't believe that the figures they were getting were correct, they were lower than newer cars that they test. After three hours and multiple tests on different cars, they passed it finally and asked me what the hell I did to the car to get the emissions so low. I didn't do anything, just changed the oil and simple stuff like that.

Its getting time to invest in another tune up, which I do myself since I am an engineer and its pretty simple technology. I am also going to have to put another set of struts on it and redo the air conditioning system. This is going to run me about 500 or so in parts with the tune up and all the components. I am also looking at needing to finally get the transmission rebuilt sooner or later, as the downshift solenoid is starting to crap out and I have to downshift every once in a while manually to get it to return to first. Maybe three times a week. I'm not much for working on automatic transmissions, so that gets farmed out. Probably going to cost a grand.

So I'm looking at $1,500 bucks or so. Not too bad, because I figure that I couldn't get a $1,500 dollar car and not expect to have to throw money at it right away.

But whats best for the environment? My guess is that its better to maintain the car and keep it going because there is a lot of carbon spent melting down metal to make a new car and all the parts, and all the transportation for all the parts and the car itself to get to the dealer, and then all the carbon spent manufacturing the damn thing. Its not really a money concern, as I could go get a new car and finance it if I had to.

But I don't know that for sure. If I went out and bought a Prius or something like that, it would take more years and more miles than I drive to break even on the carbon outlay for the new car.

Does anyone have a better idea on whats better for the planet in the long run?

If it matters, the car gets 32 on the highway, like 24 in town. I drive about 15 miles to 20 miles a day.

Thanks for the replies. It will help settle a friendly bet with a coworker who feels that my estimation for the carbon cost of a new car is wrong.
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Old 02-13-2019, 09:28 PM
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Agree with your assessment.
Average 2007 car contains 2700lb (1223kg) of steel, 327lb (148kg) of aluminum and 1117lb (507kg) of Plastic.
Cite :https://www.etf.com/sections/feature...ars?nopaging=1

Agreed that some of the above can be recycled but most of it won’t get recycled. The plastics will remain for many years to come and the heavy metals may contaminate ground water.

So overall you are better off keeping your old car.
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Old 02-14-2019, 07:31 AM
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How strongly do you feel about using fossil fuel at all?

For myself, I have sworn off gas cars completely, to the point of driving even low-range electric cars on long road trips. I very much realize this is not for everyone. But in case you are interested:

From you OP, I estimate you use 240 gallons of gasoline per year, if you literally meant driving every day (or on average). That's 5 barrels full of gasoline.

Imagine having those 5 barrels standing in you living room.

You could cut that in half by driving a Prius. A good used Prius seems to be available for maybe $8000.

Or you could cut it to zero by driving an electric car. I offer for your consideration an used BMW i3. These are ridiculously expensive when new but a Google search seems to show them available for about $15000 used. It will easily cover 20 miles of driving range. I single out this model because it is known for "environmentally friendly" production and from my own anecdotal experience wears very well (including the battery). Even a used one should easily last another decade and beyond with very little maintenance.

YMMV!
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Old 02-14-2019, 07:55 AM
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I'd agree with your assessment, esp. when considering a Prius or other battery-laden vehicle. I've been reading recently about the cost (monetary, social and environmental) of these lithium-ion batteries. Mining Li requires copious amounts of water, and much of the currently mined lithium comes from the high deserts of South America (Bolivia/Chile). The use of water is not the only environmental impact. My post doesn't cover the disposal costs of these things, either.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/lith...ronment-impact
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/m...-at-what-cost/

Additionally, there is concern over cobalt (used in the cathode of Li-ion batts) mining in the Congo. There are no environmental or child-labor laws there; the social impact could be considered as significant.

https://www.designnews.com/electroni...63068579258429
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cobalt-...investigation/

Additionally, gasoline (Gasoline 46.4 MJ/L) has many times the energy content of a Li-ion cell (Lithium-ion battery 0.36Ė0.875 MJ/L). However, one could argue that an ICE converts much of that energy to waste/heat as well as powering the vehicle. I can't find a link to where I first read this density info, so this comes from WikiP.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density

My research has only been going on for about a week. I'm both intrigued and saddened by what I'm learning.
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Old 02-14-2019, 08:24 AM
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This article says the carbon footprint of manufacturing a car varies from about 6 tons for a sub-compact to 35 tons for a large SUV.

A gallon of gas produces 8.65 kg of CO2. Assuming 26 mpg average and 20 miles per day, the OP's car is producing about 2.4 tons of CO2 per year. So if the OP upgrades to a new car that gets 36 mpg average, that would be a saving of about 1 ton of CO2 a year. If that took 10 tons CO2 to manufacture, it would take 10 years to break even.

Frankenstein Monster is right though, that at 15-20 miles typical daily driving distance, an electric or plug-in hybrid car may be a good fit for the OP. And I can attest that a good quality Chevy Volt can be had for less than $10,000 and will never use gasoline except on long road trips. Of course, depending on where you live, your electricity may come from burning coal, but even then, you will reduce your per-mile carbon footprint.

Last edited by scr4; 02-14-2019 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 02-14-2019, 08:30 AM
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Not sure if this is the correct thread for a long discussion of environmental pros and cons, but one quick note, I think relevant:

The materials used in an electric car, including by far most of the battery, don't wear out. After it is "worn out", all those elements are still there.

It goes without saying that they should be recycled. Insofar as not done today, that should be fixed.

In contrast, the fossil fuels are used up and they are gone. You need to make more and more continuously.
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Old 02-14-2019, 08:46 AM
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I second scr4's tip of a used Chevy Volt, if you have a way of charging it. I'll do the daily 20 miles on electricity alone, yet it will work beyond that as a normal car for anyone. Don't have to be a hardcore electric car enthusiast.
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Old 02-14-2019, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by shunpiker View Post
I've been reading recently about the cost (monetary, social and environmental) of these lithium-ion batteries. Mining Li requires copious amounts of water, and much of the currently mined lithium comes from the high deserts of South America (Bolivia/Chile). The use of water is not the only environmental impact. My post doesn't cover the disposal costs of these things, either.
This is true, but this needs to be weighed against the huge environmental & social cost of oil production (including damage done by fracking), transport and refining.

Quote:
Additionally, there is concern over cobalt (used in the cathode of Li-ion batts) mining in the Congo....
Because that's the cheapest source of cobalt now. But there are others.

Quote:
Additionally, gasoline (Gasoline 46.4 MJ/L) has many times the energy content of a Li-ion cell ..
This is irrelevant to the discussion of environmental impact. Energy density affects how big the energy storage device in your car is. That's it.

Last edited by scr4; 02-14-2019 at 08:54 AM.
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Old 02-14-2019, 09:31 AM
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If you have a garage or other way of charging and plug-in electric vehicle, I can recommend a Nissan Leaf, 2013 model or later. (The pre-2013 models had issues with the batteries.) Your 15-20 miles a day is well within the Leaf's nominal range of 70-100 miles per charge. We had a 2013 for several years, it was my wife's daily driver, and she loved it. She was very sad when we moved and her longer daily commute made a Leaf impractical.
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Old 02-14-2019, 10:04 AM
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According to this report (PDF link, table at the end), a normal car causes 6 metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions to manufacture, while a normal electric car causes 9 tons.

The latter equals four year's worth of driving your current car.

Driving the electric car would cause at worst half the amount of emission of your current car, assuming moderately dirty electricity at 500gCO2eq/kWh, or potentially much better depending on what your source of electricity is. All the way down to practically zero if you can use hydro, wind, nuclear and/or solar panels (your own or not).

Driving an electric car for 20 miles takes only 5-6 kWh of electricity. It only takes a tiny solar installation to make that.
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Old 02-15-2019, 12:14 AM
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But we're not trying to equate the 6 metric tons of a different new ICE car to the 9 of a new electric car, we're trying to equate the 0 tons of an existing car (that was sunk ages ago) to the 9 metric tons of a new electric car.

I don't see a lot of reason to rebuild the transmission on such an old car, in this case. the shift lever provides your known workaround. Limp it along until the mechanical parts of the engine wear beyond anything but a rebuild to make it burn efficiently, and then recycle the whole shebang.
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Old 02-15-2019, 06:48 AM
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You, as an individual, have no impact on the environment at all in your decision to purchase new or keep what you have. Manufacturers sell every car they make, and they're all put into service. No one at the factory is going to say, "Hey, Translucent Daydream" bought one, so we better keep the factory open 55 seconds longer!"

If you buy new and scrap your Olds, then at least it won't remain in service.

If you want to make an impact, you have to gather thousands of people and convince them collectively to stop buying new cars, or start a financial crisis and get millions to collectively stop buying new cars.

So, really, just do what makes you happiest without worrying about environmental impact.
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Old 02-15-2019, 07:19 AM
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We can't assume zero emissions for the electricity unless the OP lives somewhere with all nuke/renewable generation. But of course in that case you have to consider the upstream emissions from the fuel, not just the combustion emissions.
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Old 02-15-2019, 07:59 AM
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But we're not trying to equate the 6 metric tons of a different new ICE car to the 9 of a new electric car, we're trying to equate the 0 tons of an existing car (that was sunk ages ago) to the 9 metric tons of a new electric car.

I don't see a lot of reason to rebuild the transmission on such an old car, in this case. the shift lever provides your known workaround. Limp it along until the mechanical parts of the engine wear beyond anything but a rebuild to make it burn efficiently, and then recycle the whole shebang.
Remember that he will be selling his current vehicle. If it isn't scrapped (which likely depends on the transmission), odds are good that it will replace someone else's even worse beater. So the OP will reduce his daily emissions, and so will whoever picks up his current vehicle.
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Old 02-15-2019, 09:16 AM
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So, really, just do what makes you happiest without worrying about environmental impact.
Some of us find that reducing our environmental impact makes us happy.

Last edited by scr4; 02-15-2019 at 09:16 AM.
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Old 02-15-2019, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by am77494 View Post
Agree with your assessment.
Average 2007 car contains 2700lb (1223kg) of steel, 327lb (148kg) of aluminum and 1117lb (507kg) of Plastic.
Cite :https://www.etf.com/sections/feature...ars?nopaging=1

Agreed that some of the above can be recycled but most of it wonít get recycled
.
(Bolding mine)
This is entirely incorrect. Even with the composition as given above (and I question the ďplasticĒ content given there), at least 2/3 will be recycled. Likely more than that. So in fact most will be recycled.

Itís been a while since I was in that industry, but even a decade ago, the typical path for an obsolete car was: First it goes to a parts yard. Certain parts will get pulled to use in other, similar cars. High value recyclables get pulled manually. (Catalytic converters, aluminum rims etc). The hulk, stripped to whatever extent, is flattened and shipped to a shredder. There it is smashed into fist-sized pieces. These are then separated - by magnet, by hand, by fluids, by eddy-current technology. Anything metallic is recovered for recycling. There is some use for the waste, but much of it indeed gets landfilled. I seem to recall waste percentages in the high teens, but could be wrong. I have to believe recovery and use percentages have if anything improved since then.
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Old 02-15-2019, 12:37 PM
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If you want to make an impact, you have to gather thousands of people and convince them collectively to stop buying new cars, or start a financial crisis and get millions to collectively stop buying new cars.
I agree with the point about an individual's actions having no major effect. But the market force of people collectively purchasing electric vehicles also puts pressure on energy infrastructure changes. i.e. the more electric car owners, the more need of electric charging, the greater the political pressure to have green energy production.
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Old 02-15-2019, 01:44 PM
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I agree with the point about an individual's actions having no major effect. But the market force of people collectively purchasing electric vehicles also puts pressure on energy infrastructure changes. i.e. the more electric car owners, the more need of electric charging, the greater the political pressure to have green energy production.
While I agree, I wasn't comparing ICE and electric. There's a lot of pollution and waste as a result of building a vehicle, whether or not it's a Tesla or an F-350 diesel. One might think that moving from and old Olds to a Tesla is a no-brainer as a means to improve his impact on the environment. Given the impact on the environment caused by simply building that Model 3, though, it might be argued that it's better to keep the Olds.

My point is, it doesn't matter. Someone's going to buy that Model 3, and choosing not to buy it won't have any impact at all on the environment.
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Old 02-15-2019, 02:40 PM
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If you want to make an impact, you have to gather thousands of people and convince them collectively to stop buying new cars, or start a financial crisis and get millions to collectively stop buying new cars.

So, really, just do what makes you happiest without worrying about environmental impact.
There's a contradiction here. The person is obviously one of those 1000s who've been convinced by others to be a better consumer environment-wise. Telling them to do what makes them happiest is undoing the convincing. That's not something you want to do. There's also the fact that the first step to convincing others should be to set an example to others.
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Old 02-15-2019, 04:42 PM
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Whereabouts do you live? A story currently doing the rounds is that electric cars have a severely reduced range in low temperatures.
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Old 02-15-2019, 04:53 PM
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Whereabouts do you live? A story currently doing the rounds is that electric cars have a severely reduced range in low temperatures.
From what I've heard, those stories are greatly exaggerated. Yes, they do have lower range because you have to run the heat and defrost off the battery, but most people have far more range that they actually need for daily commutes, so it's not really an issue. ICE cars also have decreased range for basically the same reason and no one writes stories about that.
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Old 02-15-2019, 08:12 PM
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ICE cars also have decreased range for basically the same reason and no one writes stories about that.
To be fair, when your ICE car runs low on dino, unless you are in some remote unpopulated area, you just pop into a nearby fueling station for 2 or 3 minutes and refuel. It's not a big deal and people do it routinely. When your electric vehicle runs out of electrons, first you have to find a recharging station and then you have to plug it in for 2 or 3 hours (correct me if I'm wrong). So it's a much greater inconvenience.
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Old 02-16-2019, 10:04 AM
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To be fair, when your ICE car runs low on dino, unless you are in some remote unpopulated area, you just pop into a nearby fueling station for 2 or 3 minutes and refuel. It's not a big deal and people do it routinely. When your electric vehicle runs out of electrons, first you have to find a recharging station and then you have to plug it in for 2 or 3 hours (correct me if I'm wrong). So it's a much greater inconvenience.
Also in the really cold my ICE range drops from 420 miles to 400 miles (maybe, probably not even that much). My coworkerís Nissan Leaf drops from 140 miles to 90 miles.

I have thought about range maybe ten times in 35 years. Electric car owners talk about range ALL THE TIME. In between angry denials that range is an issue!
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Old 02-16-2019, 10:57 AM
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Better still if you can do without a car altogether
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Old 02-16-2019, 11:48 AM
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Volkswagen is promising to make 100% carbon neutralcars in the (near) future.

Scribd link, e.g., page 41 and 48

They promise that the upcoming "ID" model, to be available in a year will be already CO2 neutral.

I'm not taking this at face value - for one thing, that promise relies significantly on "compensation" aka "indulgences" - but, relevant to the OP's question:

Technology is improving and things change. Tomorrow's tech will be better than today's tech.

So a worthwhile consideration regarding car replacement might be: keep the old car for some more time, while waiting for future cars that will be manufactured with greatly improved emission footprint (as well as better data on what the emission footprint of that future car is).

Last edited by Frankenstein Monster; 02-16-2019 at 11:49 AM.
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Old 02-21-2019, 11:17 AM
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I have read everything and was going to reply yesterday, but the Oldsmobile actually broke down oddly enough. It got me to work, but the water pump bypass hose busted and I shot my coolant all over the place, which is a bummer.

So I had to fix it. I replaced it while I was at work for 8 dollars, and put new coolant in the car and bled out all the air in the system. It is holding in like a champ. I was thinking the entire time I was replacing it (about a 20 minute job) if this car were electric I wouldn't be doing this...

I think after reading everything I am going to keep this car alive until I can buy a carbon neutral electric car to replace it. I have gathered that that would be the best use of carbon I could do. Does this sound like the best use of carbon?

The area I am in gets pretty hot in the summer (100F) but gets pretty cold in the winter as well (-10F). I understand that it will make a battery in a car preform worse and take some of the useful life off of it, but I don't drive that far each day and I don't think that the range issue would be an issue so much.

I think I could make the switch to an electric since the wife has a brand new Sonata and I have a '68 Volkswagen if I need to drive further than 80 miles or so in a day.
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Old 02-21-2019, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Alley Dweller View Post
To be fair, when your ICE car runs low on dino, unless you are in some remote unpopulated area, you just pop into a nearby fueling station for 2 or 3 minutes and refuel. It's not a big deal and people do it routinely. When your electric vehicle runs out of electrons, first you have to find a recharging station and then you have to plug it in for 2 or 3 hours (correct me if I'm wrong). So it's a much greater inconvenience.
Not if it's a level 3 charger. Those are 400+ volts and will recharge in about 20 minutes. That's to about 80% charge. Unless you're going on a long trip, that's all you want, because leaving the battery at a greater charge shortens its life.

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Originally Posted by TheMightyAtlas View Post
Electric car owners talk about range ALL THE TIME. In between angry denials that range is an issue!
EV owners talk so much about range for basically the same reason ICE owners talk so much about the price of gas. Mostly habit because at one time, it was a significant factor.

Last edited by dtilque; 02-21-2019 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 02-21-2019, 12:13 PM
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Electric car owners talk about range ALL THE TIME. In between angry denials that range is an issue!
Electric car owners talk about range because we keep having to explain why it's a non-issue.

Last edited by scr4; 02-21-2019 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 02-21-2019, 12:38 PM
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Driving an electric car for 20 miles takes only 5-6 kWh of electricity. It only takes a tiny solar installation to make that.
Define 'tiny'. A 5 kW home solar system will take up about 250- 400 square feet of space, depending on panel type and layout. Assuming it's angled perfectly and south facing, the average power return per year in the U.S. for such a system is about 7,000 kWh. If you live farther north than average, or in a cloudier or snowier place than average, this number will be lower. That's about 19 kWh per day.

So if you had a fairly large home solar panel system, charging your car to go 20 miles will use up about 25-30% of your entire daily power generation, and take quite a few hours. That's the best case scenario. If your system is older, or you are using it to charge a battery then charge your car from that (most charging is done in the evening and at night, when there is no sun) subtract another 10-20% in losses.

Or put another way: To fully charge a Nissan Leaf battery from an average 5 kW solar system would take about two days of 100% output. That will take you about 150 miles. So if you dedicated a 5 kW solar system just to charging your car, you could drive about 27,000 km per year with perfect assumptions. The solar system that could do that would cost you about $15,000 for parts, probably $20,000 to $25,000 installed.
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Old 02-21-2019, 02:20 PM
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Does this sound like the best use of carbon?
You know, you can buy your own carbon offsets from various companies, so if you're willing to spend a little bit extra, you can become carbon neutral no matter which option you choose.
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Old 02-22-2019, 10:32 AM
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Electric car owners talk about range because we keep having to explain why it's a non-issue.
I just got back from an out of town meeting where our Tesla driving colleague stayed at a different hotel than the rest of us because it had a rapid charging station. If he wasnít a VP he would have to get authorization to stay at a ďnon preferredĒ hotel. And ďmy car prefers this hotelĒ isnít a valid reason. Next time heís going to be given a company car, most of us would be laughed at if we requested that. When the bosses want ten people at a meeting 150-200 miles away from the office, they donít want to deal with peopleís car issues.

Same with the soccer/ski/hockey dad with the Leaf. He has to get his ex-wifeís car when he goes to tournament or clinics that are two or three hours away.

So no, itís not just because EV skeptics keep bringing it up.

There is probably be a large part of the car owning population for whom this is simply not an issue. Drive ten miles to work each way run errands, charge overnight at home. I just donít seem to know too many of those people. Probably because I live in the suburbs, have kids into sports, and work for a company with a huge number of distant locations (stores, warehouses and offices) that we need to visit at least every few weeks.
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Old 02-22-2019, 10:38 AM
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I just got back from an out of town meeting where our Tesla driving colleague stayed at a different hotel....
Fine. I'll be more precise and say range is not an issue for the intended use of electric cars. Long-distance road trips aren't one of them at this point.

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Same with the soccer/ski/hockey dad with the Leaf. He has to get his ex-wife’s car when he goes to tournament or clinics that are two or three hours away.
And? I'm sure that's why he bought a Leaf, because he has access to another car when he needs to drive beyond the range of the Leaf. The Leaf is a budget EV with much less range than other mainstream electric cars.

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There is probably be a large part of the car owning population for whom this is simply not an issue. Drive ten miles to work each way run errands, charge overnight at home.
Electric cars have way more range than 10 miles. If you regularly or even occasionally drive 120 miles in a day, an electric car with 200+ mile range (Bolt, Tesla, etc) will still work well for you. If you sometimes need to drive more than that, and you don't have access to another car, I definitely would not recommend buying a pure EV. At least not until there are more charging stations available.

Last edited by scr4; 02-22-2019 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 02-22-2019, 10:55 AM
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You know, you can buy your own carbon offsets from various companies, so if you're willing to spend a little bit extra, you can become carbon neutral no matter which option you choose.
See I donít get this. How is putting money with the carbon I dump in the air make it better? I donít understand how carbon offsets are regulated or tracked.

Not saying you are wrong by any means. Just pointing out my own ignorance here.
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Old 02-22-2019, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Translucent Daydream View Post
See I donít get this. How is putting money with the carbon I dump in the air make it better? I donít understand how carbon offsets are regulated or tracked.

Not saying you are wrong by any means. Just pointing out my own ignorance here.
You basically subsidize renewable energy producers. Say an utility has a mandate to produce 30% of its electricity using renewable sources. And they are located in a place where solar, wind and geothermal are not very cost effective. To meet the 30% target they buy credits from a utility that has no mandated renewable energy targets, but had the opportunity to generate oodles of energy from renewable sources.

On the one hand the seller may just be getting paid for something they may have done anyway, but this will encourage SOME additional renewable generation.

This being the Dope, several people will be by presently to tell me Iíve got it all wrong.
  #35  
Old 02-23-2019, 01:21 AM
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Fine. I'll be more precise and say range is not an issue for the intended use of electric cars. Long-distance road trips aren't one of them at this point.
And that's why it's still a niche product. I have a 120 mile commute each day. I'm not necessarily normal, but I'm also not abnormal. My previous commute was 90. A complete battery vehicle is not a viable solution for myself except if I purchase a car that is several times the cost of my current car, or I only use the vehicle in the most optimum of circumstances.

That's not a road trip, it's my commute. EV's have at least hit the point where they're good for multiple short trips, but they're not yet quite a general purpose vehicle.

Last edited by scabpicker; 02-23-2019 at 01:22 AM.
  #36  
Old 02-23-2019, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Translucent Daydream View Post
...a 1992 Olds Cutlass Ciera...The last time I had an emission test done on it, they did it three times because they didn't believe that the figures they were getting were correct, they were lower than newer cars that they test. After three hours and multiple tests on different cars, they passed it finally and asked me what the hell I did to the car to get the emissions so low...
It probably has a 3.8 liter V6 engine, model L27, which was a refinement of the previous LN3 engine. It uses multiport fuel injection, so it's not like an old carbureted engine.

It's older than 1996 when OBDII was rolled in. After that cars reported their own emissions numbers to the test computer. Before that a tailpipe "sniffer" test was used. However that's not a laboratory test, nor does it test on road performance, emissions during engine warmup, etc. Key emissions improvements since 1992 involve reduced hydrocarbon and CO emissions during the warm-up phase.

That test also only measures emissions at engine idle. I believe 1992 US cars are subject to the FTP75 test standard which did not require meeting *any* emissions standards at higher throttle angles or engine speed. This policy was continued until at least the mid-2000s; I don't remember when it was changed. IOW a brand new 2003 car at higher engine rpm or throttle angle was legally not required to meet any emissions standard whatsoever. It was felt too difficult to maintain emission compliance in that operating regime, plus most cars only spend a small fraction of operating time there.

It is likely a new 2019 car has much improved traditional emissions parameters over the 1992, such as lower hydrocarbons (HC), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and carbon monoxide (CO). This is especially so over a wide engine operating range vs a static test at idle speed.
  #37  
Old 02-23-2019, 10:48 AM
Corry El is offline
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Originally Posted by Translucent Daydream View Post
I have a 1992 Olds Cutlass Ciera that is my daily driver. I bought it about 5 years ago for $600 bucks, 3.3 liter V6 and an auto tranny.

If it matters, the car gets 32 on the highway, like 24 in town. I drive about 15 miles to 20 miles a day.
The EPA highway ratings for that car, new, were 24 or 27 mpg highway with the 3 or 4 speed automatics. Not questioning your figures necessarily. The long road trip average (including some local driving and some aggressive windy road driving, usually) for my 2015 BMW 328i is 37.5 (directly measured by gas bought v odometer not the trip computer) v EPA rating of 33. But our road trips are generally in warmer weather (an MPG plus for most cars) and it's a fairly new car. That's quite an overshoot by you year round in an old car. But anyway it is relevant in that either driver factors could mean a new car with 32 mpg rating is significantly superior to your car under your foot, although, OTOH a particular newer car might turn out less conservatively rated than the current car insofar as that's the reason for the big overshoot. Some cars are notorious for significantly undershooting their EPA estimates in real driving across drivers on average, some hybrids in particular have been.

As everyone knows, annual fuel cost when considering electrics must consider the difference in cost per unit of energy between motor fuel and electricity. For 2018 the EPA assumed $2.28/gal regular v $0.13/kWh. That's about right for regular gas where we live now but electricity is more like $0.17, so EPA figures are significantly friendly to electric cars compared to reality in our area right now. For premium which we use in our car EPA assumed $2.91/gal which also high right now for our area, it's around $2.70.

Once you try to make value judgments not based on end user cost, more variables enter in.

Last edited by Corry El; 02-23-2019 at 10:51 AM.
  #38  
Old 02-25-2019, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joema View Post
It probably has a 3.8 liter V6 engine, model L27, which was a refinement of the previous LN3 engine. It uses multiport fuel injection, so it's not like an old carbureted engine.

It's older than 1996 when OBDII was rolled in. After that cars reported their own emissions numbers to the test computer. Before that a tailpipe "sniffer" test was used. However that's not a laboratory test, nor does it test on road performance, emissions during engine warmup, etc. Key emissions improvements since 1992 involve reduced hydrocarbon and CO emissions during the warm-up phase.

That test also only measures emissions at engine idle. I believe 1992 US cars are subject to the FTP75 test standard which did not require meeting *any* emissions standards at higher throttle angles or engine speed. This policy was continued until at least the mid-2000s; I don't remember when it was changed. IOW a brand new 2003 car at higher engine rpm or throttle angle was legally not required to meet any emissions standard whatsoever. It was felt too difficult to maintain emission compliance in that operating regime, plus most cars only spend a small fraction of operating time there.

It is likely a new 2019 car has much improved traditional emissions parameters over the 1992, such as lower hydrocarbons (HC), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and carbon monoxide (CO). This is especially so over a wide engine operating range vs a static test at idle speed.
It really is a 3.3 liter, its some sort of lower displacement variant of the series I 3800 V6 that GM used in the BOPC (Buick Olds Pontiac Chevrolet) cars of that vintage. It looks like they used the 3800 in the later models when they switched them over to OBD2 as far as I can tell looking through Rock Auto's catalog. It does have multi-point fuel injection, one injector per cylinder. They did use the tail pipe sniffer in the emissions test because its OBD1.

There aren't emissions requirements here where I moved to Colorado, but where I was in the Portland area before, they take the sniffer for the OBD1 cars and do an idle test, then ramp the engine under load on the wheel rollers in gear up to a series of different engine RPM loads. They hooked up an induction clip to one of the spark plugs to get the RPM reading. A side note, those tests are dangerous as hell. The guy told me one time that the bearings in one of the rollers failed and the car shot off of the rollers. He was very insistent that nobody stand in front of the car and the door was kept open.

In emissions testing counties in Oregon, you have to go to a place called DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality I think) and you essentially drive it through. I am assuming they didn't trust the readings that they were getting from the sniffer initially. I had to drive it out and into another testing bay that was set up with the sniffer for a retest. Then they tested one of the employee's cars on the same rack, then passed a pole with a mirror under my car for about 20 minutes trying to find a place where the tail pipe could be leaking.

The mileage I am assuming I am getting could be wrong a little due to the odometer being off or something, but I drive very easy on cars and I'm a little pokey when I'm driving around. I'll do the speed limit if it isn't 75. I just don't like driving 75, I'm more apt to drive 65 unless there are a lot of people around and then I'll keep up with everyone to keep traffic moving along. I don't accelerate quickly and I have new gas mileage saving tires on it. All the parts I put on it tend to be AC Delco if they are available.

I found the emissions test results I took in 2/24/17. They are due now in Oregon again but since I moved here I'm just having to transfer the title. Here they are as listed on the form:

Tailpipe emissions test results: PASS



Standards: HC(PPM) = 220 CO% = 1 CO+CO2% = 6
1st Idle Emissions = HC(PPM) = 9 PASS CO% = 0.000 PASS

The rest of the fields in the form are all NA.
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