The Best Thing That Can Happen To Electric Cars Is What Happened To PCs In The


I wouldn’t discourage this in the slightest.


My first thought was “Let Microsoft at 'em? NO FUCKING WAY”, then I read the article. It does make some good points, but I’m not holding my breath over it. Until we have the infrastructure in place to charge cars anywhere and it doesn’t take 30 minutes to charge a car up, it will be awhile before the EVs replace the gas cars.


Keep in mind that 30 minutes is the extreme low end of charging times right now. My car doesn’t have the capabilities to do that, so I’m looking at 10-20 hours for a full charge. That setup works for me because of my driving habits, but I fully appreciate that it doesn’t work for everyone. I’m also fortunate to live in an area with more charging availability than anywhere else in the US.


Exactly. I would love to have a Tesla, but I can’t charge it at home and driving it long distance requires finding Supercharger stations and waiting while it charges up. For now, I’ll stick to my Prius.


Oh, so cars should be like cars were before the private sale of new cars was basically abolished and car companies moved to breaking standards every model year for no good reason (margins for dealerships).


First thing I thought of: no-one took 90s PCs on highways at 100km/h +.

Having a PC overheat and freeze up/melt because you didn’t put enough fans in it was one thing. Potentially it was a house fire hazard, but mostly the case would protect the surrounding environment from that. You’d lose the machine and the data, but no other physical harm done.

Putting a hobby-enthusiast electric car on the street is something else again.

Sure, kit cars have been around for as long as cars have been, but at the end there’s that all-important safety check before you can go on the road with it. Speaking of infrastructure, I don’t think we have the certification facilities to handle any kind of volume on that.


I should probably read the article but the workaround there is easily swappable batteries so you go to the recharge station and get a battery that is fresh while yours is put in the back of the line and goes in another car when it is ready.


It’s not addressed directly in the article, but I think it would definitely fit the spirit of it, as that would really only be possible once the interfaces for batteries are somewhat standardized.

As it stands right now, that’s not a very practical solution since the battery packs weigh hundreds of pounds, making swapping them out non-trivial.


Electrics are a no brainer, have been for years minus the monopoly motherfuckery and lack of investment for… 90+ years.

What’s bullshit is self-driving cars. It’s just like the AI bullshit, only applied.


I saw a proposal once to create swap centres that would have been a lot like car washes – drive in, machines guided by humans do the swap, drive out. Service centres already have lifts that can raise a whole car; cranes that can lift out a battery aren’t that big of an engineering problem.

It’s more the standardisation.


I didn’t read it that way, but more like standardized components that manufacturers would use to build their cars, making repairs and upgrades possible the same way that the power supply from a Dell desktop can be swapped for an HP one, or RAM can be plugged into any machine. DIY cars would still be subject to a roadworthiness inspection.

This would simplify repairs, of course, but the great thing would be that as battery capacity and motor efficiency improved, it would be feasible to upgrade your existing car to better-than-new performance.

Maybe it’s just old thinking on my part, but I’d be uneasy about swapping the battery out of my brand new car for one that might already have gone through 1000 charge cycles.


As someone whose CV read at one point “DC up to 10kV, current up to 1000A”, let me say that the mere idea terrifies me. Even making a simple electrical joint at the kind of powers needed for cars requires a level of skill and instruction that is more difficult than building a PC from parts. And I write from experience.
Power electrics and electronics have the most amazing ability to go destructively wrong. Wiring harnesses have to be designed to resist any kind of friction, and be routed where they can’t contact grounded mass*. Power electronics require sophisticated cooling. And lithium cells in mass require all kinds of stuff; you can’t just plug them in and out like a phone battery.
This is not a good idea.

*Basically what killed the Apollo astronauts was poor quality wiring which sparked in an oxygen atmosphere.


There was a study a year or two ago that said that in areas where coal is the dominant source of electric power, it’s actually cleaner overall to drive a Prius than an EV. It’s certainly true around here.

But hopefully with solar booming, those areas will dwindle away within the next few years.


Expanding my earlier post, swappable batteries probably work fine for something like a scooter, as they’re already doing in Taipei. We’re talking 6kW max, or around 100A at 60V. This is doable with everyday technology and within the range of fusing for safety. The cables are no bigger than the ones used for DC welding or car starter batteries.
Now consider a car which realistically is going to need 60kW outside the US, and knowing the US tendency to gigantism more like 200kW inside the border. 60kW probably means a DC bus at around 400V and cables rated 150A. That’s within the capability of a big suitably designed plug and socket. But then there’s the heat. Batteries are not 100% efficient, far from it, so you will need to design to get rid of around 6kW. That means that the swappable battery has to engage with a ducted cooling system or a liquid cooling system. Already it’s getting more complicated. The battery pack also needs its own internal safety systems against overheating and overcurrent, so unlike a simple lead acid battery there’s a lot of additional hardware which needs to go into every battery pack. Once you start looking at the 200kW needed to keep a US consumer happy, everything is getting heavy and complex. It is going to be a lot cheaper to find a way to have one battery pack per car which means bolted connections, fixed ducting or piping, and one set of electronics per car rather than per battery.

Sorry, no. Batteries have always been the problem and still are, because as the batteries get better so does the internal combustion engine. Battery cars that were more like milk floats could compete against horses when the IC engine was unreliable, expensive, needed gears, and the fuel was bought in pints. IC engine development gave them a range and speed that lead acid or NiFe couldn’t match. Lithium still has big problems at high power and NiMh is heavy and expensive, though excellent as a static battery. That’s why the Prius hybrid originally had NiMh batteries; they only needed a range of half a mile. And you couldn’t invest in better battery technology until chemistry and manufacturing caught up, and that needed first computers and then computer modelling. We actually got very lucky with the lead acid battery, which was manufacturable with the technology of the early 20th century.
It was necessary too to develop electronic motor controls since applying variable power to a DC motor required a large resistance board to vary the field. Fine for trams and trolleybuses - the resistance board on a tram is washing machine size - not for a form of transport designed to be operated by Joe Public. Electronic motor controls became cost effective in consumer goods basically in the last 20 years, first in the Prius. They’ve now scaled down to washing machines.

I don’t agree. I think self driving will evolve, first on designated roads (which cars will identify via GPS or perhaps radio signals) and then gradually extending to other roads. Limited driver support is already there. If you don’t believe me try switching off the traction control on a modern car and try driving fast. Already we’re so used to it we barely notice till it goes wrong. Now we have assistive braking, lane departure warning, auto park, auto dim, wipers and headlamps. I think that the technologies will simply extend from both ends* till they meet in the middle and the roads themselves and the cars get networked. I believe the facilities are already being built in to UK smart motorways to facilitate self driving cars when the time comes.
However, as investment in generation is increasingly scaled back, and nuclear plant plans are dropped, the spare generation capacity to work a big fleet of electric cars may not be there. A lot of infrastructure is needed to charge a car battery fast. Will the drivers pay for it? The present distribution system for liquid fuels has been evolving for many years with a lot of stations on long amortised sites. Because electric charging will take longer than liquid fuelling, and because ranges will be shorter, more area will be needed for charging stations. That will cost.

*i.e. actual self driving technology and modified roads to suit is top down, and car electronics, computer power, sensors and so on is bottom up.


Most people don’t build their personal PCs, let alone laptops or website servers.


True, but there was a time. Even three computers ago I came up with my own configuration and then paid a few extra dollars (surprisingly little) for someone at the shop to put out together.

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I hope that this doesn’t mean that they’re going to standardise, but choose the worst possible set of standards.

Yeah, I still think computer history should have rewarded the best platform in the 90s.


This electric car thing like 90’s computer cases? Yeah, that’s not going to happen.
There are a lot of reasons, but this is the biggest:
Electric cars are a lot more like laptops than they are like desktops.
Efficiency (both of power usage as well as physical space) both matter a lot in an electric car, and it’s fantasy to think some universal standard for swappable batteries is going to be a thing- you can’t optimize the car’s structure around some non-optimized shape like that. Heck, even laptops never had batteries like that, and most of those have non-removable batteries for much the same reason.
Being able to swap batteries between Teslas? Yeah, maybe. Being able to do it across brands? You can’t even do that with something as simple as wheels RIGHT NOW, never mind some god-awful huge complicated battery pack.


Usable electric cars have existed for decades, well back into lead acid days. The self driving nonsense is going to run up against industry-standard non-repairability, throwaway obsolescence, and inappropriate ideas of risk assessment, not to mention fundamental inability of “AIs” to deal with adverse conditions and non-rail roads. “Sorry” isn’t a suitable opener when these historical hard problems aren’t in one’s experience.