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Mercedes eSprinter, GM EV Trucks: Science Fair Projects Requiring Fantasy Infrastructure Buildout

re: dumb energy

From range limitations to cold conditions to grid-collapsing charging requirements to mass fatalities during natural disasters, the EV (electric vehicle) delusion is going to smack into a concrete wall of reality sometime soon.

“Success” means brown-outs and black-outs and going nowhere and maybe dying because your EV won’t go (eg a hurricane or forest fire on the way). Or just getting trapped in the cold and no one can pour-in a gallon of gasoline to unf*ck your “smart” car.

Here in California, a mere doubling of current EVs would collapse the grid statewide. Price-based charging ($50/gallon equivalent anyone?) might control demand. Which is inevitable given the paucity of nuclear power generation.

The build-out to support an EV-capable grid is a mathematical absurdity*.

If I got any math wrong, let me know. But even if off by a factor of ten, it is still an absurdity.

The all-new eSprinter...

Up to 113 kWh hour battery pack, 50 or 115 kW charging power DC, ~5800 pounds empty.

Suitable for short routes in the city. Ludicrous for travel/trips/fun. Yeah it will get some use in the city for special purposes but even that makes major infrastructure demands.

Charging 8.7 such vans simultaneously takes a megawatt.

My Sprinter (diesel) with all the stuff I added is maybe 6700 pounds (5500 pounds new/empty). The eSprinter is heavier, lacks 4WD, and has a tiny battery for its size.

I can imagine going from my home to 10K feet elevation and the energy required to raise 4 tons (an empty van isn’t useful!) by 10000 feet elevation, after driving 270 miles along the way. Heck recharging it in Bishop CA and then driving up 6K in elevation to Schulman Grove is going to have you uncomfortably close to no charge. You ain’t going anywhere fun in your eSprinter.

Charging — Good luck finding 50 kW charging, let alone 115 kW charging stations. A typical RV park has 50 amps at 120V = 6 kW ... 8.3X too little power vs 50 kW charging, and 17X too little power for 115 kW charging. Even if the facility were available. A complete redo of a single RV park capable of charging such vehicles would require the power of a small city, at untenable cost. Ain’t gonna happen in my lifetime. Not that I would stay in such a depressing park anyway.

Cold weather — the 113 kW battery pack is woefully inadequate (it needs to be 500 kW or more, and that means a ~15000 pound van with current technology). Staying barely warm in sub-freezing cold would require something like 8 kWH continuously for the volume of a Sprinter cargo van. Staying warm for 12 hours up in the mountains and you’re done. And SOL because there are only a few isolated charging stations in vast areas of the state and country. You ain’t going anywhere you could in a gas or diesel vehicle. And you aren’t making it back home with that dead battery.

Don’t even get my started on a full-size RV or towing a trailer.

GM Unveils Battery with Capacity Twice as Big as Tesla’s

General Motors has finally revealed details of its ambitious plan to conquer the electric-vehicle market, including a massive 200.0-kWh battery for its GMC Hummer.

...trucks will be able to charge at 800 volts and 350 kW

That's 0.35 megawatt to charge one such  truck, or 3.5 megawatts for just 10 trucks.

Generating capacity

The entire US grid is capable of 1.2 million mW = 1200 gigawatts. A nuclear power plant delivers about 1/2 to 3 gigawatts. While 1 GW is a decent rule of thumb, let’s go with 2 GW for a large-scale nuclear plant.

A million such trucks (a very small number vs gas/diesel trucks) would draw 350000 megawatts = 350 gigawatts, consuming 29% of the entire generating capacity of the USA grid. This is not viable, but if the demand were evenly spread over the day (24 hours) and allowing for 2X surge demand, the generation required would be "only" 29 GW—about ten (10 of the very largest nuclear power plants, which we do not have. And that's only one (1) million trucks, how about 10 or 50 million? Where do the enviro-whacko nutjobs think that kind of power is going to come from?

Ten million such vehicles would be 3500 gigawatts — about 3X capacity of the entire US grid. That’s an extra 2300 gigawatts, or roughly 1100 full-scale 2 GW nuclear power plants. For context, there are only 61 nuclear plants of that size in the country today (~98 reactors).

Presumably we'd have EV semi-trailer trucks and lots of other EV vehicles. For full electrification, something 10X larger seems like a bare minimum.

Do we therefore need 11000 (eleven thousand) new full scale "nukes" to scale up to a full EV changeover? Yes, if everyone charges at once. But this is not viable, so you will not be able to charge your EV when you want/need to. You will have to get a “power delivery appointment” or some such,

Using the above rough thinking, 29 GW * 10X increase is 290GW. That would be a 24% increase in generating capacity.

And don’t get me started on the infrastructure having to be totally rebuilt to support power transfers of that size. We’re talking 1.2 million volt DC power lines and a whole lot more. Maybe $10 trillion dollars to rewire it all?

All that said, scheduled charging can smooth out demand. This then becomes a hard requirement. but all that yields is some constant-factor improvement eg smoothing charging demand over a 24 hour period. But people do not live their lives like that—the vehicle needs to be ready to go when you need it. If you can spread the charging across 10 hours instead of one hour, that’s still 1100 new nuclear plants needed.

Charging in reality

A typical apartment complex with 500 units would have ~500 people who want to charge all at once every night.

But just for giggles, let's assume every denizen of that complex has a 0.1 mW vehicle. That’s 50 megawatts for 500 vehicles. Cut that in half if you like—same issue.

Equivalent to 50000 homes by today's standards, or a 100X increase in power demand (100 kW vs 1kW). Just for EVs.

Back to those trucks — wiring 350 kW at 800V requires wiring capable of 437 amps. Compare that to household wiring of 20 amps. The wire diameter will need to be 22 times larger in area (4.7X larger in diameter)—hefty stuff—for one vehicle! Copper futures anyone?

Add in a 250 kV electrical substation with for each apartment complex and you're good to go.

No apartment building or neighborhood in the country has anything remotely capable of that kind of power delivery.

See the ChatGPT discussion.

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