The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Mass-Market Electric Pickup Trucks and SUVs Are on the Way
By Venkat Viswanathan and Shashank Sripad
Electric vehicles — specifically, the Tesla Model 3 — are dominating the U.S. market for premium sedans, but are barely even on the radar in the busiest automotive category, which includes SUVs and pickup trucks.
The immediate reason is economics, but it has a lot to do with physics as well: Larger, heavier, less aerodynamic electric vehicles need larger, heavier, more expensive batteries to power them. Our research has looked at the energy needed to move cars and trucks along the road, and has identified the important factors that affect power usage.
We have developed an applet that can provide estimates of how much energy an electric vehicle would need to carry on board for a given driving range. This lets consumers determine how big a battery pack their car will need. The applet can provide a comparison of difference in energy consumption among sedans, pickup trucks and SUVs. Tesla's Model 3 and the Model Y crossover SUV will use the same battery pack, so our applet lets consumers compare the difference in driving range between a sedan and SUV.
How Do Electric Vehicles Work?
There are three forces resisting any effort to move a car on a flat road: wind resistance, friction from the road and inertia. Using the specifications of a vehicle's design, including its weight, dimensions and shape, we can calculate the energy needed to get the vehicle to start and stay moving. From there, we can determine how long the car can travel at a certain speed, and estimate how far it can go before needing to recharge its batteries.
The actual range of the vehicle can vary widely, depending on the exact driving scenario, such as moving on a highway or driving in a city. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a set of standardized drive profiles for different conditions (such as urban, highway or a combination), each of which specifies the speed of the car as it travels. The EPA also publishes a certification report that provides many characteristics, including the battery pack size and range of a given vehicle. This provides a consistent set of data with which we compare different cars, SUVs and trucks.
Rivian R1S Electric SUV - Exterior and Interior Walkaround - Debut 2018 LA Auto Show youtu.be
Those sorts of calculations are common for gas-powered vehicles. Electric cars also have an additional element to factor in: regenerative braking, which lets cars recharge their batteries when slowing down.
An early test of our approach involved the Tesla Model 3. We calculated how much energy it would need, how much it could regenerate along a trip and how much battery storage would need to be on board. We predicted that for the car to fulfill its promised 310-mile range before needing to recharge, it would have to store about 80 kilowatt-hours in its battery bank. That calculation was later borne out by the EPA certification report.
Since that first success, we have analyzed a wide range of electric vehicles, allowing us — and consumers — to compare their energy efficiency and power consumption, and earning us the title "Battery Police."
On to Electric Pickup Trucks
Trucks are bigger and, often, less aerodynamically designed than cars, meaning they typically encounter more wind resistance. Friction and inertia increase for heavier vehicles. All of those mean a truck needs more energy to get, and stay, moving.
Once we know the amount of energy, we can calculate the battery pack size or driving range. The price of battery packs has dropped significantly over the past decade.
By studying vehicle characteristics, we can help compare different electric vehicles' battery needs and costs, which can help consumers evaluate options when they're considering buying an electric car, a future SUV or an electric pickup truck. Within the applet, different vehicles currently can be selected. The change in driving range for different average driving speeds can be computed.
In addition, a custom electric vehicle with any battery pack size can be designed and the applet will answer questions about energy consumption, range and the total weight of the vehicle with the battery pack. This can be used to compare and understand the differences among vehicles.
Venkat Viswanathan is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
Shashank Sripad is a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
Disclosure statement: Venkat Viswanathan is a consultant for Pratt & Whitney. He is a technical consultant, owns stock options and is a member of Advisory Board at Zunum Aero. He is a technical consultant for Quantumscape. His research group receives funding from Airbus A^3, Quantumscape, Zunum Aero, Volkswagen, Toyota Research Institute.
Shashank Sripad receives funding from Zunum Aero and Airbus A^3 to undertake research as a Ph.D. Student at Carnegie Mellon University.
Reposted with permission from our media associate The Conversation.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.