Sunday, December 4, 2022

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RVelectricity: Mike goes to Detroit (Rock City) to check out EVs

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Here’s a hint as to where I am this weekend (checking out EVs)…

I feel uptight on a Saturday nightNine o’clock, the radio’s the only lightI hear my song and it pulls me throughComes on strong, tells me what I got to do…

For a trip back to 1976, click on the album picture. I was not a big fan of KISS, but I covered this song in my band, and it was a lot of fun to play.

It’s the car show of car shows!

Yes, I’m in Detroit (Rock City) for the International Auto Show. And I’ll be looking at current EVs that will soon be available, as well as a future possibility for an EV chassis that could serve as the platform for a Class A or Class C electric RV.

This is great fun and interest to me since I was a serious motor head in the ’70s, and I’m still a big fan of vehicle design. Now, if you have an extra E-type Jaguar convertible with the V-12 engine you want to send me, I’m all in. Yes, I actually know how to tune multiple side-draft carburetors for smooth performance, and my wife has requested British Racing Green, but that part’s negotiable.

Is a Class A EVRV even practical?

I’m not sure, just yet. There are a lot of variables to consider such as driving range, available charging spots on the highway, how to recharge at a campground, and is there enough energy from the grid to power the millions of EVs that will soon be on the road. But I now have a personal invite to check out one possible EV chassis at the show which could become a Class A EV.

I’ve just seen a possible platform of an electric powered Class A motorhome. Harbinger just introduced an electric powered truck chassis for commercial designed for a 20-year, 500,000 mile life span that could potentially take a body swap from an existing motorhome.

And I now have access to the Harbinger engineering teams who are building it. Of course, this type of EV Motorhome won’t be available at your local RV dealership anytime soon. But if the charging and range issues can be solved, then this is the strongest contender I’ve seen so far.

And while I’m here at the show, I’ll be checking out some of the currently available EV offerings. This is a fascinating time for a motor head like me.


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Ride the Lightning

It appears that Ford has set up a short drag race track and you can sign up for a ride in a Ford F-150 Lightning. From what it appears, a test driver straps you into the passenger seats and then does a 4-wheel burnout which rockets you down a short drag strip right in the middle of the show floor. Nobody has told me how close you get to the wall before they slam on the brakes, so I’ll take a video of the ride.

What probably won’t work with EVs right now…

While an EREV (Extended Range Electric Vehicle) like the Ford F-150 Lightning is certainly exciting to drive and what all the manufacturers seem to be pushing, these are not ready to tow any standard RV trailer for even 100 miles on a charge.

Plus, my gut feeling is that the electrical power grid, available fast chargers on the hiways and the energy to feed them won’t be ready for perhaps another10 years. Maybe by 2030 if there’s enough push, but certainly not next year…. This is a big project, and we can’t get ahead of the curve.

Andy that’s why I’m also studying alternative energy sources including solar, wind, and even Nuclear SMRs (Small Modular Reactors) to power the grid. All energy options are on the table right now, and I’m interested in anything that can make us energy independent without destroying our environment. Much to be learned….

Enter the Plug-In Hybrid EV

That’s why I think the PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) is the most practical solution for right now. This class of EV has a smaller 10kWh battery with a 32-mile electric range, along with a fuel tank and gasoline engine for a total 460-mile range when you turn on the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine). So you can drive it around town on battery power alone, but when you go on a road trip it automatically switches to the gas tank and the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine).

How to charge a PHEV…

Well, if you could add 2,000 watts of solar panels to the roof of your garage, this could provide roughly 8kWh of power per day for charging your Plug-In Hybrid. And at roughly 3.5 miles of range per kWh of charge, that’s perhaps 28 miles of range per day from your solar panel charging station, all without plugging into the electric grid at all.

Now, that doesn’t sound like a lot for road trips, but my wife drives her gasoline-powered Kia Sorento maybe 15 miles per day. So with that type of solar panel setup, we would never have to pay for charging from the grid, and perhaps only use a few tanks of gasoline per year when we go out of town. This is certainly interesting for power challenged states like California.


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What about flat towable EVs?

I think that a small Electric Vehicle offers real possibilities as a 4-wheel down TOAD that could be towed behind your gas or diesel Class A or C motorhome. But that doesn’t appear possible right now. I’ll be talking to the various EV car manufacturers about modifying their software to allow them to be towed 4-wheels down and recharge by dynamic braking when the brakes are applied by the tow vehicle. Think of it as an Electron brake rather than an Exhaust brake. That way you would always arrive at a campground with a fully charged EV TOAD that had a 200- to 300-mile driving range. Sweet!

However, as far as I’ve noted, this is not an option just yet. But I’m going to suggest to these manufacturers they do a software change to make it possible. I already have the communication groups at Ford, Volkswagen, Rivian, and GM on speed dial, and I’ve discussed this with some of them casually. So now it’s time to talk to their engineering groups to see what’s possible. Wish me luck!

Let’s play safe out there….

Send your questions to me at my RVelectricity forum here.

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign.

##RVT1071

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Steve H
1 month ago

Mike: 35 years ago, I was an engineering consultant on the Hanford High-Level Nuclear Waste Repository Program. In 1987, the Senate passed a bill at midnight on the last day of the Congressional session suspending all funding for that program and only study a repository site at Yucca Mountain, NV.

Not only is that study still not completed, but the US is the only nation in the world without a “safe” place to store the thousands of tons of spent uranium fuel rods that are sitting in pools and dry-cask storage at our nuclear power plants. I don’t care what size reactors are being proposed to add to the existing grid, until an underground, high-level nuclear waste repository is operational, not one new uranium fuel-rod-consuming plant of any size should be built. If that stipulation were to be put in a bill passed by Congress, we might actually get a repository built after 50 years of plans and never-ending studies!

Alex
2 months ago

I have a 2018 Honda Clarity plug in hybrid. It will go about 40 miles on battery power, less if there are hills even though it will regenerate somewhat going down hills. It has a 7 gallon gas tank for the internal combustion engine (ICE). I charge it at home on a 220 volt, 20 amp circuit which adds about 10 miles per hour to battery range. Because I’m retired, I drive pretty much within a 10 miles radius of home so the ICE is seldom engaged and mostly by the computer to keep it maintained. Ready for this? I average 250 miles per gallon of gas. That’s like driving the circumference of the planet on 100 gallons of gasoline. In the next 5 years or so, for folks like myself, the plug in hybrid is economically sensible as well as environmentally sensitive.

Mike Sokol
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

Great data….
One of my writing colleagues has a plug-in hybrid which he says only starts up the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) when the computer reports the gasoline is getting too old. He also notes that the company he works for has free charging for EV owners, so he rarely pays for electricity at home.

It’s also interesting that at the Detroit Auto Show nearly all the pitches were about dragster level performance and super fast recharging times, with very little discussion of practical driving scenarios. But that’s the sizzle that sells the steak.

Bob p
2 months ago

I totally agree with you that the infrastructure is many moons into the future. As I’ve said before when I see the power companies start spending millions to upgrade their part of the grid I will then believe EV’s are on the way. I believe the car companies are jumping way ahead of themselves now. Yes many people will buy EV’s that live in metropolitan areas, they better keep their ICE vehicles if they ever plan on going to grandma’s house for thanksgiving unless she lives just a short hop, skip, and jump away. Once they leave the metropolitan area they’re going to spend many hours of the holiday looking for charging stations that work. Lol

Brian Burry
2 months ago

No E.V. RV’s, too little opportunities to charge, not a good idea when the United States has over 530 years of known oil. We in California are told “not to run our Air Conditioners or appliances”, and then Buy Electric Vehicles?! It is too premature for this country for EV’s, that already has an inadequate existing electric production grid. Let’s realize diesel moves the country for product distribution, AND RVs! Energy Independence is National Security🇺🇸

Diane Mc
2 months ago
Reply to  Brian Burry

Ditto from a fellow Californian. Yes, getting text messages, radio/tv pleadings to not use appliances, turn AC to 78 and don’t charge EV’s from 5 to 9pm. We are retired, Have a gas stove and watch little TV (which we still did). 120 yr old home w/o AC. Portable AC’s in bedroom (upstairs) & one in TV room. We had to run the one upstairs lower so we could sleep. That’s us, but what about people who work. How do they not do the things you do when you have a family & get home from work needing to make dinner, do laundry, charge your EV. We need more nuclear power if they want to make all EV’s all the time a reality. Wind & solar aren’t going to cut it. Mike, how long would it take to break even on the cost of the solar panels you mentioned. Especially driving only 18 miles a day.

Mike Sokol
2 months ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

The ROI depends on the rising price of gasoline, and the dropping cost of solar panels. Two moving targets that are difficult to predict exactly.

Last edited 2 months ago by Mike Sokol
Dave Holmack
2 months ago

I could be interested in an EV I could flat tow. Really curious to hear what you learn.

Mike Sokol
2 months ago
Reply to  Dave Holmack

Working on educating the EV manufacturers about this TOAD scenario.

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