Friday, July 23, 2021
Friday, July 23, 2021

RVelectricity: Do electric vehicles spell the end of internal combustion engines?

Dear Readers,
There’s certainly been a lot of hype in the last few months about all the new electric vehicles (EVs) hitting the market. And in many cases, both legislators and manufacturers are setting dates when ICE (internal combustion engine) technology won’t be sold or registered in certain states.

These complex decisions are largely filled with politics and biased thinking on both sides of aisle, which I plan to avoid by sticking strictly to the science. And since I don’t believe most of what any marketing groups tell me, I’m going to test everything myself and write about this with as little bias as possible. So if I tell you something, I’ll have the data and math to back me up. So you may challenge anything I write about, but be prepared to defend your viewpoint with empirical data and calculations. Deal?

So what’s the plan?

If you believe the marketing hype, these new EVs in commercial are ready for prime time, can plug in anyplace, and can go anywhere you wanna go. So is this true? Or are vehicle manufacturers promoting vaporware in an effort to swing customers over to their own brand? I’m not sure, but I’m going to find out. Welcome to the start of my GoGreenRV study and demonstrations. 

My July schedule for the GoGreenRV project

After a lot of emails and calls to all the major manufacturers (hundreds of them, in fact), Ford has finally agreed to loan me a new F-150 3.5L PowerBoost Hybrid truck with the 7.2kW onboard generator.

While it’s not a pure electric vehicle, it does combine a 45 horsepower electric motor with a 3.5L turbo V-6 gasoline motor. I’ll have it for two weeks in July and I’ve already made plans…

Why is this PowerBoost interesting?

Well, I believe the PowerBoost is the perfect stepping stone between traditional gasoline and diesel ICE technology and pure battery propulsion. Currently (no pun intended), the U.S. power grid is not up to the task of recharging the plethora of electric vehicles hitting the market this year and 2022. Not only is the power grid not up to it yet, there’s simply not enough charging stations to make it easy to recharge an EV while you’re outside of your 100-mile bubble. Not yet, anyway… So a hybrid vehicle that combines both ICE and EV technologies seems like the best interim solution.

Genny, Genny, who can I turn to? (8-6-7-5-3-0-9…)

What’s really interesting is the optional in-bed generator available for this PowerBoost truck. The test truck I’m getting has the 7.2kW generator that makes 120/240-volt split-phase power just like my Honda EU7000 generator.

So it not only has a bunch of 20-amp outlets, it also has a 4-prong twist lock generator receptacle. And according to Ford literature, it’s rated for 32 hours of idle time while powering these outlets.

What can you do with it?

Well, Ford is promoting this as a work truck for contractors who typically bring noisy generators to work sites, as well as being able to power your house in the event of an electrical shutdown. But I think there are two more great possibilities: powering your RV trailer while boondocking, and recharging the batteries in the RV trailer while driving.

An advantage of electrical vehicles

I know of several RVs that have enough lithium batteries to run the air conditioner 4 to 8 hours. While this is great for boondocking (really, it is), you still have to recharge them sometime. This 7.2kW PowerBoost would be able to completely recharge these huge RV battery banks from 0 to 100% SOC (State of Charge) in 2 to 4 hours of driving. That’s right. You could simply plug your RV’s shore power cord into the twist-lock outlet in the bed of the truck (with the proper adapter), and recharge your RV battery bank on the way to your next boondocking stop.

Another example of electric vehicles’ use

Since the PowerBoost 7.2 generator has an L14-30 receptacle in the truck bed, with the proper Y adapter you should be able to fully power TWO RV trailers in your remote boondocking party. And note that in the Ford literature this truck is rated for up to 32 hours of idle time while running the on-board generator. If this works as promoted, it could be a real game changer for boondocking with medium-size travel trailers (plus a guest RV).

My Airstream trip

I was previously invited to do my first RVelectricity seminar this year at the Airstream International Rally in Lebanon, TN, in July. So with a little schedule juggling I’m now able to use this F-150 PowerBoost to tow my loaner Rockwood GeoPro G19FBTH trailer to the show.

Yes, the Airstream crew is a little squeamish about allowing a Forest River trailer into their inner sanctum of 800 Airstream trailers. But I’ve been asking Thor/Airstream for two years for a loaner test trailer, and so far the answer has been no. But perhaps they’ll change their minds after I show up at the International Airstream rally with a GeoPro.

My Rockwood trip

A week after the Airstream Rally I’ll be taking the F-150 PowerBoost and GeoPro trailer to visit the Rockwood plant in Goshen for a show-and-tell with Tony Barthel. If all goes well, Tony and I will do a live YouTube webcast from the factory parking lot where we’ll discuss the future of these smaller and more easily towable RV trailers.

Future Shock regarding my GoGreenRV project

But in order for me to keep up this pace through 2022, I’m going to need to find a grant for my GoGreenRV study. I do have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with a board of directors (No Shock Zone, Inc.), and I’ve been looking for any kind of foundation to help fund this.

These kinds of extended experiments and studies are very costly, and I’m calculating I need at least $100K to keep my GoGreenRV project going through 2022. I’ve had one funding offer from a group who proposed sponsorship as long as I gave them editorial rights to my content, but I would never do that.

What I need is a grant without any editorial strings attached so I can continue to publish non-biased reports on my findings. So if you know of any foundations that might be a good fit, please contact me.

What will the future bring regarding electric vehicles?

I do believe that Internal Combustion Vehicles will eventually be replaced by something cheaper, cleaner and better. And it will come sooner than we all think. So I believe that good old American ingenuity and entrepreneurial grit can get us converted to an Electric Economy in the not-too-distant future. After all, we Americans have a long history of doing the seemingly impossible in a short amount of time and are the better for it. I’m putting in a pic of a mirrored vest just so you know I’m ready for anything they throw at me. I used to have one very similar to this in the 70’s, but my wife pitched it decades ago. Oh well, I can always make another one…From Ben Franklin’s lightning experiments, to the invention and distribution of 3-phase power starting at Niagara Falls; to the first Wright brothers flight and the moon landing 60 years later; to Henry Ford building the Model T cheaply enough and paying his workers a sufficient wage so they all could own one; the invention of the Internet, Apple and Microsoft computer Operating Systems, the development of GPS satellite technology, and even creating the Covid-19 vaccine – America has led the way in technological advances for the last 200 years.

I’m pretty sure we’re up to the challenge of how to convert our fossil fuel transportation infrastructure to some renewable energy alternative, be it lithium batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, or something else we’re going to dream up. I do think this is a good thing, but I will not let my personal bias affect my data. So I’ll report on every technology as honestly as I can. And I always show my work.

Reality check…

When it arrives, I plan on testing these new technologies to find out the reality of the situation. So I’m super excited to get my teeth into it and figure out what’s real and what’s vaporware. See you on the road this summer.

Let’s play safe out there….

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.

##RVT!004

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Mike A Schwab
1 month ago

How long does it take to recharge the pickup from the generator. Just in case you run out between charging stations. How fast can you drive while charging without losing charge?

Eli
1 month ago

Better check that twist lock I believe it’s a 240v not 120 30amp.

Dana D
1 month ago

Mike S.
Do you have a Go Fund Me account to get some research money? Seems people are throwing a lot of money at people with such accounts.

Sokol Mike
1 month ago
Reply to  Dana D

I’ve thought about that. It might be one way to fund this study since the RV manufacturers don’t appear to be interested.

Mike Whelan
1 month ago

Glad to hear you could get a F150 Hybrid. We tried purchasing one and were told try again in 6 to 8 months. They had a nasty little issue with the lack of computer chips to control things with. Ended up going with a conventional Dodge, but the thought was good. Just not practical.

Sokol Mike
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Whelan

Well, I only get it for 2 weeks, but it’s a start.

mark d generales
1 month ago
Reply to  Sokol Mike

Great for around town. 150 mile range towing and then 41 minutes sitting while it recharges to 80% – if the charging equipment is available and not being used by someone else. Sounds like a great trip.
Sure – gonna turn in the F250 for EV.

Montgomery Bonner
1 month ago

Ok, if every single American switched to electric vehicles the following will happen.
1.every home needs charging station build in, TO CODE, add 600-1500 for that.
2.There are at present not nearly enough generation nor distribution for all the stuff we have not needing electricity.
3.Not in my backyard, i.e., substations, electric power plants, transmission lines.
Look at CA/AZ/NV/WA/OR, 60% of grid is hydro, no rain, hmm, no electricity, as supply decreases, the price will increase, putting many people out of the possibility of affording power, how exactly will electric vehicles get charged.
4.Artic outbreak comes down through mid-west/south, during rush hour in all those large cities, 500,000 cars on road, all electric stuck in massive snowstorm, how many people freeze to death awaiting rescue because “EVERYTHING MOVING IS ELECTRIC”?
Electric vehicles are a pipe dream, and the people who have will subsidize those people who are getting by free, that is wrong.

mark d generales
1 month ago

EV -THE hype in our lifetime. Facts blow it to smithereens.
Rare earth minerals for batteries and solar panels don’t exist. Huge polluting mines are needed to dig the substances out of the earth. Existing mines enslave (UN stats for 2020) 40,000 under 10 age children in the Congo alone and millions of adult slaves in China. Our “clean” future is 100% dependent on slave labor of little kids and Chinese slaves.
Further – there is not one new power plant in the USA built to power all this needed electricity. Nukes are shuttered. Coal is demonized while we have 1,000 years of natural gas – clean natural gas in the US ground, we are told it is evil.
Has the nations utility company’s strung new wiring to houses for all those new EV’s anywhere?
Blades from spent windmills are huge and can’t be recycled. We have no tech to handle EV batteries.
We are enslaving people, destroying the earth with huge pollution and in no way going to meet 2035 let alone 2100.
Convert to natural gas.

Terry
1 month ago

How do we charge electric cars when we already have brown outs and rolling blackouts. California is going to make everyone go to electric cars but will not allow any new power plants to be built. Nuclear power plants sound like the answer but no one wants to let them be built. The only way I can think of to charge the “green” electric cars and save the environment is to start up the old shut down smoking choking air polluting coal burning power plants.

Sokol Mike
1 month ago
Reply to  Terry

I think that California residents might be interested in any Hybrid vehicle that could power their houses during these rolling blackouts. If you added a 60 gallon fuel tank toolbox in the bed of a Hybrid truck you could probably run the generator all week on a single fill-up. An interesting test for sure…

mark d generales
1 month ago
Reply to  Sokol Mike

Why hype this Mike? Why? It is total fraud. The facxts on the ground – not pie in the sky – prove it.
We have decades of natural gas in the US ground. We have non polluting gas – we don’t need to enslave millions of kids and souls to dig rare earth materials nor do we need massively polluting mines. Check Un stats for the 40,000 kids that are enslaved today – imagine how many more to meet new need?
C
Mike – simply convert your existing truck or car to natural gas.
60% of ALL California homes have natural gas PIPED TO THEIR HOME. Subsidize pressure equipment so they can fill up at home. No new wires needed. Trillions of wasted dollars NOT spent.
EV IS PURE PIPE DREAM
Some very smart people will get rich and the rest of us will be hurt. Mobility, our lifestyles and Trillions of productive hours, dollars and lives lost.
EV is a fraud and should be shelved.
Mike – open your eyes buddy – you are too smart to fall for this!!!

Jeff Craig
1 month ago
Reply to  Terry

There is some exciting research in nuclear power, like thorium based micro-reactors (check out Undecide with Matt Ferrill on YT for great videos) but if we can crack fusion, then we will never need fossil fuels again. California, actually ALL 50 states, needs to require all new construction homes be built with 7.3 to 14.6kw of solar (depending on home size and total cost) as well as requiring solar buy-backs from the local utilities. Where we live near Seattle, our power comes largely from hydro via a Public Utility District – so there is no requirement to satisfy Wall Street every quarter. ALL utilities should use this model.

mark d generales
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

Seattle dream land. Nukes in Washington state? Solar in Michigan or Portland, OR or your Seattle – any other month than August or July?
Total bust as the payback would take some 50 years.
Natural gas that is plentiful all across the energy independent USA IS the answer. Time to tell the insane enviro movement to stand down.
Environmentalists SWORE MBTE was safe – added it to our gasoline under fed mandates – until we learned it was POLLUING OUR GROUND WATER!
Same environmentalists are promoting EV. IT WILL NOT WORK.

Bob M
1 month ago

I’m glad to hear your getting a F150 hybrid to test. I’m interested in one down the road. Hope it also has the backup assist and you let us know how that works. I agree presently we can’t support electric vehicles. Hybrids are the way to go presently. Had a Toyota Prius wagon. It was great. Years ago I had a Toyota Tacoma with the 120 volt outlet in the bed. My house lost power in a ice storm. Hooked an extension cord to the 120 volt outlet in the truck bed and the other end to my coal stoker stove and had heat for Twenty four hours with the truck running till the electric came back on.

inGene Bjerke
1 month ago

As far as “green” technology goes, it is my understanding that hydrogen fuel cells give off CO2 as a byproduct. Not particularly green.

Bill
1 month ago
Reply to  inGene Bjerke

Hydrogen fuel cells give off H2O,

Mike Whelan
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill

Great! now we all drowned…. 🙂 Just kidding. I have been reading that Toyota and VW believe hydrogen is a far better answer than electric and are dedicating a lot of research into just that.

Sokol Mike
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Whelan

All storage technologies are on the table right now. More to study…

Sokol Mike
1 month ago
Reply to  inGene Bjerke

Gasoline combustion results in emissions of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, NOx, particulates and unburned hydrocarbons, while the main exhaust product of hydrogen fuel cells is water vapor.

mark d generales
1 month ago
Reply to  Sokol Mike

Digging mines for rare earth is massively more polluting than your truck or car. Windmill blades are not recycled and have a half life of at least 500 years.
You are buying into hype.
Trash trucks, muni bus systems, utility companies – all use natural gas.
We all should too. Keep your car or truck and add conversion equipment. Trillions cheaper than a new EV.
C’mon Mike!

Silas Longshot
1 month ago

IMO, there may be a great number more 100% electric vehicles on the road by the time our grandchildren start driving (15 – 20 years) but meanwhile their built-in limitations will keep the market down, particularly for RV towing, etc. They may indeed have the towing capacity, power, etc to do the job, but the map of charging stations relegate them to urban areas and along the interstates. None exist out in the ‘boonies’, so now what, plug into the campground power pole? Maybe. But for those who want to be off grid, way out there in the empty spaces, you have to bring a generator to charge up the truck again?
I’m thinking there will be far more hybrid trucks as you’re testing and out there far longer than the EV promoters want. Had a 2000 Honda Insight hybrid years ago. Had sufficent power for what it was, got 55 MPG out of it. Now if you can get a hybrid pickup truck to get 35MPG unloaded, and strong enough to tow at least 6000 pounds, you’ll have something marketable.

Bob
1 month ago

A true full electric auto nation is years and years away. The infrastructure to support large amounts of electric vehicles is lacking, but no one wants to talk about that.

Mike Sokol
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob

Actually, that’s one of the things I’ll be discussing in my GGRV series…

mark d generales
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Mike – this story MUST be told with full disclosure of slaves. 40,000 kids in the Congo alone according to the UN. Millions already in China – milli9ons more needed. In the Congo, where cobalt mining by children is rampant. According to the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, about 40,000 children work in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

EV is cruel and destroys lives – and the pollution from large mines makes drilling for existing natural gas clean as heck.

Let’s be truthful – how much energy will be wasted replacing perfectly good vehicles whose engines could be converted to natural gas for a fraction of the energy and money cost? How about the existing pipelines that serve domestic homes and neighborhoods. No need for new power plants. No need for new wiring. Subsidize equipment to serve the homeowner and existing gas stations.
You can’t just talk about the industry hype.

Of course GM, Ford, VW, Volvo want to replace every single car on the globe!
Give us the REAL facts Mike. EV according ot hte honest experts WILL NEBVER be here in 2035 let alone 2100.

Gas prices and diesel prices gouge Americans FOR NO REASON. End the hype please and get the truth out – we need a conversion to existing, plentiful clean natural gas.

Bill
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob

Most places the grid is only stressed during high demand periods – afternoon/evening with lots of air conditioners running, etc. Using internet connectivity, utilities could manage vehicle charging so that charging occurs off-peak when at the vehicles’ home charger or someplace else it will be for a few hours. My cell phone already adapts the charge rate to fit my usage pattern to be fully charged when I wake up in the morning.

mark d generales
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill

That is simply not factual. Take a look at northern California or Long Island, NY.

Mikk
1 month ago

The electric vehicle will never make it into the automotive world. Too expensive, limited milage, not reliable, free charges will end, limited number of mechanics, towing capabilities almost non existing, no environmental plans on where to dump the expended batteries and cost prohibited in replacing the batteries. I’m sure there are more down sides!

Mike Sokol
1 month ago
Reply to  Mikk

I make it a point to never say never. There will come a point where an alternative fuel to gasoline and diesel makes sense. I’m just not sure when that’s gonna happen. Call me crazy, but some of the breakthroughs I’m reading in the physics magazines are incredible. I believe that American ingenuity is the best in the world. We may just figure this all out.

mark d generales
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

YES – natural gas

we have decades of it and our utility company’s, trash haulers and muni bus systems already use it commercial application – have been doing it for years
convert gas to natural gas for a fraction of EV costs.

Dave Helgeson
1 month ago

Mike, Per your comment “That’s right. You could simply plug your RV’s shore power cord into the twist-lock outlet in the bed of the truck (with the proper adapter), and recharge your RV battery bank on the way to your next boondocking stop.” My son has a 2,000 watt rated inverter in his truck and does this very thing. However, I question if there are any electrical codes that have to be met to make this legal?

Mike Sokol
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave Helgeson

I don’t think it’s an NEC issue, but it could be a state DOT directive. I’ll ask my Ford contact.

Wolfe
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave Helgeson

I have a 4KW inverter in my truck (and dual alternators) …but charging the trailer batteries through the inverter to shore cord would be nuts for efficiency. Alternators put out DC already so you “essentially” just need a mechanically and electrically safe version of jumper cables over the tongue. Electrically includes a high wattage DC>DC charge controller in the line to prevent huge transfer currents when truck is 99% charged and Trailer is run down from camping… I limit mine to 25A max charging my lead bank, intentionally requiring an 8hr drive to top off from boondocking.

Sokol Mike
1 month ago
Reply to  Wolfe

Just remember that you need to consider voltage drop at 12 volts DC compared to connecting with 120 volts AC. If you use a generator with a 120 volt output then a 10 gauge shore power cord would be sufficient for 25 amps. That’s 3,000 watts of charging power. Considering that some of the new RVs can have over 500 watt-hrs at 12 volts, they may have chargers capable of 150 amps or more of DC.
Also if you plug into 120 volts AC, then your RVs charge controller is running the show. My point is there are engineering trade offs to everything, and maybe losing a little efficiency in the conversion process might not be as much as line losses in long runs of low voltage cables.

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