Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 11th Apr 2014 20:09 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces

There's certainly some hope on the horizon with Apple and Google, though just how good these systems will be remains to be seen. One thing is clear, though: the current state of all in-car experiences is incredibly bad. For those manufacturers looking to go it alone, I don't expect much.

In-car software is absolutely horrifying and crazy complex. A good friend of mine regularly drives brand new and super-expensive cars (in the hundreds of thousands of euros category), and even in those cars, the user interfaces are just terrible. There's a lot of room for improvement and disruption here.

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RE[4]: Comment by ilovebeer
by saso on Sat 12th Apr 2014 22:05 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by ilovebeer"
saso
Member since:
2007-04-18

New battery/energy storage and energy transmission technologies are developing quickly right now. That field is very active and there has been a number of breakthrough that could become game-changers. If so, I could easily see the production, shipment, storage, sale, consumer use of `gas` becoming obsolete in favor of electric.

The key word here is "could" - we frankly don't know yet, as these technologies still have limitations and relying on unproven developments as your only option is always risky.
Anyhow, without specifics, I assume you're talking about lithium air batteries, which have much better energy density than lithium-ion (comparable to gasoline). While true, the primary limitation of BEVs is not just energy per unit mass - this has been amply demonstrated by the Tesla Model S and its 300 mile range. The primary limitations are:
1) Cost: capital costs for batteries are HIGH. This significantly influences the BEV value proposition.
2) Lifetime: battery packs age and ultimately go bad. Sure it can take a while (8-10 years with proper temperature management and optimal charging), but when they do, you're looking at a lot of money to replace them.
3) Charging: can you do a business trip of, say, 700-800 miles in a BEV? In a hydrocarbon powered car, easily. Stops only take 5-10 minutes every 400-500 miles, so most of the time you're zooming along and at 70mph average it'll take 10-12 hours tops. Using a BEV like a Tesla Model S, stopping optimally every 200 miles for a 45 minute recharge at a supercharger station is gonna add around 3 hours to that - the opportunity cost for that needs to be factored in. And that's assuming the current state of the art in charging (and pushing beyond 120kW charging is going to be hard), running along an optimal route (what if superchargers aren't available?) on a car that costs $70k. Now consider that any hydrocarbon powered vehicle can do the same, faster, while costing a fraction of a Model S. "Budget" BEVs (I mean, is $30k+ for a Nissan Leaf really "budget"?) can't even begin to approach the hydrocarbon car fleet here. You'd need to be stopping every ~70 miles (optimistic range for a new Leaf at highway speeds) for 45+ minutes at a 50kW CHADEMO fast charger and that'd add a good 7.5-8 hours extra (so around 18-20 hours total for the same trip, almost double).

However, we already know that technology, even when ready for mass-use, is often times shelved because oil & energy companies aren't finished squeezing every penny possible out of the old outdated stuff yet.

Take that conspiracy hat off and consider hard physics here for a while. Modern cars, be they hydrocarbon or electric, are starting to hit on the limits of what's physically possible. Quantum leaps are going to be extremely hard to achieve, primarily because these systems are already optimized as heck. This isn't IT, where exponential improvement is the norm.

Edited 2014-04-12 22:09 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Sun 13th Apr 2014 01:59 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by ilovebeer"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

Lithium air is one but it's not the only. The news in this area over the last 6 months or so has been about new technologies, reduced cost and/or cost-effective, durability, reduced charge times.. Basically everything you're talking about. I'm not going to knock any of the new prospects until all the numbers are in. If even just a couple pan out it's good news.

Regarding technologies being shelved to prevent profit disruption -- that's not conspiracy theory by any means. It's not even new subject matter. We know this happens and companies don't really even put much effort into hiding it. That aside though, I disagree that these technologies have already peaked. Tremendous leaps forward do happen and I see no reason for there to be an exception here.

Of course I don't have a crystal ball and don't presume to know what the future holds. But, to imply that what we have now is about as good as it's going to get, ...I'm not buying that at all.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by ilovebeer
by saso on Mon 14th Apr 2014 09:29 in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer"
saso Member since:
2007-04-18

Regarding technologies being shelved to prevent profit disruption -- that's not conspiracy theory by any means. It's not even new subject matter. We know this happens and companies don't really even put much effort into hiding it.

Name names. When making claims, support them with evidence.

That aside though, I disagree that these technologies have already peaked.

Not what I said.

Tremendous leaps forward do happen and I see no reason for there to be an exception here.

Not in the established fields where we've already accumulated extensive knowledge and pushed the physics to the limits. For example, don't expect any sedans to have a Cd <0.2 - achieving this low a drag coefficient requires enormous sacrifices in design. The only two examples of cars with a lower Cd I can think of are the VW XL1 and the GM EV1, neither of which I'd hazard to call pretty or practical (for one, both cars are about a foot lower than your average modern compact car, significantly limiting head room and seating comfort). This is not something that can be remedied by smarter shape design, these are extremely hard physical limits of aerodynamics. (Ever wonder why all modern airplanes look almost the same and engineers celebrate a 5% increase in efficiency?)

Now of course there is room for disruptive innovation from unexpected places, perhaps some kind of super slick coating that dramatically lowers contacting air flow drag (famous shark skin-inspired swimming suits come to mind), however, at the moment, none of this is suitable for automotive mass production and it's not clear when and if it ever will be.

Of course I don't have a crystal ball and don't presume to know what the future holds. But, to imply that what we have now is about as good as it's going to get, ...I'm not buying that at all.

And that's not what I'm trying to say. What I'm trying to explain here is that improvements, going forward, are probably only going to be small and incremental at best. All of the low hanging fruit has been snatched up already. It's possible that somebody will spring up with a great idea that's been overlooked all along, but I wouldn't bank on it.

Reply Parent Score: 3