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This mainly would concern Europe, since part of the infrastructure is already in place (trolleys overhead cables). What economic reasons prevent electric autos sans large batteries from being feasible in European cities? Lithium is considered by most environmental unfriendly, both extraction, usage(flammable), and disposal. I would see Europe being forefront of electric autos without batteries if it were feasible.

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  • $\begingroup$ How many european cities have an overhead cable structure? $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 8 '18 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ What if you want to go another route? What about parking? $\endgroup$
    – paparazzo
    Jun 8 '18 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ I got the question. Solar mike and paparazzo are being critical. Also welcome and please visit often. $\endgroup$
    – user4139
    Jun 9 '18 at 3:11
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The main problem is the extremely peaky load. Your gas tank stores power for a week, batteries store power for days, and can be charged off peak. OLEs deliver on demand, and that sort of power is expensive to dispatch compared to more balanced loads. You really need to look at what this sort of recharging infrastructure consists of. How many combined cycle gas turbine peaker plants would you need to build to supply Munich, say? Maybe six of these would do.

On a slightly brighter note, there are some limited uses that have been looked at. For longer distances, an intermittent charge-on-the-go system that dump charges supercaps which then discharge to batteries can reduce vehicle weight and improve the versatility of electric vehicles. Using intelligent vehicles to plan routes and use the resources evenly can help. Recharging on straightish uphill segments would be a good exploit.

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  • $\begingroup$ Another main problem is the cost per kilometer of the grid. This won't be justified without user base, and there won't be any user base without extensive grid. Trolleybus grids are built with municipal/central funding because the users are guaranteed to appear along with the grid - the municipal transport investment is governed by the same entities as the grid investment. If it was to be based on private cars, the demand may never justify the expense. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Jun 11 '18 at 0:17
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One thing about using overhead trolley wires to power vehicles is traffic congestion.

I can remember riding on trolley buses when I was very young & if a trolley bus had to pull over at a bus stop to drop off or pick up passengers it blocked the vehicles behind it. All vehicles behind it had to wait until the bus moved again.

Any vehicle connected to an overhead trolley wire, whether it be bus or car, has restricted movement. It cannot deviate significantly from the line of the overhead trolley wire.

Currently, if something is blocking the path of a self powered vehicle whether it be a combustion engine of a battery the vehicle can go around the obstacle. But vehicles powered by an overhead trolley wire cannot move around. They have to stay where they are until the obstacle is removed.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good point, not specifically an economic reason, though, unless you count the lost time/productivity that would result :P $\endgroup$ Jul 10 '18 at 12:04
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Batteries are limited and can explode, short or need service vs while wires do not. The best batteries can only charge about 3000 times before they are depleted. Problems in the wire can be viewed easily vs where a battery has to be tested.

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    $\begingroup$ This is not an answer to the question - paulj specifically requested economic reasons $\endgroup$ Jun 9 '18 at 16:35

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