Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tesla IPO Opens At $17 per Share

Tesla's Model S Sedan

Tesla Motors will offer up its shares to the public for the first time on Tuesday, testing investors' faith in a company that has proven it can make functional and stunning electric cars but has never had a profitable quarter.

PayPal founder Elon Musk's seven-year old auto company lost $55.7 million last year and $260.7 million since its inception. The company has performed so poorly from a financial standpoint that Musk recently said he lost his entire personal fortune on Tesla.

But investors are giddy about the Palo Alto, Calif.-based automaker's initial public offering, prompting Tesla on Monday to increase the number of shares it plans to offer by nearly a fifth to 13.3 million.

Tesla, which will trade on Nasdaq under the symbol "TSLA," priced its shares late Monday at $17 each, above the target range of $14 to $16. That allowed Tesla to raise more than $226 million in the IPO.

Much of the excitement is pegged to Tesla's launch of the Model S, an electric sedan that the company says will sell for a minimum of $50,000 in 2012. That's much more reasonable and practical for most consumers than the vehicle that Tesla currently sells, the $100,000 Roadster sports car.

The electric automaker plans to acquire a plant where it will produce 20,000 new Model S sedans each year starting in 2012. That's a significant increase from the 1,063 Roadsters it has sold -- total. But until 2012, Tesla said it will continue to pile up hefty losses.

"Investors that are interested in Tesla know that it's going to continue to burn cash until it gets Model S into commercial production," said Matt Therian, an analyst at IPO research firm Renaissance Capital in Greenwich, Conn. "Tesla investors are really looking out to 2012, with their investment very much tied to whether they think 20,000 is a conservative or an aggressive number."

There are many reasons to believe in Elon Musk & Co. Musk made his name -- and fortune -- on the success of electronic payment company PayPal, which was eventually acquired by eBay (EBAY, Fortune 500). And his space exploration technology company, SpaceX, earlier this month launched the first successful, privately funded spaceship with the capacity for human space transport.

Tesla doesn't just have the backing of the successful Musk. Earlier this year, Tesla borrowed $465 million from the Department of Energy to fund production of the Model S.

Last month, Toyota (TM) announced that it will invest $50 million in Tesla and indicated that it would be interested in doing business with Tesla in the future. Tesla has also partnered with Daimler to develop an electric version of Daimler's tiny Smart cars.

Reasons to be skeptical

Still, some experts say that there are several reasons for investors thinking of buying Tesla's stock to precede with caution.

By Tesla's own admission, the Model S has just one operable prototype, no final design or manufacturing process. The company also has not completed its purchase of the plant in which it plans to make the new car.

As a result, Tesla's timetable for bringing the Model S to market may be a reach: After first being announced in September 2008, the company's plans to produce the Model S in 2012 is ambitious even for larger, established automakers.

"Most experienced automakers race to put a car together in three years," said Angus MacKenzie, editor of Motor Trend magazine. "I can't see Tesla making more than a handful of these -- if any -- in 2012."That's not good news, considering Tesla has competition coming to the stage quickly. Nissan will sell the electric Leaf and General Motors is ready to bring the hybrid-electric Chevrolet Volt to market next year -- a year ahead of the Model S.

The Nissan Leaf is set to get 100 miles to the charge with just a $25,000 price tag (after tax credits). The Volt will get 40 miles to the charge, but will also have a gas engine, and it will be sold for about $35,000.

The Tesla Model S will have a variety of range options from 160 miles to 300 miles per charge, but at double the price of the Leaf, Tesla will likely remain a niche automaker for some time.

What's more, Tesla has just 12 dealerships to sell and service its vehicles, compared with more than 1,000 Nissan dealers and thousands of Chevy dealerships in the United States.

"I'm struggling to see what Tesla's unique selling point is, to be frank," said MacKenzie.

But Tesla owns an undeniable "cool" factor that its competitors would love to have. The ultra-slick Roadster has a range of about 244 miles per charge, according to the company -- the first production electric vehicle to get more than 200 miles on a single charge. And it does zero to 60 miles per hour in just 3.9 seconds -- better than most similarly priced sports cars.

With the Model S, Tesla hopes that it can match "cool" with affordability and practicality and make its new investors happy.

Source: CNN Money

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fisker Won't Make Plug-In Deadline

Fisker Karma Plug-In Hybrid Electric

Despite winning $529 million in government loans, Fisker Automotive Inc. won't meet a timetable announced last fall to deliver its first electric vehicles.

The Energy Department said in announcing its low-cost government loans in September that the Irvine, Calif., electric car start-up company said it would have its $88,000 Fisker Karma plug-in sports car in showrooms by this summer.

That won't happen.

Fisker spokesman Russell Datz said the "first few customers" will get Karma vehicles by the end of the year, with full production to start in the first three months of 2011.

Financing from the private equity markets, not technical issues, is to blame for the delay, Datz said.

Last month, Fisker said it had raised $35 million from private equity to complete a new round of funding to build the Karma, which is being assembled in Finland.

With part of the federal loan money, Fisker also plans to build 75,000 to 100,000 vehicles at its Wilmington, Del., plant starting in 2012.

The $48,000 family sedan, called Project Nina, will retail for around $40,000 after tax incentives.

Source: Detroit Free Press

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Vauxhall Ampera prototype review

The Vauxhall Ampera is the UK version of the US market Chevrolet Volt

The gateman at Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant in Merseyside was confused. He mistook the bog-standard Astra diesel escort car for the innovative petrol/electric Ampera, which was making its first visit to the Vauxhall plant which could be in line to build it.

The Ampera is the same extended-range battery car as the Chevrolet Volt, which goes on sale in the US this year, but the Vauxhall has different but equally aerodynamic badging, grille and lower bodywork.

The Ampera arrives in mainland Europe next year in left-hand drive with Opel badges and in right-hand drive, Vauxhall-branded form in the UK in 2012.

As well as being a potential blueprint for a new generation of environmental family cars, the Ampera might join the battery-electric Nissan Leaf as confirmation of Britain's role as a high-tech car maker.

So while this Astra-based five-door hatchback looks only slightly weird its driveline is innovative, using the hybrid's combination of electricity and combustion energy yet taking them a step further.

Owners charge the Ampera's LG-Chem under-floor battery using standard UK 240-volt mains supply in about three hours to give a 40-mile battery range.

When that charge is exhausted (the battery only cycles half of its capacity in the interests of a 10-year/150,000-mile life), the engine starts and drives a generator to continue the journey - but not recharge the battery. For 95 per cent of European drivers, that 40-mile, electric-only range will cover their daily driving needs.

I was invited to take part in a demonstration of the car's production readiness, driving an early prototype from Birmingham to the factory in Ellesmere Port that hopes to build it.

Starting at Vauxhall's Lookers dealership, I negotiated a series of urban junctions and dual carriageways before joining the M6 North. In battery mode the Ampera is quiet, easy to manoeuvre and accelerates speedily enough to disguise its 1.6-ton kerb weight.

Unlike hybrid rivals from Toyota and Honda, the Ampera has a solidly built and attractive interior, with leather upholstery and instruments and switches from last year's European Car of the Year, the Vauxhall/Opel Insignia.

The wraparound dashboard is distinctive and attractive, although the huge white gear lever looks borrowed from a Boeing 747. All in all, the Ampera is comfortable, classy and commodious enough for four adults with a small amount of luggage in the slightly compromised boot space.

Accelerating up the motorway slip road, the Ampera charges hard and deceptively quickly up to 50mph, but by then the single-speed electric motor's flat torque curve has begun a nose dive and acceleration at high speeds is poor.

The 0-62mph time of 9 seconds and top speed of 100mph are an indication of this - most family hatchbacks with that sort of sprint capability will have a top speed of nearer 130mph.

General Motors is working on the problem and this autumn plans to unveil a mechanical direct-drive from the engine to the front wheels through the existing twin-clutch planetary gearbox. This would reduce the energy losses of turning petrol power into electricity to drive the car at high speeds, and would also give the Ampera more spritely overtaking performance.

GM is also considering an "electric-only" button so drivers can save their 40-mile battery range for use in restricted urban areas.

Noise levels are low at motorway speeds, although you can hear the engine working hard when you floor the throttle and there's a fair bit of wind noise on this very early car with ill-fitting panels. Again, the ride is acceptable given the hard, low-rolling resistance tyres fitted and while the steering feels artificial it is well weighted and direct.

With the battery mounted low and centrally in the bodyshell, the handling is predictable, if a little stodgy. The tyres give up the ghost early and soon after the accompanying engineer reminds you that you are driving a priceless engineering prototype.

The brakes are good, but like Honda's new CR-Z hybrid they rely on an electronic deceleration map to modulate the friction brakes and recharging. The result is a strong set of anchors, but a strange-feeling pedal.

That's it for the rest of the major controls because the driveline is totally automatic, with just a Low setting for the transmission which increases the recharging capacity to a peak of 30kW.

No one disputes that electric power is a technology of the future, but there are different ways to skin the cat. While the Ampera is still flawed in places and expensive, it offers the singular advantage of a real-world range and performance.

You could drive this car to the shops or to Moscow and it's not going to leave you stranded by the side of the road. Wouldn't it be even better if it were built in Britain?

The race to build the Ampera

Ellesmere Port is Vauxhall's only car factory in the UK since the closure of the Luton Vectra plant. Its 2,000 production staff make the Astra five-door hatchback, the Astra van and, from this year, the new Astra Sports Tourer estate.

It is one of three European plants that produces the Astra (the others are Bochum-Laer in Germany and Gliwice in Poland) and there is stiff competition between them to build the battery-electric Ampera, which is based on the Astra chassis known as Delta II.

Various General Motors panjandrums have praised the production efficiency and quality of the plant in the past, but it's also isolated from an electric component supplier base, with a sterling-based wage cost structure which is by turns an advantage and a drawback.

Tony Francavilla, the plant manager, acknowledges that it could use a better component supplier base, but says its secret advantage in the race to build the Ampera is "British ingenuity".

"It's a key ingredient," he says. "During the economic downturn we've been training our workers and look at what they are making," he gestures at the Astra models running down the line.

"The Astra is the leader in retail sales in the UK and of that I am most proud. The public don't just want a good price like fleet managers, they sit in the vehicle and they want great workmanship and quality, and we are delivering.

"The Ampera is history in the making," he adds. "And although we've got plenty of work right now, we all want to build it."


Tested: Vauxhall Ampera extended-range, battery-electric, five-door hatchback

Price/availability: Estimate: £30,000 to £35,000 with battery included/ On sale 2012.

Power/torque (estimated): 111kW (148bhp) electric motor, 74bhp, 1.4-litre petrol engine, 16kW/h lithium-ion battery.

Top speed: limited to 100mph

Acceleration: 0-62mph in 9sec

Fuel economy (Combined under EU calculation): 175mpg

CO2 emissions: 40g/km

VED band: A (free)

Verdict: Clever and highly promising idea with the potential to turn car-making upside down.

Source: Telegraph.co.uk

Saturday, June 26, 2010

MIT Report Finds Natural Gas Has Significant Potential to Displace Coal, Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions; Role in Transportation More Limited

Natural gas will play a leading role in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions over the next several decades, largely by replacing older, inefficient coal plants with highly efficient combined-cycle gas generation, according to a major new interim report out from MIT.

In the transportation sector, the study found a somewhat smaller role for natural gas. The use of compressed or liquefied natural gas as a fuel for vehicles could help to displace oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but to a limited extent because of the high cost of converting vehicles to use these fuels. By contrast, making methanol, a liquid fuel, out of natural gas requires much less up-front conversion cost and could have an impact on oil usage and thus improve energy security, but would not reduce greenhouse gases.

The two-year study, managed by the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), examined the scale of US natural gas reserves and the potential of this fuel to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Based on the work of the multidisciplinary team, with advice from a board of 16 leaders from industry, government and environmental groups, the report examines the future of natural gas through 2050 from the perspectives of technology, economics, politics, national security and the environment.

The Future of Natural Gas is the third in a series of MIT multidisciplinary reports examining the role of various energy sources that may be important for meeting future demand under carbon dioxide emissions constraints. The first two reports dealt with nuclear power (2003) and coal (2007).

A study of natural gas is more complex because gas is a major fuel for multiple end uses—electricity, industry, heating—and is increasingly discussed as a potential pathway to reduced oil dependence for transportation, the study team noted. The interim report just published is intended to contribute to the energy, security and climate debate. A full report with additional analysis addressing a broader set of issues will follow later this year.

The report includes a set of specific proposals for legislative and regulatory policies, as well as recommendations for actions that the energy industry can pursue on its own, to maximize the fuel’s impact on mitigating greenhouse gas. The study also examined ways to control the environmental impacts that could result from a significant expansion in the production and use of natural gas—especially in electric power production.

In the very long run, very tight carbon constraints will likely phase out natural gas power generation in favor of zero-carbon or extremely low-carbon energy sources such as renewables, nuclear power or natural gas and coal with carbon capture and storage. For the next several decades, however, natural gas will play a crucial role in enabling very substantial reductions in carbon emissions.

—MITEI Director Ernest J. Moniz

Two major factors that can make a significant difference in the near term in reducing carbon emissions are using less energy and using gas instead of coal—especially by replacing the oldest, least-efficient coal plants with the most-efficient modern combined-cycle gas plants, said Moniz, who chaired the study, along with co-chairs Henry Jacoby, Professor of Management, and Tony Meggs, MITEI Visiting Engineer. Professor Jacoby is co-director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

The study found that there are significant global supplies of conventional gas. How much of this gas gets produced and used, and the extent of its impact on greenhouse gas reductions, depends critically on some key political and regulatory decisions.

In the United States, for example, there is a substantial amount of low-hanging fruit available by displacing inefficient power generation with more efficient, lower CO2 emitting gas plants.

That kind of substitution alone reduces those carbon emissions by a factor of three. It does however raise complicated regulatory and political issues that will have to be resolved to take advantage of this potential.

—Ernest Moniz

Some of the study’s other key findings:

  1. The United States has a significant natural gas resource base, enough to equal about 92 years’ worth at present domestic consumption rates. Much of this is from unconventional sources, including gas shales. While there is substantial uncertainty surrounding the producibility of this gas, there is a significant amount of shale gas that can be affordably produced.

    Globally, baseline estimates show that recoverable gas resources probably amount to 16,200 trillion cubic feet (Tcf)—enough to last over 160 years at current global consumption rates. Further, this global resource figure, excluding the US and Canada, does not include any unconventional gas resources, which are largely uncharacterized in the rest of the world. Russia, the Middle East, and the US have the highest concentration of global gas reserves.

    In the US, unconventional gas resources are rapidly overtaking conventional resources as the primary source of gas production. The US currently consumes around 22 Tcf per year and has a gas resource base now thought to exceed 2,000 Tcf.

    In order to bring about the kind of significant expansion in the use of natural gas identified in this study, substantial additions to the existing processing, delivery and storage facilities will be required in order to handle greater amounts and the changing patterns of distribution (such as the delivery of gas from newly developed sources in the Midwest and Northeast).

  2. Environmental issues associated with producing unconventional gas resources are manageable but challenging. Risks include: Shallow freshwater aquifer contamination with fracture fluids; surface water contamination by returned fracture fluids; excessive demand on local water supply from fracturing operations; and surface and local community disturbance, due to drilling and fracturing activities.

  3. Natural-gas consumption will increase dramatically and will largely displace coal in the power generation sector by 2050 (the time horizon of the study) under a modeling scenario where, through carbon emissions pricing, industrialized nations reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050, and large emerging economies, e.g. China, India and Brazil reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by 2070. This assumes incremental reductions in the current price structures of the alternatives, including renewables, nuclear and carbon capture and sequestration.

  4. The introduction of large intermittent power generation from, for example, wind and solar, will have specific short and long term effects on the mix of generation technologies. The short term effects (meaning daily dispatch patterns of various fuels) of large amounts of wind generation for example will reduce gas generation significantly and could force baseload coal plants to cycle, an outcome which is highly undesirable from an operational perspective.

    In the longer term, the reliability of a system in which renewables assume a baseload role in power generation will require additional flexible natural gas peaking capacity, although this capacity may be utilized for only short periods of the time. Renewables as baseload power, firmed by natural gas generation, will require new regulatory structures to ensure reliability of the system and incentivize the building of flexible gas capacity.

  5. The overbuilding of natural gas combined cycle plants starting in the mid-1990s presents a significant opportunity for near term reductions in CO2 emissions from the power sector. The current fleet of natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) units has an average capacity factor of 41%, relative to a design capacity factor of up to 85%. However, with no carbon constraints, coal generation is generally dispatched to meet demand before NGCC generation because of its lower fuel price.

    Modeling of the ERCOT region (largely Texas) suggests that CO2 emissions could be reduced by as much as 22% with no additional capital investment and without impacting system reliability by requiring a dispatch order that favors NGCC generation over inefficient coal generation; preliminary modeling suggests that nationwide CO2 emissions would be reduced by more than 10%. At the same time, this would also reduce air pollutants such as oxides of sulfur and nitrogen oxides.

  6. A global “liquid” market in natural gas in which supply sources are diverse and gas prices are transparent, set by supply and demand with price differences based on transportation costs, is desirable for US consumers.

    There are currently three regional gas markets—North America, Europe and Asia—which have very little integration and which rely on completely different pricing structures. Modeling suggests that the integration of these markets would result in substantially lower consumer prices for US consumers.

The study makes many recommendations regarding the role of natural gas in a carbon-constrained world, suggesting that policy makers should consider supportive policies in the following areas:


  • Require disclosure of all components of hydraulic fracture fluids.
  • Require integrated regional water usage /disposal plans for unconventional gas production.
  • Support renewed DOE R&D program weighted towards basic research and “off-budget” industry-led program weighted to technology development, demonstration, and transfer. Programs should be designed to optimize gas resources and ensure that they are produced in environmentally sound ways.

Power generation

  • Pursue displacement of inefficient coal generation with natural gas combined cycle generation.
  • Develop policy and regulatory measures to facilitate natural gas generation capacity investments concurrent with the introduction of large intermittent renewable generation.


  • Remove policy and regulatory barriers to natural gas as a transportation fuel.

Global markets

  • Support polices to foster an integrated global gas market, including the integration of natural gas issues into the foreign policy apparatus, with strong involvement of the Executive Office of the President, supported by a strengthened natural gas policy apparatus at the Department of Energy.

  • Export US knowledge in unconventional gas characterization and production to nations that can advance US strategic interests.

While the new report emphasized the great potential for natural gas as a transitional fuel to help curb greenhouse gases and dependence on oil, it also stresses that it is important as a matter of national policy not to favor any one fuel or energy source in a way that puts others at a disadvantage. The most useful policies, the authors suggested, are ones that produce a truly “level playing field” for all forms of energy supply and for demand reduction, and thus let the marketplace, and the ingenuity of the nation’s researchers, determine the best options.

Illustrating the role of natural gas as a bridge to a low carbon future, the study’s authors stressed that it would be a mistake to let natural gas crowd out research on other low- or no-carbon energy sources, but it would also be a mistake to let investments in such alternatives crowd out the expansion of natural gas resources in the near term, particularly for the purposes of CO2 emissions mitigation.

The study received support from the American Clean Skies Foundation, Hess Corporation, Agencia Nacional de Hidrocarburos of Colombia, and the Energy Futures Coalition and the MIT Energy Initiative. The report issued this week is a preliminary overview of a more detailed report that will be released later this year.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mitsubishi Motors Signs Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Denmark for i-MiEV

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Danish government regarding the popularization of the i-MiEV electric vehicle (EV) in Denmark.

Under the MoU, the Danish government will consider introducing i-MiEVs into its fleet in or after 2011, conducting EV promotional activities and implementing EV infrastructure. The Danish government, in order to reduce CO2 emissions in its country, is proactively implementing environmental conservation initiatives as national policy—a part of which are EV-related tax incentives—and approached MMC for cooperation in the popularization of EVs in Denmark.

MMC is already selling the i-MiEV in Japan and in Hong Kong. MMC also has signed MoUs regarding EVs with several governments around the globe including the Principality of Monaco and Iceland, among others, collaborating with these governments towards the popularization and promotion of EVs.

Source: Green Car Congress

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nissan Leaf Test Drive Experience - VIDEO

Nice video documentation of the recent Nissan Leaf test drives.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Toshiba to Build Drive Motors for Electrified Vehicles in the U.S. - Wins Major Contract from Ford Motor Company -


23 Jun, 2010

Houston, Texas, June 22, 2010 – Toshiba Corporation (TOKYO: 6502) will expand manufacturing capacity at its plant in Houston, Texas for production of high-performance drive motors for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs).

The production will be Toshiba's first overseas manufacturing base for automotive propulsion motors which are currently produced in Mie Prefecture, Japan. The decision follows the awarding of a major contract to supply drive motors for hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles for Ford Motor Company.

"Toshiba recognizes the importance of localizing production within North America to ensure long term growth and make a commitment to the North American market," said Shinichiro Akiba, President, Toshiba International Corporation, a Houston-based Toshiba Group company that manufactures and markets motors and industrial equipment, and the base for this expansion program.

"We welcome Toshiba's decision to locate this new production in the United States," said Sherif Marakby, Director, Electrification Programs and Engineering, Ford Motor Company. "This key technology will help build U.S. capacity and supply of components to further enable vehicle electrification in the North American market."

Toshiba will begin construction for the expanded capacity in January 2011 in Houston, Texas, on the site of Toshiba International Corporation. Production of the automotive motors would begin in 2012.

As the automotive industry moves toward a new generation of environmentally friendly vehicles including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles, Toshiba is promoting advances in essential automotive technologies, from dedicated on-board control systems to batteries and Intelligent Traffic Systems. The company's development of key components for HEVs, PHEVs and EVs, including inverters and drive motors, is an essential part of Toshiba's strategy in growing this promising business.

Electrified vehicles are attracting increased attention and growing levels of investment from the automotive industry. Toshiba estimates that the global market for motors for such vehicles, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles, will grow from 50 billion yen in fiscal year 2009 to 1 trillion yen in fiscal year 2020.

The Houston location will allow Toshiba to increase its marketing of automotive systems and components in the United States, establish closer contact and collaboration with automobile manufacturers, and allow auto companies to increase local procurement of key components.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nissan Leaf Channel On YouTube - Video

Nicely done presentation.

Lotus Range Extender Engine Heading for Series Production

A collaboration between Lotus Engineering and Fagor Ederlan will develop the 3-cylinder Lotus Range Extender Engine (earlier post) for series production.

Lotus Engineering, the automotive consultancy division of Lotus Cars Limited, and Fagor Ederlan, part of the Mondragon Corporation Cooperativa, have completed a joint technical and market study analysing the best route to production for the Lotus Range Extender Engine. The study has culminated with an agreement for Lotus Engineering to develop the engine for series production and sale by Fagor Ederlan for the global automotive market.

The three-cylinder, 1.2-liter Range Extender engine from Lotus Engineering has been designed specifically for series hybrid vehicles and the production engine will offer a fast route to market for manufacturers wanting to source a dedicated range extender, the partners said.

The high-efficiency, low-mass design will enable low emissions vehicles to be produced cost effectively across a wide range of hybrid vehicle applications, as already demonstrated in both the Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid and the PROTON Emas concepts, which were shown at the 80th International Geneva Motor Show this year.

Source: Green Car Congress

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Carbon Nanotube Electrode Material for Li-ion Batteries Tackles the Power Performance Gap Between Electrochemical Capacitors and Batteries

Researchers at MIT have developed a new carbon nanotube electrode material for a Li-ion battery based on redox reactions of functional groups on the surfaces of the nanotubes. The electrode, which is several micrometers thick, can store lithium up to a reversible gravimetric capacity of ~200 mAh g-1electrode while also delivering 100 kW kgelectrode-1 of power and providing lifetimes in excess of thousands of cycles, both of which are comparable to electrochemical capacitor electrodes.

A paper on the work, led by Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering Yang Shao-Horn, in collaboration with Bayer Chair Professor of Chemical Engineering Paula Hammond, was published online in the journal Nature Nanotechnology 20 June. The lead authors are chemical engineering student Seung Woo Lee PhD ’10 and postdoctoral researcher Naoaki Yabuuchi.

Layer-by-layer techniques are used to assemble an electrode that consists of additive-free, densely packed and functionalized multiwalled carbon nanotubes. A device using the nanotube electrode as the positive electrode and lithium titanium oxide as a negative electrode had a gravimetric energy ~5 times higher than conventional electrochemical capacitors and power delivery ~10 times higher than conventional lithium-ion batteries.

—Lee et al.

The performance can be attributed to good conduction of ions and electrons in the electrode, and efficient lithium storage on the surface of the nanotubes, the researchers said.

While such electrodes might initially find applications in small portable devices, with further research they might also lead to improved batteries for larger applications, such as in vehicles, the team suggests.

The layer-by-layer fabrication method involves alternately dipping a base material in solutions containing carbon nanotubes that have been treated with simple organic compounds that give them either a positive or negative net charge. When these layers are alternated on a surface, they bond tightly together because of the complementary charges, making a stable and durable film.

The carbon nanotubes self-assemble into a tightly bound structure that is porous at the nanometer scale. In addition, the carbon nanotubes have many oxygen groups on their surfaces, which can store a large number of lithium ions; this enables carbon nanotubes for the first time to serve as the positive electrode in lithium batteries, instead of just the negative electrode.

This electrostatic self-assembly process is important, Hammond says, because ordinarily carbon nanotubes on a surface tend to clump together in bundles, leaving fewer exposed surfaces to undergo reactions. By incorporating organic molecules on the nanotubes, they assemble in a way that “has a high degree of porosity while having a great number of nanotubes present,” she says.

The electrodes the team produced had thicknesses up to a few microns, and the improvements in energy delivery only were seen at high-power output levels. In future work, the team aims to produce thicker electrodes and extend the improved performance to low-power outputs as well, they say.

In its present form, the material might have applications for small, portable electronic devices, says Shao-Horn, but if the reported high-power capability were demonstrated in a much thicker form—with thicknesses of hundreds of microns—it might eventually be suitable for other applications such as hybrid cars.

While the electrode material was produced by alternately dipping a substrate into two different solutions—a relatively time-consuming process—Hammond suggests that the process could be modified by instead spraying the alternate layers onto a moving ribbon of material, a technique now being developed in her lab.

This could eventually open the possibility of a continuous manufacturing process that could be scaled up to high volumes for commercial production, and could also be used to produce thicker electrodes with a greater power capacity.

Funding for the work was provided by the Dupont-MIT Alliance; the US Office of Naval Research; and the MRSEC Program of the National Science Foundation.

Source: Green Car Congress

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Government of Ontario, Canada Providing Rebates Up to C$8,500 for Plug-in Hybrid or Battery Electric Vehicles

Ontario, Canada individuals, businesses, and organizations that purchase or lease a new plug-in hybrid electric or battery electric vehicle after 1 July 2010 may be eligible for a rebate between C$5,000 and C$8,500 (US$4,900-8,300). Rebates will only be made available to the first 10,000 applicants who qualify.

“We’ve made and will continue to make steady progress building the groundwork for Ontario’s electric vehicle market. The Electric Vehicle Program is also part of our Open Ontario plan—one that will keep Ontario ahead of the curve in consumer choice and the use of clean, renewable energy”
—Kathleen Wynne
Minister of Transportation

Since 2006, the province has also provided more than $24 million in rebates for more than 14,000 conventional hybrid vehicles through its Alternative Fuel RST Rebate Program.

The government envisions having one out of every 20 vehicles (5%) driven in Ontario to be electrically powered by 2020. Other measures to support clean and cost-effective battery electric vehicles include:

  • Green licence plates, that would allow drivers to use less-congested High Occupancy Vehicle (carpool) lanes, even if there is only one person in the vehicle.
  • Future access to public recharging facilities and parking at GO stations and other Ontario government lots.

Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario to 6% below 1990 levels by 2014, and to 15% below 1990 levels by 2020.

Source: Green Car Congress

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Toshiba Proposes Storage-Enhanced Grid Charging Systems for EVs

Toshiba Corporation is proposing the development of an electric vehicle charging system—the “Charge Grid”—that features the deployment of its Li-ion battery storage systems (specifically, its SCiB batteries, in various areas.

The announcement was made at Smart Grid Exhibition 2010, which runs from June 16 to 18, 2010, in Tokyo. With the Charge Grid system, surplus electricity generated by photovoltaic (PV) cells is stored in rechargeable batteries and used, for example, for EV rapid chargers. The batteries are placed in various areas to promote the use of electric vehicles (EVs) and photovoltaic power generation.

The Charge Grid system consists of bidirectional inverters, lithium-ion (Li-ion) rechargeable batteries and rapid chargers. The electricity grid and the Li-ion batteries are connected via the bidirectional inverters. And the rapid chargers are connected to the lines that connect the batteries and the inverters.

Toshiba suggested that among its benefits, the Charge Grid system would eliminate the need to construct high-voltage substation equipment, thereby reducing the cost for rapid charging.

Toshiba said it plans to commercialize the Charge Grid system in a few years. It will sell the system and provide services using the system.

Source: TechOn

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mitsubishi Planning ¥2M (US$22K) EV by FY 2012

The All-Electric Mitsubishi iMiEV

The Nikkei reports that Mitsubishi Motors Corp. plans to bring the price of its electric vehicles down some 30% to around ¥2 million (US$22,000) by fiscal 2012.

Unveiled last July, the i-MiEV electric car can now be purchased in Japan, including government subsidies, for ¥2.84 million (US$31,300).

But Mitsubishi Motors sees the need for further price cuts considering the growing popularity of hybrids priced around 2 million yen. Factoring in subsidies, the i-MiEV will effectively sell for around 2 million yen.

Volume production of lithium ion batteries, the most expensive component in an electric vehicle, will lower costs sharply. A battery plant coming online in April 2012 will churn out 70,000 units a year, with the mass production cutting battery costs to under 1 million yen per vehicle, down from 2.5 million yen. Mitsubishi Motors will also work with the suppliers of motors, rechargers and other parts to reduce component numbers, making volume production easier.

Mitsubishi is also targeting an increase in automated manufacturing processes for EVs to about 10% of total assembly—on par with gasoline-fueled vehicles—from the current 2%.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

4,400 Chevrolet Volt Owners to be Eligible for Free Home Charging Stations

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt


  • When the Volt goes on sale later this year, buyers will be eligible for a 240-volt charge station, and home installation in some cases
  • Part of Department of Energy project to install approximately 15,000 240-volt home charge stations across the U.S.
  • Data collected from the charge stations will be analyzed by the Department of Energy to understand what is required for widespread electric vehicle use

DETROIT – The first buyers of the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended-range capability will be eligible for one of 4,400 free home charging stations. The program will provide Volt owners with a 240-volt charge station from either ECOtality, Inc. or Coulomb Technologies. In many cases, it will include the cost of home installation. The projects are made possible with a grant of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds from the Transportation Electrification Initiative administered by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

“Many owners will plug their Volt into a normal 120-volt electrical outlet, charge overnight and drive to work in the morning using only battery power,” said Tony DiSalle, Product and Marketing Director for the Chevrolet Volt. “For Volt owners who want to install a faster 240-volt charge station, we expect the Department of Energy project to save $1,000 and $2,000.”

The U.S. Department of Energy projects were established with two objectives: installing charging stations in residential, workplace and public areas to encourage consumers to purchase electric vehicles; and studying electric vehicle usage to optimize future electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

To encourage consumer purchases of electric vehicles, federal grants and other funds have been awarded to install more than 15,000 home charge stations. That total includes 4,400 home charge stations for Volt owners; 2,600 as part of The EV Project from ECOtality, and 1,800 as part of the ChargePoint America project from Coulomb Technologies.

To study electric vehicle usage, the programs will collect data such as average charge time, energy usage and the starting and ending time of the charging process. This data will be analyzed by the U.S. Department of Energy to understand how electric vehicles are driven, how and when they are charged, and ultimately what is required for widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

“In addition to saving money, these projects offer Volt owners an opportunity to play a role in developing our collective understating of electric vehicles in the market,” DiSalle said.

At the time of purchase, Volt buyers will receive a portable 120-volt charge cord, and will have the option of installing a 240-volt charge station available from Chevrolet. Volt buyers that live within the program cities may apply for a free 240-volt home charging station through the Coulomb or ECOtality programs if they are willing to share their charging information. Additional consumer information on eligibility requirements and the application process will be available when the Volt goes on sale later this year.

The Chevrolet Volt is an electric vehicle with extended range capability, designed to drive up to 350 miles without stopping to recharge or refuel. For the first 40 miles, Volt is powered by pure electricity, without using gasoline or producing tailpipe emissions. When the Volt’s lithium-ion battery is depleted, a gasoline-powered engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 300 miles.

# # #

About Chevrolet

Chevrolet is a global automotive brand, with annual sales of about 3.5 million vehicles in more than 130 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. In the U.S., the Chevrolet portfolio includes: iconic performance cars, such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long lasting pickups and SUVs, such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers, such as Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers "gas-friendly" solutions, such as the upcoming 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco model that is expected to deliver up to an estimated 40 mpg highway, and 2011 Chevrolet Volt that will offer up to 40 miles of electric driving and an additional 300 miles of extended range with the onboard generator (based on GM testing). Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security, and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response, and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models, fuel solutions, and OnStar availability can be found at www.chevrolet.com.

About ECOtality, Inc.

ECOtality, Inc. (NASDAQ:ECTY), headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, is a leader in clean electric transportation and storage technologies. Through innovation, acquisitions, and strategic partnerships, ECOtality accelerates the market applicability of advanced electric technologies to replace carbon-based fuels. For more information about ECOtality, Inc., please visit www.ecotality.com. For more information about The EV Project, the world’s largest electriv vehicle infrastructure deployment program, please visit www.theevproject.com.

About Coulomb Technologies, Inc.

Coulomb Technologies is the leader in electric vehicle charging station infrastructure with networked charging stations installed in municipalities and organizations worldwide. Coulomb provides a vehicle-charging infrastructure, with an open system driver network: the ChargePoint Network (www.mychargepoint.net) provides multiple web-based portals for Hosts, Fleet managers, Drivers, and Utilities, and ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations ranging in capability from 120 Volt to 240 Volt AC charging and up to 500 Volt DC charging. For more information, follow Coulomb on Twitter at twitter.com/coulombevi. To request a charging station in your area, visit http://www.mychargepoint.net/request-station.php. To download the ChargePoint iPhone App, click here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

THINK City EVs with EnerDel Li-ion Packs Enter Production

THINK, the Scandinavian electric vehicle maker, has begun production of THINK City EVs equipped with 22 kWh Li-ion battery packs from Ener1 subsidiary EnerDel.

The EnerDel THINK City pack. Click to enlarge.

THINK and Ener1 have been in active partnership for a number of years, developing and perfecting the THINK EV drive system and the EnerDel. Ener1 is an investor in THINK, and Ener1 Chairman and CEO Charles Gassenheimer is now THINK’s Chairman of the Board. (Earlier post.)

Our ancillary drivetrain business, stripping out THINK’s drivetrain technology and combining with the EnerDel solution, is particularly powerful, allowing an impressive time-to-market advantage for third parties. Ener1 continues to leverage its relationships, such as ITOCHU with the Japan Post and the new Ener1-Wanxiang joint venture, to create compelling new revenue opportunities for both companies.

—Charles Gassenheimer

The latest generation THINK City is a purpose-built, all-electric car designed for urban environments. It can travel at highway speeds and cover 160 kilometers (99 miles) on a single charge (via any conventional household outlet), with zero local emissions. It is the first EV to be granted certification with the European CE conformity mark and EU homologation requirements (M1 certificate).

European production of the THINK City is underway in Finland with manufacturing partner Valmet Automotive, which also assembles the Boxster and Cayman models for Porsche AG. First customer deliveries are taking place across Europe in selected key EV markets such as The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Austria and others.

THINK also recently announced plans to establish a US production facility during 2011 in Elkhart County, Indiana, and is working with Japanese partner Itochu on developing operations in Asia.

Source: Green Car Congress

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tokyo Writer Test Drives Nissan Leaf All-Electric Vehicle

When your car starts up and you don't hear anything, that's the sound of the future. And the sound of silence from Nissan's new Leaf electric vehicle is almost deafening.

During the first journalist test drive of the production version (only four exist right now), the Leaf zoomed off with only the whoosh of wind and tires betraying its speed.

In fact, I found it deceptively easy to clip along at 60 mph without even trying -- solely because there was no engine growling under the hood and no telltale transmission shifts.

The uninitiated electric-car driver -- meaning all of us -- is likely to keep pushing the pedal instinctively, waiting for that engine rumble. Instead, the Leaf glided noiselessly and effortlessly around Nissan's proving ground outside the Oppama plant, where production will begin in October.

Engineers say it goes from 0 to 62 mph in a little under 10 seconds.

The car is so quiet that Nissan feels obliged to equip it with some new bells and whistles -- literally.

In electric cars, pushing the ignition button normally would elicit no sound because there's no gasoline to ignite. But Nissan solves what would have been a slightly unnerving phenomenon by adding a startup chime.

And to warn pedestrians that a stealth car is coming, Nissan composed another synthesized tune reminiscent of a jet engine hum that kicks in at low speeds, when tire noise isn't a factor.

But here's the good part: You can't hear it in the cabin.

Unfortunately, Nissan also has given the Leaf the forklift-inspired "beep-beep-beep" alert when the car is put in reverse.

Nissan’s Leaf: 0 to 62 mph in less than 10 seconds -- and few decibels.

Photo credit: HANS GREIMEL

The test drive wasn't without glitches. I couldn't get the car's joystick shift knob into neutral -- and neither could the engineer sitting next to me, despite numerous attempts.

Another demonstration to show how to start recharging the Leaf remotely through a mobile phone was scrapped when the iPhone they were using couldn't connect with the server.

But the hands-on experience did unveil a few insights:

-- A solar panel on the roof recharges the regular lead-acid battery that runs the car's electric devices, such as windshield wipers and windows.

-- The recharging cable is stored in a backpacklike bag tethered to the side of the trunk.

-- There is a large circuit-breaker switch on the back seat floor for emergency power shutdown.

The Leaf is Nissan Motor Co.'s gambit to leap to the front of the industry in environmentally friendly cars. The car, powered by in-house lithium ion batteries and an electric motor, can go 100 miles on a full charge.

But the question is whether customers will accept a certain amount of range anxiety in exchange for a clean, peppy, futuristic car.

Source: Automotive News

US Conference of Mayors Adopts Resolution Calling on Federal Government to Support and Expand Natural Gas Vehicle Efforts

The US Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution at its 78th Annual Meeting calling on the Federal government to accelerate its support for natural gas vehicles. The resolution calls for the following specific initiatives:

  • Enact the New Alternative to Give Americans Solutions (NAT GAS) Act (S. 1408, H.R. 1835) or relevant provisions within other federal legislation.

  • Enact The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users Act’s (Pub. L. No. 109-59, § 11113) provision that provides a tax credit of 50-cent per gasoline-gallon-equivalent of CNG or liquid gallon of LNG for the sale of CNG and LNG for use as a motor vehicle fuel.

  • Expand federally funded Research, Development, and Demonstration (RD&D) programs to expand product offerings of natural gas engines to meet a wider range of applications in the United States transportation sector.

Passage of current federal natural gas vehicle legislation would stimulate market expansion, economic growth, and support the buying and using natural gas vehicles over a short time period so that national economies of scale will develop, the resolution stated. Furthermore, legislation should be focused on the high fuel-use and high pollution vehicle fleets such as trash trucks, transit buses, semi-trucks, school buses, urban delivery and distribution vehicles, and shuttle buses.

Source: Green Car Congress

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Chevy Volt: Helium or Halo?

When the Prius launched in 1997, a new term was born in the auto industry: the "halo car". Although Toyota lost money on the hybrid in its first few years, the company earned a favorable impression from consumers -- even those who didn't buy a Prius -- for its eco-leadership. Many people think of the upcoming Chevy Volt, GM's first mass production electric vehicle, as its version of a halo car. It's my opinion that GM is more interested in the Volt as a "helium car" than as a halo car.

By helium car, I mean a car whose express purpose is to raise the overall mileage number of a particular carmaker's fleet. GM will be able to sell more low-MPG SUVs and pickup trucks without being in violation of the CAFE regulations, thanks to the helium effect of the Volt. In other words, the Volt's primary purpose in the minds of GM's executives is to subsidize gas guzzlers.

In a recent insightful posting at gm-volt.com (a blog dedicated to covering the development and rollout of the Chevy Volt), GM's vehicle line director for the Volt, Tony Posawatz, revealed that GM is not very serious about making the Volt a popular success. "I think we will always want to keep the Volt in a position where demand for the product is slightly greater than supply...We would not want to see the Volt needing to be discounted for whatever reason." As a result, GM plans to make only a few hundred Volts in 2010, a few thousand in 2011 and about 60,000 in 2012. Those aren't the production numbers needed to make the Chevy Volt a mass-market success. A typical new car launch is measured in the hundreds of thousands of cars produced in the first few years. But for helium purposes, only a few thousand Volts need to be sold, thanks to expectations that its government-certified MPG numbers (which haven't been released yet, but will probably top 100 MPG) will be extremely favorable. For every Volt sold, GM will be able to sell a half-dozen Silverados and Sequoias, while still meeting the new CAFE rule of having an overall fleet MPG rating of 35 MPG. Contrast this to Nissan's ambitious plans to make more than a half-million Leafs in 2012. As part of that strategy, Nissan set the Leaf in the U.S. market at a very low price point: $32,500. Subtract the federal tax credit ($7,500), and the Leaf is comparable in price to the gasoline-powered Nissan Sentra.

How is Nissan able to make an EV that is priced so low? First of all, they've cracked the code for making lithium-ion batteries cheaply. The 24 kWh battery pack for the Leaf is rumored to cost about $9,000 (that's less than $400/kWh). The Volt's smaller battery pack (16 kWh), made by LG Chem, is rumored to cost about $700/kWh.

However, there's another element to Nissan's pricing strategy: It is willing to lower the price of the car in order to boost demand for it.

GM hasn't announced the price at which it will be selling the Volt yet -- it will do so later this summer -- but based on inferences from GM officials, it's clear that it will be priced much higher than the Leaf, and will probably be more comparable to a Cadillac than a Malibu. GM clearly doesn't see the Volt as a revolutionary new way to produce and sell cars. Instead, it sees a niche product and an opportunity to make money off of gullible tree-huggers. All of this is a tremendous shame. GM's 2007 decision to pursue the development of the Volt at great cost and controversy was a bold and courageous move -- indeed, it was GM's best shot at re-engineering the entire company from the car up. Instead, senior management has taken the golden apple presented by the company's engineers -- and what is by all accounts a spectacular car -- and turned it into a way to build more SUVs and con a few thousand eco-conscious buyers out of their money by charging a premium. GM is missing out on the opportunity to build a new company with a competitive flagship brand. Of course, there's still the chance that GM will price the Volt to be competitive with the Leaf (I would suggest that it deserves a slight premium of about $1,000 for the internal combustion range extender). So if GM prices the Volt at $33,500, I'll gladly eat my radiator hose.

Source: GreenTech Media

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sanyo Supplying Li-ion Batteries for Suzuki Swift Plug-in Hybrid

Sanyo Electric recently announced an agreement with Suzuki Motor to supply lithium-ion battery systems for the Swift Plug-in Hybrid. Suzuki has already announced its intention to start manufacturing the vehicles.

The plug-in is powered by a 55 kW, 180 N·m AC synchronous motor and a 2.66 kWh Li-ion battery pack. The 0.66L engine is the K6A, earlier versions of which were used in the Cappuccino.

The Swift Plug-in Hybrid will serve as a model supported by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The new model will serve as a demonstration experiment and the experiment will be implemented at Suzuki dealers from this autumn.

Sanyo has been supplying nickel-metal hydride batteries for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) to Honda and Ford since 2004. Sanyo has also been carrying out joint development with the Volkswagen Group for next-generation nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion battery systems, as well as with PSA Peugeot Citroen for a nickel-metal hydride battery system. Sanyo sees this new partnership as a way to further enhance its relationship with Suzuki and further appeal its strengths in next-generation battery technology for automobiles.

Sanyo plans to accelerate the development and commercialization of high-performance batteries, and is working on global business expansion of rechargeable automotive batteries.

Source: Green Car Congress

Toyota, Tesla To Create Prototype Electric Car This Year

The Nikkei reports that Toyota Motor Corp. indicated that it plans to develop an electric-car prototype jointly with Tesla Motors Inc. for testing as early as this year.

Upon forming capital and business ties last month [earlier post], Toyota and Tesla said that they will jointly develop electric vehicles and share expertise, such as Tesla’s electric-vehicle technologies and Toyota’s production know-how. As the first step, the two firms aim to develop a prototype based on a current Toyota model using Tesla’s lithium-ion-battery-based system.

Actively utilizing Tesla’s technologies will likely enable Toyota to lower the cost of its future electric vehicles, a Toyota executive said.

Friday, June 11, 2010

GM To Develop Electric Car In US; Ends Reva Tie-Up

General Motors has ended a partnership with Indian firm Reva to produce electric cars and will now develop the vehicle in its home town of Detroit, the head of its Indian operations said on Thursday.

The announcement follows Mahindra & Mahindra's deal on Wednesday to acquire a 55 percent stake in Reva Electric Car Company.

GM India, which had originally planned to launch an electric version of the Chevrolet Spark, will now showcase the hybrid electric vehicle Chevrolet Volt in the fourth quarter of 2010, after its global launch in November, Karl Slym said. He did not give a time frame for the introduction of full-fledged electric vehicles in the Indian market. Slym said the decision to end the agreement with Reva was taken around two months ago as GM had a parallel programme to develop electric vehicles globally.

"Now with Reva changing its ownership we saw no particular value in doing this experiment," he said. Reva had entered into an agreement with General Motors India last year to develop electric cars in the country, including an electric version of the Chevrolet Spark. In January GM announced it would set up a $246 million facility to build electric motors to power hybrids and possibly pure electric vehicles.

General Motors' joint venture with China's SAIC would start off with the launch of small commercial vehicles in India in end-2011 while passengers cars from the venture will follow a year later, Slym said. The joint venture between the two companies was announced late last year and was formed in February this year, he added.

Source: Economic Times

Thursday, June 10, 2010

U.S. Senate, House Get Bills To Fund Electric Vehicle Rollout

Article ImageEnlarge Photo

While President Obama has been fumbling a legitimate response to the Gulf Oil Spill, a group of U.S. Senators and Representatives have drafted two versions of new bill to accelerate the electric vehicle industry.

The "Electric Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010" is intended to leverage $10 billion in federal grants to make it easier to early electric-vehicle adopters to get their cars and start to wean the country off oil.

The core of both versions of the bill is to create EV "ecosystems" in a handful of selected regions across the country. Cities will compete for federal funds earmarked to create charging infrastructure, help communities update their building codes and zoning to provide for EV needs, and convert government fleets to electric drive vehicles.

The Senate bill would allow up to 15 cities to apply to the Department of Energy for grants of up to $250 million. The House version offers $800 million to five cities.

According to the Electrification Coalition, this type of grant process is intended to stimulate healtArticle ImageEnlarge Photo

While President Obama has been fumbling a legitimate response to the Gulf Oil Spill, a group of U.S. Senators and Representatives have drafted two versions of new bill to accelerate the electric vehicle industry.

The "Electric Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010" is intended to leverage $10 billion in federal grants to make it easier to early electric-vehicle adopters to get their cars and start to wean the country off oil.

The core of both versions of the bill is to create EV "ecosystems" in a handful of selected regions across the country. Cities will compete for federal funds earmarked to create charging infrastructure, help communities update their building codes and zoning to provide for EV needs, and convert government fleets to electric drive vehicles.

The Senate bill would allow up to 15 cities to apply to the Department of Energy for grants of up to $250 million. The House version offers $800 million to five cities.

According to the Electrification Coalition, this type of grant process is intended to stimulate healthy competition among communities who want to accommodate EVs. It will also take into consideration regions with smaller populations and those with less urbanization.

Most importantly for early EV adopters, these bills introduce additional federal grants for the purchase of EVs or for the installation of EV chargers.

The Senate bill gives a point-of-sale rebate of $2,500 (in addition to the existing $7,500 tax credit) for the purchase of an electric vehicle in the chosen communities, bringing the total purchase allowance to $10,000.

The House version instead gives a credit of up to $2,000 for electric vehicle owners to buy and install charging equipment--extending a credit now scheduled to expire on December 31 this year.

“I have always believed in pursuing new and innovative ways to provide for our country’s energy needs, especially as we work to reduce our reliance on imported oil,” said retiring senator Byron Dorgan (D-SD), one of the main sponsors of the Senate version.

“Republicans and Democrats agree that electrifying our cars and trucks is the single best way to reduce our dependence on oil,” said representative Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said. “Our goal should be to electrify half our cars and trucks within 20 years, which would reduce our dependence on petroleum products by about a third, from about 20 million to about 13 million barrels a day."

The first two mass-produced electric vehicles from major automakers--the 2011 Nissan Leaf and the 2011 Chevrolet Volt--will appear in a handful of dealers in selected regions by the end of this year.

Supporters of these bills say that there is only a narrow window of time to pass this new legislation into law. They hope at least to get the main elements of this legislation included within an energy bill in the near future.

While most political responses to the Gulf Oil Spill have not focused on cutting petroleum usage, adoption of electric vehicles is one step that can begin the process of evolving our transportation sector towards a new future.

If you would like to show your support, contact your local Senator or Congressperson and let that person know your city is ready for clean, green vehicles that use no oil.hy competition among communities who want to accommodate EVs. It will also take into consideration regions with smaller populations and those with less urbanization.

Most importantly for early EV adopters, these bills introduce additional federal grants for the purchase of EVs or for the installation of EV chargers.

The Senate bill gives a point-of-sale rebate of $2,500 (in addition to the existing $7,500 tax credit) for the purchase of an electric vehicle in the chosen communities, bringing the total purchase allowance to $10,000.

The House version instead gives a credit of up to $2,000 for electric vehicle owners to buy and install charging equipment--extending a credit now scheduled to expire on December 31 this year.

“I have always believed in pursuing new and innovative ways to provide for our country’s energy needs, especially as we work to reduce our reliance on imported oil,” said retiring senator Byron Dorgan(D-SD), one of the main sponsors of the Senate version.

“Republicans and Democrats agree that electrifying our cars and trucks is the single best way to reduce our dependence on oil,” said representative Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said. “Our goal should be to electrify half our cars and trucks within 20 years, which would reduce our dependence on petroleum products by about a third, from about 20 million to about 13 million barrels a day."

The first two mass-produced electric vehicles from major automakers--the 2011 Nissan Leaf and the 2011 Chevy Volt--will appear in a handful of dealers in selected regions by the end of this year.

Supporters of these bills say that there is only a narrow window of time to pass this new legislation into law. They hope at least to get the main elements of this legislation included within an energy bill in the near future.

While most political responses to the Gulf Oil Spill have not focused on cutting petroleum usage, adoption of electric vehicles is one step that can begin the process of evolving our transportation sector towards a new future.

If you would like to show your support, contact you local Congressman and let that person know your city http://www.allcarselectric.com/blog/1045908_u-s-senate-house-get-bills-to-fund-electric-vehicle-rolloutis ready for clean, green vehicles that use no oil.

Source: All Cars Electric

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

California Yellow Cab Adds 25 CNG-Powered Transit Taxis



  • Ford Transit Connect Taxi’s new compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane (LPG, or liquefied petroleum gas) engine prep package a winner for Orange County taxi company
  • Transit Connect is built on a dedicated commercial vehicle platform and is tested to Ford’s toughest truck standards. It offers a fuel-efficient 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine and is designed to meet the extreme demands of taxi service
  • Transit Connect Taxi’s roomy, easy-to-access interior provides passenger comfort and ample luggage storage space, even after modification to contain CNG/LPG fuel tanks

DEARBORN, Mich., June 4, 2010 – When Tim Conlon, president of California Yellow Cab, first laid eyes on the new Ford Transit Connect, he wondered if it had a future in taxi service. Now, having seen the award-winning small commercial van in person, he says it has potential to be “the iconic taxi of the future.”

In fact, Conlon is so confident of the Transit Connect Taxi package – which goes into production and arrives in dealerships later this year – he’s already put in an order for 25 units.

What drove Conlon’s decision – and is driving interest among other taxi companies – is the Transit Connect’s alternative fuel engine prep package, which enables conversion to efficient, clean-burning compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane (LPG, or liquefied petroleum gas).

Both CNG and LPG are popular among taxi operators because of their low cost of ownership. California Yellow Cab of Santa Ana will convert its Transit Connects to CNG, to take advantage of the availability of natural gas fueling stations in Orange County. With the acquisition, Conlon expects California Yellow Cab to become the first taxi company in the Southern California to operate half of its 220-vehicle fleet on natural gas.

“California Yellow Cab started to use natural gas in 2002 before there were many refueling stations,” Conlon said. “Now that the infrastructure has built up, we’ll be able to help protect Orange County’s air quality even more with the Transit Connect. It’s a perfect fit for our drivers, and its roomy, easy-to-access interior will appeal to our customers as well.”

The flexible interior of the Transit Connect is well suited for both taxi service and conversion to CNG and LPG. The vehicle’s 135 cubic feet of cargo space accommodates a compressed gas tank while leaving ample passenger legroom and cargo capacity.

To serve taxi operators, Ford will provide calibration guidance for the CNG or LPG conversion. By properly following Ford’s recommendations, the conversion can be completed without voiding the engine’s warranty.

Wooing customers and winning fans
Conlon was one of many taxi operators to place orders for the Transit Connect after seeing the vehicle at the recent Taxicab Paratransit Association’s (TPAC) annual convention in California.

“Everyone wanted to see the Transit Connect – it was the hit of the show,” said Steve Wood, co-owner of South Bay Ford in Los Angeles, one of the largest service dealerships in the U.S. “Once they hit the streets, every taxi operator is going to want them.”

Driving interest in Transit Connect Taxi in California is the mandate of many of its municipalities adopting standards for fleet operators to use cleaner, low-carbon fuels. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CNG is less expensive and burns cleaner than gasoline, resulting in 30 percent to 40 percent less greenhouse gas emissions. Propane also burns cleaner than gasoline.

“Compressed natural gas and propane offer more than sufficient power for vehicles because they are high-energy fuels,” said Rob Stevens, Transit Connect chief engineer. “Another natural benefit for these fuels is they provide overall lower emissions of greenhouse gases compared to gasoline. Additionally, using CNG or LPG provides operators lower fuel/operating costs for their fleet.”

Nearly 87 percent of natural gas used in the United States is domestically produced, contributing to a greater desire for energy independence. There also are government tax credit incentives for fleets to convert to alternative fuels.

Transit Connect is just one of several Ford vehicles that offer CNG/LPG conversion capability. Ford has shipped more than 3,000 CNG/LPG-prepped engines for its E-Series vans with 5.4-liter and 6.8-liter gas engines. A similar package will be introduced for F-Series Super Duty trucks this year.

A conversion-ready interior
Transit Connect Taxi offers an outstanding interior package for people and cargo. With its open architecture, the taxi provides excellent interior headroom and passenger visibility. The vehicle’s rear seat has been moved back 3 inches to maximize passenger comfort. The 6.5 inches of ground clearance allows passengers to step easily through the dual sliding doors. Additional climate control ventilation has been added for rear seat passengers.

The Transit Connect Taxi also features a wiring upfit package with a hole in the roof for signage, vinyl front and rear seats, vinyl flooring and standard third-row windows – all factory installed. Additional installation of taxi modifications such as roof signage and the optional seating partition are handled by taxi upfitters in local markets.

“Transit Connect already has proven it offers tremendous versatility for commercial fleet use,” said Gerry Koss, Ford fleet marketing manager. “The Transit Connect Taxi, combined with the capability for CNG/LPG conversion, further demonstrates its flexibility.”

About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 176,000 employees and about 80 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and, until its sale, Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.

Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Debuts in the US

The smart electric drive. Click to enlarge.

The smart fortwo electric drive has made its debut in the United States. smart USA Distributor LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Automotive Group, Inc. will launch a program this fall that will place electric drive vehicles with partners in select regions of the country.

smart USA will begin deploying a fleet of 250 electric drive vehicles across the United States this fall, targeting key electrification leadership cities and Department of Energy grant areas. smart USA is targeting companies, municipalities, organizations and individuals interested in making a passionate statement on conservation and environmental awareness.

The smart fortwo electric drive. Click to enlarge.

Partners for vehicle placements will be announced later this year, and series production for consumer sales in smart center dealerships will begin in 2012 with the 2013 model year.

The United States’ fleet of 250 electric drive vehicles will begin arriving in October 2010 and is part of the second phase of a three-phase roll-out program. Phase one started with the placement of 100 electric drive units in London in 2007. Phase two is producing 1,500 cars for cities in Europe, the United States and Canada as well as selected markets in Asia, and first deliveries started in Germany late last year. Phase three will be series volume production starting in the 2012 model year.

The phase-two smart fortwo electric drive vehicles arriving in the United States this year are full electric vehicles, powered by a 30 kW drive motor and a 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Using a standard 220V outlet, it takes three and a half hours to charge the battery from 20 to 80 percent of its capacity and less than eight hours to fully charge it. The battery can also be charged using a common household 110V outlet. The vehicles can reach highway speeds and offer a range of 82 miles (132 km) on a single charge.

The US pilot program is intended to provide third-generation technology developers with performance experience in the breadth of different geographies and climates that make up the continental United States. The information gathered in the phase-two vehicle research will establish the performance, range capability and recharging time of the series production vehicles with third generation technology.

Separately, smart USA Distributor LLC also appointed a smart dealer to serve the Hawaiian islands, expanding smart USA’s retail footprint into its 37th state. The dealership, to be named smart center Honolulu, will open later this month and be managed by the Hawaii Automotive Retailing Group.

Source: Green Car Congress

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Renault 2010 Environment Workshop - Electric Vehicles

The Renault Fluence Z.E. EV

Renault held a “2010 Environment Workshop” last week to showcase its progress across its range of vehicles’ full lifecycle through the Renault eco² program.

In terms of powertrain technologies, Renault focused on the introduction of new technologies for internal combustion engines and conventional transmissions, as well as outlining its commitment to electric powertrains. Renault will begin selling affordable mass-production electric vehicles in 2011; the Alliance is aiming to be the market leader in sales of mass market Zero-Emission (during road use) vehicles.

Renault estimates that electric vehicles will account for 10% of the world market by 2020.

Leveraging the Alliance. A decade after the establishment of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the two companies stepped up their cooperation in May 2009. This included the creation of a team dedicated to speeding up and broadening the synergies that will enable both companies to improve their performance, and more particularly in the field of electric vehicles.

In addition to equipping the electric vehicles produced by Renault and Nissan with batteries developed by AESC, a Nissan-NEC joint venture, the Alliance has pooled the expertise of Renault and Nissan to strengthen synergies at every level and encourage the sharing of major electrical assemblies, such as powertrains and batteries.

Renault and Nissan also share purchasing requirements and have standardized components to generate economies of scale with a view to making it possible to develop mass-market electric vehicles.

Batteries. Battery production is poised to become a core activity for the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Renault and Nissan will manufacture lithium-ion batteries on three continents—America, Asia and Europe—with a view to supplying the body assembly factories where the forthcoming EVs will be produced from a local source.

This multi-locality arrangement will permit a secure supply flow and ensure logistics-related cost savings, Renault said, while at the same time enabling significant production volumes to be turned over.

In the longer term, this set-up will allow the Alliance to produce more than 500,000 battery packs annually.

The AESC Li-ion battery pack to be applied in Renault’s first wave of EVs comprises 48 power modules, each comprising four cells, positioned in two rows, side by side. The four cells of each module store 8.4V each, making a combined total of 400V for the 48 modules that make up the battery.

The Alliance is actively working on establishing recycling processes and infrastructures suited to Li-ion automotive batteries.

Range optimization. Renault is trying to make optimization as straightforward and efficient as possible. A specific MMI (Man Machine Interface) has been developed to keep the driver informed about the vehicle’s current state of charge and remaining range:

  • a gauge alongside the speedometer displays the battery’s level of charge.

  • an “econo-meter” uses a new a new color-coded system to tell the driver how economical his or her driving is in terms of energy consumption (light blue for “normal” vehicle use, dark blue for “optimal” driving and red for excessive energy consumption likely to reduce the vehicle’s range).

  • The trip computer is adapted to the needs of electric vehicles and indicates the number of kWh remaining, average and instantaneous energy consumption and remaining range (in kilometers).

Three battery-charging techniques. Renault is supporting three battery-charging techniques in its EVs:

  • A standard charge using a conventional plug via the household supply or at the workplace (between six and eight hours).

  • Fast charge: permits batteries to be charged to 80% of their capacity in 30 minutes.

  • Battery exchange stations: rapid battery exchange in bespoke exchange stations. In Israel, Better Place is currently putting a network of such stations into place. About 100 will be operational in 2011 and they will be compatible with Renault’s first all-electric saloon car, Fluence Z.E.. Other stations will be opened progressively in other countries.

Customers. The four electric cars which make up the range of models that will begin to be introduced from mid-2011 are aimed at distinct types of customers:

  • Twizy Z.E. Concept is an innovative two-seater vehicle which targets city dwellers looking for a safer, more comfortable, zero-emission (during road use) alternative to a scooter.

  • Zoe Z.E. Concept is a versatile, Clio-sized city car which covers all types of everyday use, from the daily journey to work and school runs, to trips to the shops. It is the core model of the electric vehicle range.

  • Fluence Z.E. targets a third type of motorist. As an electric version of the Fluence saloon car, this spacious five-seater is designed for single-car families and packs all the appointments expected of a D-segment vehicle.

  • Kangoo Express Z.E. is aimed at fleet operators and business customers.

Surveys reveal that 50% of versatile, Clio-type hatchbacks are never used for long trips, Renault said. Instead, they tend to serve essentially for short journeys, although half of owners cover 50 km (31 miles) daily (i.e. 12,000 km (7,456 miles) per year based on 240 days’ use).

In the month-and-a-half since the opening of on-line pre-bookings via the Renault-ze.com website on 15 April 2010, early interest for Fluence Z.E. and Kangoo Express Z.E. amounts to 2,500 orders. Interest has come predominantly from private motorists (87%), with some 80% of pre-bookings concerning Fluence Z.E..

Source: Green Car Congress