Saturday, July 31, 2010

State of California Cracks Down on HOV Access, Dumps the Prius and Chevy Volt

California prides itself as being a green mecca, inviting inventions and high technology and grooming early adopters with special HOV lane access and tax credits on alternative fuel vehicles. Well, mostly. It seems like California has soured on hybrids in HOV lanes, recently revoking the Prius’s access to this less-traveled road.

At least the Prius was allowed in for a time though. In a rather shocking turn, California has not only denied the Chevy Volt access to the HOV lane, it also won’t get any state tax credits. Zing!

I am a pretty patriotic dude. I love America, and I tend to have a pro-America bias, especially when it comes to cars. So it really baffles me that California would just totally shut the Volt out, especially when it is giving the Nissan LEAF both HOV access and makes it eligible for a $5,000 state tax credit. That means the Nissan LEAF will cost around $20,000 in California when it goes on sale and gets access to Cali’s HOV lanes… even though its range means it won’t be traveling long highway trips, as that battery will go down quickly at highway speeds.

Of course some of the fault lies with GM. The bigwigs there decided they would rather get the Volt to production by the fall of 2010 than take the extra time aligning the Volt with California’s strict emissions requirements. Given that just 800 LEAFs will be able to tap into the $5,000 tax credit, maybe GM was right to concentrate on getting the Volt to market ASAP. Still, I’m miffed that Nissan gets these tax credits, and the Volt gets shut-out. Way to go California.

Source: Gas2.0

Chevrolet Volt Calls For Premium Gasoline Use Only

The Chevrolet Volt began life as a marketing concept: “what if,” GM’s finest minds asked themselves, “we could sell a car that could go 40 miles without burning any gasoline?” That goal was achievable (although how easily and regularly remains to be seen), but it came at a cost: if you check out GM’s just-released standard equipment sheet (click on “standard equipment”), you’ll find that the Volt’s gasoline range extender requires premium fuel. What’s strange about this is that the Volt’s 1.4 liter range extender is hardly an overstressed buzz-bomb, making only 80 hp at the crank and 74 hp at the generator. Why then does it need premium? Considering that the Volt would have struggled to pay off its premium over the Toyota Prius anyway, the decision to require premium fuel makes no sense at all.

More importantly, what happens when owners refuse to use the premium pump? Will the little range extender knock from pre-ignition and run rough? Will the Volt be unable to maintain speeds climbing the Rockies during summer with 87 octane in the tank? Or, as we suppose, will absolutely nothing happen? Does it bother you to be told by an auto manufacturer that expensive premium fuel is needed for a plug-in electric car?

Source: The Truth About Cars

Friday, July 30, 2010

An interview with Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors - VIDEO

An interview with Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors. Video from the Colbert Report.

[The Colbert Report]

Senate Energy Bill Contains $3.8B for Natural Gas Vehicle Conversion and Purchasing, $400M for Plug-in Vehicle Deployment

On Tuesday, US Senate Majority leader Harry Reid released the “Clean Energy Jobs 5 and Oil Company Accountability Act of 2010”—the latest version of the energy bill to emerge from the Senate. Division B of the bill outlines two major transportation-related initiatives to reduce oil consumption and enhance energy security, including up to $3.8 billion in rebates to buyers of natural gas-powered vehicles, from light- to heavy-duty; and $400 million to support the deployment of plug-in vehicles in targeted communities.

The addition of the electric vehicle provisions was a last-minute achievement, noted Ron Minsk from the Electrification Coalition during his talk at Plug-in 2010. Heading into the weekend, the bill only dealt with oil spills, natural gas vehicles, Home Star and land and water.

Natural Gas Vehicles (Division B, Title XX). The bill establishes within the Department of Energy a Natural Gas Vehicle and Infrastructure Development Program for the purpose of facilitating the use of natural gas in the United States as an alternative transportation fuel, in order to achieve the maximum feasible reduction in domestic oil use.

The program will establish a $3.8-billion rebate program for qualified owners who convert or repower a conventionally fueled vehicle to operate on compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas, or to a mixed-fuel vehicle or a bi-fuel vehicle.

The rebates are primarily targeted at medium- and heavy-duty vehicles; of the funding allocated for rebates, not more than 25% is to be used to provide rebates to qualified owners for the purchase of qualified alternative fuel vehicles that have a gross vehicle rating of not more than 8,500 pounds.

In general, rebates will offset 90% of the incremental cost of a qualified alternative fuel vehicle to a qualified owner for the purchase of a 15 qualified alternative fuel vehicles. Maximum values are determined by vehicle weight:

  • ≤ 8,500 lbs, $8,000
  • 8,501 - 14,000 lbs, $16,000
  • 14,001 - 26,000 lbs, $40,000
  • > 26,000 lbs, $64,000

Mixed-fuel vehicles receive a rebate of up to 75% of the amount provided for vehicles that operate only under natural gas; bi-fuel vehicles receive 50% of the amount for pure NGVs.

The bill also provides funding to establish fueling infrastructure, and a loan program for domestic manufacturing.

Plug-in vehicles. (Division B, Title XXI) The bill establishes with the Department of Energy a national plug-in electric drive vehicle deployment program to assist in the deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles. Specified goals of the national program include:

  1. the reduction and displacement of petroleum use by accelerating the deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles in the United States;
  2. the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by accelerating the deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles in the United States;
  3. the facilitation of the rapid deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles;
  4. the achievement of significant market penetrations by plug-in electric drive vehicles nationally;
  5. the establishment of models for the rapid deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles nationally, including models for the deployment of residential, private, and publicly available charging infrastructure;
  6. the increase of consumer knowledge and acceptance of plug-in electric drive vehicles;
  7. the encouragement of the innovation and investment necessary to achieve mass market deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles;
  8. the facilitation of the integration of plug-in electric drive vehicles into electricity distribution systems and the larger electric grid while maintaining grid system performance and reliability;
  9. the provision of technical assistance to communities across the United States to prepare for plug-in electric drive vehicles; and
  10. the support of workforce training across the United States relating to plug-in electric drive vehicles.

Eighteen months after the enactment of the Act, and biennially thereafter, DOE is to submit to Congress a report on the progress made on implementing the program. DOE is also to make information regarding cost, performance, usage data, and technical data regarding plug-in electric drive vehicles and associated infrastructure available to the public.

Two years after the enactment of the Act, DOE is to carry out a national assessment and develop a national plan for plug-in electric drive deployment that includes:

  1. An assessment of the maximum feasible deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles by 2020 and 2030;
  2. The establishment of national goals for market penetration of plug-in electric drive vehicles by 2020 and 2030;
  3. A plan for integrating the successes and barriers to deployment identified by deployment communities;
  4. A plan for providing technical assistance to communities across the US to prepare for plug-in electric drive vehicle deployment;
  5. A plan for quantifying the reduction in petroleum consumption and the net impact on greenhouse gas emissions due to the deployment of the plug-ins; and
  6. Recommendations to the President and Congress for changes in federal programs to better promote the deployment of and reduce the barriers to plug-ins.

The bill requires DOE to provide technical assistance to State, local and tribal governments to assist with the national deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles. The technical assistance to be provided will include: training codes and standards for building and safety inspectors; ideas on how to expedite permits and inspections; and education and outreach on the various types of plug-in electric drive vehicles and the associated technology. It also provides grants for training first responders, electricians, contractors, and engineers who will be installing infrastructure, code inspection officials, dealers, mechanics, and others. Provides grants for programs in designing plug-in electric drive motor vehicles and associated components and infrastructure.

The bill directs the federal government to count electricity used to refuel a plug-in electric drive motor vehicle as an alternative fuel. Also, it directs the Federal Energy Management Program and the General Services Administration to compile a report on how many plug-in electric drive vehicles could be deployed in federal fleets based on needed functionality and costs.

Federal agencies are to request funding for these vehicles in their annual budget requests. Finally, it directs the Administrator of the General Services Administration to acquire and deploy plug-in electric drive vehicles to be used in a pilot program in federal fleets and authorizes funds to cover incremental costs.

The bill also creates a target Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Communities Program—at least 5 and not more than 15 deployment communities that reflect diverse populations, geography, and a model for deploying electric drive motor vehicles. At least one deployment community will have population of less than 125,000. This is funded with the $400 million.

Other provisions include:

  • Establishing an R&D program in DOE to work on all aspects of the development, production, and deployment of electric vehicles. This section also establishes a research, development, and demonstration program in the Department of Energy to identify and assess possible uses for vehicle batteries at the end of their useful life in a vehicle. It provides grants for selected demonstration projects and directs the Secretary of Energy to carry out a study on recycling materials from electric vehicles and batteries.

  • Establishing a competition for the development of a 500-mile vehicle battery.

  • Conduct a study identifying the raw materials needed to manufacture plug-in electric vehicles, batteries, and other components, to describe the known sources of these materials and the risk associated with their supply, and to identify ways to secure the supply chain of critical raw materials.

  • Entering into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study to identify what data that may be collected from electric vehicles, such as location, charging patterns and usage of electric vehicles. This study will be used to provide recommendations on procedures, technologies, and rules relating to the collection, storage and use of this data.

  • Requiring electric utilities to consider the potential levels of plug-in penetration that they might expect to see on their systems in the near term, investigate the potential impacts on their transmission and distribution infrastructure, and plan for the deployment of electric vehicles in their service area.

  • Providing loan guarantees for eligible entities that purchase more than 200 qualified automotive batteries in a calendar year for use in nonautomotive applications. This program will help attract battery manufacturing facilities to the US while plug-in electric drive vehicle production is still ramping up.

  • Establishing a technical advisory committee to advise the Secretary of Energy on matters relating to plug-in electric drive vehicles. The committee is to coordinate with the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Technical Advisory Committee and the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee. The bill also establishes an Interagency Task Force, chaired by the Secretary of Energy, to coordinate federal actions related to plug-in electric drive vehicles and infrastructure.

Let's hope this bill makes it into law.

Source: Green Car Congress

Ford Predicts an Electrified Global Fleet totaling 10 to 25% by 2020

Ford anticipates that electrified vehicles—hybrids (HEV), plug-in hybrids (PHEV), and battery-electric vehicles (BEV)—will represent 2-5% of its global fleet by 2015, and then increase rapidly to 10-25% of its global fleet by 2020, said Nancy Gioia, Ford’s Director of Global Electrification, in several talks at Plug-in 2010 in San Jose, California this week. Currently (2010), electrified products (only hybrids at this point) represent 1% of Ford’s global fleet.

Ford anticipates that hybrids will represent about 70% of the 2020 numbers, with plug-in hybrids contributing 20-25% and battery-electric vehicles the remainder, she said. All of that is highly dependent on fuel prices, policies, and customer value propositions, she noted.

In 2009, Ford sold 4.817 million units worldwide, down from 5.532 million in 2008.

We have now embedded electrification...including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles, any vehicle where electricity directly displaces oil or a liquid one of the current and future technologies as a core part of our product portfolio, our capital allocation process, our vehicle platform design and manufacturing processes. This is important.

This is strategic. This is not just an image vehicle, or an image technology. It’s not a science experiment. It is embedded into the fabric of our company, along with other technologies...Long term we see electrification as part of the fuel diversity plan going forward.

—Nancy Gioia

Moving forward, Ford is electrifying its highest volume global platform (the C platform, rather than using unique platforms. With 12 different top hats (e.g., Focus, Transit Connect, C-Max, S-Max), the C-sized platform represents more than 2 million units a year. By electrifying that platform and building the vehicles down the same assembly lines with a minimal number of stations changing, Ford has an opportunity during a very volatile period, Gioia said.

To support a mass market for electrified vehicles, Gioia said, requires:

  • Great features and functional, trustworthy technology—i.e., reliable, durable and safe.
  • Access to the fuel.
  • Meeting the transportation need.
  • Affordability.

If you hold a BEV at a constant range of 100 miles, over time the cost of the battery pack comes down, she noted, and begins to converge to equal the replacement cost of the powerpack of a plug-in. However, she noted, that assumes that a 100-mile range is acceptable to the customers. Reinventing in the BEV for a larger range may change the equation, she said.

Ford’s approach with its plug-in hybrid is to use the parallel power split architecture of its standard hybrids. This enables Ford to use identical parts such as traction motors, and power electronics between HEVs and PHEVs. The PHEVs share 85% of the components of the HEV system, with the notable exceptions being the battery pack, charger and wiring, and electric pumps and cooling circuits, resulting in significant economies of scale.

During this volatile period, by utilizing our highest volume platforms, by having common parts between hybrids and plug in hybrids we are doing the most to make this as affordable as possible during a very dynamic time.

—Nancy Gioia

Battery technology is clearly key to cost improvement, she said, noting that Ford expects there to be four cycles of battery chemistry improvement over the next 10 years.

At the end of the day, the clarity of communication to the consumer is going to be very important. And so while we have to compete, we also have to compete with some level of consistency of communication, because it is going to be a bit of a confusing environment moving forward. I think we are going to have a very short honeymoon period...there are so many entries, so many things. If we can’t help the consumers with clear communication and understanding, I fear that we may damage the reputation of the technology.

...We must have a constancy of purpose. Changing the fuel source and changing the energy paradigm is not something we can switch back and forth every two, three or four years based on election periods. There must be a national and actually global constancy of purpose on this journey. We are on a marathon, a 50-year journey, we are not on a 3-5 year journey. This takes an enormous amount of staying power.

—Nancy Gioia

Source: Green Car Congress

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Look At How the Nissan Leaf Will Be Rolled Out in the US

Nissan’s LEAF EV first will be available to consumers in December, in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Tennessee. These areas are home to The EV Project—the largest electric vehicle and infrastructure deployment yet undertaken. The EV Project is a result of a partnership with charging infrastructure provider ECOtality and partially funded by a grant from the US Department of Energy.

Customers in these first five launch states, who represent more than 55% of total Nissan LEAF reservations (currently approximately 17,000), will be able to place firm orders for the Nissan LEAF starting in August.

Nissan LEAF will be introduced to Texas and Hawaii shortly thereafter, in January 2011; North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina and Alabama follow in April 2011; and be rolled-out to the balance of the nation beginning in Fall 2011 with availability in all markets nationwide by the end of that year.

Consumers who have reserved the Nissan LEAF online will be invited to place orders through their dealer for the vehicle in advance of market roll-out timing, allowing time for consumers to select a dealer and assess home charging needs. Nissan is continuing to take reservations for the Nissan LEAF through its website, Interested consumers are encouraged to place a reservation, which entails a $99 fully refundable fee to secure a spot on the list to place an order.

The buyers. The reservations process has educated Nissan about more than just geographic distribution. Some information gleaned about potential future Nissan LEAF drivers includes:

  • Purchase time: About 67% of Nissan LEAF reservations holders have indicated that they'd be ready to purchase or lease a Nissan LEAF within one year of placing the reservation. An additional 24% indicated they would be ready in one to two years.

  • Home and Parking: About 75% of people who placed reservations own a single-family home. About 68% have attached garages, while an additional 18% have detached garages or carports. Home ownership and dedicated parking are important factors for Nissan LEAF drivers who plan to charge their vehicles at home.

  • Interests: Several primary interests are inspiring people to order a Nissan LEAF. Cited interests include energy independence (35 percent); environmental consciousness (34 percent); and cost/fuel economy (20 percent).

  • Favorite color: The favorite color of Nissan LEAF owners is blue. More than 30% of reservations are for blue Nissan LEAF electric cars. Silver is a close second, at about 26%. The remaining reservations are close to evenly split among red, black and white.

  • Trim level: About 75% of Nissan LEAF orders are for the SL trim level, which adds a rearview monitor, solar panel spoiler, fog lights, and automatic headlights.

Source: Green Car Congress

Nissan Steps Up With 8 Year / 100,000 Mile Warranty For Leaf's Battery System

Nissan Motor Co., seeking to be the world’s biggest producer of electric vehicles, said lithium-ion battery packs on its rechargeable Leaf hatchback will have an eight-year warranty.

Customer concerns that electric cars may not be as reliable as gasoline-engine autos led the Yokohama, Japan-based company to set the warranty at eight years or 100,000 miles on the first-generation Leaf powertrain, Carlos Tavares, Nissan’s executive vice president and head of operations in the Americas, said today at a conference in San Jose, California.

“We have a warranty that is matching market standards,” Tavares said in an interview. “We checked that those were matching the customers’ expectations through market research.”

Nissan, Japan’s third-largest automaker, plans to sell as many as 25,000 units of the $32,780 Leaf in the U.S. during the model’s first year, following its introduction late this year. Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn has set a goal of expanding battery and electric vehicle production to as many as 500,000 vehicles by the end of 2012.

The durability of lithium-ion batteries hasn’t been proven yet as vehicles that use them are just beginning to come to market this year.


About 17,000 U.S. consumers have paid $99 to reserve one of the initial models, Nissan said today.

The price for the car, which the company says will go 100 miles (160 kilometers) per charge, will eventually allow the Leaf to be profitable even with its new battery technology and electronics, Tavares said.

“We’re not going in this strategic direction because we just want to test the water,” Tavares said. Nissan’s plan is for the Leaf to be “as profitable as a conventional vehicle,” he said.

Tavares also said today that initial deliveries of the Leaf will begin in December for customers in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Tennessee. The model is to be sold next in Hawaii and Texas, with availability across the U.S. expected by the end of 2011, he said.

Source: Bloomberg

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chevrolet Volt MSRP Officially Announced - $41,000

GM has done it again. They have sabotaged their official entry into the world of electric vehicles by pricing the Volt way too high. Most were betting on a MSRP between 32K and 35K but setting the bar at 41K will put this vehicle out of the reach of the masses. Even with the $7,500 federal tax rebate, which buyers will not see until the year after they purchase, this car is simply too expensive.

Now we know why GM is only going to manufacture so few Volts. Demand will be non-existent.

A travesty, really.

2011 Nissan Leaf Information Center - VIDEO

A look at the Leaf's Information Center and usefulness.

GM Announces Establishment of Battery Electric Vehicle Demo Program - Again

Speaking at the “Electrification - Plugging into the Future Forum” today at the SAIC-GM Pavilion at World Expo 2010 Shanghai, GM Vice President of Global Vehicle Engineering Karl Stracke announced that GM is establishing battery electric vehicle demo fleets in different regions around the world using different vehicles.

These demo fleets are intended to increase GM’s competitiveness in vehicle electrification by providing GM with real-world data on driving patterns, battery charging, market needs and customer acceptance while sharing costs and resources with supplier and government partners.

While GM is not yet announcing its partners, a GM spokesperson said that no other automakers are currently involved. Additional details about the battery-electric vehicle demo fleets will be announced in the future.

GM has already performed all the BEV demo's and testing necessary. Their EV-1 in the late 1990's was a simultaneous engineering success and marketing catastrophe. The EV-1 was a 140 mile range all-electric, technological marvel two seater built with rugged NiMH batteries that every lessee enjoyed. Unfortunately, GM recalled and crushed them after California reneged on its ZEV (Zero Emissions Vehicle) ARB mandate.

It is obvious that General Motors has the technological and engineering wherewithal to build electric vehicles as evidenced by the EV-1, Chevy S-10 Electric pickup and now the Chevrolet Volt. What is lacking is the intestinal fortitude and integrity to build alternate energy vehicles on a mass market scale and offer them to a public that is growing increasingly weary of oil fired transportation.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Eaton Advances Integrated Solar-Assisted Electric Vehicle Charging Station with Help From Tennessee Valley Authority and EPRI

Eaton Corporation is collaborating with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on a prototype integrated solar-assisted electric vehicle charging station to be erected at EPRI’s research laboratory in Knoxville, Tenn. Additional stations are planned for Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Nashville, Chattanooga and another site in Knoxville.

Simple block diagram of the SMART system. Source: EPRI. Click to enlarge.

The prototype charging station used by EPRI and TVA, also known as a Smart Modal Area Recharge Terminal, or SMART station, will provide information on energy usage, the time when the equipment is used, the amount of solar-generated electricity produced and stored, and the potential impact of load clusters—when several vehicles are refueled at the same time—on distribution system reliability.

The collaboration will create a model charging facility that will charge electric vehicles quickly and reliably, and it will produce data to assist in implementing key components of a smart electrical grid. These components could include integrating renewables onto the grid, utilizing a battery storage system, assessing the impact on reliability of a distributed resource generation, testing advance metering infrastructure and analyzing electric vehicle supply equipment.

The base design includes the following attributes:

  • 10 parking spaces each with electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) rated at 32 A, 240 V (7.68 kW capacity)
  • Approximately 2 kW of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels provided per charge space (Its primary function is to offset vehicle energy usage.)
  • Approximately 5 kWh of usable battery storage provided per charge space (Its primary function is to allow mitigation of peak system power demand.)
  • All subsystems are linked by being grid-tied.
  • Nose-to-nose parking layout with a center access aisle
  • Subsystems modular at the two-space level

Eaton recently announced that it will collaborate with Takaoka Electric Manufacturing Company, Ltd. to develop and launch DC Quick Chargers, a key component in the charging of electric vehicle battery packs. The collaboration will enable Eaton to provide a complete line of charging stations across residential, commercial and industrial applications in North America.

Source: Green Car Congress

Mitsubishi i-MiEV Electric Car Test Drive and Analysis

2012 Mitsubishi iMiEV

From USA Today:

Whew. Made it. The cute battery car had said it was full; enough juice to go 55 miles. The airport here was 45 miles distant — via the dreaded Washington, D.C., Beltway and thence the equally unpredictable I-95.

No way to accurately forecast how much sitting in traffic, or dashing at breakneck speed, or spurting then languishing on the main north-south road along the East Coast of the U.S.

No place to pull over and plug in, and even if there were, there was no time. Gotta catch a flight.

Thus, we whirred into the great unknown — afflicted with so-called range anxiety electric-car marketers say they must overcome to make battery buggies more than curiosities.

Using the "economy" setting on the Mitsubishi i-MiEV minicar, we sacrificed full power in favor of slower battery drain, knowing we could switch into one of two other modes that allowed max scoot if the highway speeds required it for safe going.

No air conditioning or headlights were needed this day — or the outcome would have been different.

With 17 miles of fuel in the "tank," we pulled into the airport parking lot, and the only drama had been between our ears.

(Anxiety was much lower than otherwise because a company that wrangles test cars in this area was trailing as our safety net.)

Perhaps tired of being skipped in the discussion of alt-power vehicles, Mitsubishi has sprinkled some Japan-market i-MiEV cars for testing in the U.S. MiEV stands for Mitsubishi innovative electric vehicle. The initial "i" is, well, just because.

The various labels and warnings in the car are in Japanese, but the car was represented by Mitsubishi as similar to what we'll get in the fall of 2011 (though, of course, the steering wheel will be on the left).

The car's been on sale in Japan since summer 2009 and goes on sale in Europe this summer.

Mitsu forecasts the U.S. price at a bit less than $30,000 before any government incentives, such as the federal tax credit of $7,500 and four-figure sweeteners in some states. The cost of a home charger and its installation will run roughly $2,000, per auto industry forecasts.

The i-MiEV will hit the U.S. market after the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf electric cars, both promised late this year. Both are bigger and priced somewhat higher.

It will have the advantage of having those cars pioneer the way, working out many of the kinks in the electric-car system (such as having to wait forever to get a local permit to install a 220-volt charger), and getting folks accustomed to such vehicles. What's the saying? Pioneers get slaughtered; settlers get rich.

Electric or otherwise, however, a car has to be good at the basics to make it.

Mainly, i-MiEV was. The drawbacks, some significant, seem readily fixable. First, the good stuff:

•Fun. The cute, egg-like appearance and tall roofline gave you a grin every time. And the car's nimble because the drivetrain is in the back just ahead of the rear wheels, so handling balance is better than the more common front-drive layout.

•Roomy. Relative, of course, to overall size. Four fit comfortably in our time with the car.

•Simple. Thank goodness Mitsu eschewed the graphic whirlwind on the dash that seems part of other alt-fuel vehicles. Driver information, automakers call it. Driver distraction and dumb idea, we call it. A couple of simple gauges in i-MiEV tell how much range and battery charge remain and are the only EV-specific gauges needed, thank you very much.

The recharging cord plugs in where and about how a gas nozzle would fit a conventional car. We left it plugged in, cord draped up the driveway, during a rainstorm and had no problem.

•Quick. Up to a point. That's an electric-car forte — neck-snapping jump from a dead stop up to about 30 mph because of instant-on torque. Great in traffic, which is how electrics are meant to be used (though the scoot to BWI was a normal-length commute for some people, so let's say it's within the design intent).

Mitsu says i-MiEV tops out around 80 mph, so it'll be of limited use in some U.S. areas, where, however sporadically, traffic routinely hits 90 mph (the New Jersey Turnpike when it's not clogged, for example).

•Feel. Steering, braking, cornering, all pleasant (as long as you didn't exceed the modest limits imposed by the skinny 145-series tires).

•Features. Unexpected premium items boosted the appeal. A favorite: One-touch up or down operation on all four windows. Others included heated seats and backup warning (though no rear-view camera).

What probably should change:

•Plastics. They felt hard, brittle, cheap. For instance, pull out a cup holder and you first had to yank it loose, then worry that it was so flimsy you'd break it. We're way past that; fix or die.

•Seats. Lumpy in front. Need more refinement.

•Noise. Mostly none, but now and then a pump or blower would kick out what sounded like a faint foghorn. At least the whine you often get from electric motors was absent, so the other is forgivable.

•Range. Uncompetitive, at least in advertising. Nissan's saying 100 miles for Leaf (of course, that'll be best-case). Volt will go something like 300 miles because it has a gas engine that'll kick on and run a generator after the batteries give up at about 40 miles.

So i-MiEV's real-world 50 to 60 miles on a charge (per our experience) won't seem appealing.

Mitsu claims 80 to 100 miles in a Japanese test, but — stating the obvious — America's different.

The car's a strong, basic contender. If Mitsubishi can tailor it better to Americans' high expectations (for any car, not just alt-power vehicles), its relatively low price and funky charm could make it worth the wait.


•What? Electric-power, rear-drive subcompact, four-door, five-passenger sedan.

•When? Coming to the U.S. in fall 2011. On sale in Europe this summer. On sale in Japan since summer 2009. Test car was Japan-market version, represented as essentially similar to U.S. model.

It will enter the U.S. market about a year after the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf electrics are scheduled to go on sale.

•How much? Mitsubishi forecasts a bit less than $30,000 — before the $7,500 federal tax credit and other incentives some states offer. Charger and installation expected to average about $2,000.

•Why now? Mitsubishi's dribbled a few Japanese-market models around the U.S. to remind folks it's a player — or soon will be — in the alt-power arena.

•How powerful? The electric motor is rated 63 horsepower from 3,000 to 6,000 rpm, 133 pounds-feet of torque from start to 2,000 rpm.

•How big? A foot shorter, 8 inches narrower and 8 in. taller than a Mini Cooper. I-MiEV is 134 inches long, 58 in. wide, 63 in. tall. Weighs 2,376 lbs.

•How far on a charge? Mitsubishi says 80 to 100 miles based on Japan experience.

Based on the trip computer in test vehicle and our real-world driving, we predict an average of about 50 to 60 miles.

•How long to charge? Rated 14 hours for full recharge on a 110-volt circuit, seven hours on a 220-volt circuit, and one hour on 220-volt three-phase quick-charge specialty circuit (as on fast-charge stations in Japan now).

•Overall: Promising.

Brammo Unveils The Empulse its Hot Electric Sportbike

Got a need for speed? Check out this video.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Washington State's I-5 to Become Charging Corridor For EV's

Proposed Washington DOT Charging Sign

Just recently, Washington State governor, Chris Gregoire announced that the I-5, which runs from the Canadian border to the Oregon state line would be ‘electrified.’

Naturally, this process will be made available with more government monies, this time from a federal grant of 1.32 million, to be allocated out by the state Transportation Department.

The plan is to have the 275 mile stretch of road to have enough charging stations so that electric cars can traverse its length. So how many charging stations is that? Is it based on a 100 mile LEAF, a 80 mile i-MiEV, or even a 40 mile (electric range) Volt.

The answer is 7 to 10 charging stations throughout the corridor. However the WSDOT says that the maximum range between stations would be 80 miles, so it looks like if you own a Volt you will be in for a little good old fashion petrol burning.

Also of interest (and quite handy if you happen to be in need of a quick charge) is that these will be level III chargers…meaning you can get a complete fill in your LEAF in under 30 mins. (about 15 mins in a i-MiEV)

It is still unclear if the cost of the project will come completely out of the grant, or will be connected to the EV Project, a larger 230 million dollar pie that will set up 2,500 charging stations (mostly level II) in the Seattle area.

Like a more conventional gas station the state will be charging for the electricity ‘pumped,’ but declined to comment on pricing at this time.

Tonia Buell, communications manager for WSDOT’s public/private partnerships, summed up the need for the project as follows, “We want people to buy electric vehicles with the confidence that they can take longer trips than just around the community and to different cities.”

The governor also said of few ‘governor-ie things’ too, (be careful to not fall asleep if you choose to read it), “Washington state is a leader in creating green jobs, adopting new clean technologies and we are poised to do it again with electric vehicles. Providing the nation’s first true electrified highway (I-5) will benefit Washingtonians and show the rest of the country how we can use innovative partnerships to solve some of our most difficult challenges like climate change and our dependence on oil.”

This 275 mile stretch is to be converted starting this fall, and be the first leg of the West Coast Green Highway in service. When/if completed the WCGH would run 1,350 miles from Baja California to British Columbia.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Chevrolet Volt Sticker Price May Be Revealed Tuesday, July 27th

Chevy Volt Parked in Front of Its Manufacturing Facility

The long, speculation-filled wait is about to end. Come Tuesday, 27 July 2010, if heavy hints prove true, General Motors officials will announce the pricing on the revolutionary plug-in Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle (EREV).

While investigating the reasons why the Volt will not qualify -- for now -- for the $5,000 AT-PZEV rebate in California, EV World learned that the date for the pricing announcement will coincide with the Plug-In Conference & Exposition in San Jose, California, June 26-29th.

Speculation has run rampant for months now that the car will be priced at or over $40,000, though depending on consumer demand and dealer profit margins, buyers could see that number go even higher, since only 10,000 units will be built the first year. Production numbers are slated to rise to 30,000 units annually for the 2012 model year and beyond, so dealer inventories in those handful of states where the first limited number of units will be shipped could be tight, and dealer add-ons high.

While the Volt, which seats four adults and has an Electric-First™ driving range of up to 40 miles and a hybrid range of some 300 additional miles, qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit, it will not qualify for California's AT-PZEV (advanced technology partial zero emissions vehicle) rebate, worth an additional $5,000.

According to GM spokespersons Robert Peterson in Michigan and Shad Balch in California, GM decided in 2007 when it committed to series production of the Volt, to not seek California Air Resources Board AT-PZEV certification. Instead, the decision was made to certify the car in all 50 United States. ARB certification would have required, both GM executives explained, additional testing and since California's air quality regulators had yet to figure out how to classify the Volt, GM felt it was more important to continue the accelerated development program and get the car out by the Fall of 2010 then wait for ARB to come up with a way to categorize what will be for many drivers essentially an all-electric car, while for other who driver further distances each day, a hybrid.

And then there's the issue of California's fiscal health. Both Peterson and Balch noted that the state allocated just $4.1 million dollars for the rebate program. That money has to be shared not only among all vehicle manufacturers, but also many vehicle types. While the Nissan LEAF, an all-electric car, will qualify for the $5,000, an all-electric truck like those manufactured by Smith and Navistar will qualify for as much as $20,000. Owners of electric scooters, motorcycles, and three-wheeled EVs can also request smaller rebates. If you assume that only LEAF owners will be applying for the funds, that works out to be only 820 vehicles, and those funds run out the end of this year. Balch explained that even if California renews the program for 2011, increasing it to as much as $8m, that will cover only an additional 1,600 vehicles. General Motors simply didn't feel the extra time, expense, and likely delays to market were worth it.

Balch told EV World that GM will have the car certified to ARB standards by mid-2012, so assuming funds are still available, some Volt buyers will be able to apply for a rebate at that point. Initially, dealers in California, Austin, Texas, Michigan and around the greater New York area will be receiving the first shipment of vehicles, with the largest allotments headed to the Golden State.

Source: EV World

Friday, July 23, 2010

More than 600 Chevrolet Dealers Prepare for Volt Customers

Press Release:

Detroit – More than 600 Chevrolet dealers in launch markets have begun preparing for the launch of the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended-range capability.

“About 90 percent of our Chevrolet dealers in launch markets to date have requested to become participating Volt dealers,” said Tony DiSalle, Chevrolet Volt product marketing director. “The response exceeded expectations given the extensive training requirements. There’s obviously a lot of enthusiasm for the Volt’s arrival later this year.”

Chevrolet dealers in California, Texas, Michigan, the Washington, D.C. area, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were invited to join the Volt program earlier this month. The dealers are required to take part in an extensive training program focused on the sales and service elements of the vehicle. Participating dealers also are required to have a Chevrolet Volt on their lot for potential customers to test drive

“As soon as we got the final word, we signed on,” said Steve Waersch, general manager of Pohanka Chevrolet in Chantilly, Va., near the nation’s capital. “Our waiting list compiled over the last year and a half to two years has no less than 50 names on it. In the last month and a half, we’ve been getting four or five inquiries a week.”

The Chevrolet Volt is the only electric vehicle that can operate under a full range of climates and driving conditions. It has a total driving range of about 340 miles and is powered by electricity at all times. For up to the first 40 miles, the Volt drives gas- and tailpipe-emissions free using electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt’s battery runs low, a range-extending engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 300 miles on a full tank of gas.

The Volt will be on display next week at Plug-In 2010 in San Jose, Calif.

SK Energy To Provide Li ion Batteries to Kia and Hyundai For EV's

South Korea-based SK Energy Co. will provide Li-ion batteries to Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors for electric vehicles (EVs), beginning with the i10.

The i10 will have a single charge range of 160 km (99 miles) and a top speed of 130 km/h (81 mph). The i10 is due to be in full scale production in 2011, according to SK.

SK Energy uses a lithium manganese oxide cathode material, mixing in NMC material for stabilization; a surface-modified graphite on the anode; a gel polymer electrolyte; and a ceramic-coated proprietary SK separator featuring low shrinkage and high heat resistance. SK cells have a specific energy density of around 140 Wh/kg.

In October 2009, SK Energy was chosen as a supplier of lithium-ion batteries for a hybrid electric vehicle project for Daimler commercial vehicle subsidiary Mitsubishi Fuso; Daimler holds 85% of Fuso.

SK Energy is also participating in a one-year technology assessment program of its batteries for electric vehicles with the US Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC). USABC will provide 50% of the funding for the project.

Source: Green Car Congress

Japanese Editorial in Nikkei Urges Automakers to Respond Aggressively to Match US, China EV Moves

An editorial in Japan’s Nikkei argues that Japanese automakers need to respond aggressively to compete in the rapidly changing global market for electric vehicles.

...both Toyota and Honda had until recently thought that the era of hybrids would continue for a while before electric vehicles began to gain popularity. But the automakers are now accelerating their efforts to develop electric cars, and there are two main reasons for this.

One is the tough new fuel economy rules the US administration of President Barack Obama will introduce in 2012...The second reason for the heightened focus on electric cars is China’s move to promote them. At the end of 2009, Beijing announced a target of increasing the share of electric cars in overall domestic production to 10% in 2015. The government has also created a subsidy program to boost sales of electric vehicles by providing up to 60,000 yuan (770,000 yen) [US$8,800] per unit.

...Beijing has apparently decided to catapult the nation’s auto industry into the electric age by skipping the transitional era of hybrids. The auto industry is clearly facing a major turning point, and trends in China, now the world’s largest car market, will have a huge impact on the global automaking industry.

...China is bent on taking the leadership in carmaking by taking advantage of the revolution now taking shape in the industry. Japanese carmakers need to respond to China’s moves by developing electric vehicles that can compete favorably with rival Chinese offerings in this crucial market.

The Chevrolet Volt Brake Test - VIDEO

Here is a video from Chevrolet with an update on the Volt's braking system.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

South Australia Excited To Get Its First PHEV Prius Conversion

The Motor Trade Association of South Australia has procured a Toyota Prius which has been upfitted with an aftermarket plug-in conversion, as part of its plans to develop hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicle training resources for automotive repair technicians throughout the state of South Australia.

Left to right, MTA South Australia Executive Director John Chapman chats with Kim Adelman of Plug-In Conversion Corporation (PICC). Tia Keast, a mechanical apprentice at MTA, is behind the wheel. Click to enlarge.

The announcement was made at the MTA’s new multimillion-dollar Heavy Vehicle Workshop at Royal Park in Adelaide. Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Member for Port Adelaide, Hon. Mark Butler MP, who had been instrumental in securing Federal funding for the facility, was the first person to officially drive South Australia’s first plug-in electric Toyota Prius. “It is a very exciting project and one which reinforces the Federal Government’s push to look at alternative fuels to protect the environment,” Butler said.

MTA Executive Director John Chapman said the conversion was undertaken as part of ongoing development of the MTA’s automotive training for members. “We have recently sent one of our trainers to the US to attend some special courses so that we are now in a position to develop our own modules for both members and their employees to attend.

The Prius was donated by the South Australian Government from their fleet, and has been fitted with a special battery pack and charging unit by founder Kim Adelman and chief technician Mike Dibble of California-based Plug In Conversion Corporation (PICC).

The plug-in conversion replaces the existing Prius battery with a larger nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The vehicle can be charged in a garage overnight by plugging into a normal 240 volt outlet, enabling it to travel up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) on batteries alone before operating as a normal hybrid vehicle.

The MTA’s Group Training Scheme is currently training more than 500 apprentices at the Port Royal training center. Continuing education courses are also offered to support working technicians.

Source: Green Car Congress

Senate Energy Committee approves $3.6B for electric vehicles

The Senate Energy Committee has approved a $3.6 billion bill to boost electric vehicles.

The bill approved on a 19-4 vote this morning is a scaled-back version of an $11 billion bill first proposed in May.

But its fate is still in doubt as Senate Democrats are debating whether to include new electri vehicle funding as part of an energy bill they hope to approve before Congress goes home next month.

Separately, the committee approved a bill introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, that would extend the $25 billion retooling loan program for advanced technology vehicles. But the Senate hasn't yet said how much more it might add to the program.

The Stabenow measure expands the eligibility of vehicle technologies that would qualify for the program, including natural gas vehicles. It would also urge the Energy Department to carry out research programs for advanced technologies for vehicles, and to study whether the federal government could convert thousands of government vehicles to natural gas power.

The Stabenow measure would also make medium- and heavy-duty trucks eligible for the program.

The bill approved by the Energy Committee, which was authored by U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., seeks to promote the deployment of plug-in electric vehicles through a series of "deployment communities."

The Promoting Electric Vehicle Act of 2010, would extend and expand national incentives to accelerate the introduction of electric vehicles.

"Passing this legislation will strengthen our national security and improve the air we breathe, while relying on our abundant and diverse electricity supply to fuel our cars," Dorgan said. "We are now one step closer to dramatically reducing our dangerous dependence on foreign oil that hurts our economy, helps our enemies and puts our security at risk. Domestic petroleum will always be an important part of our country's energy strategy, but we also must invest in alternative energy approaches including electric cars."

The bill would create "deployment communities" across the country, where targeted incentive programs for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure systems would help demonstrate rapid market penetration and determine what best practices would be helpful for nationwide deployment of electric vehicles.

Dorgan wants to electrify half its cars and trucks by 2030, which if achieved, would cut U.S. demand for oil by about one-third.

Advocates of electric vehicles praised the vote.

"Republicans and Democrats have taken another critical step toward finally ending our nation's dangerous dependence on oil," said Robbie Diamond, president of the Electrification Coalition.

Congress has already set aside billions of dollars to boost electric vehicles, including $2.4 billion in grants for electric vehicle and battery research. It also approved a $7,500 tax credit for purchasing electric vehicles.

Source: Detroit News

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nissan Leaf: To Lease or Not to Lease, That is the Question

The All-Electric Nissan Leaf

Nissan North America Inc. expects the majority of its U.S.-market Leaf electric vehicles will be leased rather than bought, according to anecdotes from those placing reservations for the car.

“We know there’s a lot of interest in lease because consumers see the value receiving the tax credit up front,” NNA spokeswoman Katherine Zachary tells Ward’s. “But enough are expected to buy that we want to be able to offer both.”

The federal EV tax credit of $7,500 can be taken at the point of purchase if a customer leases the all-electric Leaf.

The credit already is factored into the car’s lease price of $349 a month over 36 months, after a $1,999 down-payment.

Should a customer decide to purchase the car, the government spiff only can be claimed on the following year’s income taxes, meaning the car will have to be financed at its retail price of $32,780.

While its lease-vs.-buy data is anecdotal, Nissan is culling significant detail on the demographics of the 16,064 people who have placed a $99 reservation for the Leaf. Some 90% of them are new to the brand and most already own hybrid-electric vehicles, Zachary says.

The majority of the reservations are from California residents, with the remainder mostly from in the Leaf’s initial launch markets of Seattle, Phoenix/Tucson, Oregon and Tennessee.

Zachary says the Leaf’s in-home charger supplier, AeroVironment Inc., is surveying reservation-holders’ homes to see if they have 220V service, which Nissan recommends for faster charging and charger compatibility.

Of the reservation-holders, 75% own single-family homes, 68% have attached garages and 18% have detached garages or carports, Nissan says.

Leaf interest also is high in New York City, specifically the outer borough of Queens, even though a scarcity of garages and parking spots poses a challenge to EV ownership, Zachary says.

But Zachary suggests commuting patterns could see charge stations proliferate in lots where train users park their cars for the day.

Energy independence and reducing environmental impact are in a virtual tie for the top spot as the would-be Leaf buyers’ primary motivator – even before the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Zachary says. A lesser percentage of reservation-holders cite fuel economy and cost.

Three-quarters of those plunking down deposits are requesting the SL up-level trim. The SL grade adds a solar-panel spoiler and rear-view monitor.

Blue is proving to be the most popular color at 30%. Some 26% of reservation holders want a silver Leaf, with red, black and white “fairly evenly divided,” Zachary says.

After placing a reservation and completing the AeroVironment survey, the next step for potential buyers is ordering. This can be done online or at the dealer.

Nissan expects to begin taking orders in August and the vehicles are scheduled to arrive on dealer lots in December.

Source: Ward's Auto

Honda Announces battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will be introduced in the U.S. in 2012; Demonstration program of the technologies will be

Press Release:

07/20/2010 - TORRANCE, Calif. -

Honda will introduce new advanced environmental technology vehicles, including a battery-electric vehicle and a new plug-in hybrid vehicle, to the U.S. market in 2012, the company announced today in the mid-year address by Honda Motor Co., Ltd., President & CEO Takanobu Ito, in Tokyo, Japan. Ito also announced application of a lithium-ion battery in the next-generation Civic Hybrid in 2011.

The announcement outlined Honda's commitment to developing advanced environmental technologies for application across all of Honda's global operations. Highlights specifically related to the U.S. market include:

  • By the end of 2010 and continuing through 2011, Honda will roll out a battery-electric vehicle demonstration program in the U.S. with participants, including: Stanford University, Google Inc. and the City of Torrance, Calif.
  • The City of Torrance will receive a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for evaluation by the end of 2010.
  • A battery-electric commuter vehicle will be introduced in the U.S. market in 2012.
  • A new plug-in hybrid system for mid-size to larger vehicles will be introduced in the U.S. market in 2012.
  • Honda's first hybrid application of a lithium-ion battery will debut in the next- generation Civic Hybrid to be introduced in 2011. The lithium-ion battery was developed through the Honda and GS Yuasa joint-venture company, Blue Energy Co., Ltd.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mercedes-Benz puts electric cars to the test at the Silvretta E-Rally - VIDEO

Nissan To Offer Leaf-Based Electric Sports Car

Will This Come With An All-Electric Option?

Nissan has already confirmed that it will have an upmarket version of the Nissan Leaf wearing Infinity badges, but now a source at Nissan has confirmed to Inside Line that the company will use technology from the Leaf to create an electric sports car.

The source wouldn't go into any further detail on the project, but it's clear that Nissan has two potential candidates. An all-electric 370Z-E is the lower-cost route, or the company could make an ambitious run at a production version of the Essence Coupe.

For now we know this: Tesla's competition is right around the corner.

Source: Edmunds

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Further Analysis Of GM's Announcement of the 8 Year Chevy Volt Battery Pack Warranty

Chevrolet Volt Battery Pack At Manufacturing Facility

This past week GM made it official; Chevrolet's Volt will ship with an 8 year warranty on its Li ion battery pack. At first glance, this seems like a generous warranty that will certainly appease the masses, but is it really? Almost from day one (namely, January 2007) it had been declared that the car would have a 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty on the unknown, unproven and very expensive battery pack. High paid marketing executives determined this was the only way to lure customers into purchasing the all-new extended-range electric vehicle. So how did we lose two years?

So let's review what exactly these Chevy Volt customers are getting for their $40,000 US. With every Volt comes a 16 kWh Lithium Ion battery pack, of which only 8 are available. The pack is charged up to 80% and then depleted to 30% minimum, which yields the 50% or 8 kWh's of energy available for propulsion. This configuration means that you have to buy twice as much battery as needed in order to drive those 40 gasoline free miles. Does this sound like a good investment? Couldn't GM have been a better steward with all that Lithium?

Tell us what you think. A 10 year battery warranty would have meant an owner is assured for the practical lifetime of the car, but it 8 years enough?

Leo Motors Displays Zinc Air Fuel Cell Powered Electric Trucks

Leo Motors, Inc. displayed two electric trucks equipped with a new Zinc Air Fuel Cell (ZAFC) system as a range-extender at the EV Korea 2010 Expo. Leo filed for patents on the ZAFC technology in 2008.

Displaying the ZAFC at the show. Click to enlarge.

The refuelable ZAFC oxidizes zinc pellets, generating the power to recharge the Li-ion polymer battery pack. Leo has developed a fuel distribution system for the even distribution of the zinc pellets into the stack. Leo also developed a mechanism to halt power generation when the battery is fully charged, and for collection of the zinc oxide sludge from the stack.

The performance of the ZAFC generator was tested by the Korea Electric Technology Institute, run by the Korea government, Leo said.

The trucks on display were converted from traditional internal combustion engines to EVs. The e-Porter is a one ton, (2,200 lb load) truck, while the e-Labo is a half ton pick-up truck. Leo also exhibited an electric passenger car, motorcycle, utility EV, and five e-scooters at the event.

Source: Green Car Congress

Friday, July 16, 2010

Smart E-scooter Concept Planned For Paris Motor Show This September

2009 BMW C1-E Concept

Smart is set to reveal a new electric-powered single-track vehicle at the Paris motor show in September in what sources at parent company Mercedes-Benz describe as the first step in a newly established diversification plan for its struggling city-car division.

The new two-wheeler, which is said to take the form of a plug-in scooter, is being developed as part of a new, broad-based mobility strategy aimed at taking Smart into market segments beyond the ForTwo and an upcoming rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive successor to its short-lived, first-generation ForFour, due to be launched in 2013.

“Smart was originally established to tackle the need for improved mobility, especially in congested city environments. Up to now we have concentrated our efforts on four-wheel solutions. The next stage is to look at how to expand beyond this with other environmentally friendly vehicles,” a senior Mercedes-Benz official said.

While clouded in secrecy, insiders at the German carmaker's headquarters in Stuttgart say the new Smart scooter is being developed in conjunction with a number of prominent component supplier companies and could be produced in a number of different factories around the world, including existing plants in China, India and Thailand if a production go-ahead is granted.

Mercedes-Benz recently entered into a $190 million (150 million euros) initiative with German energy supplier ENBW that will see up to 500 electric scooters placed on the streets of Stuttgart in coming months. The venture, which will see the establishment of dedicated charging stations around the city, is described as being a central component in plans to create an infrastructure for the beginning of in-the-field testing of the new Smart scooter within the next 12 months.

The plug-in electric Smart scooter is seen as a response to BMW's efforts to revive the clever but expensive C1--the roofed bike developed and produced in a partnership among BMW, Bertone and Rotax--as a pure electric vehicle, as previewed by last year's C1-E concept.

Source: Autoweek

Tesla And Toyota Join Forces To Resurrect Beloved RAV 4 EV

2011 Toyota RAV 4

Here is the day's big news. Toyota and Tesla are rumored to combine resources and revive the incomparable Toyota RAV4 EV from the ashes, just like the Phoenix!

There’s an electric connection between Toyota and Tesla. The world’s largest carmaker bought £32.6 million of shares in the Californian electric car firm on July 2nd.

And while Tesla quickly used the deal to bolster its Model S battery powered four-door coupe project by purchasing part of the closed Toyota NUMMI factory in California, details of the Japanese firm’s side of the deal have just emerged.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that it will build and develop two electric car prototypes “with a range and acceleration exceeding that of other announced electric vehicles of this class.”

The cars have not been revealed, but insiders say that the Toyota RAV4 and Lexus RX will be the most suitable for conversion as they will be able to cope with the weight of Tesla’s lithium ion battery pack.

The target for the finished Toyota Tesla joint venture vehicle is for a car that costs around £26,000 in the US with a range of 150 miles on a single charge. The car could also be built in the NUMMI plant. Tesla’s initial plans are to build 20,000 cars per year there, but this could be expanded as the plant can produce 6,000 cars per week.

The electric project is separate to Toyota’s own EV supermini project which will launch in the US in 2012. That car uses batteries developed by a joint venture between Toyota and Panasonic. Tesla is unlikely to contribute to any small car electrification programme with Toyota as it already has a deal to provide its batteries to Smart to power its electric ForTwo.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fiat 500 to Reach 100 MPG with Hybrid TwinAir Drivetrain

Fiat 500 Capable Of 100 MPG

Small car, even smaller bills! Fiat is about to start developing a new hybrid version of its 500, capable of 100mpg-plus.

We've driven the 900cc two-cylinder TwinAir variant of the city model, but engineers plan to give it an electric boost, cutting CO2 emissions to only 70g/km.

The TwinAir will be mated to Fiat’s advanced twin-clutch transmission, and the plan is to incorporate a small 5kW (8bhp) electric motor into the gearbox casing. This will drive one of the gearshafts.

The motor assists the engine, particularly when pulling away from a standing start – to get the full benefit of the electric unit, which has all of its torque available from zero revs.

As the TwinAir engine takes up 23 per cent less space than a four-cylinder powerplant, the battery pack can be mounted under the bonnet. The cell may also power some of the car’s ancillary components when the stop-start system shuts off the engine.

A target of 70g/km CO2 would eclipse the 95g/km figure for the 84bhp version of the 500 TwinAir – due in the UK in September – by some margin. The dual-clutch transmission is expected to be a popular option when Fiat returns to the US in 2012. The hybrid will also be offered there.

Joining the 84bhp TwinAir unit will be a 64bhp non-turbo version, as well as a higher-performance 104bhp version. The engines will be used by Fiat and stablemate Lancia to power their city cars and superminis in the coming years.

There’s an outside chance the drivetrain could also be offered to Ford, as its Ka uses the same platform as the 500.

Source: Auto Express

Ford Selects Compact Power to Supply Li-ion Battery Pack for Ford Focus Electric On Sale in US in 2011

From Green Car Congress:

Ford has selected Compact Power, Inc. (CPI), a wholly owned subsidiary of LG Chem, as the supplier of lithium-ion battery packs for the 2011 Ford Focus Electric for the US market. CPI/LG Chem are also supplying the battery packs for the Chevrolet Volt.

The Focus Electric battery packs will leverage CPI and parent company LG Chem’s expertise in advanced prismatic lithium-ion cells and advanced liquid-cooled modules and battery management systems. The cells will incorporate LG Chem’s proprietary chemistry and its safety-reinforced-separator technology that provides high safety performance.

CPI, based in Troy, Mich., will begin battery pack assembly for the Ford Focus Electric next year and is finalizing production site selection for the US. The lithium-ion cells for the packs will initially be sourced from Korea through LG Chem. LG Chem and CPI will be localizing cell production at their new site in Holland, Mich.

Focus Electric will have a targeted range of up to 100 miles per full charge with zero tailpipe emissions. It is one of five electrified vehicles Ford is bringing to market in the US in the next two years. These include the Transit Connect Electric, a small commercial van in 2010; Focus Electric in 2011; two new lithium-ion battery-powered hybrids; and a plug-in hybrid in 2012.

Focus Electric, a full battery electric passenger car, will be produced at Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., which will begin producing gasoline versions of the all-new 2011 Focus later this year.

Ford previously announced plans to invest $550 million to transform Michigan Assembly Plant from a large SUV factory to a modern car plant to build the new Focus and Focus Electric. The plant also will produce a next-generation hybrid and a plug-in hybrid in 2012. All of the vehicles will be built off the company’s new global C-car platform.

This complements Ford’s overall strategy to establish a center of excellence in Michigan for electrification of a broad range of vehicles, including lithium-ion battery-powered hybrids, plug-ins and pure electric vehicles.

CPI is an emerging leader in the lithium-ion battery field and we are pleased to have them as a strategic supplier as we prepare to bring the Ford Focus Electric to market. We are moving aggressively with our electrification strategy and our work to help make Michigan a center of excellence for a range of electrified vehicles.

—Sherif Marakby, Ford director, Sustainable Mobility Products and Hybrid programs

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mitsubishi i-MiEV Could Come With Sub-$30,000 Sticker

The Mitsubishi iMiEV All Electric Vehicle

If Mitsubishi's pricing for the i-MiEV is any indication, electric-vehicle prices may fall farther and faster than you might expect.

Mitsubishi started selling its ovoid little EV in Japan last summer for ¥4.59 million, or about $53,000. Then it priced the i-MiEV at about $59,000 in Germany.

Ouch! If you listened closely, you could hear the EV market withering.

But last month Mitsubishi said it would cut the price in Japan to the equivalent of about $22,000 by 2012. That doesn't necessarily equate to the U.S. price -- but Mitsubishi Motors North America executive Joe Delello said last week that the automaker wants the i-MiEV to sticker for south of $30,000 when it arrives here in the fall of 2011. That excludes the $7,500 federal tax credit for EVs.

"We're very keen on being as competitive as possible," says Delello, Mitsubishi's director of electric-vehicle operations. "We certainly want to make it as close as possible to the reach of many intenders."

You can bet that Mitsubishi has one eye on Nissan, which will sell its Leaf in the United States for $32,780 (also excluding the tax credit). Mitsubishi has said it expects expanded production to cut the price of lithium ion battery packs sharply. And it's spreading development costs by rebadging i-MiEVs for French brands Peugeot and Citroen.

Delello says Mitsubishi's research shows that two-thirds of its likely customers are male, with an average age of 53 and a household income above $120,000.

Many have a strongly pro-environment bent, he says: "A lot of them have already had hybrids and are ready to make the next step."

At the right price, of course.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Telsa to Provide Two Electric Mules to Toyota by End of Month

Tesla Model S EV Sedan

Tesla Motors will deliver two battery electric mules to Toyota Motor by the end of the month, combining Tesla’s electric drive system and battery packs and the bodies of Toyota vehicles.

“Toyota and Tesla engineering teams have made a lot of progress in a short amount of time and it is exciting to start seeing some initial results,” Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel said in a statement.

...Last year, Toyota revealed a concept version of a tiny electric “city car” with a 40 mile range. That car is under development, Toyota said at the time, and is intended primarily for short-term rental use within cities. The Tesla project is separate from that one.

Toyota announced in May that it would invest $50 million in Tesla Motors following the electric car maker’s initial public offering.

Source: CNN Money

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Taiwan Based Luxgen Introduces Battery Electric MPV EV+

Taiwan-based LUXGEN has introduced a battery-electric MPV, the LUXGEN7 MPV EV+. Working with AC Propulsion (ACP), LUXGEN developed the core technologies for the LUXGEN7 MPV EV+ including the 180 kW (240 hp) and 265 N·m (196 lb-ft) torque AC induction motor.

Components of the LUXGEN7 MPV EV+. Click to enlarge.

The lithium-ion battery packs supports a 200-mile (322km) cruising range at a fixed speed of 25 mph (40 km/h) on a single charge. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes 8.6 seconds, and top speed is 145 km/h (90 mph).

LUXGEN, an automobile brand established by Taiwan’s Yulon Group, is a full automobile manufacturer and a dedicated integrator of automotive and smart IT technology. Yulon Group’s automobile manufacturing operation began in 1953; it has become Taiwan’s largest automobile manufacturer with production plants located in Taiwan, Mainland China and Philippines supplying the local markets with more than 2 million vehicles produced in association with Nissan, Mitsubishi, GM, Chrysler, Mercedes Benz and others.

Source: Green Car Congress

Friday, July 9, 2010

2-Cylinder, 85 HP TwinAir Engine Destined For Fiat 500 - 50+ MPG

The Fiat 500

What do you think? Should we demand more alternate energy vehicles or more fuel efficient engines, like in the Fiat below? Actually, auto manufacturers could make 50 mpg vehicles quite easily, if they chose, but would rather spit out cars with massive horsepower and torque at ratings below 30 mpg.

Source: Gas2.0:

As promised earlier this year, Fiat has officially adorned their beloved 500 with a brand new engine option: the 2-cylinder TwinAir.

The 85 HP, turbocharged 0.9 liter engine reportedly has the performance characteristics of a much larger 1.4 liter, 16-valve engine, but it consumes about 30% less fuel—resulting in a fuel economy of 57 mpg as rated on the combined Euro cycle. If it were sold in the U.S. and rated on the EPA cycle, that number would likely drop to around 50 mpg.

Unfortunately for now, there are no plans to sell the 85 HP TwinAir engine as an option on any of the Fiat 500’s that are rumored to be reaching U.S. shores by the end of this year.

Okay, with a 0-60 mph time of about 11 seconds, a Fiat 500 equipped with the 2-cylinder TwinAir won’t be winning any drag races. But considering how tiny and miserly this engine is, 11 seconds doesn’t really seem all that bad either. And in an interesting bit of engineering, the TwinAir equipped 500’s will also have an “ECO” button to allow the driver to switch between getting maximum torque (and therefore performance) or getting maximum fuel economy. Not surprisingly, the diminutive engine features equally diminutive emissions. At just above 90 grams of carbon emitted per kilometer driven, the TwinAir is one of the least polluting combustion engines on the planet.

Fiat is also hinting that because of the incredibly reduced size of the TwinAir engine, it could be well suited to work alongside an electric motor in some kind of hybrid or plug-in hybrid configuration in future cars. The TwinAir will also be made available in a version that can run on compressed natural gas, making it an incredibly versatile platform.

Seems to me that the popular looks of the Fiat 500, combined with the green characteristics of the TwinAir combustion engine, wrapped up in an affordable package would sell incredibly well in the U.S… I just hope that Fiat and Chrysler also figure that one out.