Friday, December 31, 2010

A Very Happy New Year To All

From our family to yours, have a blessed, happy and safe New Year's! We will return on the second of next year. Enjoy the parties and food and family and football!

Florida Man Scores His Chevy Volt in Washington DC Market

Happy Volt Owner in Tampa, Florida

Here is a great testimonial from a determined Chevrolet Volt driver who resides in Tampa but got his Volt in the Washington, DC market. Not sure where he plans to get his car serviced should the need arise, but he has his Volt!


A year ago I had to make a decision. The lease was up on my Infiniti G35 and I had to decide what car I was going to get next. I love the G35, so much that I have had three in the past 10 years. I didn’t want to get locked into another 3-year lease, and I didn’t want to buy. I wanted an electric car. My wife has a Ford Escape Hybrid, and we love that car too – but I wanted an electric car, not just a hybrid.

I researched online and there were virtually no options. Most of what I found were conversions or conversion kits, or were concept cars with no future launch date. Then I found Tesla. Wow, what a car. There just happens to be a dealership near me, and they let me take one for a drive. I immediately called my wife and asked “Do you want to go for a drive in an electric car?”. The Tesla is super fast…and super expensive. It was a great experience to drive it and made me even more motivated about getting an electric car, but clearly not practical for me or my wallet.

I also found the GM Volt blog started by Lyle. I immediately added myself to the wait list (#749). This car looked real, affordable, and would allow long road trips for business or vacation too. But it was not coming out for a year.

So I called Infiniti and they let me extend my lease for a year. I religiously followed the GM Volt blog, and was a little devastated when I found out Florida was not a launch market. So I got creative and ordered a car from a dealership in the Washington DC area, red with white trim. Here is the timeline of my volt getting home to Florida.

December 9: I was told by GM that I would probably not be taking delivery until January. That was cutting it close to the end of my lease, but still doable. No Volt for Christmas though :(

December 14th: I got another call that the Volts were shipped priority and would arrive this week! So I bought a plane ticket to DC to pick up my Volt and drive it back to the sunshine state.

December 19th: Bought $20 worth of gas for Infiniti @ $3.05/gallon, hopefully last gas purchase for that car.

December 20: Downloaded “Road Trip Lite” for iPhone. I plan to track all fuel purchases for the Volt. I know the GM app does that, but this includes odometer, date, charts and more.

December 22: Landed in DCA…very cold here. Dealer picked me up at airport and drove me to the dealership. Everyone came up to meet me “The Volt owner is here”. The dealer hid the Volt in their “car wash garage bay” as everyone was trying to test drive it and sell it. Funny.

Volt #169 is mine!

The dealer walked me thru the car: we setup onstar, I downloaded app, I connected the iPhone to the build in Bluetooth, and I connected it to the USB port allowing control my iPod from the built-in touch screen (sweet) and I was on my way.

December 23: Left Baltimore at 6:10AM. Still lots to learn about the dash, controls, and features. Nothing like a 1,000 mile trip to learn a new car.

The generator kicked in early in my trip, before DC actually. I didn’t really even notice it for a few moments, it went really smooth. I noticed a slight high-pitched whine when generator charges the battery (immediately after I took my foot off the accelerator). Curious if anyone else hears this.

Fillup #1: Hallifax NC. 6.57 gallons, $3.079/gallon, $20.21 total. Guy at gas station asked me about it “I didn’t think they needed gas”, we talked for a moment.

Fillup #2: South of the Border (I know ;) 4.82 gallons, $2.959/gallon, $14.28 total. Two more people “nice car”, one wanted to see under the hood, I obliged.

Fillup #3: Savannah, GA. 8.16 gallons, $3.099/gallon, $25.28 total.

Total: Baltimore to Tampa $59.77

During the next couple days I gave many “demo drives” to family and friends. Everyone is really impressed. But this new car category takes a lot of explaining. GM will need to do a lot of work to get over this education hurdle for the mainstream public I think. The good news is everywhere I go people are asking me about it :)

In addition to the OnStar App, I have also since downloaded the Chevrolet app, which includes the entire user manual. I also scanned the the mobile bar codes (QR codes) in the manual to view instructional videos available. Well done Chevrolet.

December 26: Finally home. The last leg of the trip I only got 46mpg, and I felt disappointed. Then I realized I was disappointed in 46mpg!!! The standard is now high, and I love it.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Real World All-Electric Range in the Chevrolet Volt During Winter Traffic Jams

Chevy Volt Driver Information Display

The EPA has determined through testing that the Chevy Volt would go a typical 35 miles on a full battery charged. Using the full 10.4 kwh of stored battery energy available, GM has determined the majority of drivers will experience from 25 to 50 miles of range.

There are several examples in which journalists and fellow advisory board drivers have gotten more than 50 miles of range in their Volts.

Today I report on my first experiences just barely crossing or not even reaching the 25 mile threshold when the engine came on.

This first time I left home on my typical daily commute with a full charge. It was a cold day of 32 degrees outside. I had the cabin temperature set to comfort mode of 72 degrees with a medium fan speed and one bar (out of three) on the heated seat control.

My drive is almost all highway with 65 MPH speed limit. I traveled mostly at that speed plus or minus a few miles per hour, and was using the Normal as opposed to Sport mode setting. Mostly I kept the car in D, or coast brake setting.

At about 11 miles into my journey I hit standstill traffic resulting from an accident on the highway. Helicopters were circling and I spent about 40 minutes in a very minimal crawl as two lanes were funneled into one in which extensive rubber necking took place.

During the stop and go portion I left the car in L mode to use motor braking, and covered about 4 or 5 miles.

After, traffic moved smoothly, and I arrived to my office parking garage just feet from my parking spot and waiting outlet when the generator went on at 25.3 miles.

On warmer days I would have arrived with about 8 miles to spare, indicating the significant drain from being in standstill traffic for 40 minutes with the cabin temp cooking.

Thus my first experience only getting 25 miles per range had less to do with extreme cold temperatures or aggressive driving style, but more to do with unexpected traffic.

On two subsequent driving days, I experienced just below 25 miles of range, with the lowest being 24.4 miles. These days were colder, in the low 20s, and included a bit more use of the Sport mode, though not continuous. In neither case did I drive meaningfully above 70 mph. The day with the lowest range included a 20 minute traffic jam.

Most recently I drove to work after the Northeast snowstorm and several of my low speed roads were a bit thickened with snow. This extra tractive effort seemed to drain a lot from the battery. The temperature was again about 30 degrees and this time I kept the cabin at 74 degrees of comfort mode. I did not use Sport mode at all and kept my speed around 65 MPH. The engine went on after 22.7 miles.

Using aggressive cabin heating combined with high speed highway driving in sub freezing weather may lead to electric ranges of less than 25 miles.


Fuji Heavy Industries may suspend production of Stella EV with end of minivehicle production

Kyodo News reports that Fuji Heavy Industries may suspend production of its electric minivehicle, the Stella EV. While details including the timing of the suspension have not been decided, the maker of Subaru brand cars may suspend production of the EV when it stops manufacturing the Stella minivehicle, according to unidentified sources.

Fuji Heavy plans to withdraw completely from minivehicle production sometime around 2012. Fuji Heavy began selling the plug-in Stella electric vehicle to corporate customers and local governments in July 2009 with a sales target of 400 units by the end of March 2011.

Fuji Heavy is seeking to launch a plug-in gasoline electric hybrid vehicle, which can be recharged using a household electrical outlet, in the mid-2010s. The automaker is seeking support from its top shareholder, Toyota Motor Corp.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nissan Leaf's CARWINGS Keeps You Abreast of Your Driving Habit and Puts You in Efficiency Race

There's one feature on the Nissan Leaf that hasn't gotten a lot of press, but when new owner Olivier Chalouhi posted about it on My Nissan Leaf, the gathered eco-auto geeks got pretty excited. The feature? CARWINGS. No, it's not an add-on bit of body work for achieving flight, but rather a telematics system that keeps track of and displays all kinds of information. A version of the system has been available in some Nissans in Japan for years but its implementation in their first mass produced electric has radically changed it.

Now, most Leaf fans know that the car's 7" screen will display its current position and possible range on a map and that it even tells you which charging stations are reachable. It also, however, tracks your energy usage information and allows you to see a daily, monthly and annual reports that show distances traveled, total and average energy consumption among other things.

Perhaps just as interesting, it tracks your efficiency ranking vis-à-vis all the other Leaf drivers. Yup, as a Leafer, you are in competition with all the other Leafers and can pursue the great gold platinum Leaf cup. You can track how you rank against drivers in your area as well as across the planet. Pretty cool, huh? No word on whether Nissan will be handing out prizes from time to time but we sure hope they consider it. Hit us up in the comment section and tell us what they should offer as a prize. We're thinking 100 hectares of rain forest preservation in your name might be appropriate.

Source: Autoblog

Kansas City Public School Buses To Use Thomas Built CNG Propulsion

Press Release:

Kansas City, Kansas Public School Buses Going Green

Grants help purchase 47 Thomas Built CNG buses

High Point, N.C. – The Kansas City Kansas Public School District has purchased 47 Thomas Built HDX rear engine buses, powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). Acquisition of the buses, infrastructure and equipment was made possible by a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (award DE-EE0002538) distributed through the Kansas City Regional Clean Cities Coalition and matching funds from Kansas City Kansas Public Schools.

Ken Hedgecock, vice president of sales, marketing and service for Thomas Built Buses said, "Many forward-thinking customers are taking advantage of opportunities to build cleaner, greener fleets, and to address their long-term concerns about the price of diesel fuel. There's about a $1 a gallon advantage in CNG over diesel, and that really adds up when you're running a fleet of school buses. In addition, low finance rates and lower maintenance costs can sweeten the deal, generating substantial savings."

The most recent order for Thomas Built CNG buses were purchased through Midwest Bus Sales, the Thomas Built dealer for Kansas, Oklahoma, western Missouri and Illinois.

The school district worked closely with Scott Kincaid, Midwest Bus Sales lease manager. Kincaid said:"Thomas responded to the school district's request for bids with information on both hybrids and CNG buses. The school district chose CNG, in part because they liked the idea of using domestically-sourced CNG, rather than imported diesel fuel."

Kincaid credits George Taylor, director of Transportation for the school district, as a "forward thinker who figured out how to negotiate the complex grant process."

Midwest delivered one pilot model September 1, 2010. "By late November, we had five buses for training. The drivers are raving about the buses' great turning radius and maneuverability," said Taylor.

The rest of the buses will be delivered before the end of the year, and they'll be put into service when the infrastructure is completed in early 2011. Infrastructure, also part of the grant, is comprised of 35 time-fill dispensers, with dual hoses allowing each station to fuel two buses at a time. A time-fill arrangement allows buses to fill up overnight without any personnel being present, saving staff time and personnel cost. Taylor explained that, "with curbside access to fuel, drivers hook up buses at the end of the day and in the morning buses are fueled and ready to go. There's room for another 23 buses sometime in the future."

And Taylor's already looking toward the future. "I want other school districts to see the advantages of CNG buses. My dream is for the district's fleet of large buses to be 100 percent CNG." With 47 new CNG buses in its fleet of 80 large buses, Taylor's already more than halfway there.

Thomas Built Buses

Thomas Built Buses ( is the leading manufacturer of school buses in North America, with more than one-third of the market. Since the first Thomas Built bus rolled off the assembly line in 1936, the company has been committed to delivering the smartest and most innovative buses in North America.

Thomas Built Buses, Inc. is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and a leading manufacturer of class 4-8 vehicles. Daimler Trucks North America produces and markets commercial vehicles under the Freightliner, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses nameplates. Daimler Trucks North America is a Daimlercompany.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ford Motor Co. Slated to Bring Stop/Start Vehicles to US by 2012

Ford's European stop/start system indicator.
Drivers will see an indicator light when Ford's stop/start system is active. The automaker's European system is shown.

Ford will equip many of its U.S. cars and SUVs with stop/start technology, beginning in 2012, which automatically shuts down the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop, cutting down on fuel use and emissions.

The technology, which Ford calls Auto Start-Stop, will be available with either manual or automatic transmissions. A Ford spokesman said that engineers are still developing the technology, so it will keep the pressure up in the automatic-transmission fluid when the engine is stopped. The fluid pressure is needed for the transmission to operate properly.

Ford also has not yet made a final decision about whether to roll the cost of Auto Start-Stop into the vehicle's base price or to make it an extra-cost option, the spokesman said.

The automaker's new generation of direct-injection four-cylinder engines will be the first to get the stop/start technology. Ford plans to spread it among its four-, six- and eight-cylinder engine families. But the technology can't be used on some models, such as the F-series Super Duty pickups, the spokesman said.

A direct-injection fuel system and an electric-powered water pump are two technologies needed for Auto Start-Stop. Direct injection, which squirts fuel directly into each cylinder, enables the engine to start more quickly. The electric water pump circulates coolant even when the engine is stopped, which keeps heat flowing to the passenger compartment.

Other parts of Auto Start-Stop are a beefed-up starter motor engineered to last for more start cycles, an upgraded ring gear on the engine's flywheel and a 12-volt battery engineered for deeper discharge and charge cycles.

The stop/start system automatically shuts down the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop, such as at a traffic light. The engine automatically restarts when it senses the driver releasing the brake pedal.

Ford says that the system can cut fuel use by as much as 10 percent.

It has already rolled the technology out in Europe, on ECOnetic versions of the Ka small car and the Mondeo sedan. Ford is adding Auto Start-Stop to Ford Focus, C-Max and Grand C-Max models--vehicles that are likely to be the first U.S. Fords to use the technology. Ford's hybrid vehicles in the United States already use stop/start technology.

Source: Autoweek

A Chevrolet Volt Takes on the Snow, Ice and Hills

Here is a short video clip of Lyle Dennis' Volt tackling a hill in the snow. Lyle claims that handling is exceptional in the recent east coast snow storms.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Audi’s Plans for 2011 Include 1,200 New Jobs and the Launch of the Biggest Investment Program in Company History

Audi’s plans for 2011 include 1,200 new jobs and the launch of the biggest investment program in company history
  • Company primarily seeking specialists in career fields of the future
  • Board Member for Human Resources Thomas Sigi: “Innovation requires people”
  • Audi plans to invest about € 11.6 billion in fixed assets by 2015

Audi is investing heavily in its future and intends to hire about 1,200 skilled employees in 2011. The company plans to invest around € 11.6 billion between 2011 and 2015, primarily in new products and technologies, as well as in upgrading its sites. More than € 5 billion is earmarked for the German sites in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.

“Innovation requires people,” said Thomas Sigi, Member of the AUDI AG Board of Management for Human Resources. “For this reason, we want to hire around 1,200 experts in 2011 who will primarily bolster our electromobility and lightweight construction fields of competence, as well as the implementation of our growth strategy.” During 2010 Audi recruited about 500 experts and 780 trainees who began their vocational training in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.

From 2011 to 2015 the company plans to invest about € 11.6 billion in fixed assets, making this the biggest investment program in the company’s history. “With this investment, we are laying the foundation for sustained, profitable growth, and supporting our claim to leadership in the premium car segment,” said Axel Strotbek, Board Member for Finance and Organization of AUDI AG.

About 80 percent of all investment – more than € 9.5 billion – will go to developing new products and to technologies of the future such as electric and hybrid drive systems. One example is the Audi R8 e-tron, the first electric sports car from Audi, which the company wants to begin selling in late 2012.

The brand with the logo of the four rings will introduce numerous new models in 2011, including the new Audi A6 and the Audi Q5 Hybrid, the first full hybrid from the carmaker. In launching the new Audi Q3, which is manufactured in Martorell, Spain, Audi is occupying the midsize premium SUV segment for the first time.

The foundation for the future is also being laid at the company’s German sites: more than € 5 billion is to be invested in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm between 2011 and 2015. “In addition to our foreign sites, the German sites will also profit greatly from the Audi brand’s good worldwide prospects for growth, especially in China,” Strotbek said.

Source: Audi Press Release

Honda Starts Electric Vehicle Testing Program with Kumamoto Prefecture

Honda was one of the last major auto makers to get on board with electric vehicles but now that they have made their decision, they are jumping in feet first. For years, Honda had stuck tenaciously to its Clarity fuel cell car, thinking the hydrogen powered automobile was the future.

Press Release

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today announced its plan on the ongoing cooperation with Kumamoto Prefecture on Electric Vehicle Testing Program for next-generation personal mobility products, including electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrid vehicles, electric scooters and electric carts. The specifics of the testing program, testing vehicles and solar-powered charging stations have also been revealed at Honda's Kumamoto Factory.

Conducted in real-world urban transportation environments, the program will focus on motorcycles, automobiles and power products based on electromotive technologies. The comprehensive program will also use advanced communications & telematics and solar-powered charging technologies to explore future forms of personal mobility and their potential of CO2 emissions reduction.

On August 5, 2010, Honda and Kumamoto Prefecture entered into a comprehensive agreement to perform testing of next-generation mobility within the prefecture (agreement period: August 2010-March 2013). Based on this agreement, Honda has already begun testing the Monpal ML200 electric cart with the cooperation of Kumamoto City starting in October 2010. Additional testing programs will take place in Kumamoto City, Minamata City, Aso and Amakusa areas to further help realize a low-carbon mobility society in the future. The program will study the following:

The practicality and convenience of electromotive technology featured on next-generation personal mobility products, including Honda's EV and plug-in hybrid vehicles, the EV-neo electric scooter and the Monpal ML200 electric cart.
The effectiveness of solar power generation and other renewable energy sources in helping to realize a low-carbon mobility society.
The potential of next-generation personal mobility to enhance the QOL (quality of life) of residents in local communities.

Earlier on December 15, 2010, Honda announced its Electric Vehicle Testing Programs in the United States (Torrance, California) and with Saitama Prefecture on December 20. In addition to Japan and the United States, Honda is also considering the possibility of conducting a similar program in China.

Testing vehicles and solar-powered charging station
Testing vehicles and solar-powered charging station

[Electric Vehicle Testing Program in Kumamoto Prefecture]
Kumamoto Prefecture, its cooperating municipalities, the Kumamoto Industrial Federation, Kumamoto University, Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. and Honda have formed a Next-Generation Mobility Testing Program Implementation Committee, which will explore the potential QOL benefits of next-generation personal mobility. To help contribute to the expansion of EVs and plug-in hybrid use, the committee will also explore future programs and locations within Kumamoto Prefecture. The following are the program objectives for each city:
Kumamoto City
Evaluate the QOL benefits of sharing Monpal ML200 electric carts at facilities for senior citizens using quantifiable data:
Shared use among residents of senior citizens' home located near the heart of the city.
Personal use of Monpal to senior citizens for commuting to a suburban health and welfare facility.
Short-term rental to residents and/or visitors to senior care facilities.
Rental program of EV-neo scooters to local residents and tourists to study its convenience of use and benefits. In addition, provide EV-neo to high school students to familiarize them with motorcycles and EVs as well as study their use in their school route.
Identify optimal locations for EV charging stations on prefectural facilities and other properties.
Minamata City
Rental program of EV-neo scooters to local residents and tourists to study its convenience of use and benefits, and identify optimal locations for EV charging stations on prefectural facilities and other properties.
Aso area
Rental program of EV-neo scooters and plug-in hybrid vehicles to tourists to study its convenience of use and benefits.
Amakusa area
Study the convenience of use and benefits of EVs as local transportation on the island.

[Electric Vehicle Testing Program vehicles]
In addition to zero-emission electric vehicles, scooters and carts, the testing program will also include Honda's plug-in hybrid vehicles, which combine a gasoline engine with two high-output electric motors.

Electric vehicle (EV):
Based on the popular Fit that is known for its compact, maneuverable body and superior utility, this vehicle features a coaxial motor and other electromotive technologies developed for the FCX Clarity fuel cell electric vehicle, combined with a Toshiba-produced lithium-ion battery. Charging with a 200-volt power source takes less than six hours, and vehicle driving range exceeds 160 km.
Plug-in hybrid vehicle:
Based on the platform of the Inspire mid-size sedan, this vehicle features a fuel-efficient 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine and two high-output electric motors, specially developed for this system. The vehicle can be operated in three drive modes: all-electric, gasoline-electric hybrid and engine drive modes. The lithium-ion battery is manufactured by Blue Energy, and the vehicle's all-electric mode driving range is 15 to 25 km.
Electric Sccoter (EV-neo):
Honda made the EV-neo electric scooter available for lease today in Japan to companies that make short-range deliveries and also to individual business owners.
Electric Cart (Monpal ML200):
Firstly launched in 2006, this stylish, comfortable and easy-to-ride 4-wheel electric cart with great stability will also be used as a testing vehicle. The Monpal used in this testing program will add a recording device capable of storing a variety of vehicle operation and performance data.

Major specifications of program vehicles (EV and plug-in hybrid)
EV Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles
Engine 2.0L in-line 4-cylinder
Atkinson cycle i-VTEC engine
Transmission ECVT
Motor Coaxial electric motor
(same as in FCX Clarity)
Two-motor system
(drive, generation/regeneration)
Max. motor output 92 kW 120 kW
Battery type, manufacturer Lithium-ion battery, Toshiba 6 kWh lithium-ion battery, Blue Energy
EV range Over 160 km 25 km (JC08 mode)
EV max. speed 144 km/h 100 km/h
Charge time 100 V: under 12 h
200 V: under 6 h
Rapid charger: 30 min. (80%)
100 V: under 4 h
200 V: under 1.5 h

Major specifications of program vehicles (EV-neo, Monpal ML200)
EV-neo Monpal ML200
Motor DC brushless motor DC brushless motor
Max. motor output 2.8 kW
Battery type, manufacturer Lithium-ion battery, Toshiba Valve-regulated lead-acid battery, Panasonic
EV range Over 34 km (as tested at 30 km/h on flat road) Approx. 25 km (6 km/h on level ground)
Charge time 100 V, regular charger: approx. 3.5 h
200 V, rapid charger: approx. 0.5 h
100 V: approx. 9 h

[Solar-powered charging station]
Located inside Honda’s Kumamoto Factory in Kumamoto Prefecture, this charging station features a solar-powered generating system manufactured by Honda Soltec. Honda will use the station in combination with advanced communications & telematics to test a wide variety of program objectives.

Solar-powered charging station (schematic)
Solar-powered charging station (schematic)

[Advanced communications and telematics]
Using the InterNavi Premium Club services, Honda's information network for automobiles, Honda will test charging station communications to improve customer convenience and safety. Using this support tool, a customer can search for charging stations, set destinations, confirm various vehicle conditions and access other information by using either a smartphone or a car navigation screen.

Even when away from the test vehicle, a customer can view a map on their smartphone of how far the vehicle can drive on its remaining battery charge, and also search for charging stations within that area. The customer can then select a charging station from the search results, forward the station information to the vehicle via the InterNavi Information Center, and set the station destination on the navigation screen. The navigation system will then guide the customer to the charging destinations.

[Smartphone display examples]
Check the remaining batteries Drive range area 1 Drive range area 2
Check the remaining batteries Drive range area 1 Drive range area 2

Sunday, December 26, 2010

GM and HRL Team Up to Use Vertically Aligned Graphene Nanosheets Which Increase Lithium Ion Electrode High-Rate Capability

Researchers from General Motors Global Research & Development Center and HRL Labs report enhancing the high rate capability of Li-ion anode materials through the used of vertically aligned graphene nanosheets on the current collector. Their paper is in press in the journal Electrochemistry Communications.

In this paper, we demonstrated that the high rate capability of electrode can be achieved by engineering the existing electrode materials. A simple approach has been developed to align the graphene nanosheet vertically on current collector, which not only facilitates both lithium ion and electron transport, but also simplifies the electrode fabrication without involving binder and conductive additives.

The charging rate for the optimized electrode structure can be significantly increased while the graphitic feature of the electrode still retains. We envision the use of this highly stable structure as an integral addition to high capacity anode materials for lithium ion batteries of high power and energy density.

Smith Electric Vehicles US Finalizes Purchase of Smith Electric UK for $15M

Smith Electric Vehicles US (SEVUS) will finalize the purchase of its United Kingdom-based parent company, Smith Electric Vehicles (UK), creating the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial electric vehicles. The $15-million sale will be effective 1 Jan. 2011. Smith UK’s current owner, the Tanfield Group, will retain 49% equity in Smith Electric Vehicles US This percentage is subject to dilution as Smith raises additional equity capital.

The purchase will be split into 20 payments, payable monthly, with the first payment made on completion of the sale. Interest will accrue on the principal outstanding amount at the rate of 4% over base rate. In the event of an IPO of SEVUS, the full balance would immediately fall due. SEV reported losses of £2.159 million (US$3.333 million) for the 6 months to 30 June 2010 and net assets at that date of £9.607 million (US$14.8 million).

This sale signals a bright future for the electric commercial vehicle industry. Being in a position to unify Smith’s divisions after less than two years of operating in the United States is evidence that the market for affordable, sustainable commercial fleets is fertile. The unification of Smith Electric Vehicles will create operational efficiencies and market synergies that will make Smith more financially sound and productive.

—Bryan Hansel, CEO of Smith Electric US

Smith UK has been a leading manufacturer of zero-emissions battery-electric commercial vehicles in Europe since the 1920s. It operates an unrivaled UK-wide service and support network that already maintains more than 5,000 vehicles for major fleet operators. The US branch of Smith, launched in 2008, has licensed the proprietary technology for its all-electric Smith Newton trucks from the US division.

In 2009 Smith Electric US licensed the technology from the Tanfield Group and began to introduce the Smith Newton to the United States. Smith Electric US is now a privately-held company owned by Private Investors, Tanfield, and Management, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. The consolidation enhances a possible public offering of its equity securities in the United States.

Source: Green Car Congress

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays To All!

HO! HO! HO! and Merry Christmas to everyone. Happy Holidays to all and please be safe if you are driving over the meadows and through the woods.

After a holiday break on the 25th, we will be back with more exciting news on the 26th.

Sanyo Electric Company to Increase Output For Automotive Lithium Ion Batteries

The Nikkei reports that Sanyo Electric Co. plans to raise its output capacity for automotive lithium ion batteries by 150% to the equivalent of some 1 million hybrid vehicles annually through a roughly ¥15 billion (US$180.7 million) investment in a key plant.

Sanyo will boost production of lithium ion batteries for automobiles at its Kasai plant. The firm will double production lines at the Kasai plant in Hyogyo Prefecture, completed this year, to four as early as fiscal 2011. The new lines will mass-produce large batteries with capacities of 20 ampere-hours or higher for use in plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

Sanyo already produces lithium ion batteries for hybrid vehicles made by the Volkswagen AG group. It will also supply them to a hybrid that Toyota Motor Corp. is working toward launching early next year and plans to do the same for Ford Motor Co. hybrids.

GM Planning to Triple or Quadruple Electric Car Volumes by 2015

General Motors Company Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson is looking to at least triple the company’s target for electric-car sales by expanding the market for the Chevrolet Volt and adding models that would share similar technology, said three people familiar with his plan.

Akerson, who took over on Sept. 1, told his executive team in early December to find ways to sell three to four times as many electric cars as planned for 2012 by mid-decade, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. GM has said it expects to sell 10,000 Volts in 2011 and 45,000 the following year, when capacity may reach 60,000.

Increasing Volt sales and developing other models with electric drive will spread out the cost of developing the technology across more vehicles. It also carries risk because hybrid and electric cars have tended to sell in low volume and be unprofitable, said Jim Hall, principal of 2953 Analytics Inc., a consulting firm in Birmingham, Michigan.

“That makes sense in the long term, but they have to get costs down,” Hall said. “Once the government sales incentives are gone, GM has to mature the cost of the technology to get prices down and make sure they’re not losing money.”

Akerson’s plan for more cars with electric drive underscores his strategy to differentiate GM and make it a technology leader, following an initial public offering that raised more than $20 billion in November, 16 months after the carmaker emerged from bankruptcy. Akerson, 62, has told top executives that he wants Detroit-based GM to seek new markets and prepare for higher fuel prices, according to the people.

Europe, China

The Volt went on sale this month in the U.S. at a price of $41,000. The car, which can travel as much as 50 miles (80 kilometers) using batteries, will be sold in China during the second half of 2011. GM last month began taking reservations for the electric-drive Opel Ampera, which will sell in Europe next year. The models include a gasoline engine that extends the driving range to more than 370 miles.

Dave Darovitz, a GM spokesman, said GM will look at other models for the Volt system. He declined to comment on Akerson’s volume goals for the technology.

Sales to companies and governments that want EVs for their fleets would help support increased production for GM and other carmakers could, Hall said. Last month, General Electric Co. said it would buy 25,000 electric cars by 2015, of which 12,000 will be Chevrolet Volts.

The federal government is offering consumers a $7,500 tax credit to buy the Volt, plug-in hybrids and electric cars. The credit begins to phase out after a manufacturer produces 200,000 eligible plug-in electric vehicles, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

GM Stock

Akerson, a former managing director of private-equity firm Carlyle Group, succeeded Ed Whitacre as CEO in September and assumes the role of chairman at the end of the year. Akerson told his executive team to come back to him with a way to meet the higher sales numbers for the Volt and other electric-drive models, or with reasons why it can’t be done, one of the people familiar with the plan said.

GM rose 44 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $34.29 at 12:29 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange trading. The shares have gained 2.6 percent since the IPO before today.

GM is considering adding electric-gasoline Volt technology to several models under multiple brands, most of them larger than the Volt, including SUVs, according to the three people familiar with the plan. In April at the Beijing Motor Show, Chevrolet showed a five-passenger SUV that could drive in all- electric mode for 32 miles using the Volt’s powertrain system. That kind of vehicle is one possibility, the people said.

Larger Cars

Making larger models using the same system is difficult and may be more expensive because adding features and passenger space will make the car heavier and less aerodynamic, according to two of the people. GM stopped work on a plan hatched by now- retired Vice Chairman Bob Lutz to make a two-door Cadillac sports car called the Converj that used the Volt’s drive system, two executives with knowledge of the decision said in March.

The Volt runs using only electric drive for the first 25 miles to 50 miles. After that, a four-cylinder gasoline engine turns on and recharges the lithium-ion battery.

The EPA rated the Volt’s fuel economy at the equivalent of 93 miles per gallon in electric-only mode and 37 mpg if the car runs on gas after the battery is drained.

Source: Bloomberg

Thursday, December 23, 2010

More Information From GM Regarding the Chevrolet Sail Electric Vehicle

Chevrolet Sail Electric Concept Vehicle

Chevrolet Sail Electric Concept Vehicle

Enlarge Photo

Whilst the U.S. and Europe get the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2012 Opel and Vauxhall Ampera, it seems all the full battery-electric vehicles are going to the Far East, and they're keeping fairly quiet about it.

A few months back we revealed GM's plans to test an electric version of the Chevrolet Cruze sedan in South Korea. The prototype uses a 31-kilowatt-hour battery pack and offers a range of up to 100 miles, competitive with the 2011 Nissan Leaf. Performance is competitive too, with an 8.2 second 0-60mph time, and a top speed of around 100mph.

Now, Shanghai GM has revealed the Sail electric concept vehicle. Developed by Shanghai GM and the Pan Asia Technical Automorive Center (PATAC), the Sail EV is based on a regular gasoline car of the same name that went on sale at the beginning of 2010. In terms of size, the Sail sits below the Cruze, but above the Spark.

Powered by a 64 kilowatt motor producing maximum torque of 162 lb/ft, the Sail should offer more than adequate performance for the "ordinary Chinese families" the car is targeted at. Maximum speed is less than the Cruze EV at 80 miles per hour, and range is a little less too at around 93 miles. In congested Chinese cities though, this should be more than enough. Some energy can be reclaimed though regenerative braking and an Intelligent Charging Assisting System maximizes the energy conversion ratio.

The Sail shouts louder about its electric powertrain than the Cruze did, with unique wheel designs, a streamlined body and some fancy graphics, which GM said has been "inspired by leaves", though presumably not those of a Nissan variety...

GM has said before that they're going to start producing electric cars in small numbers "for testing purposes". What the Sail and Cruze EVs tell us is that GM is serious about the electric car. GM branches all around the world are able to develop high technology products which will surely be of benefit to the company as a whole, as technical expertise from local partners such as PATAC is eventually shared worldwide.

Might this one day lead to a new GM EV1? We can only hope.

Source: AllCarsElectric

Felix Kramer Declares Victory After 8 Years of Campaigning for Plug-In Cars

In 2001, I never expected when I started thinking about better cars that I’d devote a decade to a quest that began as quixotic and ended up as the best work experience of my life. I’ve met amazing people, and joined with them to start to turn around one of the world’s biggest and hardest-to-change industries.

Along the way, we’ve formed a coalition that inspires people to look for –and find! — points of leverage to move mountains. Our success shows what we need to solve two huge global problems — our dependence on fossil fuels and our uncontrolled experiment with our planet’s air and water .

That’s fortunate, since we have just a few decades to transform almost everything. We can succeed only by finding a path that unites unlikely allies around common goals — and shows entrenched interests how they can profit from disruptive change.

I’ll highlight some of my peak experiences, then consider the implications of the plug-in campaign for the giant challenges ahead.

IN 2001, having just sold a small Internet company, I was blown away by the Rocky Mountain Institute’s vision of 99MPG vehicles. I went to Aspen and began discussions about new ways to advance that project. On my way back, I found out I’d need surgery for a benign brain tumor. That summer, things could have gone many ways. I ended up with just one of two balance systems, no hearing on one side and poor hearing on the other. At 52, I could have thought my life had peaked. But this decade’s been my most productive and satisfying. I’m so fortunate to have had a chance to make a difference in as I’d always hoped to do.

In 2002, RMI’s Hypercar, Inc. co-sponsored the founding meeting of what became the California Cars Initiative ( in Palo Alto. There I first met many of the entrepreneurs, environmentalists, engineers, and EV advocates who’ve helped us immeasurably ever since. We started with a basic idea: Let’s figure out what cars we need, then round up tens of thousands of people to say to carmakers, “Here’s what we want, build it for us.” That’s how I described CalCars’ strategy the first time I testified as an unknown newcomer at the California Air Resources Board at the end of 2002.

Back then, I was still thinking about futuristic solutions that could be ten years away. But that same year, when I saw my first plug-in hybrid (PHEV) at the Electric Power Research Institute, after I recovered from the shock of an epiphany, I realized today’s technology could get us started. That’s where I met some of the visionaries in the utility and car worlds who’d been trying to get plug-in hybrids out of the ivory towers of theoretical designs and academic modeling.

Then I met Prof. Andy Frank of UC Davis, who had been converting vehicles to PHEVs for years and needed some outside evangelists. He’s been an inspiration to us all. Thanks, Andy, for NEVER giving up. PHEV fans had the great hope that the cars Andy has been dreaming of since before many of us were born would be in showrooms before he retired. Our wishes and his dream come true today!

How did this happen? We knew we needed to show people something real, and it wasn’t long after I got one of the first Prius hybrids in late 2003 that we realized we could start by adding batteries and charging to that car to make it a prototype. Fortunately, Ron Gremban was thinking along the same lines. He became CalCars’ Technology Lead, and we formed the

Putting that car together in Ron’s Marin garage felt like setting sail for a new world. I have no technical background but I soon got pretty good at banging and bending copper. And Ron and I became great partners, each doing what the other couldn’t. It’s been amazingly virtual. Since April 2004, over 300 weeks, I bet we’ve been face to face less than 50 times.

We worked like crazy and agreed to a tough trip to Michigan to meet the chief auto reporter at The New York Times. When we’d unveiled the first PRIUS+ to the world, we got a giant wave of publicity. That started us on a media rollercoaster with journalists from around the world, and geostrategists like Fareed Zakaria and Thomas Friedman, who repeatedly put PHEVs in his columns, book and documentaries. Dozens of international delegations came to see our cars. I went to Iceland and Ron to Belgium to talk about PHEVs. Now dozens of books feature substantial sections on PHEVs.

By 2007, conversions (for us a strategy to build awareness and support) became the rage, first in California and then all over, as utilities, elected officials and people who wanted to be first to have the “world’s cleanest extended range vehicle” paid lots of money to retrofit their hybrids. They provided battery companies platforms to test their components. Government labs got to document PHEVs’ benefits. It all led Austin Energy to launch Plug-In Partners to expand our “buyer pull” strategy with a national “soft buy order” fleet campaign.

Our open source approach meant we gave everything away. That included advice, plans, and techniques for physical installations and electronic solutions. Companies sprang up to install conversions. And government agencies began to think about how they were going to certify new and converted PHEVs.

That’s when our high-tech roots kicked in. Since 2006, we organized open-to-the-public conversion events by volunteer teams at five Maker Faires. That helped bring in high-power advocates like Silicon Valley Leadership Group. And we got more attention from Google, which supported us and other groups, assembled the first employee PHEV fleet, and brought in Enterprise Car Rental.

Along the way I got educated about climate change. It became so clear that electrifying transportation and cleaning the power grid were an essential and complementary global strategy. Then scientists like James Hansen and Joe Romm of Climate Progress began talking about PHEVs as a “core climate change solution“. By the time Step It Up (precursor of started organizing global events to advocate for a rapid transition to a low-carbon future, our cars had become stars of the show.

Environmentalists were slow to embrace PHEVs and EVs. They bet on hybrids. When I went to back to testify in Sacramento in 2004, I said PHEVs were the “elephant in the room” when people were talking about increasing fuel economy by 20-30%.

Some were still hypnotized by hydrogen. Those who worried about coal-fueled electricity didn’t get that electric motors are four times more efficient than gasoline engines. When they noticed plug-in owners who had rooftop solar systems, they began to understand, as EV advocates have been saying for years, that “plug-in cars are the only cars that get cleaner as they get older, because the grid gets cleaner.

Soon media and experts started picking up on it. It was a thrill to join entrepreneurs and environmentalists in mid-2006 to help nail down legislative support for California’s global warming bill, and along the way to successfully pitch the importance of plug-in cars to thought-leaders like venture capitalist John Doerr, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Maria Shriver, and scores of others.

Once we had a car, we had a potent symbol. We also had a lot of fun finding ways to explain PHEVs and their benefits to people. Some things worked and some didn’t. We never came up with a better name than plug-in hybrid — which describes the design of the car, not why it’s a good idea. We found the slogan, “99MPG” didn’t work, but “100+MPG + a penny a mile of electricity” caught on. We got a screenshot from my dashboard to prove it: 124 MPG plus 123 watt/hours/mile for 50.8 miles.

Soon we boiled down our benefits statement to “cleaner, cheaper, domestic.” Then we tied each word to a constituency: plug-ins “tackle global warming, save money and revive the auto industry, and build energy security, all at the same time.”

We began invoking the idea that we were at a Pearl Harbor moment. In 1942, in one year, a giant American industry went from making cars and trucks to producing planes and tanks at a rate several times faster than they’d told FDR was impossible. Now, three score and ten years later, were fighting for the life of our planet, and to win, we need to rally like that again — at that speed and at that scale.

The fact that people could want this car for any of these reasons — or just to save money — helped spark an inconceivably broad, bipartisan coalition. Former CIA director James Woolsey said it best when he called it “a coalition of tree huggers, do-gooders, sod busters, cheap hawks, evangelicals — and Willie Nelson.”

We saw that coalition in all its glory in 2006 after we flew my just-converted Prius a to Washington DC to show members of Congress the opportunities from existing technology. That’s when we realized that the short “dongle” cable that linked a car and an extension cord could be a powerful symbol of one of PHEVs’ biggest selling points: their ability to plug in anywhere without additional infrastructure or new technology. The legislators who left their offices to see the car acted like the dongle was a sacred object, passing it from person to person as they addressed the audience and the cameras. We’ve presented dongles to dozens of new PHEV advocates as placeholders for a charged-up future.

The press relied on our analyses of every statement by each automaker about PHEVs. We tracked their advances in fits and starts, from denial to put-down to cautious interest, and eventually to acceptance, advocacy, and now, advertisements!

Back in 2004, we told Toyota, “Watch what we’re going to do to improve your hybrid; we’re not asking your permission.” In 2006, architect/designer Bill McDonough brought us to Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, and we tried to get them to be first with a production PHEV. Then when GM announced the Volt as a concept car in early 2007, we switched gears. We began to cheer on all the carmakers and spread the idea, which journalists enthusiastically picked up, of a new race in the auto industry.

GM came out swinging, determined to do things differently. The company embraced transparency. GM opened its labs and welcomed tough questions at press conferences. It recognized plug-in advocates as its allies, and encouraged amazing new communications channels like, which never misses a nuance. We kept up the pressure, reassuring those who’d been most bruised by the death of the last wave of electric cars that strong advocates throughout the auto industry were now coming into their own.

One of my favorite afternoons came in August 2008, when the Volt’s Vehicle Line Director, Tony Posawatz, came out to San Francisco and met with a dozen plug-in advocates and drivers to brainstorm and see our cars. We loved exchanging ideas that day. And 28 months later, it looks like some of our suggestions are in this great new car.

In 2006-09 we had the pleasure of seeing two Presidents and legions of candidates and elected officials jump to get photographed in and around PHEVs. It often felt unreal, as did the $7,500 buyer incentives and large loan manufacturing loan and research programs begun under the previous administration and since expanded. And ove time, people stopped separating PHEVs and EVs, and talked instead of plug-ins — the goal being to displace as much petroleum with electricity as possible.

Today we begin a new journey. We new owners and continuing advocates have our work cut out for us, showing off the new plug-in cars, telling everyone what we like about them and what could be improved, combatting misinformation, and working in every way to accelerate their arrival at scale.

In October, 2009 we declared victory on our first goal: getting mass-produced PHEVs. It’s really great to win! We owe it to so many people everywhere.

Now we’re starting all over on a new goal: retrofitting tens of millions of vehicles already on the road. We need to do this because putting a few million new plug-in cars on the road in the next few years — or 10 or 20 million in a decade — while absolutely essential, will make little more than a ripple within the 250 million vehicles in the US and 900 million in the world today.

Cars are part of the built environment. They stay on the road for decades. Just as we need to retrofit our homes, offices and factories, we need to “fix” lots of gas-guzzlers. CalCars and Andy Frank have a few allies like Intel founder Andy Grove who “get” the importance of this approach. We’re demonstrating there are technical solutions and a business case to do it. We promote startup conversion companies, but it’s happening too slowly. We need entrepreneurs and advocates to make the cause their own urgent priority.

We’re calling this “The Big Fix” campaign. Eventually, converters will need to partner withautomakers. Without them, the volume of conversions can’t get big fast enough.

In this and every case, scale and finding new ways to solve our problems together is the whole game. Change agents need to find points of leverage among the richest and most powerful institutions throughout the world, to peel off those that are at all receptive and find ways to make it worth their while to abandon business as usual. That’s what happened when Liggett & Myers broke ranks with the tobacco industry in 1996, and it’s already starting to happen among coal-based utilities.

In October 2010, I spoke to top officials in the oil industry. I said we had to find some way to work together. Because sooner or later they’ll notice that though they’re making tons of money, our country is going broke paying for oil. (Recessions follow every major oil price rise.) And the U.S. military will show them it’s starting to get off oil that costs $400 a gallon — and the lives of many in convoys — to deliver to the battlefield. And their families will tell them that our extreme weather is increasingly unprecedented and deadly. They’ll accept we already have millions of climate refugees from New Orleans to Pakistan, and they’ll understand how millions more will become desperate for water as the Himalayan and other icepacks melt.

This fall, fresh from the BP catastrophe, I urged industry leaders to truly go beyond petroleum, to find business opportunities locking up hydrocarbons in plastic, fibers and building materials, drill for geothermal energy, and invest in biofuels from algae. They have billions to invest and giant business profit and job creation opportunities.

The free market is a myth that hides massive subsidies and decisions. We’ve always picked economic and technology winners — in Silicon Valley, the radio, aerospace, semiconductor and internet industries all thrived because we knew we needed them. It will take a combination of regulations and incentives, just like it always has. If we can’t find a way in Washington, on Wall Street, at many international institutions, to get oil and other key sectors to change course, as we’re now doing in the auto industry, we will all lose. We need to make them an offer they can’t refuse: evolve and make money in new ways instead of pulling down the walls around us all.

The other side of picking winners is that coal is a sure loser. Even if there’s a way to get “clean coal’ (meaning CO2, not other emissions), it can’t scale in time. We need to find ways to close coal plants globally as soon as that doesn’t result in blackouts. Once again, it will take a combination of regulations and incentives — and in this case, as Google puts it, making RERenewable Energy Cheaper than Coal.

That’s the challenge. I’ve talked since 2005 about how to raise awareness about the climate crisis. We’d understand it if we could envision it as a giant asteroid heading towards the earth. We could unite against such a clear external threat. But climate change is too slow and too abstract — until it isn’t. People who are now calling themselves “climate hawks,” who won’t settle for powerlessness, need to be joined by everyone who wants a livable world.

I’ve given recruitment talks about the plug-in campaign and The Big Fix to smart people trying to figure out what to do with their lives at business and engineering schools at Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley, at middle schools and high schools, at Earth Day events and large and small green and energy security strategy sessions. I can imagine no more satisfying or useful activity, no better career to pursue, than advocacy for renewable energy and cleantech solutions to rescue our planet.

Here are the quotes that have sustained and inspire me, in the order they were first said:

* “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” — Mahatma Gandhi
* “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
* “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” — Alan Kay
* [When we say throw away,] there is no ‘away’–everything is part of a cycle — Bill McDonough
* “Reinvent fire” — Amory Lovins

And I thank all of you who care enough to have wanted to read this for all you’ve done and will go out and do.

Felix Kramer is the Founder of His family’s two cars will soon be a Chevy Volt and a Nissan LEAF.

Source: Felix Kramer via

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Toshiba Li-Ion Batteries Slated for Use In Honda's Electric Car

Honda Motor Company is using lithium-ion batteries made by Toshiba Corp. in a test version of its electric car, expanding upon a supply agreement for electric scooters.

Honda’s joint venture with Kyoto-based GS Yuasa Corp. will supply lithium-ion batteries for its hybrid cars, including a plug-in vehicle, while Toshiba’s packs may be more suitable for all-electric cars, which require more power, Tomohiko Kawanabe, head of Honda’s research and development division, told reporters today in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo.

Japan’s second-largest carmaker unveiled the test versions of its electric car and plug-in hybrid today, joining Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Company. in efforts to meet tighter government emissions rules. Honda has supply agreements with four battery makers, including Panasonic Corp. and its subsidiary Sanyo Electric Co., which make nickel-metal hydride packs for Honda’s current hybrid cars.

Honda’s electric car can go more than 160 kilometers (100 miles) on a single charge, farther than Nissan’s Leaf electric car, Tokyo-based Honda said today. The plug-in hybrid can run 25 kilometers on battery power before the gasoline engine kicks in, about the same as Toyota’s plug-in. The figures are based on Japanese highway testing methods.

Honda rose 1.6 percent to 3,285 yen as of 2:29 p.m. in Tokyo trading, extending its gain this year to 5.6 percent.

Nissan’s Leaf

The carmaker hasn’t decided whether it will use Toshiba’s batteries for mass production, Kawanabe said. Toshiba already makes lithium-ion batteries for Honda’s EV-neo electric scooter, which it started leasing to corporate customers this month.

The company is also seeking to sell batteries made by Blue Energy Co., the venture with GS Yuasa, to other carmakers to help lower costs, he said.

Nissan, Japan’s third-largest automaker, starts selling its lithium-ion battery-powered Leaf hatchback this month in Japan and the U.S. and will begin selling it in Europe next year. Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn has estimated that electric cars may account for 10 percent of global auto sales by 2020.

Toyota plans to sell a short-distance pure electric car and a plug-in hybrid by 2012.

Jay Leno Takes Delivery of His New Chevrolet Volt - Video

A Proud Jay Leno is one of the first people to get their hands on the Chevrolet Volt. Now, he must make room in his infamous garage to park it!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

BAE Systems Developing Parallel Hybrid Propulsion System for Medium and Heavy Duty Trucks

BAE Systems, producer of the market-leading HybriDrive series hybrid system for transit buses, is developing a parallel hybrid propulsion system designed for medium- and heavy-duty truck applications. The parallel system is the latest version of the company’s HybriDrive system.

The HybriDrive series propulsion system—currently in service on more than 3,000 transit buses in cities around the world and with more than 200 million miles of revenue service—meets the demands of urban transit duty cycles, which require low average speeds and frequent stop-and-go operation. The HybriDrive parallel system is designed to address the needs of vehicles with duty cycles that require higher operating speeds and less frequent stops.

The development of a parallel system is part of our strategy to broaden our HybriDrive product family to meet the growing worldwide need for more efficient transport and energy management. Our HybriDrive parallel system is the perfect hybrid electric solution for vehicles that operate in diverse duty cycles beyond standard urban operational modes.

—Steve Trichka, vice president of power and energy management for BAE Systems

HybriDrive series and parallel technologies both use simplified and proven components and controls to deliver their capabilities. While the series system does not use a transmission, the HybriDrive parallel system is based on a single electric machine integrated between the engine and the transmission. The system can be installed with minimal impact to the vehicle, and enhances propulsion through an optimized blending of internal combustion engine power and electric power.

The system’s energy management and control capabilities ensure all energy flow—such as propulsion and regeneration—occurs in the most efficient fashion, resulting in lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions.

The HybriDrive parallel system, in final stages of development, will see its first road trials next spring and is expected to be deployed in markets around the world in 2012.

BAE Systems’ HybriDrive series system has transported more than a billion passengers in cities across North America and in the United Kingdom including New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Ottawa, Houston, Seattle, London, and Oxford, UK, and powers vehicles by the world’s leading bus manufacturers, including Daimler and New Flyer in the United States and Alexander Dennis and Irisbus Iveco in Europe.

Source: Green Car Congress

Monday, December 20, 2010

First Member Receives His Volt

Here is a testimonial from the first member of to receive one, with the exception of Lyle Dennis.

Hello and Happy Holidays to all my friends at!

Thursday had to be one of the most exciting days ever for me, I’ve taken many new car deliveries over the 46 years of my life but nothing ever like this, The first ever mass produced electric car. After learning that my Volt was scheduled to be delivered on December 14, 2010 from the shipper (due to my dealer’s geographical location it would be the very first stop) I also received these exact words in an email from Cassens Transport:

Thank you for contacting Cassens Transport.

It looks like this vehicle shipped yesterday (12/13) at 12:26.

It is on a load of 9 units with the first drop being in Dover, NJ.

It is 580 miles so, depending upon traffic and weather, I would hope it would be delivered today or maybe tomorrow.

Needless to say I almost passed out! I was to be the very first Chevrolet Volt customer to receive his car! I quickly notified my Sales person Roy Serif with this great news, a few hours later he told me that the media will be at Ayres Chevrolet to cover this historical event. On the mooring of December 15, 2010 we all know what happened Mr. Kaffee took delivery of his new Chevy Volt! Ok I will admit that my story may not be as exciting as Mr. Kaffee’s (no prius to trade in here just a 2002 Toyota Tacoma Pickup) anyway my car did arrive at Ayres Chevrolet Dover, NJ at about 11:50am just after the media blitz a few miles down the road. The driver was still gleaming with excitement from all of the media attention he received there. He did say he had received a call while on the road with orders to stop at Denville, NJ first and not Dover, NJ.

On Thursday, December 16th after picking my son up from school we headed to Ayres Chevrolet and at 4:41pm I took delivery of my 2011 Chevrolet Volt from Sales Consultant Roy Seif. I must say that this was one of the best Auto purchasing experiences I have ever had. The people at Ayres where top notch!

It’s a very cool car, and I noticed the refinement and attention to detail GM has put into this car. Yesterday I let a good friend of mine take it for a drive, he is an electrical engineer. After taking him for a drive I pulled over and let him take over, he asked If we could take it on the highway so we did (rt. 78). Then wile on the highway I said to him hey do you realize you are going 90mph! (speed limit is 65) he said sorry no I did not it felt more like 60-70 to me!. He couldn’t believe how quite the car is and said you better watch your speed in this car as you will be easily fooled on just how fast you are moving. After we got out of the car he said wow America finally got it together I want one.

The engine never came on at speeds up to 90mph

And hey after getting your hands on this car it won’t matter if you’re the very first or not you will be all smiles regardless.

Best of luck to all my friends with your Volt Deliveries

Introducing The Triac Three-Wheeled Electric Car - $25,000 and 100 miles Range

Triac 3-Wheel EV

Is there a Triac in your future? Maybe -- if your conscience has evolved to a deep shade of green and you have $25,000 to spare on a locally manufactured, three-wheeled gasless electric vehicle with a 100-mile range.

I drove one around Los Gatos the other day with Mike Ryan, president of Green Vehicles, the Salinas company that makes them. A prototype, one of just a dozen made so far, it had a stick shift that will be replaced in the upcoming Triac 2.0 with an automatic transmission.

It's no Tesla, but that's the point, Ryan says. The Triac is a less costly vehicle for an environmentally conscious lifestyle.

"It's centered around what we call the Green Core. They want to better their environment and lower their carbon footprint. We want to do that within the limits of sustainable manufacturing, careful materials selection and affordability," he said.

A computer science and electrical engineering graduate from UC Berkeley, Ryan cofounded Green Vehicles in 2007 with valley intellectual property lawyer Ehab Youssef after selling a small chip company in Irvine to Broadcom and dabbling in real estate for a while.

"I was looking for something I was passionate about. The environment is top on my list," Ryan said.

Analyst John Gartner of Pike Research said, "We see the market really taking off in 2011, thanks to all the investment being made by companies like General Motors, Mitsubishi and Nissan." He said the biggest restriction

is cost, but he expects the price to come down over the next few years.

Paul Scott, vice president of the San Francisco based Plug In America, said "the market is quite robust" for lightweight commuter vehicles like the Triac. "It's going to look different, that limits its appeal somewhat, but given the efficiency of those vehicles -- they are very lightweight -- you're going to get a lot of people wanting to buy those as the cost of gasoline goes up." And there's a $7,500 federal tax credit and California rebate of up to $5,000 for qualifying EVs, he noted.

In my test drive, the Triac handled the uneven streets of Los Gatos well. It has a roomy passenger cabin despite its small size. It's zippy. And it felt good to have weaned myself from the gas pump, if only for 10 or 15 minutes.

Behind the wheel, it felt like a gasoline-powered car, with a few differences. It was silent. Braking was counterintuitive for someone who has driven stick shifts for many decades. As I pulled to a stop sign, my instinct with the manual shift engaged was to press on the clutch. But as with an automatic shift transmission, all I had to do was step on the brake.

The vehicle took a speed bump handily even though I didn't slow down for it, and it exhibited excellent acceleration. It's supposed to do 80 on the freeway, but I stayed in town and kept it under 35 mph.

The 100-mile range is due to its light weight and powerful lithium-ion battery, made by Leyden Energy in Fremont. The two companies have California Energy Commission grants totaling $5 million to make the batteries and vehicles in California. Leyden says the battery can operate at up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit without degradation of the cells, eliminating the need for a battery cooling system.

Range is a touchy subject among EV makers. "The reason I say an 'honest' hundred miles is there has been a tendency in some cases for folks to overestimate their range by calculating it in an advantageous situation, say, 30 mph on a flat surface with no stops," Ryan said. —‰'Honest' means this is what drivers will actually experience driving it around."

The first Triac prototypes were made in China, but the company moved manufacturing operations to California to lower its carbon footprint as soon as it got funding from the energy commission. Building the Triac in the state with the greatest market for electric vehicles will minimize the cost of transporting materials and vehicles, Ryan said.

"We're a California manufacturing company," he said. "A lot of people are going to like that."

Green Vehicles and Leyden announced their Triac partnership two weeks ago at Green Vehicles' 80,000-square-foot plant in Salinas. The vehicles are expected to begin rolling off the assembly line at the end of next year at a rate of 2,000 a year.

The Triac will include a Vehicle Efficiency Data Assistant -- VEDA -- interface to the battery management system as well as diagnostic and navigational data. VEDA is an electronic learning system that captures a person's driving habits and commute patterns to accurately predict miles left before recharging.

"Range anxiety is something that gives people a lot of concern," Ryan said. "Say I forgot to charge my car. I'm at lunch. I want to run an errand before I go home. Will I make it home?"

The Triac will have a slot for a personal digital assistant -- iPhone, Android, Palm or whatever -- that drivers can use to listen to podcasts, a daily itinerary or a business briefing on the way to work. The Triac will ask, "Are you going to work?" If the answer is "Yes," it will ask what you want to hear, Ryan said.

The idea is to give people a safe way of using their PDAs while driving.

Green Vehicles is also working on an online site that tracks the company's greenhouse gas emissions and waste. "I want people to see these kinds of metrics," Ryan said.


Honda Reveals Second Plug-in Vehicle Testing Program

The plug-in hybrid electric test vehicle for Japan. Click to enlarge.

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced its second Electric Vehicle Testing Program, this one with Saitama Prefecture for its next-generation personal mobility products, including electric vehicles (EVs); plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs); electric scooters; and electric carts. The specifics of the testing program, testing vehicles, and solar-powered charging stations made their public debut in Japan.

On 15 December, Honda announced a similar Electric Vehicle Testing Program in the US, featuring the first public test drive of a Fit EV prototype and an Accord Sedan test vehicle outfitted with a new two-motor plug-in hybrid system. (Earlier post.) In addition to Japan and the United States, Honda is considering the possibility of conducting a similar program in China.

Solar-powered charging station for the test vehicles. Click to enlarge.

In the US program, the city of Torrance, California along with Stanford University and Google Inc., will each receive a Fit EV for testing starting in 2011. In addition, the city of Torrance will test a plug-in hybrid as a part of the program in 2012. Each of the three demonstration program participants will conduct general testing as well as evaluating specific and distinct issues related to the introduction of electric vehicles.

The Saitama program will focus on motorcycles, automobiles and power products. The program will also use advanced communications and telematics and solar-powered charging technologies to explore future forms of personal mobility and their potential for reducing CO2 emissions.

In March 2009, Honda and Saitama Prefecture concluded an agreement to collaborate on environmental issues. Based on this agreement, Honda will start an Electric Vehicle Testing Program in the cities of Saitama, Kumagaya and Chichibu. The program will study the following:

  • The practicality and convenience of electromotive technology featured on next-generation personal mobility products, including Honda’s EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles, the EV-neo electric scooter and the Monpal ML200 4-wheel electric cart.
  • The effectiveness of solar power generation and other renewable energy sources in helping to realize a low-carbon mobility society.
  • The effectiveness of advanced communications and telematics to enhance customer convenience and product usability.

The following are the program objectives for each city:

  • Saitama City: Urban transportation testing featuring Honda’s EVs, plug-in hybrid vehicles and EV-neo, by partnering with public transportation facilities such as train stations. Study the low noise impact of electric vehicles in residential neighborhoods.
  • Kumagaya City: Using Kumagaya’s suburban metropolitan environment, study the practicality of applying Honda’s EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles to a park-and-ride system centered around Kagohara Station.
  • Chichibu City: Working alongside Chichibu’s city enhancement plan through local citizen cooperation, conduct studies to increase use of electromotive mobility opportunities and its convenience by renting out Monpal to citizens and tourists.

The Saitama Prefecture Electric Vehicle Testing Program vehicles will include:

  • Electric vehicle (EV). Based on the popular Fit, this vehicle features a coaxial motor and other electromotive technologies developed for the FCX Clarity fuel cell electric vehicle, combined with a Toshiba-produced lithium-ion battery. Charging with a 200-volt power source takes less than six hours, and vehicle driving range exceeds 160 km (99 miles).

  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Based on the platform of the Inspire mid-size sedan, this vehicle features a fuel-efficient 2.0-liter i-VTEC engine and two high-output electric motors, specially developed for this system. The vehicle can be operated in three drive modes: all-electric, gasoline-electric hybrid and engine drive modes. The 6 kWh lithium-ion battery is manufactured by Blue Energy and its all-electric mode driving range can achieve up to 15 to 25 km (9 to 16 miles).

  • Electric scooter (EV-neo). This electric scooter, which will start a lease sales program on 24 December to companies that make short-range deliveries and also to individual business owners, will receive custom coloring as a testing vehicle.

  • Electric Cart (Monpal ML200). First launched in 2006, this 4-wheel electric cart will also be used as a testing vehicle.

Specifications of Saitama Prefecture program vehicles

EVPlug-in HybridEV-neoMonpal ML200
Engine 2.0L 4 cyl. Atkinson cycle i-VTEC
Transmission ECVT
Motor Coaxial electric
(same as in FCX Clarity)
Two-motor system
(drive, regeneration)
DC brushless DC brushless
Max. motor output 92 kW 120 kW 2.8 kW
Battery type,
6 kWh Li-ion,
Blue Energy
VRLA (lead-acid),
EV range >160 km 25 km (JC08 mode) >34 km (at 30 km/h on flat road) Approx. 25 km (6 km/h on level ground)
EV max speed 144 km/h 100 km/h

Charge time 100 V: 100 V: approx 4h
200V: approx. 0.5 h with rapid charger
100V: approx 9 h

Source: Green Car Congress