Tuesday, January 31, 2012

GreenCharge app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch - VIDEO

Have a look!

GreenCharge App for Electric Vehicle Enthusiasts Launches Today in the iOS App Store Mobile App Measures Real Time Environmental and Economic Impact


Xatori Inc., creators of PlugShare, the nation's largest electric vehicle charging network, today introduces its second product, GreenCharge. The mobile application allows users to view real time battery data and to see and share the environmental and monetary benefits of owning an electric vehicle. The app is now available in the iTunes App Store for $9.99 for use on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices.

The GreenCharge app is a must-have utility for electric vehicle owners and those considering one. The app provides real time charging information by syncing directly with an eligible electric vehicle such as a Nissan LEAF or Chevy Volt. In addition, GreenCharge is the first and only app to connect driving data with local energy pricing to give personalized data about the cost of operating an electric car. EV owners can also see the environmental impact of driving in terms of carbon offset. By providing this information, GreenCharge empowers EV owners and enthusiasts alike to better understand and communicate the advantages of electric vehicles.

With the GreenCharge app, users can:

Seamlessly sync data from their Nissan LEAF or Chevrolet Volt
Test out a demonstration vehicle to simulate driving and cost information if considering purchasing an EV
Get real time charging, battery, and range information for their electric vehicles
See their daily, weekly, and monthly driving broken down by mileage and price
Share their daily, weekly, and monthly driving information on Twitter and Facebook, or via email.
See how many pounds of CO2 emissions they have offset by driving an electric vehicle instead of a gasoline vehicle
Compare savings from their electric vehicle to a traditional gasoline vehicle

"I've talked to too many people who have been confused about the benefits and operating costs of an electric vehicle" said Forrest North, CEO of Xatori Inc. "We built GreenCharge to let EV owners understand their cars and educate others on the true environmental and monetary benefits of driving an electric vehicle."

For more information please visit the website at www.greenchargeapp.com.

About Xatori Inc.
Xatori is a Palo Alto-based software company founded in 2010 that builds innovative software for electric vehicles and an enlightened electricity grid. CEO Forrest North was previously founder and CEO at Mission Motors and an engineer at Tesla Motors. CTO Armen Petrosian was previously an engineer at Amprius and on the Stanford Solar Car team. Advisors include Max Levchin (co-founder of PayPal and Slide) and Marc Tarpenning (co-founder of Tesla Motors).

Coda will start selling Sedan in February, report says

Coda Automotive will finally start selling its battery-electric sedan by the end of February, Coda CEO Phil Murtaugh told the Detroit News.

The Los Angeles-based company will soon have five dealers – one in San Diego, one in the San Francisco Bay Area and three others in locations that haven't been disclosed – the newspaper said, adding that Coda plans to have 40 dealers in 25 cities by year end. The company hasn't disclosed how many vehicles it plans to sell this year.

The company, which opened its Los Angeles headquarters in November, said last September that it raised $147 million in its fourth round of financing to bring its total to more than $300 million since the company's 2009 founding. Coda will sell its 150-mile-range Sedan for $39,900 and said earlier this month that it would offer a version with a slightly shorter range for $2,650 less.

Coda Automotive parent company Coda Holdings said last week that it would launch a division specializing in energy storage, as the company looks to cash in on what many believe will be a rapidly growing market for secondary use of electric-vehicle batteries. The new company, Coda Energy, will specialize in designing battery systems that may be used for on-site power supply as well as a backup power source in the event of a grid outage. Coda has an existing business partnership with its car-battery supplier Lishen, which also makes lithium-ion batteries for companies such as Apple and Samsung.

Source: Autoblog Green

Monday, January 30, 2012

AT&T orders 1,200 CNG-powered Chevrolet Express vans

A four-tank option enables a 300+ mile range in the CNG Express vans. Click to enlarge.

AT&T has ordered 1,200 Chevrolet Express dedicated compressed natural gas (CNG) cargo vans for deployment to AT&T service centers nationwide. It is the largest-ever order of CNG vehicles from General Motors.

AT&T, which has announced its intention to invest up to $565 million to deploy approximately 15,000 alternative fuel vehicles over a 10-year period through 2018, will use the vans to provide and maintain communications, high-speed Internet and television services for AT&T customers. Last week, the company announced the milestone deployment of its 5,000th alternative-fuel vehicle, a Chevrolet Express van, as part of the commitment.

Chevrolet Express CNG vans are powered by a Vortec 6.0L V8 engine equipped with hardened exhaust valves, and intake and exhaust valve seats for improved wear resistance and durability with gaseous fuel systems. The vans are factory-ordered and delivered to customers with their factory-engineered and fully integrated gaseous fuel system in place.

GM offers two storage systems:

  • A 3-tank system provides a range up to 200 miles and allows for use of complete cargo area.

  • A 4-tank system provides a range up to 300 miles. This system adds a single tank in the driver’s side of the cargo area, just inboard of the wheel well.

The CNG option is available for order on Chevrolet Express 2500 and 3500 Cargo vans. Each van is covered by GM’s three-year, 36,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty and five-year, 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, and meets all Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board emission certification requirements.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, CNG-powered vans can produce approximately 25% fewer carbon dioxide emissions than similar gasoline and diesel-powered vans.

Source: Green Car Congress

Panasonic considering making Li-ion automotive batteries in China to meet customer needs

The Nikkei reports that Panasonic Corp. is considering expanding production of lithium ion batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles to China.

The electronics manufacturer has been making automotive lithium ion batteries solely at its Kasai and other Japanese plants. It has relied exclusively on domestic production because of the technological sophistication required in making the batteries, which need to be durable and offer higher capacities than lithium ion batteries used in personal computers, mobile phones and other devices.

With major customers such as Germany’s Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp. signaling plans to produce hybrids and EVs in China, Panasonic has decided to set up a supply system there.

According to the Nikkei, Panasonic is ranked first in the automotive Li-ion market, and has a 20-plus percent share of the total global market for all types of lithium-ion batteries.

Super-Cute Electric Box on Wheels – the Boxx Scooter

Boxx ScooterThe Boxx scooter is aptly named – it’s a box on wheels, handlebars above and wheels below. It almost doesn’t even look like it’s supposed to be ridden at all, but if you look closely you can see the footrests. The prototype made its debut at the Portland Auto Show in the Eco Center this weekend.

The Boxx is more than just a weirdly shaped scooter, though – it’s a 100% battery-driven electric vehicle. No emissions, no going to the gas station, everything else that goes along with an electric car attached to a super clean tiny little shape.

Scooting in Style

There’s also a surprising amount of customization available; the basic version of the scooter has a range of 40 miles and charges in 4 hours, but the battery pack can be upgraded for an 80 mile range, or the quick charge option can be purchased to reduce charging time to just 60 minutes. There’s even a winter pack with heated seats available (this is, by far, my favorite option).

All models come with two-wheel drive, two storage spaces (they can’t be that big), an ABS system, and LED lights. It weighs 120 lbs, so it’s not quite a scooter in a suitcase (for most of us), but it could be parked nearly anywhere. Oh, and you get your choice of 10 colors for the body and 2 for the seat.

The one potential downside to the Boxx is that its top speed is “governed 28 – 35 mph, region specific,” but if you’re driving this around the city, that shouldn’t really matter (seriously, no one is going faster than 30mph in the middle of Chicago traffic, okay).

There are 100 units available this year (the basic version is $3995, and upgrading will cost you), or reservations can be made for 2013 and 2014 models

Source: Gas2.0

Sunday, January 29, 2012

BMW, Tendril will build demonstration home 'wired' for ActivE electric vehicle

BMW and Boulder, CO-based energy management company Tendril will build a demonstration home designed to power BMW's ActiveE electric vehicle while minimizing the home and the car's carbon footprint, the New York Times reported.

The home, which will be built at BMW's San Francisco Bay Area technology office by this March, will have "smart" thermostats, solar panels and appliances, the newspaper said, citing the companies, which didn't disclose how much the house will cost to build. The home will manage energy delivery to minimize power usage during the costliest times on the grid.

The German automaker is joining Toyota and Nissan among electric-drive car makers that are building demonstration homes geared towards getting data on "smart" energy usage. Last August, Nissan started selling a home system in Japan that allowed the Leaf to be used as backup electricity-storage system for homes. The Leaf, if it starts with its 24-kilowatt-hour battery fully charged, can supply enough electricity to power a typical Japanese home for about two days, Nissan said at the time.

BMW last week delivered its ActiveE electric vehicle to its first U.S. customers, as the German automaker enters the next phase its domestic EV testing after the Mini E. The car will be available in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, New York, Boston and Hartford, CT, at a rate of $499 a month with a $2,250 downpayment. Open enrollment for the program started this week.

Source: Autoblog Green

Tesla Model X crossover teased, full reveal to be live on Internet

Perhaps the biggest reveal of 2012 for fans of luxury performance all-electric vehicles (or, perhaps, anyone automotively-inclined with a pulse) is set for the 9th of February when Tesla Motors pulls the shroud from its Model X crossover at its new Los Angeles design studio. And now, we have been given a strong hint of what to expect.

The upstart California startup has just sent out a new version of its invitation to customers, and included on the summons is a partially-silhouetted image of something seemingly very sleek and very sexy. Indeed, it must be the Model X. While there is some of the same design language used in the Model S sedan, the teaser suggests a vehicle with a shorter hood, a taller roof and less-pronounced creases in its sheet metal.

While AutoblogGreen while have a presence at the event, you can witness the unveiling in real time from the comfort of your own home. CEO Elon Musk has tweeted the reveal will be shown live on the Tesla Motors website at 8:00 pm (we presume that's Pacific Standard Time). He also adds, "Most cars are pretty blah. This is not."

After seeing the image above and adding the "Quicker than a Porsche 911 and roomier than an Audi Q7" statement we've heard previously to the equation, we're going to give him the benefit of the doubt. For now.

Source: Autoblog Green

California’s new ZEV rule introduces the BEVx; ARB staff expects these vehicles to play a longer-term role than plug-in hybrids

On Friday 27 January, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted the new Advanced Clean Cars (ACC) package that sets out the regulatory emissions and technology requirements for light-duty automobiles through model year 2025. (Earlier post.) The Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation—one of the three main regulatory packages that constitute ACC—introduces a new regulatory vehicle category: the BEVx, or a battery-electric vehicle with a small “limp-home” range extending engine or APU (auxiliary power unit)—i.e., not a series-hybrid type vehicle such as the Chevrolet Volt equipped with a full-capability engine.

Under the ACC, ARB will award BEVx credits on the same basis as BEVs—i.e., on zero-emission miles (the simplified ZEV credit scheme under the ACC is a linear one based on those zero-emission miles). BEVx vehicles can provide up to 50% of the pure ZEV requirement for manufacturers, and so they may emerge as a significant vehicle type.

In the Initial Statement of Reasons (ISOR) published prior to the Board meeting, ARB staff noted that “some manufacturers” proposed this new class of advanced vehicles for separate treatment as part of the ZEV program. (During the public hearing on the ACC rule package, comments from ARB staff and the Board indicated that BMW was particularly interested in this classification.)

The basic rationale, according to ARB staff, is that such a vehicle has the potential to expand the BEV market beyond current market estimates by giving interested customers an extra measure of confidence about range, and if successful, would add substantial zero-emission vehicle miles traveled (VMT) to the overall California fleet.

It was suggested during the hearing that such a vehicle might even deliver more all-electric miles than a battery-only electric vehicle, as the availability of the range-extending engine could preclude drivers reserving battery charge to ensure they actually make it home.

The BEVx would have reduced performance while operating in APU (auxiliary power unit) mode—i.e., while using the range extender to find a charging location. Most of these vehicles are expected to have a zero-emission range of 80 miles or greater.

This vehicle has substantially more range than currently announced PHEVs, ARB staff noted, with electric range comparable to full function BEVs and will probably require ground-up BEV design.

Manufacturers believe that the APU will be a relatively high-cost option on top of an existing, full function (100+ mile), BEV. BEVs are expected to play an important role in ARB’s long-term emissions reduction strategy, but the market for current technology BEVs might be limited.

While the APU within the vehicle may evolve during this transition, from gasoline to advanced biofuels to hydrogen, it is reasonable to believe that this proposed vehicle may help meet ARB’s long-term GHG and criteria pollutant emissions reduction goals.

Staff expects BEVxs to play a longer-term role than TZEVs [ transitional zero emission vehicle; most commonly a plug-in hybrid PHEV] because of their improved zero emission mileage potential. These vehicles would be particularly well suited to use of low upstream GHG fuels that might be more expensive, since the predominant operating cost would be offset by relatively low-cost electricity. In addition to potential for emerging alternative fuel use, there is an opportunity to explore engine technologies that are advantageous but otherwise unsuitable for application in conventional vehicles.

Engine technology applied to existing PHEVs is derived from small conventional production gasoline engines, but highly specialized APUs for BEVxs may eventually spin off and evolve in completely different directions. Future BEVxs with highly specialized engine and fuel technologies could be optimized to drive cost, weight, size, and emissions down and make these specialized BEVx APUs suitable for more affordable and therefore more widespread application. Lotus Engineering and other automotive design firms have been developing hybrid-specific APUs and have several unique concepts under development already.


ARB staff suggested that the BEVx market may appeal to drivers who would not otherwise consider a BEV with the same range. Since staff considers these vehicles full function BEVs with short range APUs, it stressed the importance of having the minimum range for eligibility be equivalent to full function BEVs in the marketplace.

Basic criteria for these vehicle include:

  1. the APU range is equal to or less than the all-electric range;

  2. engine operation cannot occur until the battery charge has been depleted to the charge-sustaining lower limit;

  3. a minimum 80 miles electric range; and

  4. super ultra low emission vehicle (SULEV) and zero evaporative emissions compliant and TZEV warranty requirements on the battery system.

ARB expects—but is not at this point requiring— manufacturers to incorporate further performance limits on charge-sustaining APU mode operation, including speed restrictions.

For the 2012 through 2017 model years, BEVxs will be referred to as Type I.5x and Type IIx vehicles, to fit in with the pre-2018 nomenclature for ZEVs. Type I.5x and Type IIx vehicles will receive the same credits as Type I.5 and Type II ZEVs: 2.5 and 3 credits, respectively. Up to 50% of the portion of the ZEV requirement that must be met with pure ZEVs may be met with these Type I.5x and Type IIx vehicles.

ARB staff has committed to studying PHEV and BEVx user-behavior to find a more refined attribute-based methodology that can better correlate with desirable zero-emission VMT (vehicle miles traveled) and emissions reductions.

Source: Green Car Congress

A word on Nissan Leaf sales, orders and reservation numbers

What's up with the sales, orders and reservations of the Nissan Leaf? Nissan loudly trumpeted the 20,000 reservations it originally collected back in September, 2010 and Nissan's Mark Perry recently told AutoblogGreen that, since then, that number has climbed to around 26,000. Where do things stand today? That's not exactly simple to figure out. Here's what we know:
  • Number of accepted Leaf reservations: 26,000
  • Number of Leaf models sold: 10,000
  • – Number sold in January: 800 (estimate)
  • – Number sold in February: 800 (estimate. Perry recently said these two months were sold out or nearly sold out)
  • – Number of people who haven't had a chance to order because they live in a state where the Leaf is not yet for sale: 2,000 (according, again, to Perry)
  • – Number of people who cancelled (unknown)
  • = 12,400 people or so
Nissan's Katherine Zachary tells Autoblog that the company doesn't share cancellation data, so it's not possible for outsiders to know exactly how many of the 12,400 have raised and then lowered their hands. Zachary added, "We have new people coming into the process every day, so it's really a moving target." Still, somewhere out there, there could be 12,000 people who are patiently waiting to snatch up Nissan's 2012 Leaf production. Even if 50 percent of them cancelled, that still leaves many months of strong sales coming for Nissan in the U.S. this coming year, even as production ramps up.

One thing that Zachary was willing to share were the colors chosen by buyers for model year 2012 Leaf orders. They are:
  • Brilliant Silver – 24%
  • Blue Ocean – 23%
  • Glacier Pearl – 21%
  • Cayenne Red – 19%
  • Super Black – 14%

Source: Autoblog Green

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chrysler To Begin Selling CNG Pickups This Year

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama laid out his vision for America’s future energy destiny, citing shale gas formations as one of many potential fuels to reduce our oil dependency. Indeed, many pundits and economists talk about the natural gas economy. The only problem? The lack of CNG-powered cars in America. Honda was first out the gate with a CNG Civic, and now Chrysler has quietly announced plans to begin selling CNG Ram pickups to fleet owners this year.In an interview with Bloomberg, Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne was asked about natural gas-powered pickups. He responded by saying that Chrysler is “absolutely” going “bring them here,” here being America. Rumors of CNG Ram pickups have been swirling for some time, and a Chrysler spokesmen says that sales will begin to fleet owners at first, implying that regular retail buyers will eventually get their hands on CNG pickups as well.

That’s good news for truck buyers looking for an alternative to gasoline or diesel engines, though this is hardly the first time automakers have offered alt-fuel pickups and vans. At the turn of the millenium Ford, GM, and Chrysler all offered CNG versions of their popular work vehicles, though the quality of these conversions was questionable at best. Today Ford offers CNG versions of their largest trucks, GM sells CNG-powered work vans, and Chrysler has been considering CNG pickups for at least a year.

However, the Big Three are totally different companies compared to ten years ago, and alt-fuel technology has also come a long way. The estimated cost of CNG technology over a similar gas engine is about $3,000 per vehicle, compared to $3,300 for diesel and over $8,000 for hybrid systems. However, diesel vehicles tend to get much better MPG compared to gas engines, while CNG-powered engines tend to do worse.

The only saving grace would be CNG’s lower cost. Diesel is quite expensive here in America, hovering about 50-cents a gallon more than gasoline. CNG is priced around $2.60 a gallon-equivalent here in New England, and for fleet operators a savings of over a dollar a gallon could translate into big dollar signs, quickly paying off the price of the CNG engine premium.

Is CNG for pickup trucks a viable option for business owners? I think so, as long as the price remains low compared to gas or diesel. And if it gets more vehicles off the oil standard, all the better say I. Do you agree?

Source: Gas2.0

Miami Beach and Hertz Bring Car-Sharing to Florida

The City of Miami Beach loves attention. It was the first to bring a bike sharing program to South Florida with DECOBIKE, and now it has partnered with Hertz to offer “Hertz On Demand,” the first car-sharing program for a municipality (the service is already available at Florida International University, among others). The partnership kicked off yesterday with much fanfare, speeches, and assertions of awesomeness from everyone involved. After all that, it’s really just a baby step toward reducing congestion: Hertz is offering 20 cars in eight garages scattered around the city, with one hybrid option for now. If the program is successful, it will offer 100 vehicles.

Customers must rent the cars in advance online on wwww.Hertzondemand.com, so it’s convenient except that you have to wait for the fob to be mailed to you; then you can get to the keys in the car and go. There is no annual membership fee and no trial period for membership, unlike competitor Zipcar. Renters can also make one-way car trips, a major advantage over ZipCar and other car-sharing services where people must return the car to the place they picked it up. Rates start at $9.00 the hour, and start at $63 a day. The cost of gas, insurance, and 24/7 roadside assistance are included (they place a gas card under the sun visor), as are the first 180 miles within a 24 hour period. There is a $250 insurance deductible.

Someone at Hertz read the writing on the wall back in 2011 and they began capitalizing on the car-sharing trend, hoping for great publicity and profit. What they’ve come up with works- somewhat. Check out their Facebook page and you’ll see customers demanding that Hertz iron out some major kinks. Still, they’re cleverly offering to buy people’s membership cards to competitor’s driving programs: “Join Hertz On Demand for FREE and we’ll give you enough driving credits to cover the cost of your annual car share membership fee and then some. Just mail us your membership card from any US car share competitor and we’ll give you $75 in driving credits to try Hertz On Demand!” I might be tempted to keep my mine. Partly because I’m partial to something a little different, a little like RelayRide- a car-sharing program where people can make money from renting out their cars and reduce congestion.

What’s in it for the City?

It is notoriously difficult to drive around or find parking in Miami Beach, day or night. Many a woman has felt the keen agony of walking to a night club in heels from a parking garage too many blocks away. So, in theory, the Hertz program frees locals who rarely use a car from having to buy one, and therefore frees up parking spaces and congestion. The driving situation is so bad in the City that not even 100 Hertz cars will make a dent. But, at least the City is leasing parking spaces to Hertz for $75; not too shabby. Hertz will also pay Miami Beach a portion of its gross revenue: 0.50% in Year 3, 0.75% in Year 4, and 1% in Year 5, according to the City of Miami Beach press release.

Source: Gas2.0

Friday, January 27, 2012

Will Coda Make Its Committment For Delivery of EV Sedan in February

Earlier this month at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, Californian startup Coda Automotive promised that it would begin sales of its first car -- the all-electric 2012 Coda Sedan -- in February.

However, with just a week to go before the end of January and very little news to go on about the impending launch, you’d be forgiven for thinking Coda was on track to miss yet another deadline.

Not so, says Coda CEO Philip Murtaugh. Talking with The Detroit News yesterday, Murtaugh said sales of the $37,250 five seat sedan would start just as soon as final certification on the car has been completed.

That, he says, should happen before the end of February.

But final certification -- which includes obtaining official efficiency ratings from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and completing mandatory crash testing -- isn’t a process with a time-frame that can be easily guessed.

Without final certification, a car can’t legally be sold in the U.S.

2011 Coda Sedan electric car, lithium-ion battery pack, 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show

2011 Coda Sedan electric car, lithium-ion battery pack, 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show

Last year, Californian electric automaker Fisker Automotive took much longer than anticipated to obtain all of the necessary certification paperwork for its first car, the 2012 Fisker Karma range-extended luxury sedan.

As a consequence, despite starting production last spring, it was October of 2011 before Fisker could legally sell its car.

With just one month to go, time is running out for Coda’s promise to deliver its first car by February 28, but will it make its latest deadline?

Source: Green Car Reports

Presidential energy blueprint calls for 80-percent clean energy by 2035

As GM-Volt readers know, this week’s Volt news was about politics and GM’s efforts to rebuild its falsely maligned image. But even as certain congressional Republicans targeted GM, the Volt, and President Obama, the president said he is doubling down on his agenda for energy security.

The president’s Blueprint to Make The Most of America’s Energy Resources – delivered Wednesday during the last State of the Union Address for his term in office – focused on initiatives Obama hopes will lead to clean sources comprising 80 percent of U.S. energy by 2035.

In a fact sheet released by the White House, Obama’s plan calls for transitioning to cleaner sources of energy to “enhance national security, protect the environment and public health, and grow our economy and create new jobs.”

The White House said U.S. renewable energy use has nearly doubled over the past few years, and in 2011, the U.S. again became the “world’s leading investor in clean energy – but staying on top will depend on smart, aggressive action moving forward.”

Actually, the White House began by also calling for reliance on non-renewable and fossil fuels.

“This commitment includes the safe and responsible production of our oil and natural gas resources,” the White House said, echoing thoughts the president had already spoken:

“Nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. Right now—right now—American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right—eight years. Not only that—last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years. But with only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, oil isn’t enough.”

Following are the fact sheet points in their entirety:

President Obama’s Plan to Advance Safe Production of Oil and Gas Resources To Create Jobs, Enhance Energy Security, and Cut Pollution

Make a new lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico to move forward on our national commitment to safe and responsible oil and gas development: In his State of the Union Address, the President directed the Department of Interior to finalize a national offshore energy plan that makes 75 percent of our potential offshore resources available for development by opening new areas for drilling in the Gulf and Alaska. On Thursday, the President will take a concrete step forward to develop our oil and gas resources, announcing that the Department of Interior will hold a new lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico. This lease sale will make approximately 38 million acres available, and could result in the production of 1 billion barrels of oil and 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Promote safe, responsible development of the near 100-year supply of natural gas, supporting more than 600,000 jobs while ensuring public health and safety: In 2009, we became the world’s leading producer of natural gas. In the State of the Union, the President directed the Administration to ensure safe shale gas development that, according to independent estimates, will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. These actions will include moving forward with common-sense new rules to require disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking operations on public lands.

Reducing our dependence on oil by encouraging greater use of natural gas in transportation: The President’s plan includes: proposing new incentives for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that run on natural gas or other alternative fuels; launching a competitive grant program to support communities to overcome the barriers to natural gas vehicle deployment; developing transportation corridors that allow trucks fueled by liquefied natural gas to transport goods; and supporting programs to convert municipal buses and trucks to run on natural gas and to find new ways to convert and store natural gas.

Harnessing American ingenuity to catalyze breakthrough technologies for natural gas: The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) will announce a new research competition in the coming months that will engage our country’s brightest scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to find ways to harness our abundant supplies of domestic natural gas to lessen our dependence of foreign oil for vehicles. The breakthrough technologies they will develop, whether they are for new ways to fuel our cars with natural gas or a method to turn that gas into liquid fuel, promise to break our dependence on foreign oil for our cars and trucks, allow us to breathe cleaner air, and ultimately save consumers at the pump. To date ARPA-E has hosted four rounds of competitions and attracted over 5000 applications from research teams, which has resulted in approximately 180 cutting edge projects.

The President’s Commitment to Clean Energy

Doubling the share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035: The centerpiece of the Administration’s strategy is a Clean Energy Standard, or “CES” – a flexible approach that harnesses American ingenuity and innovation, and channels it toward a clean energy future. By creating a market here at home for innovative clean energy technologies, we will unleash the ingenuity of our entrepreneurs and ensure that America leads the world in clean energy.

Supporting clean energy with targeted tax incentives: The President supports renewing and extending a number of proven and successful provisions that are crucial to the continued growth of the domestic clean energy sector. This includes tax incentives for clean energy manufacturing, which could create up to 100,000 jobs, and the Production Tax Credit to support investment in the deployment of clean energy technologies like wind and solar.

Opening public lands for private investments in clean energy: To enhance energy security and create new jobs, the Department of the Interior is committed to issuing permits for 10 gigawatts of renewable generation capacity – enough to power 3 million homes – from new projects on our public lands by the end of 2012.

Securing renewable energy for the U.S. Navy: Securing a safe, clean and reliable energy supply for our nation’s defense forces is essential to carrying out missions vital to the security of the United States. The Department of Navy has committed to adding 1 gigawatt of renewable energy produced from sources like solar, wind, and geothermal to its energy portfolio for shore-side installations – enough to power 250,000 homes. Using existing authorities such as power purchase agreements, the Navy will ensure these energy projects are cost neutral and require no up-front investments by the government.

Energy and politics

It would appear everything in the country where it has been said “United we stand, divided we fall,” has political ramifications about which various factions rally around or oppose.

With regard to energy, in which billions of dollars, millions of lives, and the future of this society depend on how it is managed, political considerations are quite explicit.

But what do you think? Is the president’s outline feasible?

His call for clean energy is harmonious with the Volt, as his opponents have more than pointed out, and his agenda naturally goes far beyond the automotive sector.

We’ve seen for decades how presidents have championed energy issues, made poignant statements, observed critical facts, warned the hand writing is on the wall …

Will facts finally sink home, and will positive “change” really take place soon enough?

Looking at the points above, would you amend the president’s focus in any way?

If the thought of “politics” turns you off, fine. You can alternately think about this as being about life as we know it.

So what are truths, policies, or directions that more people need to agree upon?

At this stage, the one truth we can all see, if nothing else, is that solutions are needed.

Source: GM-Volt.com

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Volt | Morning in Hamtramck - New Commercial Video

What do you think?

Ford C-Max Energi wins 2012 Green Car Vision Award

For the second year in a row, Ford drove off with the Green Car Journal Green Car Vision award at the Washington Auto Show, this time with the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle. In 2011, Green Car Journal (GCJ) editor Ron Cogan handed the award to Ford's Sue Cischke for the Focus Electric. This year, the retiring Cischke was on hand once more to accept the award (look at this picture compared to the one above. It's déjà vu all over again), a fine cap on a long and ambitious career.

GCJ's decision will likely not sit well with our readers, who overwhelmingly picked the Tesla Model S to win this year. Our unscientific poll had the Model S winning with 83.6 percent of the vote, followed by the BMW i3, (6.5 percent), the Cadillac ELR (5 percent), C-MAX (2.9 percent) with the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell picking just 1.9 percent to take up the bottomw spot out of the five nominees.

Each year, GCJ's Green Car Vision award goes to a "green vehicle" that is not yet available on the market, but does show a possible way forward to increase fuel efficiency, reduce CO2 emissions or in some other way have a lower environment impact. The 2010 Green Car Vision award was won by the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt won in 2009. Speaking at the press conference today, Cogan said the C-Max can meet the utility requirements of a wide variety of drivers because the interior space and powertrain are both versatile.

Source: Autoblog Green

Revenge of the Electric Car now available on DVD and streaming


The news many of you have been waiting for is finally here. The DVD is now for sale in the USA! We've worked hard to jam-pack the DVD with a load of special features and deleted scenes, as well as a 35-minute panel discussion at the Tribeca Film Festival with director Chris Paine, journalist Dan Neil, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, and moderated by actor David Duchovny.

We are distributing our film independently and have a lot of costs to cover; so we first ask that you purchase the film directly from our distributor, New Video. This ensures that more of the revenue goes directly to the film, enabling us to take the film and the message of electric vehicles further! Thanks! And here is a complete list of where you can get the film, starting January 24th:

New Video
Barnes and Noble/BN.com

Also on January 24th, the film will be released on these Video On Demand outlets:

Direct TV VOD

Stay tuned for more updates on where you can see the film, and thank you for supporting us and the future of electric vehicles!

Take Revenge
Read about our "Revengers:" people who have taken revenge for the electric car by converting their own cars, installing solar panels or charging stations, EV education, and more here.

Follow us on Facebook or on Twitter to hear the news and join the conversation with other fans!

Request the film
Don't forget to request the film come to your city. We are still organizing group, community, and public screenings and want to show the film in your area!

Mitsubishi Motors Makes Initial Delivery of 2012 Mitsubishi i Electric Vehicles to the Town of Normal, Illinois


Normal, Illinois, January 24, 2012 – Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., (MMNA), today delivered six (6) brand-new 2012 Mitsubishi i electric vehicles (EVs) featuring Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle (MiEV) technology to the Town of Normal and Mayor Chris Koos in a ceremony held in the hometown of Mitsubishi Motors' U.S. vehicle manufacturing plant.

In addition to Mayor Chris Koos, other speakers at the event included Jerry Berwanger, EVP & COO of MMNA Manufacturing Division and Ryan Gremore, General Manager of O'Brien Mitsubishi in Normal, Illinois.

Upon conclusion of their remarks, these dignitaries handed the keys to the new Mitsubishi EVs to six Normal Town Council members who then experienced the fun-to-drive 100% electric-powered vehicles for themselves by driving around Normal and visiting charming locales including the Normal Theater and Carl's Ice Cream Store - settings featured in the Japanese auto manufacturer's advertising campaign for the 2012 Mitsubishi i.

"Putting these six all-electric cars into our fleet is the next major step in the EVTown initiative, which has put Normal-Bloomington in the national spotlight as a forward-thinking community," said Normal Mayor Chris Koos. "The Town of Normal is eager to get these cars into service and to show our community how well EVs work for a variety of tasks, even in our cold January weather."
The event marked the first delivery of the all-electric 2012 Mitsubishi i to a customer outside the states of Hawaii, California, Oregon, or Washington.

"I would like to thank the Town of Normal, Mayor Chris Koos and the Normal Town Council members, the EV Task Force and the entire local community for all of the support they have provided to Mitsubishi Motors over the years," said MMNA President & CEO Yoichi Yokozawa in a statement. "The Town of Normal is setting an excellent example for the rest of America to follow by embracing this exciting, environmentally-friendly and money-saving new form of transportation."

Mitsubishi Motors and the State of Illinois announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last year that marked the start of a working relationship between both parties to help foster important initiatives that support electric vehicles like the 2012 Mitsubishi i.
For more information, please visit MitsubishiCars.com/imievfleet and EVTown.org.

About Mitsubishi Motors Corporation

Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., (MMNA) is responsible for all manufacturing, finance, sales, marketing, research and development operations for Mitsubishi Motors in the United States. MMNA sells coupes, convertibles, sedans and sport utility vehicles through a network of approximately 400 dealers. In November of 2011, MMNA launched the battery-powered electric vehicle Mitsubishi i as part of a corporate mission to offer consumers more environmentally responsible modes of transportation. This battery-powered electric vehicle technology addresses the need for vehicles that produce zero tailpipe emissions and support a growing agenda for sustainability. For more information, contact the Mitsubishi Motors News Bureau at (888) 560-6672 or visit media.mitsubishicars.com.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Dropping Price Of The EV Battery

The special batteries used to power electric vehicles (EV) are expensive. However, there is good news for future EV consumers, EV builders, and EV enthusiasts. U.S. Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu in a recent speech predicted that the price of EV batteries could drop dramatically by 2015.

Technology is a funny thing. As the cost of goods and fuel increases the price of modern gadgets decreases. HD TVs used to cost thousands and now cost hundreds. Cell phones were once a luxury of the wealthy and now everyone has them and you can even get one for free. According to Dr. Chu, EV batteries will follow a similar trend, and less expensive EV batteries means cheaper EV prices.

“Overall, the Department of Energy is partnering with industry to reduce the manufacturing cost of advanced batteries. While a typical battery for a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle with a 40-mile electric range cost $12,000 in 2008, we’re on track to demonstrate technology by 2015 that would reduce the cost to $3,600. And last year, we set a goal of demonstrating technology by 2020 that would further reduce the cost to $1,500 – an accomplishment that could help spur the mass-market adoption of electric vehicles.”, said Dr. Chu in a speech to The Detroit Economic Club.

The trend of the dropping price of modern technology has, obviously, lead to more people buying and adopting the tech into their everyday lives – and fast. HD TVs went from the minority to the majority, ownership doubling from 2007 to 2008 alone. Cell phones have penetrated the American market by as much as 96% and are becoming the norm in developing nations worldwide; while 76% of Americans own a personal computer.

The fast adoption of these products has lead to some minor infrastructural issues such as the construction of more cell towers and the running of cables to provide internet service. Yet nothing really compares to what needs to be done from an infrastructure stand point to accommodate EVs on a grand scale. Some American cities are working to accommodate EVs in the near future but most are not. However if Dr. Chu’s predictions of cheaper EV batteries does come to pass, and the trend of dropping prices in technologies continues to lead to the fast adoption of that technology, plus gas prices continue to climb, it would seem likely that ownership of EVs will increase. This means more of a strain on regional power grids and a need for public charging stations to become a common sight in America.

Source: Gas2.0

Hiriko folding electric car headed for production

One very unusual electric car has debuted in Brussels. The Hiriko EV uses a hub-mounted electric motor at each wheel, though that's not the most interesting aspect of the vehicle. According to The Telegraph, the Hiriko uses an interesting rear suspension design that allows the vehicle to fold up, rotating the cabin vertically, to take up less space while parking. The partnership behind the vehicle say the car consumes approximately one third the parking space of a Smart ForTwo. Occupants enter from a single front door, and the Hiriko ditches the traditional steering wheel in favor of a joystick.

The vehicle is set to begin production in Spain next year, and the partnership behind the vehicle's development aims to use several European and American cities as testbeds for the bubble machine. The two-seater has been co-developed by a collection of Basque businesses, the Spanish government and the MIT media lab (you may remember the concept, from 2007). A total of 20 test vehicles are currently being built, and each vehicle is said to cost $16,253 to manufacture. No final price tag has been set, nor are there solid details on range, power or charge times.

Source: Autoblog Green

GM launches ad campaign touting Chevy Volt safety

General Motors has launched an advertising campaign touting the safety of the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in electric vehicle, just as its CEO testified to Congress that a recent Volt fire that took place after a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash test would never occur under real-world circumstances, Bloomberg News reported.

GM CEO Dan Akerson (pictured) said in the campaign that he "couldn't be prouder" of the technology the company uses to produce the Volt, the wire service reported. The campaign includes full-page ads in 19 U.S. daily newspapers, including the New York Times, as well as a television ad that will debut on News Corp.'s Fox News Channel, Bloomberg said. GM has also released a new "normal" ad promoting the Volt that calls it "the car America had to build." You can watch the 30-second clip after the jump.

Akerson spoke Wednesday in a hearing with the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending. Both he and NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said the car was safe and defended NHTSA's handling of the situation against accusations from some Republican members of Congress who've been critical of the Obama Administration and its relationship with GM.

NHTSA said late last week that it finished its two-month investigation into the crash test that resulted in a fire three weeks after the fact last summer, and concluded that neither the Volt nor other electric vehicles pose more of a fire risk than conventional vehicles.

Source: Autoblog Green

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Introducing the 2012 Brutus Electric Motorcycle - Video

The Brutus Electric Motorcycle:

Some Chevy dealers rejecting Volt allocations from GM

Chevrolet dealers in some U.S. markets are turning away Chevrolet Volts that General Motors is allocating to them, indicating that consumers remain concerned that the extended-range plug-in vehicles pose an additional safety risk relative to convention cars, are too expensive or are otherwise not as desired as GM thinks, Automotive News (subs. req.) reported.

New York City-area Chevy dealerships took just 31 of the 104 Volts allocated to them last month, while one Northern California dealer turned away all six Volts offered to him, according to the publication. Another East Coast dealer reported a "huge dropoff" in Volt interest. Overall, dealer orders for Volts have declined, Automotive News said, citing GM spokesman Rob Peterson.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said late last week that it finished its two-month investigation into the crash test that resulted in a fire three weeks after the fact last summer, and concluded that neither the Volt nor other electric vehicles pose more of a fire risk than conventional vehicles.

Earlier this month, USA Today reported that GM has prepared an advertising campaign that would be launched in the event of more negative reports about Chevrolet Volt or a negative outcome of the Congressional hearing that takes place tomorrow. Last month, GM sold 1,529 Volts, a record high, and sold 7,671 Volts for all of 2011. GM had previously set a goal of 10,000 Volt sales for 2011.

Source: Autoblog Green

The Nissan LEAF proves slick in wintry test drives in northern Japan - VIDEO

Driving the Nissan Leaf in Cold and Snow

Prior to this winter, Nissan has only sold its all-electric Leaf hatchback to customers in moderate climates.

But just as Nissan North America was celebrating selling its 10,000th Leaf, Nissan Japan was proving that the Leaf wasn’t scared of winter weather with a special press event held near the northern city of Shibetsu, Hokkaido.

With ambient temperatures averaging just 15.8 degrees Fahrenheit, Nissan invited Japanese automotive journalists to test the handling and performance of the Leaf in frigid temperatures.

Despite the cold outside temperatures, Nissan technicians reported the temperature of each test car’s battery packs used never dropped below 41 degrees Fahrenheit, illustrating that at worst, the battery packs were only slightly below optimum operating temperature.

More impressively, not a single test car was fitted with the on-board battery heating system now fitted as standard to U.S. market Leafs. According to Nissan, the temperatures in Shibetsu were not cold enough to warrant using battery heating.

Despite low traction conditions caused by snow and ice, many of the journalists taking part reported that they were surprised at how well the Leaf handled the three powdery courses.

According to Nissan Technical guru Hiroyoshi Kato, the Leaf's good road manners in bad weather are a direct result of its design.

“The footwork of the Leaf is smooth and nimble because the heavy components, such as batteries, are mounted under the floor, and the center of gravity is low and in the middle,” he explained. “As you may have seen, a car can easily slip or drift on snow or ice. As for the Leaf, the changing attitude of the car -- the start of slipping, etc. -- is very smooth and easy to control compared to conventional front engine/rear drive or front engine/front drive vehicles. “

Although Nissan hasn’t confirmed it, we would expect that each vehicle used in the Japanese winter test drive event lost around twenty percent of its normal range due to running the heater to keep the driver and passengers of each vehicle warm. As we’ve told you before, driving a Leaf in freezing conditions without heating is particularly unpleasant.

Have you driven a Nissan Leaf in heavy snowfall? How would you rate its performance compared with other cars in bad weather?

Source: Green Car Reports

Translogic takes DeLorean DMC-EV for a spin - VIDEO

Have a look at an electric DeLorean in action:

Monday, January 23, 2012

OnStar and Google demonstrate concept service for managing charging Chevrolet Volts with renewable energy

Concept of the service and mobile app for renewable charging. Click to enlarge.

OnStar and Google are working together to demonstrate a new OnStar service for managing the charging of Chevrolet Volts with renewable energy, using the 17 Chevrolet Volts in Google’s “Gfleet” based at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

The technology is enabled as OnStar receives a signal from PJM Interconnection that shows the percentage of available renewable energy on the grid. Data from this forecast is downloaded to the OnStar cloud, or Advanced Telematics Operating Management System (ATOMS). OnStar uses this signal to simultaneously manage the charging of many Volts and to match the renewable energy availability. A mobile app could also be used to alert customers when renewable energy is available.

This demonstration shows that in the near future customers will have a real signal of demand for renewable energy. As customers configure their Volts to favor renewable energy for their charging cycle, this real demand signal will influence utilities to tap into renewable sources.

—Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president of planning and business development
Renewables in the US grid
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), US electricity generation in 2010 was 70% fossil fuels (coal 44.9%, natural gas 23.8%); 20% nuclear; and 10% renewable, of which 6.2% was conventional hydropower. Wind accounted for 2.3%.
EIA forecasts that the mix in 2035 will shift to include 39% coal; 27% natural gas; and 16% renewables. Non-hydro renewable sources will than double between 2010 and 2035, according to the EIA forecast.

Demonstrations are taking place this week at the 2012 DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition in San Antonio. OnStar will also be demonstrating the company’s Demand Response and Time-of-Use Rate solutions.

PJM data shows that peak time for renewable energy generation from wind is generally between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. With this in mind, it would be possible for customers to use OnStar’s Smart Grid solutions to further reduce their carbon footprint and save money by charging during these off-peak times.

If the renewable energy service goes into production, customers interested in using it would simply need to sign up. OnStar would then regulate their charging using the renewable energy signal.

The renewable energy technology is the latest addition to OnStar’s suite of Smart Grid solutions. OnStar has also developed intelligent energy management technology solutions including:

  • Demand response. This solution connects utilities to companies that have intelligent energy management products. These companies can use OnStar to manage energy use for Volt customers who opt in for the service. This future service allows the customer to save money on energy costs while enabling more efficient use of the electric grid.

  • Time-of-Use (TOU) rates. OnStar can receive dynamic TOU pricing from utilities and notify Volt owners of the rate plan offers via email. Owners will be able to use OnStar to load the rate plans directly into their vehicle and access them to schedule charging during lower-rate periods.

  • Charging data. OnStar also sends and receives EV data that helps utility providers without having to interface with the vehicle’s electric vehicle supply equipment. This includes location-based EV data that identifies charging locations and determines potential load scenarios.

Founded in 1927, PJM Interconnection ensures the reliability of the high-voltage electric power system serving 60 million people in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. PJM coordinates and directs the operation of the region’s transmission grid, which includes 62,000 miles of transmission lines; administers a competitive wholesale electricity market; and plans regional transmission expansion improvements to maintain grid reliability and relieve congestion.

Source: Green Car Congress

ABI Research forecasts $47B market in 2020 for battery modules for hybrid and electric vehicles

ABI Research projects that the battery module market for hybrid and electric vehicles will grow from about $5 billion in 2010 to $47 billion in 2020, representing a CAGR of 25% over 10 years.

Continued demand for cleaner, more efficient vehicles, led by governments dealing with goals to cut emissions, means that financial incentives will be around for a long time, according to ABI. The recharging infrastructure is also developing rapidly in urban areas, which are being targeted as prime regions for electric vehicle adoption.

As well as the production vehicles that went on sale in 2011, announcements from all the major manufacturers make it clear that this segment will have much more competition in the next couple of years. Also, some existing hybrid vehicles will be fitted with larger batteries to improve their electric-only range.

—principal analyst David Alexander

Alternative technologies such as hydraulic hybrid drive, ultracapacitors, and flywheel energy storage continue development and testing in niche applications, but it seems that the battery-electric solution will be the recipient of the majority of the production investment during the forecast period, according to the study.

ABI Research’s new study, “Electric and Hybrid-Electric Vehicle Components,” provides an analysis of global market trends, cost and technical evaluations of the major sub-systems, and discussion of existing product announcements. System volume and value forecasts for installations are provided globally, by region, through 2020.

Source: Green Car Congress

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Global hybrid and plug-in truck sales will almost double this year

Global hybrid and plug-in truck sales will almost double this year as more companies and public entities turn to advanced powertrains to cut fuel costs, green-technology research firm Pike Research said.

In 2012, hybrid and electric-drive truck sales around the world will reach about 19,000 vehicles and will increase by more than 45 percent for each of the next five years until it hits more than 100,000 vehicles by the end of 2017, Pike Research said.

The increase reflects a combination of a broader range of electric-drive models for utility vehicles and a rebound in the retail industry, which will free up cash for companies to pay more for alt-fuel vehicles, according to Pike Research senior analyst Dave Hurst. Industry analysts have predicted rapid growth for electric-drive trucks because of the potentially substantial fuel-cost savings relative to conventional diesel trucks, which usually get well below 10 miles per gallon.

AT&T, Coca-Cola, FedEx and UPS are among companies that in recent years have stepped up efforts to buy hybrid or plug-in trucks in order to cut both fuel use and greenhouse-gas emissions from their fleets.

Source: Autoblog Green

Honda begins deliveries of 2013 Fit EV; first unit to City of Torrance

Honda has begun deliveries of the 2013 Fit EV (earlier post), with the first going to the city of Torrance today as one of the first major steps in the Honda Electric Vehicle Demonstration Program. The program is a prelude to the limited retail market launch of the Fit EV with customers in California and Oregon this summer.

KB1_9293 (1)
City of Torrance gets its Fit EV. Click to enlarge.

Over the past year, Honda and the city of Torrance have worked together to gather input from Torrance residents about potential recharging station locations and jointly participated in numerous public awareness events with a Fit EV test vehicle. Honda and the city will continue to further these initiatives while also studying local government fleet usage of an electrified vehicle. The city of Torrance will also receive a Honda plug-in hybrid (earlier post) for additional testing at a later date.

Honda unveiled the 2013 Fit EV at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show and announced plans to begin leasing the 123 city-mile per charge (76 mile range combined adjusted city/highway battery-electric commuter vehicle to its US customers in the summer of 2012. Equipped with a 20 kWh lithium-ion battery and 92 kW coaxial electric motor, the Fit EV battery can be fully recharged in as little as 3 hours when connected to a 240-volt circuit.

As part of the Honda Electric Vehicle Demonstration Program, Honda will test the Fit EV with Google Inc. and Stanford University, in addition to the City of Torrance, California. Each program participant will provide Honda with real-world feedback on the Fit EV. Individually, each participant will use the Fit EV to further initiatives such as research into human behavior and various usages such as personal, fleet and car-sharing.

Source: Green Car Congress

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Extended-range electric vehicle news roundup

News from the just-getting-started world of extended-range electric vehicles has been a mix of positive reports as well as some stories for which we’re still awaiting full resolution.

Both General Motors and Fisker share in common a tenacious ability to keep receiving awards, and they also have both had to contend with minor technical concerns.

Aside from this, we’ll mention a couple more briefed stories, including one about KSPG, a company that has shown a compact range-extending engine at the Detroit Auto Show that can be added to a battery electric vehicle.


KSPG Automotive (formerly Kolbenschmidt Pierburg) is a German automotive supplier, and a subsidiary of Rheinmetall AG.

It and FEV have co-developed a 30-kw range extender for battery-electric vehicles. The 800cc, four-stroke V-Twin is the size of a motorcycle engine, weighs about 137 pounds, and is combined with two 15-kw generators.

The range extender is designed to drop into a space around the size of a spare tire well, or anywhere else and thus upgrade a BEV into a serial hybrid.

According to AutoblogGreen, KSPG Automotive’s Gerd Kleinert said this is a solution for our time.

“We are convinced that this is a kind of bridge technology from the current combustion engine to electric drive,” he said. “The biggest point in electric cars is still the battery. If someone offers a battery that is the size of a 50-liter [13.2-gallon] gas tank with the same energy content with the same weight that you can recharge it in three minutes, everyone would drive electric.”

Of course unless a battery tech breakthrough happens, EVs with this energy density aren’t available yet.

“That’s the reason we think there is a need for this bridge technology because it guarantees you will get home,” Kleinert said, “even if you run out of electricity. You only need a small battery, which drives the cost down.”

Kleinert said that in recent months KSPG has talked to EV makers to design-in its range extender. To offset the cost of doing this, talk is of specifying a smaller battery pack than would otherwise be called for.

KSPG reportedly began working on the range extender about a year ago, first showed it at Frankfurt, and the company said it is capable of producing 10,000 units per year.

It intends to assemble a working prototype vehicle this summer and said it knows MSRP will be a sensitive issue, and without specifying estimates, said the price will be “acceptable.”

For a more comprehensive review of this range extender concept, check out GreenCarCongress.


Just days after Fisker’s recall of 239 six-figure Karmas to fix a loose hose clamp, Fisker is issuing another minor recall and again halting sales until it handles the new bug.

This one is a potential software fault that has produced symptoms including random check-engine lights coming on, and inoperative infotainment systems.

Shoppers passing Harrods department store in Knightsbridge, London can eye the Fisker Karma as they arrive for the Winter Sale. The EVer will take pride of place in the prominent Brompton Road window display until February 4.

Fisker has taken steps to say the issues are nothing to be concerned about, and to really let everyone know it cares about its customers, Henrik Fisker committed to calling Karma owners with a personal apology.

And in other wholly positive news, Fisker has been collecting some awards – as the photo at world-famous Harrods shows – and Fisker issued a press release to elaborate.

“In recent weeks, this has included Top Gear’s Luxury Car of the Year, Automobile’s Design of the Year Award, listing in TIME Magazine’s Top 50 Innovations of 2012, a Global Green Design Award, and noted Swiss magazine Schweizer Illustrierte named the Karma their Most Stylish Car of 2012,” Fisker Automotive said.

Henrik Fisker said he is “happy, humbled and very proud,” and added “We have always had a great deal of faith in the appeal of the cars we create, but to have that recognized by critics so early on in the Karma’s lifespan is really fantastic.”


General Motors CEO Dan Akerson will make his first appearance on Capitol Hill since September 2010, this time to answer a U.S. House panel next week about battery issues.

“Dan has agreed to testify at the hearing, and he looks forward to doing it,” GM spokesman Greg Martin told The Detroit News.

As GM-Volt readers are aware, the inquiry is about whether safety regulators properly handled reported Volt fire risks.

We’ll note also that this entire process will be viewed by some in the know as nothing more than absurd political theater.

Unfortunately in this election year, there are political opponents who’d like to make certain points, and the Volt has been caught in the middle.

Many observers have noted this whole issue has been overblown, GM has been credited with handling it well so far, but it also has a preemptive ad campaign standing by, if winds of perception fan further flames against it.

“I have a contingency plan. It’s ready to go” said GM’s marketing head Joel Ewanick to USA Today.

The ads are described as “honest and straightforward” and would direct people to a Web site or other technical resource to explain the issues.

The dilemma for GM is timing. It does not want to alarm people about concerns, but only wants to respond if necessary.

Meanwhile, GM is not just busy in Washington, but also in Shanghai.

Stories were re-circulating recently by mainstream sources like USA Today and conservative political bloggers too, that GM signed a deal to co-develop an EV with its joint venture partner SAIC in the Peoples’ Republic.

Reports cited quotes made a few months ago by GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky hinting the Volt could be made in China one day.

“If we localize, eventually it won’t have a tariff and it will get the subsidy,” he said. “We have made no decision on if, when or where we build Volt in the future.”

Girsky also reiterated assertions that neither SAIC nor the Chinese government have demanded Volt technology.

The Volt at its launch at Auto Guangzhou 2011. From left to right: Ye Yongming, President of Shanghai GM; Chen Hong, President of SAIC Motor; Kevin Wale, President and Managing Director of the GM China Group; and Joseph Liu, Executive Vice President of Shanghai GM).

At the same time, observers note future EVs would draw on lessons and technology learned from the Volt, Spark EV, and other GM research.

For now the $75,500 Chinese Chevrolet must try to appeal having a 25-percent tariff slapped on it, and without qualifying for incentives domestic EVs can get that add up to as much as $19,000.

U.S. lawmakers have said China’s tactics constitute a “shaking down” and violate World Trade Organization rules. It’s also been said that China has a major technology deficit. It is no leader in EVs or hybrids but is alleged to be manipulating GM and others by holding out its massive potential for growth.

We’ve heard these things before, but Girsky’s comment allowing that GM could “localize” Volt production so it could then “get the subsidy” indicates the idea is definitely not off the table.

To further qualify the statement, yesterday GM spokesman Rob Peterson said some have taken Girsky’s comments out of context, and for balance, he said GM would need to see a strong demand for the Volt before building in China.

“We build where we sell,” Peterson said. “If there’s a tremendous amount of market acceptance, yeah we could consider having production capacity there.”

But again, there are no plans, and as we know the Volt is price handicapped, so will a catch-22 keep the Volt away from Chinese production indefinitely?

While this and other Volt issues are still playing out, on the unequivocally good news front, there’s little doubt that the Volt has won a fair number of awards, and is still doing so.

In addition to all the awards it collected last year, the Volt was named “Most Earth Friendly” at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this month.

Also favorable for the Volt, Peterson observed, is next month California market Volts equipped with a low-emissions package will begin shipping to dealers there.

For the past 3-4 months, GM has been reducing allocations to the Golden State because its Chevrolet dealers in cases are reportedly reducing prices already to clear the way for the pending HOV-lane accessible Volts.

These Volts will also entitle Californians to apply for a $1,500 rebate as CorvetteGuy reported last month, and should help further increase their competitiveness against hybrids that are already HOV legal.

Source: GM-Volt.com