Wednesday, October 31, 2012

CalBattery working on 300-mile li-ion batteries at greatly reduced cost

Would you be interested in an electric car that travels 300 miles on a single charge but its battery costs about 70 percent less than today's packs? It's something to look forward to in the next few years, says lithium-ion battery research company CalBattery.

CalBattery has designed a new li-ion battery with a silicon-graphene anode promising a major improvement in battery energy density. The design is based on what the company calls its "GEN3" silicon-graphene composite anode material for li-ion batteries, the technology breakthrough for which was developed at Argonne National Labs. The company entered the li-ion battery cells into the Department of Energy's 2012 Start UP America's Next Top Energy Innovator challenge, and is a finalist in the competition.

Independent test results show that CalBattery's cells have an energy density of 525 watt-hours per kilogram, and anode capacity of 1,250 mili-amp-hours per gram. Compare this to the typical commercial battery out there right now in the 100-180 watt-hours per kg range, and anode capacity in the 325 mili-amp-hours per gram range.

That means 300 percent more energy storage than current batteries, the potential to go 300 percent farther on a charge than current EVs and a huge cost reduction. "This equates to more than a 300 percent improvement in lithium-ion battery capacity, and an estimated 70 percent reduction in lifetime cost for batteries used in consumer electronics, EVs, and grid-scale energy storage," CalBattery CEO Phil Roberts told Torque News.

CalBattery is facing competition from other battery makers to extend EV driving range, quicken charging time and substantially reduce battery costs. In August, General Motors released information on its joint project with Envia Systems to develop battery technology that could mean more affordable EVs in the next two-to-four years with 200-mile driving ranges.
News Source: CalBattery via Torque News

Fisker working against odds toward Volt-competitor Atlantic and more

As extended-range electric vehicle maker Fisker Automotive works to proliferate its Karma, raise funds for its Volt-competitive Atlantic, and grow its global sales, it has sought to prove its message and business model, knowing full well it has its share of detractors.
The company has had to put out public relations fires – and two literal fires have occurred – one necessitating a recall of a potentially over-heating fan. But despite naysayers, some of whom are politically motivated, seemingly suspicious and hoping to be able to say “I told you so,” Fisker has ducked its head, aiming to create more affordable, gas-saving, environmentally responsible variants.

To date, it has overcome all setbacks and delays, and remained reasonably clean looking after the worst mud thrown by those heaping all manner of allegations against Fisker’s quality, ideas, and even its integrity.
“There are a lot of skeptics and that’s fine, said Global Communications Director, Roger Ormisher in a recent interview, “We’re OK with the skeptics because I think they make things more interesting and we continually prove the skeptics wrong. I mean I think they thought we’d be out of business [by now] and that is not the case.”
This is not to say Fisker welcomes outright bashing, slander or misrepresentation of its motives such as GM and the Volt have also had to endure, along with other companies that have taken Obama-endorsed taxpayer money to fund – for purposes his administration and supported clean energy startups contend – of creating better solutions.
Rather, Fisker says it aims to prove itself as a new kind of American-based, worldwide-selling car producer. It – and a substantial venture capital base that goes beyond now cut-off public funding – believes its designs are solid and sustainable. Next up on its car launch roster is the delayed Atlantic – an extended-range EV the company’s new CEO Tony Posawatz said would start at around $55,000, and be in production by 2014 or 2015.

Ormisher said contrary to recent reports stating the car was due in 2013 and is now delayed by two years, even prior to loss of U.S. Energy Department funding, the Atlantic would not have been in drivers hands much before early to mid-2014.
“Everyone got that story wrong,” he said. And so, while late, it’s not that late.
In any event, the Atlantic promises a compelling mix of attributes. Slated for American manufacture at Fisker’s wholly owned plant in Wilmington, Del., the company is yet weighing options to produce elsewhere if necessary, but Ormisher has again been repeating “our first priority” is to build it where it has intended to if at all possible.
“We’ve been very clear about that in the last couple weeks,” he said.
And, as reported, Fisker is still seeking more funding to make it happen. Its latest fundraising round saw it gain another $100 million added to over $1.2 billion from private investors rooting for it even as the U.S. Energy Department has shied away from its former support. Ormisher said Fisker would announce by year’s end where the car will be built.
Also to be determined are such details as battery supplier, fuel and emissions efficiency, and performance specs. But the sheet metal you see is pretty well set, as is fundamental architecture including a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbo BMW-sourced range extender that promises to make this capable of trouncing a Volt in any speed contest, and possibly in efficiency and electric range as well.
Fisker is not merely targeting the Volt, however, and in fact has not explicitly talked about the Volt in conversation, unless asked – at which point it concedes it is on the radar. But beyond that, the exact blend of qualities this car is intended to have will be to attract sales away from internal combustion vehicles as well. The Atlantic’s value proposition will therefore be balanced between a pretty face, quality interior and functionality, outstanding performance, fuel economy, emissions and all-electric range. The car is about 90-percent complete, and Ormisher said Fisker is gunning to hold its own in handling and speed performance against such vehicles as upper-range BMW 3-Series, lower-range 5-Series, Audi A5, Mercedes C-Class, not to mention also Japanese and American and other internal-combustion powered performance sedans.

As for the Atlantic’s plug-in competitor (and Fisker knows more plug-in competitors are pending) the Volt stickers for roughly $40,000-$47,000 and it’s anyone’s guess what it will sell for in 2014-2015. On paper, no other car is more like it at this point than the Atlantic. By the time Fisker says the Atlantic will roll off the line, GM is expected to have launched Volt 2.0, which fittingly enough, may also sport some form of 2.0-liter inline-four engine as range extender – up from its present 1.4-liter. At least this is what rumors attributed to GM suppliers say.
GM executives have said the updated Volt is to have somewhere around $10,000 or more in production costs shaved off of the rather pricey to build first-generation version, but its range, efficiency and performance specs are a complete mystery as well.
In short, Fisker is aiming to launch its belated first-generation Atlantic into a market pioneered by GM as it launches its updated second-generation Volt. That said, Fisker won’t be launching an outdated design, Ormisher said.
Its aesthetic form, like the Karma’s, has been called “timeless.” Finer details and performance for the Atlantic will be finalized practically up to the point of production, given that software and battery technology are continually evolving.
Ormisher says it would be to the company’s detriment to claim specific all-electric range, MPGe or CO2 emissions for this car as by the time its is on the assembly line, the aim is to beat what it could do today.
Its aforementioned speed potential – also in general terms – will come from the very powerful but efficient German range-extender married to expected-to-be potent battery pack. It will, like the Karma, have a capability GM presently does not allow with its one and only Voltec model – the Atlantic can use both gas plus electric together for a serious kick in the pants, if desired.

Ormisher said the Atlantic will – as one would expect – weigh less than the rather portly 5,300-pound or so Karma, but as a package, will have a strong power-to-weight ratio, on par with or better than the Karma. That’s how it can target a more competitive market segment than the Karma, which is pretty much a niche vehicle.
Fisker knows it is heading into a more fought-over segment, and luxury performance sedans are strong in this upper-middle-tier range. Ormisher said the company is happy with what it has at this point in its pre-production Atlantic, and it is a car that will not need excuses.
Now that GM’s former Volt line director is at the helm, it is all the more promising that – against yet very steep odds – Fisker may yet pull off its David vs. Goliath attempt, although as you may well know, automotive history is littered with companies that had good ideas that still went down in the end.
That said, Fisker is still looking forward to a future, attempting to learn from mistakes as well as misfortunes that were not its fault, and possibly also “history” is the Atlantic’s previously specified battery pack.
Prior reports had been that A123 System cells would be specified, but as followers of this segment know, A123 is undergoing bankruptcy due to a recall involving Fisker Karma battery packs, along with other losses, and allegations of mismanagement.
Fisker will stick with A123 as spec’d in the Karma, and it may yet use A123 cells in the Atlantic that may in time be produced by Johnson Controls, Inc., but Fisker is also looking at other suppliers to meet its criteria for the pending car.
To date, news about the Atlantic has been sparse. The company has played a close hand knowing it has opponents that would be just as happy to see it fail, and predicting it is just a matter of time until it does.
The photos posted are among the only ones we have seen. Furthermore, these images were not released until Fisker was good and ready to show them. No spy shots were known to have circulated prior to the car’s unveiling, and possibly holed away in some top-secret garage or warehouse could be two other Atlantic variants.
In all Fisker is known to have designed six models: The Karma, Karma Sunset cabriolet, Karma Surf shooting brake, Atlantic which was formerly called “Project Nina,” and similar variants of the Atlantic.

At this point, Fisker’s Karma is the only representation of its ambitions in production and the Atlantic is its next step down market toward more affordable cars for more people, with presumably more down-market cars to follow.
Ormisher said the company’s fastest growing market, by the way, is “probably Germany” with strong activity in eco-progressive countries like Holland, Norway, Denmark, and elsewhere in Europe. It is also pursuing business in North Africa, Middle East, China, and elsewhere.
In Europe, they have their own economic and political issues to contend with, no doubt, but they are in cases heavily incentivized to go green, and basically free from that unique brand of American political rancor up to and including recent presidential debates that fired rhetorical shots at the Anaheim, Calif.-based company and others.
But with or without enemies, Fisker does have much to overcome. Full proof does remain to be seen as to how the company fares, how good the Atlantic will really be, and that quality control for the recalled-and-now-fixed Karma is finally up to speed.
Ormisher said presently Fisker directly employs around 400 people in the U.S., and is indirectly supporting 1,000 American jobs. Among those rooting for Fisker, some have said they’d think more Americans would want to support such a clean-energy manufacturer with the audacity to try and swim upstream in the business climate that is California, and the ambivalent or indifferent social climate that can be found in the U.S.
For Fisker’s part, it is playing the hand it’s been dealt and continuing on its zig-zagging trajectory toward its stated goals.


What changes might green car policies see under a Romney presidency?

A downward-revised Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard and a push away from electric-drive vehicles and towards alt-fuel types such as natural gas may be some of the transportation measures in store if Mitt Romney beats Barack Obama in the US presidential election next month, Automotive Newsreports. A removal of tax credits for electric-vehicle buyers could also be on the table, says Hybrid Cars.

Romney has repeatedly taken issue with the updated CAFE mandate that was agreed to during the first Obama term. They call for a 54.5 miles per gallon fleetwide fuel economy level by 2025 (a real-world equivalent of about 40 miles per gallon), roughly a 30-percent increase from current levels. The standards would make new vehicles too expensive for many consumers, the National Automotive Dealers Association (NADA) has said. In late August, the federal government finalized the CAFE standards for model year 2017-2025. The 54.5 miles per gallon mandate was first proposed in July 2011.

Meanwhile, Romney, which hasn't detailed any alternative proposal to the CAFE standards, has suggested the federal government invest more in research and development and fewer government investments in automakers, whether they be traditional OEMs like Ford and Nissan or alt-fuel specialists like Tesla andFisker.

Source: Autoblog Green

Lux: charging stations for electric vehicles will be $1.2B market in 2020

With government policy and investment driving automotive companies toward plug-in vehicles, the technology for delivering electricity to these vehicles will rise to a $1.2 billion market in 2020, according to a Lux Research report.
Lux Research developed a forecast using vehicle sales to project the global electric-vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) market. Overall, despite slow adoption of plug-in vehicles, the charging station market will grow in unit sales from around 120,000 in 2012 to 1.3 million units in 2020, rising from $140 million in 2012 to $1.15 billion in 2020, a CAGR of 30%.
Lux Research analysts studied a web of partnerships in the EVSE market, besides building a forecast for its growth. Among their findings:
  • Europe is the leader. Europe will lead the global market with 2020 annual sales of 480,000 units. China forges ahead after a slow start, growing to 277,000 annual unit sales of charging stations by 2020.
  • China consumes the most energy. In 2020, plug-in vehicles in China will consume 1.9 TWh of electricity, or 23% of all energy consumed by plug-ins, the largest by any individual country, translating into $155 million in revenue for Chinese utilities.
  • Web of partnerships is key. Auto OEMs such as Ford, Daimler, GM, BMW, and Nissan form the core of charging infrastructure partnerships, with complex inter-connections with emerging companies—such as BMW’s recent investment in Coulomb Technologies—and utilities.
The report, titled “Charging Ahead: Finding Reality in the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Market,” is part of the Lux Research Electric Vehicle Intelligence service.

Source: Green Car Congress

Cool Planet Predicts Its High-Octane Biofuel Will Sell At $1.50 A Gallon

Can America really develop an affordable replacement for oil, or is the effort akin to dope fiend chasing the dragon? Well Cool Planet Energy Systems projects that its patented method for producing carbon-negative, high-octane biogasoline could be sold for as low as $1.50 a gallon…without government subsidies.
Cool Planet’s fuel processing uses the input of raw, inedible biomass that produces both fuel streams and a byproduct called “bio-char.” The bio-char can then either replace coal, or be used as a “soil conditioner,” basically improving the composition of fields used to grow feedstocks. Using this method results in a 150% reduction of the carbon footprint for the fuel processing.

Emissions wise, a 5% blend of Cool Planet’s biogasoline met all emissions requirements in a test car, including those for California’s 2020 Low Carbon Fuel standard….8 years early. Most importantly though is the price.
Cool Planet’s processing system uses targeted micro-refineries that can be transported directly to the location of the feedstock. This cuts down on shipping costs, though each micro-refinery can still produce upwards of 10 million gallons of fuel.

Even without government subsidies, Cool Planet says they can produce this much fuel at a cost of about $50 a barrel, or a $1.50 a gallon. That’s less than half the cost of a gallon of gasoline. Can private enterprise really create a cost-competitive fuel without government aid?

Cool Planet’s biogas and bio-char certainly look promising…but there’s no word on when this biogas will be heading to retail markets. It could be a long time before America gives biofuels another chance after all the drama surrounding ethanol.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Future Unclear For Bankrupt A123 Battery Firm As Rescuers Maneuver

Bankrupt battery maker A123 Systems could finally be on the verge of successfully securing a loan from a Chinese auto parts maker. The company will discuss with bankruptcy courts to secure approval for a loan from Wanxiang Group Corp.

A123 became bankrupt after a $465 million rescuedeal from the Chinese company fell through, with A123 unable to meet some of the terms of the companies' agreement. Wanxiang would have owned 80 percent of the struggling firm, which supplies batteries for Fisker, BMW, and the upcoming Chevrolet Spark EV.
As Reuters reports, an interim debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan from auto parts supplier Johnson Controls has been withdrawn to enable the Wanxiang loan to proceed. Johnson Controls has said it will still maintain its $125 million bid for A123's automotive assets. However, a replacement DIP loan from Wanxiang could put the Chinese company at an advantage over Johnson Controls.

Fisker, who objected to the $125 million bid from Johnson Controls, should also be better served should the Chinese bid succeed. The luxury carmaker was responsible for 26 percent of A123's income in 2011, and its battery recall over faulty cells has been partly responsible for A123's downfall. The main stumbling block to Wanxiang could be gaining approval from both the Committee of Foreign Investment in the U.S, and the Government of China, before the deal goes ahead.

If that goes well, then only a challenge from Johnson Controls over assets would stand in the way of the loan.

For A123 and its stakeholders, a resolution can't come too soon.

Source: Green Car Reports

Jay Leno burns rubber in Tesla Model S - VIDEO

Jay Leno burning rubber:


Nankai University team shows “MXenes” promising anode materials for Li-ion batteries

A team from Nankai University (Tianjin, China) has shown that “MXenes”—exfoliated 2D carbide and carbonitride nanosheets that are structurally similar to graphene, where M represents transition metals, and X is either C or/and N—are promising anode materials for Li-ion batteries. A paper on their work appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Graphene—a material consisting of single sheets of carbon atoms, has been extensively investigated as an anode material. However, because its chemical and electrical properties cannot be tuned, researchers are also investigating other 2-D materials composed of atomic species other than just carbon. Zhen Zhou and colleagues performed density function theory (DFT) computation to investigate Ti3C2 monolayers and their fluorinated and hydroxylated surfaces, Ti3C2F2 and Ti3C2(OH)2 as representative MXene materials.
...graphene has predominated as the most studied 2D material in the past several years. Nevertheless, its simple chemistry with only carbon networking might limit its practical applications. Complex layered materials composed of more than one element may offer new opportunities due to their large variety of structural compositions that can be tuned for specific properties and applications.
There are many types of inorganic layered materials that occur in nature or can be postsynthesized. If their 2D monolayer or few-layered structures can be isolated, the family of 2D inorganic materials should be expanded significantly.
—Tang et al.
Among their findings was that Ti3C2 layers can store up to one Li ion per carbon atom—comparing favorably with the storage capacity of one Li ion per six carbon atoms for pure graphite.
The study found that the bare Ti3C2 sheet behaves as a magnetic metal, while Ti3C2F2 and Ti3C2(OH)2 can be narrow-band gap semiconductors or metals depending strongly on how the surface F and OH groups are geometrically terminated.
In the most stable forms, the F and OH groups prefer to be located above the hollow sites between the three neighboring C atoms, and the resulting I-Ti3C2F2and I-Ti3C2(OH)2 are all semiconductors with tremendously small band gaps.
The metallic or narrow-band gap semiconducting characteristics favor the potential applications of Ti3C2-related materials to Li-ion batteries. For the bare Ti3C2 monolayer, its combined extraordinary properties, including good electrical conductivity, low diffusion barrier, low open circuit voltage, and high theoretical Li capacity, offer it great potential as an alternative anode material to TiO2 in Li-ion batteries. For its fluorinated and hydroxylated derivatives, however, the surface functionalization tends to degrade the Li diffusion and decrease the Li storage capacity and thus should be avoided in the practical synthetic experiments. Our results give insightful prospects for experimental peers in exploring the potentials of Ti3C2 as electronic and energy storage materials.
Noteworthy, the Ti3C2 monolayer only represents one example of the new family of MXenes, and the implications of this work can be helpful to design more MXenes with better performances. Further experimental and computational investigations on MXenes are highly desirable to shed light on their prospects as advanced materials.
—Tang et al.

VW Up! Getting Two-Cylinder Diesel Engine

In the endless pursuit of higher fuel economy, Volkswagen is thinking small; really, really small. In fact, Vdub is cutting one of its most popular engines, the 1.6 liter TDI, in half. This will create a two-cylinder diesel engine that will deliver impressive fuel economy for some of VW’s most expensive, and least expensive vehicles.

Automakers regularly cut popular engines down in size to save on engineering a whole new engine from scratch. GM’s 4.3 liter Vortec V6 shares engineering aspects of the popular small-block Chevy V8s. It saves money and frees up engineers for other projects.

Volkswagen hopes that by cutting its 1.6 liter diesel engine down in size, they can deliver the promised 313 mpg in the experimental XL1. The diesel-hybrid uses exotic materials and will likely cost far more than most people can, or will, pay for a slow-but-ridiculously-fuel-efficient vehicle. More importantly though, thise two-cylinder diesel engine will make its way into the Volkswagen Up! city car. Rumors suggest 58 horsepower and 88 ft-lbs of torque for this tiny diesel engine, and it could deliver fuel economy upwards of 70 mpg in a car that sells for around $13,000-ish.

Top speed is said to be around 99 mph. Right now, the gas engine in the Up! offers up to 74 horsepower, but less torque, and 0 to 60 mph takes 13 seconds. CNG and battery-electric versions are also in the works.

This is the latest effort by an automaker to drasticly downsize engines in the pursuit of fuel economy. Ford’s smallest offering is a 1.0 liter EcoBoost engine with three cylinders that produces about twice the power as VW’s two-cylinder diesel.

It’s an interesting dichotomy to be sure, one that is sure to affect America more frequently as the price of gas continues to rise.

How much performance and speed would you sacrifice in the name of 70 mpg?

Source: LeftLane News

Monday, October 29, 2012

$199-A-Month Lease On 2012 Ford Focus Electric Matches Nissan

The battle of low-cost electric car leases has expanded: Ford is now enticing new customers to its 2013 Ford Focus Electric with offers as low as $199 per month.
Nissan has attracted new customers with 24- and 36-month leases for its Leaf electric car at a base price of $199/month.
This has greatly increased showroom traffic for the Leaf, says Los Angeles sales specialist Paul Scott at Downtown Nissan dealership, and started to boost anemic Leaf sales numbers.
Two of the larger Ford dealerships around Sacramento, California, published weekend ads that headlined $199 leases on the Ford Focus Electric.
The details differed slightly in their small print.  One offered a 24-month lease, while the other--with a lower initiation cost--was for the more common 36-month period.
It's worth noting that unlike the Leaf, the advertised leases on the Ford Focus Electric cut annual mileage from the usual 12,000 to 10,500.
The Nissan lease requires about $2,800 down, but with a 36-month contract, California buyers will receive a $2,500 purchase rebate as a state incentive for buying a zero-emission vehicle.
For the new 2012 Ford Focus Electric lease, the money down--around $2,800--matches Nissan's most publicized rate exactly over the 36-month lease. (Other Leaf leases have been promoted at $219 a month, even in one case at $139 a month.)
For the 24-month lease, the small print requires $3,400 out-of-pocket from the customer (and may not qualify for the full $2,500 California purchase rebate).
The Ford Focus Electric is rated at slightly more range than the Leaf--76 miles versus 73 miles--and it certainly has a more indulgent interior.  
It also looks essentially identical to the gasoline Focus hatchback, which may prove a plus for those who dislike the Leaf's looks or don't want their car to stand out or shout "I'm electric!"
Leases under $200 a month for the compact Ford and Nissan plug-ins will put significant pressure on smaller makers Mitsubishi and Coda, as well as Smart, whose upcoming 2013 Smart Electric Drive now carries the lowest retail price of any electric car sold in the States today.
Early Nissan Leaf adopters paid around $2,000 to initiate their 36-month lease contracts, but the monthly payments were closer to $350 per month--incremented upwards by state sales taxes and any options chosen by the buyers.
2012 Ford Focus Electric
2012 Ford Focus Electric
For a suburban worker who commutes under 30 miles each way daily, either the Leaf or Focus Electric at $199 per month, plus daily recharging costs of less than $1.50 per day, total less than $260 per month.
In contrast, a new 25-mpg gasoline car has gasoline (and upkeep) costs of $200 per month or more. 
These discounted lease electric vehicles save about $170 per month on fuel and upkeep, which almost covers the base cost of the leases.
In California particularly, the first year of driving comes close to being effectively free.
And in some areas of the state, additional regional incentives could cover additional costs of the next two years as well. For instance, the San Joaquin Regional Air Quality District offers a further $3,000 rebate for purchase of an emission-free vehicle. 
That's even before the highly valued single-occupant access to the High-Occupancy Vehicle lane on California's crowded freeways that the state gives to all zero-emission vehicles.

Source: Green Car Reports

CMU study finds small battery PHEVs and gasoline hybrids the least-cost policy solution to reducing gasoline consumption

Comparison of current federal subsidy to base case assumptions showing lifetime fuel savings (HomeEve charging scenario). An EPA estimate based on the Chevy Volt’s reported efficiency is also included for comparison. The federal subsidy significantly favors larger battery packs to a stronger degree than their potential for additional gasoline savings. Peterson and Michalek 2012. Click to enlarge.

In an new study analyzing the cost-effectiveness of policies subsidizing electric-drive vehicle battery capacity and charging infrastructure installation to reduce gasoline consumption in the US, Scott Peterson and Jeremy Michalek of Carnegie Mellon University found that, under a wide range of scenarios, the least-cost solution is for more drivers to switch to low-capacity plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) or gasoline-powered hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).
Comparing the subsidy necessary to achieve lifetime cost parity with the least-cost option for each vehicle class in the base case, they found that the maximum cost per gallon saved for increased all electric range (AER) is 5%–40% less than the minimum cost per gallon saved when installing charging infrastructure, depending on vehicle class. Looking forward as battery prices decrease and the AER resulting in maximum life-time cost savings increases, the relative value of plugging in multiple times throughout the day will also decline, they suggest. Their paper is available online in the journal Energy Policy.
(A 2011 paper by Michalek and colleagues found that strategies to promote adoption of HEVs and PHEVs with small battery packs offer more social benefits (i.e., air emissions and oil displacement benefits) in the near term per dollar spent than PHEVs and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) with large battery packs providing longer electric range.)
Non-domestic charging infrastructure is generally not necessary for operation of PHEVs, and substantial gasoline displacement can be achieved solely with home charging. In contrast, the limited range of BEVs make non-domestic charging infrastructure more critical if the vehicles are to be used as primary vehicles. But public investment in either large-battery vehicles or charging infrastructure generally produces fewer benefits per dollar spent than investment in small-battery PHEVs (Michalek et al., 2011), suggesting that subsidizing sales of BEVs and installation of charging infrastructure are not the most efficient use of limited public funds.
If the purpose of existing federal PHEV subsidies is to reduce gasoline consumption, this implies that the policy subsidizes 4 kWh battery PHEVs at ~$1.25 per gallon saved while subsidizing 16 kWh battery PHEVs at roughly $4.50 per gallon saved, ignoring indirect effects. It is clear that federal subsidies are not currently aligned with the goal of decreased gasoline consumption in a consistent and efficient manner. Other relevant policy objectives, including reduction of emissions externalities, encouragement of technology development, and job creation do not show clear benefits of favoring large battery packs over small battery packs.
—Peterson and Michalek, 2012
Current Federal subsidies
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides a tax credit of $2,500 per PHEV sold (minimum 4kWh capacity) and an additional $417 for each additional kWh of battery capacity in excess of 4 kWh. This is capped at $7,500 for vehicles with a gross vehicle weight less than 14,000 lb.
This subsidy for a specific OEM’s vehicles declines to 50% then 25% in a phase-out period, which begins in the second calendar quarter after that manufacturer has sold 200,000 vehicles and lasts four calendar quarters.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) also granted $37 million for installing 4,600 charge points in specific markets around the US (>$8,000 per charge point) and granted $99.8 million to fund the EVProject, which is installing 14,000 Level 2 (208–240 V) chargers and a variety of other infrastructure and monitoring equipment.
To estimate the costs and gasoline savings of each approach, they calculated gasoline and electricity use by PHEVs of varying battery capacity under a range of charging scenarios. They then estimated the necessary charging infrastructure to enable each charging scenario, and then used the estimates of cost and gasoline displacement to compare across options.
In all cases, HEVs and PHEVs save gasoline over conventional vehicles. HEVs and some PHEVs can save both gasoline and total lifetime costs over conventional vehicles both at normative and observed implicit discount rates. They also found that the additional cost per gallon saved of alternatives—other than the least-cost option in each case—is higher than oil premium estimates, and charging infrastructure is orders of magnitude more expensive per gallon saved, even with optimistic assumptions for charging infrastructure. Peterson and Michalek deemed the findings robust across a wide range of sensitivity scenarios (available in the the supplemental information of the paper).
The authors suggest that redesigned policy should consider:
  • Subsidize usable capacity, rather than total capacity. The Chevy Volt, for example, uses only about 65% of its 16 kWh capacity in order to improve safety and battery life. However, current federal subsidies are tied to total battery capacity rather than usable battery capacity or AER—i.e., it incentivizes the use of larger battery packs.
    Subsidizing usable capacity would remove the disincentive for automakers to figure out how to use a larger portion of the battery. Alternatively, subsidizing based on AER (as measured in a standardized test) would also encourage automakers to make vehicles more efficient, and removing the exclusion for lower-capacity lower-range vehicles would be more consistent with potential benefits.
  • Subsidize estimated gasoline savings rather than battery capacity or AER. PHEVs have diminishing returns in gasoline savings as battery capacity increases. Subsidies intended to generate gasoline savings would be better if tied to estimated gasoline savings rather than battery capacity or AER, the authors suggest, and subsidies that are tied to battery capacity or AER should avoid a fixed rate per kWh or per mile and instead reflect the structure of diminishing returns.
    However, they add, methods for estimating gasoline savings may be controversial, and depending on what reference point is used, subsidies tied to gasoline savings could have unintended consequences, such as the potential for separate reference points in each vehicle class encouraging consumers to purchase larger vehicle classes.
  • Consider temporary larger subsidies. The current subsidy of $2,500 for 4 kWh (~$1.25/gal saved) and $7,500 for 16kWh (~$4.50/gal saved) pays prices substantially higher than US oil premium estimates of $0.37/gal ($0.08–$0.96/gal). Subsidies intended to generate gasoline savings would preferably be comparable to the social value of gasoline savings (and the value of other social benefits). To the extent that larger subsidies are able to kick-start adoption and sustainable market acceptance of plug-in technologies that would not otherwise be adopted, temporary larger subsidies may be warranted. But the magnitude or duration of this dynamic effect remains highly uncertain.
  • Target the goal, not the technology. More efficient policies generally target the policy goal, such as gasoline displacement, directly rather than a proxy, such as battery size.
    On economic efficiency grounds, subsidies are justified insofar as they correct for positive externalities, such as innovation knowledge spillover, and research funding is an alternative to subsidizing sales for achieving this effect.
    A more efficient way to address negative externalities is to apply Pigovian taxes (e.g., a carbon tax), which would increase the price of gasoline and make plug-in vehicles more competitive in the marketplace while encouraging the most efficient responses to reducing externalities, including not only alternative powertrains but also efficiency improvements and incentives to drive less and purchase smaller vehicles (as well as to make changes in other sectors of the economy). They authors acknowledged the political challenge of increasing or creating a tax.
  • CAFE. Considering the presence of binding CAFE standards, the authors raised the question of whether EV subsidies will provide any net gasoline savings for the foreseeable future
Ignoring interactions with CAFE policy, HEVs and PHEVs with low AER and only home charging generally provide the largest direct gasoline savings per dollar spent, offering both lower costs and lower gasoline consumption than CVs, depending on the consumer’s discount rate. It is therefore possible that incentivizing a larger number of consumers to purchase HEVs or low-AER PHEVs would save more gasoline under a fixed policy budget than incentivizing a relatively smaller number of consumers to purchase high-AER PHEVs. However, given a fixed market of electrified vehicle adopters, if more gasoline savings is needed than what can be achieved with HEVs and low-AER PHEVs, additional savings can be achieved more efficiently by paying for additional AER than by paying for extra charging infrastructure.
—Peterson and Michalek, 2012

Source: Green Car Congress 

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid: Is It The Ideal Modern Family Car?ford

If you’re a parent, the chances are you’ve had to make the painful choice between everyday practicality and gas mileage when looking atnew cars
In fact, if your family consists of the archetypal two kids, two adults, a dog, and a whole lot of luggage, the chances are you’ve longed for a minivan orcrossover SUV-sized car with Toyota Prius gas mileage.
The 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid is neither, nor does its gas mileage quite equal that of the 2012 Toyota Prius liftback, but is it the first real family-friendlyhatchback hybrid?
We think so, and here’s why.
More room
When compared to the 2012 Toyota Prius Liftback, the 2013 Ford C-Max has much more room for both passengers and luggage. 
When it comes to passengers, the high roof-line of the C-Max Hybrid offers 6 cubic feet more volume than the Prius liftback, while its luggage area is 2 feet larger than its Japanese rival. 
2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid
2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid
And while the Prius’ wagon variant--the 2012 Toyota Prius V--beats the Ford C-Max with 34 cubic feet of luggage space versus the C-Max’s 24 cubic feet, its higher sticker price and lower gas mileage makes it less exciting as a family car. 
More practical
Everything inside the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid is designed with practicality in mind, from its larger load area to its higher roof line. 
For those with younger children, the higher roof line not only makes it easier to lift children in and out of the car, but it reduces the all-too common banged heads parents get after securing younger children in car seats. 
When it comes to juggling children, shopping and loading the car with shopping, an optional, automatic, handsfree tailgate gives the C-Max a real competitive edge against the Prius. 
More ‘normal'
Then there’s the way the C-Max is designed and built. 
Because the C-Max hybrid is based on a car which has already been on sale in Europe for years as a conventional gasoline car, the 2013 C-Max Hybrid doesn’t look like a hybrid. 
It looks, and behaves, like a regular gasoline car. 
The driving controls are conventional. The dashboard is conventional. 
2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, Los Angeles, August 2012
2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, Los Angeles, August 2012
Simply put, the C-Max is built like any other gasoline car, a dramatic contrast to the Space Age plastic trim and geeky interior of the Prius liftback. 
A better all-round car
With good handling, high-specification interior, and a large helping of good, old-fashioned practicality, the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid may be the better vehicle of choice for a family with young kids wanting their first hybrid. 
Sure, it doesn’t get quite the same gas mileage rating as the Toyota Prius, but it’s a car you’ll feel far more comfortable making family trips and daily errands in. 
And, as any parent will tell you, a car that can help you stay calm is always a plus.

Source: Green Car Reports