Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Walmart, Loblaw Join Push For Electric Trucks With Tesla Semi Orders

Following earlier news that the US-based trucking firm JB Hunt would be reserving and ordering a number of Tesla’s new semi trucks, Walmart and the Canada-based grocery chain Loblaw have both revealed that they will be doing the same.
Tesla semi
Walmart has revealed that it will be reserving and ordering 15 of the new Tesla semi trucks — with 5 slated for use in the US and 10 in Canada. And the Canada-based grocery chain Loblaw has revealed that it will be reserving and ordering a total of 25 of the new all-electric Tesla heavy-duty trucks. Loblaw is currently working towards a goal of possessing an all-electric corporate fleet by 2030.
As a reminder here, reservation deposits for the Tesla semi trucks total $5,000 a piece.
While the order of 15 trucks from Walmart is notable, it clearly just amounts to the firm putting its foot in the water, so to speak, as the company’s US truck fleet is now comprised of around 6,000 units.
Reuters provides more: “The early orders reflected the uncertainty about how the market for electric commercial vehicles will develop. About 260,000 Class-8 trucks are produced in North America annually, and that market has a value of about $28.6 billion, said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR, an industry economics research firm.
“The 500-mile (800 km) range between charges that Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk promised on Thursday for the Tesla Semi is about half the range between fill-ups of a diesel Class 8 truck. Heavy batteries cut payload and add cost, potential deal killers for fleet buyers focused on operating cost per mile.”
So, clearly, there are notable limits to Tesla’s semi trucks as of now, but obviously major benefits as well — greatly reduced emissions being an important one. On that note, it’ll be interesting to see if Tesla can garner interest for the semi trucks in China, despite being an outsider, as there’s expected to be a rapid shift away from diesel and petrol/gasoline powered trucks there over the coming decade or two. But maybe BYD and other Chinese players have that market locked.

The Plug-In Hybrids Are Coming! The Plug-In Hybrids Are Coming!

News about plug-in hybrids coming to market soon was everywhere last week. Honda, Volvo, Lync & C0, and General Motors all had something to say on the subject. Some of the announcements were bold; some were partially hidden. Honda kicked things off by releasing final pricing details about the plug-in hybrid version of its multi-faceted Clarity sedan.

Meet The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

Honda Clarity PHEV
The Clarity may look a lot like an Accord to most shoppers, but it is built on an entirely new chassis designed to accept three modes of propulsion — hydrogen fuel cell, plug-in hybrid, or pure battery electric. Honda now says the plug-in hybrid version will go on sale before Christmas and be priced at $33,400 for the well equipped standard trim version.
The Touring version with more bumpf and features will list for $36,600. Sharp eyed readers will notice those prices are many thousands less than the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. While the Volt is a fine car, it is a bit tight in its interior dimensions. Expect the Clarity to have more room in its comfy interior for real passengers, especially in the back seat.
The Clarity PHEV will come with a 17 kWh battery — large enough to qualify for the full $7,500 federal tax credit unless and until Republicans in Congress repeal the tax credit entirely. Honda says it has an electric only range of 47 miles, nearly as much as the Volt. Recharging time is given as 2.5 hours using a 240 volt charger.

Volvo and Lync & Co. Will Offer Plug-In Crossovers

plug in hybrid from Volvo and Lync & Co
Lync & Co 01 top; Volvo XC40 bottom
Volvo and Lync & Co, both owned by Geely, say they are close to bringing plug-in hybrid crossover models to American shores. Sales of the Volvo XC40 PHEV are expected to begin in the second half of 2018. The Lync & Co 01 will debut in China next year before heading to showrooms in Europe the following year. Sales in the US will begin sometime after the European introduction.
Kissing cousins beneath their separate badges, both will both share a plug-in hybrid powertrain with 31 miles of electric range backed up by a 1.5 liter three cylinder gasoline engine. There are reports that a version with 50 miles of range will be offered as well.

A Stealth Reveal For General Motors

Speaking to the Barclays 2017 Global Automotive Conference last week, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said her company has up to 20 electrified models in the pipeline. While she spoke, the image seen above appeared on the screen behind her with a caption reading “New CUV entries — two entries by 2020.”
Fox News was quick to point out that the image bore a remarkable resemblance to the exciting Chevy FNR-X concept unveiled at the Shanghai auto show earlier this year. See for yourself. Notice the resemblance?
ev sales in China
Barra made no reference to the image behind her and we don’t know whether it will be built on the Chevy Bolt electric car chassis or the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid platform. Clearly GM has an economic interest in leveraging the investment made in both by applying it to other models in its corporate lineup.
Electric car advocates dislike plug-in hybrids because they have internal combustion engines, but they may well be an important — if temporary — part of the transition to electric vehicles that is gathering momentum worldwide. Sometimes 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing. Especially if some of those plug-ins are crossover utility vehicles which happen to represent the hottest part of the new car market right now.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

New York Helping UPS Convert Its Delivery Fleet To Electric Trucks

With help from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, UPS is planning to convert many of its diesel powered delivery vans (UPS calls them “package cars”) into battery electric trucks beginning as soon as next spring. UPS currently has more than 2,200 trucks plying the streets of New York City. It expects 1,500 of them be electric by 2022.
UPS electric trucks coming
The program is part of the governor’s program to reduce greenhouse gases within New York by 40% by the year 2030. Alicia Barton, president and CEO of NYSERDA said in a press release, “This project is a prime example of the State’s investment in new and innovative technology that can help us meet Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading clean energy goals. I applaud UPS and Unique Electric Solutions for their leadership in developing this system that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and has tremendous potential to be used by the entire delivery industry.”
“Public-private partnerships help push innovation forward and transform industries,” said Carlton Rose, president of global fleet maintenance and engineering for UPS. “This program will help UPS develop and deploy electric delivery trucks faster and more affordably. Because they are cleaner and quieter, electric vehicles are ideal for dense urban environments like New York City and are a critical part of our strategy for the future.”
NYSERDA will provide $500,000 in funding. The money will be used to pay for the development of an electric drivetrain provided by Unique Electric Solutions and to begin the conversion process. At the heart of the  drivetrain is a 225 kW switched reluctance motor (SRM) with a high voltage back bone optimized for the duty cycle of UPS delivery trucks. It says its motors are simpler, cheaper and better suited to use in electric vehicles than conventional induction motors. In addition, they do not use the rare earth elements found in permanent magnet motors. The company claims is propulsion system provides more miles per battery charge, reduced charging times, and up to 20% greater efficiency.
Efficiency plays a vital role in making UPS profitable. So does being a good corporate citizen. The company has more than 8,500 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles in its fleet worldwide, including 770 electric or hybrid electric vehicles that are used primarily in urban settings.  The company says by the year 2020, a quarter of all the new vehicles it purchases every year will use alternative fuels or advanced propulsion technology. It has invested more than $750 million in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles — including fueling stations for alternative fuels — since 2009.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Waymo Pushing Forward With Level 4 Self Driving Taxi Service - VIDEO

Waymo, the self driving arm of Alphabet which in turn is the parent company of Google, is feeling confident the autonomous cars it has created in cooperation with Chrysler are now ready for their first real world use without a human driver on board. After months of testing in and around Phoenix, Arizona, the company says it will soon be ready to begin allowing those cars to provide ride hailing services to paying customers in Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix. It then plans to extend the service to the entire Phoenix area, which is larger in area than London (although much less densely populated.
Waymo self driving Pacifica Hybrid
Waymo CEO John Krafcik gave demonstration rides to members of the press, including Darrell Etheridge of TechCrunch, on November 7. He writes, “Waymo’s stated goal is to ensure safer roads for everyone, and after having spent some time in the fully driverless Pacifica that will be operating in Chandler, I’m more convinced than ever they’re on a path to make this happen. Bringing that truly driverless Level 4 experience to public roads and public riders is a huge step, and a sign we could be hailing an autonomous ride sooner than you might think.”
By using the Waymo app, customers in the Phoenix area will be able to summon a self driving Chrysler Pacifica to their door to go shopping, get to school, or drive to any destination within the defined area of operation. They also will be able to use the app to communicate directly with a member of Waymo’s customer service staff at any time. Early in the experiment, each Pacifica will have a Waymo employee on board who has access to an emergency stop button, but the company plans to move quickly beyond that phase to true Level 4 autonomy where the only humans in the vehicles are customers.
Waymo has ordered up another 400 autonomous Pacificas from Chrysler, bringing the total in their fleet to 500. Waymo now appears to have the early lead in the self driving ride hailing sweepstakes. Expect this service to expand beyond the Phoenix area rapidly if the experiment there proves successful. Check out the video below for a glimpse of what the world looks like inside a self driving Pacifica taxi.

Daimler To Introduce Electric School Bus To US In 2019

The yellow school bus is a social icon. It projects an image of bright eyed children eagerly anticipating the acquisition of knowledge during the upcoming school day as they wend their way through the cities and towns all across America. We think of them as zones of safety for our most precious cargo, but in fact they are enclosed metal tubes that subject school children to all the same diesel pollutants that got Volkswagen into so much trouble recently.
electric school bus
Why we throw our arms up in horror when Volkswagen sells diesel powered cars that exceed legal limits for tailpipe emissions and put those responsible in jail for their actions but happily consign school children to riding in diesel powered vehicles to and from school every day is a great mystery. Do we think the diesel engines in those buses run cleaner than the passenger car engines in those Volkswagens? It is to laugh.
In addition to carbon dioxide, the diesels in school buses spew huge quantities of NOx and sulfur dioxide emissions out their tailpipes. As they sit idling outside at the end of the school day, they create a massive cloud of atmospheric crud our kids have to inhale as they clamber aboard. Not only that, each one consumes about 23,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year. Multiply that by the nearly half a million school buses on the road in the US and your are talking about a massive amount of money taxpayers have to spend for the fuel to keep them running.
In the fight to lower pollution from internal combustion engines, the biggest environmental rewards come from electrifying the vehicles that depend most heavily on diesel engines — garbage trucks, delivery trucks, freight trucks, and school buses. Electric school buses are just starting to become available. Massachusetts this year committed to $1.4 million to an electric school bus pilot program for four communities. Just like passenger cars, electric buses cost more to buy but can save communities money in the long run thanks to lower fuel and maintenance costs. Plus, there are the benefits that come from breathing cleaner air.
Motiv Power is introducing electric school buses in California, where 13 will be operating shortly. Now Daimler, which owns Thomas Built Buses, says it will begin selling an electric school bus with a range of 100 miles beginning in 2019. Thomas currently is the dominant manufacturer of school buses, with a market share just under 40%. So this announcement could have a major impact on the US school bus market going forward.
The Verge reports the electric school bus from Thomas will be built on the company’s standard Saf-T-Liner C2  chassis. Nicknamed “Jouley,” it seats 81 children and is powered by a 60 kWh battery. Fleet operators who need longer range can opt for additional battery packs. Since most school buses are used for short periods of time in the morning and the afternoon, keeping the batteries charged up shouldn’t be an issue.
This is another important step in the electrification of the US transportation fleet. Since children are so impressionable, riding in a clean, quiet electric school bus during their early years will make them less tolerant of smelly, noisy cars later in life. An appreciation for electric vehicles may be an important life lessons for America’s future leaders.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Vespa Electric Scooter Arrives Next Year With 62 Miles Of Range

Vespa told us last year at this time that it was working on an electric scooter. This year, the company brought its electric offering —  the Vespa  Elettrica — to the Milan Motorcycle Show, where it revealed lots of details about its latest zero emissions scooter except for the price. The Vespa Elettrica will be available sometime next year, although the company has not said exactly when.
Vespa Elettrica electric scooter
Piaggio, the parent company of Vespa, tells The Verge its electric scooter will have a range of 100 kilometers or 62 miles. That’s about a third that of the Vespa Primavera, the 50 cc model that is the price leader in the company’s gasoline powered lineup. But the Vespa Elettica is not intended for long distance commuting. The company calls it “perfect for city environments” and it probably is exactly that. The torque of its electric motor should offset some of the machine’s lack of range with performance that is superior to a traditional 50 cc machine.

Charging the battery takes 4 hours from a “normal wall outlet,” which in Italy is 220 volts. In North America, charging time would be longer. Piaggio says the battery is good for  about 50,000 to 70,000 kilometers — equivalent to about 10 years of use. The battery is expected to have 80% capacity remaining after 1,000 charging cycles. There is no information available about whether the battery can be replaced or how much a replacement battery might cost.
For those who are concerned about range, Vespa will sell a hybrid model with a gas powered range extender generator that will boost range to about 200 kilometers or 124 miles.
As befits an electric vehicle, the Vespa Elettica will come complete with a 4.3 inch touchscreen that displays information such as speed, range remaining, and battery state of charge. A smartphone app will allow drivers to connect to the electric scooter via Bluetooth to access texts and incoming phone calls. The app will also have a map feature and make diagnostic information available to the driver. Vespa will offer a Bluetooth-enabled helmet with built-in microphone and speakers for hands free communication during any journey.
The Vespa Elettica comes standard in silver livery with electric blue trim but the buyer can choose from 7 different colors when ordering one. The company has released no information about availability in North America yet.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Workhorse CEO: $300 million in preorders for plug-in hybrid pickup trucks

Workhorse W-15 extended-range electric pickup truck
Workhorse W-15 extended-range electric pickup truck

Over seven years of plug-in electric cars and 20 years of hybrids, the pickup truck sector remains largely untouched. GM sold hybrid Chevrolet and GMC pickups for a few years, and Ford plans an F-150 hybrid in 2020. A startup company now called Workhorse (nee AMP) noticed that white space and made a bold play for the market with its W-15 plug-in hybrid pickup truck.

With an estimated 80-mile range on electric power and 32 mpg highway and 28 mpg city with the gasoline engine, Workhorse leads in crowding segment. Though the truck isn't on sale yet, CEO Steve Burns says the company has received $300 million in pre-orders for its plug-in hybrid truck. At an estimated price of $52,500, that's a lot of trucks, but Burns stressed that getting orders up front is a calculated strategy in an interview with Autoblog.

Workhorse W-15 plug-in truck
Workhorse W-15 plug-in truck

Although the company had the desire to build a plug-in pickup truck, Burns admits Workhorse didn't have the resources to do it. "We couldn't build it and hope [customers] came," after the announcement. "We wanted to make sure there was an audience of customers." Potentially to his surprise, the audience poured in; Workhorse received 4,560 letter-of-intent preorders at its reveal in May.

Workhorse developed the W-15 with compromise in mind since an all-electric truck may "disappoint" customers in capability, per Burns. The CEO says an all-electric truck's estimated range diminishes as payload and towing ratings increase—it also allows Workhorse to keep costs down with a smaller battery pack with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
And the W-15's specifications aren't poor, either. Dual electric motors provide 460 horsepower, its payload rating sits at 2,200 pounds and it will tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Workhorse W-15 plug-in truck
Workhorse W-15 plug-in truck

The battery also serves as a mobile power supply with a standard outlet present to power electric tools. Workhorse wants to deliver its first trucks by late 2018, but it won't necessarily be alone in the market. Canadian company Havelaar plans to build its all-electric Bison; Tesla has said it plans an electric pickup truck in two years; and Bollinger wants to build a a pickup version of its B-1 electric Class 3 utility truck.

None of those companies is a traditional maker, but there's also the chance that one or more large global carmakers could change course and debut its own mass-market electrified pickup. The demand for the Workhorse plug-in hybrid pickup truck speaks volumes, however. After the company satisfies its initial fleet orders, Burns said it will likely turn toward individual customers, whose pre-orders he said could be filled sometime late in 2019.

Chevy Bolt EV Now Leads Volt Sales, Again Hitting All-Time Sales High

Chevrolet’s 238-mile range Bolt EV has again moved the bar upwards with 2,781 sales in October and taken the lead against its sibling, the Chevy Volt.
The front-wheel-drive compact crossover that zips to 60 mph in around 6.5 seconds like a sports car while offering outsized interior space and competent handling is now selling in the 2,000-range like Teslas often have, a positive sign.
Launched in December 2016, the car rolled out to all 50 states by the summer this year, and has consistently risen. In September it saw 2,632 sales, so 2,781 is not a big leap, but August had seen 2,052, and July had seen 1,971, and June was 1,642.
The all-time high-water mark yet belongs to Teslas which has run into the 3,000-4,000 range for the Model X and S sales in the U.S. respectively, but the Nissan Leaf has not gone above middle 3,000s in its hay day, and 2,000-some sales is otherwise respectable at this stage.
As EVs are yet minority products, the Bolt has been the country’s best seller at certain points of this year, and yet ranks up in the top three.
Other EVs sell in far-fewer numbers, and so despite more-modest advertising, the Bolt is doing alright as Nissan awaits its 2018 all-new Leaf with smaller 40-kWh battery for year one.

The Bolt has also stepped ahead of the plug-in hybrid Volt, which was down 37.8 percent year over year with 1,362 sales compared to 2,191 sales in October 2016.
The tally for the Bolt now is 17,083 sales, and the Volt rests at 16,710.
Not hurting things is GM reported its third straight month of crossover sales above 17 percent market share. The last time it delivered three consecutive months at or above a 17 percent retail share was July-September 2011.
The Bolt crossover otherwise appears to be cannibalizing some Volt sales. The Volt’s claim to fame was all-electric when you need it, and no range anxiety.
With its range capable of 250 on an easy drive cycle, the Bolt has little anxiety for a lot of people too, while never having its gas engine come on – because it doesn’t have one!
Pricing is a couple thousand above the Volt, but GM has otherwise thrown its marketing more heavily toward the Bolt, and media are also reporting it more as it’s a newer car.

Enevate Claims New EV Battery Technology Permits Recharging In 5 Minutes

Enevate, located in Irvine, California, claims its latest silicon dominant lithium ion battery technology makes 5 minute charging possible. In a press release, the company says an electric car equipped with one of its batteries can add 240 miles of range in just 5 minutes or 50 miles of range in a minute.
EV fast charging battery technology from Enevate
Fast charging is a hot topic in the world of electric automobiles because most drivers are accustomed to spending 5 minutes or less at the pump to fill the gas tank of their conventional cars. Israeli company StoreDot also claims its EV battery can be recharged in just five minutes.

Enevate cites several advantages for its batteries. Each battery has an energy density of 750 Wh/L and can be safely charged at temperatures as low as -40ยบ Celsius. It can absorb  more energy from regenerative braking than a traditional EV battery. Last, the company claims that eliminating range anxiety due to faster charging times could allow manufacturers to offer smaller, less expensive batteries, which would reduce the cost of electric vehicles and make them more attractive to buyers.
“The benefits of Enevate’s silicon-dominant HD-Energy Technology enable next-generation features that take EVs to the next level,” says founder & chief technology officer Dr. Benjamin Park. “Extreme fast charges for very short and convenient charging times, higher energy density leading to longer driving ranges, and cold temperature operation with inherent safety advantages make this technology ideal for electric vehicles.”
No less an authority than Dr. John Goodenough of the University of Texas in Austin has given his endorsement to the company’s technology. “Enevate’s film-based silicon-dominant anode and cell is a truly novel approach and great practical fit for use in EVs addressing the major barriers to EV adoption,” he says.
Enevate’s silicon dominant anode technology is exciting news, but the company provides no information in its press release about what sort of charging equipment is needed to make the miracle of 5 minute charging possible nor does it say where such chargers can be found, who will build and operate them, or how much they will cost.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Model 3 Deep Dive Video From Model 3 Owners Club

Trevor Page of the Model 3 Owners Club contacted us here at CleanTechnica a few days ago to say he and YouTube co-host Kenneth Bokor had secured the use of a Tesla Model 3 for two days. They were free to drive the car, probe its intricate bits inside and out, photograph it, take videos, and measure things. They sent over a 1 hour and 10 minute video of the details. The only restriction put on us was that we could not share the video or embed it into a story until after Tesla announced that regular production of the Model 3 had officially begun. Naturally, we agreed to Trevor’s terms and conditions.
Well, we haven’t yet seen word of Model 3 regular production beginning, but we have gotten approval to share the video and write about it. Check out the video below, and read our reflections and summaries in this article and two coming articles from Kyle Field and Zach Shahan.
If you have a Model 3 on order or are thinking of reserving one, Trevor’s video is the most comprehensive and accurate source of information about the car available to date, unless you actually having one parked in your own driveway. Trevor and Ken began at the front of the car and detailed every part of it inside and out all the way to the back bumper.
They took careful measurements, tested all the controls, measured interior dimensions, sat in the seats, and stared out at the outside world through the panoramic glass roof. They even took video footage of the underside of the car. Basically, they looked in every nook and crannie and captured it all in high definition.
For our report, we have broken the story down into three sections. The first (this one) deals with the exterior and some of the interior of the car. Next, Kyle will walk you through some more of the interior details and the intricacies of the touchscreen. Then, Zachary will cover some remaining exterior + interior notes as well as the ride & drive portion of the Model 3 video.
The first bit of news is that the LED headlights (@2:34) have the bulbs recessed into the top of the housing and reflecting forward via a mirror. Interesting. Later in the video, Trev and Ken show how the headlight alignment can be adjusted by the owner from the touchscreen.
The front fascia of the car sits about 8 inches above the pavement and has aerodynamically designed air ducts built in to direct cooling air to the front brakes (@3:15). Then the lads move on to reveal the cleverly disguised roof rack attachment points (@3:36) and windshield wipers (@4:26), including the washer jets incorporated into the wiper arms.
Over the next 60 seconds, they go into detail about how the outside and inside door latches work. The electronic door poppers are conveniently mounted high in the armrests, but there is a mechanical pull embedded in each arm rest to open the doors from the inside in the event of a power failure. All interior surfaces are covered in soft synthetic Alcantara suede.
At the 9:30 mark, Trevor and Ken dig into the dimensions of the trunk, which measures 42 inches wide and 19 inches high at the rear crossbar. The trunk depth to the back of the rear seats is 42 inches. The lads were easily able to stow several suitcases in there, plus there is room for a medium-size duffel back under the floor.
The trunk lid itself employs a clever double hinge to lift it clear of the car for easy loading and gas struts on either side to support it. With the seatbacks down, Trevor was able to fit his 5’ 11” frame between the back of the front seats and the trunk lid, so Tesla camping is a definite possibility.
At the 16:15 mark, the video focuses on the frunk, which measures 34 inches wide, 18 inches deep, and about 10 inches high. Trevor notes that it seems big enough to handle a typical airline carry-on bag. Also inside the frunk is a tow hook for use in emergencies. It threads into a receiver hidden behind a cover built into the front bumper cover.
For those who live in states or countries that require a front license plate, Tesla provides a plastic panel that comes with special adhesive tape from 3M. Peel and stick it to the front of the car, wait 30 seconds, attach the plate to the predrilled holes, and you’re good to go.
The charging port for the Model 3 (@19:27) is hidden behind the side clearance light at the left rear corner of the car. It opens and closes from the key fob or via an app and will close itself about 30 seconds after the charging cable is removed.
Next, Trevor and Ken turn their attention (@20:00) to the soft covers that hide the lug nuts. The spring-loaded items pop off and on easily. The bolt pattern of the wheels is 5 X 115 mm. At 20:45, the boys film the underside of the car, which is remarkably free of protrusions and obstructions in order to smooth airflow under the vehicle for maximum aero efficiency.
That’s it for Part 1 of the Model 3 Owners Club video reveal. Next up, Kyle will take you for a guided tour of the the interior and the magical touchscreen that defines the inside appearance of the Model 3. Take it away, Kyle!