Wednesday, 28 December 2011

180 quick chargers for Estonia

Electricity power products and systems company ABB (who recently acquired Epyon in order to fast track its EVSE know-how) has signed a contract to provide 180 quick chargers to create a charging network across Estonia.

70 of the charge points will be located on highways and the remainder in the 24 towns and cities with a population greater than 5,000 people.

The 6.6m euro contract is due for completion in October 2012.

eREV Chevy conversions from Via Motors

40 miles pure electric then 400 miles using conventional fuel, this is an extended range electric vehicle with a power train  similar in concept to the Chevy Volt with a claimed average 100 MPGe.

Developed by US company Via Motors (featuring ex GM CEO Bob Lutz as a Non Exec Director), this is a Chevy conversion, the pick-up being part of a range of plug-in vehicles to include a 4x4 SUV and cargo van to be launched by the company at next month's North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Not surprisingly, Via Motors are targeting fleet customers. Good luck to them.

Suzuki e-scooter

After a year of trials in Japan, Suzuki will be launching their e-Let's scooter in January 2012.

The equivalent of a 50cc scooter, it is light, agile and comfortable, with a beautifully integrated large front basket and removable li-ion battery. It will have a range of about 20 miles per charge, a top speed of 25 mph and retail for roughly US$4,000 / £2,560.

Too expensive to sell in any real volume, but very cute.

Friday, 23 December 2011

More 2012 predictions

Here are 10 more EV market predictions for 2012, this time from  Pike Research in their white paper  Electric Vehicles: Ten Predictions for 2012. It’s forecasting the global EV market to reach 250,000 vehicles worldwide next year. Here’s a synopsis of their predictions from

#1 The global availability and increasing sales of EVs will put an end to the “Are they for real?” speculation.
Pike believes 2012 will be the transitional year for EVs, as more models become available, and even more are announced.

#2 Car sharing services will expand the market for EVs and hybrids.
Right now, at least 10 car-sharing services are offering EVs to rent. Car sharing appeals to younger, environmentally conscious urban dwellers. Avis and Hertz are the most recognizable names, and more are jumping on this hot trend all the time.

#3 Battery production will get ahead of vehicle production.
Numerous battery companies have factories geared up to produce more batteries than manufacturers can use. Delayed model launches and slow consumer acceptance will likely result in battery prices dropping faster than expected (good news). Some manufacturers are directing excess capacity towards the grid energy storage market, also in its nascent stages.

#4 Road tax legislation in the United States that will require PEV owner contributions will fail.
Right now, PEV owners who bypass the gas station won’t be paying any road use taxes, which are part of every gallon of gas purchased. A number of state bills that would force owners to pay a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax have died on the vine.
A yearly fee based on average miles driven will ultimately be the tax that will pass.

#5 The Asia-Pacific region will become the early leader in vehicle-to-grid (V2G).
Since EV penetration will be highest here before anywhere else, V2G will be implemented here first, and quickly dominate the market. The unreliability of the grid in this region will be greatly improved with the use of V2G technology.

#6 PEV prices will continue to disappoint many consumers.
Early adopters will pay more. The battery glut, if it shows up at all, won’t be reflected in EV prices before 2013 or 2014. Early adopters will pay for the huge investment that EV companies made in assembly lines and battery and motor technology.
Ultimately, we could see prices in the low $20,000 range, but that target is a few years out.

#7 Third-party EV charging companies will dominate public charging sales.
Grocery stores, drug stores and other commercial establishments looking to attract EV owners have two choices. They can purchase and maintain the charging equipment themselves, set the fee structure, or give the power away free in order to attract customers.
The alternative is to have a third party install and maintain it. Pike feels this will be the more attractive of the two. Wal-Mart, Icon Parking Group and Simon Property Group (large mall owner) are all opting for the third-party route.

#8 Germany, South Korea and Japan will see the most progress towards the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) in 2012.
According to Pike, 2015 marks the start of the commercial rollout of FCVs. But it won’t be here in the United States. The Department of Energy’s shift away from FCVs towards EVs leaves some uncertainty in their adoption here.

#9 Employers will begin to purchase EV chargers in large numbers.
Companies who want to attract young professionals with EVs will begin to install them in large numbers. Already Google, Adobe, SAP and others have installed dozens at their U.S. facilities. 2012 will see hundreds of other global companies following their lead.
Sales in North America could exceed 5,000 units, while the Asia Pacific region could hit 18,000, according to Pike’s report.

#10 EVs will begin to function as home appliances.
Pike reports that many automakers are adopting the HomePlug Green PHY communications standard. This will allow information about the EV to be passed over the power line to other smart grid enabled devices, insuring they don’t all turn on at the same time.

Kia Ray EV

Next up is the Kia Ray EV.

The Wall St Journal reports that Kia Motors Corp. has rolled out its Ray EV, an electric city car with a range of up to 86 miles and what the company describes as “lively performance.” Acceleration for zero to 62 mph takes just under 16 seconds.

While Kia says the car is for sale in Korea only, it may provide a strong hint of what many cars around the world may look like in the near future. Its size, power system and other design features reflect a direction many car makers, including U.S. manufacturers, are exploring as they try to lower overall fuel consumption and emissions of their fleets.
A 50-kilowatt electric motor and a 16.4 kilowatt-hour lithium ion polymer battery pack power the front-wheel-drive Ray EV, which is based on the Ray CUV, a conventionally powered car that went on sale in Korea last month. The new car is a small breakthrough for the company in part because it can share an assembly line with traditional gasoline vehicles.
The Ray EV also has a navigation system specially designed for electric vehicles, with a 7-inch screen that and provides information that is important to EV drivers, like the location of the nearest charging stations. The display also shows a circular area representing the vehicle’s range, so drivers can see which destinations they can reach without recharging the battery.

Kia said there are 500 slow- and fast-charging stations in Korea, with plans to have 3,100 operating by the end of 2012. Kia plans to build 2,500 Ray EVs through the end of 2012, which will be used by government and public agencies as part of a long-term research and development program for environmentally friendly transport.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Plug-in vehicles less than 10% share in 2040

In other News, oil company ExxonMobil believes the world’s transportation will still be dominated by petroleum-based fuels in 2040.

The company’s annual energy outlook predicts that only 10% of transport will be powered by 'alternative' fuels.

Seriously, that's what they said.

California targets for 1.4m EVs by 2018

California has set targets for one in seven cars to be electric by 2018. 

The California Air Resources Board revealed its new goals as part of a package of new standards - including rebates for drivers via their electricity bills - for clean vehicles. 

The Board’s objectives include projected sales of 1.4 million EVs per year between 2018 and 2025. The new standards will result in a reduction in automotive carbon emissions of 52 million metric tonnes if successful.

California captured 69 percent of global electric vehicle investment for 2011, and it ranks first in the US nation for electric vehicle patents. California took in $467 million in global EV venture capital (VC) investment (69 percent of total dollars) in the first half of 2011 and, along with Michigan, is the top patent holder for new EV technology in the United States.

The place to be in EV!

Monday, 19 December 2011

2012 EV predictions

OK, time for some crystal ball gazing, so here are my top predictions for the plug-in vehicle market for 2012 (I have cut and pasted my 2011 predictions underneath for comparison):

2012 predictions:

  1. The market continues to grow slowly like it did in 2011 - the problem is price, lack of recharging infrastructure and a lack of good looking plug-in vehicles that are also affordable. Not much is going to change in this respect in 2012 although Renault are going to give it a really good go.
  2. It's all about fleets - two thirds (and perhaps even more) of the plug-in vehicles purchased in 2012 will be bought by fleets. The market will continue to be driven by companies and their CSR / carbon reduction policies. 
  3. The Renault Fluence will replace the Nissan Leaf as the EV poster boy - the more conventional looks, the more realistic price, the removal of battery risk (via battery leasing), this is what the fleet market wants.
  4. Say hello to white van EV man - the introduction of the affordable Renault Kangoo will provide choice against the Ford Transit Connect EV and between them they will kick start the electric LCV market. Particularly in the UK if the government extend the £5000 / 20% Plug-In Car grant to vans.
  5. Charge at work - (I forecast this last year as well but...) - all this talk about public charging and fast charging, when what the market really needs is charging facilities in company car parks. Doh!
  6. The Renault Zoe will be the breakthrough EV - we will have to wait most of 2012 to see it in the flesh, but the Renault Zoe is in my opinion going to be the electric car that finally drives volume. Expect to see £14000 plus a monthly battery lease and some exciting news about range.
  7. More mergers, acquisitions, closures - I said that 2011 would see this and with the demise of Aptera I was partly correct. In 2012 I expect to see more of the same in what will be a tough market for most.
  8. Inductive (wireless) charging will continue to remain a dream - I love the thought of inexpensive electric vehicles with small batteries that do not cost very much, charged inductively as they drive and stand stationary at traffic lights - but for now it will remain just that, a thought. I hope the trials are encouraging however and investments are made in the technology.
  9. Reva will finally launch the successor to the G-Wiz - actually the media are already reporting that the NXR will be showcased at the Delhi auto Show in India and that the car will be available to buy there in 2012. Better late than never?
  10. I will buy a Tesla - The Model S looks beautiful...maybe.

My 2011 predictions - the market moved more slowly than I (and most others) thought:

1. Range anxiety comes and goes: the obsession with range anxiety will be overcome first as motorists realise that a range of 100 miles (and 50 miles under extreme conditions) is more than sufficient for everyday use; secondly, as range increases thanks to efficiency improvements and new battery chemistries are announced for future models; and thirdly as recharging infrastructure appears as an extended journey facilitator                                                          

2. The second car becomes the first car: for many motorists the EV will become the car of choice for the daily commute, effectively promoting it from second to first position in terms of frequency of use.

3. Range available maps become super-popular: my favourite thing about the Nissan Leaf is its range available map in the centre console. At a glance drivers can see the one way and return distances available to the driver visually mapped, based on the current state of charge. The most useful of tools an EV can offer.

4. Apps for EVs: electric vehicles are made for telematics applications - and vice versa. As motorists interact with their electric car through their mobile devices we will see a step change in the number and type of applications developed for electric vehicles, from service and safety apps to information and entertainment  apps. Now if Apple would only launch an EV...

5. Seamless connectivity: not sure of we will see this in 2011 or later but the concept that your connectivity to the world is seamless  as you move from home to EV to work place is next up. With 42 million media tablets such as the i-Pad already sold, in-car docking stations for media tablets in EVs should be the next big thing. Always-on never felt so good (or bad).

6. Charge at work: much of the current charging debate is with on-street charging stations but since 80% to 90% of all charging of electric cars will be done at home, the next big need is for charging at the work place. In addition to effectively doubling the daily range available for employees with EVs, charging at work facilities will enable those people who are unable to charge at home (because they live in a flat without dedicated parking) to enter the EV market.

7. Usership instead of ownership: we will see the beginning of the end of the desire to own or lease our cars as the possibility of using them only when we need them (and so not paying for them when we don't) trends beyond car clubs as they exist currently, led by the Paris AutoLib project. 3,000 electric cars stationed at 1,000 self-service hire points across the city and its suburbs.

8. Electric car prototypes will look different, not the same as conventional carsfor the next few years,  those who buy an EV are making a big personal social statement - I am a Leader of Change. To make it easily and powerfully they want to stand out from the crowd, not disappear into it.

9. V2G: we will see the first electric vehicles emerge that are Vehicle To Grid enabled, meaning they are capable of returning stored energy to the electric grid. For some this could mean that EVs are effectively free of charge from an operational perspective as they take advantage of generous feed-in tariffs - if you live in the right place.

10. Mergers, acquisitions, closures: as so many EV start-ups have discovered to their cost, it is difficult and expensive to get into automotive manufacturing, particularly if it is with electric vehicles. In an already crowded market place there is room for maybe 2 or 3 new entrants, the rest will either sell, merge, or fade away.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Honda Solar Charging Canopies

Honda, late to the EV revolution after making several public statements in recent years saying they were not believers in the technology, are now pushing ahead with a broader electron strategy comprising energy as well as vehicles.

Honda have been showing off a pilot solar charging station (video) fitted with Honda Soltec panels and recently announced its largest commercial solar-cell demonstration project in the United States, a 100-kilowatt, 800-cell array of thin-film CIGS solar panels at Honda Performance Development (HPD), Inc., the company's advanced motorsports engineering facility in Santa Clarita, CA. 

Honda EV-STER concept

Of all the vehicles at the Tokyo Motor Show this month, my favourite is the Honda EV-STER electric concept.

Taking a leaf (sorry!) out of the Tesla school of design, the sporty and lightweight EV-STER offers a 160-kilometer (100 mile) range, a 0-37 mph (60kph) time of 5.0 seconds and a top speed of 99 mph - good enough to have some fun times in.

The styling is also refreshing and just might be part of a trend to make cars more aesthetically pleasing. Let's hope so.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

The new EV line up for 2012 - fleets!

So, the Renault Kangoo Z.E. has won both International Van of the Year and now Van of the Year from UK publication What Van? If the Plug-In Car grant is extended next year and is broadened to include plug-in vans - and I can see no argument against such a move - then we should see a big contribution from white van man towards climate change from 2012 onwards.

With fleets accounting for 80% of UK plug-in vehicle sales this year, it seems safe to assume that 2012 will be the year for electric fleet sales. The Zoe ZE hatchback will bring in the private motorists, but not until 2013. Sales reps and delivery drivers - on your marks.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

2014 Nissan Leaf to feature wireless charging

Nissan have confirmed that the 2014 Leaf (available in 2013) and the Infiniti will both feature wireless charging.

The system will use an electromagnetic induction unit that will charge at between 3kW and 6kW and will be 80% to 90% efficient.

Daimler and Conductix-Wampfler are also collaborating to test inductive charging using Mercedes-Benz B-Class E-Cell Plus.

It looks like the future may be wireless - but when will it be commercialised on a widespread basis?

Norway delivers 1000th i-miev

Mitsubishi has just delivered its 1000th i-miev in Norway. After the G-Wiz, that makes the i-miev only the second EV to pass this milestone in a European country.

The i-miev is the best selling compact (A segment) car in Norway in 2011, outselling all petrol and diesel cars in its class.

Congratulations to the Mitsubishi distributor!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Rewiring the world to enable electric cars

We have a big task ahead.

The EU has stated that by 2050 we need to end petrol. Chris Huhne, the UK's Energy Secretary has adopted this target and set out a roadmap to replace the UK's 30m petrol and diesel cars and vans with electric vehicles.

These vehicles will be charged using low carbon electricity - in other words, by electricity from wind farms and nuclear power stations. This will require a near doubling of the UK's capacity for power generation and the building of 32,000 wind turbines inland, on the coast and off-shore. It will be expensive but it will provide energy security and also reduce pollution and noise levels in our cities - and of course mitigate climate change.

My focus now has switched from kick-starting the electric vehicle market to preparing a roadmap for the rewiring of Britain. In other words, on the products and business model that will enable a national plug-in vehicle recharging infrastructure to be successfully developed on a commercial basis across the UK. I have joined Elektromotive, the company that pioneered recharging stations with the introduction of the Elektrobay - and is currently Europe's leading and world number 3 EVSEV (electric vehicle supply equipment vendor), according to a report published  this year by Pike Research.

It's all part of a new industrial revolution to decarbonise Britain and transform it into an electron economy - a huge challenge and an exciting journey.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Suzuki Swift plug-in hybrid concept for India

Details are sketchy but Suzuki Maruti is considering a plug-in hybrid for the Indian market. The all-electric range will be limited to 20 km - 30 km (18 miles max) before the engine kicks in to extend the range and recharge the battery.

Full electric vehicles remain a challenge in India due to the lack of recharging infrastructure.