Monday, 30 January 2012

Canada's first recharging network

The Electric Circuit, the company behind Canada's first public recharging network, have announced 90 locations for the first 240V charging stations for plug-in electrical vehicles, with an additional 30 stations to be added by the summer.
The charging service for the Electric Circuit will cost $2.50 per use, or $25 for 10 charges, regardless of the duration of the charge.

China's largest recharging station goes live

Xinhua reports that China's largest electric vehicle (EV) charging and battery swapping station has been put into operation in Beijing, sources with the city's power supply authorities said Sunday.
Gaoantun charging station, located in the eastern Beijing district of Chaoyang, has been installed with more than 10 types of EV charging or battery swapping machines, covering all charging modes that are available in China.
The station can charge up to eight vehicles simultaneously and it takes only four to six minutes to swap a battery of an EV.
The charging station has been verified by experts from Beijing New Energy Vehicle Association.
Beijing is striving to build a new energy vehicle grid as part of the nation's plan to usher in more energy-saving and environmentally friendly vehicles.
Beijing hopes to build a three-level EV charging and battery swapping network that consists of six large-scale concentrated charging stations, 250 charging and battery swapping stations and 210 small-sized delivery stations by the end of 2015.
So far, Beijing has completed construction of 12 charging and battery swapping stations and 274 charging posts.
Beijing was chosen as one of the 25 pilot cities in China for the utilization of new-energy vehicles.
China plans to have more than 500,000 electric, hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles on the road by 2015 and 5 million by 2020.

The price of EV recharging

Torque muses on EV recharging in the US. Every so often an electric car owner discovers a public charging station costing $3 per hour to charge their car. Their reaction isn't always positive because of the fee paid per mile of range received by charging.
The public charging stations fall into three groups. The first group is the stations in one of the two electric car charge station networks in the U.S., the Blink Network run by ECOTality, and the ChargePoint network run by Coulomb Technologies. The second group are the other public charging stations that aren't in one of those networks. The last group are the stations, in California and elsewhere, left over from 10 or so years ago when electric cars were last manufactured by the automakers.
The cost to use each electric car recharging station differs based on various conditions. Sometimes the station is owned by a business, and is available for its employees. Sometimes a city will own the charging station making it available for the city employees, the city fleet, or for the public. Sometimes a parking garage owner will install a charging station, making it available for electric car owners parking in the garage. Some of these public charging stations are free, while others cost money with a fee that varies from station to station.
For the stations where users pay to charge their cars, the effective cost per mile is calculated from two factors. First is the cost per hour to use the charging station. Second is the number of miles of range the car gets per hour of charging. The electric cars with a 3.3 kilowatt on-board charger (Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt and Mitsubishi iMiev) typically get 12 miles of range per hour hour of charging. Hence the stations that cost $3 per hour, costs $0.25 per mile of range. On the other hand the cars with a 6.6 kilowatt on-board charger (Ford Focus Electric and Coda Sedan), if charging at a station that costs $3 per hour, costs $0.12 per mile of range. To compare with gasoline, if a car gets 30 miles per gallon fuel efficiency and gasoline costs $3.50 per gallon, the cost per mile for gasoline is $0.12.
A quick perusal through the interactive map on shows a wide range of charging station fees from "free" to $3.95 per hour for some stations in New York City. Stations in the Charge Point network are privately owned, in a sort of franchise arrangement, with the Charge Point network collecting data about usage and managing customer fees. Each station owner sets the fees for their stations according to their business determinations.
Access to electric car charging stations on the Blink Network has been free, but in the Spring 2012 fees will start. These fees depend on your membership level which are are, $1 per hour for Blink Plus members, $1.50 per hour for Blink Basic members, and $2.00 for Guests who do not have a Blink membership.
Torque muses on electric vehicle recharging in the US: Why are electric car charging fees set this way? Why isn't the fee based on the number of kilowatt-hours of electricity consumed while charging? The most important reason for this is federal and state law mandating that only utilities can legally charge for electricity by the kilowatt-hour. Fees to access charging stations are paid by the hour in part because the charging station owners cannot be paid by the kilowatt-hour, and in part because access to a charging station is similar to normal parking fees in a parking lot. An electric car at a charging station is not only consuming electricity, it is consuming a parking space. In some cases the parking garage fees are included in the fee for using the charging station, and in other parking garages the two fees are paid separately.
In the U.S. today there are approximately 150,000 gasoline stations. Without those gas stations the gasoline powered cars would be useless heaps of metal. While an electric vehicle can be charged at home with electricity bought through the home-owners utility bill, if that was the only place the car could be charged its effective daily range would be half its total range. That is, the car owner could only drive far enough away from home to be able to return home. To make longer trips will require a network of public charging stations so the car can be charged throughout the day as they go from place to place. The availability of those charging stations and the fees to use them are still a work in progress.

Friday, 27 January 2012

California to mandate 15% new cars clean by 2025

In a move that could reshape the American automobile industry, California regulators Thursday are expected to approve sweeping new rules requiring that 15 percent of new cars sold in California by 2025 run on electricity, hydrogen or other systems producing little or no smog.
The regulations by the California Air Resources Board, dubbed the "advanced clean car rules," would start in 2018, ramping up each year and ultimately resulting in 1.4 million "zero emission" vehicles on California roads by 2025. Today there are only about 10,000 such vehicles in the state.
"This is a really large step. It's transformational," said Tom Cackette, an engineer and chief deputy director of the air board. "Ten years from now the market is going to look quite a bit different."
The rules are the latest example of California's influential role in reducing tailpipe pollution across the country. The Golden State was the first to ban leaded gasoline, require catalytic converters and limit vehicles' greenhouse emissions. But unlike with many previous regulations, the auto industry isn't fighting the latest groundbreaking California rules in court.
Apart from electric cars, the new proposal also affects vehicles that run on gasoline and diesel, requiring a 75 percent reduction in smog-forming emissions from new cars, SUVs, pickups and minivans. And they require a roughly 50 percent reduction in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. Thatwill force carmakers to build significantly more fuel-efficient gasoline and diesel models.
The air board estimates that those regulations will add $1,900 to the price of a new car by 2025 -- but will save $5,900 in gasoline costs over the life of the average vehicle.

IDTechEX forecasts 35% vehicle sales electric by 2025

According to IDTechEXm old electric vehicle forecasts are useless because the market is moving too fast.

They reckon that by 2025 more than one in three - 35% - of vehicle sales wil be electric.

PS They hav 19 current reports to sell on electric vehicle sales!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Tesla Model S quick charging options

This from Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield over at Green Car At the end of 2011, Tesla released its final specification, options and price list for the 2012 Model S sedan. 
Depending on the choice of battery pack, the 2012 Tesla Model S should travel 160, 230, or 300 miles per charge.  
For Tesla Model S owners who have purchased cars with the 230 or 300-mile battery pack, specially built Superchargers -- Tesla’s propriety 90-kilowatt quick charge system -- will be available to add as much as 150 miles of range in just 30 minutes.
But buy the base-level $57,400 car, and your car will only be capable of adding 40 miles per 30 minutes of charging. 
That’s because Tesla has made the decision to not offer quick charging capabilities on its base-level Model S. 
2012 Tesla Model S Charging Connector
2012 Tesla Model S Charging Connector
Although Tesla hasn’t given an official reason for its decision, we suspect it has something to do with maintaining the health of the 2012 Tesla Model S battery pack. 
Due to its size, the 40-kilowatt-hour battery pack in the base-level Model S will undergo more charge/discharge cycles during regular use than the 60-  (230-mile) and 85-kilowatt-hour (300-mile) battery pack options. 
But while the base-level 2012 Model S won’t include quick charging capability, we should note that it still offers a range-per-charge larger than any other electric car on the market today.
And thanks to the standard 10- and optional 20-kilowatt charging packages, the base level Model S can still recharge from a 240-volt AC charging station faster than any other electric car available today.
But if you plan on making regular long-distance drives in your 2012 Model S from one major city to the other, you may want to consider spending a little extra to buy the 60-kilowatt-hour model with optional rapid charger access. If you’re buying a 2012 Model S to use as your daily driver and primary family car, the limitations of the smaller battery pack shouldn’t bother you too much if you travel under 160 miles a day.
Either that, or be prepared to wait a little longer every time you stop to recharge.

Next up, Skoda EVs

Czech carmaker Skoda Auto, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Germany’s Volkswagen, is planning to launch production of all-electric cars in 2014, according to the company’s chief executive Winfried Vahland. No further details were provided about the move, although Czech media reports suggest the cars could be based on Skoda’s Citigo model.

EV standards on recharging for US and EU

Not new news, but a reminder that Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen have agreed on the combined charging system as an international standardized approach to charge electric vehicles (EV) in Europe and the United States.

This universal charging system needs only a single charging interface at the vehicle allowing the customer to charge with all existing charging methods: single phase AC normal charging, threephase AC fast charging, or DC rapid charging at public charging stations. This allows electric vehicles from Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen to share the same fast charging stations.

The harmonized electric vehicle charging solution is backward compatible with the J1772 connector standard in the US. Backward compatibility also has been achieved in Europe where the system is based on the IEC 62196 Type 2. The approval of the J1772 standard has given electric vehicle owners the comfort of knowing they can charge at all fast charging stations. Prior to standardization an EV owner had no way of knowing if the charge port they were pulling up to was compatible with their vehicle.

The seven auto manufacturers also agreed to use Home Plug Green Phy as the communication protocol. This approach will also facilitate integration of the electric vehicle into future smart grid applications.

The endorsement of the combined charging system was based on reviews and analysis of existing charging strategies, the ergonomics of the connector and the preferences of customers in both the United States and Europe. The harmonized approach—across both continents and all manufacturers— will provide a framework for future infrastructure planning as well as a communication protocol to assist in the integration of electric vehicles into the smart grids.

The seven auto manufacturers believe the development of a common charging approach is good for customers, the industry and charging infrastructure providers. Standardization will reduce build complexity for manufacturers, accelerate the installation of common systems internationally and most importantly, improve the ownership experience for EV drivers. Automakers point to the success of Level 1 and Level 2 (for 220V charging in the US) as an example of how standardization will increase the adoption of electric vehicles and increase customer satisfaction. Here in the UK, it is mode 3, type 2 from this point on.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

6,000 sign up to Paris Autolib

The Paris Autolib service has got off to a great start, with twice the number of people - 6,000 - signing up to its EV club rental scheme. It needs 80,000 members to break even though, so a long way still to go.

There are 250 Bollore Bluecars currently, increasing to 3,000 by December 2012 as the scheme rolls out. See video.

On the downside, 40 of the 250 Bollore Bluecars have been vandalised. Ouch.

Better Place delivers first 100 Fluences in Israel

Better Place has commenced delivery of the first 100 Renault Fluences to fleets as part of its target of 45,000 fleet vehicles in israel.

The company, valued allegedly at US$2.25 billion continues to raise funds, a total of US$750m so far.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Gen Y prefers plug-in electric vehicles

Researchers at Deloitte found 59% of Gen Y respondents preferred alternative power. 
Plug-In hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) won over 57% of respondents, and pure battery electric vehicles got 2% of the vote. In contrast, vehicles with a conventional power train were preferred by only 37%.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

EU 2m charge points by 2017

According to Frost & Sullivan research findings, Europe is expected to have approximately 2 million charging points, of which the United Kingdom is likely to have 390,000 by 2017. 

The UK is a leader in the provision for electric vehicles and is expected to have a majority of charging stations in Europe, followed by France and Germany. However, countries such as Norway, Belgium, Estonia, Portugal and many others are following the footsteps of introducing government subsidies, grants and discounts making EVs a smart preference.

The approximate investment in the next 7 years is expected to be 5 billion Euros with over 2 million charging points across Europe. The ratio of charging stations to electric vehicles is likely to decrease from 2.5 to 1.8 per vehicle by 2017. 

Friday, 20 January 2012

PSA - number 1 in EU EVs

Who would have guessed it? The top selling electric car in Europe in 2011 was the Peugeot iOn/Citroen C-Zero (two brands but the same car, actually both are derived from the Mitsubish iMiEV) with just under 4,000 units.

Yes, that is a depressingly low number, but it's a start.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Here comes Hiriko

The Guardian newspaper reports on the Hiriko project: the electric vehicle, developed in Spain, aspires to transform city transport, doing for electric cars what London's 'Boris' Bikes' have done for pedal cycles. The idea is that a local authority owns a fleet of Hiriko cars and rents one to people when they need it – for a small fee. Hiriko's hi-tech, on-board computers will mean that all the cars are instantly located by a smart phone, so they can be left anywhere, and the electric batteries mean they have zero emissions.
Both London's bike scheme and Hiriko are "public mobility solutions". Both are green transport. But the big difference between them is that whereas London's project involves a £190m contract to a private company, Serco, to supply and run the scheme, the European Union will adopt Hiriko's "social purpose" model. The car will be built exclusively in the deprived areas of cities that take up the scheme. And the technology will be owned by a social enterprise, with private sector companies often getting involved for free because they view the Hiriko as a test bed for the future – while Madrid funded the Hiriko project with €15m (£13m), Spanish company Maser-Mic spent €3m of its own money on the car's "sat nav" system. Each car costs €12,500.
The real insight of Hiriko is that it aims to change the way we live and do social good at the same time. It's worth noting that the first city to trial Hiriko will be Malmö, Sweden's third largest city. While Nordic countries are often cited as models of happy, equal, cohesive nations, officials in Malmö have long been concerned about the growing divide between the east and west parts of the city. It's not that Malmö is poor – the former industrial powerhouse has become a centre for architecture and design. But while the city has got richer, its social indicators have gone into reverse.
Civil servants were aghast to find pollution and carbon dioxide levels rising at a time when child poverty in the city was growing.
To generate jobs and clean up the city, Malmö's council will purchase three Hiriko cars to test the new form of transport. The idea is that by building them in Rosengård a whole system of support industries (such as designing apps for the on-board computer) will spread in poor areas.
Hiriko's creators believe it is a solution to environmental and social problems – bridging deepening social divides. After Malmö, the plan is to introduce the car in Berlin, Barcelona, Vitoria-Gasteiz (the second largest Basque city), San Francisco, and Hong Kong. There have been exploratory talks with London. "London would be a great city. It has the bicycle rental scheme, the congestion charge ... London's large, rich with deprived areas," says Carlos Fernandez Isoird, Hiriko's technical co-ordinator.
Hiriko's advantages are clear: whereas most companies have a short-term outlook, it sees a future transformed in 10 years' time. It's a "green shift" that creates jobs – breaking the link between economic progress and growing carbon dioxide emissions. This is one instance where Brussels leads, and Britain should follow.

Watch the demo video

UK electric car subsidies extended to vans

The UK government has confirmed that the Plug-In Car grant of 20% of the retail price up to £5,000 has been extended until March 2015.

At the same time they announced that the grant would be extended to include vans - the Plug-in Van grant - and be worth 20% up to £8000.

Friday, 13 January 2012

China eliminates sales tax on EVs

China is getting serious about EVs and has eliminated sales tax on sales of EVs from 2012, up to 5400 yuan 9approximately £550).

42 passenger electric cars have been made exempt from sales tax this month.

500 miles lithium air batteries by 2020

IBM are leading a coalition called Battery 500 that is working on lithium air batteries that they hope to be able to demonstrate in 2013 and commercialise by 2020.

Many vehicle manufacturers and battery developers are working on this chemistry, which although has enormous potential is highly combustible.

Fingers crossed.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

China: narrowing the quality gap

This data is for all cars, not EVs.

JD Power released its vehicle dependability study for 2011. The study indicates that, from 2010, Chinese brands made huge strides in quality…narrowing the gap with foreign brands. Overall, Chinese brands reduced the gap by 34% compared to their foreign rivals over the past year.

The vehicle reliability study measures eight categories of issues ranging from the power-train to exterior paint quality from 13-36 months of ownership. Figures are given in terms of Problems Per 100 Vehicles (PP100), thus a lower number indicates higher quality. China’s overall vehicle score came in at 218 PP100 in 2011, compared with 298 in 2010.

China’s own brands clocked in at 309 PP100, having decreased by 135 PP100 since the previous study.

For comparison, in the US Lincoln came top with 101 PP100.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Tata eMO electric concept

Not to be outdone by their noisy neighbours over at Mahindra Reva (see below), Tata will be unveiling their eMO (electric mobility) concept at the forthcoming Detroit Auto Show.

Like the Reva NXR, it promises a range of 100 miles / 160 km, and like the NXR there are no indications of price (and unlike the NXR, if it will actually go into production).

Mahindra Reva NXR EV launches in India

It depends how you look at it - several years later than planned - or - several years ahead of the competition. Whatever your perspective, the Mahindra Reva NXR was finally unveiled at the Delhi Auto Show this week. It is the second coming as the same car was also unveiled in September 2009 at the Frankfurt Auto Show, but then that's what happens when you run out of money and have to sell a majority stake in the company.

It has been a long road for Chetan Maini. It must be a huge challenge to bring an electric car to market if you are a global US or European vehicle manufacturer with decades of automotive experience. If you are a start-up in India well, then it is like climbing Mount Everest in sneakers.

A 5 door hatchback with room for 4 adults, the NXR will not be the fastest EV in production, or have the greatest range, or be the most luxurious, but when the price is announced in the next couple of months it will almost certainly be the cheapest full M1 electric car available to buy anywhere. It will be built at the new low carbon factory in Bangalore, itself nearly four years in the making, as part of Mahindra Reva's desire to build a complete EV ecosystem for India.

This is the production version of the NXR and it is better quality than the vehicle that was unveiled at Frankfurt. I can see the compromises in the show car, such as the steering wheel, which looks like it has come from one of Mahindra's tractor parts bins, but that is a discipline that Mahindra bring to the party. It is going to be a challenge for the Mahindra Reva marketing team to persuade a nation that buys on price to pay more for a car just because it doesn't have a tailpipe. I am sure they will learn from Tata's mistakes made when positioning the Nano as the poor people's car however and create the right context for the brand.

But it's easy to stand on the sidelines and comment when instead I should really be celebrating the outcome of many years of hard work and dedication. So congratulations to everyone at the company, I wish you the success you deserve.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

2011 plug-in vehicle sales figures & 2012 forecast

It is very difficult to find out exactly how many electric vehicles are sold worlwide each year. This is because either vehicle manufacturers are too embarrassed to report them, or because there is no single organisation tracking them.

However, my guess is that a little over 35,000 plug-in cars were sold in 2011, almost certainly more than in any other year.

Of these, 17,000 Nissan Leafs and Chevy Volts were sold in the US,Tesla sold a few hundred (at best) Roadsters, Fisker a handful of Karmas and Ford a few token Focus electrics. In China 5,655 battery EVs were sold, France sold 2,630, Germany 2,154 and Norway third with 2,038 and in the UK, one of the pioneers of EVs, just 1052 electric vehicles were sold. Nissan sold approximately 4,000 Leafs in Japan and other markets. Total around 35,000 units worlwide.

How many will be sold in 2012? My guess is we may see sales in the region of 100,000 units, 50% of which will be in the US, slow but steady growth in Europe, dependent in large part on the success of Renault with the Twizy, Zoe and Fluence, the ability of Nissan, Mitsubishi, Chevrolet (Vauxhall/Opel in Europe) and Ford to build on the 2011 launches of the Leaf, iMiEV, Volt and Focus; the likes of Reva in India, smart in Europe and Wheego in the US with their smaller vehicles; the Toyota Plug-In Prius, Scion/IQ electric and RAV4 of course; the Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid; the Tesla Model S and Coda sedans; the trickle of light goods vehicles such as the Kangoo and Transit Connect electric from Renault and Ford; a small but growing contribution from BYD and others in China; plus a handful of other to-be-launched plug-ins, mostly from smaller start-ups such as Amp and their Mercedes conversion.

Here's to a successful year for everyone involved with electric vehicles.

Update 3rd February 2-12 - Pike Research have estimated that there will be 257,000 plug-in vehicle sales globally in 2012.
Update 17 April 2012 Bloomberg reoport that globally 41,000 electric vehicles were sold in 2011.
Looks like I underestimated...we'll see. I don't see sales taking off until 2013 or even later, depending on prices coming down and affordable EVs being launched.

Here come the electric vehicles

Even though i don't expect to see sales of plug-in vehicles lift off properly for another year or two, I do believe that 2012 will be better than 2011 for sales. Why? More vehicles coming to market, which means a lot more noise in the media and the start of real competition for early adopters' hearts and wallets.

Here are the plug-in contenders for this year's motorists - can you name them all?