Monday, 30 April 2012

Tata to cancel UK launch of electric car

According to TheGreenCar website, India's Tata is believed to have cancelled the planned Indica Vista electric car launch in the UK. 

Tata started a limited production run of the Indica Vista EV in Coventry last March, with plans to use the first models as test vehicles in public, on-the-road trials. But according to a ‘reliable source’ the entire project is being shut down following technical problems, reliability and cost, mainly to do with the batteries.

A fleet of 25 models are still on UK roads this week, as part of the CABLED project, a Technology Strategy Board (TSB)-run public trial of low emission models in the West Midlands. Just ten further models are still thought to be in the UK, the rest having been sent to the crusher.

The Indica Vista was expected to be priced at around £25,000 after the £5,000 grant. 

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Norway EV sales rising rapidly

I reported a few months ago that Mitsubishi had delivered its 1,000th imiev in Norway. Now, Nissan have just done the same with the Leaf. That's what happens when the government removes all taxes on an electric car (and lets you drive them in bus lanes!).

The European EV capital - that'll be Oslo then.

Friday, 27 April 2012

An EV for under £6,000

For sale in 2013 for £5,600 across Europe, an electric quadricycle measuring 1 metre wide and 1.5 metres high, the 30 mph Volpe was styled by Zagato and is the brainchild of Italian Romano Artioli (pictured), former owner of the Bugatti and Lotus brands.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Denza EV brand announced

BYD and Daimler announced their joint venture Denza at the Beijing Auto Show. The first model is set for launch in 2013 and will be a premium luxury sedan.

Rimac Concept One EV

The stunning Rimac Concept One EV boasts an incredible 92 kilowatt hour LiFeP04 battery system, with 1,088 horsepower output and 250 kilowatt electric motors for each wheel. This Croatian-built electric supercar has stats that reflect its $980,000 price tage:  0 to 60 in just 2.8 seconds, 370 miles range and 185 MPH top speed (limited). When asked why they limited it to this, Rimac said “It can go 310 mph, but we can’t guarantee the passenger’s safety.” :-D

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Tipping point to mass scale adoption of EVs

Ryan Allway of Balqon Corp an EV and battery manufacturer says: Mass adoption of Electric vehicles might only be a few years away. The key to adoption of electric vehicles is the acquisition cost, infrastructure and range of the vehicles. Current range of most Electric Vehicles (EV's) in the market is equivalent to having a 2 gallon fuel tank. Although most of us do not use 2 gallon of gasoline in our everyday commute, we would all have a range anxiety if our cars had only 2 gallon fuel tanks. We would immediately demand gas stations are built near our workplace, shopping centers, airports and homes, before we purchased an automobile.

Similar is the case of range anxiety with electric vehicles. Lot of consumers, are not aware that we are only one generation of battery chemistry away from a six (6) gallon fuel tank equivalent. The next generation battery will also solve the infrastructure issues related to electric power grid. Imagine a 6 gallon tank equivalent EV, which would be equivalent to 250 mile range on a single charge, sufficient for EV users to come home charge their vehicles during off-peak hours. This would require much smaller home chargers that do not need upgrade of home infrastructure, and does not impact electric grid during peak hours. Similarly, businesses will be able to adopt EV's for distribution applications, charging their trucks, vans or other vehicles at their business facility during the night.

Mass adoption of this next generation of electric vehicles will result in investment capital moving away from innovation phase of EV's (and batteries) to integration phase of EV's. Flow of capital investment will increase towards construction of new manufacturing plants, hard tooling of components and assembly automation resulting in cost reduction of EV's below gasoline vehicles.

This scenario of rapid transition (within 10 years) to EV's has been proven before in the industry. Let us take for example the golf cart industry that started in 1954 where all golf carts introduced were electric powered. In 1970's golf cart industry transitioned from electric golf carts to gasoline powered golf carts due to lack of control and charger technologies. It was in early 1990's where solid state controllers and automatic chargers were introduced, leading to rapid reversal of the industry from gasoline powered golf carts to electric golf carts. Today, it is very rare to find a gasoline golf cart globally, resulting in over 90% of the golf cart market controlled by electric models. Today, not only electric golf carts control majority of the market, but also electric golf carts are 25% lower in price than its gasoline competitors.

Similar stories can be found in forklift, ground support airport equipment and industrial equipment industries. One thing common in all these industries was that the transition to electric technologies was very rapid (within 10 years), once the relevant technological issues were resolved. Another thing common in these transitions was that the price of  electric vehicles was always lower than the fossil fuel powered vehicles once some scale was established.

Most automotive pundits that predict demise of electric vehicles, fail to recognize that repeatedly consumers and businesses have adopted electric vehicle technologies once relevant technological issues are resolve. Electric vehicles are inherently energy efficient, lower costing and reliable when produced at certain scale. With lower operating costs of up to 80% when compared to diesel or gasoline vehicles, the adoption will be led by economics and not by environmental concerns alone.

Similar to computer industry, electric vehicle battery technology has doubled its energy density every 24 months. It was only five year ago, industry was using 50 whr/kg lead acid batteries and today 200 whr/kg lithium batteries are available at reasonable cost with prices dropping every six months. With promise of technologies such as Lithium-Thionyl Chloride at 750 whr/kg only 24 months away; and Lithium Air at 1100 whr/kg only 60 months away from commercialization, it is clear that the range issue will be solved shortly.

Due to efficiency of electric drive train, energy density of 2300 whr/kg would result in energy density parity with diesel fuel, which means 100% of the industry can convert to electric drive trains without any weight penalty. Considering improvements made in past five years in battery technology, it is certainly conceivable that during the next 10 years majority of the products will be electric powered.

Meanwhile car companies like Nissan, Ford, GM, Toyota, BMW continue to invest into propulsion systems and vehicle platforms that will reap the benefits of these innovations. Similarly companies like Navistar, Protera and Balqon Corporation continue a similar effort towards development of zero emission solutions for heavy and medium duty commercial truck and bus markets.

PlugSurfing expands real-time data coverage

PlugSurfing, an online community-based EV charging network, has announced new participation agreements with Essent, RWE, Nuon, and EV-Box.

The move expands the network's total number of charging points for which real time data is available to 7,000. PlugSurfing offers addition online information on location and payment data for a further 9,000 charging points in eight European markets. These include key EV markets such as the UK, Holland and Germany. Once members have charged at a charge point, they are then encouraged to rate the plug and leave feedback on their charging experience.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Global Top 5 EV countries

According to McKinsey, the top 5 countries for EV adoption as at the end of 2011 are:
1. Japan
2. US
3. France
4. Germany
5. China

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Average UK new car emissions down

Average emissions from new cars sold in 2011 in the UK stood at 138.1g/km.
The average must fall below 130g/km by 2015, then below 95g/km by 2020, in line with European Union regulation. The 2020 target may be changed, however, pending an impact assessment.

Technology improvements, coupled with changing consumer tastes, have resulted in a 23% fall in average CO2 emissions since 2000, according to the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders)

The SMMT said 46.8% of cars sold in 2011 emitted less than 130 grammes per kilometre, up from 10.6% in 2007.

New cars are 18% cleaner than the UK average, according to the report. They are also more frugal, delivering an average 54 miles per gallon of fuel, it said.

The changing consumer behaviour is closely linked to rising fuel prices, as well as to tax and insurance costs, which are higher for thirsty and powerful cars that generally emit more CO2 than smaller models.

So far, alternatively fuelled cars, such as petrol-electric hybrids or all-electric vehicles, have contributed relatively little to the overall reduction in CO2 emissions.

In 2011, just 1.3% of the market was made up by such cars.

The emission reductions have thus resulted mainly from improvements to the efficiency of petrol and diesel engines.

But to achieve further improvements, the SMMT has long been lobbying for the government to adjust taxes to encourage investment in new technologies and to offer consumers incentives to encourage them to buy more fuel efficient, less polluting cars

Coulomb hits 2,400 charging stations

California-based charging station manufacturer Coulomb Technologies has announced the completion of more than 2,400 shipments of its public and commercial charging stations.

The shipments form part of the firm’s ChargePoint America programme, which began operations in ten regions across the US in June 2010. The programme is funded through a $15 million matching grant from the US Department of Energy.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

2012 EV sales forecast

Time for a quick look.

According to Bloomberg New Finance, 41,000 electric vehicles sold globally in 2011. Checking my files, of these, roughly 27,000 (66%) were Nissan Leafs (select markets wordwide), and 8,000 (20%) were Chevy Volts. (US only). The Mitsubisi imiev/Citroen C-Zero/Peugeot ion chipped in with another 5,000 units (12%) in Europe and presumably the rest were Mitsubishi sales in Japan.

According to Pike Research, 257,000 electric vehicles will be sold in 2012. 

That's a 600% increase. Really?

I hope so, but I just don't see it. My guess remains 100,000 to 150,000 units. Prices - in spite of some reductions - are perceived to be too high, there are still no 'affordable' M1 EVs on the market (the Renault Zoe is launched this Autumn), and the media are schizophrenic in their reporting. US government funding has stalled, many of the startups are going bust, marketing budgets for new launches are being scaled back and it looks to me like we are still a little while away from take off.

When will that be? Perhaps it will be when the price of conventional fuel tips past the psychological price points. Here in the UK that could be £100 to fill up a tank of diesel or petrol (a 10% price rise at the pumps should do it), in the US it probably needs to hit $5 a gallon, so another 25% increase.

I'm optimistic about the EV market, I love the technology, I've spent nearly a decade in the EV industry now, hundreds of hours on this blog tracking and reporting stuff and listening to what the experts say. And besides, we have to get our emissions down somehow, even though we are in tough economic times. It's just going to take a while...

EV battery prices fell 14% in 2011

Bloomberg reports that the average price of lithium-ion battery packs for electric vehicles fell 14 percent in the past year as production capacity exceeded demand, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said. Batteries cost $689 a kilowatt-hour in the first quarter of 2012, compared with $800 a year earlier, the London-based research company said today in a statement.

Prices for batteries have dropped 30 percent since 2009.

Electric vehicles such as Mitsubishi's i-MiEV,Nissan’s Leaf and Tesla’s Model S require between 16 kilowatt-hours and 85 kilowatt-hours of storage, which accounts for about 25 percent of their cost, New Energy Finance said.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Record EV sales in US.

Americans are buying record numbers of electric cars as petrol prices climb.

GM sold just 7,671 Volts last year, below its goal of 10,000. But in March, it set a new monthly record of 2,289 for the Volt, whilst sales of the all-electric Leaf nearly doubled to 579.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

EVs tax free in Iceland

Iceland has added an extra inventive for EV buyers by exempting the first $47,000/ £29,500 of the purchase price of a new model from VAT.

EVs are already exempt from import taxes in Iceland. VAT on cars is currently set at 25.5%. The tax exemption will make most small EVs entirely tax free, making them price competitive with smaller combustion engine vehicles.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

27,000 Leafs sold.

Nissan have now sold 27,000 Leaf electric cars worldwide, making it the world's best selling electric car.

CEO Carlos Ghosn this week reiterated his belief that 10% of all new cars sold will be electric by 2020.