Friday, 31 August 2012

UK's Charge Your Car network to double in size

Charge your Car, the UK's first national Pay As You Go network (and a business I am involved in), is expanding rapidly to connect UK regional and local recharging networks together.

Transport Scotland is connecting its 500 existing charge points plus a further 250 charge points by March 2013, more than doubling the size of the Charge Your Car network.

The target is 10,000 public access charge points, all operating on a Pay as You Go basis and all accessible via free smartphone app that from April 2013 will enable EV drivers throughout the UK to locate, route map, instigate a charge and pay for their energy.

Charge Your Car is the second national recharging network in the UK. The other is Polar, a subscription based network of a similar size owned and operated by Chargemaster, one of the UK's leading EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) vendors. Charge Your Car does not own the infrastructure however. It provides a central charge point management system (CPMS) to which charge point owners and network operators can connect their charge points, promoting them as part of  a single national network to EV drivers, providing access, enabling them to charge for usage, and collect revenue. Charge your Car then returns revenues on a monthly or quarterly basis to charge point owners.  For charge point owners it is extremely cost effective, whilst for EV drivers it offers convenience, affordability and the ability to roam across the UK.

EVs in India: the power problem

As I look around the world and read about the challenges governments, organisations and companies face in attempting to create an EV ecosystem , India stands out from the crowd.

There are few places more noisy and polluted as a result of the internal combustion engine than India's cities. India needs EVs more than most, and the world needs India to need EVs.

How do you electrify transport however when there is not enough electricity for businesses and households. Every day,  five times the population of the UK (around 300 million people) go without power. In one day recently, this number was 700 million people.

The Indian government wants to put 6m electric vehicles on the road by 2020. Most of these will be two wheelers, perhaps 5m of the 6m vehicles. They have just approved a £2.6bn ($4.1bn, Rs23,000 crore) programme to get things moving.

My former company Mahindra Reva has just announced it will start work on an electric two wheeler programme (truth is it has been looking at this for some time) to support its soon-to-be-launched Reva NXR electric car. Now if they could access the huge experience and technology knowhow that exists in the UK to create a recharging network, and the government accelerate their solar and wind programmes, they would have the complete solution. Now that's a challenge.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Nissan on recharging

EV Update interviewd Olivier Paturet of Nissan:
EV Update: We hear a lot about ‘smart EV infrastructure’ these days. How does this idea translate in practice?
Olivier Paturet: This is a very important factor for us. We don’t want to add any strain on the grid. We’re far from reaching the type of EV volumes that would put any type of strain on the grid today, but for the future it’s something we want to avoid. What concerns us today is the experience of the EV user in the home. Charging at home is the primary mode of charging and the most efficient one. So smart charging at this particular point in time of deployment is mainly looking at home charging for the customer.
There are three main steps in developing the intelligence in the smart charging environment. Firstly, we’re trying to come up with a solution whereby the customer can take advantage of the best [electricity] rate available and disconnect the charging when the demand is at the highest point. In other words, the car and the house can communicate so that the user can take advantage of the best rates available. Secondly, we’re looking [at ways that] that the charging of the vehicle can take place while there is ample supply in the house.
Going forward, we’re also looking at implementing vehicle-to-home, which is an important step that was initiated in Japan. This bi-directional charging will bring a more intelligent charging infrastructure into the home. And once we’ve finally reached a critical mass of EVs on the road for the regions in Europe where renewable energy is progressing, then these EVs will provide the capacity to use and store the renewable energy that is being produced.
EV Update: An online survey by EV Update found that most readers think the AE J1772 ‘combo’ standard will become the norm in Europe, over the CHAdeMo's fast charging standard. Is that your prediction too?
Olivier Paturet: No, it’s actually a surprise to me. The view in our case is that one doesn’t exclude the other. What matters to us is the availability of charging points. The driving factor is the number of vehicles on the road. Most investors looking at one or other [of these standards] will be looking at how many customers there are to service and whether the revenue will be generated. Since we are first in the market, we have to make our way and make sure that the quick charging network is visible. I am sure that the CHAdeMO solution will be part of the picture.
EV Update: An improvement in battery technology is often cited as the single biggest factor that will create a breakthrough in the EV industry. Do you agree?
Olivier Paturet: What we find form our own research is that this range issue isn’t really an issue for our customers. Anyone who is using EV on a regular basis today would agree with that. In my view, a breakthrough will come from a broader consensus among the parties in Europe, especially when it comes to the deployment of zero-emission [initiatives] in city centres and cities in general. Our view is that we share a great deal of common objectives between metropolitan areas and our zero-emission initiatives. Most cities in Europe are facing an air quality improvement task, in terms of reducing CO2 and other pollutants as well.
If we are talking about a breakthrough, if we are able to seat around the table people working on air quality improvement as well as public health, and [get them to] share their experience, then this to us will bring a revolution in the EV industry. Why do we think that? Look at the example in Amsterdam. The basis for their success in the deployment of electric vehicles is air quality improvement and a broad consensus around this approach. That is what is missing at the moment. There is a sense that everyone is looking at their own corner of the industry. This isn’t helping. What’s helping is general agreement on direction in the longer term.
EV Update: Wireless charging has been tested by many OEMs now. How do you think it will affect charging deployment across Europe?
Olivier Paturet: Wireless charging will be part of the picture going forward, no doubt. We announced it in New York on one of our vehicles on the Infiniti model. So it will be part of the landscape. However, there are a few things we need to fix on conductive charging before we move onto inductive. One of the main drivers in my view will be the cost of the infrastructure. We started on conductive charging about three years ago and we created the environment for charging at home. In Europe, this has proven to be quite a challenging and interesting adventure. Even today, many of our customers don’t fully appreciate the value of conductive charging at home and the installation of a Mode-III box, although the price has come down significantly since we started. So I’m not underestimating the cost issue of installing any kind of charging infrastructure and convincing customers that this is the best way.
Having said that, one has to recognise that the convenience of inductive charging is very attractive, especially after witnessing the charging of EVs in winter in Norway and seeing frozen cables and so forth. So I think there is a good future for inductive charging, although there are challenges on the cost side of things.

Global EV sales to grow at 15% CAGR

Research company Global Information Inc is predicting that annual sales of electric vehicles will reach 130 million units sold annually by 2025. Trouble is, the figure includes light electric vehicles such as motorcycles and three wheelers, which are very popular in Asia.

Global Information’s report states that battery electric vehicles will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15% between 2011-2020 provided that government subsidies continue unabated. Consumer education, infrastructure, and high prices were all flagged as potential restraints on the market.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently analyzed how emissions generated from charging electric vehicles compare to gasoline-powered vehicles in the United States. The conclusion: even coal-fueled electricity is a cleaner alternative. Expect electrics cars to become even cleaner over time.
“By 2025, for 70 percent of Americans, charging their electric vehicle (EV) on the regional electricity grid would result in lower global warming emissions than even today’s most efficient gasoline hybrid, the 50 miles per gallon (mpg) Prius, up from 45 percent today,”

South Korea accelerates EV plans

EV Update reports: South Korea’s Ministry of Knowledge Economy has broght forward its plan to produce mid-size, all-electric vehicles from 2017 to 2014.

The ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with a consortium led by the country's leading automaker Hyundai Motor to develop the country's first mid-size electric vehicle for commercial use by 2014, in an attempt to secure a dominant position in the global market. The government plans to invest $65 million in the project, including building electric charging stations, an extension to an earlier grand plan of investing $342.6 million by 2014 on research and development for high-performance batteries and other related systems. The Hyundai consortium also includes GM Korea, the South Korean unit of US automaker General Motors, and Renault Samsung Motors, the South Korean unit of French automaker Renault.

Hyundai Motor developed the country's first compact electric vehicle, the BlueOn. It produced about 250 units in 2011 for public offices mostly. It plans to introduce an Elantra-sized compact electric car from 2014.

Kia Motors, Hyundai’s sister company, also aims to introduce an electric version of its Ray mini car in 2013, depending on Korea’s progress in building charging stations for electric vehicles.
GM Korea will produce the electric version of Chevrolet Spark mini car in 2013 for export to the US but has no plans to sell it in the domestic market. Renault Samsung Motors will supply its Fluence ZE electric car early next year to government organisations but has no plans to sell it at dealerships for now.

A lack of charging infrastructure is a major hurdle for the wide adoption of EV. There are many players in the charging infrastructure sector include KEPCO, Hyundai Motors, LS Industrial Systems, LS Cable, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Electro Mechanics, SK Energy, GS Caltex, Samsung C&T and telecom companies like KT, SK Telecom, and LG U+.

Infrastructure problems are a common issue for all electric carmakers in Korea. Currently there are around 1,800 slow/fast charging stations in Korea and most of them are used for Hyundai and Kia electric vehicles used by the Korean government.

The government plans to increase that figure to 3,100 stations by the end of 2012 and 150,000 charging stations across the country by 2016 to help boost sales of EVs.

Meanwhile, cientists from South Korea’s Ulsan Institute of Science and Technology are garnering attention for a new lithium-ion battery, which can allegedly charge up to 120 times faster than a normal lithium-ion battery. The researchers are currently planning a battery pack for EVs, which could be fully charged in less than a minute. The system relies on the use of Lithium manganese oxide as the cathode material. This is then soaked in a solution with graphite, which is then carbonised to create a network of conductive ways that run through the cathode.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Reva to sell 30,000 EVs per year by 2015

The Hindustan Times reports: Mahindra Reva, the electric car manufacturer from the stable of the $15.4 billion (around Rs. 85,431.5 crore) diversified conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), targets to sell 30,000 battery-run cars a year by 2015-16. The firm will start with rolling out 6,000 cars a year from its newly commissioned plant near Bangalore. With exports contributing a major share, Mahindra Reva expects to achieve full capacity realisation of 30,000 cars annually in the next three years.
“We see great opportunity in electric vehicles. Future mobility has to be clean, convenient and cost-effective,” said Anand Mahindra, chairman and managing director of M&M.
Mahindra Reva’s first four-seater electric car code-named NXR is ready for launch during the upcoming festival season. The company spent R100 crore in developing the new car and putting up a new plant which is platinum-rated by Indian Green Building Council.
Reva, which came into Mahindra fold two years back, sold around 4,000 two-seater battery-run cars in 10 years, out of which a majority of them were sold in 24 overseas destinations.
In India, the sales have been around 1,000 cars so far as the huge cost of batteries made electric cars prohibitively expensive — R5 lakh upwards for two-seater city drive versions. The non-availability of charging stations too dampened customer interest.
Anand Mahindra said the company will push for government incentives for eco-friendly electric vehicles. Delhi state government already offers 15% subsidy and VAT refund for electric cars. States such as Gujarat and Karnataka offer lower road tax for electric vehicles.
Mahindra Reva bets on the growing popularity of electric vehicles in developed markets such as UK, Australia and Norway. “UK is our biggest market We sold 1,000 cars in London,” said Chetan Maini, chief technology officer, Mahindra Reva.
“Electric vehicle penetration will grow faster in 8-10 years. Some reports say it will be 10% of global auto sales by 2020,” said Pravin Shah, CEO, M&M.

Green Illusions book ignites dust-to-dirt debate

In his book 'Green Illusions - The Dirty Sectrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism' Ozzie Zehner of the University of California argues that electric cars are not greener than conventional cars and that in fact they cause more harm, because of the carbon emissions in the manufacturing process. Zehner's argument is that previous calculations about a car's environmental impact ignores the impact of pollution in the manufacturing process.

Ricardo state that a petrol car produces on average 5.6 tons of C02 versus an electric car's 8.8 tons of CO2 in the manufacturing process, but that overall during its lifecycle the electric car was greener, 18.9 tons versus 30.4 tons for a petrol car and 27.6 tons for a diesel car.

So much for Zehner's book then.

By the way, check out the new Reva NXR from Mahindra Reva in India. This car is manufactured in the country's first Platinum certified plant for low emissions. Back in 2008 when I was working there we made a commitment to the all Reva cars being 'Born Green', that is to low carbon manufacturing and to measuring the dust to dirt (lifecycle) emissions of the model through the supply chain, manufacturing and operation, to end of life.

Here is a picture of the production plant, inaugurated today.

Catch up everyone.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Hiriko video

It's getting closer to production.... the brilliant Hiriko project.

Top speed 31mph, range 75 miles, selling to municipalities for city car shares.

A German perspective on EV recharging

Gareth Ragg of EV Update speaks to Tom Oefler, International Sales Manager at RWE Effizienz GmbH in Dortmund, Germany about electric charging in Europe.

EV Update: The EV charging sector is very dynamic, with lots of options on the table. What approach is RWE taking in Europe’s fast-moving charging space?
Tom Oefler: From our perspective, we see all the different situations in daily life where you’re going to charge. As part of our national platform of E-Mobility, we have home charging of course and DC ultra fast charging. We also have infrastructure partners, which covers charging at work and public or semi-public charging. The highest number of charge point for us is home charging [with 62,000 charge points expected by 2014] and at work 935,890 charge points by 2014]. The largest share of consumption – 80% - we think will be at home or at work. We see public charging on highways and semi-public charging in restaurants and shopping areas as the lower part of consumption, at 20%.

EV Update: Does RWE lean towards fast DC charging over AC charging?
Tom Oefler: We do understand the advantages of quick charging, with DC or 22kW AC charging. But from a grid perspective, these DC charging powers do put more stress on the grid than AC [charging]. We believe that - especially when you see parking times – there are definitely options at home and at work where charging of cars can be done more efficiently. There’s been some analysis done in Germany on grid loads at different charging levels where there’s no smart charging integrated. When you charge with 3.7kW, a peek will be reached which is much lower than when you charge with 20kW.

EV Update: How would you summarise your approach to smart charging then?
Tom Oefler: We see smart charging, or intelligent charging, as an opportunity to influence the charging process so as to accommodate or take into consideration either the renewable energy production, and also to look at the load or demand for energy in the grid in general. So when there’s high already demand, you’re trying to avoid charging your EV during that time and push into other periods during the day or the night.

EV Update: Are standards required to manage demand and supply needs for EV use going forward?
Tom Oefler: Yes, I think it will be crucial over the next few years as new standards are integrated into cars and charging infrastructure. Basically there are two standards at present. There’s PWM Signal [IEC 61851], which is widely used right now. This decides how much energy will be provided to the car, and how much energy the car asks for from the charging station. Right now the development in the second standard – IEC 15118 – concentrates on a bi-directional communication between the car and the infrastructure. The IEC 15118 is basically a negotiation between the charging needs of the driver and the grid. So when are the peek loads? When are prices high or low?
If you plan to influence the charging behaviour of the charging car and you do not charge the car in evening hours when demand is high anyway, then you need information from the user of the car to be able to know their limitation in usage of the car. Our main goal is to reduce the impact on the grid. So when there’s a lot of renewable energy, for example, we could influence the charging process and charge when there’s a lot of wind. That’s why we need this information [about customer car use]. Otherwise we run the risk of delaying the charging process because we are waiting for more renewable energy that has been forecasted during the night, but then the driver is leaving and his battery is not charged.

EV Update: When do you expect the IEC 15118 standard to come into force?
Tom Oefler: Well, RWE and Daimler worked on the very early parts – SCCP – where an automatic communication between the car and the charging point happened. That was the starting point of this IEC development. We expect IEC 15118 to be finalised and in implementation by the first half of 2013. It will be the basis for smart charging, from our point of view.
Our charging points – we are working on solutions for this POC communication. We do have POC in all of our smart charging stations across Europe, which number around 1,400. If everything is charged at the maximum, that gives us a capacity of 30MW, which already gives you some leeway to integrate renewable energies or to function as storage or flexible loads in the grid.

EV Update: A recent EV Update readers survey suggests SAE (80%) would outpace CHADeMO (20%) as the dominant charging standard in Europe. Do you agree?
Tom Oefler: Yes, I think CHADeMO faces some serious challenges. It’s quite a political discussion too. The German manufacturers are pushing for CHADeMO, and they have been quite successful at this. Technically, I think both will work. Ultimately it comes down to what will be presented by the OEMs.

India gets serious about EVs

The Indian Government has pledged an unprecedented financial commitment to the EV industry and will invest Rs 13,000 crore ($2.3bn) over eight years.

The investment has two goals: to incentivise private players into the EV sector; and to help the government save around Rs 27,000 crore in fuel costs (that's getting on for $5bn!).

This looks like an exciting opportunity for the EV industry in general in India, and in particular my former company Reva Electric Vehicle Company, now part of the $10bn Mahindra & Mahindra conglomerate. The picture above shows the Reva NXG concept that I helped to develop for the 2010 Frankfurt International Motor Show and is a sign of the potential for India to become a world leader in EVs.

The National Mission for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (NMHEV) will propose that banks offer loans to customers for purchasing electric vehicles to help boost EV sales, setting up R&D centres and tax benefits, to reduce the high cost of EV production in comparison with fuel-based vehicles.
The legislation will also propose that all upcoming housing complexes across the country have mandatory charging points for EVs, thereby insuring a working infrastructure to support new fleets of electric vehicles.

Now all India needs is a reliable, clean , power supply.


Mitsubishi total imiEVs: 28,000

Mitsubishi has announced it has manufactured 28,000 i-MiEVs in Japan since 2009 in the same statement that said Peugeot Citroen have stopped orders of the iON (the rebranded imiEV for European markets) and C-Zero (ditto).

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

US EV market to grow at 43% CAGR

A new report titled the Electric Vehicle Market in the US 2011-2015 fromTechNavio forecasts the Electric Vehicle market in the US to grow at a CAGR of 43.39 percent over the period 2011-2015.

One of the key factors contributing to this market growth forecast is the increasing number of advanced vehicle technology projects and the increasing growth of the Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure market in the US.                               

Thursday, 2 August 2012

France increases EV subsidies

Let’s hear it for France who have increased EV incentives to euros 7,000 for the purchase of an electric car and euros 4,000 for a hybrid.

Malta to offer EV subsidies

The government will be offering a 25% grant, up to a maximum of €4,000, on the purchase of electric vehicles (M1 category – meaning passenger vehicles comprising no more than eight seats), and it plans to reduce the vehicle licence from €75 to €10,  introduce preferential parking for EVs and install up to 100 charging points across Malta and Gozo.

It will cost €2 million and will be part-funded by the EU’s Life+ programme. Two calls for tenders have been published for the purchase of 24 electric vehicles will be used during the course of the project.