Friday, 28 June 2013

Tesla accelerates fast-charge network reports: Tesla Motors said today it will expand its network of fast-charge stations beyond California and the Northeastern seaboard within several months to a year.

Elon Musk, CEO of the electric-vehicle maker, said the fast-charge stations are being upgraded from 90 kilowatts to 120 kilowatts, meaning they will be able to return most of the vehicle's range in 20 to 25 minutes, roughly twice as fast as the Tesla charging time.

The upgraded chargers will be available within the next few months, he said. Existing chargers can return 150 miles of range in 30 minutes, or 200 miles of range in 45 minutes.
By means of perspective, a 120-kilowatt supercharger is delivering 60 times the power normally used by a suburban house.

Tesla's latest announcement follows several weeks of good news for the California automaker, which reported its first ever quarterly profit on May 8. Then last week the company paid off the $452 million balance of its federal alternative energy loan nine years early.
Tesla shares, which have nearly tripled in value since March 19, today closed at $104.95 on Nasdaq, up 32 cents or 0.3 percent.
The expansion is an acceleration of the plan outlined last fall by Musk, who projected coast-to-coast coverage by the end of 2014. When completed, the network will have about 200 charging stations, with multiple charging outlets at each station.
By the end of June, Tesla will have added stations in California, as well as coverage of routes from Vancouver, British Columbia; to Seattle to Portland, Ore.; in the Northwest and from Austin to Dallas in Texas. Networks also will be established in Illinois and Colorado. When that is accomplished, Tesla says the number of its fast-charge ports will be tripled from the current level.
Within six months, Tesla will have connected most of the United States and Canada, with expansion into Arizona, Texas, Florida, the Midwest and Southeast.

"It will also be possible to travel diagonally across the country from Los Angeles to New York using only the Tesla Supercharger network," the automaker said in a release.
By May 2014, Tesla fast-charge stations will cover "almost the entire population of the U.S. and Canada. … Model S drivers can take the ultimate road trip -- whether that's L.A. to New York, Vancouver to San Diego, or Montreal to Miami -- without spending a cent on fuel."

Tesla also is expanding the number of charging ports at existing stations. For instance, the station at Harris Ranch, outside Los Angeles, has grown from one port to 10, Musk said.
"If there are about 200 stations [nationwide], there are probably 2,000 to 3,000 ports," Musk said.
Musk has said the cost of the network is between $20 million and $30 million.
Each station will cost about $150,000 each if using the existing electrical grid, and an additional $150,000 per station if solar panels provide the electricity.
"When dealing with a car with a range of 200 miles, you will have at least two or three Superchargers within that charge range," Musk said. "We'll be at the 100-station mark next year, twice as fast as planned."

There is no charge to Tesla Model S customers. The stations work only on Tesla Model S sedans.
"We actually have grid storage going on at some of the [solar] charging stations. Stationary battery packs take in energy from the solar panels, and that stationary battery pack charges the Model S. It's capable of going completely off-grid," Musk said.
He added: "If the zombie apocalypse happens, you will be able to travel across the country using the Tesla supercharging network."

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Indianapolis to launch own Autolib

Many are familiar with Vélib, the huge bike-sharing program in Paris (18,000 bicycles and 1,200 stations!), but not everyone knows about Autolib, Paris' other shared transportation service. Instead of bikes, Autolib gives its members access to electric cars: There's currently about 1,750 of them (all Bolloré Bluecars), though the goal is to increase that number to 3,000 shortly.

The Bolloré Group has announced plans to launch a similar carsharing service in Lyon and Bordeaux... and now Indianapolis.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Mayor Greg Ballard, Bolloré Group, and leaders from Indianapolis’ largest employers, universities, hospitality destinations and civic organizations today announced that Indianapolis has been selected as the site of the largest electric car share program in the United States. Bolloré Group plans to invest approximately $35 million to launch an all-electric car share program in the city next year. The system will feature 500 electric vehicles and 1,200 charging stations at 200 car-share locations. The move marks the first time Bolloré will replicate the success of its Paris car share program outside of France.
They haven't said yet what the service will be named (it might not be Autolib, as the name doesn't quite translate -- the 'lib suffix stands for "libre", which means "free").

BMW confident, even 'cocky' about i3

Spear's reports on the BMW i3: How we laughed at electric cars. We scoffed at their cheap designs, utilitarian interiors and engines that sounded like they were made of plastic. We ridiculed their humourless creators, with their cardigans and polyester trousers. Who would want to buy a Flymo with four wheels? Har-har-har.
Well, we interrupt history — and the recession — to bring you the man who might, just might, have cracked the future of green motoring.
Ian Robertson is standing in BMWs Zaha Hadid-designed factory in Leipzig. In front of him is a car that doesn’t look like any other. OK, it has four wheels and a steering wheel, but the doors and roof are made of what looks and — knock, knock, knock — sounds like plastic. Transparent plastic at that.
Inside, the car is largely empty. There are just four seats and, with no drive tunnel connecting the engine in the front to the driven wheels at the back, the floor is flat. Turn the engine on and the car is silent, thanks to the electric motor. Is it a ghost car? Or a joke car? Quite the opposite.

The BMW i3 is, says Robertson, ‘the first of a series of mass-market electric cars. It will create its own unique market’. That’s quite a claim. In the past 50 years, only four cars have revolutionised the marketplace — and none is electric. Land Rover invented the luxury 4x4 with the Range Rover; Renault’s Espace created the people mover; the Toyota Prius established the petrol/electric hybrid; and the new Mini, also made by BMW, created the luxury small car.

Barge pole
What makes Robertson so cocky? ‘The i3 breaks new ground in technology, design, driver experience and ownership,’ he says. Most electric cars are merely conventional cars modified to accommodate bulky batteries, he explains. That’s one reason most end up looking — and handling — like fat, ugly barges. ‘Our i cars are the first clean-sheet-of-paper electric cars, designed from the ground up. They are born, not made, electric.’

The i3’s chassis is made of lightweight, reclaimed aluminium. The body panels and doors are super-strong carbon fibre-reinforced plastic, and the resulting lower weight means the car can run for longer on smaller, lighter batteries. The lithium-ion batteries are built into the floor, leaving room for a decent-sized boot. The tiny 170bhp engine — electric motors are half the size of combustion ones — is slotted in the rear and drives the rear wheels, hence no drive tunnel.
The result is a car that looks good on the outside and, thanks to its flat, low floor and high, see-through roof, feels much larger than it is on the inside. Putting the batteries in the floor creates a low centre of gravity, which promises BMW’s traditional sporty handling.

An i on the future
The i3 is not alone. Also alongside Robertson in Leipzig is the i8 electric sports car, capable of 0–60mph in 4.6 seconds and with a top speed of 155mph — performance comparable to a Porsche 911. More ‘i’ cars are being dreamt up in Munich — BMW has trademarked i1–i9. It plans to blanket all its ‘i’ models in a cocoon of connectivity and services. These range from customised home-charging to apps that locate local parking, public charging stations, even other modes of urban transport, such as bike rentals and BMW’s recently introduced car-sharing service, DriveNow. ‘We are a mobility company. We sell cars, yes, but we also sell mobility,’ says Robertson.
So far, so sparky. There’s just one problem. Consumers hate electric cars. Every single model introduced so far has flopped.

In the US, the largest and most important market, Nissan sold just 9,819 of its much-hyped Leaf last year, less than half its already modest target. General Motors shifted just 8,817 of its Volt in the first half of 2012, a fraction of the 45,000 forecast. Audi and Toyota are so convinced that electric cars will remain stuck in the slow lane that they recently scrapped plans to mass-produce any battery-powered vehicles.
The key reason electric cars aren’t moving is ‘range anxiety’ — the fear that the car will run out of power before it reaches its destination. The i3 has a modest range — just 100 miles — on electric power only. But Robertson says the car’s optional two-cylinder petrol-powered battery charger means it can travel 250 miles before it either needs new petrol or a recharge.
Another reason for the slow take-up is that, even with discounts and incentives offered by governments and local authorities, electric cars are expensive. That’s because batteries cost a lot to develop and build.

Emissions statement
How much will the i3 and i8 cost when they go on sale later this year? Robertson won’t say. Nor will he predict how many will be sold. ‘You’ll have to wait for the numbers,’ he says. The truth is neither he, nor anyone else, has a clue. What Robertson is certain of, however, is that BMW has no choice but to forge ahead.
New environmental legislation means that all car makers will have to reduce dramatically their overall CO2 emissions in the next decade, and electric cars are an easy way to do that. Also, BMW, like all car makers, wants to avoid being blindsided by a technology shift, as the music and publishing industries have been. If electric cars ever do take off, it wants to be ready to jump on the E-Wagon.
Robertson has invested around £1 billion of BMW’s cash in the ‘i’ cars, including buying a 16 per cent stake in a carbon fibre manufacturing plant near Seattle to guarantee supplies to the Leipzig factory. It is the biggest gamble BMW has taken since it bought Rover, which ended up costing the firm £3 billion when its ‘English patient’ died.
Robertson knows he will go down in automotive history as the man who made BMW’s second biggest blunder — or the man who made the first electric car motorists wanted to buy. He doesn’t have long to find out his fate. The first i3s roll out of Leipzig in July.

3m EVs per year globally by 2020

According to a new report from Navigant Research, the combination of rising fuel prices, falling PEV prices, and increasing availability of PEV models will drive rapid growth in this segment over the next several years. Worldwide sales of light duty PEVs, including both plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), will reach 3 million units annually in 2020, representing 3% of the total light duty vehicle market, the study concludes.

The limited availability of PEVs has been an inhibiting factor for growth in a number of large vehicle markets, including the United States, Germany, France, China, and other Asia Pacific countries. However, many of these limitations will be reduced over the next two years, according to the report, as new vehicles from BMW, Honda, Volkswagen, Hyundai, and others are launched in a broad range of countries.

USA: Suddenly EV demand > supply

Time magazine reports that electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Honda Fit EV used to languish on dealership lots for months. A pricing war with aggressive incentives and cheap lease deals has changed all that.
Last year, Nissan sold about half the number of Leafs it had anticipated, marking two years in a row of disappointing sales for the electric car pioneer. One of the factors holding the Leaf back from appealing to the masses has been the upfront price premium drivers have had to pay for the cars, when compared with similar vehicles that run on plain old gas.
But in early 2013, Nissan tried to cut the knees out from this part of the anti-EV argument. The automaker dropped base prices on the Leaf by $6,400 for the new model, making the idea of buying an electric car for under $19,000 a reality, when state and federal incentives are factored in. And once lease deals, tax credits, and gas savings are considered in the equation, word has spread this spring that it’s basically possible to drive an EV for next to nothing.
Nissan’s EV competitors have followed with compelling deals of their own, including $199-per-month lease specials for the Chevy Spark EV and Fiat 500e. Mitsubishi and Toyota have also dropped prices dramatically for EV models. As CNET pointed out, the Honda Fit EV might be the best offer of all: a three-year lease for $259 per month, with no money down, unlimited miles, a 240-EV home charging station, and auto insurance included. Honda’s previous lease deal was $389 per month, a price point that failed to get consumers excited.

But within days of Honda dropping the special lease price by $130 in early June, dealerships in California were sold out and customers had to compete to get on the waiting list for more, per the Los Angeles Times:
“It’s incredible, especially since we haven’t had any foot traffic or interest in the car in six months,” said Jeff Fletcher, sales manager at Honda of Santa Monica. “I’m not even sure we’ll have enough cars for the people on the waiting list.”
Last week, Honda issued an apology for not having Fit EVs available, and promised more were on the way. “We recognize that some customers have experienced frustration as they attempt to locate dealers with available Fit EVs,” reads a statement from Steve Center, Honda’s environmental business development vice president. “We sincerely apologize for this – though it should be only a temporary inconvenience. The good news is that more Fit EV’s are on their way to dealer showrooms.”
Low-price deals have also given the Nissan Leaf a boost this year, tripling sales of the vehicle in the first five months of 2013, compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, sales of the Chevy Volt—the gas plug-in hybrid that doubled the Leaf in sales in 2012—have been fairly flat thus far in 2013. Unsurprisingly, last week Chevrolet entered into the electric car price wars with a $5,000 cash back incentive

Naturally, all of these deals will help automakers sell some cars. But are these aggressive incentives good for business? At this early stage of the EV marketplace, automakers appear be to focused on getting consumers to want these cars. Dropping prices in such dramatic fashion will certainly drive up interest. What’s unclear, however, is the extent to which the automakers truly want to sell large quantities of these vehicles at cut-rate prices. Earlier this year, Chrysler CEO said that his company, which owns Fiat, will lose roughly $10,000 for each Fiat 500e sold, according to the Associated Press
While Honda says that more Fit EVs are on the way, the automaker doesn’t seem particularly interested in selling the vehicle by the tens of thousands—not yet anyway. For the time being, Honda is sticking with a plan to sell a maximum of just 1,100 Fit EVs in the U.S. As the LA Times put it, “there is little financial incentive to increase production” on the Fit EV because Honda loses money on each of the cars it builds.
The goal, it seems, is to drive up interest in EVs with price breaks and limited supply—and then hope that interest remains high even when automakers raise prices down the line. Hopefully, these vehicles will soon see improvements in driving range in the near future — most can be driven only for about 75 to 80 miles before they need a recharge — which would make them more practical and help boost interest further.

Lightning fastest motorcycle

Lightning Motorcycles has beaten the best gas motorcycles during the first 5 days of practice at Pike's Peak. Carlin Dunne on Lightning's electric superbike is 16.044 seconds faster than the second fastest team with French champion Bruno Langlois on a replica of Carlin Dunne's 2012 record setting Ducati Multistrade race bike. This is the first time in history that an electric bike has beaten top gas bike competitors on the same playing field. Lightning's Richard Hatfield says: “This technology will drive the future of racing.  We always knew what we had in the performance of our electric bikes but it takes time for the world to comprehend and accept a huge change like this.  It took 50 years for people to accept a car was better transportation than a horse.  Now here is the top rider in the world at this race, at the top of his game, putting his seal of approval on us by leaving combustion and going electric.”

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

EV batteries to last 27 years?

The GreenCarWebsite reports that scientists in Germany have developed a promising new lithium ion battery which retains around 85 per cent of its original capacity after 10,000 charge cycles.
That means that the battery would still be in good, working order after 27 years, even if you charged it every day. Chances are, the car itself will have reached the end of its useable life before then.
Developed by the Zentrum f?r Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-W?rttemberg (Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-W?rttemberg-or ZSW as it is known), the new batteries could have application as car batteries for electric vehicles or as power storage for renewables such as solar energy. The new lithium ion batteries also boast excellent power density at 1,100 watts per kilogram. For an electric vehicle this figure means short charging times and an excellent acceleration capability.
"After 10,000 complete charging and discharging cycles with a complete charge and discharge cycle per hour (2 C), our lithium batteries still have more than 85 per cent of the initial capacity," reports Dr Margret Wohlfahrt-Mehrens, who lead the research. "That also provides excellent prospects for a long calendar life."
Currently carmakers require batteries for electric cars to retain at least 80 per cent after 10 years, so the new batteries achieve a much better result.
ZSW's research was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi). Further research and development work is planned, to test the technology's implementation into large cells.

Solar car port for BMWi

According to The Daily, Solarwatt GmbH and BMW are teaming up to supply combined rooftop and carport photovoltaic solutions for future BMW i customers. The new Solarwatt Carport System will offer BMW i3 and BMW i8 owners an attractively designed solar-based electric vehicle charging plus household electricity generation system that uses innovative glass-glass modules (solar cell are encapsulated between two sheets of glass to ensure mechanical stability and durability).
Customers will be able to purchase Solarwatt products at the same time as they purchase their BMW i vehicle or, alternatively, to place their order over the internet.
Marcus Krieg, head of the 360° Electric project, explains: “This is the next step in the BMW i 360-degree package for customer-friendly electric mobility. With Solarwatt, we are delighted to be working with a premium partner for customized solar solutions who will cater to our customers’ high standards of quality and style.”
Through the 360° Electric program, BMW i will offer solutions for all aspects of electric mobility. Under this banner it has already entered into partnerships with Naturstrom, Schneider Electric and The Mobility House. These partnerships will support the overriding goal of ensuring that, by the launch date, the charging options for the BMW i3 and BMW i8 will include customer-friendly, sustainable and convenient solutions for home garage charging. All these partnerships are centered on the concept of sustainability. The BMW i3 will be the first electric vehicle on the market that has been designed specifically for electric mobility from the outset. Its market launch is scheduled for late 2013.
Detlef Neuhaus, CEO of Solarwatt GmbH, sees this approach as confirming Solarwatt’s own strategy: “Cooperating with the leading car maker and visionary supplier of electric vehicles and EV-related mobility services shows that our new systems offer practical solutions which will play an important role in future energy supply.”

Monday, 3 June 2013

Renault-Nissan approaching 100k EVs

According to, in a recent interview in France, Carlos Ghosn – CEO of Renault-Nissan – stated that he expected the Alliances cumulative sales of electric vehicles to soon exceed 100,000!
If this happen – and it eventually will, most likely before 2013 ends – Renault-Nissan will become the first automotive group to surpass that milestone.

Currently, the Alliances electric vehicle sales sit a bit above 86,000 units. Of course, the largest chunk of those sales belong to the Nissan LEAF at 62,000-plus units.  On Renault’s side, with 4 electric models to work with, sales check in at roughly 24,000.  The breakdown works out close to this:
  • 10,000 Twizy
  • 8,500 Kangoo Z.E
  • 3,500 Fluence Z.E.
  • 2,500 Zoe
Zoe will soon eclipse Fluence Z.E. sales though and could shoot to the top of Renault’s EV chart by the end of the year.