Saturday, 31 August 2013

S Korea's electrified roads


According to ExtremeTech.com, South Korea has completed the world’s first road-powered electric vehicle network. The network consists of special roads that have electrical cables buried just below the surface, which wirelessly transfer energy to electric vehicles via magnetic resonance. Road-powered electric vehicles are exciting because they only require small batteries, significantly reducing their overall weight and thus their energy consumption. There’s also the small fact that, with an electrified roadway, you never have to plug your vehicle in to recharge it, removing most of the risk and range anxiety associated with electric vehicles.
The network consists of 24 kilometers (15 miles) of road in the city of Gumi, South Korea. For now, the only vehicles that can use the network are two Online Electric Vehicles (OLEV) — public transport buses that run between the train station and In-dong.
Exact details of the system are hard to come by, but we believe that the power is delivered by cables that are around 12 inches (30cm) below the road surface. The power is transmitted wirelessly via Shaped Magnetic Field in Resonance (SMFIR), a technology developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) that essentially runs 100 kilowatts of power through some cables at a very specific frequency (20 kHz in this case), creating a 20 kHz electromagnetic field. The underside of the bus is equipped with a pick-up coil that’s tuned to pick up that frequency, and thus AC electricity is produced via magnetic resonance. Transmission efficiency is an impressive 85% thanks to the “shaped” part of the technology, which targets the electromagnetic field at the vehicle, so that less energy is lost to the environment.
The OLEV receives 100 kilowatts of power via SMFIR, while maintaining a 17cm gap between the underside of the bus and the road surface. Because each OLEV has a small battery (about one-third the size of the battery in a conventional EV), only small portions of the road (5-15%) need to be electrified. Further increasing efficiency and reducing the radiation received by other road users and pedestrians, the electrified sections only turn on when an OLEV approaches. (In case you do get caught near a strip of electrified road as an OLEV passes by, the level of radiation produced by SMFIR is well within the limits imposed by international EMF standards.)
Moving forward, 10 more buses will be added to the network by 2015 — and presumably there are also plans to add more stretches of electrified roads. The fact that only 5-15% of the road needs to be dug up and replaced might sound positive at first blush, but it’s still a massive undertaking in any kind of built-up area. Trains and trams might require electricity for their entire runs, but it’s much easier to install overhead power lines than to dig up a road.
Still, if we push the logistical issues aside for a moment, it’s hard to overstate the advantages of a nationwide electrified road network. You would never need to stop at a filling/charging station ever again. The design and engineering of cars would change dramatically, as large engines, fuel tanks, and batteries would no longer be required. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels would of course be a boon to the environment, too. The electric road would be a network in the computer sense of the word, too, potentially allowing for all sorts of vehicle tracking, autonomous driving, vehicle-to-vehicle networks, smart braking, and more.
It’s just a shame that we’re probably decades away from a nationwide electrified road; the installation costs, in terms of construction work and lost productivity due to traffic delays, would really be quite phenomenal.

Tesla Norway

QZ.com reports on Tesla's Norwegian venture. Just off the European E18 Highway some 210km south of Oslo lies an industrial park called Brokelandsheia. It is an unassuming cluster of a few hundred workers, a small collection of warehouses, a Statoil gas station and a 24-hour cafe and hotel called Cinderella. Next week, the Cinderella cafe is going to see a surge in business: It is the location of one of 6 supercharger stations Tesla has built in Norway. They will all be operational by this weekend. Tesla’s plan is to cover Europe with superchargers—fast, free charging stations for Tesla’s electric vehicles - roughly 200 km apart, and Norway is the first country outside the US to get them.



                                                    Tesla Superchargers in Norway
With its tiny population of under five million, remote location at one corner of Europe, and vast empty tracts of land stretching in a thin strip all the way past the Arctic Circle, Norway does not seem like the ideal place to start building a continent-sized network of chargers. For Tesla, the American electric-car company headed by Elon Musk, Holland, may seem more sensible. It is is barely 400 km from top to bottom, its terrain is almost entirely flat and it represents the highest sales of Tesla’s Model S outside the United States. It also the location of Tesla’s European headquarters. But Norway has the highest per-capita sales of Tesla, and indeed electric cars, anywhere in the world.




                                          Tesla owners in Europe 
On August 7, Norway received the first Tesla Model S delivered in Europe. Tesla does not release sales by country but the company’s Scandinavia spokesman, Esben Pedersen, indicated that Norway would receive over 1,000 deliveries by the end of 2013. (Analysts’ estimates are more conservative, forecasting closer to 800 deliveries.) That sounds minuscule compared to sales in America—California registered 1.097 Tesla cars in June alone. But the 4,474 electric vehicles (most of them cars) that were added to Norwegian roads in 2012 accounted for 3% of all cars sold in Norway. Nowhere else even comes close. In the US, 0.1% of cars were electric.

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2,500 new electric vehicles have been registered so far this year, according to Statistics Norway. Those numbers have picked up in recent years as makers of electric cars spot Norway’s potential.  ”Until only three or four years ago, very few models were available. Sales of EVs have been very supply driven,”  says Bjørn Gjestvang, who looks at the automotive sector at KPMG, a big consulting firm.
Tesla’s focus on Norway comes from the same root as Norway’s fascination with electric vehicles: an incentive system so generous that it seems almost financially unsound to not buy one. Cars are subject to a raft of taxes, including value added tax and purchase tax, which on average add 50% to the cost of a vehicle. Electric vehicles are exempt from these taxes. As a result, a Tesla Model S that is priced at $62,500 in the US, costs only a little more—roughly $73,000—in Norway. Without the exemptions, it would cost more than $100,000.

Moreover, electric vehicles get free parking, free charging, and can use the bus lanes. They are also exempt from road tolls and tunnel-use charges. As Norway builds more and better roads, a 250 km-route that once cost a driver on it $10 in tolls now costs as much as five times as much. The savings are enormous for those with electric cars. Bjart Holtsmark of Statistics Norway estimates in a paper under review by Environmental Science and Policy that an electric car-owner living in a suburb of Oslo would save over $8,100 a year as compared to her petrol-head counterparts. No estimate exists for how much this costs Norway as a whole.


Despite having grown rich through the production and export of oil and gas, Norway uses very little of the stuff itself.  Nor does it just give fuel away to its citizens, unlike many oil-producing countries. Petrol costs more than $2 to the litre, over twice the US rate and about 20 times what it costs in Saudi Arabia. All but 1% of the power produced in Norway comes from hydroelectricity, making it among the cleanest producers of energy in the world. The idea then is that electric vehicles can, with the exception of production costs, be entirely free of emissions.
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That is one reason for the generous incentive structure. Statistics Norway’s Holtsmark posits that Norway’s desire to have an indigenous automobile industry may also be a part of the legacy. The government set up a plant to domestically produce an electric vehicle, called Think City, in 1991. Despite the subsidies, Think City never really took off. It was declared bankrupt in 2011 and production has since ceased.
Despite having grown rich through the production and export of oil and gas, Norway uses very little of the stuff itself.  Nor does it just give fuel away to its citizens, unlike many oil-producing countries. Petrol costs more than $2 to the litre, over twice the US rate and about 20 times what it costs in Saudi Arabia. All but 1% of the power produced in Norway comes from hydroelectricity, making it among the cleanest producers of energy in the world. The idea then is that electric vehicles can, with the exception of production costs, be entirely free of emissions.

That is one reason for the generous incentive structure. Statistics Norway’s Holtsmark posits that Norway’s desire to have an indigenous automobile industry may also be a part of the legacy. The government set up a plant to domestically produce an electric vehicle, called Think City, in 1991. Despite the subsidies, Think City never really took off. It was declared bankrupt in 2011 and production has since ceased.


Norway’s incentive policy is not without its critics. They point out that the cars don’t really have zero emissions because Norway is linked to the European electric grid, which means that any extra hydroelectric power not exported by Norway is power that Europe will generate through dirtier methods.
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Others argue that by linking the bulk of subsidies to a kind of technology rather than emissions themselves, Norway doesn’t incentivize its citizens to buy more advanced cars with lower emissions. Indeed, the hefty cost of a new car might perversely encourage Norwegians to continue driving older, dirtier cars to get more value out of them. Only the purchase tax is linked to emissions; all the others are expressly for electric vehicles. (Denmark subsidizes electric cars but offers nothing to hybrids such as the Toyota Prius. The UK follows an emissions-based policy that in practice frees electric vehicles from road tax and congestion charges).
But perhaps the biggest criticism of Norway’s incentive policy is that it has encouraged rich suburban dwellers to buy second and third cars and to give up public transport in order to commute to work. The reason for this is quite straightforward: most electric cars now sold in Norway have a range of about 100 km. The Nissan Leaf, the best selling electric car in Norway, claims a range of 120km. That is not much in a country where the the two largest cities are nearly 500 km apart. Replacing a gas-guzzling family car with an small electric vehicle would be silly. Still, the numbers are remarkable: Residents of the municipality of Akershus, neighboring Oslo, bought 23 electric vehicles for every 1000 people. Asker, a village in that county, had more than 12 EVs per 1,000 inhabitants the previous year. Unsurprisingly, it is an affluent commuter village about 25 km away from Oslo.

Separately,  a 2009 study found that those with electric vehicles took public transport, walked or cycled only a fraction as much as the general population. Moreover, they drove nearly twice as much as the general population. The same study found that electric-car owners drove more and took public transport less than they did before acquiring the vehicle. Residents of big Norwegian cities are beginning to notice that their bus lanes are often full of cars. Though all sides of the political spectrum have agreed to keep Norway’s incentives in place until the end of 2017, the privilege to drive in bus lanes may be one early casualty.

Tesla is uniquely placed to take advantage of Norway’s market. It appeals to Norwegian drivers for several reasons. The Model S’s stylish design and superb safety ratings are among them. More important is its range, advertised at about 400km. “If you look what could be used as your number one vehicle, then it’s only Tesla which is in that area,” says John Thomas Sørhaug, who heads KPMG’s automotive sector in Norway. That is an attractive proposition for many Norwegians, and also one that has the potential to silence critics of Norway’s incentive regime for electric vehicles.

Tesla’s $73,000-price tag makes it far more expensive than other electric cars. Yet its size, speed, style and features put it in the same league as luxury BMWs and Audis—but at less than half the price. It is no surprise Norwegians are enthusiastic.

None of this has escaped Tesla’s notice. Last year, it employed five or six people in Norway. Today it has 30 and is still hiring. It has showrooms in airports and shopping malls. Service outlets are being established in Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim, some of Norway’s biggest cities. In other part of the country, Tesla service trucks will travel to the location of the car and fix it on the spot if the problem is not major.

Tesla is not the only one that has noticed Norway’s advantages. Sørhaug says 2014 will see many big manufacturers bringing EVs to Norway, “fully aligning” supply with demand. Electric cars in Norway are on track to make up 4% of all sales this year, up a third from 2012. The country is more ambitious yet. It is aiming to cut CO2 emissions to 85 grams/km by 2020, 10gm/km lower than the EU target. To achieve that, electric vehicles need to make up 7.5% of the sales by 2015 and 10% by 2020, says Gjestvang.

If that does happen, some incentives (chief among them bus lanes) are likely to vanish. That could change the equation for buyers, and indeed for manufacturers such as Tesla. But it will be fascinating to watch.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Two VW EV models to arrive in UK in 2014

FleetDirectory.co.uk report that Volkswagen will launch electric versions of the Golf and up! city car in the UK next year. The e-up! is set to arrive early 2014, followed by the e-Golf mid-2014.
The zero-emission vehicles’ electric motors, gearboxes and lithium-ion batteries have been developed in-house at VW and manufactured at the brand’s large component plants in Germany.
Volkswagen was expected to make its first step into the world of electric motoring with the e-up! but few suspected it to be backed up by an electric Golf so soon after.
The electric Golf will arrive in the UK from mid-2014
The e-Golf [above] will be able to cover up to 118 miles with its 24.2kWh battery fully charged. Its 85kW electric motor can churn out the equivalent of 115PS to allow a 10.4 second 0-62mph sprint with a 80mph electronically limited top speed. The e-Golf boasts impressive energy efficient using 12.7 kWh to travel 62miles at the cost of around £2.84p.
The four-seater e-up! [below] has a maximum range of 99 miles and boasts an 60kW electric motor, producing 82 PS and 210 Nm of instantly available torque, fuelled by a smaller 18.7kWh battery. It can hit 62mph in 12.4 seconds with a 86mph top speed.
The electric up! has a maximum range of 99 miles
With a kerb weight of 1,185kg, the electric up! weighs just 256kg more than its petrol-powered counterpart and costs £2.06p to cover 62 miles.
Volkswagen hasn’t confirmed how many of these electric cars it expects to sell to UK buyers but prices are expected to start from £14k for the e-up! with the £5k plug-in grant applied, while the e-Golf could cost upwards of £22k.
Automatic climate control with parking heater and ventilation, radio-navigation system, windscreen heating, and LED daytime running lights will feature on both models as standard.
Both electric cars will be officially unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show on September 10.

Volkswagen’s first electric cars in numbers

e-up!e-Golf
Battery18.7kWh24.2kWh
Maximum range99 miles118 miles
Electric motor60 kW / 82 PS85 kW / 115 PS
0-62mph time12.4 secs10.4 secs
Top speed86mph80mph
Torque210Nm270Nm
AvailableEarly 2014Mid 2014

BMW I Genius

BMW is launching a Siri-like artificial intelligence SMS information service to help promote and educate consumers about the i3.

The “i Genius” service will be promoted across BMW’s advertising for the BMW i3, which is due to go on sale in the UK in late 2013.

I Genius uses software that is capable of interpreting words, their context and sentiment to instantly respond to questions.
Consumers can text their questions for free and the system will instantly respond. If people ask a non-sensical or rude question, I Genius will answer with stock replies such as “I could talk about that, but I’d much rather talk about the new BMW i3”.

It is hoped i Genius, which was created by start-up London Brand Management, will help consumers make better buying decisions when it comes to choosing an electric car because they can ask questions at any time and at any location - rather than having to wait to call a customer service line or visit a dealership.

BMW group UK marketing director Chris Brownridge says the platform will help “exceed expectations” of consumers who are becoming “increasingly sophisticated” in how they choose to interact with the company. If successful, BMW will consider rolling out the service on marketing material around its other vehicles.

The partnership between BMW and London Brand Management is the first to come from the recently launched marketing technology accelerator scheme The Bakery. The Bakery is supported by the IPA, Tech City Investment Organisation and UK Trade & Investment and agencies including Vizeum, Havas Worldwide, MBA, Karmarama and KittCattNohr Digitas. Other brands on the scheme include Ab-Inbev, Heinz, Panasonic and Ideal Standard. 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Read this!

BMW would love to see a report like this from an i3 owner! I would like to share below an excerpt from a blog, written by a guy that recently purchased a Mahindra e2o, the second generation EV launched earlier this year in India. His passion as a convert to electric vehicles and the kind of cooltech experiences they can deliver shines through...

THURSDAY, AUGUST 15, 2013
Mahindra e2o - The beginning of a paradigm shift


Hello there!

       After not owning any sort of vehicle in my life (have lived 30+ years of it), I decided that its time to have some sort of option for personal mobility. So I decided to buy a car.

Most people buy a car just to satisfy a desire, once the desire is satisfied, they get pissed off with the rising costs of maintaining the damn thing and then crib about the sky rocketing fuel prices. Some people even take huge loans and once the desire finishes giving them their 'false happiness', they are stuck with their vehicle and see it as a big burden. I also know lot of people, who buy a car but use a two wheeler most of the time - pissed off with the sky rocketing fuel prices and high maintenance aspect of their oil based cars. Of-course the above is not true for people who are well off and don't care bout the price of oil. The above applies to our middle class.

I did not want to make the same mistake. I knew there had to be a better option. 
  • An option, where i would feel like using my car for a long time, rather than see it as a burden. 
  • An option, where i knew that using my car would not burn a hole in my pocket due to fuel prices and maintenance.
  • An option, which would ensure that i don't give my money to large corporations (read OIL).
  • An option, where i knew that using a car would keep the air in our cities clean.
  • An option, which would ensure i always have fun driving my car.
After waiting for months, The Mahindra e2o electric car was launched in India on March 18th 2013.  

Launch of  the Solar Powered e2o in Delhi
And I instantly knew that this was the missing option that our Indian public never had!!
  • It does not use oil!  Ha! Take that, u oil companies!
  • It does not pollute!
  • It uses advanced Lithium-Ion battery packs used even by top American and Japanese electric cars like the Tesla Model S and the Nissan Leaf.
  • It can run on the power of the Sun
  • You can always stay connected to your car using your mobile phone.
  • Its an electric car and has less moving parts than oil based cars and thus is virtually maintenance free
  • It uses Indian made electricity rather than foreign oil, which keeps my running costs down and helps my country.
  • It does not have an oil based engine, coolant system, oil filters, fan belts, exhaust pipes, transmission changes, oil changes, and nothing to do with oil, oil and oil!!  :)
So I decided that this was the perfect option and there would be great demand for this car. 

However, there were some barriers for lots of people.

Cost
The car costs Rs 6 to 7 Lakhs and judging by the comments on the Mahindra Facebook page, people were disappointed that this car cost so much. Most countries in the world offer generous subsidies to ensure people go electric and thus help them reduce their OIL import bill.  But our Indian government has no such scheme, although the 'National mission for electric mobility' was launched in January.

Costs!
Now the cost.  There are furious arguments bout the prohibitive cost of this car.  I agree and wished, Mahindra could have kickstarted this with more aggressive pricing.  A cost of 5.5 to 6 lakhs would have had more takers.
When i thought bout this, i realized that the e2o is one of the cheapest Lithium-Ion based electric cars in the world at the rate of $12000 to $15000. 
The Tesla Model S costs an approximate $60000.  The Nissan Leaf costs around $30000. The newly launched BMW i3 electric costs around $40000.
So here we had Indian engineering being delivered at the fraction of the cost.

The battery pack of an electric car is the most expensive component.  The Mahindra e2o has a battery pack that can store 10kWh worth of energy.  Apparently, Mahindra pays $550 per kWh for the Lithium packs.  So the battery pack itself costs around $5500. This amounts to Rs 330000 and thus the high cost. 
Also I would avoid comparing the e2o with the cheapest petrol based car - Nano.
People do this all the time and its wrong, as the e2o has way too many cool features to be compared to the Nano.  People make a table, compare the e2o with the cheap cars available in the market and make their point that his car does not give them value.
My argument against such people is that, if there is a comparison to be made - then compare the e2o with cars of similar class and then look at the savings.

So after analysing this important fact, I realised its okay to pay a premium for technology that was new and for a car that would help me save money every time I drove, due to the low running costs and virtually no maintenance. It would have been cool to have some sort of help from the government, but sadly it was not to be.

Range in an EV

Range
People would not like to pay Rs 6 to 7 Lakhs for a car which just goes just 100 kilometres and which needs to be charged. These are the same people who would willingly spend the same money on a premium hatchback like the oil powered Nissan Micra, Honda Brio etc. 
Why?  The only reason is that they could do 'long distance travel'. 
Now all of a sudden when people analyse the range of an electric car - everybody wants to go on road trips every weekend, everyone become road warriors - at least in their heads :)

What everybody ignores is the fact that, most people use their car, 95% of the times in the cities. Going to work, running errands, picking up people etc. 
I realised that by buying the e2o I will have to sacrifice long distance driving. Which I would gladly do and whenever I need to go long distance, I would take the train or use the bus or rent a gas car using the savings and the cash that the e2o is printing for me :)
An interesting point to note is that, the e2o is charged using a 15A socket. This means that i could still go on day trips to the mountains near Pune and if needed, charge the car in some hotel or dhabha as the 15A socket is very common. 
Yep. I could still make a nice day trip using the e2o.
Heck! I can even do Pune-Mumbai if Mahindra installs their quick charging system.  That would be cool :)

Dependence on the grid
Some people are even skeptical bout depending on electricity!!!  They fear that the grid will collapse and electric cars will get stranded!   That applies to OIL too, which by the way is a much more volatile commodity. 
Also electricity is generated in India. Whereas OIL is imported from countries that hate us!
Anyway people just want to make an argument for the sake of it and they make it :)

Man's greatest invention - Electricity
Now the e2o takes 10 units of electricity per charge. Suppose i charge say 3 times a week. That would mean 12 times a month = 120 units a month = Rs 480 (at Rs 4 per unit) just to operate the car. Compare that to Rs 5000 or 6000 people spend of petrol each month. 
The cost savings are huge.  Granted that prices of power too could rise, but we could always offset that by installing Solar Panels and run the e2o from the power of the sun for free.

See!! An electric car provides you options that don't exist with an oil based car.  With an oil based car, people are stuck/dependent on the Middle East, the Government and the oil companies.

Speed
Speed junkies crib bout the top speed of 80kmph.  But that is more that what I need and if I need to speed up and accelerate, I still can go fast. And by the way an electric car has max torque right at 0 RPM (revolutions per minute) and thus the acceleration of the e2o is quiet peppy when u step on the pedal.  An internal combustion engine cannot give you max torque at 0 RPM.

Battery Replacement
Yes, I will have to spend around Rs 1 Lakh (current rate) on a new Lithium-Ion Battery pack after 4-5 years.
This is a big amount and is something to be thought about. However battery technology is evolving pretty fast.And the cost of the batteries have dropped dramatically. They have dropped in half in the last 4 years.  Experts in the field say that they will drop further in the next 4 years.Here's a nifty little idea which would put to bed, this worry. 
Anyone buying an e2o, can create a recurring deposit of Rs 2000 every month and thus use the interest got from a bank to pay for the battery pack :)

Reliability of the e2o
There is a valid question asked by people.  How reliable would this car be?  As it's the first car released by Mahindra Reva. It's basically a version 1.0 product.
I did some research and found that not be to true.   
The concept for this car was developed way back in 2009 and was displayed in the 2009 Frankfurt auto show.
The e2o's predecessor was the Reva which was sold worldwide. So its not as if the e2o is a V1.0 version of the car. There have been lots of customer insights from Reva users and feedback has been received and implemented here in the e2o.
So there should be no worries bout the reliability of e2o as its built on the Reva Platform.

It's a green world with the Mahindra e2o
So having analysed the shortcomings, the costs, the barriers, I realised this car is perfect for me and i would go for it.  I waited for months hoping that I would get the benefit of a subsidy from our government.
But once I saw no action from our lethargic government, I just went to the dealership - took lots of test drives, loved it and booked it.  :)

I got the yellow e2o after a month of waiting. I went to the dealer with a friend and saw the shiny new e2o getting ready for puja and prayers.  It's a nice touch by Mahindra to ensure that all their dealers perform a ritual/prayer for Lord Ganesh - the remover of obstacles.

OK now we discuss my experience of using the e2o during the first month.  I shall call the car - EVA. 
As that's what I named her :)
  • First thing u notice, how quiet EVA is.  She really is quiet, especially when the AC is turned off.
    That is because there is no engine noise.  You hear a faint whine of the electric motor. 
  • You step on it then you observe that there is good acceleration due to the instant torque but you don't feel the vibration and they don't hear the noise. Its just a smooth acceleration.  All EVs are like this and I was pleasantly surprised that the e2o was this silent.
  • The Range estimation is very accurate provided we stick to using the 'F' (Forward) mode and not accelerating in an inefficient way.
    For example we traveled from Baner to Amanora Town Center in Pune - a distance of 22 km.  The charge on EVA while starting was 98km. We drove with the AC on all the time and FM radio playing.
    When I got back the range left was 50km. So it used up 48km worth of energy for a distance of 44km.  It consumed 4km worth of range for the AC and the electronics.
  • EVA is such a pleasure to drive with the automatic transmission especially in stop and go traffic.
  • Very good braking system. We got down from 60 to a virtual standstill in bout 4 seconds.
  • We reached a top speed of 84 kms in the Mumbai-Pune Old Highway. Unlike the Internal Combustion Engine cars, EVA does not make any fuss/noises when stretched to its limits. That's because there are no moving parts apart from the motor.
  • I hardly use the Boost mode. I stick to Forward most all the time, I only use the Boost mode if i need to go beyond 65kmph.  The Forward mode is more economical.
  • All u need is a 15A socket to charge her.
  • A techie's dream - 7 inch touch screen - GPS Navigation, iPod, USB, SD Card, Bluetooth, DVD, Reverse Camera, Mobile phone integration - even luxury sedans don't have these features. 
  • Almost 0 maintenance vehicle. All we need to change is brake oil and tire checkups once a year. Also the Mahindra Authorized Service guy told me to better to check for air pressure of 35 ps. Its better add some air once a month in the tires.
  • No Power Steering. The lack of power steering is not noticed when changing lanes or slowing down during a turn etc. But its noticed when at lower rev's.
  • Scratch & Dent proof body - a plus in Indian chaos.
  • An all digital car - where EVA gets various software upgrades that can give added functionality in the future. This again is a first.  Your car grows with age :)

Smartphone Integration - Ensures user is always connected with the car

Here are some frequently asked questions and hopefully I can answer them.
  • Will we get the entire 100km as range in the e2o?
    Yes. If you don't use the climate control and drive using the 'F' (Forward) mode and not using 'Boost' mode often. Also step on the accelerator gently instead of pushing it hard. This will ensure gradual release of electrons that move between the Cathode and Anode, rather than forcing them to move fast through the electrolyte, which results in loss :)
  • Is 100km range enough?
    It depends.  In a city like Pune its perfect, as i can traverse the length & breadth of the city and still have some juice left on me.  In bigger cities - you might have to charge the car to get back.
    But trust me - 100km is a fairly large distance.  And this will work for lots of users.
  • Have u really gotten in a situation where u run out of range and u r stuck?This would never happen, as i know the exact distance of my journey and i plan ahead for it. If am doing a 60km ride, i ensure that i fully charge the batteries.  Well, even if you are stuck, there is this cool REVIVE feature where Mahindra will remotely activate some power for you to go on.  Its clever move by Mahindra to preserve the life of a battery pack as Lihium-Ion batteries don't like to be deep discharged.
That's all I could think off.  Feel free to ask more questions and I shall answer them, if I can.

So there you have it folks, EVA is quirky, quiet, does not pollute and is electrifying :)

EVA - Center of attraction

She is the centre of all attraction. Everybody asks questions / looks at her. 
My friend - Dude who was a complete EV cynic has now made a 180 degree turn after enjoying the EV experience.  It was eye opening experience for him. And is considering buying an e2o.
You hear stories like this all the time in the EV world.

Dude - An ex EV cynic totally floored by EVA :)

What it takes for people to get interested in these vehicles, is a test drive. Once they get on the car - step on it then they see that there is good acceleration due to the instant torque but they don't feel the vibration and they don't hear the noise. Its just a smooth acceleration.  

Then they realise that - 
"Oh My God! This is a good car!"

Then u can start telling them bout the social implications like  - there is no war for electricity, there is no pollution, u r not sending money out of your country then they realise that this is a life changing vehicle.
With all the troubles we have in the world - How the banks and large corporations (OIL) are hoarding money. All of us give them the money. 
Electric car owners stop giving them the money. The electric car owners pays a little bit to the utilities and they spend the money on things they want to buy and thus vitalising our local economy.

Instead of sending 150 Billion $ on imported oil each year we keep the money here and keep our wealth in India.

When production ramps up in the future, when we have multiple companies launching electric cars - am sure the electric car will be on everyone's thoughts! 

For now, am happy to be part of this revolution.


What a wonderful world :)

UPDATE - 08/23/2013
I keep learning cool things bout EVA. 

Scenario 1
I went to get some groceries and got back home. I parked EVA in my parking lot, I lock her and head to the elevator. As I was waiting for the elevator to come down. I get an SMS from Mahindra... It was EVA! 

The message read as follows
23rd August 2013 - 20:05 hrs.  Did you forget to pull the hand brake? Always pull up the hand brake before you exit the car.

Scenario 2
The other day I went down at 11:45 PM to charge EVA as she was low on juice. I instructed the watch man who stays awake all night, to switch the plug off after 3 AM. As I knew EVA would have got fully charged by then and its no good keeping the current flowing. The watchman did as instructed and switches off the power.
I wake up at 7AM and see this Text message in my inbox... It was from EVA!

The message read as follows
21rd August 2013 - 03:05 hrs. The car is fully charged and the power was turned off.  But the charge plug is still plugged into the socket.  Do unplug the charging cable from the car's socket.

Scenario 3
 I got back from work and I parked EVA in my parking lot and head to the elevator.  As I was waiting for the elevator to come down.  I get an SMS from Mahindra... It was EVA again! 

The message read as follows
22rd August 2013 - 19:35 hrs.  Did you forget to lock your car? No worries - Use your mobile phone to lock the car.

This kind of self awareness and prompt communication is unheard off in any Indian car. EVA is truly self aware and is clever.  Every user mistake or an anomaly detected in the car is recorded and sent to the Mahindra servers and the back-end system automatically updates the user on issues. 


Now this is COOL :)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

EVs take 1.1% of California car sales

EV sales have cracked the whole-digit mark for the first time in the US. Battery electric vehicles accounted for 1.1% of new vehicle sales in California in the first half of 2013, according to California Auto Outlook, a publication of the California New Car Dealers Association.

Hybrids took 7% of the market, up from 6.2% in 2012, while plug-in hybrids scored 0.7%. That’s a total of 59,300 hybrids, 5,736 plug-in hybrids and 9,708 EVs.

Toyota remains the leading brand in the Golden State, with an 18.5% market share, and the Prius family is the top-selling model. Honda came in a distant second, with 11.8%, followed by Ford with 11.7%.

Total light vehicle sales were up 12.5% in California compared to 2012, and up 7.7% in the US market as a whole.


Tesla sold 4,714 units of the Model S in California in the first half of 2013, representing about 52% of its deliveries worldwide. Model S was the third best-selling brand in the luxury and sports segment, bested only by the Mercedes E-Class and the BMW 5 Series.

Tesla Model S charging system for Europe

MyLifeNow reports on Tesla's European charging strategy:

Tesla Motors recently started selling its Model S in Europe.


As Elon Musk stated at Geneva Motor Show, the European Model S is equipped with a different charging inlet than in the US, because it needs to handle 3-phase that’s popular in Europe.

Q: Definitive answer on the charge-plug on the EU versions?
A: Mennekes Type 2

In fact, Tesla adopted the Mennekes Type 2 charging port, but reinforced it for higher power needed for Supercharging.

According to Mennekes, the standard Type 2 can handle up to 43 kW AC (3-phase), 70 kW DC and about 100 kW with additional DC pins.

Tesla used a version without additional pins, so 70 kW was too low for SC.

How much current will the European Model S plug and inlet handle now? We’re still unsure, but we’re assuming it’ll probably be comparable to the Model S in the US.

The same inlet will be of course used for AC charging via an on-board 10 or 20 kW charger. Both three phase.

Model S owners will be able to charge from any Type 2 points without adapters in Europe, and from 1- and 3-phase via adapters.

Sadly, at least for now, Model S owners will not be able to charge from CHAdeMO or CCS.


In other words, in terms of DC charging, Tesla go its own way as it does now in the US.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

US EV cities top 5

Wired.com report a stat that should surprise absolutely no one. More than half of all electric vehicles in the U.S. are silently running around five major cities.
According to the auto industry wonks at R.L. Polk, 52 percent of EVs in the country are based in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. 
The breakdown is just as predictable, with San Francisco accounting for 19.5 percent of EV sales or leases, followed by LA with 15.4 percent, Seattle at eight percent, NY at 4.6 percent, and Atlanta bringing up the rear at 4.4 percent.
The reasons for the EV domination in big cities are obvious. Aside from a more robust charging infrastructure, in California there are numerous tax cuts — both at the state and local level — for EV drivers, and combined with HOV lane access, the incentive to go electric is strong. Access to carpool lanes is also available in Georgia (one reason Atlanta makes the list) and New York, where EV drivers can get a sticker to access the 40-mile stretch of the Long Island Expressway that leads into NYC.
Then of course, there’s the range issue. With the exception of the Tesla Model S, all EVs on sale today can barely break the 100-mile mark on a single charge, making them more suited to urban environments, running around cities, and commuting. A more progressive mindset doesn’t hurt, but it’s obvious that incentives are a major driver of EV adoption. And more states need to realize that.

Shai Agassi talks EVs


Shai Agassi (Better Place) on lessons the EV manufacturers can learn from Tesla: 'A recent flurry of articles reported Steve Girsky’s disclosure of GM’s new secret team, tasked with studying EV maker Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk. There is probably no one better than Girsky, GM’s current vice chairman and a former leading automotive analyst on Wall Street, to study and understand the threat and opportunity that Tesla represents for the car industry. Tesla’s $15B+ market cap demonstrates that the stock market is betting on Tesla’s potential to take a significant share of the broader car market, not just luxury cars.

If those analysts are right, GM shouldn’t be the only company worried about Tesla’s future plans. The entire car industry should probably study Tesla, to understand if and how it plans to take such market share from all current incumbents. Assuming they will all learn the same underlying secret, what car will they make after they finished their collective hypothetical study?

Some of the most serious reporters concluded that Mr. Musk should throw his doors open and share all his secrets with the current carmaker. Tesla had already partnered with both Toyota and Daimler, so one should assume they shared some secrets with those market leaders. The reasoning concluded that companies like GM would not be able to replicate anything resembling Tesla’s great achievements due to different culture. The point is lost on most people that mass-market carmakers should probably never try to repeat Tesla’s model – in making cars or in business model. What works for Tesla will not work for GM, and most likely be value destructive for any mass-market incumbent.

But the car markers can learn a lot from such a study. Imagine for a second that car companies are like yachts racing in the ocean. While the entire industry represent yachts jostling for position along a similar course, Tesla’s catamaran diverged from the pack, and all of a sudden seems to be gaining tremendous speed. If Captain Musk allows you to peek onto his boat and monitor his instruments you should also take advantage to learn the ocean currents and wind pattern he’s mapping along the course. Their underlying assumptions are more interesting than the shape of their car. Their battery business assumptions are just as interesting as the shape of their battery pack.

Those carmakers producing 1M+ cars per year should not attempt to build Tesla’s current or even future car. That won’t make a difference to any of them, even if it may annoy Tesla. While most of them most likely already drove and even tore apart a Tesla Model-S, they will likely learn more from reading Tesla’s P&L than they would from the car’s engineering. And I say so with the utmost respect to JB Straubel’s engineering achievement at Tesla. Understand the economics underlying Tesla, and design a better mass produced GM, Ford or Hyundai car for the masses. Produce a car that can change the market in 2017 and capture a bigger share of the profits in the competitive car industry. Do so by aiming to beat all other gasoline cars, not by competing with Tesla’s next luxury sedan.

Lessons from Tesla
So, what will industry learn when their teams analyze Tesla:
1) An electric car is an object of desire: First and foremost, Tesla is selling cars to people who love the experience of owning and driving the Model-S. Instead of deciding on “what environmentalists will be willing to give up to drive electric”— such as having only two seats in the back of an odd shaped car — Tesla decided to build a car that supersedes all buyer’s expectations. Musk knows that every customer who bought a Tesla Model-S becomes a sales person to a community of like-minded people.
The lesson: Your next electric car should offer more of a car for less cost than comparable gasoline cars…not the other way around. Let’s just say that $30,000 mini-car is not a great deal for most of the population; a brand new quality crossover for $10,000 is a great deal.

2) An electric car is a modern appliance: But like BMW said during their i3 EV launch, it is more like a cell phone than a refrigerator. The modern EV will be constantly upgraded, see Tesla’s constant software updates and extend that to upgraded physical components. When you design its battery, remember that your average smartphone lives for 3 years at most in your pocket, an EV should drive on roads for more than 20 years. If you remember what batteries were like 20 years ago (hint: “Motorola Brick”), you can understand how it would feel to own the same battery offered today in a car 20 years from now.
The lesson: Design a car that provides car buyers with the possibility of upgrading both battery and software, while retaining the car. Such a possibility will enhance the resell value of cars, and in doing so could drastically reduce the monthly lease new buyers will face at the dealership.

3) An electric car is Moore’s Law on wheels: Mr Musk said in a recent analyst call that he sees the price for batteries dropping under $200 per kwh in “the not-too-distant-future” vs $500 per kwh when the roadster shipped 5 years ago. Other industry experts agree that the cost reduction trend will continue at a pace of roughly 8% less per year. At that pace, $100/kwh is just a question of time – 8 years after $200/kwh to be exact. Batteries are “Exponential Technology” – they benefit from reduced cost, improved storage and longer life with every generation, all of which are compounding year over year. Exponential technology is the most disruptive force that hits incumbent industries. Don’t believe me, ask Peter Diamandis at Google who compared it with “asteroids hitting dinosaurs”.
The lesson: Carmakers should design the next EV assuming exponential improvement in battery technology, not in denial of that inevitable curve. Plan for range target that is at least 200 miles, and much like Apple, remember that as your sales volumes will grow, the battery pack will gain in range and reduce in price. So average your future cost estimated down heavily and plan for profits to come after volume goes up the s-curve instead of focusing all your calculations on the first batch of cars. Those $100/kwh batteries that seem impossible today, are just as real as the $200/kwh batteries everyone said we will never see – inevitable given enough time.

4) An electric car drives — and sells — differently: Tesla skipped over the dealer model, preferring to sell a highly differentiated car directly to customers in their owned and branded stores. Tesla avoided the conflict that mixed EV & ICE dealers experienced: Dealers simply can’t be expected to invest heavily into creating demand for a new product category. The temptation of converting walk-ins, who are mostly curious non-buyers, into good old car sales is as big as the current car inventory waiting in the front lot. Letting mixed gasoline/EV dealership sell new EVs will inevitably end up with mixed results – some will be fantastic change agents, but others will not even have a charge spot to charge the EV as mandated by Detroit or Tokyo. The key issue is lack of consistent customer experience, which is the definition of brand. That, together with the high cost for channel training and constant re-training makes wide and distributed channel a killer for any new category introduction.

The lesson: If you launch a new category, consider very seriously launching it under a new brand with a whole new experience. Direct sales will allow incumbent carmakers not only to control its brand experience; it also translates into a lower per-unit cost of sales once volume starts to pick up. Ask Apple…when you have a differentiated product, you want a differentiated destination store for people to come and experience it. If you do it right, the retail value per square foot beats the rest of the industry – by a mile!'

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

BMW i3 fantasy

InsideEVs.com has someone playing with their photoshop.

What the BMW i3 electric sport could look like...


Monday, 12 August 2013

Are we starting to see a split in the EV market?

ElectricForum.com report that over the last few weeks we have seen some significant movement with regards to the price of electric vehicles in the US amid signs that polarisation of industry is beginning. We have the likes of GM, Nissan, Toyota and an array of other electric vehicle manufacturers looking towards the volume end of the market while Tesla Motors and BMW, to name but two continue to dominate the luxury end of the electric vehicle market.

Some experts believe that we will see mass-market penetration by 2017 although it seems as though some EV manufacturers are looking to position themselves for an entry into the mass market in the short term.

Luxury brands at luxury prices
If you look at the luxury end of the electric vehicle market the names of Tesla Motors and BMW are the two which jump out at you straight away. Despite the fact that we have seen price reductions with regards to the Nissan Leaf, Toyota Fit and the Chevrolet Volt EV hybrid there has been little or no movement with regards to the price of Tesla and BMW electric vehicles.

Recent statistics suggest that the ever popular Tesla Motors Model S is selling around 1500 units a month at the original price of $70,000. The BMW i3 was only just released to the market although there is little sign of the company reducing its price to increase sales. The reality is that the likes of Tesla and BMW have made a living on luxury prices for luxury products and a reduction in the price of their latest electric vehicles would have a detrimental impact upon their reputations. These types of vehicles are not aimed at the volume end of the market and despite the fact that Tesla plans to introduce an affordable EV by 2017, it will for the time being be regarded as a luxury electric vehicle manufacturer.

Volume sales at reduced prices
There has been much discussion with regards to the likes of the Nissan Leaf, Toyota Fit and more recently the Chevrolet Volt with some experts suggesting that these vehicles are loss-making at this moment in time. The fact is that of the underlying parent companies have set their stalls out to attract volume sales at reduced prices and while there may be short-term losses until the electric vehicle market penetrates the mass-market, they seem willing to take on this added burden for now.

It is difficult to forecast with any great confidence when the electric vehicle market will penetrate the mass-market but the signs are already there, a polarisation of the market between the volume end and the luxury end and price adjustments across-the-board. Many of the future volume electric vehicles will not only see an improvement in margins for high-volume but there will also be efficiency savings and reduced technology expenditure. This is what makes the market, offerings from the volume end right the way up to the luxury end with companies emerging to fill in the gaps.

Are we on the verge of a price war?
In traditional markets you would suspect there was a price war around the corner but the electric vehicle market is not quite running at full capacity at the moment. Many of the companies operating in the electric vehicle industry have significant excess capacity available as and when the industry goes mass-market and while prices have been reduced on some of the more popular vehicles, a price war to any great extent would not help the industry or the individual manufacturers just now.

It will be interesting to monitor the price of all electric vehicles in the coming months and the price of new entrants to the market because recent US government statistics show that the rate of sales growth across the EV industry is far higher than that seen in the hybrid industry at a similar stage of development. EV sales are expected to double in 2013 compared to their 2012 level and grow significantly from 2013 onwards.

 Conclusion
There is no doubt that we are starting to see two very different groups of EV manufacturers emerging, those looking towards the mass-market volume end of the sector and those looking to maintain prices at the luxury end of the industry. The names will be familiar to you, they will be in the headlines over the coming months and while we are not on the verge of an out and out price war it is interesting to see that competition across the sector is starting to influence prices.

 The reality for many electric vehicle manufacturers is that they are currently running at a loss on their EV offerings and are unlikely to reduce prices any further without significant sales improvements. However, there is no doubt that the EV market is now starting to hot up!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Future Of Oil

The Economist reports that we could be reaching Peak Oil not because of a peak in supply, but in demand:

The dawn of the oil age was fairly recent. Although the stuff was used to waterproof boats in the Middle East 6,000 years ago, extracting it in earnest began only in 1859 after an oil strike in Pennsylvania. The first barrels of crude fetched $18 (around $450 at today’s prices). It was used to make kerosene, the main fuel for artificial lighting after overfishing led to a shortage of whale blubber. Other liquids produced in the refining process, too unstable or smoky for lamplight, were burned or dumped. But the unwanted petrol and diesel did not go to waste for long, thanks to the development of the internal-combustion engine a few years later.

Since then demand for oil has, with a couple of blips in the 1970s and 1980s, risen steadily alongside ever-increasing travel by car, plane and ship. Three-fifths of it ends up in fuel tanks. With billions of Chinese and Indians growing richer and itching to get behind the wheel of a car, the big oil companies, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and America’s Energy Information Administration all predict that demand will keep on rising. One of the oil giants, Britain’s BP, reckons it will grow from 89m b/d now to 104m b/d by 2030.

Scraping the barrel
We believe that they are wrong, and that oil is close to a peak. This is not the “peak oil” widely discussed several years ago, when several theorists, who have since gone strangely quiet, reckoned that supply would flatten and then fall. We believe that demand, not supply, could decline. In the rich world oil demand has already peaked: it has fallen since 2005. Even allowing for all those new drivers in Beijing and Delhi, two revolutions in technology will dampen the world’s thirst for the black stuff.

The first revolution was led by a Texan who has just died George Mitchell championed “fracking” as a way to release huge supplies of “unconventional” gas from shale beds. This, along with vast new discoveries of conventional gas, has recently helped increase the world’s reserves from 50 to 200 years. In America, where thanks to Mr Mitchell shale gas already billows from the ground, liquefied or compressed gas is finding its way into the tanks of lorries, buses and local-delivery vehicles. Gas could also replace oil in ships, power stations, petrochemical plants and domestic and industrial heating systems, and thus displace a few million barrels of oil a day by 2020.
The other great change is in automotive technology. Rapid advances in engine and vehicle design also threaten oil’s dominance. Foremost is the efficiency of the internal-combustion engine itself. Petrol and diesel engines are becoming ever more frugal. The materials used to make cars are getting lighter and stronger. The growing popularity of electric and hybrid cars, as well as vehicles powered by natural gas or hydrogen fuel cells, will also have an effect on demand for oil. Analysts at Citi, a bank, calculate that if the fuel-efficiency of cars and trucks improves by an average of 2.5% a year it will be enough to constrain oil demand; they predict that a peak of less than 92m b/d will come in the next few years. Ricardo, a big automotive engineer, has come to a similar conclusion.

Not surprisingly, the oil “supermajors” and the IEA disagree. They point out that most of the emerging world has a long way to go before it owns as many cars, or drives as many miles per head, as America.
But it would be foolish to extrapolate from the rich world’s past to booming Asia’s future. The sort of environmental policies that are reducing the thirst for fuel in Europe and America by imposing ever-tougher fuel-efficiency standards on vehicles are also being adopted in the emerging economies. China recently introduced its own set of fuel-economy measures. If, as a result of its determination to reduce its dependence on imported oil, the regime imposes policies designed to “leapfrog” the country’s transport system to hybrids, oil demand will come under even more pressure.

A fit of peak
A couple of countervailing factors could kick in to increase consumption. First, the Saudis, who control 11% of output and have the most spare capacity, may decide to push out more, lowering prices and thus increasing demand. Then again, they might cut production to try to raise prices, thereby lowering demand further. Second, if declining demand pushes down the oil price, drivers may turn back to gas-guzzling cars, as they did when oil was cheap in the 1990s. But tightening emissions standards should make that harder in future.
If the demand for oil merely stabilises, it will have important consequences. The environment should fare a little better. Gas vehicles emit less carbon dioxide than equivalent petrol-powered ones.

The corporate pecking order will change, too. Currently, Exxon Mobil vies with Apple as the world’s biggest listed company. Yet Exxon and the other oil supermajors are more vulnerable than they look. Bernstein, a research firm, reckons that new barrels of oil from the Arctic or other technologically (or politically) demanding environments now cost $100 to extract. Big Oil can still have a decent future as Big Gas, but that will not prove as profitable.


The biggest impact of declining demand could be geopolitical. Oil underpins Vladimir Putin’s kleptocracy. The Kremlin will find it more difficult to impose its will on the country if its main source of patronage is diminished. The Saudi princes have relied on a high oil price to balance their budgets while paying for lavish social programmes to placate the restless young generation that has taken to the streets elsewhere. Their huge financial reserves can plug the gap for a while; but if the oil flows into the kingdom’s coffers less readily, buying off the opposition will be harder and the chances of upheaval greater. And if America is heading towards shale-powered energy self-sufficiency, it is unlikely to be as indulgent in future towards the Arab allies it propped up in the past. In its rise, oil has fuelled many conflicts. It may continue to do so as it falls. For all that, most people will welcome the change.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

EU transitioning to EVs

According to ScienceWorldReport.com, although e-vehicles make up only a tiny fraction of the European car fleet at present, sales are expected to grow exponentially over the coming years, thanks, in no small measure, to advances in e-vehicle technology being made by EU-funded researchers. Fully electric vehicle technologies that optimise safety, energy consumption and kinetic energy recovery are also major contributors to on-going improvements in the performance of hybrid vehicles.
Across the European Union transport accounts for more than 70% of total oil consumption, the vast majority of which is imported from abroad. With more than one million additional cars going onto Europe's roads every 50 days, fuel consumption, congestion and pollution will only continue to increase if the internal combustion engine remains the main source of automotive power. Hence, the EU, national governments and private companies are spending billions on supporting the development of e-vehicles.
'Rather than offering forms of mobility based on ever-increasing energy prices, the industry is now faced with satisfying a rational demand for mobility: clean, safe and low-energy-consumption vehicles, requiring less energy to be produced, and using recyclable and eventually self-disposable materials,' says Dr Pietro Perlo, the CEO of Interactive Fully Electrical Vehicles (IFEVS), based in Italy.
Dr Perlo helped oversee the development of ground-breaking e-vehicle technology in the 'Integrated enabling technologies for efficient electrical personal mobility' (P-MOB) project. Involving researchers from six companies (Siemens from Germany; Mazel from Spain; IFEVS, Polimodel and Fiat from Italy; and Magnomatics from the United Kingdom), as well as the University of Sheffield in the UK, the project resulted in the development of a novel prototype electric car with a range of up to 20 kilometres (km) powered by solar power alone.
The team behind P-MOB sought to break the link between increasing transport capacity and rising road deaths, congestion and pollution by developing an e-vehicle prototype that is not only clean, but extremely safe and compact. To do so, the researchers took a novel approach to advanced systems integration focusing, among other things, on solar cells, e-motor and magnetic torque control, power-energy management, distributed accumulators and technologies to enable e-vehicles to put power back into the grid when not in use.
'The design has met the highest safety ranking, a low footprint and extremely low energy consumption, making the vehicle ideal for most people's needs in cities as well as suburban roads,' Dr Perlo notes.
The prototype is a small compact vehicle -- weighting less than 600 kilogrammes (kg) before the installation of the battery pack, and with a top speed of over 100 km/h -- which meets new regulations on 'micro' electric vehicles.
Aerodynamic, safe and solar-powered
A parallel project called 'Building blocks concepts for efficient and safe multiuse urban electrical vehicles' (WIDE-MOB), also involving the P-MOB partners, helped address the design and development of the basic building blocks of electric vehicles. The WIDE-MOB team worked on optimised aerodynamics to radically reduce the drag at any speed and lightweight and low-cost bodies designed for high safety in the event of a frontal or lateral crash, as well as a variety of technologies for distributed propulsion.
'Our vehicle is the first with a two-motor powertrain with one motor per axle. We have two doors on one side only ensuring a high degree of safety, better ergonomics and reduced complexity with extremely low aerodynamic drag: around 30% lower than other vehicles of the same dimensions,' Dr Perlo explains. 'All the technologies were developed during the course of the project by the partners. Only the battery cells were produced outside Europe, though the design came from within the project.'
The project's integrated ICT-based control systems allow for the operation of two motors and two differentials -- so the vehicle's front and rear axles are independent, providing effective four-wheel drive -- as well as variation of the torque ratio, depending on driving conditions, which provides a variety of important benefits. It increases vehicle control on small radius curves, improves adherence on wet and icy roads, provides the impression of faster acceleration without drawing more power and allows for fail-safe operation: if one motor fails the other will always allow you to return home. Most significantly, this in turn ensures that a single motor failure will not cause loss of control of the vehicle, particularly at high speeds.
In addition, the use of two motors combined with ICT-based smart energy management enables higher efficiency, because the two motors can individually be operated at peak performance in all driving conditions, while maximising energy recovery during braking through distributed braking on two axles combined with virtual 'anti-lock braking system' (ABS) control.
Meanwhile, smart photovoltaic panels with smart diodes and self-adapting electronics minimise loss of energy generation due to shadows or a single malfunctioning cell. Like most electric vehicles, the P-MOB prototype can be charged directly from the electricity grid. The addition of flexible high-efficiency mono-crystalline silicon solar-cell technology, however, means that it can also be powered by the sun alone and can even sell back power to the electricity grid once its batteries are full.
In trials at Fiat's testing track in Turin, the vehicle was able to travel 20 km powered solely by its solar cells -- more than enough for the average European daily commuter, especially in sunnier southern Europe.
'The vehicle's performance met our expectations for the design: it showed very high stability on small radius curves and had an average energy consumption of around 80 Watt-hours per kilometre,' Dr Perlo says. 'We presented it to the public at events in Turin, Athens and Brussels and received very positive feedback.'
'The idea of having a vehicle that with minor additions could meet both the homologation of micro electric vehicles and the classical M1 world is new and is enabling novel business approaches. All these concepts have been patented,' Dr Perlo notes.
Nonetheless, electric vehicle sales in Europe are expected to increase apace, rising from 45,000 this year to 400,000 in 2015, representing around 3.5% of new passenger car registrations. As technology improves, prices will also drop, with a small to mid-sized electric passenger car with a range of 250 km on a single charge predicted to cost EUR 15,000 within four years, down from EUR 20,000 at present.