Saturday, 31 May 2014

More on blueindy A new global competitor in electric vehicles is entering the U.S. market with a disruptive business plan: It wants to win consumers without selling them any cars.

Bollore Group, a French electronics manufacturer with nearly $15 billion in sales last year, wants to begin bringing thousands of electric vehicles into the United States -- but only as urban ride-share vehicles.

More significantly, Bollore wants American consumers to think twice about buying a new EV. If it succeeds, Bollore would upend the strategies of automakers such as Nissan, General Motors, Tesla, BMW and others trying to sell EVs and plug-in hybrids.

Bollore is investing $35 million to set up its first U.S. operation in Indianapolis, where it began construction last month on a network of 25 vehicle distribution kiosks and as many as 1,000 public charging stations. Another 25 pickup locations will be added next year, says Herve Muller, president of the Indianapolis venture, BlueIndy.

The company expects to have the first of its lithium battery-powered, subcompact two-door Bluecar vehicles in operation there by year end, with plans to put 500 on the street there.

Once Indianapolis is up and running, Bollore hopes to set up similar public fleets in other cities around the country, Muller says.

Bollore's cars will not be sold to consumers, Muller clarifies, even as used cars when they rotate out of their rental fleets. There will be no retail stores or repair shops -- only an ongoing marketing effort to win consumers over on the idea of renting vehicles by the hour.

"When you look at the cost of owning and operating a car," Muller says, "there is a growing population of consumers who might say, 'Why do I need it?'"

Bollore, a family-owned company that is almost 200 years old, expects to offer its cars for about $5 for each 20-minute ride. Consumers must first sign up for a membership fee -- either for a week, a month or a year. Muller says the fee has not been decided yet. In Paris, where Bollore has about 2,000 Bluecar rental vehicles, the monthly membership runs about $13.

Like borrowing an umbrella, Indianapolis customers would pick up a Bollore vehicle from a rental kiosk with the swipe of the membership card and then turn in the car once they reach their destination. A new membership card can be issued in less than 10 minutes from one of the kiosks -- which Bollore also manufactures.

Bollore will install private chargers around the city. Charging stations are another product line for the company, which also manufactures check-in kiosks for airports and is one of the world's largest freight forwarding companies.

Bollore also produces the batteries, which boast a 150-mile range. The cars are designed and manufactured in Italy through a partnership with Pininfarina S.p.A.

"We're not a household name in the United States, even though we're a very large industrial group," Muller says. "We have 55,000 employees around the world."

Unlike some other alternative- fuel auto companies that have proposed ventures in the United States in recent years, Bollore is not looking for investors or government loans to get up and running. The private company has deep pockets, with 2013 net profits of more than $600 million. It has invested $2 billion of its own capital on lithium battery development.

The venture launched its U.S. plan last month in Indianapolis, where Mayor Gregory Ballard has been an outspoken proponent of EVs. Ballard announced in 2012 that he wanted to convert the city's vehicle fleet to EVs.

Such proposals are another potential blurring of the market for the industry's more established and more traditional EV manufacturers. Ballard's administration has committed to acquiring about 500 EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles for official use over the next few years. And established U.S. automakers count such fleet contracts as lucrative opportunities for their own fledgling alternative-fuel vehicle programs.

But Bollore is now counting itself into those plans -- even though it does not plan to retail any vehicles.

"The city might be able to reduce its own fleet needs through the presence of our shared vehicles," Muller reasons. "Because we are available, we can fill some of their transportation needs. And that's also true for other large employers in Indianapolis."

However, the shared-car concept is intentionally limited to travel inside the city, he clarifies. Unlike traditional rental vehicles, Bluecars will not be allowed out of the city in which they are rented. An Indianapolis college student could not, for example, rent a Bluecar to drive home to Chicago for the weekend.

Bollore will maintain a full-time local staff of as many as 100 people to monitor street traffic to make sure BlueIndy renters don't take off for the horizon.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Liberty unveils electric truck It now looks likely that we’ll get an official Range Rover Plug-in Hybrid in the foreseeable future, but it won’t be the first time a plug socket has been attached to the iconic British SUV.

That’s because Liberty Electric Cars brought us the e-Range a couple of of years ago, and now the same company is launching its first electric delivery vehicle.

Work on the DELIVER began in 2011 with the aim of creating a light commercial vehicle tailor-made for urban routes. It uses two in-wheel electric motors for propulsion, which its maker says gives it 18 percent more load capacity than vans with a similar wheelbase, and features a ‘walk in door’ (facilitated by a the removal of its kerb-side B-pillar) for delivering awkward cargo.

Liberty’s zero-emissions van arrives just in time to challenge the Nissan e-NV200 – a plain but undeniably effective vehicle based on the LEAF and currently being assembled in Barcelona. Both will aim to tempt businesses with the promise of cheap running costs, tax breaks, and the ability to undertake a number of routes on a single charge.

A ‘minimum’ electric range of 60 miles is substantially less than the Nissan’s combined 100 miles of autonomy, however, and both vehicles have a payload of around 700kg. Both vehicles use a lithium-ion battery pack, but while the e-NV200 can quick charge to 80 percent capacity in around 30 minutes, no details have been announced for the DELIVER.

The project is under the umbrella of Green Automotive Company, which already has a number of commercial electric vehicles to its name. Prices or production volumes for the DELIVER are yet to be confirmed.

China: the electric vehicle leader? China is the world’s most populous country and also the largest automotive market, outselling the U.S. by more than 6 million units in 2013. But the country still has a low vehicle ownership rate of around 79 vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants, dwarfed by the massive 791 vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants for the U.S. As China is the fastest growing major economy, increasing disposable incomes and development in the low-tier cities could continue to bolster expansion of the country’s automotive industry. However, higher vehicle sales have also led to congested roads and alarming pollution levels in some of the highly populated parts of the country. China has consequently looked to impose limitations on the number plate sales volumes and also the permissible running age of a vehicle. The government is also encouraging sales of the relatively more environmentally-friendly Electric Vehicles and Hybrid Electric Vehicles (EV/HEV).

EV/HEV Sales Expected to Rise In China

Demand for EV/HEVs is rapidly rising around the world mainly due to a relatively less harmful impact on the environment and lower running costs, as compared to gasoline-powered engines. In addition, governments around the world provide various incentives to boost electric vehicle sales. More and more, EV/HEVs also have lower battery prices, adding to their appeal. Due to these reasons, the combined EV/HEV market is expected to more than triple from current levels to 6.6 million units by 2020, representing 7% of the global light-duty vehicle market by then. China provides subsidies of up to 60,000 Chinese Yuan (about $9,700) on electric as well as hybrid electric vehicles. The country had earlier in 2012 set the target of reaching 500,000 unit sales of Plug-in Electric Vehicles by 2015, and over 5 million PEV sales by 2020. This means that China aimed for PEVs to constitute around one-seventh of all vehicle sales in the country by the end of the decade. However, plug-in electric vehicle sales stood at only 17,600 in China last year, comprising 14,604 pure electrics and 3,038 plug-in hybrids. Although this market grew by an impressive 38% year over year, reaching the aggressive figure of 500,000 sales by next year seems improbable. This is mainly because consumers seem hesitant to purchase electrically powered vehicles as running costs could be high due to the absence of a well established battery-charging infrastructure at present. However, the government has increasingly taken steps to persuade consumers to go green, which could boost sales for EV/HEVs going forward.

China Aims To Improve Battery-Charging Infrastructure

China has been somewhat unsuccessful in its attempts to drastically increase electric vehicle volumes. In order to reduce dependence on oil imports and also improve pollution levels, the State Grid Corp. of China plans to bring in private capital to build charging facilities for EV/HEVs. China’s largest power grid operator in terms of sales also aims to make battery-charging more practical, with costs going as low as $0.08 (0.5 yuan) a kilowatt-hour. China plans to build around 400,000 charging stations by next year, but the difficulties in building these networks might prolong the completion of this program. Nonetheless, as the country looks to improve electric-vehicle-friendly infrastructure, sales for EV/HEVs could be strong moving ahead.

Ageing, Polluting Vehicles To Be Done Away With

China aims to remove around 6 million old and air-polluting vehicles from some of the most smog-clogged cities. Despite having strict emission standards, the government has found it difficult to impose restrictions on older vehicles, as it could hurt small businesses. However, this move reaffirms the country’s plans of encouraging environmentally-friendly initiatives. Seeing how China couldn’t meet its pollution reduction goals through 2011-2013, the country now plans to remove vehicles registered before 2005 that have failed to meet cleaner emission standards. This drive by the government to clean cities and improve pollution levels could also prompt consumers to buy PEVs, in order to evade possible future limitations on their gasoline-powered vehicles.

EV/HEV Sales Rise Drastically In China

Although the previously laid out estimates of 500,000 unit sales in China by 2015 might be far-fetched, PEV sales continue to rapidly grow in the country. In the first quarter, PEV sales grew by an impressive 120% to 6,853 units, as reported by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Sales include 4,095 pure-electrics and 2,758 plug-in hybrids. The domestic manufacturers BYD and Chery lead the Chinese PEV market at present with 43% and 30% share respectively. BYD will look for further expansion into this market with the launch of Denza in September, an electric car made in partnership with Daimler. The American company Tesla also rolled out its Model S, which sold only two units in China in the first quarter. However, the automaker plans to sell at least 5,000 vehicles in China this year itself, gauging the high demand for electric vehicles in the country. This means that although the electrically-powered vehicle market might not grow as outlined previously, demand for such vehicles is on a steep rise nevertheless. Automakers might look to tap into the growth potential of the EV/HEV market in the country going forward.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

BMW to build charging stations in Shanghai. BMW expects strong demand for its "i" series of electric cars in China, which the company expects to become the world's largest market for electric vehicles in five years despite big hurdles and slow uptake so far.

To help kick-start demand (and learning the lessons from the West), the German luxury auto maker on Wednesday said it would invest an undisclosed amount to set up 50 charging stations in Shanghai together with State Grid Shanghai Electric Vehicle Co., a unit of one of China's top two state-owned utility providers, and Expo Shanghai Group, a state-owned property company.

BMW joins other electric-car makers who face the problem of inadequate charging infrastructure, which makes electric cars a tough sell. In China, where privately owned parking spaces are few and bureaucratic hurdles many, car makers are finding the going even tougher.

Still, BMW is optimistic. Speaking at an event in Shanghai on Wednesday, Karsten Engel, chief executive for BMW's China operation, said BMW would sell a maximum of 1,000 i3 and i8 cars in the country this year. BMW i series will go on sale in China in September, but sales will be limited to around a dozen dealers in four cities due to a supply shortage and concerns over insufficient charging infrastructure.

Last year, BMW and its Chinese partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings launched a for-China-only electric vehicle called Zinoro.

"We expect that the Chinese car market for electro-mobility will become the largest market for those cars" in five years, Mr. Engel said.

For this latest project, BMW's chargers will be sprinkled over a five-square-kilometer area near the former site of the 2010 Shanghai Expo and will provide charging service for BMW and other brands of electric cars. All 50 are expected to be in place by the end of next year.

Mr. Engel said the company hopes to work with utility providers on similar projects in other parts of Shanghai and China.

China has set for itself the ambitious goal of putting 500,000 plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on the road by next year and five million by 2020. Plug-in hybrids are cars that can run on either gasoline or electricity.

Beijing hopes such cars will help battle pollution, curb rising oil dependence and give a boost to Chinese auto makers by encouraging them to pioneer such vehicles.

Shanghai recently announced plans to grant up to 3,000 free license plates to buyers of imported electric cars, a perk that could make electric vehicles more attractive to consumers. Mr. Engel said a rollout of such a policy to include other cities where securing license plates is difficult would be an "excellent" boon to BMW's electric-car plans in China.

To fuel these new energy vehicles, China had hoped to have 400,000 charging stations in place by next year, but work is behind schedule.

Prohibitive investment costs and low financial returns mean state utility providers have little incentive to build the public stations, said Andreas Graef, principal at consultancy A.T. Kearney's Shanghai office. The city of Shanghai, for example, only has few hundred public charging stations, said Mr. Graef.

China's largest power grid operator by sales said Tuesday it will invite private capital tobuild charging stations for electric vehicles. State Grid Corp. of China also will attempt to make electric-car charging cost-effective for consumers, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

Rival Tesla Motors has unveiled separate plans to install home chargers as well as public chargers. It has already installed one set of public chargers in Beijing, and another is under construction there, with more to come in other cities, a spokeswoman said.

Tesla has plans to develop its own nationwide supercharger networks that would allow owners to make long-distance trips between major cities free of charge. It already has two in Shanghai, and another one will come online in Beijing in June, the company spokeswoman said.

BMW also is in talks with property developers like China Vanke Co. and real-estate projects such Wangjing Soho, an office and commercial property project in Beijing, regarding the installation of more charging pillars, the company said.

A spokeswoman for SAIC Motor Corp, GM's partner in China that also has manufactured electric cars, said it was in talks with utility providers in Shanghai regarding potential cooperation on charging infrastructure, but the company currently has no announcements to make, she said.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Germany EV sales up 26% in April Sales of pure electric cars are still growing in Germany. By 25.8% year over year in April in fact, despite a shrinking (by 3.6%) automotive market.

The total number of pure elctric registrations amounted to 599, which translates to approximately 0.2% market share. After four months of 2014, Germany has 2,444 new pure electric cars.

For comparison, the number of hybrid registrations is 2,309 in April, from which 302 are plug-in hybrids. After four month, PHEV registrations stand at 723. KBA has some inaccuracy in plug-in numbers due to different methodology before 2012, so we are not 100% sure that these figures are accurate.

In total we see at last 901 plug-in vehicles registered in April and 3,167 for this year.

BMW i3 has highest number of registrations in April – 274 and 912 YTD. If our understanding of KBA data is right, 166 are pure electric i3 and 108 are REx. This would mean that (using the same table from previous months) BMW i3 logged 601 EV registrations and 347 REx this year.

Renault ZOE sales were 80 in April and 285 this year, Tesla Model S – 48 in April and 287 YTD and Nissan LEAF – 46 in April and 272 YTD. There was 11 i-MIEVs sold in April and 21 YTD.

smart fortwo electric drive probably had 103 last month and 401 YTD. Volkswagen e-up! remains a mystery and so too does e-Golf. On the EV Sales blog we see 248 e-up!s sold in April. But is this true? ZOE, LEAF, Model S, i-MiEV plus 248 e-up! and 103 smart ed is 525, which would mean 74 for i3 instead of 166 and zero e-Golfs? Can’t be right.

And what number for Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive, which for sure should have some registrations included in 599?

If only other countries could do as well as we do at tracking plug-in vehicle sales. Maybe someday.

The end of petrol stations? Petrol stations will die out as drivers plug electric cars into homes, scientists say. 

Solar panel technology is improving so rapidly that petrol stations could be replaced in the near future by drivers plugging their electric cars into their homes, Keith Barnham, emeritus Professor of Physics at Imperial College, says.

Is it the end of of the road for petrol stations?

Petrol stations could vanish in the near future as drivers start plugging their cars into their homes, a scientist has forecast.

Solar panel technology is improving at such a rate than soon motorists will be able to draw down enough power fuel their vehicles using the sun’s rays.

Keith Barnham, emeritus Professor of Physics at Imperial College, said he and his colleagues were already producing solar panels, which were three times as efficient as current models.

And they do not need to be fitted on roofs. The new materials work vertically and can be inserted into windows or made into blinds, which can be pulled down on a sunny day.

Speaking at the Hay Festival, Prof Barnham said: “Could we have an electric car powered entirely by sunlight? Yes we could.

“A typical (solar panel) system will generate enough electricity for typical mileage in a year.

“Free fuel for life from your rooftop. Even the most fervent opponents of electric cars like Jeremy Clarkson couldn’t argue with that.

“We need to spread the word that we have got the technology already, we just need to use it.”

Prof Barnham said if the UK followed Germany’s example and switched to renewable energy, bills could be reduced by more than 20 per cent.

Germany is well on its way of reaching its targets of all renewables by 2050.

“Solar panels have reduced the wholesale price of German electricity. There is a puzzle here, a mystery. How come the price has fallen but in 2011 they were only producing three per cent of the overall energy?

“It’s because the (solar panel energy) comes at exactly the right time you want it. Energy use peaks at midday when there is the most sunlight. It is the same in Britain.

“That is the time when demand is high so traditional power is at its most expensive.”

Lightning's 216 mph electric bike


There's a difference between building a motorcycle in your shed and bringing an electric hyper-bike to market. Lighting is somewhere in between. They've got racing victories and investment and what seems like solid tech, but there's still a "guy in a garage" vibe that doesn't mesh with my survival instincts at 200 MPH. I want them to prove me wrong.

Now, Lightning has chops. They obliterated Pikes Peak last year, not only kicking their class' ass, but walking away from the gas-powered machines with an incredible 20-second lead. Before that, Lightning set the first land speed record for an electric motorcycle (166 MPH), then broke the 200 MPH barrier two years later when it clocked 215.9 MPH – just a tailwind away from its theoretical 218 MPH top speed.


The president and CEO, Richard Hatfield, has been working with electric vehicles for nearly 15 years, starting with a race-prepped electric Porsche 914 before moving on to two wheels.

"It's the perfect platform," Hatfield says about the compact packaging of bikes. Others agree, with Brammo, BRD, Lit, Mission, and Zero all committed to electrifying bikes. And even a few OEMs are looking to finally introduce or expand their electric offerings.

But hardware is hard. Zero has dealt with a spate of recalls, the Brammo line up has barely changed, and we're waiting for the rest to deliver The Next Big Thing or flame out in the process.

Looking at the LS-218, I'm trying to figure out which category it fits in.


It's obvious that getting the bike to the Quail Motorcycle event in Carmel, CA was a rush job. While I was walking up, one of the Lightning people was re-screwing an allen bolt into the windscreen. Masking tape was stuck between two pieces of the faring and a few unfinished edges on the body work gave me the sense that I'd have paint on my hands if I touched it.

But everything underneath looked spectacular. The swing arm is milled out of a massive chunk of aluminum and available in carbon fiber. The CNC'd rear subframe should be hanging on my wall. The adjustable Öhlins forks are attached to a pair of 320mm discs with four-piston Brembos, with wheels from Marchesini (think BBS for bikes).

Lightning claims its liquid-cooled electric motor puts out 200 HP and 168 lb-ft of torque, double the twist of a comparable Ducati. Range varies between 120-180 miles per charge, depending on the size battery pack (12, 15, or 20 kWh), and a DC quick charger is on board for a 30-min charge or 2 hours on a 220-volt outlet.

There's no transmission, and when I ask Hatfield about the decision he says, "If you make enough torque to lift the front wheel and slide the rear end you don't need a gearbox." Point taken.

All told, the LS-218 comes in at 495 pounds, considerably heavier than your average Italian exotic. But that's the case for every electric bike, and as Mission Motorcycles proved, you only feel it through low speed corners.

But right now you'd feel nothing. That's because there's no battery. Granted, that's not out of the ordinary for a show bike, but considering the advances Lightning made in racing, I expected a working drivetrain.

With deliveries slated to begin this summer, they don't have much time. Lightning is promising to crank out 55 models in its initial production run, and they have to do it with OEM-level quality and back it up with the tech support to match its $39,000 price tag.

Hatfield knows it.

When I ask him about Lightning's upcoming plans for Pikes Peak and racing, he shakes his head and says, "We're not going. Our challenge now is to sell bikes."

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

VW XL1 'not allowed' in US


You won’t find the 300 MPG Volkswagen XL1 in an American showroom, in fact it has even been denied a tour of America because it is too efficient for the American public to be made widely aware of, and oil profits are too high in America with the status quo in place. No tour has been allowed for this car because the myth that 50 mpg is virtually impossible to obtain from even a stripped down econobox is too profitable to let go of, and when it comes to corporate oil profits, ignorance is bliss.

Years ago I had calculated that it should be possible to get a small car to exceed 100 mpg by putting parallel direct to cylinder water injectors side by side with the fuel injectors, and using the exhaust manifold to preheat the water so it would enter the cylinders as dry steam, thus providing added expansion (which drives the engine) while allowing the combustion process to proceed without reducing it’s efficiency. But I was obviously wrong with my calculations, because they were in fact over 2x conservative.

The 100 mpg carburetor was indeed a reality, and the Volkswagen XL1 proves it with only straightforward nothing special technology we have had since the 1970?s.Though the XL1 can be plugged in to deliver a 40 mile all electric drive, it does not need to be plugged in EVER to achieve 300 mpg. And it does not cheat in any way to achieve the rating, it weighs over 1,700 pounds, has normal tires, and delivers a very good driving experience with a governed top speed of 99 mph. The XL1 could reach a top speed in excess of 110 mph absent governor and turns in a 0-60 time of 11.5 seconds which is by no means leisurly for a car designed for efficiency. The XL1 in no way cheats on performance to hit it’s rating. It is simply the car we should have always had, and have had taken from us in the name of oil profits.

Though the XL1 can hit 300 mpg under ideal driving conditions, it’s combined mileage is usually a little over 200 mpg, and if you do city driving only that will drop to a minimum of 180 mpg under the worst driving conditions. But I’d be happy with that no doubt.

What does that kind of fuel economy really mean?

If the XL1 was equipped with an 18 gallon fuel tank, and you did all highwaydriving, you could fill it up with an oil change and when the next change was due you could change the oil and keep driving without filling up for and additional 2,400 miles. But it comes with a much smaller fuel tank, because if it could go that long on a single tank chances are the fuel would foul before it got used. The tank is only 2.6 gallons to prevent fuel age related problems from happening. So fill ups are cheap.

Many of the publications which speak about the XL1 did so when it was a concept car predicted to get right around 250 MPG. But in 2014, after extensive testing of cars now produced, test drivers report economy above 300 mpg under the correct driving conditions, which would be close to sea level, a flat straight road with no stops, and reasonable speeds. To get rid of miles/imperial/U.S. gallon confusion, in the metric system the XL1 is rated to deliver 100 kilometers per litre. Translated for the U.S., that means approximately 65 miles per quart.

I rememer how I laughed at the Smart Fortwo, because even a full size 4 doorChevy Impala significantly beat the “Smart’s” fuel economy, and with the Impala you would get a whole car. The Volkswagen XL1 is clearly the two seater the Smart should have been if it really was what the name implies, and the XL1 is in contrast, a car I’d be proud to be seen in.
You will NOT see the Xl1 in America,

Even it’s far less efficient 85 mpg non hyrid full size station wagon counterpart – the Jetta TDI blue motion wagon (, which is made in America is banned from American roads. And I would like to ask why? What excuse is there for banning highly efficient cars from American roads?

One excuse is that “they don’t meet American crash test standards”, but the real truth is that the Fed simply refused to ever crash test them because of what they are, in Europe even the XL1 is considered to be a very safe car in crashes, and the Jetta station wagon is obviously even safer and you CAN buy the non TDI versions of the exact same car in America. The only thing different is the engine, WHAT GIVES?

The answer is obvious. Simply for the sake of raking in huge profits from $4 a gallon gas, getting guzzled at 10X the rate it should be, the corporations have via campaign contributions and other types of pay outs succeeded in getting the FED to legislate the best cars off the road for irrelevant trumped up reasons.

The XL1 will not meet American emission standards NOT because it is not clean enough, it will not meet them simply because inefficient parts that are mandated by the EPA are not part of the XL1?s power train. We will never see truly clean running and efficient cars in America, because the FED has mandated that American cars be intentionally stifled by horribly fuel wasting parts that add to the cost of the vehicle and do absolutely NO GOOD, how much more efficient and clean can you get than 300 mpg? The exhaust from the Xl1 has to, by simple math and the laws of physics, run at the theoretical threshold of emissions perfection.

All is not rosy for Europe however

The Xl1 is SO MUCH the car that the oil companies do not want that there will only be 2,000 made. And no production line was set up for them, they are all hand made. And irrelevant “lightweight” parts are added to the frame, consisting of carbon fiber and other exotic materials to add to the mystique. But the materials and production limits are a load of BUNK, the car STILL weighs over 1,700 pounds, if it weighed just 100 pounds more everything exotic could be removed, because “exotic materials” are not doing much anyway, they are just marketing.

Cost is not the issue either Even after being hand made with “exotic” materials in an intentionally limited edition, the Xl1 still only costs $60,000. There is a lot more of a market for this car than 2,000 units at that price, have no doubt, this car is being held back on purpose. If it can be hand made for that little, automated assembly lines could do it for half. And if a 1,700 plus pound Xl1 can get 300 mpg, a 3,400 pound Chevy Truck should be able to deliver at least 150 MPG, the Xl1 lays the mileage scam bare, with every hybrid that gets 40 mpg and every truck off the line that gets 20, Americans are getting the shaft and they do not even realize it.

I was first infatuated and impressed with the 85mpg Vokswagen TDI Blue Motion wagon and wished I could get one in America (when I was still there), and then the 300 mpg Xl1 came along, what a rude awakening and slap in the face for the American car buyer.

Credits: Jim Stone, Freelance Journalist via

Tesla sees itself as an 'energy innovation company' via

© Tesla

During a speech at the 5th Annual Energy Storage Symposium, Tesla's Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel gave a keynote speech that was very revealing about how Tesla sees itself and where it sees opportunities in the future. Elon Musk has always said that his reason for creating Tesla and SolarCity was that he wanted to catalyze both the production and consumption of clean energy. It looks like Tesla will have a role to play not only in the consumption part (moving transportation from oil to electricity), but also in the storage of renewable energy, which often comes from intermittent sources likewind and solar. The battery Gigafactory will of course play a big role in that, with a certain amount of its production going to stationary energy storage devices and not electric cars, but Tesla isn't just planning to make battery. It's designing the whole storage systems - which is part of its expertise thanks to its EVs - and plans to scale them up quite a bit.

It's already testing a 2 megawatt-hour battery pack (see below) at its electric car factory in Fremont, California, and plans to scale it up to 4 megawatt-hour within a few months. The current 2 MWh pack is enough to handle 10% of the factory's peak demand, which can lead to savings if you charge it up off-peak when electricity is cheaper.

Straubel's general message about battery technology is that we "should all be thinking bigger". He also said that just in the five years between the Tesla Roadster and the Model S, lithium-ion battery performance has improved by 40%. Over the past 10 years, energy density has doubled. And the best might be yet to come, as Straubel said that the curve is not starting to slow down and plateau yet.

VW e-Golf targets those seeking ow fuel costs The Volkswagen e-Golf charges into new era of electric cars
VOLKSWAGEN is expanding its seventh generation Volkswagen Golf beyond the Bluemotion 88mpg turbo-diesel with this e-Golf; a fully electric, plug-in variant.

With the e-Golf, Volkswagen is looking to get more involved with electric cars

Unlike previous entrants to the electric vehicle market, which have targeted their cars at the “green” customer, Volkswagen is candidly claiming customers will choose the e-Golf for its low fuel and operating costs and the fact that it looks like any other Golf rather than an eco car.

For this reason VW also expects a significant proportion of e-Golf customers to be company car drivers, looking to keep both fuel and tax costs to a minimum.

In total, Volkswagen sells 65,000 Golfs a year, although the e-Golf is likely to add less than 1,000 sales to the annual Golf total.

However, the e-Golf’s presence is vital to the brand and marks an intent by VW to get far more involved in electric and hybrid vehicles.

Sit behind the wheel and it becomes a lot more obvious that you are in an electric car

Because of its similarity to a conventional Golf, the only real giveaways are the C-shaped front LED daytime running lights, and these become obvious only when the car is in use.

Indeed even the plug-point uses the same filler cap as a diesel or petrol Golf. Sit behind the wheel and it becomes a lot more obvious that you are in an electric car.

Where the rev-counter sits in a regular Golf is a gauge showing the amount of battery use or brake-energy regeneration plus a very obvious range indicator.

Slightly further from the line of sight are a few extra buttons to control functions found only on a plug-in car, such as the level of power the motor and batteries deliver. You cannot even tell where the batteries are stored.

The boot is almost identical in volume to all other Golfs as the batteries are where the fuel tank and exhaust would normally go.

In basic terms the e-Golf is powered by an 85kW motor (equivalent to 115bhp) coupled to batteries that give it a 118-mile range.

The result is a car with 0 to 60mph in 10.4 seconds and a top speed of 87mph in “normal” driving mode.

In “normal”, the range drops by about 10 per cent. Should you activate the “eco” mode, power drops to 95bhp and top speed drops to 74mph but the range is extended.

In “eco+” these figures drop to 75bhp and 56mph, not to mention doing without air conditioning but at this point you are most likely to achieve the claimed maximum range.

While it is difficult to compare economy figures between a car that is plugged in and one that uses a liquid fuel, Volkswagen claims the e-Golf costs approximately £3 to travel 100 miles and in energy use it is equivalent to a 200mpg diesel car.

Alongside the issue of range, the time to recharge puts people off buying an electric car and the e-Golf is similar to its rivals in this.

Plugged in to a regular three-pin socket using the six-metre cable, the e-Golf takes 13 hours to recharge but with a special home charge point installed it is only eight hours; and only 30 minutes to gain an 80 per cent fill from a fast-charge point.

To drive though, the e-Golf is surprisingly complicated.

While you can just put the car in drive and use it like any other automatic hatchback, to get the best range out of the batteries there are four different modes to recover energy from the brakes that sit alongside the aforementioned eco-power modes.

What’s more, instead of these modes being offered in sequence through the “gear” selector, three are offered by pushing the lever to the left or right and the fourth can be activated by pulling back on the lever. This final mode offers maximum power regeneration, acts as a brake and will, eventually, stop the car.

In reality it is best to pick a mode that suits your driving style or situation and then stick with it because if you swap between different levels of regeneration you can find yourself expecting to brake but coasting instead, or vice versa. That aside, the driving experience is excellent.

The immediate shove off the line from the electric motor is slightly addictive and can beat a lot of traditionally fast cars up to 30mph from traffic lights, should you choose to be that juvenile.

This power continues up to motorway speeds but the difference to other cars is less noticeable at higher speeds. Because there is no engine or exhaust, refinement is second to none.

As for a fun-factor, the steering is just like the regular Golf with a good, although not amazing, level of feedback. However, the car is very stable and has little body roll.

The e-Golf is based on the SE trim level of a regular Golf but adds sat nav which also links to a phone app so you can either heat or cool your car remotely as well as keep track of charging and even where you last parked the car.

While the e-Golf may not be as easy to use as the Nissan Leaf, its prime rival, it is a more attractive car and if you like minimal fuel costs without looking like you are penny pinching the e-Golf is the way to go.
Logbook lowdown

Price: £25,845
Engine: Electric motor – 85kW (115bhp)
Power: 0 to 60mph in 10.4 seconds, 87mph top speed
Fuel economy: £3 per 100 miles
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Rivals: BMW i3, Toyota Prius, Nissan Leaf, Vauxhall Ampera, Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion
Rating: 8/10

Monday, 26 May 2014

EV owner data: once you go electric, you never go back Preliminary results from electric vehicle owners indicate that EV owner satisfaction blows that of conventional vehicles out of the water.

It is the secret weapon of electric vehicles: drivers that switch to EVs fall in love with their cars in a way that internal combustion engine vehicles cannot match. PlugInsights Research, a division of Recargo, presented data at this week’s EDTA convention that forcefully supports this notion (via Inside EVs).

Norman Hajjar, managing director at Recargo best known for his 12,000 mile electric road trip, revealed new data showing incredible loyalty among first adopters of electric vehicles.

Granted, early adopters were generally highly enthusiastic about their vehicles from the very start and by their nature are more likely to be satisfied with the electric ownership experience. Nevertheless, PlugInsight’s findings speak too loudly to be ignored.

The current age of electric cars officially began in late 2010 with the introduction of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF. As three years is the most common lease duration, PlugInsights has been collecting data from EV owners whose leases have expired. A pool of 900 such owners was asked if their next vehicle purchase would be an EV or an ICE.

Out of those 900 owners, an astounding 96.9% said they would buy another electric vehicle, either a pure electric or a plug-in hybrid. Just 1.9% of respondents reported a desire to return to a conventional vehicle.

This isn’t the only intriguing data. Driver satisfaction over time was also monitored in terms of Net Promoter Score, a common metric using owner data to evaluate number of promoters of a product minus number of detractors. Once again, the electric vehicles embarrassed even the best internal combustion engine cars.

The most highly rated automakers rarely exceed an NPS score of 50 as an overall brand. In 2012, for example, the leader was Subaru at 56.8 while no other automaker topped 49. Chevrolet languished at just 12.3. These numbers make the preliminary EV results all the more impressive.

Not surprisingly, Tesla displays the strongest NPS scores. After owning a Tesla (either the Roadster or Model S) for two to three years, drivers gave the brand an otherworldly NPS rating of 94.2. After three years the number climbs to 96.6.

Chevrolet departs sharply from their lousy overall company trend with the plug-in hybrid Volt; owners gave it an NPS score of 79.2 in the first year of ownership and 85.2 after three years.

The Nissan LEAF rounded out this particular data set, as no other automakers produced volume electric vehicles as early as Chevrolet, Nissan, and Tesla. LEAF owners rated the commuter EV at 66.8 in the first year, though the car’s score declined to 49.8 after three years. Even so, this lowest-rated electric vehicle exceeded the overall NPS rating of all but one automaker.

Again, the data is probably skewed by the zealous early adopters. It will be interesting to see if the trends hold in the coming years, such as mid-2016 when 95,716 EVs will be three years old.

Nevertheless, the data is so utterly and convincingly supportive of the notion that drivers love their EVs that the auto industry would be foolish not to take notice. Owner satisfaction and loyalty are crucial to the goals of every automaker, and the owner satisfaction and loyalty of electric vehicles are unmatched by their conventional counterparts. Once you go electric, it’s a safe bet you won’t want to go back to your old ways.

EV sales up in W Europe April YOY According to the latest Eagle AID report entitled “Painfully slow electric car take-up runs into April” EV sales in Western Europe grew by 50% year over year in April, reaching a new high of 3,880 registrations (and this does not account for plug-in hybrids, which contribute a few thousand additional units to the sales total).

Additionally, the electric car market share increased to 0.4% during April 2014, but Eagle AID sees that this is mainly due to Norway 10.4%, without which sales in Western Europe would be 0.25% (increase from 0.21% in April 2013).

Three markets – Norway, Germany and France – control 70% of the European EV market (Norway with 1,260 units sold controls one third):

“April'’s combined electric car registration total in the three markets of Norway, Germany and France reached 2,680 units.”

“The remaining thirteen West European markets monitored every month by AID’s trend-watchers shared the remaining 1,200 electric cars first registered in the entire region last month.”

Eagle AID adds:

“April’s electric car performance in West Europe’s major markets was judged disappointing by all those betting on a big initial splash from recent sector newcomers.

That’s chiefly BMW’s i3 and Volkswagen’s eUp. Perhaps the biggest upset for the region’s already anxious electric car industry, April registrations in France slipped from last year’s already low same month level to just 821 units. Germany’s April electric car story was equally uninspiring.”

In Germany, registrations rose year over year by approximately 20% from 495 in April 2013 to 599 in April 2014. In France, sales fell from 940 to 821.

Mahindra e2o video review

Ever wonder what India’s only mass-produced electric vehicle is like to drive?

Well, wonder no more.

Here’s a video review of the Mahindra-Reva e2o from India.

But first, some background info on the e2o:
Mahindra Reva claims that the e20 boasts a top speed of 62 miles per hour and an estimated range of 99 miles.
Mahindra Reva targets selling 30,000 units by the end of 2016, including 15,000 units for export.
Pricing in India comes in at approximately 400,000 to 600,000 Indian Rupees, which converts to $7,358 to $11,037. That seems cheap, but most tiny, gas-fueled hatchbacks in India cost in the ballpark range of 400,000 to 500,000 Rupees.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Google Glass for charging stations in US One of the largest electric car charging station providers has developed a Google Glass app to help owners locate available charge points.

SemaConnect, which has more than 300 stations on its books in North America, says the app will help Google Glass wearers locate the closest charge points within a 20-mile radius before providing turn-by-turn navigation. Users will even be able to initiate and terminate charging sessions hands-free meaning that physically plugging the car in is the only dirty-work required.

‘SemaConnect for Glass’ was submitted for review this month, and once approved will be available to download from the MyGlass app for Android and Apple app store.

While most electric cars can now quickly and easily locate and direct the driver to nearby stations via the infotainment system, SemaConnect’s app promises to make the process easier, without the need to operate click-wheels or touchscreen displays while driving.

SemaConnect also partnered with electric car software provider Recargo last year, meaning that users of the app will also benefit from the latter’s‘Pay with Plugshare’ program. Similar to Paypal, Pay with Plugshare requires only that the driver enter a credit card number into a smartphone app, negating the need for different membership cards for different charge station operators.

There is a catch, however, which is that the app will only locate SemaConnect ChargePro charging stations. These stations make up just a fraction of the thousands of public charging stations in the US, although California is unsurprisingly well catered for.

Mahindra Formula E drivers Despite an official announcement yet to be made by Mahindra Racing, current Le Mans driver and a popular name in Indian Motorsport, Karun Chandhok will represent the Indian team in the the inaugural 2014-15 Formula E season. Teaming with him will be an old team-mate, Brazilian Bruno Senna. The Formula E championship, which is an FIA conducted series for electrically-powered cars, is due to start this coming September in Beijing. With ten teams confirming their participation, Mahindra Racing have become the third team to announce their drivers after Audi Sport ABT and Virgin Racing.

In a previous interview with CEO of Formula E Alejandro Agag, OVERDRIVE had broken the news that the series was keen on including Indian drivers in one of their teams and was talking to the obvious “two most famous Indian drivers” for the event. Though Karun Chandhok’s inclusion in the team was on the cards for a long time, recent rumours speculated that his place in the team may go to Narain Karthikeyan, despite the fact that Karthikeyan was a Tata Motors backed driver and has been for the entire duration of his career. However, the announcement which is to be made official on Monday, will confirm Chandhok’s place in the team and that of his former Formula 1 HRT team-mate Bruno Senna. The duo of Chandhok and Senna have teamed up in the past for the 2008 season with GP2 team, iSport and then went on to make compete in Formula 1 with HRT in 2010.

JOHAMMER J1 | Turns out it is easy being green. The Johammer J1 is an electric bike with an in-line motor that's both efficient and silent, and offers a class-leading 200-kilometer range from a single charge. In addition to its green credentials, the Johammer is designed to be comfortable, well-balanced and safe, while its looks come straight out of a 1970s sci-fi movie and can be enhanced by a choice of five colors. The Johammer has a top speed of 120 km/h and throws in a final sweetener by promising that its engine and gears will be maintenance free. €25,000,

Porsche Panamera hybrid review

Robert Llewellyn: Porsche’s hybrid is a combustion beast dolled up as a EV beauty

Up until the other day I had never even sat in a Porsche so when I was handed the keys of a two tonne Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid I was a little bit overwhelmed.

I'll say this at the start, those Porsche chaps love buttons.

There are so many buttons on the dense, information rich console the initial reaction is mild panic.

However, I was sitting in a Porsche and I had to deal with it.

I've made it a simple rule now that I will never drive anything that isn't either pure electric or at the very least, a hybrid, preferably a plug-in hybrid.

The Panamera I sat in was indeed a plug in hybrid.
Porsche goes electric

It has a 9kWh battery pack taking up a bit of space in the boot, a 95 horsepower electric motor built into the traditional drivetrain between the 3-litre, 6 cylinder petrol engine and the 8 speed twin clutch ultra smooth gearbox.

The only thing differentiating it from the standard Panamera S is the green edged lettering on the name badge and the green brake callipers visible through the butch alloy spokes of the massive tyres.

Okay, that and the discreet charge port located on the opposite side to the fossil input tunnel.

The main thing I learned after spending a couple of days with this super high end sports car is I now feel the need to test drive the pure gas guzzling model. I simply have nothing to compare the E-hybrid version to.

I regularly drive a plug in Prius, in terms of buttons it doesn't come close, in terms of speed, forget it, but in terms of fuel economy, it makes a bit of a mockery of this ultra hybrid for the 0.1 per cent.

You can plug the Panamera into a charger and fill the battery in about three hours. I did this in a car park using the very unusual bulky transformer and lead that comes with the car.

As with all plug in hybrids you don't have to do this. You can just fill the tank and drive it. When I received the car it has a fairly empty tank, so £84 later, it was full.

Again I had no context, £84 would fill my Prius tank twice giving me a total range of over 1,200 miles, I had no idea how far the Panamera would travel.

Early the next morning I set off to drive from central London to Donington Park race circuit outside Derby, a journey of 115 miles.

As advertised, the first 20 miles were easily accomplished on pure electric power.

The car is incredibly easy to drive, smooth, quiet and, considering the size and weight, very swift. When I pulled on to the M1 at Edgware, the car had no problem achieving motorway speeds.

I'll rephrase that as I'm someone used to driving my Nissan LEAF in the slow lane behind a truck. The Panamera has no problem breaking motorway speed limits regardless of the motive power, yes, it's a Porsche; it goes like stink.

When the six cylinder engine started up there was barely a murmur, I noticed the car starting to gently go through it's prodigious collection of gears until I was cruising along at a speed that won't be revealed, in 8th gear.

I don't know why I'm being so coy about the speed as needless to say I was constantly being overtaken by black BMWs and white vans with pipes on the roof.

But owning a car that can reach 160 miles an hour anywhere other than Germany is a bit baffling, driving on the M1 early on a Thursday morning surrounded by dense traffic cameras made it all seem a bit unnecessary.
Greening up the beast

As this German built monster chewed up the miles with barely a murmur, I watched the fuel consumption drop from 99.9 mpg to 43. You could only get as low as 43 mpg in my Prius if you took it on a track and hammered the hell out of it, but the Panamera is bigger, heavier and faster.

By the time I got back to London, after a total of 230 odd miles, the dash was telling me I'd managed 39.3 mpg.

I don't know if this is good for a Porsche, what sort of mpg do you get in the standard Porsche Panamera S? I've no idea but I suspect it's a lot worse [ed-at best a combustion-only Panamera S is rated as achieving 44.8mpg on a combined cycle]. I'm aware this is a silly question, who buys a car like this and worries about fuel consumption, the global energy matrix, the wellbeing of other people? No one.

So why on earth have Porsche gone to considerable lengths to make what is, technologically speaking, a truly awesome plug-in hybrid?

Here's a few clues.

In the next five years or so, most major European cities will have central 'zero emissions zones' meaning that no vehicle with a running internal combustion engine will be allowed in.

You charge your Panamera at your enormous home, hammer it down the Autobahn at 160 mph and when you reach the Stuttgart zero emission sign, press one of the many buttons switching to 'e-power' and complete your journey without the four monster exhaust pipes belching anything.

Currently in the UK this car pays zero road tax and zero congestion charge, yes, that's right; a £90,000, 3 litre, 160 mph supercar car that gets 40 mpg at best pays no road tax or congestion charge.

If I had a case, I'd rest it.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Why Tesla Motors Inc. Could Produce More Electric Cars in 2020 Than the Entire World Can Make Now People think that electric vehicles are inconvenient -- they take too long to charge and cost a lot of money. Tesla Motors, maker of high-performance electric vehicles, is taking an aggressive approach to make them more affordable and practical.

Tesla's vehicles operate on a bundle of cylindrical lithium-ion battery cells. The problem? The market for such cells is declining as other EV makers, and even consumer good manufacturers, are moving to larger, flatter cells with more power per cell. Battery consumers are continuing to bid down the price of the flat battery, and battery factories are receiving government subsidies and are currently operating well below full capacity.

Use only the best
Tesla's commitment to the cylindrical battery seems strange; however, the battery pack used in the Model S produces energy more efficiently. The battery type used in the Model S packs two to three times more energy than the next competing battery. The battery also juices up quickly with a 50% charge attained in 20 minutes.

The efficiency of Tesla's lithium-ion battery allows for better acceleration and mileage. For example, the Nissan Leaf accelerates zero to 60 miles per hour in 10 seconds and travels 70 miles per five-hour charge. Tesla's Model S accelerates from zero to 60 in about six seconds and travels up to 230 miles.

It is also essential for EVs to effectively draw heat away from the battery cells, and Tesla's small cell size (18-mm diameter by 65-mm length) allows for proper and effective heat dissipation. Finally, the lithium-ion battery format, unlike others, is not damaged by charging the battery prior to fully draining it.

While the cost for the flatter battery remains higher than Tesla's format, the cost effectiveness of the two is expected to level. Concerns could arise for Tesla as more suppliers shift to satisfy the demand for the flatter cell.

The solution: Tesla's planned battery Gigafactory.

The largest battery factory ever
The Gigafactory will cover approximately 10 million square feet in the southwestern U.S. and will be operating by 2017. By 2020, Tesla plans that the $5 billion investment will produce more battery power than current worldwide production. The company seeks to outfit a fleet of 500,000 vehicles in one year due to this vertical integration.

It's a risky proposition.

That's a lot of batteries
Tesla sold over 22,400 vehicles in 2013, and it plans to grow sales 2,200% in just seven years. It's difficult to comprehend, especially considering that EVs represent less than 1% of all vehicles on American roadways. However, total EV production is expected to increase 60% in 2014, from 242,000 to 403,000, according to the LA Times.

Yet, uncertainty still looms.

Finding partners
The head of LG's battery research division expressed concern about Tesla's ability to obtain materials from battery industry suppliers because of the cylindrical format Tesla uses. As this type of battery goes out of style, Tesla's suppliers would be meeting the demand of a single customer and for a single application. That's quite a risk.

If Tesla does not meet its goals, its suppliers will be left with excess product that they may not be able to sell. Therefore, many will shift with the market and provide the flatter format cells.

Battery maker Panasonic Corporation (NASDAQOTH: PCRFY ) , however, will likely partner with Tesla to build the planned Gigafactory. Panasonic is not new to the space as it has been partnered with Tesla for over five years and has provided over 2 billion battery cells.

According to plan, the factory will supply enough batteries to outfit Tesla's goal of 500,000 vehicles a year at a ticket price of approximately $70,000 comes to about $35 billion in revenue per year for car sales alone, compared to just under $2 billion in revenue for 2013. Assuming revenue is indicative of return on investment, Gigafactory investors will be well compensated.

Risk made less risky
Currently, the cost for the flatter format battery is high. Although cost per kilowatt-hour for batteries is a key secret among EV manufacturers, it has been estimated that flatter battery costs around $400 per kWh compared to the cylindrical cost of about $200 per kWh.

Rather than reengineer its vehicles to use the new format and compete with the shifting market, Tesla's Gigafactory will provide the superior battery cells for its vehicles without risking to loose battery suppliers to the shift and by reducing current battery costs by 30%.

The Gigafactory is risky. If Tesla cannot build the factory, investors must be very wary. However, if the factory succeeds, Tesla and its partners will be able to better penetrate the battery market in the near future and balloon sales.

Tesla accused of bullying tactics in UK Motors accused of bullying to grab key car charging sites in the UK. British utility firm Ecotricity claims US electric car maker is trying to take over its motorway sites.

Tesla Motors, the luxury electric car maker, has been accused of bullying a UK green energy company and attempting to take over several of its charging stations at crucial sites on the UK motorway network.

The US company, owned by billionaire Elon Musk who was appointed as an electric vehicle tsar to the government by Nick Clegg last year, is planning to open the first part of its 'supercharger' network next month, to tie in with customer deliveries of the right-hand drive version of its latest car, the Model S which costs upwards of £50,000.

But Ecotricity, a UK utility company which builds wind farms and opened an 'electric highway' network of charging points at motorway service stations in 2011, has alleged that Tesla is trying to "smash and grab" around six of its best-located sites.

The utility said that it had entered into a partnership with Tesla three months ago under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to help the US company build a charging network across UK motorways.

Tesla's aim is for its customers to be able to drive its cars – some of which are capable of running up to 300 miles on one charge, much further than most electric cars – across the entire country without running out of power.
Environment web editor Adam Vaughan road tests the Tesla Model S around London, one of the most environmentally friendly cars on the road and marketed as a genuine alternative to a combustion engine

But Ecotricity's founder, Dale Vince, said he had received on Sunday a "very dark", "shocking" and "brutal" email from Tesla informing his company of Tesla's intent to take over several of its sites.

An Ecotricity spokesman claimed Tesla was negotiating with a unnamed company, asking it to break off exclusivity contracts signed with Ecotricity and sign for Tesla instead. He said that Tesla had come in to contact with the company through its NDA with Ecotricity.

Ecotricity has sought an injunction at the high court to stop Tesla using information gleaned from the two company's partnership under the NDA.

"We are shocked and disappointed that a company like Tesla, with its aura of new world technology and challenger brand status, could behave in such an old world way – shame on them and shame on Elon Musk," said Vince in a statement.

A Tesla spokesman said the company had received the injunction and would "respond accordingly" but he could not comment on the specifics of the case as it was now a legal issue. He would not confirm the NDA and relationship with Ecotricity, but said: "We do work with partners around the world as needed."

Tesla has a network of over 100 such superchargers, capable of restoring much of the battery capacity on one of its cars within 30 minutes instead of the overnight charge supplied by a conventional mains charge, in countries including the US, China, Germany, France and Austria.

Musk told the Guardian last year that the UK charging network would be solar-powered, and that he planned in future to make the company's high-end cars in Europe in the near future.The Sunday Times reported this week that one of the first UK superchargers would be at South Mimms services in Hertforshire and that there would be charging points on a route between Dover along the M20 and another from Bristol along the M4, converging on the M25 before following the route of the M1.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

BMW C Evolution electric motorcycle

75 mph, 62 miles per charge, 0-62 mph 6.2 seconds.

The Dual Carbon Battery everyone is talking about New battery 'charges 20 times faster; gives electric cars a 300-mile range '. 

Is this what the electric car dreamers have been waiting for? Power Japan Plus is to mass-produce this year "Ryden," a disruptive carbon battery that can be charged 20 times faster than an ordinary lithium-ion cell.

The battery, said to cheap to manufacture, safe, and environmentally friendly, could massively improve the range and charging times of electric cars, Gizmag reports. The range it is said could be a staggering 300 miles .

The new battery developed by Power Japan and Kyushu University is described by researchers as "dual carbon" since both electrodes are made out of carbon. They claim that their design not only has high energy density, but is also economical, very safe, reliable, and environmentally sustainable. Most importantly, it can charge 20x faster than its Li-ion counterpart.

According to the company, their technology would allow you to charge the battery of a Nissan Leaf in 12 minutes instead of four hours. There would be a charging time of 42 minutes for the 85 kWh battery of a top of the line Tesla Model S.

Power Japan also claims that their battery has energy density comparable to state of the art lithium-ion, with manufacturing costs that are equal or lower. This is because carbon, which is widely available in nature, is the only active ingredient, and the batteries can fit into a standard 18650 cell (the one used in laptops and electric cars), requiring no significant change to existing manufacturing lines.

The battery has a long lifetime of 3,000 charge/discharge cycles (Li-ion's life is closer to 1,000 cycles) . It can also discharge fully without the risk of short-circuiting and damaging the battery. The battery doesn't heat up, so it wouldn't require the extensive cooling systems that appear in current electric cars. Thermal stability also makes the battery much safer, because it eliminates the risk of thermal runaway, which can cause explosions. And it would be more powerful than other batteries, operating at over four volts.

The battery is fully recyclable. Power Japan is planning to produce the battery using an organic carbon complex, developed in-house from organic cotton, to obtain a greater control over the size of the carbon crystals in its electrodes.

Power Japan is planning to start production of 18650 dual carbon cells later this year for specialty applications such as medical devices and satellites. They plan to license the technology to other companies for use in electric vehicles.

Marchionne: Don't buy the Fiat 500e

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne has a request for potential buyers of the automaker's Fiat 500e electric car: Don't buy it. He's tired of losing money.

Speaking at a conference in Washington on Wednesday, Marchionne said Tesla Motors Inc was the only company making money on electric cars and that was because of the higher price point for its Model S sedan. Decrying the federal and state mandates that push manufacturers to build electric cars, Marchionne said he hoped to sell the minimum number of 500e cars possible.

"I hope you don't buy it because every time I sell one it costs me $14,000," he said to the audience at the Brookings Institution about the 500e. "I'm honest enough to tell you that."

The gasoline-powered Fiat 500 starts at almost $17,300 including delivery charges, while the 500e starts at $32,650 before federal tax credits. Consumers are not willing to pay a price that covers Fiat's costs so it loses money on the 500e.

Through April, the automaker sold 11,514 of the 500 cars in the United States this year, down about 15 percent from the same period last year. The company does not break out 500e sales.

"I will sell the (minimum) of what I need to sell and not one more," Marchionne said of the 500e.

Chrysler filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and received a U.S taxpayer-funded bailout. Italy's Fiat took over the U.S. automaker at the time and completed the buyout earlier this year.

"If we just build those vehicles, we'll be back asking ... in Washington for a second bailout because we'll be bankrupt," Marchionne said of electric cars.

The state of California's zero-emission vehicle mandates and federal fuel efficiency requirements for 2025 were pushing the need for electric cars, but Marchionne said he would prefer the U.S. Department of Energy simply set targets and let the automakers achieve them in their own way.

Marchionne said for the company in 2025 to maintain the same type of U.S. sales mix it has now, hybrid vehicles that are powered by both gasoline and electric engines will make up more than half if not close to three-quarters of sales.

Electric car sales have been held back by inadequate driving range in the eyes of many consumers and high sticker prices.

Toyota give up on electric for hydrogen Toyota forsakes electric cars in favour of hydrogen after studying Tesla

Toyota has given up on long-range battery-electric vehicles and will focus its efforts on hydrogen fuel cell technology in the future.

In an interview with Fortune Magazine, Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz said that while electric vehicles have a place as a ‘last mile’ solution, longer journeys would have to be undertaken in hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, and eventually by hydrogen fuel cell cars.

Lentz’s comments are the latest in a divergent segment of the automotive industry, where, on one hand, automakers such as Tesla are enjoying success by selling electric cars with ever-larger batteries at the same time that public charging infrastructure is quickly developing. Others, such as Hyundai, Honda, and Toyota, believe that the weight and cost of these batteries is too much of a compromise, and are focusing on hydrogen technology.

Lentz suggested that the overall cost of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is ‘substantially less’ than a battery-electric vehicle. He also said that while battery-electric vehicles are superbly efficient in operation, hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles were more efficient ‘well-to-wheel’.

Given that it takes significant energy to isolate hydrogen and more still to compress it – not to mention the transportation logistics needed to get the liquid to fuelling stations – many experts will take exception to Lentz’s claims. The car’s, however, will be perfectly clean at point-of-use.

“It’s an on-demand electric vehicle,” Lentz said. “So rather than having to have a large battery onboard that you have to charge – and takes quite a while to charge – you basically use hydrogen to produce electricity and water vapour.”

Toyota will bring its new generation fuel cell car to California this year, boasting a 300-mile range and a refuelling time of around five minutes. It’s this refuelling that will be Toyota biggest hurdle, however. There are currently just nine public stations in California, which each costing over one million dollars to build and install.

Lentz said that his company has calculated that 68 stations would be required to support 10,000 fuel cell owners in the state, and that 50 would be operational by the end of 2016. On-site hydrogen generation is the goal for Toyota, but before then the company will have to make electrolysis cost effective. Currently the hydrogen comes from compressed natural gas.

While nothing is concrete, Lentz also gave a indication of how much Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell car would cost to run, giving a ball-park figure of $30 to fill up.

Lentz’s comments come not long after an agreement with Tesla concluded. The Californian automaker supplied the electrical hardwarefor 2,600 zero emission examples of the RAV4, helping Toyota satisfy the Sunshine State’s emissions regulations. It isn’t known whether Toyota’s decision to shun long-range battery-electric vehicles was influenced from studying Tesla.

“If you look at the joint venture we had with Tesla, it was really learning about a much smaller entrepreneurial company in the auto business, and to see what we come learn about being fast to market. I think it worked for them – they learned a lot of our quality control systems and other things.”

EVs in India: better than expected impact — A new report by the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI) shows the substantial impact that electric vehicle (EV) deployment would have on India’s oil consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Assessing and Accelerating Vehicle Deployment in India finds that the benefits of EVs in India are greater than expected when real-world driving conditions are taken into account.
The analysis, supported by EVI and carried out by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), is helping to inform the Government of India’s National Mission on Electric Mobility, which sets deployment targets of 5 to 7 million hybrid and electric vehicles in the country by 2020.
Real-world use conditions amplify the benefits of EVs in India, primarily due to the superior ability of electric powertrains to maintain high efficiency in highly transient operation. According to the analysis, which focuses on passenger car EVs, India could save 4.8 billion barrels of oil and 270 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2030 if the passenger car EV adoption rates necessitated by the government targets continue into the decade beyond 2020.
“Electric vehicles are one of the most promising technology pathways to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption around the world,” says lead researcher Anand Gopal of LBNL. “As vehicle ownership in India is set to rise substantially, this new study underscores the important opportunity that exists to diversify India’stransportation fuel mix and reduce CO2 emissions.”
The research also finds that EVs could be produced for the Indian market at lower costs, due to the much lower range requirements for urban car users. An EV with a 100-kilometer (km) range is sufficient for more than 99% of trips in India. Hence, when factoring in fuel cost savings from switching from oil to electricity, 100 km EVs could become cheaper than conventional vehicles on a life cycle cost basis prior to 2030. In 2015, the consumer payback period for compact 100 km EVs is 5.6 years, and it is expected to fall as low as 1.8 years by 2020.
Another aspect of the EVI research explored the optimal siting of public EV charging stations in the New Delhi metropolitan region through the novel use of an agent-based simulation, which found that high levels of service can be provided for 10,000 passenger car EVs at a reasonable infrastructure cost of $760,000 (Rs 460 lakhs). Most of these are “slow” chargers, which should meet drivers’ needs if located in the more densely populated and frequented areas of the city.
As in many markets, the consumer acceptance of EVs in India will depend in large part on the adequate deployment of infrastructure needed to recharge EV batteries. Although India was used as a case study, the goal is to offer this advanced modelling platform to any government interested in optimizing the location and level of charging infrastructure in urban areas. “Use of rigorous methodologies like the one pioneered in this work should help national and local governments design EV polices and incentives that are smarter and more rooted in data-driven analysis,” adds Paul Telleen of the Department of Energy, the United States’ representative to EVI.
The Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI) is a multi-government policy forum dedicated to accelerating the introduction and adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) worldwide. Electrifying the global vehicle fleet is a key component of the Clean Energy Ministerial goals of improving energy efficiency and enhancing clean energy supply. EVI seeks to facilitate the global deployment of 20 million EVs, including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles, by 2020.
The Clean Energy Ministerial is a high-level global forum to share best practices and promote policies and programs that encourage and facilitate the transition to a global clean energy economy. 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Why electric cars will rule the road

Kate Gordon of Next Generation in the USA at  I’m not generally a fan of picking winners and losers except when it comes to the future of cars. Here, electric vehicles (EVs) are the clear long-term winners. They’re highly efficient, dirt cheap to power, and can run on infrastructure that already exists. And even though electricity isn’t yet “clean” in many places around the country [USA], EVs still generate fewer emissions than your average gas-powered vehicle—regardless of whether you charge up on the coal-fired Kentucky grid or Washington’s much cleaner hydro- and wind- powered system.

I believe EVs are our future. But we also need short-term solutions to move us toward that future. Right now the average vehicle on U.S. roads is over 11 years old, and a 20 year-old car produces over 30 times the smog pollution of a late-model automobile. Between the auto fleet’s overall greenhouse gas impacts (17% of all U.S. emissions), its health impacts ($5.3 billion per year in California alone), and the strain that high gas prices put on our wallets (frequently over a third of household budgets in car-dependent regions), it’s clearer than ever that we need change fast.

Here’s the good news: Today’s new gas-powered vehicles are cleaner and more efficient than ever. Even as we’re investing in EVs for the long term, we need to pass policies today that retire the dirtiest, oldest, and least efficient vehicles and replace them with cleaner safer, and more efficient new ones. California’s updated Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program aims to do just this, and the state legislature is mulling over a bill that would allow those drivers to receive relatively larger incentives if they buy a replacement EV instead of a gas-fired vehicle. State and federal lawmakers interested in cleaner air and fuel savings for their constituents should take a leaf out of California’s book and investigate retirement and replacement programs for their jurisdictions.

Kate Gordon (@katenrg) is vice president and the director of the energy and climate program at Next Generation. She previously served as vice president for energy and environment at the Center for American Progress.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Musk: we need 200 gigafactories! Elon Musk sent a thrilling chill through the electric car, energy storage, and investment sectors when he announced Tesla would be building a Gigafactory for its electric car battery production. Now he's saying we'll need 200 Gigafactories!

At the World Energy Innovation Forum in Fremont, California last week, Musk (as he often does) just casually made a statement that probably made a good portion of the eyes in the room open much wider. He said that we would need hundreds of Gigafactories. "Just to supply auto demand you need 200 Gigafactories," he said.

This is something that is genuinely difficult to comprehend. But if you crunch some numbers, it makes sense. One Gigafactory is supposed to be enough for Tesla to produce about 500,000 electric vehicles per year. There are currently over 1 billion vehicles on roads globally. Approximately 65 million cars were produced globally in 2013, but annual production is projected to rise to 100 million in the coming decades. At the output Tesla has planned for its Gigafactory, we would indeed need 200 of these if the world fully switched from gasmobiles to electric cars (which many of us expect will happen in the coming decades). This isn't even including home and grid energy storage demand....

Tesla/Screen capture

Another important point Musk noted was that mass production of these batteries would help to cut costs considerably. This is basic economics, but it bears emphasis. Initial guidance is that Tesla's first Gigafactory will cut its battery costs by about 30%. However, Elon added: "I think we can probably do better than 30%."

Of course, electric cars are currently a small percentage of car sales. Plenty of people are "skeptical" they will take over the market. However, disruptive technology has a way of sneaking up on people, including those heading big companies and respected "industry experts." We've seen it with the rise of digital cameras, CDs, MP3 players, computers, DVD players, cell phones, smartphones, laptops, tablets, flat-screen TVs, and much more. Electric car sales have been doubling each year for the past few years, one of the early signs of a disruptive technology. Many of us who have driven these cars or at least follow the industry are convinced that they are superior to gasmobiles in about a dozen ways and will indeed replace gasmobiles before too long. Tesla's Gigafactory leadership is one important step in that direction.

Tesla/Screen capture

Robert Llewellyn on Formula E Robert Llewellyn: Formula E gears up to change motor racing for good

It’s far to early to tell if Formula E will work.

By that I mean we don’t know if it will survive for more than one season, will get sufficient long term financial backing (they're fine for this year), will be exciting to watch or will attract widespread attention.

But after spending a day with the teams recently, I’d suggest it was a fairly safe bet.

The official press launch for the teams, drivers and cars was held at Donington Park circuit, a legendary British racetrack where many agree, Ayrton Senna achieved his ultimate lap at the British Grand Prix in 1993.

Having grown up near Silverstone Circuit, motor racing should be in my blood. I learned to drive a go-kart when I was 11 years old. I was fairly obsessed with cars, engines, noise, speed and the aesthetics of bodywork and tyres as a young boy.

It wore off.

I came to see cars as at best an annoying necessity and at worse a positive blight on the world.

I've always been torn between the obvious thrill of a loud and powerful car and the dated crudity of the machinery that achieves this along with the reliance on a finite fuel to make them work.

So something was released from me when my eyes fell upon the ten brand new 100 per cent electric formula E cars displayed in front of the brand new FIA Formula E headquarters.

I was exhilarated. I was excited, I felt inspired.

These cars and the people behind them represent the biggest step change in transportation and technology since the dawn of the steam age.

I will accept nothing less.

To the uninitiated (me) they look very like Formula One cars.

Single seat racing cars with big wide tyres, bizarre nose shapes and wing things at the back. They are constructed out of carbon fibre and they do make a noise. Not anything like the noise from the old Formula One V8’s with short exhaust pipes when Ayrton Senna was driving, but they are definitely not silent.

They are of course very fast and as I get to spend more time with the teams and indeed the cars, I will be able to report on the technical specifics, the range, the speed, the acceleration and all the other questions I’ve already been asked.

At present, no one really knows.

Another very major difference between this year’s Formula E season and other motor racing groups is that all the cars are identical. This is only the case for the first season, the idea is that for the second season (starting September 2015), the teams will build their own cars.

The Spark-Renault SRT-01E (rolls off the toungue doesn’t it?) is built by Spark Racing Technology in France.

Dallara, an Italian company built the monocoque carbon fibre chassis, the motor has been built by McLaren in the UK along with the batteries built by Williams Advanced Engineering.

This is all being overseen by Renault and it makes for some very intriguing racing possibilities. Will winning be down to the car or the driver?

When I spoke to engineers from the teams yesterday I got the impression that the car could still have something to do with the final outcome.

Their first job was to strip the cars down to their individual bits. Literally the whole thing will be broken down, carefully checked and re-assembled. They will make infinitely small adjustments to the car, within the strictly enforced rules, which could mean one car can complete a lap in 0.0013 second faster than another.
Great unknown

The teams have another problem to contend with.

Currently a Formula One team heading for say, the Australian Grand Prix, have truck loads of data on the circuit from previous years.

The Formula E teams will be racing on city streets. There is no data, it's never been done before.

Pot holes, loose manhole covers, deep drainage gullies at the side of the road are all unknown.

At each race they will have limited time to explore the track, the team manager and the driver will walk around it looking for problems but, as one jocular engineer explained to me it’s a bit ‘suck it and see.’

The whole Formula E season is a bit suck it and see, but I’m very happy to have a suck, and in September this year, broadcast on ITV4, live from Beijing during the 1st race of the international Formula E season; we will be able to see too.