Sunday, 31 August 2014

UK: EV car parc now 13,000 strong With the recent announcement from OLEV that 11,260 claims have been made through the Plug-in Car Grant scheme, the total number of electric cars and vans in the UK now exceeds 13,000 vehicles for the first time.

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) has also published figures which show that, as of30 June 2014, 637 claims have been made through the Plug-in Van Grant scheme.

Taken together with 1,379 electric cars and vans which are not eligible for the Plug-in Grant scheme, but are nevertheless fully electric, the total UK light-duty electric fleet will number 13,276 in the coming weeks as vehicles are delivered and formally registered for use on UK roads.

Another indicator that the electric market is growing in strength is the number of fully electric and plug-in hybrid models available in the UK. While only 9 EVs were available for the major manufacturers in 2011, this increased to 18models in 2013, and now stands at 21 high-quality, fully crash tested cars and vans with more models due for launch in 2014 and 2015.

Dr Ben Lane, Director of Next Green Car said: “The EV market continues to grow exponentially in the UK as elsewhere, demonstrating that UK car buyers are fully embracing the EV revolution. With the continuing investment from manufacturers the number of electric models continues to increase, making the future EV market look very secure.”

As the chart of registered models shows, the Nissan LEAF continues to be the UK market leader, with at least 3,845 vehicles registered in the UK and representing over a third of all EV sales in the UK. In second and third places are two plug-in hybrids, the Toyota Prius PHEV(with 1,089 registrations) and the Vauxhall Ampera (767 vehicles).

However, recent 2014 entrants such as the BMW i3 and the Renault ZOE are already selling well with 513 and 462 sales respectively; indeed, the ZOE is now the most popular EV across Europe as a whole (in 2013). Yet to make their mark in the statistics due to their very recent launches, the Tesla Model S and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV are also expected to do well in the UK during the remainder of 2014.

In a press release made shortly after the OLEV announcement, Mitsubishi said that in July theOutlander PHEV outsold all other vehicles which qualified for the governments Plug-in Car Grant, accounting for 43% of successful applications.

Tesla Rolls Out “Destination Charging” Program At Hotels, Restaurants And Resorts Tesla has begun installing high-power wall chargers at restaurants, hotels, beach parking and other locations that can send 80 amps of electricity into the Model S and add 58 miles of range in an hour. While that’s not nearly as fast as a Supercharger, which can recharge the 85 kWh pack in around 30 minutes, it’s twice as fast as the standard 240-volt chargers that can be more commonly be found around in parking lots and garages.
Tesla has been rolling these out quickly across the US as a convenience to customers. The company says 106 of them have been installed since the program began this spring, with more coming online daily. Like the Superchargers, they are free to use for Tesla owners.
Unlike Superchargers, which function more like a petrol station, these wall chargers are designed for destinations. Teslas can also use standard charging stations with the use of an adapter that comes with the car but due to the out-sized capacity of the battery in a Model S (up to 85 kWh), a full charge from a standard 240v 10 amp outlet might take as long as 30 hours. To make utilizing the full range of a Model S practical, for example for weekend trips, higher powered 'destination' charging is required to provide up to 500 km worth of charge in approx 4-5 hours.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

BMW’s Beautiful Solar-Powered Charging Station Working with design and construction firm EIGHT, BMW has installed the first of its Point One S solar-powered charging stations in front of its ultra-modern BMW World building in Munich, Germany. Looking like the wing of a bird, the station is part of a national program to develop and popularize e-mobility in Germany. EIGHT also created a highly efficient manufacturing system for the Point One S to keep construction waste and energy consumption to a minimum. The design is adaptable to many different environments.

The wing-like canopy is topped by an array of solar panels and lined with a smart LED-based illumination system that alerts users at a distance whether the station is booked, occupied, or available for charging. The station features an integrated touch screen to increase the user-friendliness of its intuitive interface. When not in use charging vehicles, any excess electricity is fed back into the local electrical grid.

If the objective is to make recharging a vehicle attractive to electric car owners, the Point One S is clearly a winner. It is so beautiful it makes me want to go out and get an electric just so I could charge it up at one of these facilities. Which is probably the whole point.

Tesal to build 400 chargepoints in China Tesla will work with China’s second-largest mobile-phone company to set up charging points for its vehicles.

Tesla signed an agreement today with China United Network Communications Corp. to build 400 charging points in 120 Chinese cities at China Unicom outlets, Tesla spokeswoman Peggy Yang said today in a phone interview. The two companies will also build 20 supercharging stations that work as much as 16 times faster, she said.

The automaker joins BMW in setting up public charging points in China to make it more convenient for owners of electric vehicles. The central government is considering providing as much as 100 billion yuan ($16 billion) to build charging facilities and spur demand for clean cars, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Tesla, based in Palo Alto, California, has also signed agreements with real-estate developers Soho China Ltd and China Yantai Holdings Co. to set up charging points at their properties around the nation.

Under today’s agreement, Tesla will provide the equipment for the charging stations, while China Unicom will provide the land, Yang said, declining to reveal the cost. Tesla customers will be able to charge their cars for free at the stations, she said.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Siemens & Sunrun Partnering To Promote Home Solar + EV Charging Systems Siemens, manufacturer of the VersiCharge EV home charging system, and Sunrun, a leading solar PV system installer, are now partnering to help promote the products of the two companies, as per a recent agreement.

The new deal will be offering owners of the Siemens VersiCharge EV home charger a $500 Visa gift card if they install one of Sunrun’s home solar PV systems before the end of 2014.

This new deal marks the first such marketing partnership with a solar installer for Siemens’ VersiCharge line — which is, essentially, a Level 2 charger “with a 20-foot cable and delay feature that users can implement to charge during non-peak times.”

Siemens is currently aiming to replace this model with a “smart grid” version of the system that will allow utility companies to take advantage of demand-response charging.

“The smart grid charger will also have Wi-Fi portals that will connect the users via an app that can track their use, as well as allow them to program a time to charge their car,” stated Siemens spokesperson Jacob Curtiss. “It will be able to talk to utilities and the grid.”

“The correlation between EVs and solar is so strong that bringing the two of them together can have an effect at an even greater magnitude,” he continued. “Sunrun has done a very good job in the solar space and we like to align ourselves with the top integrator and solar installer out there.”

Makes sense. Here’s to hoping that similar initiatives gain traction in the coming years.

Big power out, solar in: UBS urges investors to join renewables revolution World’s largest private bank predicts large-scale power stations will soon make way for electric cars and new solar technologies

Solar-powered houses and entire villages, like the one above in Germany, could make Europe’s big power stations redundant in 10-20 years, UBS argues.

Big power stations in Europe could be redundant within 10-20 years as electric cars, cheaper batteries and new solar technologies transform the way electricity is generated, stored and distributed, say analysts at the world’s largest private bank.

In a briefing paper sent to clients and investors this week, the Zurich-based UBS bank argues that large-scale, centralised power stations will soon become extinct because they are too big and inflexible, and are “not relevant” for future electricity generation. Instead, the authors expect it to be cheaper and more efficient for households and businesses to generate their own energy to power their cars and to store any surplus energy in their own buildings even without subsidies.

In language more closely associated with green NGOs, the bank with assets of more than $1.5tn says it expects a paradigm shift away from large-scale conventional power plants. “Power is no longer something that is exclusively produced by huge, centralised units owned by large utilities. By 2025, everybody will be able to produce and store power. And it will be green and cost competitive, ie, not more expensive or even cheaper than buying power from utilities,” say the authors, who urge their financial clients to “join the revolution.”

“Solar is at the edge of being a competitive power generation technology. The biggest drawback has been its intermittency. This is where batteries and electric vehicles (EVs) come into play. Battery costs have declined rapidly, and we expect a further decline of more than 50% by 2020. By then, a mass [produced] electric vehicle will have almost the same price as a combustion engine car. But it will save up to €2,000 (£1,600) a year on fuel cost, hence, it will begin to pay off almost immediately without any meaningful upfront ‘investment’. This is why we expect a rapidly growing penetration with EVs, in particular in countries with high fossil fuel prices.”

The expected 50% reduction in the cost of batteries by 2020 will not just spur electric car sales, but could also lead to exponential growth in demand for stationary batteries to store excess power in buildings, says UBS. “Battery storage should become financially attractive for family homes when combined with a solar system and an electric vehicle. As a consequence, we expect transformational changes in the utility and auto sectors,” it says. “By 2020 investing in a home solar system with a 20-year life span, plus some small-scale home battery technology and an electric car, will pay for itself in six to eight years for the average consumer in Germany, Italy, Spain, and much of the rest of Europe.”

A solar panel fitted on top of a hybrid car. As battery technology improves and becomes cheaper, electric and hybrid cars will become more popular than conventional petrol and diesel cars, UBS says.

By 2025, falling battery and solar costs will make electric vehicles cheaper than conventional cars in most European markets. “As a conservative 2025 scenario, we think about 10% of new car registrations in Europe will be EVs. Households and businesses who invest in a combined electric car, solar array and battery storage should be able to pay the investment back within six to eight years,” UBS says. “In other words, based on a 20-year technical life of a solar system, a German buyer should receive 12 years of electricity for free.”

But the bank does not expect power companies or the grid to disappear: UBS says they have a future if they develop smart grids which manage electricity demand more efficiently and provide decentralised back-up power generation.

“Electric vehicles are the key catalyst for driving mass adoption of battery storage technologies, as autos will fast-track mass production, which will be significant in driving down costs. We see battery costs moving down from $360/kWh today to $200/kWh by 2020, and as low as $100/kWh within 10 years. We believe that by 2020, lithium battery pack cost will drop by more than 50%, compared to 2013.

The UBS report follows similar analysis by other large financial institutions and energy experts who expect new solar and renewable technologies to drive rapid change in large scale utility companies.Earlier this year, Michael Liebreich, founder and CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “The fact is that wind and solar have joined a long list of clean energy technologies – geothermal power, waste-to-energy, solar hot water, hydropower, sugar-cane based ethanol, combined heat and power, and all sorts of energy efficiency – which can be fully competitive with fossil fuels in the right circumstances.

“In most sunny parts of the world it is cheaper to generate power from photovoltaic modules on your roof than to buy it from your utility. The best newly built windfarms are selling power at the equivalent of 3p/kWh before subsidies, which neither gas, nor coal, nor nuclear power can match. LED lightbulbs can be bought for a few pounds, providing home-owners a quick and cheap way of cutting their utility bills. What is even more important is that the cost reductions that have led to this point are set to continue inexorably, far out into the future.”

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Start your Model S with your iPhone iPhone Starting May Come To A Model S Near You (No More Keys!)

The Tesla Model S has been declared “An Intergalatic Spaceboat Of Light And Wonder” by some of its biggest fans thanks not only to its electric drivetrain, but futuristic features as well including a highly functional phone app, which is about to update the Model S even more. reports that a screenshot of the new v6.0 firmware update to the Model S includes an option that lets drivers start their car with the new Tesla app. An android version of the app is also on the way, but this is a major development that opens a flood of questions.

There’s been a lot of movement between Tesla and Apple, with the former poaching several of the latter’s employees and there even being talk of a merger between the two tech giants. So far though none of that panned out, though enabling Tesla owners to operate their car, sans the key fob, is an incredibly neat feature that really ups the “Wow!” factor. There is speculation though that this new feature could debut alongside the iPhone 6 and the iOS 8 update.

There is, however, question about the security of it all. A Chinese team recently hacked into the Model S, and was able to remotely replicate many of the smartphone features, which lets you lock/unlock the doors, flash the lights, and set the climate control. Add the ability to start and stop the motor is one step away from being able to drive the car itself.

The update will also improve the navigation system and GPS to take into account real-time traffic reporting, as well as enabling a “Night Mode” that shifts the Model S into an energy-conserving state between the hours of 10 PM and 5 AM. This update will also allow owners to name their Model S

Thankfully, Tesla is taking security seriously, even attending the recent DEFCON hacker conference with the hopes of recruiting some Internet security experts to protect the Model S. It’s another futuristic feature that makes the Model S even more the cutting edge car everybody says it is.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Amsterdam's electrifying progress Amsterdam is synonymous with three things: canals, coffee shops and cycling. There are around 400km of cycle paths in the city, making getting around by bike a safe, popular and environmentally friendly way of traveling for a large number of residents.

Since 2009, the city has been promoting the adoption of another form of sustainable transport: electric vehicles. The initiative, known as Amsterdam Elektrisch – or Amsterdam Electric – has seen a raft of measures introduced in the city to encourage uptake of clean, electric transport.

Maarten Linnenkamp, who was responsible for the introduction of the scheme in 2009 and is now Project Manager for the city's metropolitan area, said Amsterdam's willingness to be pro-active when it came to electric vehicles was key.

"Five years ago, nobody knew hardly anything about electric mobility, so we thought: don't talk, but act," he told CNBC in a phone interview.

This willingness to act saw many incentives introduced to encourage people to buy or use electric cars.

During the scheme's "launch phase" those using electric vehicles in the city were offered not only free access to charging points, but free parking too. Today, 'e-drivers' are automatically placed at the head of parking space waiting lists.

"It can take a year or more to get a parking permit," Bart Vertelman, Project Manager of the electric mobility program in the city of Amsterdam, told in a phone interview. "When you buy an electric car you get to the top of the list… which is a big advantage in a city like Amsterdam," he added.

According to data compiled by Amsterdam Electric, in 2013 and the first half of 2014, 2.2 million kilowatt hours of energy were charged using public charging points, which is equivalent to 11 million clean, emission free kilometers. An electric car sharing scheme with car2go has put a further 300 fully electric vehicles on the roads.

Accessibility to charging points has been crucial to the program's success. "All kinds of cities put [charging] infrastructure on the street, just to make it visible, [to say] 'look at us, we have electric mobility'," Vertelman said. "But… infrastructure was put in front of the city hall, for example. Nobody is going to charge in front of city hall, it's not where they live or where they work," he added.

"We made it demand driven, basically at the places where people live and work, so they can ask us, 'I live here, I work here, is it possible to put a charging point on the street?'"

By 2015, it is hoped that there will be 2,000 public charging points throughout Amsterdam, while this autumn will see the introduction of an electric taxi service from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

Why has electric transport been such a success in Amsterdam? "In the Netherlands as a whole, it's quite suitable to use electric cars," Linnenkamp said. "The distances are not that big, the climate is OK, we don't have mountains and people are well educated and interested in new things," he added.

Monday, 25 August 2014

By 2020 Europe might not need power plants

Within a few decades, large-scale, centralized electricity generation from fossil fuels could be a thing of the past in Europe.

That’s the word from investment bank UBS, which just released a new report anticipating a three pronged assault from solar power, battery technology, and electric vehicles that will render obsolete traditional power generation by large utilities that rely on coal or natural gas. According to Renew Economy, whichpicked up the report, the tipping point will arrive around 2020. At that point, investing in a home solar system with a 20-year life span, plus some small-scale home battery technology and an electric car, will pay for itself in six to eight years for the average consumer in Germany, Italy, Spain, and much of the rest of Europe. Crucially, this math holds even without any government subsidies for solar power.

“In other words,” the report says, “a German buyer should receive 12 years of electricity for free” for a system purchased in 2020.

That would mean that after 2020, the economic incentives will align to encourage the average European household to stop relying on the traditional utility model for their electricity needs. “Not all [power plants] will have disappeared by 2025,” the report concedes, “but we would be bold enough to say that most of those plants retiring in the future will not be replaced.”

The analysis also suggests that for utilities to survive in this new world, they’ll need to focus on providing smart distribution networks to better manage demand on a much more decentralized grid, and providing small-scale local back-ups for storage and power generation to that same effect.

The way this would work on the household level is that the electric car could charge at night, solar would provide electricity during the day, and excess solar generation stored up in the battery could be discharged in the evenings to cover most of a household’s remaining power needs. Power supplied by the grid likely wouldn’t go away completely, but would be relegated to plugging some small remaining holes, primarily in the early morning. And smarter grid systems for homes will allow energy demand to be met with supply much more efficiently.

UBS thinks it will take a while longer for electric vehicles to knock out reliance on oil to fuel transportation. But the total cost of ownership over three years for a Tesla Model S is already equivalent to comparable combustion-driven car like an Audi A7. And Tesla is planning to release a new $35,000 electric car for the consumer market in 2017.

So UBS thinks the rate at which electric cars are taking over the market will increase substantially after 2020, and that 10 percent of the market is a conservative estimate. That said, despite the remarkable growth in electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid sales, they remain an extremely small slice of the global car fleet — and the International Energy Agency believes they’ll need to take up three-fourths of global automobile sales by 2050 to stick with the goal of keeping the world’s average temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius.

Under UBS’ analysis, the combined effect of solar, batteries, and electric cars all intersecting at once is crucial to this tipping point. They anticipate advances in battery technology and pushes to scale up battery production — like Tesla’s anticipated gigafactory— will drop battery costs by more than 50 percent by 2020. That will make electric vehicles and stationary battery storage for homes cheaper, driving up demand for both. Then expansion of the electric car market will drive further improvements in battery technology, and a virtuous cycle will set in.

Meanwhile, power will be consumed more efficiently, because it will be consumed in lots of dispersed local settings, rather than being consumed by broad areas served by a single power source. That cuts down on the need for electricity transmission over long distances, and the accompanying power losses.

Friday, 22 August 2014

How EVs Could Make Solar Viable Without Subsidies Investment bank UBS says the addition of electric vehicles, and the proliferation of battery storage, will solve the problem of intermittency for rooftop solar and make it viable without subsidies. So much so, it says, that households will be able to budget for 12 years of “free electricity” for a 20-year solar system.

In a major report on the “revolution” that could hit energy markets any time soon, UBS says – as we report here – that the combination of EVs plus solar plus storage will deliver a payback time of 6-8 years by 2020 – effectively making centralised fossil fuel generation redundant.

It says this is not understood by the utility industry or the market, because they are “not yet looking at the topics of solar, EVs and stationary batteries with a holistic view.”

“Our proprietary model (above) shows it is the combination of the three that makes solar fully competitive and that has the potential to bring disruptive changes to the electricity sector.

“Here are the maths: One can leverage the EV purchase with an investment in a solar system and a stationary battery. By doing so, one can optimise the self-consumption of solar power and minimise the “excess waste” of solar electricity.

“And what also may matter to many EV buyers: The electricity used to drive the car is carbon-free. The combination of and EV + solar + battery should have a payback of 7-11 years, depending on the country-specific economics. In other words, based on a 20-year technical life of a solar system, a German buyer should receive 12 years of electricity for free (purchase in 2020).”

UBS says pure battery EVs will be competitive with cars with internal combustion engines, and in some instance may already be so.

As this table to the right shows, the 3-year total cost of ownership (TCO) of a Tesla S model is similar to that of a comparable petrol combustion engine car such as an Audi A7, especially in markets with high fuel prices like Germany – a country where purchase incentives are almost non- existent.

“We think that by 2020, shrinking battery and solar cost will make EVs in the mass segments the cheaper alternative over a car life cycle in most European markets.

“While on a global basis, EV sales for the remainder of the decade should be mostly carbon/fuel standards and related incentives, we think penetration rates will accelerate significantly after 2020 driven by compelling economics. As a conservative 2025 scenario, we think about 10% of new car registrations in Europe will be EVs.”

So, how does this work in practice?

UBS provides the table below to explain why solar plus stationary battery plus electric vehicle, in combination with smart demand, is an almost perfect fit.

EV charging during the night smoothes the daily demand curve. The stationary battery stores excess solar electricity during the day and releases it in the evening hours.

The remaining supply gap will be filled with electricity from the grid during the night/early morning hours, which is when spot prices are low and there is excess base-load and wind power supply. On top (not illustrated below), the stationary battery may be re-charged in the early morning hours with excess grid electricity (at low prices) and supply the morning demand peak during breakfast hours.

Source: RenewEconomy. Reproduced with permission.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Wireless charging electric cars on UK roads in 2017 Qualcomm Halo reveals wireless charging BMW i3 and i8 safety cars for Formula E, says tech will be available to customers within three years

Wirelessly charged electric cars could be available to buy as soon as 2017, according to the company developing the technology with car manufacturers.

Qualcomm Halo has been working on wireless charging technology for several years, and last week unveiled a BMW i8 and i3 fitted with a prototype version of the system. These cars will be used as safety and medical response vehicles for the new Formula E electric racing championship, where they need to be able to deploy rapidly – something that wouldn’t be possible if they were plugged in to charge.

Dr Anthony Thompson, vice president of business development and marketing for Qualcomm Halo, told Auto Express: “We’re in discussions at some level with all of the major companies developing electric vehicles, and some requests for quotations have already gone out. We’d expect to see the system on a production car by 2017.”

It’s not yet clear how much more expensive a wirelessly charged EV would be compared to one with a conventional charging cable, but Dr Thompson indicated the technology was likely to debut on luxury and high-end vehicles first, before filtering down to more mainstream models in a few years.

“A member of senior management at one of the carmakers we’re talking to told me that they see EVs as a 10-year game,” added Thompson. They expect that 50 per cent of the cars they sell will be EVs or hybrids by then – and almost all of them will be using wireless charging by that point, too.”

The system works through two charging pads – one on the ground and one attached to the vehicle. Sending a current through coiled wires in the ground pad creates a strong magnetic field, which carries the energy to the pad on the car. The resulting power is then converted to DC and used to recharge the batteries.

The technology has its origins as far back the earliest experiments with electro-magnetism in the 19th century, and is currently used for charging small household items such as electric toothbrushes. “The technology is easy to conceive, but difficult to implement on the scale necessary to recharge an electric car,” said Thompson. “It’s only really become possible in the last 20 years.”

Integrating wireless charging technology with an existing electric car design requires a number of steps, including determining where on the car is the best location for the charging pad. Thompson said that developing the system for the BMW i8 had been a particular challenge, as its carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic body doesn’t shield electromagnetic energy the way traditional steel panels would.

The system can transfer power over a gap of around 150mm, and is currently about 90 per cent efficient, compared to 95 per cent efficiency for a cable system. It still works if the pad is wet from rainfall or even covered in snow.​

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

USA: Rooftop Solar May Reach Grid Parity In 25+ States By 2017 

States where rooftop solar will equal or be cheaper than grid power by 2017 (UCSUSA)

In just three years, new numbers tell us, more than half of the states in the US may have rooftop solar available at the same price as the local grid’s electric rates. And that’s even without considering state and local incentives!

The Cambridge-based Union of Concerned Scientists has just published a series of three quick infographics. Here’s what they show:
By 2017, more than half the states could have rooftop solar as cheap as local electricity prices.
Installing rooftop solar has never been more affordable.
The number of households with rooftop solar is skyrocketing.

Rooftop solar costs about half what it did in 2005 (UCSUSA)

Rather than claiming copyright privileges, the UCSUSA encourages the media to pass these graphics along, so here they are. More information is available at this link.

You’ll find a full description of the methodology used by the UCSUSA here in PDF format, including all source and forecast data. Assumptions are also clearly stated, and links are provided to full-size files. The Washington, DC, information graphics consulting and services Graphicacy produced the infographics.

Skyrocketing number of solar households (UCSUSA)

Cost and charging points more important than range, study says Price and charging infrastructure are more important than range improvements, the study says
Cost reduction and charging infrastructure, rather than long range, are the most important criteria for helping the electric vehicle sector to grow, a new study has shown.

Zhenhong Lin, a researcher at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Knoxville, Tennessee, optimised electric vehicle range predictions based on the individual driving patterns of 36,664 sample drivers in the United States.

The results showed most consumers would be capable of living with a car offering a range of less than 100 miles, provided the charging infrastructure continues to grow, instead of paying the extra cost of a longer-range, higher-capacity battery.

It suggests a change of focus away from the industry norm, which is to chase ever-longer ranges from a single charge. Until manufacturing costs dip below $100 per kWh of capacity, most consumers are actually better off in a low-range vehicle, according to the report.

The study, Optimizing and Diversifying Electric Vehicle Driving Range for U.S. Drivers, is published in the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) journal Transportation Science.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

UK: Jenny Gow to present ITV4 Formula E coverage Jennie Gow is to join ITV4 as presenter of its live coverage of the brand new FIA Formula E Championship.

The presenter, who has an impressive track-record of presenting top-class motorsport on television and radio, will front ITV4’s live coverage of the world's first fully-electric racing series, which starts on September 13 in Beijing.

Currently lead anchor for BBC Radio Five Live’s F1 coverage, Jennie was previously the presenter of BBC2’s MotoGP coverage and hosted Sky Sports News on their live channel and digital platforms.

She says: “I’m delighted and very proud to have been asked to lead ITV4’s coverage of Formula E – I’m a massive motorsport fan and I’m really excited about this brand new series.

“It’s great to be involved in a new chapter of motorsport history from the very beginning, and I can’t wait for the season to begin.”

The new single-seater championship features street circuits in iconic cities like Beijing, London, and Los Angeles. The season starts in China, with the final Formula E race scheduled to take part in Battersea Park in London on June 27, 2015.

Team backers include Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson, and among the drivers are experienced Formula 1 campaigners Jarno Trulli, Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna.

Joining Jennie to lend their insight into the cars, the stars and the on-track action will be a selection of expert pundits.

Niall Sloane, ITV's Director of Sport said: “It's great news that Jennie has joined ITV4’s coverage of this innovative new series - which promises top-level racing with the iconic backdrops of some of the world’s most famous cities. The coverage of this series adds to the strength of ITV4’s motorsport portfolio.”

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Tesla: 8 years, now also infinite mile warranty on drive unit

Tesla blog

The Tesla Model S drive unit warranty has been increased to match that of the battery pack. That means the 85 kWh Model S, our most popular model by far, now has an 8 year, infinite mile warranty on both the battery pack and drive unit. There is also no limit on the number of owners during the warranty period.
Moreover, the warranty extension will apply retroactively to all Model S vehicles ever produced. In hindsight, this should have been our policy from the beginning of the Model S program. If we truly believe that electric motors are fundamentally more reliable than gasoline engines, with far fewer moving parts and no oily residue or combustion byproducts to gum up the works, then our warranty policy should reflect that.
To investors in Tesla, I must acknowledge that this will have a moderately negative effect on Tesla earnings in the short term, as our warranty reserves will necessarily have to increase above current levels. This is amplified by the fact that we are doing so retroactively, not just for new customers. However, by doing the right thing for Tesla vehicle owners at this early stage of our company, I am confident that it will work out well in the long term.
– Elon

Thursday, 14 August 2014

If you think Tesla is growing fast, look at Solar City SolarCity installed 1.2 megawatts of rooftop solar PER DAY in Q2.

"We really had an amazing quarter" was how SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive opened up this afternoon's second-quarterearnings call.

The highlights, according to the CEO, were:

  • 218 megawatts booked in Q2, a 216 percent jump. Rive said that this volume of bookings wasn't expected until the fourth quarter. 
  • SolarCity "added 30,000 customers in one quarter." 
  • The installer/financier grew its Q2 installed capacity to 107 megawatts 
"The third securitization highlights the depth of available low-cost capital," according to the firm. The third securitization raised $201 million with $160 million at 4.03 percent and was rated BBB+ by S&P.

The Silevo acquisition closes at the end of August. The manufacturing site in New York is being selected.

Rive said that the company has more than "$3.3 billion of customer payments coming to us in the next twenty years. We've added $800 million in one quarter. This growth, and the demand for the product, has really exceeded any of our previous forecasts."

He said, "We find ourselves in a very exciting situation," adding, "Now's the time to capture the market and grow as fast as we can."

SolarCity installed 1.2 megawatts of rooftop solar per day "every day of the quarter" in Q2, according to COO Tanguy Serra. He contrasted that to the ten days it used to take SolarCity to install the same 1 megawatt in 2010.

He said the 102 percent improvement is due to an "increase in the productivity of our crews." He attributed that improvement to the Zep mounting hardware, more efficient scheduling and more attractive incentive structures.

Some really good stuff on SolarCity's cost structure from COO Tanguy Serra (prices in dollar per watt)
The COO noted that the firm is "reducing cost twice as fast as our goal."
"In an effort to increase the transparency of our cost structure, we have reconciled the GAAP numbers from our 10-Q to our unit costs."
"On average we spend $2.29 [per watt] to build a solar system -- this includes the panels, the inverters, our proprietary Zep mounting hardware, the balance of system, the labor cost, the call centers, the processing and engineering functions, as well as all the infrastructure, vehicles and warehouses necessary to install a solar asset. So $2.29 installed cost."
"We are currently at 48 cents [per watt] acquisition costs."
Adding installed cost plus acquisition cost yields $2.77 per watt, "the total marginal cost of growing the asset base."
It typically takes less than a day to get a job installed.
The goal is to get installation cost down to $1.90 per watt.
The company currently has an installation cycle, the time from contract signing to interconnection, of 60 days.

Lyndon Rive, the CEO, also acknowledged that the firm is "testing different products on the solar loan side," adding, "Once we have come up with the absolute best product out there, we'll make a big announcement on what it will look like."

Tesla Might Cause Grid Defection ‘Tipping Point’ To Occur via SolarLove: Startups often focus on disrupting markets by having some penetrating insights, new technology or simply a desire to improve upon an existing product or service. Morgan Stanley’s report on Solar Power and Energy Storage contains a fascinating comment about the potential ramifications of Tesla’s focus on developing large numbers of electric batteries.

“Energy storage, when combined with solar power, could disrupt utilities in the US and Europe to the extent customers move to an off-grid approach. We believe Tesla’s energy storage product will be economically viable in parts of the US and Europe, and at a fraction of the cost of current storage alternatives,” it explains on page 1.

They go on to say why Tesla might have such an impact, “This advantage is driven primarily by the company’s very significant scale (Tesla will produce as many cells from its Gigafactory as are currently produced by all worldwide battery manufacturers combined) and integrated manufacturing efficiencies. We project the capital cost of Tesla’s battery will fall from the current $250/kWh to $150/kWh by 2020, whereas its closest competitor will be at a cost of ~$500/kWh,” it says on page 2.

The US Energy and Information Administration estimated that about 6% of the electricity transmitted and distributed each year is lost because of problems with national grid system. Six percent doesn’t sound like much, does it?

However, another estimate translated that number into dollars and came up with an amount for a single year, “Multiplying that number by the national average retail price of electricity for 2005, we can estimate those losses came at a cost to the US economy of just under $19.5 billion.” For ten years, the total lost would be $195 billion dollars, just due to grid inefficiencies.

In a sense, the grid is also all the power plants connected to it, because they are the sources of the electricity. Coal plants are even less efficient, with only about 35% of the energy in coal becoming electricity after being burned and converted. An eventual grid defection doesn’t look so scary, when you consider that over the long term, we might be saving a lot of money and polluting our air, water and soil much less. Then, of course, there would be less climate change emissions contributing to that global problem.

Grid defection doesn’t have to be 100% either; many early adopters could have home energy systems using renewables and remain grid connected in order to have a backup power system.

It’s hard to say when a tipping point might occur, but there have been a number of Americans that have lived off-grid or mostly so for a long time. Over 120 years ago, Charles Brush created his ownwind turbine and home battery system.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Tesla maps out growth plans for supercharger network Tesla has created some cool new maps that show how its Supercharger Network will evolve over the next few years.
Plans for the U.S. and Europe are ambitious. CEO Elon Musk's company aims to effectively fill in all the charging gaps that a Tesla vehicle owner might encounter.
Teslas have far greater range than other electric cars currently in the market, but the company has introduced the Supercharger Network to alleviate any concerns about either "range anxiety" or extended charging times.
Asia, an important market for Tesla's future growth, will also see an expansion of the Supercharger Network. However, it a country as vast as, for example, China, the areas covered will be more limited.
The existing US Supercharger Network enables travel through some obvious corridors, such as coastal California and the up and down the East Coast.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.54.08 AM
Tesla's short-term goal for the U.S. is to bulk up the regional charging networks.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.54.35 AM
By 2014, there will be far fewer Supercharger gaps, and the network will provide better access to Canada.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.55.02 AM
By 2015, there will be almost nowhere in the U.S. that won't be accessible for a Tesla vehicle looking for a rapid recharge.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.55.34 AM
 Europe is more compact that the U.S., so the objective there is slightly different.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.55.56 AM
The idea here is to increase the density of Supercharger coverage.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.56.10 AM
But ultimately, Tesla wants to expand the European Supercharger Network to countries not now being served, such as Sweden.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.56.23 AM
Supercharger expansion plans in China are more limited. At the moment, it's difficult to travel among the country's major cities.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.56.38 AM
The goal is to gradually work toward changing that, while also adding additional capacity to the existing network.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.56.47 AM

Read more:

Navigant: EV sales to reach 1.8m p/a by 2023

Navigant Research: Annual Sales of Electric Vehicles in North America, Western Europe, and Asia Pacific Will Reach 1.8 Million by 2023

Asia Pacific will surpass North America as the largest market for plug-in EVs by 2018, report concludes.

While plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are now available in all U.S. states, most Canadian provinces and territories, and in every Western European country, they are not readily accessible in the Asia Pacific region. That will change over the next several years as Asia Pacific becomes the largest market for PEV sales. Click to tweet: According to a recent report from Navigant Research, sales of PEVs in North America, Western Europe, and Asia Pacific will grow from 352,000 annually in 2014 to 1.8 million in 2023.

“PEVs are becoming more available and more price-competitive, both geographically and in vehicle segments outside of small and luxury car classes,” says Scott Shepard, research analyst with Navigant Research. “That is expanding the universe of potential PEV buyers beyond the narrow demographics of early adopters to a wider market that is similar to that for hybrid electric vehicles.”

PEVs are better suited to and marketed toward urban areas, as vehicle range requirements are typically shorter in these communities. As such, the concentration of PEVs is anticipated to be higher in geographic areas with higher populations and more households. The largest urban markets during the forecast period, according to the report, will be Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Paris, with PEV sales in 2023 of 49,000, 39,000, and 25,000 vehicles, respectively.

Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts

To date, North America is the strongest market for light duty (LD) plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), with nearly 100,000 sold in 2013. Japan is a distant second, with just under 30,000 sales, followed by the Netherlands (over 23,000) and China (over 17,000). Navigant Research expects that the United States will be the largest market for PEVs during the next 10 years, with LD PEV sales exceeding 514,000 in 2023.

The top cities for LD PEV sales among all of the regions examined in this report are expected to be Los Angeles, Paris, and Tokyo. Cities with higher densities will likely see greater interest in incentivizing PEV purchases, optimizing PEV charging, and developing publicly available EV supply equipment (EVSE) infrastructure. The overall growth of LD PEV sales will be considerable throughout the world over the next decade. Navigant Research forecasts that the global LD PEV market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.6% while the global market for LD vehicles will grow at a CAGR of only 2.6%. How and where PEVs are bought will affect grid distribution systems and utility business models since Navigant Research estimates PEVs increase residential customer load by 33% to 37%.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Redesigning EVs For Personal Mobility In New Delhi Sustainability Outlook recently talked to Clean Motion, on re-designing personal mobility for an energy scarce world and introducing Zbees to India.

When we look at the car, it is hugely over-engineered for its current function. The design of a normal car is the end-result of an optimisation based on the presumption that energy is not a scarce resource.

While most people use their cars for commuting, it is designed for a range of other functions that do not occur frequently (e.g. long distance driving or holidays). Who really needs 1.5 tonnes of steel to transport yourself to get the milk and back?

Typical electric cars on the market are hugely expensive. A Tesla caters to a very small, luxury elite audience and selling luxury electric cars cannot drive a large-scale transformation in our personal mobility in India.

More affordable models, such as a Nissan Leaf, which aim to substitute traditional cars, are not much better. Such cars have essentially replaced combustion engine with an electric drive train.

However, this really just combines the worst of everything — a 5 person passenger car, designed to drive 150km on one charge, is simply too heavy and creates a massive demand for batteries that in turn makes for an incredibly expensive vehicle with a larger-than-necessary environmental footprint. These sorts of products have a very confused value proposition.

What do you think is the role of electric vehicles as part of a larger transport ecosystem?

GF: Even cars inside some sort of car-pooling or shared fleet arrangements are hugely over-engineered for their purpose.

What we need is flexibility for personal mobility — instead of having multiple traditional cars, consumers should be able to retain their normal car for their two-week family vacations but deploy a light electric vehicle for daily purpose commute.

Right now, the outlook for conception of an electric car doesn’t allow this flexibility. The auto industry has effectively used the overall body of the car, but with an electric drivetrain, which is so heavy that it kills the economic and the environmental benefit.

The implication of weight and design on battery demand is interesting. Could you talk a little more about that?

GF: An electric battery (Lithium-ion) is 20 kgs and provides as much energy for transportation as 0.2 L of gasoline — equivalent to 2KWH . Note that lead acid batteries are about 4 times less efficient, so the environmental impact is worse.

The amount of energy delivered by a battery is the key technological constraint and all industry players are poised to adopt new innovations when these arise.

Setting battery technology aside, let’s consider how this energy is deployed. For a normal petrol car, with 1 to 2 passengers (which is in the ballpark to the average number of passengers per privately owned car in Delhi), 95% of the energy is used to transport the car and only 5% of the energy is being used to transport the actual passengers.

Coming into Mumbai for the first time, I saw a massive number of autorickshaws at the same time.

It occurred to me that while they are perfectly suited as a vehicle concept to commuting within Indian traffic conditions, no-one has ever re-engineered them since the 1950s.

In our conception of Zbee, and in contrast to the design of cars to date, our starting point in designing a vehicle concept is energy efficiency and secondly transport safety.

Further, we are minimising the amount of battery demand — as an electric battery is the heaviest, most resource intensive and most expensive component.

How do you intend to deploy in India?

Anil Arora (AA): Right now, we are conducting trials for the Zbee in New Delhi.

We are essentially developing a networked clusters of Zbees that will support the New Delhi Metro stations with ‘last-mile’ point to point transport.

We are renting out 15-25 Zbees to a single franchisee who currently own fleets of autorickshaws. This cluster size for Zbees is large enough to make a visible footprint in high intensity traffic routes within a 10-15km range. Our cluster operators will rent infrastructure on a franchisee model.

In terms of revenue streams, we expect 40% of the revenues to come from advertising on the Zbee and 60% of the revenues to come from ride payments from Zbee passengers.

Are you looking at other high density routes? What about using EVs as a public transport alternative in Tier 2 or Tier 3 cities?

AA: In New Delhi, we are considering to partner up with a major real estate provider, particularly in the Gurgaon area, in order to cater to point-to-point transport within CyberCity. These sorts of corporate mobility fleets are estimated to be about 100 Zbees per fleet.

We are contemplating Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities as potential markets, but this is not a core area of focus at present. An interesting fact is that most of these Tier 2 or Tier 3 cities are only 10-15km in any cross-sectional direction, which is the “sweet spot” considering the range of a light electric vehicle. An EV in this context could potentially fulfill all commuting needs in small cities – it will not just be a mechanism of supporting last mile commute to supplement public transport.

However, we believe the tipping point for Tier 2 cities is when EVs further exceed their purpose beyond worker commute, for example, for supporting tourist activities in places like Jaipur.

Let’s consider the environmental impact of EVs. EV resource benefits can often be misleading, unless these EVs are powered by green energy and there are provisions for end-of-life management for batteries.

AA: As we are creating a networked model of deploying Zbees, there will be charging infrastructure to support each network. We are looking at solar power energy providers for charging infrastructure, as Zbee clusters are deployed. However, right now, we are still in the trial stage.

In terms of end-of-life battery management, we have invested in advanced battery technology for Lithium-ion. These are energy-efficient, and thereby minimise the resource footprint associated with EV batteries given present day battery technology constraints.

However, even if an EV battery outlives its purpose for vehicle transport, we will collect and re-deploy batteries in other industries whether the technology demands of energy storage are not as rigorous as those for vehicular transport. For example, an EV Li-ion battery can be recycled in products such as inverters and small-scale grid storage for decades before being dismantled.

LG Chem: twice the range, same price As Tesla Preps Cheaper Model 3, Korean Firm Developing Battery for 200 Mile-Range Electric Vehicle That Costs $35,000

In addition to Tesla's forthcoming Model 3, LG Chem says it is preparing a pack for an electric car that is more than double that of most vehicles on the road today, but at a similar price. WSJ's Mike Ramsey joins the News Hub with Sara Murray to discuss.

The electric-car era may hit in 2017 when at least two battery-powered cars that can attain 200 miles of driving range and cost less than $40,000 enter the market.

In addition to Tesla Motors's forthcoming Model 3, a leading battery maker says it is preparing a pack for an electric car that extends the range of most vehicles on the road today, but at a similar price.

"We are definitely working on making a 200-mile-range battery electric vehicle at around the $30,000 to $35,000 price target," said Prabhakar Patil, chief executive of LG Chem Power Inc, a U.S.-based research arm of the South Korean battery company.

"It's more than a possibility. We feel we will be able to support such a vehicle around the 2017 time frame." He said more than one auto maker is interested in the technology, although he declined to say which ones.

General Motors Co is almost certainly one of them.

GM, which contracts with LG Chem to supply the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, has said it plans to introduce a 200-mile-range electric vehicle starting as low as $30,000.

A GM official said the project is on track, although he declined to offer details on the timing. Former CEO Dan Akerson first mentioned the vehicle last year.

The two electric cars GM currently offers—the Volt and Spark—get fewer than 85 miles in range on a single charge. GM said last week that it will introduce a fully redesigned Volt in 2015. It first introduced the model in late 2010.

The effort to produce a long-range electric vehicle shows the outsize impact that Tesla has had on the global automotive industry. When it announced that it was making a third-generation vehicle to come out in 2017 with a 200-mile range and a starting price of $35,000, many experts were skeptical it was possible because there appeared to be a lack of breakthroughs on this technology to improve range or lower costs.

Tesla alone has offered long-range electric vehicles and has been able to command a premium for them. Deutsche Bank upgraded Tesla's shares Monday on its capability to produce more vehicles, sending the stock to near record highs.

Other electric-vehicle makers, including Nissan Motor Co, the world's largest seller of EVs, have focused on lower prices rather than extending the range. The Nissan Leaf has a range of about 75 miles. That range is enough for most drivers' daily needs.

Still, a longer range and lower price tag could make electric cars more appealing to buyers who worry that today's vehicles won't hold enough charge to service their everyday needs.

Today, electric vehicles make up less than 1% of the new cars sold in the U.S., but the number has been rising.

Nissan, as the leader in EV sales, sold 15,755 Leafs through July in the U.S., up 35% over last year. Although most car makers sell an electric vehicle, most are symbolic offerings to meet California's air-quality regulations and nearly all have a range under 100 miles.

Today, the only electric vehicle with a 200-mile range is the Tesla Model S, a car that starts at $71,000, underpinned by a massive, 1,000-pound battery pack that experts believe costs at least $15,000. Tesla is working to reduce the cost of the pack by 30% by building a giant battery plant with Panasonic Corp and put out a car in 2017 that costs as little as $35,000 and still hits 200 miles—a range the company thinks is long, to entice people to ditch gasoline-fueled vehicles.

Mr. Patil, of LG Chem, said the batteries it is using are lithium-ion pouch cells, different from the small AA-size batteries Tesla uses in its car. The flexibility of pouches allows car makers to squeeze them into different compartments.

A combination of chemistry improvements that increase the amount of energy storage as well as cost-reduction efforts and better management of the electrical system, should allow LG Chem to lower the production price to make way for an affordable, long-range EV, he said.

Late last month, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk confidently proclaimed that electric vehicles are "heading to a place of no contest when it comes to gasoline," meaning electric cars will be lower cost.

Monday, 11 August 2014

From 2016 50% of French government vehicle purchases to be electric According to French media, France has new plan to have at least50% of all cars purchased for government fleets to be all-electric or plug-in hybrids from 2016 on.

In 2013, alternative fuel cars reached 25% share in French government fleets – 1,271 cars from 5,042. However, most of them were ordinary hybrids, such as the uninspiring Toyota Yaris (925).

Plug-in EVs amounted to just 308, from which 58% were Renault ZOE and 26% Renault Kangoo Z.E.

When the new law comes into force, besides the higher limit (50%) there will be exclusion of HEVs. This mean that at average orders of 5,000 cars a year, 2,500 should be all-electric or plug-in hybrids.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

500,000 EVs milestone

The charge of the Electric Vehicle Brigade is well and truly underway. According to figures gathered by the University of California, Davis – one of the world’s leading research institutions – at least half a million EVs have been sold globally in the ‘modern’ era.

In fact, the figure is nearer 600,000 but the researchers elected to play it safe by waiting until sales were well over half a million before making the announcement.

In arriving at these figures, UC Davis included Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), collectively referring to them as Plug-in Electric Vehicles or PEVs. The world’s best selling PEV (which in this case could stand forPure Electric Vehicle) is, of course, the Nissan LEAF.

The biggest PEV market in the world is the USA with more than 200,000 vehicles sold in the past three years, a third of which were registered in California. To date the United States has accounted for around 45 percent of all PEV sales with Japan in second place ahead of China and the Netherlands.

With the half million milestone having been reached, UC Davis is now predicting serious growth for the PEV.

Between 2010-2014 the researchers believed only ‘innovators’, accounting for less than 1 percent of new cars sales, would opt for a PEV. ‘Fast followers’ will increase the take up to as much as 5 percent between 2014-2018 with the ‘early majority’ taking sales to perhaps 15 percent of all new car sales by 2025.

Fuel cell efficiency 18%-20% vs battery electric at 77%-80%

A decade ago cars powered by fuel cells seemed like the future of green automotive travel, but many analysts now think otherwise.

These futuristic cars run on hydrogen fuel and emit only heat and water vapor. Their engines mix hydrogen, stored on-board in fuel tanks much like gas tanks, with oxygen in the air to produce electricity that powers the drive train. Environmentalists love the idea of fuel cell cars given their lack of greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on a renewable fuel that can be produced domestically.

Despite these benefits, fuel cell cars have not caught on and skeptics wonder if they ever will. One big hurdle is that creating hydrogen fuel turns out to be highly inefficient compared to other readily available fuels. According to Richard Gilbert, co-author of Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight Without Oil, the creation of hydrogen gas uses about half the energy it creates. Half of this resulting energy then goes to the conversion of hydrogen back into electricity within fuel cells. The result is that “only a quarter of the initially available energy reaches the electric motor.” In fact, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles’ efficiency varies between 18 and 20 percent, while battery electric vehicles have 77-80 percent efficiency.

Not only are fuel cells less efficient than internal combustion engines, their implementation on a wide scale would create enormous infrastructure costs. New infrastructure would be required from “wells to wheels.” Also, fuel cell motors wear out five times faster than internal combustion engines, thereby resulting in a shorter car life and more maintenance. Hydrogen’s small size and extreme reactivity results in brittle metal and engines prone to leaking, which reduces both environmental and practical benefits.

But many still consider fuel cell cars a viable option. “Hydrogen is the key to sustainable transportation because it can be produced in virtually unlimited quantities from renewable resources and because its use is nearly pollution-free,” says the non-profit INFORM. A significant financial commitment to hydrogen research, says the group, could result in a variety of vehicles fueled by hydrogen that perform as well or better than gasoline vehicles, with a fraction of the environmental impact.

Transitioning to hydrogen could be achieved without new federal dollars if we reallocate funds within the national energy program from nuclear and fossil fuels. “The opportunities for innovation and economic growth in hydrogen energy are largely untapped, and many nations are working to establish an early position in this fledgling field.” According to INFORM, Germany and Japan are far ahead of the U.S. in hydrogen development. The group would like to see U.S. policymakers encourage more development of fuel cells so we have options open in a fast-transitioning energy future.

Meanwhile, sales of battery electric and hybrid vehicles continue to soar—rising 228 percent in 2013 alone. There are currently no new fuel cell vehicles for sale at American auto dealers, although Honda has hinted that it could have its FCX fuel cell engine ready for the mass market by 2018.

Tesla to launch 4 new models by 2018? According to a recent report, Tesla could launch up to four new models by 2018.

While we already know about the Model X and the Model 3, Autobild is reporting the company is considering a compact city car.
Little is known about the vehicle - which has been dubbed the Model C - but it would be smaller and more affordable than the Model 3 which is expected to cost approximately $35,000.
The magazine goes says a new roadster - dubbed Model R - could arrive in 2017. This seems to contradict statements from Tesla CEO Elon Musk who has previously said an all-new Roadster is at least five years off. However, the wait could be worth it as Tesla's vice president of sales, George Blankenship, has previously suggested it could accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than four seconds and have a range in excess of 200 miles (322 km).

Saturday, 9 August 2014

12,000 reservations for Tesla Model X

Tesla Tries To Slow Model X Reservations

model-x1 For a car that has only been seen a handful of times in public, demand and expectations for the Tesla Model X are at an all time high. But don’t blame Tesla; as Business Insider reports, the company is actively trying to get would-be Model X buyers into the Model S instead. Why would Elon Musk do that?
On the record, Musk said that the reason he doesn’t want to build demand for the upcoming Model X is that customers were “upset” at waiting too long, going so far as to make a public spectacle of themselves. The Tesla CEO wants to avoid another such public car bashing over delayed deliveries.
Another reason for the lack of Model X hype is that Musk already has about a year’s worth of production in reservations. At last tally, there were more than 12,000 Tesla Model X reservations, and that number has grown everyday despite the fact that there are no test drives and little information available on the electric SUV. Tesla-mania is at an all-time high, and Musk brazenly claims he can create demand for his product “at will.”
To his credit, Musk has built an incredible electric car brand without investing a single dollar into marketing or advertising, but Musk has also delayed production of the Model X at least once. While the retooling of the Fremont plant is underway, there have lately been questions about Tesla’s drivetrain reliability. Hopefully these issues have been ironed out in time for the Model X rollout.
If not? Well the hype train might just come to a screeching halt.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Nissan, Mitsubishi Partner Up For Ultra-Affordable $15,000 / £9,000 Electric Car are reporting that "the partnerships of all electric vehicle partnerships has been officially created."

According to InsideEVs Nissan is partnering 50:50 with Mitsubishi on a joint venture with one goal: to develop a minicar-based electric vehicle with release of the new model set for Fiscal Year 2016 (April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017).

Both Nissan and Mitsubishi promise that this co-developed electric car will be sold for the lowest price among major automakers when it hits the market.

The plan is that Nissan and Mitsubishi will work hand-in-hand on this EV. Key components such as batteries will be procured through the economies of scale of two automakers combined.

It’ll be an electric minicar and we’re not yet sure if it’ll be sold in the US.

However, it’s hinted that the price in Japan will 1.5 million yen ($14,614 USD) including subsidies, or approximately the same as a compact ICE sells for in Japan. For comparison, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV sells for a base MSRP of 2.52 million yen ($24,300 USD) prior to subsidies in Japan. Or 1.78 million yen when subsidies are factored IN.

The reported it this way:

It’s likely that the new car will be based on the jointly developed minicar called the Dayz under the Nissan brand and the eK-Wagon under the Mitsubishi brand.

Mitsubishi launched its first electric car called the i-MiEV back in 2009. In recent years, sales have slowed as new competition has entered the market. By the end of 2013, around 30,000 had sold.

While sales of the i-MiEV have been slowing, despite a price cut, the newly launched Outlander plug-in hybrid is performing strongly for Mitsubishi.

Nissan meanwhile is still enjoying great success with its LEAF model it launched in 2010, reaching global sales 100,000 by the end of 2013.

Together it is said the pair will work on key components for a new small electric car including the battery pack.

The Dayz/eK-Wagon is a Japanese Kei car produced especially for the Japanese market, potentially meaning that the new electric model will be limited to the domestic and a select handful of markets.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Electric Vehicles Could Save U.S. Utilities From A Death Spiral The Utilities: Under Siege

In the past year, much has been written by various analysts concerning the risk to the utilities of declining sales volumes as a consequence of numerous factors, especially on-site solar. Every time a solar panel goes onto a roof, sales volumes decline. In May, Barclays downgraded the entire U.S. utility sector to underweight, focusing on the threat of on-site solar and the potential for storage as well. The Barclays analysts commented:

In the 100+ year history of the electric utility industry, there has never before been a truly cost-competitive substitute available for grid power. We believe that solar + storage could reconfigure the organization and regulation of the electric power business over the coming decade.

But it’s not just solar power that utilities need to be concerned about. Each time an LED bulb supplants an incandescent, sales volumes for that application of illumination drop by 70 or 80%. A similar dynamic applies with efficient appliances and other measures.

Innovation And Disruption Is The New Normal

To some extent, we are developing a nascent trend of substituting commodities with intelligence and improved technologies. And that is a good thing. As a society, we want that to happen. To some extent, it has to happen if we are to successfully get out of this climate change box we have created and create space on this planet for another three billion souls. It also makes us more economically competitive and frees up capital for other uses.

And yet, if utility sales dry up too quickly and companies go into free-fall, as has happened in Germany where the utilities lost half a trillion Euros in market capitalization, that is not necessarily a good thing. Innovation and disruption may be beneficial, but the pace of change matters.

However, disruption and innovation can also involve shifts that move benefits and losses from one industry to another. And if the electric industry can steal from the petroleum industry by vastly increasing the number of EVs, perhaps everybody wins except for the oil exporters (whom we are generally not so fond of anyway).

Could A Wholesale Shift To Electric Vehicles Save The Day?

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) just came out with areport extolling the virtues of electric vehicles (EVs), and arguing for their rapid adoption in order to maintain sales volumes and restore health to a threatened industry. EEI states that “electrification is our biggest opportunity.” The Institute comments in the report that 93% of energy in the transportation industry today comes from petroleum, and that electrification of the transportation fleet could benefit the economy and the environment, while offering utilities new opportunities to engage their customers.

Against the backdrop of slowing growth in the electric power industry, bringing electricity to the transportation sector is a huge, albeit long-term opportunity for load growth.”

In one sense, you would think that this is obvious, but you would not know it yet by the actions of the utilities themselves: to date only 1.7% of the vehicles purchased for the utility fleets in the past five years have been electric. So much for eating one’s own dog food.

The good news is that this dynamic can change quickly, if the will is there. EEI comments that over 200,000 plug-in EVs are currently on the road. Last year, approximately 96,000 plug-in EVs were sold in the U.S. and we are on track to increase that number by approximately one-third in 2014. It seems as if every manufacturer is now offering a model: even Mercedes Benz just started taking orders for its S500 model (for $146,000 you get the equivalent of 442 hp equivalent, can accelerate from 0-60 in 5.2 seconds, and reach a top speed of about 155 mph).

It’s not just cars, either. Electric pick-ups and service trucks offer superior performance, while school buses would have distinct advantages over their diesel brethren, according to a recent University of Delaware study.

As far as vehicles specifically dedicated to the service of electric utilities, EEI cites a number of benefits from an electrification, including:

Reduced operating costs over the vehicle lifetime

Extended lives based on mechanical simplicity

Improved crew safety through noise reduction

Extended work hours in areas where noise restrictions would otherwise be a limiting factor

Enhanced brand image

EVs Bring Other Valuable And Capabilities To The Electric Power Grid

And then there is the potential value of being able to use electric batteries to provide services to the grid, such as shifting demand to when it can be best accommodated -usually to off-peak hours – and providing other services which enhance grid reliability (such things as frequency modulation and voltage regulation).

EEI notes that plug in hybrids with a liquid fuel and battery combination (set up in the same way as the Chevy Volt) serve another potentially useful purpose. A utility service vehicle with this type of architecture could provide ‘exportable power.’ That is, they could essentially serve as mobile generators on wheels – providing as much as 125 kilowatts of power which could be delivered right to the distribution grid. The first such ‘Class 5’ vehicle will be in testing by the end of this year, with Pacific Gas & Electric working to develop the appropriate interfaces and protocols relative to safety.

Time To Plug It In And Get Going

U.S. electric utilities need to find new sources for electricity demand. With batteries that can store a day or more of typical household electricity use, (the largest Tesla battery, at 85 kWh, can store the equivalent of four days of average household use) EV’s can clearly suck up a good deal of juice. If adopted in large numbers, EVs could help offset declining power demand.

The utilities also need to find ways to increase adoption of renewable energy sources, particularly solar power. Properly coordinated, and with intelligent and market-aware software, EVs can represent a critical storage component to the grid, facilitating the integration of more renewable energy. Finally, as noted, electric vehicles have numerous advantages that are specifically of value to the utility industry.

U.S. utilities are under a lot of pressure in this new and disruptive world they now find themselves in. If they are suitably forward looking and take advantage of the opportunities, they could become proactive agents of disruption and positive change. They probably don;t have much choice in the matter.

The EEI study puts it bluntly:

The bottom line is that the electric utility industry needs the electrification of the transportation sector to remain viable and sustainable in the long term. While the market has started moving in this direction and the technology has been proven, there is still more to be done. .. Electrifying our own fleets is an important first step in moving the industry forward.

To that end, The Edison Electric Institute is laying down a challenge, asking each of its member utilities to spend 5% of its annual fleet purchases on plug-in vehicles. OPEC’s probably not worried yet. Maybe it should be…