Tuesday, 30 September 2014

US: EVs Earn $110 Per Month Selling Electricity Back To Grid

WSJ.com: Electric Vehicles Sell Power Back to the Grid as Delaware Test Fleet Makes Money by Serving as an Electricity Reserve

In the 1990s, Willett Kempton, a professor at the University of Delaware, proposed in a paper that electric vehicles could help pay for themselves by selling power back to the grid. When no one jumped on the idea, he decided to develop the technology himself.

Now, the pilot project he spearheaded at the university in conjunction with power-plant operator NRG Energy Inc. brings in roughly $110 a month per electric vehicle. The operation uses software to link a minimum of nine electric vehicles, mostly Mini Coopers, together into a virtual power plant on wheels that can both draw energy from the grid and discharge energy when needed.

"We're not earning enough money to get rich," says Dr. Kempton. But "it earns money, and it earns more money than it costs to do it."

The vehicles—which come with chargers that allow for a two-way flow of energy and have a custom-made circuit board added to control the connection with the other cars and grid—essentially are being used as a short-term ministorage facility by PJM Interconnection, the operator of the electricity-transmission system in much of the Eastern U.S.

When more electricity is produced than is required, PJM can discharge power to the car batteries for storage; when demand rises, it can draw the juice back out. The utility agrees to pay for the reserved capacity whether it uses it or not, and the controller in the vehicle ensures that the battery isn't drained to the point that the car can't be driven.

Scott Baker, a senior business-solutions analyst at PJM, says the grid operator sees electric vehicles as potential stabilizers for the system, helping to keep frequencies smooth, especially as intermittent alternative-energy sources like solar are added to the grid.

The Delaware project requires that a certain number of vehicles be strung together because PJM's system won't recognize a "power plant" with less than 100 kilowatts of capacity, which is about what nine vehicles can provide, Dr. Kempton says. But he envisions a day when there could be hundreds of thousands of electric cars selling power to the grid while plugged in at home or the office, making the vehicles more affordable for owners.

That day, however, could be a long way off. One issue is that many EVs don't come with two-way chargers, which Dr. Kempton estimates would cost around $200 per car if auto makers were to design them into new EVs. Another issue is that the control boards are not commercially available, though Dr. Kempton says there have been promising discussions with two big auto makers and an auto-parts manufacturer.

Auto makers, meanwhile, don't know yet whether frequent charging will shorten a vehicle's battery life.

And laws and regulations have to change before cars can be used as power sources. Although the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has passed rules that allow for alternative storage technologies, other regulatory bodies have been slower to do the same.

Dr. Kempton worked with Delaware's utility commission to create the needed regulations, and the state legislature passed a law allowing vehicles to sell power back to the grid.

Still, the success of the Delaware project has inspired other research, says Scott Fisher, the director of alternative-energy services at NRG, which has licensed the vehicle-to-grid technology used in Delaware. NRG says it now plans to test whether electric vehicles could power a building and will apply for funds from a $6 million pool of EV-to-grid research money available from California's Energy Commission.

"I'm not saying it's a 100% slam dunk," Mr. Fisher says. "But it's important enough to warrant the time and energy and expense."

The U.S. military, meanwhile, has a $30 million project in the works to test vehicle-to-grid technology on five bases, including Los Angeles Air Force Base, starting this fall.

UK: one third of Source London chargepoints not working

Just-Auto.com: The Source London electric vehicle public charging network reportedly has flagged nearly a third of its charging point locations as temporarily unavailable.

According to zap-map.com, which tracks charging point locations and availability, the network has made important progress since French company, IER, took over responsibility from Transport for London (TfL) earlier this month.

After testing all of Source London’s 464 charging stations, IER discovered 168 were faulty and required maintenance work, the report said.

"Unfortunately, for EV drivers and Source London members, this means that currently the amount of publicly accessible points in London has diminished significantly," zap-map.com said. It added this presumably was the case before the IER take over, just not public knowledge.

IER said it was working with six charge point manufacturers to fix the stations and reopen them to the public as soon as possible.

"Despite the short-term inconvenience, this should be viewed as a big step forward for Source London," zap-map.com said.

"IER is building a platform for future expansion, once existing points are back online and operating as they should, the French company has indicated [it has] major investment plans focused on expanding the charging network.

"At the moment, Source London mainly consists of slow and fast charging points. With the developments in rapid charging over the last year and major backing from government funding, it is safe to assume that a sizeable chunk of IER’s investment will be centred on rapid charging facilities."

Non-members can currently sign up to the Source London network for GBP5 which will give them access to the network’s charging points till the end of 2014. Existing members have automatically had their memberships extended to the end of the year. A new membership scheme will begin at the start of 2015.

The UK-wide charging map, Zap-Map Live, details Source London points down for maintenance or still available for public use.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Mini Clubman PHEV in 2016

Electric-VehicleNews.com: The Mini Clubman Plug-In Hybrid will be all-wheel drive in at least one configuration.
The 2016 Mini Clubman Hybrid will have a 1.5L three cylinder lifted from the F56 Cooper powering the front wheels. Integrated into that will be a plug-in hybrid system (likely derived from the BMW i8) powering the rear wheels only. Think of it as similar to the all-wheel drive i8 powertrain layout but reversed.
The system that BMW has shown in concept form (and has been testing for years in R55 Clubman mules) has an output of approx 140 kW / 190 hp. With a fully charged battery, the electric only range should be over 30 kilometers giving the Clubman Plug-In Hybrid the ability to be in 100% electric mode for the majority of day-to-day trips.
The Mini Clubman Hybrid will likely debut around the same time as the Clubman itself, in the second half of 2015.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Germany: New Incentives To Buy EVs

Euractiv.com: The German government just passed a new law on electromobility, including perks for electric car drivers, such as parking privileges, permission to use bus lanes and special transit access.

A new law on electromobility was approved by the German federal cabinet on Wednesday (24 September).

The new measure is expected to come into effect in early 2015 and is set to expire on 30 June 2030.

Its scope covers battery powered vehicles, as well as especially environmentally friendly, externally chargeable hybrid cars, and fuel cell vehicles.

For plug-in hybrids, carbon dioxide emissions are capped at 50g per kilometre or a minimum 30km range on purely electric power (40km starting in 2018).

To a large extent, this established minimum range for electric power is enough to cover short day-to-day journeys.

Free parking and access to bus lanes

Under the new law, vehicles approved in Germany are intended to receive special identification via their number plates.

Cars approved outside the country are also expected to be given certain benefits. Because they cannot receive a German number plate, the legislation says they will be identified by a special sticker. This is meant to ensure that electric vehicles can be easily recognised in traffic by police and others on the road.

The law will also give municipalities the possibility to reserve parking spaces at charging stations for electric vehicles as well as provide free parking.

Local authorities can also dole out special access and transit passes (in areas sensitive to air or noise pollution) as well as opening bus lanes for appropriately labeled vehicles, when conditions allow. Final decisions, however, are in the hands of the relevant traffic control authorities.

"With our electromobility law, we are creating additional incentives for electromobility," explained German Transportation Minister Alexander Dobrindt.

"In the future, municipalities will be able to choose how to locally promote the use of electric cars, such as offering free parking or special transit rights. In addition, electric vehicles will be identifiable to anyone at a glance thanks to individual labelling. Because of the growing selection of e-models on the market, and the growing number of e-cars on the roads, sales will continue to rise," Dobrindt said.

Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks added, "With this law we are giving municipalities the possibility to promote electromobility in a way that makes the most sense for their community, from an air quality control perspective for example. Meanwhile we are creating a foundation to better accommodate alternative forms of mobility in urban development."

Auto industry pleased

The auto industry welcomed the new measure. The Automobile Industry Association (VDA) said it expects a boost for electromobility.

"Through individual identification for e-models, these vehicles will be more visible in traffic. Opening up bus lanes and offering free parking areas make driving electric-powered cars more attractive," the VDA's president Matthias Wissmann commented.

"These incentives must be implemented throughout Germany so that they are convincing to [potential] customers,” Wissmann said, adding, “To do this, it is critical to have an approach that includes coordination among the federal government, regions, cities and municipalities."

Wissmann hopes the law will take effect as soon as possible. "This is a first step in the right direction, which must followed by others", the VDA president emphasised. Research and development projects should be continued just as training and qualification efforts should be promoted, he said.

Germany is well-positioned with regard to electromobility, Wissmann pointed out.

"In no other country do car dealers have such a large selection of electric models. International assessments show: Compared to other countries offering electric cars, Germany's auto industry is at the top of the list," he commented.

By the end of the year, 17 production models made in Germany will be released on the market. 12 more will follow in 2015.

The German Transport Forum (DVF), a multi-modal industry association, also welcomed the fresh legislation.

The DVF's managing director Thomas Hailer said, "Now it is important to get e-vehicles into the fleets of companies and public officials. This has the beneficial side-effect that a market is created, in which used electric cars become available much more cheaply to private users after 2 years."

“But to do this,” Hailer continued, “there must be a procurement initiative at the national, regional and municipal levels as well as a move to introduce special tax write-offs for commercially operated vehicles. And credit programmes with reduced interest-rate loans for purchasing e-vehicles must be implemented quickly."

Japan: Nissan One Way Car Sharing Scheme Extended

CleanTechnica.com: Last October, Nissan launched an EV initiative in the city of Yokohama called the One-Way Car Sharing Service, and Green Car Congress reports that the program has been extended another year after more than 10,000 people signed up for the service.

In total, 10,651 people had joined the service, which had capped expectations at 10,000 users between 131 stations spread out between 63 different locations. The average ride lasted just 16 minutes and covered just 1.9 miles in the New Mobility Concept EV, which looks a whole lot like a Renault Twizy. Seeing as how Renault and Nissan are tied at the hip, I think it’s a pretty safe assumption to make.

The next phase of the car-sharing study aims to better integrate local businesses, shopping centers, and public transportation stations. Ultimately, Nissan hopes to develop a free-standing business model it can expand for use in other large cities, and is also introducing new efficiency measures to improve the program. This includes a reduction from 70 vehicles to just 50, though the small EVs are still restricted from highway use (a good call since the top speed is just 50 MPH). Two new payment systems are also being introduced with Phase 2; Plan A costs a monthly fee of about ¥1,000, or $9.17, which includes 50 minutes of driving per month, while each additional minute costs ¥20, or about 18-cents.

Plan B has no monthly fee, though rates are set at about 28-cents per minute. This plan is aimed at tourists who may only be passing through and don’t need a monthly membership. Might such a system ever gain a following in the US? If the price was right, it could prove to be a popular alternative for bike-wary tourists and urbanites alike.

China: Dongfeng Nissan launches electric car

Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle Company, a joint venture between Japanese automaker Nissan and China's Dongfeng Motors Corporation, launched its first electric car in the northeastern city of Dalian on Wednesday.

The E30 pure-electric vehicle model from its local Venucia brand in China, was put on sale at a price of 267,800 yuan (US$43,550).

With a 47,500-yuan (US$7,740) subsidy from the central government and a 100,000-yuan (US$16,294) subsidy from the Dalian municipal government, local residents can buy the car for 120,000 yuan (US$19,550).
The vehicle has a maximum speed of 144 km per hour and a range of 175 km per charge.
Customers who buy the vehicle this year will enjoy free installation of recharging facilities.
There are expected to be 5,000 new-energy vehicles on Dalian's roads by the end of 2015, including 3,600 in the public sector, according to the municipal government.
Chinese automakers are competing to introduce electric vehicles into the market with a strong government impetus. Local firm Lifan launched an affordable electric car earlier this month with prices starting at 43,800 yuan (US$7,137), 6% of the cost of the Tesla Model S.
China is giving policy support, including tax exemptions, to new-energy vehicles to save energy and combat pollution. There are price subsidies and requirements for government departments to buy more new-energy cars.
New-energy cars have been exempt from a 10% purchase tax since Sept. 1. The tax break will remain in force till the end of 2017.

Norway: electric car sharing

TheForeigner.no: Japan’s Toyota reveals a new electric car for city use, partnering with France’s Grenoble and energy supply company EDF to pilot the scheme. Several Norwegian municipalities are also thinking electric vehicle-sharing thoughts.

The project in France will involve 70 Toyota i-ROAD vehicles around the city. They can be located using a smartphone app, which will also give information on the amount of power the car’s battery has.

Company Sodetrel has installed 27 charging points around the city, bringing Grenoble’s total to 120. 41 of these are available for use by other vehicles. The same company has installed 1,374 in various places in Norway.

The French scheme starts on 1st October, and will last around three years. The price for renting the vehicle is set at 3 euros for 15 minutes. Extending the time to up to 30 minutes incurs an additional fee of 2 euros, while each 15-minute period after this will cost 1 euro. Consequently, an hour’s use costs 7 euros, total.

Private initiatives
Five of Norway’s biggest cities – Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, and Kristiansand – are at various stages when it comes to electric vehicles and car-sharing.

“We cooperate with a private company called Move About, environmental organisation ZERO, and Norway’s Electric Car Association (Norsk elbilforening) regarding developing vehicles,” Oslo municipality’s Sture Portvik, head of their electric vehicles division, tells The Foreigner.

The municipality has set aside 50 million Norwegian kroner to substitute their fossil fuel-powered vehicles with electric ones. According to him, they are halfway. Private individuals can also set up an account with Move About, founded in Norway in 2007.

“Car-sharing is popular. Frankfurt and London are very keen on the scheme. When it comes to electric vehicles, people can familiarize themselves with them, and they are safe to drive,” says Mr Portvik.
Capital, capital

Stavanger, Norway’s oil capital located in Rogaland County is following Oslo’s example. Officials’ move applies to both municipal employees and private individuals.

“We’re working on different schemes for electric vehicle-sharing to expand the one Oslo has. Part of this is enabling the municipality to hire private EVs from businesses during the day, while they can be used for private purposes during the evening and at night,” remarks the municipality’s chief environmental officer, Olav Stav.

35,902 electric vehicles were on the road in Norway as of 31st August this year. Figures for regions Oslo, Hordaland (containing Bergen), Sør-Trøndelag (which includes Trondheim), Stavanger, and Vest-Agder (in which Kristiansand is situated) were 7,110, 5,205, 3,372, 2,900, 3,372, and 1,289, respectively.

“We don’t have an electric car-sharing scheme in place, but some municipal employees and inhabitants are members of [cooperative] Bildeleringen,” comments Lars Ove Kvalbein, mobility and climate information advisor in Bergen municipality. “We’re also going to be replacing 730 of the vehicles currently in our fleet (about 20 per cent) with zero emission ones.”
State allocations

Transnova, a Ministry of Transport and Communications subsidiary, has recently announced 2 million kroner (about 245,320 euros) is to be allocated towards an electric car-sharing programme.

Bjørn Ove Bertelsen, chief engineer at Trondheim municipality’s department of the environment, states that “we haven’t begun an electric vehicle-sharing scheme yet, but are very keen to get one started.”

Kristiansand municipality’s climate and environment advisor Kim Øvland says they do not currently have an electric car-sharing scheme in place either. According to him, however, some car dealers might have a scheme where electric vehicle customers can borrow a fossil fuel-based one for longer journeys.

“There have been public discussions regarding electric vehicles in relation to a plan for the region, but these have mainly been about infrastructure. We’ve spent quite a lot of money establishing fast charging stations in the region, but there’s still some way to go,” he concludes.

Controlling vehicle pollution, improving public transport and shifting away from the car culture could save 1.4 million lives and trillions of dollars, according to a new report by the University of California Davis and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Germany: free parking for EVs?

Germany is offering electric-car buyers the prospect of free parking as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government seeks to boost demand for the vehicles.

The German cabinet today backed a bill that would enable municipalities to offer drivers of battery-powered cars, fuel cell vehicles and some plug-in hybrids privileges including parking and the right to use bus lanes, the Environment Ministry said today in an e-mailed statement.

“Electric cars will get their own labels so they’re recognizable to everyone,” Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said in the statement. “Sales will rise amid an increasing selection of electric models and a growing number of e-cars on the roads.”

Germany, the focal point of the European auto industry, has set a goal of having 1 million electric vehicles on its roads by 2020, from about 21,000 at the start of the year. The goal is aimed at underscoring the country’s prowess in auto manufacturing as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet climate-protection targets.

Transport, which accounts for about 16 percent of the country’s carbon-dioxide emissions, generated about 140 million metric tons of CO2 in 2012, from about 161 million tons in 2001.

The measures “can boost electric mobility,” Matthias Wissmann, president of the VDA auto industry group, said today in an e-mailed statement. The rules have to take effect quickly and apply nationally to convince customers, he said.
Motoring Culture

Germany was a transport pioneer when it opened Europe’s first car-only highway in 1921 in Berlin. Its free-wheeling autobahn, which often doesn’t have a speed limit, has spurred a motoring culture, helping Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), Daimler AG (DAI)’s Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Audi and Porsche dominate the market for high-end cars.

Including vehicles like BMW’s i3 and an electric version of Daimler’s Smart car, German automakers will offer 17 electric-powered models by the end of 2014, and another 12 will be going on sale next year, VDA said.

Hybrids with CO2 emissions of no more than 50 grams per kilometer or an electric range of more than 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) qualify for the benefits, according to the government’s statement. The changes are to take effect in spring 2015.

London: Tesla-only taxi service opens

CleanTechnica.com: GLiiDE is an all Tesla taxi service launching in London, allowing residents of this English capital to get around without emissions or congestion charges, reports EV Fleet World. Billing itself as London’s first all-electric taxi, GLiiDE is based around a smartphone app and corporate portal that handles booking, tracking, and payment for effortless transactions.

Convenience, luxury, and the Tesla Model S are three reasons GLiiDE says customers should choose its service, though it also claims to undercut traditional black cab service by as much as 50%. Payment goes through a linked credit or debit card, receipts are sent via email, and its Twitter feed is already showing plenty of signs of life.

But the biggest reason to want a ride in GLiiDE is a chance to experience first hand the Tesla Model S, a vehicle that has been praised by just about everyone that’s driven it. GLiiDE is also claiming the cost savings from going electric and being able to avoid the costly London congestion charge mean it can undercut traditional black cab services for a ride in a case many have heard about, but few have experienced.

Alas, for the moment at least, GLiiDE is invite only, which is basically a closed beta to work out the kinks. If/when it opens up to the public as a whole though, this slick company could have people lining up just for a ride around town. A similar idea has launched in nearby Kent, and a few taxi services in the US and Norway are giving the Model S and other EVs a shot at livery work.

GLiiDE looks to be the slickest attempt yet to integrate electric cars into 21st century taxi service, as long as it works. There’s a reason taxi companies haven’t rushed to replace their gas guzzlers with Teslas or LEAFs.

US: EVs cost less to insure

CleanTechnica.com: CoverHound Insurance has released a newly completed study that shows electric vehicles (EVs) are cheaper to insure than gas powered vehicles. The study shows on average drivers of EVs save around $200 on insurance when they make the upgrade from gas to electric.

CoverHound is a predominantly web-based insurance company that was founded in 2010 and is based in San Francisco, California. The study came about from CoverHound after the company had sold upward of 20,000 policies and noticed a trend among those who drove EVs in place of traditional gas-powered cars. For example, the company noticed that when a driver switched from a Cadillac CTS for a Chevy Volt that driver could potentially save a whopping $600 a year, even though the two cars have a starting MSRP within $5,000 of each other. A driver going from a Nissan Maxima to a Nissan Leaf could save $300 a year, even though the cars are comparably priced before factoring in the Federal tax credit. On average, drivers switching from gas to electric vehicles save about $200 a year. Not bad.

Further savings are had when looking at the cost of gassing up a car next to the cost of charging an EV. Of course there are many variables here, distance driven and such, but on average data shows that filling up a gas powered Toyota Corolla for a year would cost on average $1,830. Charging up an electric Nissan Leaf would only cost about $330. Overall, cheaper fuel costs coupled with lower insurance cost helps offset some of the often high sticker price of many EVs.

In years past there has been confusion and concern that some insurance companies would not even insure EVs. However, as EVs have become mainstream modes of transportation, companies are adopting their policies to cover this new type of transportation technology.

But why are EVs cheaper to insure? Well much of auto insurance is still based on the driver and the type of car. So if you have a bad driving history and you’re buying a Tesla don’t expect to save all that much. What it really boils down to is that the majority of EVs on the roads are compact and less powerful vehicles than their gas powered cousins – and from an insurance standpoint this equates to a safer vehicle and thus less money to insure. In terms of actual crash test ratings, the Chevy Volt was rated higher than the Nissan LEAF, but the Tesla Model S is so structurally strong that it actually broke the IIHS testing equipment, receiving a full five-star rating (and then some).

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

California: 1m EVs by 2023

Menafn.com: The US state of California is aiming to have at least one million electric cars on the road by the year 2023.

The state has passed several laws to subsidize the price of electric vehicles to make them more affordable to poorer residents.

The goal is to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide from cars that run on petrol, which scientists say contributes to global warming. California's governor, Jerry Brown, is addressing a heads of state summit on climate change this week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

"We are carrying on because we know in California that carbon pollution kills, it undermines our environment, and long-term, it's an economic loser," Brown said in a video speech before his UN appearance.

"We face an existential challenge with the changes in our climate," he said. "The time to act is now, the place to look is California. We're not finished, but we sure are setting the pace. "California already has the most electric cars on the road of any US state, an estimated 40% of all American electric vehicles. More than 100,000 cars that plug into electric power points were sold in California in the last four years, according to the Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative.

The first fully-electric car was invented as long ago as 1859 in France and became popular in Europe and the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

But the discovery and mass production of petroleum led to the dominance petrol-burning cars. Concerns about global warming have led to a resurgence of electric cars and hybrid electric-petrol vehicles in recent years, though there are only 500,000 electric cars in the world as of June this year and 99.72% of American cars still run only on petrol and is not an immediate threat to the petroleum industry. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Diesel smart engines pre-programmed to foil government emissions tests

Sunday Times: A shocking report claims that car manufacturers are allegedly designing 'smart engines' that are pre-programmed to recognise emissions test conditions and reduce NO2 emissions for the test, and which subsequently increase emissions by up to 10 x when they get to the road.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Infiniti LE EV with 60kWh battery pack to rival Tesla

InsideEVs.com: Infini 60kWh battery in 2017/18

Infiniti LE

Wireless Charging Expected To Be Standard On Infiniti LE

Stemming from an earlier Reuters article—in which Nissan is seen dropping out of the battery business in favor of outsourcing batteries from LG Chem—comes this Infiniti LE-related development.

“An all-electric Tesla rival is still planned for Nissan’s premium Infiniti brand in 2018 with batteries as big as 60 kilowatt-hours (kWh), more than twice the energy capacity of the LEAF, which is due for replacement the previous year.”

As big as 60 kWh? How will Infiniti stuff that capacity in the LE? It seems that LG Chem may well supply its next-generation lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) batteries to Infiniti for the 2018 LE. (we are pretty sure the quote misplaces MY for production year)

Increased energy density will allow for the relatively compact LE to boast up to 60 kWh of energy storage capacity.

Nissan recently update/vocalized plans for the LE by saying it would “go on sale close enough to be counted” as part of the company’s Power 88 program, so on or before March 31, 2017.

Additionally, these next-cell batteries are believed to have a price target of only $200 per kWh, according to Reuters. At least that’s the price The Alliance (Renault-Nissan) is willing to pay, no matter if the batteries are bought from an outside source or manufactured by the automaker.

300 mile Audi A2Q city car in 2017/18?

InsideEVs.com: According to Auto Bild, Audi is reportedly working on a tiny city car called the A2Q with range of some 300 miles.

We’re not so sure we believe that Auto Bild report, but here it is (via Google Translate):

“In the booming SUV segment, there will be with A2Q and Q6 soon purely electric-powered Audi with thick battery packs. We expect 2017/2018 with the idea. Then the lords of the rings want to give correct flow. If the expected advances in battery technology are true to the compact A2Q from 2018 sparkle with 500 km E-reach, a year earlier-starting Q6 to create even 700 km between the socket stops. Great prospects.”

The A2Q isn’t what we’d call a SUV, but rather more like a small BMW i3 (tall city car).

Auto Bild continues: “The A2Q – the name Q2 and Q4 also has can be protected Alfa – it goes completely against the BMW i3. Unlike the Bavarian neighbors but Audi does not develop completely new electric platform, but uses the familiar MQB modular architecture of Golf/A3.”

The translation gets a bit rough, but here’s the rest of it: “In the Ingolstadt then every but deliberately a unique silhouette in the style of earlier A2 – after all is not the electric Audi may be confused about how the e-Golf with its conventional brethren. One of the identifying features of all future electric novelties include a smaller single-frame grille with chrome and the great aerodynamics package in which you want to replace the mirrors with cameras as soon as this technology is qualified for admission to the major markets.”

Again, we don’t believe that Audi will have ready this A2Q with 300 miles of range in 2018, but perhaps we’ll be proven wrong.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Mercedes: 10 new plug-in hybrids by 2017

Car Advice.com.au: Mercedes-Benz has revealed a plan to bring 10 plug-in hybrid models to market by 2017.

The rapid product offensive was announced by the man responsible for group research and development at Mercedes-Benz, and member of the board of Daimler AG, Dr Thomas Weber at the international launch of the S500 plug-in hybrid this week.

“During the next years we will offer plug-in hybrids in all of our volume segments,” Weber said.

“By 2017, we will launch up to 10 new models with plug-in hybrid powertrains. This covers not only our core ranges – theC-, E- and S-Class – but also a number of SUV models.

“We will bring a new plug-in hybrid to market every four months … the S-Class forms the spearhead of a true plug-in hybrid offensive of Mercedes.”

The S500 plug-in hybrid debuts a modular electric motor/battery platform that has been designed to fit “into different vehicle types from the C-Class upwards,” according to Weber.

Next in line after the S500 is likely the Mercedes-Benz C-Class plug-in hybrid, which could be revealed at September’s Paris motor show. It will utilise the same 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine and 8.7kWh battery pack (read full specifications here).

“In principle, the [plug-in hybrid] system is suitable for all Mercedes models with rear-wheel drive and 4MATIC [all-wheel] drive,” he continued.

“This modular approach enables high volumes and therefore economies of scale … a first-class, standardised modular hybrid system with individual components.

“These modules can be freely combined with gasoline and diesel engines and also with all engine types, starting withour four and six cylinders.”

The next-generation GLC-Class (formerly GLK) and E-Class, both due next year, will be assured of a similar system, while Weber says that Mercedes-Benz will focus on the hybridisation of larger cars first.

The smaller front-wheel drive A-Class, B-Class, GLA-Class and CLA-Class will then follow with an adapted system, with Weber confirming: “our modular system enables us to derive a front-wheel drive plug-in hybrid, too”.

By then, wireless charging capabilities will likely be on offer.

Mercedes-Benz senior manager and technical hybrid project manager Dr Uwe Keller added: “looking ahead we can anticipate that the plug-in hybrid will also work ‘unplugged’”.

“We are working on the charging mechanism of the future: inductive, wireless charging,” he added, explaining that all a driver would have to do is steer their Mercedes-Benz over a charging ‘plate’ on the road to recharge.

“We will soon be testing this technology on our flee … because we want to offer our customers, in the near future the convenience of wireless charging.”

European EV sales up 91% H1 2014

InAutoNews.com: The most dynamic segment across Europe remained electric cars, which – from a low base – climbed 91% to 23,826 vehicles. The fastest-rising models were Tesla’s Model S and the BMW i3, while Nissan’s Leaf remained the best-selling model in the segment, rising 56% to 7,127 cars.

This looks like continuing the trend of the last four years for the market to double every year.

France: mass charging stations that smooth out grid pressure

PARIS (Reuters) - A consortium of French companies led by construction firm Bouygues has developed an electric car charging system based on old batteries that helps smooth out power demand when dozens of cars simultaneously recharge.

A typical charging station of the popular Paris Autolib self-service rental cars has four to five charging plugs, which each make no more demand on the power grid than an average home.

But imagine a firm or institution where dozens of employees arrive in the morning and all start recharging their cars at the same time. That would put a huge strain on the building's power network and force it to upgrade its electricity connections.

The Eco2charge group, which also includes car maker Renault, electrical engineering group Alstom and cable maker Nexans, has developed a charging system that assembles old batteries from electric vehicles into a power storage bank that can soak up electricity at night and gradually charge vehicles during the day.

The project, which has a 13 million euro ($16.8 million) budget, has been trialed in two Bouygues and Renault pilot sites and the group aims to sell it to office buildings, parking lots, campuses and other sites where fleets of electric cars can park.

"In about a year we will have a commercial offer," Bouygues Energy and Services director Servan Lacire said, adding that it was to soon to say how much the system would cost.

For storage, Eco2charge will use end-of-life Renault electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries. Renault, which sells electric cars but rents the batteries to their owners, owns and manages some 47,000 batteries from four different models.

Once the batteries have lost 20 to 25 percent of their charging capacity, they are no longer used in cars, but still have enough charging power for stationary power storage.

"It is a very cheap form of storage, as the cost of the batteries has already been written off for use in the vehicle," said Thomas Orsini, head of electric vehicle business development at Renault.

The charging system will work for all brands, not just Renault, he added.


The car maker is also looking at developing utility-scale power storage systems, that would assemble as many as 50 recycled car batteries into one container for use with large solar power stations or wind parks.

The system could likewise be part of a grid-wide demand-response system, and in the future it should also be possible to not only temporarily stop drawing power from the grid, but also to feed back power into it at times of peak demand.

Nexans's Alain Robic said the stations will be modular "like Lego blocks" so that companies can install anything from half a dozen to 100 or more.

Utilities across Europe are very eager to boost usage of electric cars as they see it as a way to boost power demand, which has been flat or falling due to the economic crisis and increased energy efficiency.

IHS Automotive estimates that in 2014, car makers worldwide will produce more than 217,000 battery electric vehicles, or 0.25 percent of a global production forecast of 87.7 million vehicles, rising to nearly a million electric vehicles, or 0.9 percent of a forecast 104 million vehicles, by 2020.

Across Paris, Autolib operates some 2,500 cars and nearly 900 charging stations. It has several competitors, including Wattmobile, which opened a new charging station in the French capital on Thursday.

Tesla: fully autonomous cars in 5-6 years

Scoop.it.com: The self-driving car debate continues to rage with strong opinions on both sides, but that isn’t stopping major automakers from progressing toward autonomy.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, speaking with Japanese news source Nikkei, recently said that his company will produce partially self-driving vehicles in three years, with more advancements to follow soon after.

“Full autopilot capability is going to happen, probably, in the five or six-year time frame,” he said.

However, because Tesla is a small company (relative to its competition) the American firm will likely need to borrow from other automakers to get the job done.

“The overall system and software will be programmed by Tesla,” he continued, “but we will certainly use sensors and subcomponents from many companies.”

Toyota will likely be one source of technology for Tesla, given the established relationship between both businesses and Lexus’ recent experimentation with autonomous vehicles.

Tesla’s first foray into the autonomy market will be a new electric vehicle that’s due to begin production in around three years. Musk stated that the electric car will incorporate some self-driving features and cost around $35,000.

Could this be the BMW-fighting Model III we reported on in July? The price matches Musk’s previous estimations, and semi-autonomous features could be a great way to differentiate the Model III from its fuel-burning rivals. Tesla will unveil the Model III in 2016 and put it on sale a year later with a 200-mile range.

The 3 Series competitor will also serve as the introduction to the company’s Gigafactory battery plant in Reno, NV. Tesla has deemed it the primary production facility for the sedan’s battery cells.   

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Perfect City EV?

Wired.com: Toyota’s i-Road may be the perfect urban electric vehicle.

The streets of one French city will soon be filled with funky vehicles that resemble hulked-up mopeds. But before you make fun, consider that while they look silly, the way these things are being used may make them the perfect electric vehicles.

Next month, Toyota and Grenoble will launch a program giving residents access to two of the weirder vehicles built in recent memory. Through the Cité Lib by Ha:Mo (harmonious mobility) system, Toyota is providing 70 EVs that can be rented for short periods of time. Like bike sharing, the idea is to give people a way to get from public transit stations to their destinations, covering the “last mile” so they don’t feel the need to take their car.

The goal is to “be a part of creating a future urban mobility,” says Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, to make getting around cities easier and reduce emissions. We’ll have to see how the Grenoblois react to the program to gauge its success, but it’s got two things going for it. The very fact that it’s a new kind of vehicle sharing service makes it worth trying out. And more importantly, Toyota has found what may be the ideal application of electric vehicles.

Anyone 18 and older with a driver’s license can sign up for the program, which uses two kinds of Toyota vehicles: the three-wheeled i-Road, which seats one, and the four-wheeled COMS, with room for two. Fees vary, but expect to pay about €3 ($3.89) for 15 minutes, or €5 ($6.50) for half an hour. Users can park at any of 27 stations around the city, where they plug in to charge before walking away.

The new program calls to mind two kinds of vehicle sharing services. The first is car sharing. A good example is Car2Go, a Daimler AG-run company that lets users in cities in Germany and the US rent Smart cars by the minute. Users can park wherever they find a space, not at set stations, which fully solves the last mile problem.

The second is bike sharing. More than 500 cities around the world have a program, and while the specifics vary, the basic premise is usually the same: Sign up for a membership, and you can borrow a bike from any station in the city, ride it for a set amount of time (usually around 30 minutes), then return it to any station where there’s an open spot. Bikes are even better than electric cars when it comes to the environment and public health, and you can pack many more bikes into a standard bike share than you get vehicles in a car share. Of course, biking is less convenient when you’re lugging around groceries or offspring. Or when you remember that humans invented automobiles because sometimes being lazy is totally fine.

The Toyota-Grenoble program is a blend of these services. The vehicles are better than Smart cars for moving around a cramped old city like Grenoble (maneuverability is an undervalued part of mobility), though you can’t just park them wherever. Using electricity instead of gasoline is good for the environment and lungs of le peuple, but not as good as making everyone pedal. In any case, these are early days for vehicle sharing services, and we don’t know what exact combination of pros and cons people want. The very fact that Ha:Mo is a new system makes it worth trying.

But beyond that, there’s a reason we’re excited about this system: It may be the perfect application of electric vehicles. The two big downsides to the technology today are limited range and high cost. Apart from Tesla, whose vehicles can actually cross the country, automakers pitch electric cars as city vehicles with enough juice to handle most daily driving tasks. The problem is that prices are still real high, and few people are willing to pay $30,000 or more for a vehicle that’s useless when they need to hit the road for a few hours to see the in-laws. Until range goes up and prices come down, mass adoption of EVs won’t happen.

Ha:Mo solves neither problem, but sidesteps both. On a full battery, the i-Road and COMS can each drive about three hours at a presumably limited speed. That’s actually excessive for vehicles meant to be used for a few minutes at a time and charged in between. Cost isn’t an issue because people are renting the vehicles (at a reasonable rate), not buying or leasing them. EV ownership may not happen on a grand scale for years or decades. In the meantime, these vehicles fill the niche that is open to them.

One potential weakness of the Ha-Mo program is its network of just 27 parking/charging stations. The fact that the cars must be parked there limits their usefulness. Surely some residents will be too far from stations to make the vehicles worth renting.

Toyota could take a lesson here from Car2Go San Diego, one of the cities where the program uses electric instead of gas-powered cars. There, users can park wherever they want, unless the car’s battery drops below 20 percent of its range while they’re driving. In that case, they must end their journey at one of the stations around the city where they can plug in. If Ha:Mo follows suit or finds another way to solves that issue, it could finally make mass EV adoption—if not ownership—a reality.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

China’s electric cars production explodes after government backing

Xinhua: Chinese carmakers produced 11 times as many new-energy vehicles in August 2014 as they did in August 2013, as the government rolled out more support for the sector, recent data showed.

They made a total of 5,191 of the green vehicles in August, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement.

For the first eight months of the year, total production more than quadrupled to 31,137units.

New-energy vehicles include pure electric cars and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

During the January-August period, output of pure electric passenger cars soared nearly 700 percent from a year earlier to 16,276 units and that for plug-in hybrid passenger cars climbed about 12 times to 6,621 units.

Output of pure electric and plug-in hybrid commercial vehicles went up by 55 percent and 91 percent, respectively, the statement said.

China has rolled out a raft of measures to encourage the use of new-energy vehicles, including tax exemptions, subsidies for car purchases and requirements for government bodies to buy the cars.

In July, the government announced that new-energy cars will be exempted from a 10-percent purchase tax from September 1 to the end of 2017.

However, new-energy cars still account for only a tiny proportion of China's total auto output.

In the first seven months, the country's auto industry produced 13.3 million vehicles, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

UK: Q2 EV sales leap 141% YOY

UK and Ireland expansion of rapid chargers

ESB.ie: Joint EU project will give EV drivers an extensive Rapid Charge Network across Ireland & UK.

The Irish electricity utility ESB is part of a consortium to deploy additional interoperable fast/rapid charge points in Ireland and Britain, which will link the electric vehicle charging networks in both countries with Europe. This new network, which is currently under construction, is being co-funded by the European Union via the Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T) and represents a substantial partnership investment of over €7 million. The start of the project’s deployment is being officially marked today at a ceremony at the Corley Services on the M6 motorway in Coventry.

The project is led by Nissan and joined by BMW, VW and Renault and it brings together leading Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) companies to accelerate the growth of EV charging infrastructure, which is seen as a key enabler in making zero-emission mobility a market reality. The project, managed by Zero Carbon Futures in North East England draws on the network expertise of ESB, which recently completed another TEN-T funded electric vehicle charging infrastructure project.

Once completed, the UK Rapid Charge Network (RCN) will comprise of more than 70 multi-standard rapid chargers covering some 1,100km of major trunk routes and provide EV-friendly links to five seaports along with five international airports. The network will run on two priority road axis in the UK, linking major ports and cities including Stranraer, Liverpool, Holyhead, Birmingham, Felixstowe, Leeds and Kingston upon Hull. It will also connect with Ireland’s existing fast charge network in Dublin and Belfast in Northern Ireland.Ten rapid chargers have been already installed with a further 28 sites soon to be commissioned.

The rapid chargers being deployed are state-of-the-art multi-standard units and are compatible with cars using 44kW CCS, 44kW CHAdeMO or 43kW AC systems. This will ensure that EV drivers travelling throughout the UK and in Ireland can undertake long journeys secure in the knowledge that they will never be far from a rapid charger.

Deirdre Arthur, Commercial Manager ESB ecars said “We are delighted to be part of this project, which has been awarded EU funding to deploy additional Electric Vehicle (EV) fast charge points in Ireland and Britain. Once completed, EV motorists from anywhere in Ireland will be able to travel to Britain and Europe using this interoperable electric vehicle charging infrastructure”.

Nissan is leading the BEV manufacturers’ contribution to the overall costs, a significant portion of which will be used to fund a research programme, led by Newcastle University. This will aim to confirm the benefits of such an advanced inter-operable EV rapid charging network.

Strategic information gathered from users, including customer charging behaviour and changes in mobility patterns, will help plan the roll-out future rapid charging infrastructure in member states across Europe.

As well as helping to finance the scheme, the consortium will provide other members of the project with the benefit of its extensive experience in the BEV field.

The UK RCN project is one of 30 priority transport projects across Europe identified by TEN-T. The priority projects were chosen according to the added value they offer to the European community and their contribution to the sustainable development of transport systems.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Price Per Mile of Range in US for Electric Cars

CleanTechnica.com: The relatively high upfront price and limited range if electric vehicles is keeping many would-be EV owners from taking the plunge.

It’s a valid concern if you’re on a limited budget and need to make the most of your milage, and it begs the question: which electric car offers the best mileage-per-dollar?

The answer might surprise you, and it certainly surprised me. Despite it’s high upfront cost, the Tesla Model S gets the best value-per-mile when judged by its range.

How exactly does that work out? Well, using the base MSRP as a starting point (no tax incentives for you!) MojoMotors put together the above chart that shows what each EV costs per mile of range, utilizing the official EPA ratings. Coming in with the worst value is the BMW i3, which costs $41,350 but has an EPA-rated range of just 81 miles per charge, which works out to about $510 for every mile of driving range. The 103-mile Toyota RAV4 EV and 87-mile Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive didn’t fare much better, costing $483 and $476 per mile of range, respectively, rounding out the costliest three.

One might think the takeaway in this case is that expensive electric cars just aren’t worth it, but then we get to the Tesla Model S with its 85 kWh battery pack. The official 265 mile range and $79,900 MSRP leads the survey at a cost of just $302 per mile, while the surprise runner-up is the Chevy Spark EV at $325 per mile, while the Nissan Leaf costs just over $350 for each mile. Despite having a rated range of just 82 miles, it is also one of the cheapest EVs on the market with a MSRP of $26,685. Only the Smart FourTwo Electric Drive ($25,000) and Mitsubishi i-MiEV ($22,995) are cheaper, but they only offer 68 and 62 miles of driving respectively, putting them smack dab in the middle.

The takeaway? I’m not sure. Tesla managed to score the best value and offer the most range, despite (or perhaps because of) it’s high cost. It shows that some of the latest EVs aren’t that great of a value, but other vehicles might be unfairly overlooked in the pursuit of a good deal. There’s a wide gap between the Model S and the second-longest range EV on this, the RAV4 EV, meaning there’s a lot of room to improve the value of electric vehicles.

It also prompts another thought: would buyers prefer to pay by-the-mile when shopping for EVs? Is cost-per-mile better than MPGe?

Source: EV Obsession. Reproduced with permission.


Electric everywhere!

Bollore and Renault partner on EVs

FT.com: French billionaire Vincent Bolloré and carmaker Renault are teaming up to make electric cars in a bet on a pick-up in demand for emission-free vehicles and the expansion of “green” urban car hire schemes.

Renault will in the second half of 2015 begin producing Bolloré’s Bluecar electric vehicle, which has since 2011 been used in Paris’s Autolib system, an electric car-sharing scheme also operating in Lyon and Bordeaux.

Bolloré and Renault also announced they will set up a joint venture for car-sharing services and will carry out a feasibility study for Renault to make a new three-seater electric vehicle using batteries made by Bolloré.

Consumers have been slower than hoped to adopt electric cars, long heralded as the future of the industry. This has been blow to major carmakers such as Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi that have invested heavily in the technology.

Carlos Ghosn, Renault-Nissan’s chief executive, admitted last year that sales in electric vehicles were at least four years behind targets, which he blamed on the slow rollout of support infrastructure.

Global sales of electric vehicles reached 200,000 last year, nearly double the number in 2012, but well below the run-rate needed to hit the International Energy Agency’s target of 20m on the world’s roads by 2020.

However, Bolloré group, the French conglomerate owned by the industrialist, has had some success with its Autolib car hire scheme, with international expansion planned in the coming years into Indianapolis.

Bolloré’s Blue Solutions, which sells batteries to other Bolloré-owned companies building cars, boats and products such as battery-powered homes, has seen shares rise 70 per cent since it floated on the stock market last year.

Bluecars, which can travel about 150 miles per charge, are currently built in Italy under a joint venture with its designer Pininfarina, but will move to Renault’s Dieppe factory in northwest France.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Futures of EVs: Buy The Range You Want

CleanTechnica.com: We are still in the early stages of EV development. One of the bigger issues slowing widespread acceptance is the fact that electric car driving ranges are still, for the most part, quite low. As Zach has pointed out, and I agree, the range issue is a canard since the current ranges are adequate for 90%+ of drivers.

The shorter ranges are, however, not adequate for occasional weekend or other longer trips, which is a common auto use. Many of us might not be willing to give up that use when buying a vehicle, so there exists real market pressure for longer ranges. This article is about addressing the needs of the entire driving public for full EV market acceptance. It explores the future direction of EV driving ranges and choices that may become available. Your comments on the topic, as always, are welcome below the article.

High-Range EV Batteries Coming “Quite Soon”

First, we need a reliable high-range battery system. This is in the works. As is the case with most technologies, they keep improving over time. There is no reason to believe that EV batteries will be any different. Indeed, we have already seen significant improvements over the recent years.

It has been stated by Elon Musk that high-range battery systems are coming “… quite soon.” Tesla may have an 800 km (500 mi) range car within a handful of years. This would have an impact on the auto’s price of course. Let’s take a look at a mature technology to see if there may be any clues about the future of EV battery technology.

Mature Technology Case History: Computer Purchases

While it’s funny to think that Bill Gates might have said in 1981 that he saw no need for anyone to ever need more than 640k of memory, he does deny this less-than-prescient comment. Computing history of course belies that statement, whether he said it or not. Memory capacity keeps increasing, but is there currently too much memory capacity potential for most computing needs?

The evidence bears this out as true. If you were to go online to order a computer, the computer company would give choices such as how much memory you want to buy. You see that you can pay for 8 GB RAM, 16, 32 or 64 GB RAM. Of course, buying more RAM would cost you more money. What happens? Almost all consumers don’t buy the highest amounts of memory because they simply don’t need it. They prefer to save the money instead of over-buying capacity.
What Will EV Car Buyers Do?

While this is speculation, EVs are likely going in this very direction. Once there is a battery system that goes 800 km (500 mi) and car buyers only need a 325 km (202 mi) range, would most drivers want to pay for more range than they need? It’s not likely. Most car buyers would probably prefer to buy the battery/range combination that match their driving needs and wallet potential. Car buyers have proven over the decades that they do like having the choice of paying for upgrades or saving money for standard features.
Speculation for the Future of EVs

This article is being written to suggest that this principle will apply to EVs as battery technology matures. For example, there may be a 325 km (202 mi) battery pack for price $X, a 500 km (310 mi) battery pack for $X + $Y and an 805 km (500 mi) battery pack for $X + $Y + $Z.
Solid Baseline Range Being Established

In the same interview mentioned earlier, Elon Musk seems to bear out the first part of this article’s thesis, which is that he seems to be proudly putting forward a car with a 322 km (200 mi) range as an adequate baseline range. He states: “We’re going to keep improving battery technology and even with Model 3 we’ll expect a range of over 200 miles with a price of around $35,000.”

To test out this theory, I contacted a few EV manufacturers to get their opinions and add their comments into the story. First, more context:

Why Might There be Longer Driving Ranges Needed in the US?

US = 9,147,420 sq. km with large cities spread all over it.
China = 9,327,490 sq. km, but most big cities are only in the eastern portion.
Australia = 7,682,300 sq. km with most of the large cities in the east, southeast, and south.
India = 3,287,263 sq. km with large cities all over it.
Germany = 348,570 sq. km, is about half the size of Texas alone, which has 695,621 sq km.
United Kingdom is not quite the size of Nevada (241,930 sq. km vs. 286,351 sq km).
South Korea is about the size of Kentucky (100,032 Sq. km vs. 104,659 sq km).
Japan is 86% the size of California (364,500 Sq. km vs. 423,970 sq. km).

American Driving Distances
Travel between many of the more distant cities is often by air.
Seattle, WA to Los Angeles, CA: 1,827 km (1,135 mi)
Seattle, WA to Chicago, IL: 3,321 km (2,064 mi)
Seattle, WA to New York, NY: 4,600 km (2,858 mi)
Los Angeles, CA to Chicago, IL: 3,244 km (2,016 mi)
Los Angeles, CA to Boston, MA: 4,801 km (2,983 mi)
Los Angeles, CA to Dallas, TX: 2,311 km (1,436 mi)
New York, NY to Miami, FL: 2,061 km (1,281 mi)
Boston, MA to Houston, TX: 2,972 km (1,847 mi)
Denver, CO to Washington, DC: 2,662 km (1,654 mi)

Europe Driving Distances
Barcelona, Spain to Munich, Germany: 1370 km (852 mi)
Paris, France to Munich, Germany: (830 km) 515 mi
Paris, France to Geneva, Switzerland: 540 km (335 mi)
Copenhagen, Denmark to Berlin, Germany: 440 km (275 mi)
Rome, Italy to Munich, Germany: 925 km (575 mi)
Athens, Greece to Munich, Germany: 2,150 km (1,340 mi)
London, UK to Glasgow, Scotland: 650 km (403 mi)
Paris, France to Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain: 1,040 km (645 mi)
Berlin, Germany to Munich, Germany: 585 km (365 mi)
Krakow, Poland to Zurich, Switzerland: 1230 km (765 mi)
Dublin, Ireland to Belfast, Northern Ireland: 165 km (103 mi)
Oslo, Norway to Stockholm, Sweden: 526 km (327 mi)

Australia Driving Distances
Travel to western Australia is usually by air.
Brisbane QLD, Australia to Sydney NSW, Australia: 922 km (573 mi)
Melbourne VIC, Australia to Sydney NSW, Australia: 878 km (546 mi)
Adelaide SA, Australia to Sydney NSW, Australia: 1,408 km (875 mi)
Adelaide SA, Australia to Melbourne VIC, Australia: 725 km (451 mi)

Japan Driving Distances
Japan is about 86% of the size of California (364,500 Sq. km vs. 423,970 sq. km and both are about 1,300 km (807 mi) end to end.)
Tokyo to Osaka (or Kyoto), Japan: 506 km (315 mi)
Tokyo to Sendai, Japan: 366 km (228 mi)

China Driving Distances
China 9,327,490 sq. km, but most big cities are only in the eastern portion.
Travel between many of the larger cities is often by air.
Beijing, China to Shanghai, China: 1,212 km (753 mi)
Shanghai, China to Guangzhou, China (and Hong Kong): 1,479 km (919 mi)
Beijing, China to Chongqing, China: 1,776 km (1,103 mi)

What Are the EV Manufacturers Saying on the Topic?

Tesla isn’t saying any more than to what Elon Musk said about a 800 km (500 mi) range electric car that could be coming “quite soon.” My interpretation is that it is sticking to its game plan and keeping the focus on the possible. It often keeps the dialog in the realm of what’s possible, the imagination, and what will soon be. It is, in my opinion, masters at this.

General Motors
Kevin Kelly, Manager of Electrification Technology Communications at GM, agrees with this prospect of the future of EVs. In a phone interview, Kevin stated, “I think what you are talking about is a feasible idea. We could definitely see this happening. The key is making the battery fill within the same footprint. I don’t think this is anything you will see in the near future, but in the long term, it’s a distinct possibility.”

Ford was guarded on the subject. Ford Manager of Sustainability Communications John Cangany stated: “Your question touches on business decisions car manufacturers make with EVs, so I can’t provide detail on this topic.”

Corporate Communications Senior Manager Brian Brockman stated: “On the concept of Nissan offering several battery sizes for EVs in the future to match consumer needs, it is a model we are studying. I can’t confirm that we will or will not offer that as an option, as I can’t comment on our future product strategy.”

This comment not only validates the theory of multiple battery packs being offered for consumers to select their range, but it states that a leading EV manufacturer is studying this model currently.

Side note about Tesla’s Media Services staff:

Tesla’s Media Services staff responded to my email request for a comment in 11 minutes. They replied with what I consider to be a thorough comment including a link to an article already published with an interview of Elon Musk that included comments on battery range. Pretty impressive. (Now, if only Tesla’s Marketing Department would accept my suggestion of naming an EV model “The Valdez,” with the simple marketing campaign of only 3 words: “Remember the Valdez.”)

Battery Technology Development

Battery breakthroughs are announced with some regularity, including Sakti3’s recent announcement. As Elon Musk has pointed out, these don’t usually amount to much in the way of reliable systems. Real battery improvements have been made over the last decade, though, and battery technology will continue to improve because there’s a lot of money in it.
Conclusion: The Future of Buying EV Range

When battery technology arrives as a fully mature technology, the likelihood exists that there will be a baseline expectation range, which will probably be in the 325 km (202 mi) to 500 km (310 mi) range with “options packages” that car makers are famous for offering, which will allow for higher driving ranges for a premium price.
C-Zero.info: Nissan Leaf to get sharp new look and range upgrade to 186 miles.

Nissan is hard at work developing the next-generation Leaf, focusing on improving the rangewith new battery tech and – as our exclusive images show – a more conventional look. The new car is expected to be on sale late in 2016, with prices starting around £17,000.

Clearly, the introduction of Tesla’s Model S – and its claimed 312-mile range – has changed the electric car market, making the current Leaf’s real-world range of 85 miles seem a bit old-hat.

Nissan bosses are promising new battery technology is on the way, with better energy density for a more usable pure electric vehicle. A figure of about 186 miles is likely to be the target.

There’s a good chance Nissan will offer smaller battery packs with less range, like Tesla does with its 60kWh and 85kWh packs. The new battery technology and motor will be shared with Nissan’s luxury brand, Infiniti, too.

The premium brand has already made steps towards developing an all-electric saloon – at April’s New York Motor Show, it unveiled the LE concept, which used the current Leaf’s underpinnings. This new model is now thought to be on track for a release in mid-2016.

It also seems that Nissan’s designers have realised that an electric car doesn’t need to look unusual, as they’re targeting a more conventional style.

Our images give you a good idea of how it’s shaping up, with bosses keen that the large chrome ‘V’ in the grille and the blacked out pillars become recognisable design features of the next generation of Nissan cars. The angular lights and creased bodywork are developed from the brand’s latest concept cars, including the Friend ME.

However, a more usable range and fresh styling can only go so far towards boosting the Leaf’s sales appeal; a much improved charging infrastructure will play a key role, too.

To that end, Tesla’s new range of Supercharger stations – promising 30-minute fast charges to all EVs – will help, as the network should have the majority of the UK covered by next year. Tesla boss Elon Musk has said he’ll let other manufacturers use it, so long as they keep charging free for their customers.

Nissan’s chief planning officer, Andy Palmer, has previously told us the new battery technology should debut by 2017, so we expect to see the Leaf and the Infiniti EV debut in 2016. Providing the £5,000 Government grant for low-emissions vehicles remains in place, prices should start at around £17,000.

Mercedes S Class PHEV

The S-Class PHEV will go on sale in October

NextGreenCar.com: Mercedes has announced pricing for an S-Class that can return up to 100.9 mpg, emits 65 g/km of CO2, can accelerate from rest to 62 mph in 5.2-seconds before reaching a limited 155 mph.

Despite this, it is exempt from road tax and receives a 100 per cent discount on the London Congestion Charge. The S 500 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) lays claim to being one of the most advanced saloon cars in the world.

In the UK the car will be offered in long wheelbase form and will cost from £87,965 on-the-road and is subject to a BIK rate of just five per cent.

The S 500 PHEV equipment specifications are based on the conventional S 500 L AMG Line – among the highlights fitted as standard are 19-inch AMG alloy wheels, AMG body styling for the front and rear bumpers, the LED intelligent light system, COMAND Online, noise insulating glass, leather upholstery and the front seat memory package.

Powered by a V6 biturbo petrol engine producing 333 hp and an electric motor developing 116 hp, the S 500 PHEV generates a total of 442 hp and 650 Nm of torque.

Despite this mighty performance, the S 500 PHEV can travel over 20-miles on electrical power.

Based on the steel and aluminium chassis structure of the conventional S-Class, the S 500 PHEV is the third Hybrid model in the line-up, following on from the S 300 BlueTEC Hybrid and S 400 Hybrid variants. Unlike its predecessors, the 8.7 kWh lithium-ion batteries in the S 500 PHEV can be topped up using external charging devices such as fast chargers. A fullcharge on a typical public, three phase power point takes around two hours.

The technology in the S 500 PHEV is integrated to ensure as little energy as possible is wasted – the COMAND system looking ahead of where the car’s travelling to predict where energy can be recuperated, on downhill sections, for example. Likewise, the car will look to regenerate as much power as possible in advance of entering urban areas where the electric-only driving mode can be deployed.

The car can, gently advise the driver on the most efficient driving style – sending a pulse through the accelerator to indicate when sailing mode can be engaged (shutting down the internal combustion engine) and the accelerator itself can be released, harvesting energy and boosting the range of the car.

The predictive gearshift strategy uses the car’s radar system to sense if there’s a car in front and alters the gearshift accordingly based on the likelihood that the driver will wish to overtake – improving efficiency as well as the responsiveness.

As with any S-Class, the S 500 PHEV aims to set the benchmark in technology – both functional and comfort-orientated. For example, the new variant uses a tablet or smartphone-based system to allow you to pre-heat or pre-cool the car ahead of your arrival through the innovative Connect me system. The system can also remotely relay information to the driver when away from the car on the charge status, the predicted range and when the next service is due.

Comfort features available on the car include the choice of seven different ambient colours in which the interior is bathed, front and rear seats that can replicate a hot stone massage as well as either heating or cooling you, the ability of the left rear seat to recline to 43.5 degrees, seatbelt-mounted airbags, a perfume diffuser system called Air Balance that also cleans the air entering the cabin, gently heated armrests and Magic Body Control – which uses stereo cameras to read the road ahead and iron out any imperfections through making tiny alterations to the suspension system.

First production of the car starts next month with deliveries in the UK due in late November.
S-Class PHEV

California: 100,000 plug-in electric cars in last 4 years

GreenCarReports.com: California has hit a major plug-in car milestone this week: Since the first electric vehicle was sold back in 2010, more than 100,000 others have now hit the streets.

The figures have been compiled by the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative.

The number is impressive on its own, but also means that California accounts for around 40 percent of national plug-in vehicle sales.

In addition, it puts the state in a good position to reach Governor Brown's targetof 1.5 million electric cars on the road by 2025.

It should come as little surprise that California is leading the march towards electric car adoption.

Cleaner vehicles have been a priority for the state ever since the 1960s and 1970s, when clouds of smog choked cities like Los Angeles.

CARB, the California Air Resources Board, has been instrumental in generating conditions ideal for electric vehicles, from alternative-fuel incentive programs through low-emission vehicle standards, to the low-carbon fuel standard.

It has since taken hybrid cars to its heart - Toyota's Prius has topped sales charts in California several times over the past few years--and is doing likewise with electric vehicles.

California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative Executive Director Christine Kehoe says that the state's plug-in vehicle market is "ramping up", and the group expects "significant growth" over the next ten years as customers become more familiar with the benefits of electric cars.

"Drivers want high quality, high performing vehicles that use less or even no gasoline at all" adds General Motors’ Robert Babik.

"We're proud that Chevrolet and Cadillac's line-up of plug in vehicles is helping to meet the growing demand head on."

For Nissan too, California has been an important state, leading the firm's 60,000-vehicle U.S. tally. Ford touts its range of plug-in vehicles available to Californians, including the Focus Electric--one of several electric cars to hit Californian roads before being made available in other states.

Utilities too are aiding the push, allowing drivers of plug-in cars to travel around at a gasoline equivalent cost of $1 per gallon.

Throw in accessible charging and the influence of high-profile electric automakers like Tesla Motors, and it's unsurprising to discover that California is the first state to top 100,000 sales.

There's every chance the next 100,000 will take a lot less than four years.

Germany: Still targeting 1m EVs by 2020

Bloomberg.com: German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government expects to cut greenhouse-gas emissions from transportation by a quarter by 2030 as it boosts the number of electric cars on the road.

The administration expects emissions to drop 26 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels, it said in a reply to questions from the opposition Green Party. Germany has set a goal of having 1 million electric vehicles by 2020, from about 21,324 at the start of this year, it said.

The government “welcomes the decoupling between growing transport service and markedly declining emissions,” it said.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, this year said it needs to take additional measures to avoid missing a goal of cutting carbon emissions 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels. Transport, which accounts for about 16 percent of the country’s emissions, produced about 140 million metric tons of CO2 in 2012, from about 161 million tons in 2001, it said.

Monday, 8 September 2014

VW Says Fuel-Cell Cars Doomed to Struggle Beyond Japan

BusinessWeek.com: In an increasing war of words, Volkswagen AG, vying with Toyota Motor Corp for the lead in the global auto industry, said cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells will probably struggle catching on beyond Japan’s borders.

Government subsidies of as much as 3 million yen ($28,500) a vehicle offered in Japan will probably be too high for other countries to match, Volkswagen Group Japan President Shigeru Shoji said in an interview last week. Even in Toyota’s home country, refueling will be impractical because handling hydrogen is challenging and building out infrastructure will be costly, he said.

“It may fly within Japan, but not globally,” said Shoji, 51. Fuel cells could become another example of the “Galapagos syndrome” that plagues Japanese companies for making products that are only popular at home, he said.

Shoji joins Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk among skeptics of fuel cells and his comments illustrate the growing divide within the auto industry over which technology will prevail in replacing traditional gasoline and diesel cars. In Japan, fuel-cell vehicles have won government financial support, paving the way for such cars to benefit just as hybrids including Toyota’s Prius have.

“In order to survive, you need to come up with new products, better products,” said Thanh Ha Pham, a Tokyo-based analyst at Jefferies Group Inc. “It’s not nationalistic.”

Fuel-cell cars, which only emit water vapor, offer one of the best solutions to reduce carbon emissions in Japan, said Dion Corbett, a Toyota spokesman based in Tokyo. He declined to comment on Shogi’s remarks.

“Fuel-cell system costs are still relatively expensive so we need subsidy support from the Japanese government,” Corbett wrote in an e-mail. “It’s difficult to imagine that FCVs will become widely used in the next couple of years alone.”

In June, Toyota said it expects Japan, Germany, California and the U.S. East Coast to generate the highest demand for fuel-cell vehicles.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, leader of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has outlined a vision for creating a “hydrogen society,” with fuel cells powering homes and office buildings, as well as cars made by the Toyota-led auto industry.

“It’s an Abe and Toyota deal,” said Yasuo Maruta, a Volkswagen Japan spokesman. “It’s an industry giant and the most powerful LDP party, and they are working very close. It’s sort of difficult to complain about it.”
Hybrid Domination

Volkswagen Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said last year the Wolfsburg, Germany-based company would sell 14 hybrid and electric models by 2014 and may offer as many as 40 depending on demand, without specifying a timeframe.

Toyota’s lineup of hybrids dominates the market for gasoline-electric cars, with more than 4 million Priuses sold since the model’s debut in 1997. Japan has provided subsidies to buyers of hybrids that helped spur early demand for such models.

The Japanese government’s plans to support hydrogen cars go further than through rebates for the vehicles. The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization aims to make hydrogen the equivalent price of gasoline and to have 100 hydrogen fueling stations in place by about 2015.

Toyota has cited U.S. government estimates that predict hydrogen fuel will initially be more expensive than conventional gasoline in the U.S.
68 Stations

Toyota’s fuel-cell car going on sale next year, initially in California, will cost about $50 to fill up for about 300 miles of range, Bob Carter, senior vice president at Toyota’s U.S. operations, said Aug. 12 at a JPMorgan Chase & Co. conference. The cost will eventually fall to about $30 based on Energy Department estimates, he said.

Toyota partnered with the University of California to model the specific locations that would be needed to handle a population of more than 10,000 fuel cells and believes it needs only 68 stations initially, Carter said last month. The state plans to spend $200 million to build at least 100 stations by 2024, with 40 ready by the end of 2016, he said.

“There are still a lot of questions lingering about how practical it is even though Toyota launches next year,” said Maruta, the Volkswagen spokesman. “By the time it gets very usable by the normal customers, it’s maybe still a decade or two decades away.”

Still, Volkswagen is hedging its bets. The company is monitoring Toyota’s progress with the aim of staying within no more than three years of development work behind its Japanese rival in matching its fuel cell technology, Shoji said.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Tesla’s Gigafactory May Hit $100/kWh Holy Grail Of EV Batteries

CleanTechnica.com: Tesla’s Gigafactory may achieve the $100/kWh holy grail of EV battery pack costs, according to recent reports.

Most analysts within the EV industry consider the $100-per-KW-hour water mark to be the big “tipping point” for EV batteries — that is to say, the point at which EVs will be undeniably cost-competitive with gas-powered vehicles. That is to say, stocker prices will be competitive — fuel and maintenance costs are already much lower. (EV batteries makeup a significant portion of an EV’s production/manufacturing costs)

EV Batteries Tesla Gigafactory

In order to hit the predicted $100/kWh battery cost mark, the Gigafactory will have to surpass its stated goal of lowering battery costs by 30%.

This, according to The Motley Fool, is exactly what will happen:

When Tesla first announced the Gigafactory, it clearly stated in its plans that it expected that battery pack cost per kilowatt hour would be greater than 30% by Model 3 volume ramp in 2017.

Panasonic (arguably more knowledgeable and experienced regarding lithium-ion production than any company in the world) admitted that a 30% reduction by 2017 was, indeed, a conservative prediction. And Panasonic is putting its money where its mouth is, with its deal to partner with Tesla. Panasonic’s investment is considerable; during Tesla’s second-quarter conference call, CEO Elon Musk said that he expects Panasonic to invest as much as $1.2 billion-$1.6 billion of the $4 billion the company expects to spend on the factory by 2020.

Not only does Tesla view 30% cost cuts to its batteries as conservative, but Musk said during the second-quarter call that he would be “disappointed if it took us 10 years to get to $100 a kilowatt-hour pack.” Since Tesla hasn’t shared exactly where its costs are today, it isn’t clear what percentage of a cut that $100 per kilowatt hour is to today’s cost, but as Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache noted during the call, it is low enough for Tesla’s electric vehicles to reach cost parity with — and possibly even improve upon — the cost of an internal combustion vehicle.

So, there you have it. All signs are still pointing toward the Gigafactory being every bit the game-changer that it’s been predicted to be.

We’ll know if this is true in a few years…

Friday, 5 September 2014

W Europe EV sales by country - July 2014

  • EVs accounted for 0.44% of new car sales in Europe in July
  • July YOY registrations nearly double to 4,381 units
  • Norway dominates market with 7 months sales of 10,713 units, 12.7% share of new car sales in Norway and 31% of all W Europe EV sales.
  • UK EV sales up 53% YOY to 500 units
  • UK best selling EV in July the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

UK: 40% of prestige car owners would consider an EV with 300 mile range

Nearly 40 per cent of BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Jaguar drivers said they would buy, or seriously consider buying, an all-electric car capable of 300 miles from one charge from their brand.
WeLoveAnyCar.com surveyed 24,227 owners of the prestige cars and the results suggest the market for all electric cars is ready to move to the mainstream and possibly become one of the most important car market sectors in the next 10 years. Currently, only the US- made Tesla (pictured) has range and performance figures considered in the survey, but now solid evidence exists that the European brands' investment in all-electric technology could be a way to increase sales and retain customers. Each car owner in the survey (3,896 Jaguar owners, 8,154 BMW, 6,240 Mercedes and 5,937 Audi drivers) was asked: "All other things being equal (price, style, options and performance), would you consider buying a totally electric Jaguar/ BMW/ Mercedes/Audi with a range of 300 miles from one charge?"
A WeLoveAnyCar.com spokesman said: "The results are remarkably similar across all prestige brands. BMW drivers are perhaps more open but, with around 40% of all prestige brand car owners surveyed saying they would, or would seriously consider, buying an all-electric car, manufacturers interested in retaining their market share must take note."
Only 12 to 17 per cent of all respondents said they'd never buy an electric car with a 300-mile range.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Natalie Sauber of Frost & Sullivan is speaking at eCarTec in Munich on 14 October on Global Megatrends Affecting Mobility in the Future:

Global Uptake of Electrification in Passenger Vehicles - Total Electrified Vehicles likely to reach 13.4M units by 2022. Full and mild hybrids to be standardized across a few models.

Global EV Public Charging Station Facts
 - More than 52,000 public and semi- public charging stations have been installed globally

Electric Vehicle Growth Analysis by Country - Norway held the highest penetration per cent of EVs – 4.36 per cent in 2013. Norway along with Netherlands, France and USA are currently the high growth markets for EVs

EV Charging Infrastructure 
 - United States leads the way with the highest number of  public charging stations due to instantaneous implementation of government projects in 2012

Connector Standards—Chademo Vs. Combo Connector - Combo Connector charging stations are expected to lead the market post 2020 as they are likely to be introduced in the market by 2015 

Inductive Charging - Future Trends - Infiniti EV is expected to be the first electric vehicle to be launched during 2015 with an built-in inductive charging tech

Electric Vehicle Market – Top Predictions - After years of evaluation and trials, the German Vehicle manufacturers have array of electric vehicles (Battery Electrics, Range Extenders &  Plug-in Hybrids) ready to launch in the global markets.