Sunday, 30 November 2014

India: Supernova Electric Vehicle

India’s first ‘green’ sports car to hit roads next The SNEV could cover 1,000 kilometres with a single charge of its batteries with the top speed of 150km an hour.

Ahmedabad — India’s first indigenously-developed electric sports car, the Supernova Electric Vehicle (SNEV), is all set to hit the roads next year.

Ahmedabad-based Golden Arrow Wireless Pvt Ltd, which showcased the prototypes of the ‘green’ car at an exhibition in Gandhingar in Gujarat, is looking for a 50-acre plot of land in the state to set up a factory where it also later plans to manufacture electric buses and three-wheeler autos.

Shashi Vyas, CEO of Golden Arrow Wireless, told journalists at the ‘Auto Show 2014’ that the SNEV, which would cost between Rs1.5 million to Rs2.5 million, could cover 1,000 kilometres with a single charge of its batteries with the top speed of 150km an hour.

The company, which also plans to launch a four-seater family car, is awaiting approvals from the Automotive Research Association of India before establishing manufacturing facilities at multiple locations, including even Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Raipur, besides Gujarat.

Vyas said would come in three battery options — the lead acid, lithium ion and supercapacitors. While the lead acid version would take eight hours to charge, the lithium ion battery would take two hours to charge, and the supercapacitors would take less than five minutes to charge.

Golden Arrow has raised around Rs5 billion from investors so far and is looking to raise more funds to start manufacturing the electric vehicles, though it already has 250 bookings for the SNEV with delivery scheduled for 2015-end.

The company plans to sign a Rs25 billion MoU during the 2015 Vibrant Gujarat Global Investor Summit in January next.

London: BMW to launch Drive Now electric car share BMW will launch a four-wheeled rival to the ‘Boris Bike’, when its grab-and-go car hire scheme launches in London by early 2015.
DriveNow, BMW’s joint venture with rental company Sixt, will deploy cars at strategic points on the capital’s streets, reports Car magazine.
The electric i3 will be the star of the London initiative, bulked out by Mini and 1-series cars which underpin similar operations in five German cities which pioneered DriveNow.
The scheme is part of BMW’s drive to become a mobility services provider, happy to hire cars as well as sell them.
In Germany, DriveNow members pay a €29 registration fee allowing them to rent cars off the street paying fees a little cheaper than hiring a London taxi. Drive Now has 350,000 customers and 500,000 rentals per month.
Cars are located, reserved and unlocked with a smartphone app, free to tank up (with a special refuelling card) which qualifies the driver for a free mileage bonus, and with an amnesty from the capital’s highly motivated parking wardens and its congestion charge. Billing is automated.
London has 32 different boroughs providing local government; DriveNow is only expecting to launch with a handful of them, most likely including Haringey and Hackney.
And talks continue with the critical central council, Westminster, ‘to get the scheme into the heart of the city’.
With local authorities increasingly focused on local air quality, BMW’s i3 electric car will be a standard bearer for London’s latest car hire club.
The BMW initiative comes in the wake of another EV car sharing scheme that’s planned for the capital, which will be based along the same lines as those seen in France.
The Bolloré Group successfully launched Autolib – an EV car sharing scheme in Paris – in 2011 and has now won the tender to run Source London.
In Paris, Autolib has 53,000 users and a fleet of more than 2,000 plug-in Bolloré Bluecars, which are used for 14,000 journeys per day and cost less than £4 for half-an-hour’s use.
Similar services are provided by the company in Lyon and Bordeaux, and it is preparing to launch an EV car sharing scheme in Indianapolis.
In London, the company says it intends to expand London’s charging network from around 1,400 to 6,000 in the next three to four years, while introducing a fleet of its Bluecars for the scheme.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Why Plug-In Hybrid Cars Are Not Gasmobiles There are a number of EV enthusiasts who look down on plug-in hybrids and extended-range electric vehicles. Well, for anyone who really wants us to get off gasoline, and with the potential of existing 100%-electric cars, it’s hard not to be absolutist about it. But it’s important to remember that people who get plug-in hybrids get them because they want to drive electric. Also, given how infrequently anyone drives long distances, they’re sure to drive much more on electricity than gas (especially if the vehicle has more than the 11-mile electric range of the Toyota Prius Plug-in).

A recent thread on the Chevy Volt forum did a good job of highlighting this. The title of the thread: “I haven’t been to a gas station since early August,” which the original poster followed with this happy line: “I love this car!” That’s from someone based in Houston, Texas, one of the most sprawling and car-oriented cities on the planet.

The second commenter, also from a sprawling Texas city, wrote: “I may have you beat. I flat out don’t even remember the last time I put gas in my Volt. I suspect it was longer ago than August, though.”

The third commenter chimed in: “I go every 10.5 months or so when my tank goes stale. Last time was April 23, 2014. Time before that was June 9, 2013. I figure my next visit will be around February 2015.”

Another wrote: “My best tank so far 0- 10,835 miles and going. Last time I went to the gas station was Feb 4, 2014. This car never ceases to amaze me.”

I think you get the picture.

If these people can drive almost entirely on electric with only 38 miles (or less) of all-electric range, you may be wondering why they didn’t simply get an all-electric car. There are various answers for that. Some might like GM, some might like the Volt in particular, some might go on long trips occasionally and prefer to take their own car than rent one. One commenter, for example, wrote: “I went in May when I got back from a 1600 mile road trip.”

My hunch, however, is that most of them decided against an all-electric because of range anxiety anxiety. In other words, despite not yet owning an electric car, they had seen so much hype about supposed “range anxiety” that they were scared to go 100% electric.

The fact is, if you don’t go on a lot of long-distance trips throughout the year, and you don’t have a very long commute, a 100% electric car with ~80 miles of range is probably far more than you need. On the few occasions where you want to drive a long ways, you can simply rent or borrow another car… and prevent premature wear and tear on your car in the meantime.

But back to the point I started with: plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and extended-range electric vehicles are electric vehicles (that simply have a gas tank and engine as backup). Of course, the technicalities of the heart and lungs within each vehicle vary a bit, and not all prioritize electric driving as much as the Chevy Volt, but most of the time, a PHEV/EREV driver is going to be driving on electricity.

This is one reason I’m persistent about including PHEVs and EREVs under the umbrella of “EVs.” PHEVs, EREVs, and 100%-electric vehicles are all subsets of “EVs.” That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Why The Netherlands Is Europe’s Hub For E-Vehicles The Netherlands is among the countries with the highest electric vehicle market penetration in the world. As of August 2014, a total of 40,880 highway legal plug-in electric vehicles were registered in the Netherlands, comprising the second-largest fleet per capita in the world after Norway.

It’s no wonder, considering the country’s progressive policies, affinity for innovation, and forward-thinking, environmentally-conscious consumers. The Dutch government, too, is dedicated to a greener future for transportation: as part of its commitment to environmental sustainability, the government initiated a plan to establish over 200 recharging stations for electric vehicles across the country. The initiative means that, by 2015, every Dutch citizen will live within 31 miles of an electric vehicle charging station. Already in Amsterdam, EV owners park and charge for free.

This mix of passionate consumers and a conscious government are major factors in why big names in electric vehicles like Tesla and Zero have chosen the Netherlands as their launching pad for the European market.

In 2013, Tesla Motors opened its European distribution center and assembly and servicing facilities and began delivering its Model S to Dutch, Belgian, French, and German customers. Just last month, Tesla began serving the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport with the launch of a fleet of 167 electric taxis operated by BBF Schipholtaxi and BIOS-groep. According to Jos Nijhuis, Schiphol Group’s President and CEO, this represents a crucial step in Schiphol’s efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and become one of the world’s three most sustainable airports.

Zero Motorcycles, the global leader in the electric motorcycle industry, also enjoys a home in the Netherlands, having operated its European headquarters in Alkmaar, near Amsterdam, since 2009. According to Zero Motorcycles inventor, Neal Saiki, Zero offers “the perfect solution to all Europeans who love motorcycles, innovation, and the environment” — a sentiment which really resonates with Dutch customers.

For these and other reasons, the Netherlands represents the ideal market for e-vehicles in Europe. As Tesla Motors Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Ownership Experience George Blankenship puts it, Tesla and the Netherlands “share a similar vision surrounding energy sustainability and a clean future for generations to come.”

About Jan-Emile van Rossum: As executive director of the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) for North America, Jan-Emile van Rossum oversees operations for the five NFIA offices throughout North America and is responsible for ensuring that the organization’s resources and third party partners effectively support North American companies as they expand their operations into Europe with a strategic location in the Netherlands.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Renault-Nissan Alliance Owns 58% Of Global EV Market With 58% of the global zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) market, there’s a strong argument to be made that the Renault-Nissan Alliance is the top electric vehicle manufacturer in the world, and the world leader has just passed its 200,000th electric vehicle (EV) sale. Renault and Nissan EV drivers have now driven approximately 4 billion kilometers, far enough to circle the earth 100,000 times. In total, they have prevented the need for approximately 200 liters of fuel. For some perspective, that’s enough liquid to fill ~80 Olympic swimming pools. These drivers and their EVs also prevented the emission of 450 million kilograms of CO2 (assuming they drove the same number of kilometers they would have driven in an average gasmobile).

Nissan LEAF Leadership

Leading the pack for the Renault-Nissan Alliance and the entire electric vehicle market is the best-selling Nissan LEAF. And lest many forget, the LEAF was the first truly mass-market electric vehicle (not counting electric vehicles of the early 20th century). It won 2011 World Car of the Year, European Car of the Year 2011, and Car of the Year Japan 2011–2012.

The Nissan LEAF will definitely be the top-selling electric vehicle in the US in 2014. In Europe, it looks like the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in will be #1 and the LEAF will be #2, but the LEAF is solidly set to be the top-selling pure-electric vehicle.

In the US, LEAF sales are up 35% compared to 2013, and it has seen 21 consecutive record sales months. ~67,000 Nissan LEAFs have been sold in the US since launch. In Japan, that number is 46,500, and in Europe, it’s 31,000.

Last but not least, the LEAF has the highest customer satisfaction rating of any Nissan vehicle.

Renault Deserves Some Love, Too

Renault electric vehicles, while not being sold almost anywhere else, do quite well in Europe. Like its cousin (the LEAF), the Renault ZOE has the highest satisfaction rating of Renault’s global product lineup.

“In October, Renault regained the number one EV position in Europe with a market share of 31%. ZOE was the most popular vehicle with a 23% market share,” the Renault-Nissan Alliance states.

Based in France, Renault has sold 51,500 electric vehicles worldwide (not that far behind Nissan, to be fair) since the Renault Kangoo ZE was introduced to the market in October 2011. Named the International Van of the Year 2012, the electric van led the way in this market segment. “Renault recently delivered its 5,000th Kangoo Z.E. to La Poste, France’s national postal service and operator of the country’s largest corporate fleet,” the Alliance states. “An additional 5,000 units will be delivered in the coming years.”

London pollution charge: Drivers face paying £12.50 on top of congestion charge London Mayor Boris Johnson aims to create the world’s first ‘ultra low emission zone’. Clean air levy will apply 24/7… on top of C-charge

Extra charge: £12.50 will be added to the congestion charge for some drivers

Drivers of the most polluting vehicles will have to pay £12.50 a day in addition to the £11.50 congestion charge to enter London by 2020 as the mayor bids to improve air quality in the capital.

Starting a public consultation today, transport chiefs said the main benefit of the world’s first “ultra low emission zone” (ULEZ) would be to halve toxic fumes - nitrogen oxide and particulate matter - from vehicles.

Cars, motorcycles, vans, minibuses, HGVs and coaches will all have to comply or pay a daily charge, which will for the largest vehicles will rise to £100 a day.

The ULEZ will be imposed on 7 September 2020 and cover the same area as the existing zone for the congestion charge - which currently costs £11.50 a day to drive in.

The move means some car drivers would have to pay at least £24 a day to enter central London.

The zone will apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Boris Johnson said: “Introducing the world’s first ultra low emission zone is an essential measure to improve London’s air quality and reduce NO2.

“Safeguarding Londoners’ health and well-being is a top priority for my administration. I understand that people need adequate time to switch to greener vehicles and help is at hand for those who will be hardest hit, but let’s be clear, we need to make these important changes ASAP to continue to improve Londoners’ quality of life and give everyone who lives in or visits the city the cleanest possible air to breathe.”

It is reckoned 4,300 people a year die every year in London because of poor air quality.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “We welcome this measure to tackle poor air quality.

“What drivers want is certainty and time to react to rule changes. These proposals offer both. But by TfL’s own admission, taxis, freight vehicles and its own buses will pose as big a problem as private diesel cars. The Mayor’s challenge will be to win over businesses to these plans.

“Where Boris leads others are likely to follow. Town and city halls across the country will look to London to see how these proposals work and be asking whether they should be doing the same thing.”

The two pollutants of principal concern in London are particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

London is now compliant with PM limit values owing to the low emission zone, taxi and private hire vehicle age limits, bus retrofit schemes and the natural turnover of vehicles. However, London is not forecast to meet the legal limits for NO2 until after 2030 – alongside Birmingham and Leeds - unless targeted action is taken.

By 2020 cars and small vans will pay the charge unless they have the Euro 6-level engine for diesels, or Euro 4 for petrol engines.

In a further bid to cut emissions, from 2018 all taxis and new private hire vehicles seeking a license in the capital will have to be zero emission capable. The age limit for taxis, which are forecast to be the second largest contributor to nitrogen oxide pollution, will be cut from 15 to ten years to comply with the new standards.

Critics accused the mayor of watering down the plan by ditching a proposal to ban the most polluting vehicles outright.

London Assembly Green party member Jenny Jones called for the zone to be extended from the outset to boroughs including Islington, Camden, Southwark, Hackney and Tower Hamlets.

Baroness Jones said: “It is one of the biggest scandals of our age that 4,300 people a year in London are dying prematurely as a result of poor air quality. As serious air pollution is not confined to the boundaries of the congestion charge area, nor should the Ultra Low Emission Zone. Boroughs outside the zone should be given an opportunity to opt-in at the earliest possible opportunity”

The Campaign for Clean Air has identified 187 air quality focus areas where targeted action is required, including Hackney’s Amhurst Road and Dalston Junction. The Greens insist the mayor and local authorities extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zone when it starts in 2020.

Stephen Knight, Liberal Democrat London Assembly environment spokesman said: “What is being proposed is too little, being introduced too slowly.

“Only last year the Mayor’s 2020 Vision stated that his plan for an ultra low emission zone would restrict central London only to those vehicles which have zero or near-zero tailpipe emissions. Sadly the Mayor has dropped this commitment and seems content to allow highly polluting vehicles to enter central London for many years to come.

“Polluting central London should not be a privilege for the wealthy - yet that is exactly what the Mayor is proposing.”

The ULEZ consultation, which runs from today until Friday 9 January 2015, is available online at

BMW: 3 series eDrive PHEV in September 2015 A prototype version of the new plug-in hybridBMW 3-series, which – it is claimed – will set new standards for fuel efficiency when it goes on sale in September 2015.

Following the unveiling of the definitive production version of the X5 eDrive at the Paris motor show, BMW has now revealed its plans for a second plug-in hybrid based around a regular production model, the 3-series eDrive.

The new car, which indirectly replaces the non-plug-in ActiveHybrid 3, runs a petrol-electric hybrid system similar to that used by the X5 eDrive. But rather than providing drive to all four wheels like it does in BMW’s upmarket SUV, it sends drive exclusively to the rear.


Sitting up front is BMW’s turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine. It’s tuned to deliver 177bhp and 236lb ft of torque.

This unit is supported by an electric motor mounted in the standard eight-speed automatic gearbox. It provides an additional 94bhp and 184lb ft of torque.

All up, that means this 3-series offers a combined output of 242bhp and 295lb ft of torque in hybrid mode.

These generous outputs are channelled through a reworked version of BMW’s ZF automatic gearbox, which has been modified to improve fuel efficiency and manage the transition between power sources.

The electric motor draws energy from a lithium ion battery mounted relatively high up in the boot, shrinking overall capacity slightly over the 480 litres offered by more conventional 3-series models.

BMW makes some pretty impressive fuel economy claims for the 3-series eDrive, although, like all new plug-in hybrids, the claimed figure arrived at is not truly representative of real-world driving. For what it's worth, though, the 3-series eDrive is said to return 131mpg, giving it an average CO2 rating of just 50g/km.

The hybrid system operates in five different modes, with two new ones specific to the eDrive model, called Max eDrive and Save Battery.

The eDrive mode provides all-electric running. The claimed electric range is a slightly disappointing 22 miles, achieved at speeds limited to around 75mph.

To drive, this early prototype is convincing in terms of overall operation but lacks the final layer of drivetrain refinement to make it truly impressive yet.

Still, with a year of development left before the final version is due, it would be disappointing if it wasn’t on the money by the time it reaches showrooms.

Unlike some recent plug-in hybrids we’ve driven, there’s no extra cockpit drill to study up on before setting off. In fact, the BMW is entirely straightforward. You simply climb in, belt up, place your foot on the brake and hit the start button, at which point the instruments spring to life to indicate it is ready.

There’s no firing of the petrol engine when the ignition catches, merely silence as the electric motor waits for you to draw the gear selector back to select Drive.

With sufficient charge on board and the hybrid system set in its default mode, the new BMW moves off on battery power alone.

In the initial couple of miles of running in eDrive mode, the 3-series eDrive is predictably smooth and, given the relatively modest power, surprisingly swift as it accelerates up to typical urban speed limits. Still, it doesn’t take much of a push on the throttle before the system draws on the engine for more power.

As you up the pace, there is a nice, flexible nature to the delivery and plenty of encouragement to press on. Together, the electric motor and petrol engine provide thoroughly convincing in-gear performance. It may not sound quite as good, but it accelerates with all the urgency of the 335i.

However, the interaction between the two power sources isn’t quite as seamless as we’ve witnessed in some more recent plug-in hybrids. In the prototype we drove, there was a brief pause as the petrol engine kicked in and a distant whine from the electric engine on a loaded throttle.

BMW hasn’t provided any official performance data yet, but with a good deal of low-end torque and impressive traction, the finished version of the 3-series eDrive should crack 0-62mph in less than six seconds.

The 22-mile electric range might not sound much, but most commutes are less, and it’s also 19.5 miles further than the ActiveHybrid 3 achieves.

Dynamically, there’s not much to fault. The big battery is likely to endow the eDrive with a kerb weight of more than 1700kg, but it handles with distinction, even on the modest 225/50 R17 tyres used by the prototype.

The new BMW steers in a direct manner, displays impressive body control and possesses strong levels of grip. It’s only when you push hard in tight corners that the added weight really becomes an issue; the front end relinquishes purchase and understeers a little earlier than a conventionally powered 3-series, and the weight of the battery pack in the boot drags the rear axle around in a mild pendulum effect if you’re really going for it.


You can’t. Not yet, anyway. The production version of the 3-series eDrive isn’t planned to make its debut until September 2015, with sales of the right-hand-drive version unlikely to begin before the second quarter of 2016, according to BMW.

When it does reach the UK, though, the latest member of the 3-series line-up will be priced close to the existing 335i, which starts at £37,760. As with the X5 eDrive, the addition of a plug-in hybrid option certainly extends the fleet appeal of the 3-series, allowing it to run in electric mode for worthwhile distances for the first time.

This should make it attractive to car buyers facing CO2-related road usage charges, like those in place in London. On the strength of this first drive, though, there are plenty of other factors to recommend this model too, not least its solid performance, engaging handling and ease of operation.

BMW 3-series eDrive

Price £37,000 (est); 0-62mph 5.8sec (est);Top speed 145mph (est); Economy131mpg; CO2 50g/km; Kerb weight 1700kg (est); Engine 4 cyls, 1997cc, turbo, petrol, plus electric motor; Power 242bhp (combined); Torque 295lb ft (combined);Gearbox 8-speed automatic

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Renault-Nissan reaches 200,000 EV sales The Renault-Nissan Alliance has sold its 200,000th electric vehicle and has a leading 58% market share for zero-emission cars.

Together, Renault and Nissan EVs have driven approximately 4 billion zero-emission kilometres - enough to circle the earth 100,000 times.

Renault-Nissan's EVs represent 200 million litres of fuel saved - enough to fill about 80 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Alliance EVs also represent 450 million kg of CO2 that has not been emitted while driving.

The Alliance sold its 200,000th EV in early November, about four years after the launch of the Nissan LEAF, the world's first mass-market electric vehicle. Nissan LEAF remains the best-selling electric vehicle in history.

From January through the first week of November of this year, the Alliance sold about 66,500 EV units-an increase of about 20% from the same period last year.

The Alliance sells about two out of three electric vehicles worldwide, including Twizy, Renault's two-seater urban commuter vehicle and the Nissan e-NV200 van on sale in Europe and Japan.

"Renault and Nissan's electric vehicles are the zero-emission volume leaders - and, most important, they enjoy high satisfaction rates from customers around the world," said Carlos Ghosn, Chairman & CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

"Based on positive owner feedback and the increasing demand for cars that run on renewable energy, it's no surprise that EV sales are accelerating - particularly in regions where the charging infrastructure is well developed."

The top markets for Nissan Leaf are the United States with about 67,000 sales since its launch, Japan with about 46,500 units and Europe with about 31,000 units.

In the United States, Leaf is on track to be the top electric vehicle in 2014, outselling all other electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Sales so far this year are up 35%, and Leaf has enjoyed 21 consecutive record sales months and has already shattered its own yearly US sales record with two months to go.

In addition to Leaf, Nissan also sells the e-NV200 van, which went on sale in Europe in June and in Japan in October.

Meanwhile, Boulogne-Billancourt, France-based Renault has sold a cumulative 51,500 electric vehicles worldwide since its first model the Kangoo ZE went on sale in October 2011.

Renault recently delivered its 5,000th Kangoo ZE to La Poste, France's national postal service and operator of the country's largest corporate fleet. An additional 5,000 units will be delivered in the coming years.

In addition to Kangoo ZE and Twizy, Renault's zero-emission range also includes the ZOE subcompact and the Fluence ZE sedan.

In South Korea, the Fluence ZE is sold as the SM3 ZE under the Renault Samsung Motor badge. Like Nissan Leaf, Zoe enjoys the highest satisfaction rate of Renault's Global product lineup.

Renault's top markets in Europe - its main electric vehicle market - are France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

In October, Renault regained the number one EV position in Europe with a market share of 31%. Zoe was the most popular vehicle with a 23% market share.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance is a strategic partnership between Paris-based Renault and Yokohama, Japan-based Nissan, which together sell one in 10 cars worldwide.

The companies, which have been strategic partners since 1999, sold 8.3 million cars in nearly 200 countries in 2013.

The Alliance also operates strategic collaborations with automakers including Germany's Daimler, China's Dongfeng, and India's Ashok Leyland and has a majority stake in the joint venture which owns Russia's top automaker, Avtovaz

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Germany: October EV sales second best month ever. Plug-In Car Registrations In Germany Up To Almost 1,250 in October

Plug-in registrations in Germany – October 2014

The number of electric car registrations grew last month in Germany to the second highest result ever – 1,243 and 10,343 YTD.

Registrations of plug-in hybrids doubled year-over-year to 402, while all-electric cars went down a little bit to 841. In total, plug-ins captured some 0.4% of the market.

BEVs still hold more than two-thirds of the market – 6,888, with plug-in hybrids at 3,455 this year.

Plug-in registrations in Germany – October 2014

Electric smart with 263 in October and 1,286 in 10 months is the best selling all-electric car in Germany.

Renault ZOE had its best month ever with 178 registrations. 919 were registered this year.

BMW i3 is stable at 133 (59 without REx). 2,004 were registered YTD, which makes i3 the leader (among BEVs/PHEVs).

And there were also 75 BMW i8s (new record) this month, which brings its YTD total to 299.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV had 89 registrations in October, reaching 916 for the year.

Nissan LEAF added 74 for 746 total YTD.

Volkswagen had 199 all-electric registrations and 17 plug-in hybrids, while Mercedes had 17 and 26 respectively. VW is approaching 2,000 electric car registrations this year, while Mercedes exceeds 100. Both brands do not break out numbers by individual plug-in models.

Tesla Model S is somewhere at the bottom of the rank with 17 new registrations in October and 593 this year.

Plug-in registrations in Germany – October 2014

US: Coda Sedan to come back as Mullen 700e Recycling of old car designs as Chinese-market vehicles aside, very few car designs live forever in the automotive world. When a car ceases production for whatever reason, it tends to not come back to the same market.

Here’s the Mullen 700e, which will debut at the 2014 LA Auto Show. You may remember it as the Coda Sedan.

Yet the car formerly known as the Coda Sedan is about to do just that with a phoenix-like resurrection planned for this year’s 2014 LA Auto Show. Like a stray cat on yet another of its nine lives, the five-seat electric sedan is back, this time under the name of the Mullen 700e.

What’s more, the car that is debuting this week at the LA Auto Show is almost identical to the Miles XS 200 — a car which debuted at the very same LA Auto Show back in 2007, long before Tesla, Nissan, General Motors or Ford were making and selling mass-produced plug ins.

But in order to understand this particular debut and the Mullen 700e’s past, we’re going to have to give you a little bit of this car’s sworded history.

Based on the Chinese-market Hafei Saibo gasoline-powered sedan — which itself was based on a Japanese-market Mitsubishi Lancer Chassis from the late 1990s — the car originally debuted in the U.S. as the Miles XS 200 was marketed as one of the first affordable all-electric models to hit the market.

That model — which morphed into the Miles XS 500 — promised a range of around 120 miles per charge from a proprietary lithium-ion battery pack, a top speed of 80 mph, and a showroom arrival of late 2008.

By mid-2009, the Miles EV — the company who had imported the Chinese-made electric car into the U.S. in the first place — had made the decision to spin off its full-size, freeway-capable electric car business from the rest of its low-speed, NEV fleet. As a consequence, it started Coda Automotive, a company dedicated to freeway-capable vehicles.

Many years passed, including some fluctuations in expected market price, launch date and a fairly steady stream of staff. Despite some major financial woes — including a desperate last-round of funding — Coda Automotive managed to bring its $38,145 all-electric sedan to production in March 2012.

In the face of better-priced, more capable cars from mainstream automakers like Nissan and General Motors as well as some pretty terrible reviews and a shocking two-star NHTSA frontal crash test rating, most consumers chose more mainstream brands over the retro-styled Coda.

By late 2012, Coda Automotive was in big trouble, laying off fifteen percent of its workforce before slashing prices of its Coda Sedan by more than $14,700 in order to try and attract new buyers. By mid 2013, the Coda Automotive’s parent company — Coda Holdings — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Coda Holdings was reorganised, splitting off the lithium-ion battery pack side of Coda Automotive as Coda Energy, with the remaining unsold Coda Sedans and gliders acquired by Ready Remarketing, who along with a company called Club Auto Sales, tried to offer service and sales of the remaining Coda Sedans under the Coda Cars name badge.

Now it seems Coda Cars has been acquired by Mullen Motor Company — a company which itself has been through several defunct business relationships to bring plug-in cars to market — with Coda Car’s CEO Richard Curtis now President of Mullen Consolidated.

And so this is how the Coda Sedan — a car with more lives than we’ve had hot dinners — is yet again preparing to debut at the LA Auto Show this week under the Mullen 700e nameplate.

There’s a new website, and even a new product brochure, which appears to have skilfully reused photoshopped images from the original Coda Production Run, with just the hood name badge changed to reflect the car’s new identity.

As Autobloggreen details, very little about the Mullen 700e is expected to have changed over the former Coda Sedan design, but there’s a hint that a larger 50 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack could be offered, giving the 700e a claimed range of 185 miles per charge.

Even the Coda publicity shots (left) have been reused for the Mullen 700e (right). Same photo, different badges.

Here at Transport Evolved, we’d love to believe that this time the Miles XS200 Miles XS500 Coda Sedan Mullen 700e is going to make it big in the marketplace.

But while Mullen is keen to market this vehicle as “The All-New, All-Electric Mullen 700e,” in its official brochure, we’ve yet to see any evidence that this isn’t yet another attempt to bring a car back to market that didn’t do all that well the first few times around.

We hope to be proven wrong.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Next Generation GS Yuasa lithium-ion battery triples energy density Next Generation GS Yuasa lithium-ion battery GS Yuasa Corp. said Monday it has developed a next-generation lithium-ion battery with three times the capacity of existing products. The battery uses sulfur as a key material for the positive electrode. The Kyoto-based company now aims to improve the durability of the silicon-based negative electrode, so it can commercialize the next-generation lithium-ion battery by 2020.

Sulfur is harmless to humans, cheap and found in abundance in nature. But it does not conduct electricity, making it difficult to obtain strong electric output from batteries using sulfur-based electrodes.

GS Yuasa succeeded in discharging the high-capacity battery by filling sulfur into small holes on carbon rods in order to make the element conductive, the company said.

“This battery can be manufactured at a lower cost,” said Shuji Hitomi, group manager at GS Yuasa’s research and development center. “If it is used in a car, the range (without recharging) would be greatly increased.”

Monday, 17 November 2014

Research: EVs $533 billion by 2025

According to IDTechEx, analysis shows that the electric vehicle business will cap at $533 billion dollars in 2025.

According to IDTechEx, analysis shows that the electric vehicle business will cap at $533 billion dollars in 2025.

You surely already know that electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are on the rise for obvious reasons, among them being a huge cut in operating cost and in emissions… It’s a win-win to go electric.

With loads of plug-ins becoming available on the market, there’s now becoming an EV to fit most anyone’s needs.

Some obscure examples of why plug-ins on the rise include: China auto manufacturers producing 11-times more plug-ins than in 2014 than in 2013; China’s devotion to purchasing electric buses; Canadian mining companies wanting electric trucks; more motorcycle makers committing to producing all-electric bikes; and so on.

IDTechEx’s sales graph.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

VW: 400 mile battery packs? Solid-state batteries capable of delivering on a 400+ mile range per single charge are a real possibility and possess “great potential” according to Volkswagen’s Chairman of the Board Dr Martin Winterkorn.

Those comments from Winterkorn were made recently during a Stanford award ceremony for “Science Award Electrochemistry.”

Bold comments (relatively so anyways). Of course, if such a battery can be economically manufactured, then that would more-or-less turn the industry upside-down — pretty much eliminating “range anxiety anxiety” and opening EVs up to a segment of the market that is currently disinterested in driving them.

As sister site GAS2 notes, “the ability to bring 1,000 Wh/l to EVs [makes] them rival the range of many conventional cars. Current battery energy is in the area of just 260 Wh/l, so Winterkorn is looking at nearly quadrupling the density of the current crop of battery tech.”

Another key factor will be bringing down the costs, with the VW exec saying that lowering the price to about 100 euros ($124) per kWh would “significantly increase the market potential of electric vehicles.”

The solid electrolyte of solid-state batteries is also much less likely to catch fire compared to the liquid solutions many EVs currently use (not that such a concern compares to the concern of a gasoline tank catching fire). Toyota claims to already have a 400 Wh/l battery pack, but it’s clearly not excited about or bullish on EVs, so….

While Volkswagen has been something of a late arriver to the EV market, the company is slowly making gains towards its goal of a diversified EV lineup. Company executives have previously stated that they expect to have EVs with ranges of 300+ miles by the end of 2017. While this article has mostly dealt with solid-state technologies, Volkswagen is also reportedly pursuing lithium-air battery technology.

Why I will nver buy a Lexus

Watch the Lexus TV commercial and judge for yourself.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Tesla: Autopilot New Safety Features and Autopilot

The launch of Dual Motor Model S coincides with the introduction of a standard hardware package that will enable autopilot functionality. Every single Model S now rolling out of the factory includes a forward radar, 12 long range ultrasonic sensors positioned to sense 16 feet around the car in every direction at all speeds, a forward looking camera, and a high precision, digitally controlled electric assist braking system.

Building on this hardware with future software releases, we will deliver a range of active safety features, using digital control of motors, brakes, and steering to avoid collisions from the front, sides, or from leaving the road. (Please note this hardware is not available as a retrofit.)

Model S will be able to steer to stay within a lane, change lanes with the simple tap of a turn signal, and manage speed by reading road signs and using active, traffic aware cruise control. It will take several months for all Autopilot features to be completed and uploaded to the cars.

Our goal with the introduction of this new hardware and software is not to enable driverless cars, which are still years away from becoming a reality. Our system is called Autopilot because it’s similar to systems that pilots use to increase comfort and safety when conditions are clear. Tesla’s Autopilot is a way to relieve drivers of the most boring and potentially dangerous aspects of road travel – but the driver is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car.

The Autopilot hardware opens up some exciting long term possibilities. Imagine having your car check your calendar in the morning (a feature introduced in Software v6.0), calculate travel time to your first appointment based on real time traffic data, automatically open the garage door with Homelink, carefully back out of a tight garage, and pull up to your door ready for your commute. Of course, it could also warm or cool your car to your preferences and select your favorite morning news stream.

The introduction of this hardware is just the first step for Autopilot in Model S. We will continue to develop new capabilities and deliver them through over-the-air software updates, keeping our customers at the forefront of driving technology.

Other Product Updates

Our commitment to continuous improvement extends to other features of Model S, and we have recently made several updates to the car. The following features are either in production or will be delivered with Dual Motor Model S (as indicated).
Seat comfort improvements and taller headrests for whiplash protection
Improvements for a quieter cabin
Wider rear door opening
Electrically opening, self-closing charge port door on Dual Motor Model S (delivered with Dual Motor Model S)
Increased visor size and larger vanity mirror
Parcel shelf and front trunk cargo net now standard
Air ionizer and carbon filter for cabin air purity
Updated steering column control module
Updates to Alcantara interior trim, such as wrapped roof bow and top pad

USA: Ford links with micro wind turbine company Ford has just tapped four dealerships to receive micro wind turbines in a first-of-its-kind partnership with the aptly named company Wind Energy Corporation, and we are already convinced this is just the first tiny ripple in a massive wave of wind energy installations at Ford locations. The new vertical-design turbines spell out Ford in big, bold letters, providing a perfect example of the unique branding and marketing opportunities that micro wind turbines provide to businesses.

The idea is, if you’re going to spend money on an elevated sign anyways, you might as well put it into service generating clean, renewable energy to attract and serve your growing cadre of energy-aware customers and EV buyers.

The Wind Energy Corporation Micro Wind Turbine

Ford’s press material on the new micro wind turbines was a little thin on detail and the website forWind Energy was under construction at the time of this writing, but the folks at Wind Energy were nice enough to email additional specs for the wind turbine.

The vertical wind sail micro wind turbine is part of a proprietary integrated system that includes a 5.5 kilowatt wind energy generator and a 7.0 kilowatt solar panel array (available as rooftop or ground mounted), all coordinated with smart electrical and control systems. Wind Energy calls it, what else, The Windy System™.

According to Ford, each Windy System can deliver about 20,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is enough to charge a Ford Focus Electric 870 times.

The turbine is designed specifically for placement in proximity to buildings and people, meaning that it is quiet, and Wind Energy claims that it is “bird-bat-butterfly friendly.” At about 20 feet tall and 13 feet in diameter, the slim silhouette also helps from an aesthetic point of view. Overall, the turbine plus the tower is 50 to 65 feet tall.

As for durability, anything at 6 mph and more gets you a current, although the turbine will lock down for safety if things reach a hectic 40 mph.
Micro Wind Turbines And Ford

Along with our sister site we’ve been following Ford’s transition into the EV market. Aside from retail hybrid and electric vehicles, the company has also been all over sustainable strategies at its manufacturing sites, and it has become one of the leaders in the trend toward renewable energy packaging for home EV charging.

Extending the renewable energy messaging out to the company’s dealers was the next step. Under the terms of the new partnership, Wind Energy will put up $750,000 to install The Windy System at the four dealerships (we didn’t ask, but that sounds like a power purchase agreement to us). Aside from EV charging, the output will also go to power outdoor lighting and indoor energy use.

Apparently Ford and Wind Energy tapped the four dealers in recognition of their “exceptional commitment to clean energy” as well as their suitability as wind and solar energy sites, so let’s give them a shout-out:

Dana Ford Lincoln, Staten Island, New York
Tom Holzer Ford, Farmington Hills, Michigan
The Ford Store, Morgan Hill, California
Fiesta Ford, Indio, California
Advantages Of Micro Wind Turbines

While we’ve been huge fans of tall-tower, utility scale wind turbines (especially in the emergingoffshore wind energy sector), we also have the loves for micro wind turbines. You don’t get the scale efficiencies, but with micro wind turbines commercial property owners and tenants do get the twofer of doubling up signage with renewable energy generation. If your wind is in the doldrums, no problem, because the turbine still functions as a sign.

It’s also worth noting that, despite some naysayers in the wind industry, the US Department of Energy is anticipating that micro wind turbines will play a role in the future energy landscape.

Wind Energy’s choice of turbine dovetails with the branding aspect because unlike bladed turbines, the wind sail’s broad, sail-like surfaces lend themselves to lettering and other graphics.

Speaking of branding, the folks at Ford were nice enough to invite us along last spring when they introduced the new tricked-out 2015 Edge, and they included a brief overview of the Ford licensing program for retail in the package. Have you checked out the Ford merch store lately? We’re thinking that aside from dealerships, some of those Ford fans out there will want to get their hands around a Ford-branded micro wind turbine.

For that matter, given the growing popularity of micro wind turbines at sports venues, team-branded micro wind turbines for sporting goods stores could be next on the horizon.

Korea: Seoul offers $18,000 EV grant - with a catch Those considering purchasing an EV may now want to consider moving to the capital of Korea, Seoul — owing to the city’s recent legislative moves designed to spur the growth of the EV market there.

The city is now offering up to 20 million won (around $18,225 at the current exchange rate) in incentives to EV buyers there. There’s a catch, though: the full incentives are available only to those that purchase from one of four partner car manufacturers.

Those four car manufacturers are: BMW, General Motors, Kia, and Renault-Samsung.

So, there are certainly some options there, so not too bad. (Unsurprisingly, EVs from Japanese auto manufacturers like Nissan aren’t eligible.)

With the new incentives factored in, the base price of a new high-end EV, like the BMW i3, can be lowered substantially — from about 57.5 million won ($52,423) to about 37.5 million ($34,200).

I guess I might need to retract my first sentence, though, at least for Americans. After the US federal tax credit for electric vehicles, the BMW i3 costs just $33,850.

EV charging stations incentives are also in place for corporate and other organizational buyers. There’s an additional 7 million won ($6,379) in incentives available for installers of charging stations in parking lots or garages.

The reported reason for the rather high incentives on offer is as a counter to the common public disinterest in EVs in Korea. Currently there are only about 1,500 registered EVs in South Korea, out of a total of 20 million registered vehicles.

If you’re wondering why that number is so low, though, the real reason isn’t simply public apathy but also restrictive laws that could more or less be referred to as being “anti-EV.” The most prominent of these laws is the one that “bars electric cars from local highways with speed limits over 60 kilometers per hour (about 37 mph) — including almost 208 miles of highway in and around Seoul.” What?!

You’d hope rather than simply offering incentives that that law would be struck off the books…. But it remains for now.

UK: EV surge continues

According to the SMMT, Plug-in electric sales passed 10,000 units YTD at the end of October (10,421, vs 2,840 YTD 2013). The market is surging...

US: Kia Soul EV review Finally, there is an all-electric car for people who thought they would never want one.

The 2015 Kia Soul EV is a normal-looking Soul with a useful travel range of nearly 100 miles on a single charge, stable ride and handling, generous and flexible cargo space, comfortable seating and fast-charge capability.

Indeed, the built-in, direct-current, fast-charge port in the Soul EV allows for 80 percent of the onboard battery to be recharged from empty in as little as 33 minutes.

Most importantly, the Kia Soul EV, which is rated by the federal government at 105 miles per gallon-equivalent in combined city/highway travel, has a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $34,500.

This price includes, among other things, standard heated steering wheel, heated front seats and outside mirrors, rear camera, navigation system, AM/FM/Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, six air bags and a five-year subscription to Kia's UVO online services with EV features.

Kia's 10-year/100,000-mile limited warranty is included, too.

Plus, the Soul EV qualifies for a $7,500 federal government tax credit, so a buyer may reduce his or her income taxes by up to $7,500 for the year that the car is purchased.

This newest electric vehicle — and the first from South Korea's Kia — is sold now in California and will spread to more U.S. states in 2015.

It's in the price range of competitors.

Tesla's sporty-looking Model S sedan with 208-mile range as a base, 2014 model, has a starting retail price, including destination fee, of $71,070.

Meantime, the top-selling electric car in the United States — the Nissan Leaf — has an 84-mile travel range on a full charge and carries an MSRP, including destination charge, of $29,860.

Onlookers typically assumed the Soul EV was a regular, gasoline-powered Soul during the test drive. This Soul stood out because its roof was painted white while the body was bright blue; less noticeable was the fact that it had no exhaust pipe.

Competing all-electric vehicles are typically smaller in size and interior roominess than the Soul EV. For example, the 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV, which has a starting retail price, including destination charge, of $27,645 and a travel range of 82 miles, is 16.5 inches shorter than the Soul.

The Spark's cargo room behind the back seats is 9.6 cubic feet, while the Soul EV's cargo room nearly doubles that, at 18.8 cubic feet.

This is the same cargo space that's in a gasoline-powered Soul, and it expands to a sport utility vehicle-like 49.5 cubic feet when rear seatbacks are folded down.

In fact, during the test drive, the tall Soul EV Plus model sometimes felt more like an SUV than a car, because driver and passengers sat up a ways from the pavement on comfortable seats and had lots of headroom.

The rear liftgate opening was wide to aid loading, and cargo space was normal sized.

Some electric cars have restricted cargo space because of the intruding onboard battery pack. But Kia engineers use a highly dense, lithium-ion polymer battery pack that is shaped and spread out to fit under the Soul's floor. This also makes for a better center of gravity in the Soul EV, which aids handling.

To be sure, the Soul EV rides with more heft than its four-cylinder-engine sibling. At 3,289 pounds, it's some 450 pounds heavier than the gasoline Soul. Still, the electric motor and battery pack provide good get up and go with 210 foot-pounds of torque available instantly. The test car effortlessly zipped ahead of other vehicles from stoplights.

Total system horsepower is 109.

Brightly colored gauges encourage fuel-efficient driving, but an "eco" mode can be turned off for a less-resistant feel to the accelerator pedal.

Travel was mostly quiet. A high-pitch, electrical "whir" sound sometimes could be heard, particularly with the windows down, and the low-friction tires conveyed some road noise.

Additionally, Kia engineers installed a subtle, bell-like chime that activates when the Soul is in reverse to alert nearby pedestrians.

The rear camera is a lifesaver, since window pillars at the sides of the rear liftgate window are thick and obscure the view of approaching traffic as the Soul backs up.

The test car was fully charged by a regular, 120-volt outlet in a home garage overnight, and a 240-volt charger at a public parking garage cut the time to less than four hours.

The Soul EV's UVO telematics system lists the locations of 240-volt chargers as well as the fast chargers.

After most full charges, the tester showed a travel range of 100 miles, not the 93 miles that the federal government certifies.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, 100 miles is sufficient for 90 percent of all household vehicle trips in this country.

Driving the Soul EV with care and coasting extended the range.

Buyers just have to like the Soul's boxy exterior styling. Thoughtful features include big, bright blue lights atop the dashboard that tell if the car is charging or fully charged. They can be seen from all sides of the car.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Range Anxiety I spend a fair bit of time following press on electric vehicles (EVs). I see stuff that’s pro-EV, anti-EV, and neutral. I see some good stuff, but a lot of poorly researched crap from every angle as well*.

One thing that really bugs me is stories talking about the “huge disadvantage” EVs have in charging time and that “People don’t want to wait hours and hours for their cars to charge.”

Stories like that create what I call “range anxiety anxiety”. Range anxiety is an infrequent thing, but people unfamiliar with electric cars read articles hyping short range and long charge times and they develop anxiety that they’d have range anxiety if they owned an EV.

The problem isn’t in the statement itself, but in the underlying assumption. People are used to how gasmobiles work. You drive for a week or two on a tank, running it down close to empty (often inducing range anxiety). Then you stop at a gas station for a few minutes, drop 50+ bucks and then repeat the cycle. If you apply that model to an EV, it’s horrifying. Imagine getting up to go to work and your EV battery is empty! A Model S takes 10 hours to charge at a level 2 charger! I’d miss a whole day of work!!!

What people don’t see is how idiotic that model is. They’ve trained themselves to put up with the nonsense gasmobiles create and they just assume it applies everywhere. If you offer to get rid of a major annoyance people experience all the time and are used to, but the cost is a new less-frequent annoyance that gets hyped by the press every 2 seconds, people will often pass on getting rid of the major annoyance.

Think about the last time you had to put gas in your car. If you’re like me, you noticed the gas gauge getting low on your way home from work, but you were tired after a long day and decided to wait til morning. Morning always comes. It’s always the morning when everything is going wrong and you’re running late and you climb in the car, and “CRAP!” you’ve gotta get gas on the way to work.

Imagine instead that a magic energy fairy showed up every night and refueled your car. All the fairy asks in return is that you pay about ¼ of what you used to pay in gas, and that you spend a bit more time and planning on long trips. That’s it.

I took a look at my gas patterns before I bought the Model S and since. I used to buy gas about every 2 weeks. Each stop always added at least 10 minutes to my trip to or from work (I timed it). In the year and a half I’ve owned my Model S I would have made 40 gas stops**. That’s 6.5 hours I would have blown going out of my way when what I really wanted to be doing is getting on with life.

EVs use a different pattern than gasmobiles do. They work like the magic energy fairy. I spend far less time recharging than I did buying gas. I just take two seconds to plug in at home and by morning I have a full battery again.

There’s only once where I haven’t woken up to a full battery. I’d done a ton of driving the day before, down to downtown San Jose, up to El Sobrante and back, then back and forth to Mountain View. I pulled in at 10:30 that night with only 25 miles of range left on my car. It started charging at 12:30 and I had to leave again at 8 the next morning. I went out to leave and saw that the car was still charging. Oh no! I only had 190 miles of range to cover the 40 miles of driving I needed to do that day! I unplugged, went about my day, and the next day I woke to a full charge.

The only time I wait for my car is if I’m on a road trip. Those are the exception and, for me at least, the convenience of not having to get gas the other 99% of the time easily outweighs the bit of extra time and planning I have to do on a long trip. For me, a road trip is when I’m explicitly NOT rushing. I just take my time and enjoy the drive. Most of my road trip charge stops are 20-45 minutes and I spend the time hitting the restroom, grabbing a quick bite, talking to other drivers, or just stretching my legs.

There ARE some things that don’t really work yet due to lack of infrastructure, but those are getting better. They’re the reason I still wouldn’t have an EV as an ONLY car. In 2-3 years I expect those problems to be solved and I’ll dump gas for good.

* The hyperbole-infested pro-EV/pro-Tesla stuff bothers me quite a bit. There are plenty of good reasons to own an EV. Spinning a bunch of BS doesn’t help anyone. I might write something on that later.
** Actually, more than that. That’s just based on the driving I used to do in my old car. We now drive my wife’s car about half as much as we used to, and she buys gas much less often now too.

Friday, 7 November 2014

UK; EV sales surge (charts)

UK passes 700 rapid charge points

The 2014 UK 340% surge in EV sales is in part thanks to the surge in the charging network. With something like 17,000 electric cars now on UK roads, there are now an impressive 700 rapid charge points publicly available.


Tesla's Top 10 Countries for Model S Sales Tracking Tesla Model S sales isn’t easy, but we’ve routinely got the numbers down to within a few percent margin of error. With a strong degree of certainty, we can report on the Top 10 countries for Model S sales for 2014 through the end of Q3.

#1 – United States: ~11,300

#2- Norway: 3,535

#3- China: ~2,800

#4- Netherlands: ~958

#5- Germany: ~576

#6- Canada: 467 plus an unknown quantity of September sales (possibly over 100 units)

#7- Belgium: ~361

#8- UK: ~350

#9- Switzerland: ~346

#10- Denmark: ~302

Thursday, 6 November 2014

US: Which Electric-Car Makers Are Serious? Two years ago, we pointed out that several electric cars now on sale were purely "compliance cars," built in minimal numbers purely to comply with California rules that require sales of zero-emission vehicles.

But almost four years after the first Nissan Leaf went on sale in December 2010, it's become pretty clear which carmakers are serious about plug-in electric cars--and which aren't.

We looked at U.S. sales of all cars with a plug--whether battery-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles--for the 10 months of this year, and calculated what percentage of a carmaker's total sales they represented.

(The exception was BMW, which only started selling its i3 electric hatchback in May--so for that maker, we used only the May-October total sales.)

We grouped the cars by maker so that, for instance, General Motors includes both Chevrolet and Cadillac plug-in sales.

And we included compliance cars; even if they're limited in volume, they do have plugs.

Here are the percentages of a carmaker's total U.S. sales this year that are made up of battery-electric, range-extended electric, and plug-in hybrid sales:
Tesla: 100 percent
BMW: 2.3 percent (4,534 of 201,000)
Nissan: 2.1 percent (24,411 of 1.17 million)

Ford: 0.9 percent (18,859 of 2.07 million)
GM: 0.7 percent (17,969 of 2.43 million)
Toyota: 0.6 percent (12,321 of 1.98 million)


A couple of things stand out for us.

First, in just six months, BMW is selling a greater percentage of total vehicles with plugs than any other maker except Tesla.

And if you look just at October sales, the number rockets from 2.3 percent over six months to 3.8 percent for last month alone.

BMW's average for the last three months--netting out the MINI and Rolls-Royce brands, in this case--is an even more impressive 4.9 percent--meaning 1 in every 20 BMWs sold from August through October has a plug.

Second, Ford often doesn't get a lot of credit for its efforts, primarily because it has trash-talked the Ford Focus Electric, its sole battery-electric vehicle.

But the plug-in hybrid Energi versions of its C-Max hatchback and Fusion sedan are logging consistent and respectable sales, with the two combined outselling Toyota's plug-in Prius in eight of 10 months this year.

Finally, the top three makers in terms of percentage all sell battery-electric cars. The second tier all sell vehicles that are partially electric and partially gasoline-powered.

Two other analyses of this question largely support our analysis.

A brand-by-brand review of carmakers' commitment to electric vehicles on listed all major automakers alphabetically, evaluating the "street cred" of each one.

It cited BMW, Nissan, and Tesla as the most aggressive makers pursuing vehicle electrification.

A second take comes from noted battery skeptic Menahem Anderman, whose perspective stems from organizing the Advanced Automotive Batteries Conference for close to two decades now.

He has a consistent track record of criticizing optimistic predictions of electric-car growth, which has offered a useful counterweight to some of the frothiest projections made a few years back.

Even Anderman has complimented Tesla for its impact on the industry, writing, “Tesla has already shattered many of the [auto] industry’s deep-rooted convictions” about electric cars and lithium-ion battery cost.

Battery Electric Vehicle Efforts by Major Automakers (Anderman, Advanced Auto Batteries, Oct 2014)

Recently, Anderman ranked the major automakers for their efforts in battery-electric vehicles only (he ignored plug-in hybrids and range-extended electric cars).

He puts Tesla at the top, as "committed," followed by the Renault Nissan Alliance, which he views as "developing markets" for electric cars.

Then comes BMW, which he says is "exploring niche markets" with its i3, i8, and future products.

MORE: Tesla Battery Cost: New Report Suggests Model 3 To Cost $50K Or More

Then General Motors, VW Group, and Mercedes-Benz are listed as "compliance +"--fair for GM, which has focused on its Voltec range-extended electric powertrain.

And he notes that BMW, GM, Mercedes, and Volkswagen are all "considering" offering a battery-electric vehicle with at least 200 miles of range.

We'd suggest that Daimler (parent company of Mercedes-Benz) may be the odd man out in that group, with significantly lower commitment to pure electric cars than the others.

Either way, though, it's clear that three companies are most committed to making and selling plug-in electric cars: BMW, Nissan, and Tesla.

The second tier is comprised of GM, Toyota, and (surprisingly) Ford.

The rest? Not so much.

Tesla sets delivery record Tesla delivered a record 7,785 Model S cars worldwide during the third quarter.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tesla Motors Inc. will delay the first deliveries of its Model X crossover until the third quarter of 2015 to ensure the all-electric vehicle will “delight customers,” the automaker said Wednesday as it reported a wider third-quarter loss.

“There’s no big thing” delaying the Model X, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told analysts Wednesday. “There are a whole bunch of little things. It’s really about getting the details right. I think people will appreciate that we got the details right.”

Tesla posted a net loss of $74.7 million in the third quarter under generally accepted accounting principles, better than analysts had expected, which sent Tesla shares upward after the close of trading on Wednesday.

Revenue during the period nearly doubled to $851.8 million from $431.3 million on record vehicle sales during the period. The company lost $38.5 million in the third quarter of 2013.

Tesla delivered a record 7,785 Model S cars during the third quarter. That was slightly below its previous guidance of 7,800, but up 42 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

Operating costs rise

Operating expenses, mostly r&d tied to Model S engineering upgrades and the Model X launch, rose from $133 million to $291 million in the third quarter. Capital outlays in the fourth quarter will reach $350 million, mostly to hike production capacity, it said.

Tesla is investing heavily to expand in markets in Asia and Europe while also developing the Model X. Research and development costs rose 28 percent in the third quarter compared to the second quarter. Overhead expenses rose 18 percent, and the company spent $284 million on capital outlays during the latest period.

The company reported $2.4 billion in cash and cash equivalents at the end of the latest quarter.

Tesla continues to generate significant cash from selling emissions credits to other automakers. During the latest quarter, the company said it sold $93 million in credits, which allow other automakers to offset deliveries of less fuel-efficient cars and light trucks.

Tesla also also realized $31 million in revenue from electric powertrain sales.

Model S targets

The company told shareholders that it now expects to deliver 33,000 units of the Model S in 2014, a 50 percent increase over 2013, due to the completion of assembly-line upgrades at its Fremont, Calif., factory this summer.

That is about 2,000 cars below Tesla’s original target, which the company attributed to snags in starting production of cars with a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system and “autopilot” features.

The automaker is targeting an annualized production rate of 100,000 vehicles by the end of 2015, after assembly of the Model X begins.

Musk told analysts that he expects orders and deliveries of the Model S to increase by 50 percent in both 2015 and 2016, as he continued to push back against a recent report in The Wall Street Journal that suggested demand for the Model S is cooling.

“There are a whole bunch of things we could do to stimulate demand if that were our problem,” Musk said, pointing to the company’s lack of paid advertising. “That is not our problem.”

The company’s challenge, he said, is manufacturing constraints. And in a letter to shareholdersreleased Wednesday, Musk and CFO Deepak Ahuja wrote that it would be “legitimate” to criticize the delayed start of Model X deliveries.

Tesla is now testing early prototypes of the three-row crossover, which sports “falcon-wing” doors and a second-row that slides all the way forward to allow for easier access to the third row of seats.

Musk: 'Great respect'

“People don’t appreciate how hard it is to manufacture something. It is really hard. I have great respect for people who manufacture complex objects,” Musk said on the call with analysts, referring to delays in the Model X launch.

The Model X crossover, first unveiled as a concept in early 2012, uses the dual-motor all-wheel-drive system that Tesla started offering in the Model S this fall.

“We prefer to forgo revenue, rather than bring a product to market that does not delight customers,” Musk and Ahuja wrote. “Doing so negatively affects the short term, but positively affects the long term. There are many other companies that do not follow this philosophy that may be a more attractive home for investor capital. Tesla is not going to change.”

Tesla shares rose $11.18, or nearly 5 percent, to $242.15 in mid-day trading Thursday after closing on Wednesday at $230.97, down $7.96 a share, in Nasdaq trading in New York.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Lithium-Ion Battery Can Be Recharged To 70% In 2 Minutes

NTU Assoc Prof Chen Xiaodong with research fellow Tang Yuxin and PhD student Deng Jiyang

Well, 100 kW might not be enough Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) recently announced a major breakthrough in batteries – ultra-fast charging capability. The novelty is anode material:

“In the new NTU-developed battery, the traditional graphite used for the anode (negative pole) in lithium-ion batteries is replaced with a new gel material made from titanium dioxide.”

Recharging up to 70 percent takes just 2 minutes.

The second breakthrough is a long expected lifespan of over 20 years.

According to the NTU team, this could have “a wide-ranging impact on all industries, especially for electric vehicles.”

So, let’s think about this.

2 minutes to charge ~15 kWh (70%) of car like a Nissan LEAF needs 450 kW of power. This is 10-times what typical CHAdeMO chargers put out.

To do the same thing with a Tesla Model S 85 kWh, you must be well above 1 MW of power or maybe even at almost 2 MW.

It sounds like we definitely will need some new standard for that, maybe two additional heavy duty pins on the Combo plugs?

It’s hard to believe that we will get something like this anytime soon, however there could be applications for it, at least where currently available lithium-titanate are not up to the task (under 10 minute charging).

There is one question we’re left wondering what the answer is. We don’t see in the press release any indication of energy density, so what is it?

Here is the full press release:

“Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) have developed ultra-fast charging batteries that can be recharged up to 70 per cent in only two minutes.

The new generation batteries also have a long lifespan of over 20 years, more than 10 times compared to existing lithium-ion batteries.

This breakthrough has a wide-ranging impact on all industries, especially for electric vehicles, where consumers are put off by the long recharge times and its limited battery life.

With this new technology by NTU, drivers of electric vehicles could save tens of thousands on battery replacement costs and can recharge their cars in just a matter of minutes.

Commonly used in mobile phones, tablets, and in electric vehicles, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries usually last about 500 recharge cycles. This is equivalent to two to three years of typical use, with each cycle taking about two hours for the battery to be fully charged.

In the new NTU-developed battery, the traditional graphite used for the anode (negative pole) in lithium-ion batteries is replaced with a new gel material made from titanium dioxide.

Titanium dioxide is an abundant, cheap and safe material found in soil. It is commonly used as a food additive or in sunscreen lotions to absorb harmful ultraviolet rays.

Naturally found in spherical shape, the NTU team has found a way to transform the titanium dioxide into tiny nanotubes, which is a thousand times thinner than the diameter of a human hair. This speeds up the chemical reactions taking place in the new battery, allowing for superfast charging.

Invented by Associate Professor Chen Xiaodong from NTU’s School of Materials Science and Engineering, the science behind the formation of the new titanium dioxide gel was published in the latest issue of Advanced Materials, a leading international scientific journal in materials science.

Prof Chen and his team will be applying for a Proof-of-Concept grant to build a large-scale battery prototype. With the help of NTUitive, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NTU set up to support NTU start-ups, the patented technology has already attracted interest from the industry.

The technology is currently being licensed by a company for eventual production. Prof Chen expects that the new generation of fast-charging batteries will hit the market in the next two years. It also has the potential to be a key solution in overcoming longstanding power issues related to electro-mobility.

“Electric cars will be able to increase their range dramatically, with just five minutes of charging, which is on par with the time needed to pump petrol for current cars,” added Prof Chen.

“Equally important, we can now drastically cut down the toxic waste generated by disposed batteries, since our batteries last ten times longer than the current generation of lithium-ion batteries.”

The 10,000-cycle life of the new battery also mean that drivers of electric vehicles would save on the cost of battery replacements, which could cost over US$5,000 each.

Easy to manufacture

According to Frost & Sullivan, a leading growth-consulting firm, the global market of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries is projected to be worth US$23.4 billion in 2016.

Lithium-ion batteries usually use additives to bind the electrodes to the anode, which affects the speed in which electrons and ions can transfer in and out of the batteries.

However, Prof Chen’s new cross-linked titanium dioxide nanotube-based electrodes eliminates the need for these additives and can pack more energy into the same amount of space.

Manufacturing this new nanotube gel is very easy. Titanium dioxide and sodium hydroxide are mixed together and stirred under a certain temperature so battery manufacturers will find it easy to integrate the new gel into their current production processes.
Recognised as the next big thing by co-inventor of today’s lithium-ion batteries

NTU professor Rachid Yazami, the co-inventor of the lithium-graphite anode 30 years ago that is used in today’s lithium-ion batteries, said Prof Chen’s invention is the next big leap in battery technology.

“While the cost of lithium-ion batteries has been significantly reduced and its performance improved since Sony commercialised it in 1991, the market is fast expanding towards new applications in electric mobility and energy storage,” said Prof Yazami, who is not involved in Prof Chen’s research project.

Last year, Prof Yazami was awarded the prestigious Draper Prize by The National Academy of Engineering for his ground-breaking work in developing the lithium-ion battery with three other scientists.

“However, there is still room for improvement and one such key area is the power density – how much power can be stored in a certain amount of space – which directly relates to the fast charge ability. Ideally, the charge time for batteries in electric vehicles should be less than 15 minutes, which Prof Chen’s nanostructured anode has proven to do so.”

Prof Yazami is now developing new types of batteries for electric vehicle applications at the Energy Research Institute at NTU (ERI@N).

This battery research project took the team of four scientists three years to complete. It is funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF), Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore, under its Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) Programme of Nanomaterials for Energy and Water Management.”

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

What Does A SolarCity/Tesla Storage System Cost? We’ve written about SolarCity’s residential and commercial storage systems a couple of times before. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a price tag on these. If you go to SolarCity’s home energy storage page, you can see that it asks you to “Get a free quote.” Not having a home in the US (and my legal home base in Florida not being in SolarCity territory), I couldn’t really do so even if I had thought to, but one of our readers (Kyle Field) actually went and got a quote.

The first thing Kyle found out is that SolarCity is only offering the residential storage solution to SolarCity customers at this moment (“due to limited supply of batteries”).

Even so, he did get some figures that would apply to his case if he was an existing SolarCity customer (he has solar but got it elsewhere, btw). He could (hypothetically) get a 10-kWh Tesla battery (to power the refrigerator, lights, etc. in a power outage) under a 10-year lease for a $1500 upfront cost + $15/month. That amounts to $3300 over 10 years. Not super cheap, but is actually less than I would have guessed off the top of my head. I’m curious to see how much the price for this comes down by the time the Tesla & Panasonic Gigafactory is pumping out batteries. I imagine it will come down a lot, as SolarCity has said that it plans to sell battery storage with every solar system within 5-10 years.

UK: 2015 £30k Kia Soul EV first drive According to figures compiled by Kia, the fastest growing segment in the car market is electric vehicles, so it's not surprising that the Korean giant has chosen to make it’s popular mini SUV, the Soul, available as an electric-only version. The Soul EV goes on sale in the UK before Christmas.

Far from simply ditching the conventional engines in favour of an electric motor and a battery, the Soul has undergone a fairly radical rethink in order to go zero-emission. With Kia also working on hybrid, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen technologies, it is fair to say that the firm is hedging its bets a little, but the Soul is its first attempt in the UK, at least, to push something that doesn’t run on petrol or diesel.

Kia is going to appoint a selection of its dealers to sell and service the EV, but it has modest sales expectations, with around 170 units a year expected to find homes. As a result, only one trim level and two colour schemes are available.

What’s the 2015 Kia Soul EV like to drive?

The standard Soul drives pretty neatly anyway, but it would reasonable to expect the extra weight of the batteries and electric motor to dull things dynamically. Oddly, that is not really the case. From behind the wheel, the Soul feels more than eager enough, as many electric cars do, thanks to instant availability of torque from rest. It can sprint to 60mph in around 11.5 seconds which is around a second slower than 1.6 diesel models, but the EV does so in virtual silence. The claimed range for the EV is 124 miles on a single charge and the top speed is 90mph, which mirrors the official figures of the Soul EV’s natural predator, the Nissan Leaf.

In order to take the additional weight of the batteries, the floor of the Soul has been beefed up with extra steel crossmembers, which has the effect of making it more rigid than the standard car. There's also some 277kg of batteries beneath the floor, although if you are going to add weight anywhere, between the wheels and low down is not a bad place to do it. Aerodynamic improvements have also been made to make the EV slip through the air as cleanly as possible and this has reduced the wind noise at speed.

The effect of all this is that the Soul EV drives really very well. For town driving, there is a mode with extra regenerative braking to keep the batteries topped up, which allows one-pedal operation, where backing off the accelerator pedal essentially applies enough braking force. For most conditions, the standard drive mode requires less thought.

Refinement is usually a strong point of any electric car and so it is here. The ride is a touch firm, but is never uncomfortable, even over poor road surfaces.

What’s the 2015 Kia Soul EV like inside?

At a glance, the interior of the EV looks much like the standard Soul's, but there are a few key differences. First up, Kia is keen to ensure that buyers know the EV is as green as it can manage, which means a lot of the interior materials are greener versions than those seen on the standard car. Items such as the dashboard panel, headlining and various plastic panels are made using bio- rather than petroleum-based plastics with a view to the car being more recyclable at the end of its life. It is nice place to be, though, regardless of what it is made out of.

There is only one interior finish available, and no options, because it's already very well equipped with a large colour touch-screen infotainment and nav system. The cabin is finished in light grey with light blue piping; despite the floor being 80mm higher than in the standard car, to accommodate the batteries, the EV has reprofiled seats which ensure headroom is just as good as in the very roomy normal Soul. Both front and rear seats are comfortable and there's plenty of room for four adults.

Boot space is also slightly reduced by the need to house all the electric paraphernalia under the floor, reducing the regular capacity by 30 litres, at 324 litres with the seats in place. All told, though, the boot is big enough for a car in this class and easily eclipses the BMW i3's.

One thing that Kia is very proud of in the Soul is the hyper-efficient heating system. Typically, running the heater or air-conditioning in an electric car has a devastating effect on the range. Kia has developed two key technologies to mitigate this as much as possible. First is a setting which heats or cools only the occupied part of the cabin when there is one person on board. This means considerably less energy is expended and there is no detriment to the comfort of occupants.

The other clever development is that, rather than having an electric heating element to put a bit of warmth in the car on a cold morning, the Soul harvests warm air from around the car’s complex electronic systems, and from the 'back end' of the air-conditioning system, to ensure that no warm air is wasted when it might be put to good use. Kia reckons this system gives the car a significant advantage over rival cars, which lose considerable range in order to keep the cabin comfortable in hot or cold conditions.

Should I buy one?

Maybe. Kia suggests the price is likely to be around £30k, with the government grant for plug-in cars dropping that to around £25k. That puts it at a slight disadvantage to the Nissan Leaf, which costs £23,590 after the grant when comparably equipped, and assuming you want to own the batteries - which is your only option with the Soul.

Nissan also offers the option of leasing the batteries for a monthly cost with the Leaf, which means you won't be responsible for any maintenance, and also brings much lower initial purchase costs, with the top-spec Leaf Flex costing £18,590. Renault offers the an even cheaper rival to the Soul - the Zoe, which is smaller and can only be had if you lease the batteries from £70 per month, but will still seat four comfortably and be practical to live with, and costs from just £13,995.

Viewed in isolation, the Soul EV is a very appealing, technically clever and nice to drive electric vehicle but even with the government discount for plug-in cars, it is still likely to be too pricey for the majority to consider as a stylish second car. If you like the Soul, a petrol version in a comfortable trim level will be £10,000 cheaper, and that buys you a lot of petrol.

That said, if an electric car fits into your lifestyle, the Soul EV is a very likable, practical addition to the market and should be considered a genuine rival to the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe and even the BMW i3.

US: Indianapolis to launch largest municipal plug-in electric vehicle fleet in the country When we talk leadership in sustainable transportation, Indianapolis isn't often the first city that comes to mind. It is a city built for the car, and automobiles are at the very heart of Indy's history and culture. Carmel, just north of Indianapolis, has also made headlines in the Economist for having more traffic circles than any other city in America.
Yet interesting things have been happening in recent years.
From the bike-friendly cultural trail to a fledgling electric car sharing service, there are signs that the city is rethinking its relationship to both cars and the energy sources that power them.
The latest move from the city is equally ambitious, as reported over at IndyStar, Mayor Greg Ballard has just unveiled the launch of a 425-vehicle strong "Freedom Fleet" of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids for city employees. According to the Mayor's announcement, by the time all of these vehicles are on the road in 2015, it will be the largest plug-in municipal fleet of any city in the country by a factor of four.
The vehicles will be leased from California-based Vision Fleet Capital, and given that the price for maintenance is locked-in, the city is expecting to save $8.7 million compared to current costs and save over 2.2 million gallons of gas in the next ten years. By 2025, says Mayor Ballard, transportation for all city employees—except police pursuit vehicles—will be 100% electric.
Of course electric cars are by no means the answer by themselves. But what interests me about this latest development is how it complements Indianapolis' other efforts to rethink a car-dependent city's bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and also how the city's own fleet can help support an electric vehicle culture that includes car sharing and multi-modal transportation.
This is good stuff. Next time the Indianapolis 500 is in town, car enthusiasts will be exposed to some innovative new ways to think about transportation. They'll also get tosee a 9MW solar farm right next to the racetrack too!