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This is the Kodak Moment for the Auto Industry

Plug-In Drivers Not Missin' the Piston Electric vehicles are here to stay. Their market acceptance is currently small but growing...

Monday, December 26, 2011

More electric cars trickle to market

More electric cars trickle to market: "It's still early days for EVs, but they certainly seem to be off to a good start"

The Green Ford

2012 Ford Focus Electric
When you think about eco-friendly cars, what company comes to mind? It might be Toyota and their Prius, GM with their Volt, Nissan due to the Leaf, or even VW due to the Jetta TDI.

In 2012 Ford wants to capture their own part of this green mind-share. How are they going to get there? Ford is 4 years into a 20 year plan to increase fuel economy and electrify their vehicles. This plan includes a complete line of vehicle styles and drive-train options. Ford refers to this as "The Power of Choice".

Specifically in 2012, from Ford, you can expect to see:

  • Focus Electric with a rating of 100 MPGe (compared to 99MPGe of the Nissan Leaf)
  • C-Max Hybrid with a better MPG rating than the Prius V
  • C-Max Energi with a better MPGe rating than the Plug-In Prius in EV mode

Ford says this is just the first of many steps that we can expect to see as they continue to roll out their 20 year plan. In 2013 Ford expects to produce more than 100,000 plug-in vehicles.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chevy Volt Does Not Play Well With Others

2011 Chevy Volt
I work at a major high tech company in the Silicon Forrest area of Oregon. As you might imagine, my coworkers are early adopters of nearly any new technology. Plug-in vehicles are no exception to this future-focused mentality.

In the decade that I have worked there, there have always been a few plug-in vehicles buzzing around the campus. These were either the odd 3-wheeler vehicle like the Gizmo or they were home conversions done by the too rare electrical engineer that can also turn a wrench.

Now that plug-in cars are for sale, there are many more than just the one or two EVs that had been around. To my employer's credit, they have installed charging stations to support their tech loving employees. They installed two charging stations that can charge two cars each, so four cars can be plugged in at once. However, there are about 14 plug-in cars on our campus.

As coworkers and as part of the EV community, we are willing to work together and share these precious charging spots. To facilitate this we have an email list and many of us have charging protocol cards on our dash. It has a paperclip that you can slide to indicate the time that your car can be unplugged and it has contact information so we can call each other to move cars when needed.

Usually, we don't need to move the cars. The EVSE cables are long enough to allow access to eight parking spots. Considering that on most days, most of us don't need to charge at work, this ratio of charging spots to EVs works well with the system of sharing that we have employed.

There is, however, one snag to our sharing scheme: The Chevy Volt. If you unplug a Volt without unlocking the car, the alarm will sound. This is true even if the charge is complete. To unplug it, this means that we have to call the Volt owner and have her unlock the car either by walking out to the parking lot or via her OnStar smartphone app.

Maybe it would be better to just disable the alarm temporarily, but according to her, unlocking the car is the only way to disable the unplug alarm.

Only one of the three Volt owners on campus charges at work. Ironically, since the Volt has a short EV range, relative to pure EVs, the Volt will need to be plugged in more often in order to avoid fuel use. This driver has a 30 mile one way commute. With a 60 miles daily commute, she is in the minority of people that drive more than 40 miles each day, so plugging in or not directly impacts her fuel use.

Unlocking your car when you are not there is an act of trust. It is one thing to extend this to a coworker while your car is in a parking lot with cameras. It would be another altogether to even consider this in a public parking area. This makes it nearly impossible to share a charging station.

I hope GM see the flaw in this design and creates a firmware upgrade that at least allows this to be user configurable.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Top Five Green-Car Stories Of 2011: MPGs, Electric Cars, And More

Top Five Green-Car Stories Of 2011: MPGs, Electric Cars, And More: " EPA--under the encouragement of the Obama White House, and with signoff from most if not all of the major automakers. (Auto dealers are still fighting the rules.)

The new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) rules cover model years 2017 through 2025, and include rises of 3 percent per year for trucks and 5 percent for cars.

The result is that by 2025, the average vehicle will achieve 54.5 miles per gallon on its CAFE tests"

Feds Support Oregon's Electric Cars. Do we? | Blogtown, PDX

Feds Support Oregon's Electric Cars. Do we? | Blogtown, PDX: " the U.S. Department of Energy dropped $485,000 on Oregon electric vehicle (EV) projects and proliferation. Labeled "Energize Oregon", the recently funded plan has three main objectives: integrating the plethora of in-state EV efforts, develop an EV plan to explain these projects and help boost U.S.' goal to put 1 million EVs on the road by 2015."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

EVDrive Electric Motorcycle Now Available for Pre-Order

EVDrive has a simple design philosophy, "Make it electric AND make it better." With both their BMW and the motorcycle products, they took extensive measurements of the performance of the gas powered version and then made an electric one that met or exceed all the relevant performance specifications.
Reservations are now being taken for the first 50 electric motorcycles at wholesale prices to end users for these early production models.
The pre-orders are for high the performance e-Moto-CRF250R. It is not exactly a catchy name, but it out accelerates the gas model it was based on (the CRF250R). The EVDrive bike is more efficient in use of energy, whether it is locked in gas or electrons.
To place your reservation evdrive.com

Monday, November 21, 2011

Elon Musk: Refining Gas Uses More Electricity Than Electric Cars

Elon Musk: Refining Gas Uses More Electricity Than Electric Cars: "You have enough electricity to power all the cars in the country if you stop refining gasoline," says Musk. "You take an average of 5 kilowatt hours to refine [one gallon of] gasoline, something like the Model S can go 20 miles on 5 kilowatt hours."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Portland Driver Escorts Kids to Safety Before School Bus Erupts in Flames

Portland Driver Escorts Kids to Safety Before School Bus Erupts in Flames: " bus erupted in flames. When firefighters from Portland Fire (Woodstock) Station 25 arrived, they found that the school bus was fully involved in flames"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fast Charging in Portland

Sometimes being on the bleeding edge means suffering the unexpected failure. These events help harden the technology and make it more acceptable to the general public. This is the situation with two of the three DC quick chargers (DCQC) currently in the Portland Oregon area.

The connectors on the DCQCs are not as simple as the Level 2 chargers that most EV drivers have at home. There are two levers on the connector. The smaller of these two can easily be broken if not used correctly.

The three DCQCs currently in Portland are located: one, downtown at the World Trade Center;  two, at Portland State on Electric Avenue; and three, on the east-side at the Hollywood Fred Meyer store. The only one of these three not to have had this problem is the World Trade Center system. It has an earlier design connector that is more robust.

The failing connectors are made by Yazaki Energy Systems. As I write this, the company has completed a redesign of their connector and it is currently going through certification. In the mean time, the broken connectors have been replaced with the fragile design that is currently approved.

So Portland is back to having three DC quick charge stations operating until one of them breaks again.

To use a DCQC without breaking it, follow the instructions on the charger and heed the below precautions:
  1. When inserting the connector, do not squeeze the black handle until the connector is fully inserted into the receptacle.
  2. Do not squeeze the black handle with any significant force. If it doesn't move easily, the connector isn't inserted correctly.
  3. Once inserted, gently squeeze the black handle. It should move effortlessly. The back part of the blue handle moves forward towards the receptacle.
Happy Charging! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

EV Courses at Portland State

Portland State University has an electric vehicle course sequence. It was developed by Mike Butts and  Dan Hammerstrom. The first course in the sequence, EV1, will be offered this Winter term and the second course, EV2, in the Spring.

Although the primary emphasis is on electric drive, the course is taught as an application of embedded computing. As one of the engineers of the Toyota Prius put it, “It’s all about the software.”

The course uses the Arduino as the primary embedded computing platform:

The sequence also spends time on power electronics and Lithium-ion batteries.

EV1 – Introduction to electric drives and drive control, with emphasis on brushless DC and induction machines, which are the most are relevant to electric vehicles. The topics covered include: switch mode power electronics, brushless DC motors, induction machines, and an introduction to battery technology and management. Laboratory: Matlab/Simulink, experiments with the Power-pole board and a motor workstation based on the Arduino microcontroller.
Syllabus:  http://web.cecs.pdx.edu/~strom/ev1/ev1.html

EV2 – Study of electric vehicle systems. Topics include vehicle dynamics, weight and power trade-offs, electric drives and electronic control, system design, regenerative braking, hybrid drives, and energy storage technologies, including batteries, ultra-capacitors, and fuel cells. There will be an electric bicycle project, involving the design, implementation, and performance analysis of a BLDC/Li-ion drive system. Tasks include selection of motor and drive and energy storage, hardware and software development of Arduino-based controller, charger and BMS, system implementation and measurement.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Inside China's secret toxic unobtainium mine | Mail Online

EXCLUSIVE: Inside China's secret toxic unobtainium mine | Mail Online: "They are also used in mobile phones, computers, iPods, LCD screens, washing machines, digital cameras and X-ray machines, as well as missile guidance systems and even space rockets."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tesla Model S Beta Unveiling Video

Tesla Co-founder and CEO Elon Musk shows the Model S Beta vehicle in this three part video.

Part 1 Rolling on stage in a Shasta Pearl White Model S Beta, Elon Musk shows how Model S' is a smarter, safer car with twice the cargo capacity of similarly-sized sedans.

Part 2 Superior performance and handling, enhanced by the vehicle's ground-up electric design. The Model S offers the smooth acceleration of a sports car in the body of a premium sedan. The car will travel up to 320 miles on a single charge. The performance-tuned version of Model S, available at start of production, will go 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds.

Part 3 Showcases the car's 17-inch LCD touchscreen that controls everything from media and navigation to the panoramic roof and headlights. With wireless access and voice command built-in, Model S is setting a new standard for automotive tech savvy.

Revenge! or is it rEVenge

From the Revenge of the Electric Car Team:

We're excited to announce Revenge of the Electric Car is coming to a theater near you! Starting this Friday, October 21st, the film opens at the Landmark Sunshine in New York City and the Landmark Nuart in Los Angeles. Shortly after that, we'll be bringing Revenge of the Electric Car to select cities across the country.

If you live in New York City or Los Angeles, we ask you to join us in theaters this Friday to see this fascinating documentary. Use the links below to watch the official trailer, share information about the film with your friends and find your theater and release date.

Thanks for your support!

The Revenge of the Electric Car Team


OCTOBER 21ST, 2011
Los Angeles, CA – Landmark Nuart
New York, NY – Landmark Sunshine Cinema

OCTOBER 28TH, 2011
Nashville, TN – The Belcourt Theatre

Berkeley, CA – Landmark Shattuck Cinemas
Boston, MA – Landmark Kendell Square Cinema
Palo Alto, CA – Landmark Aquarius Theatre
Portland, OR – Hollywood Theatre
San Francisco, CA – Landmark Embarcadero
Santa Fe, NM – Center for the Contemporary Arts
Scottsdale, AZ – Harkins Theatres Camelview 5

Annville, PA – Allen Theatre

Ann Arbor, MI – Michigan Theatre
Chicago, IL – Gene Siskel Film Center
Detroit, MI – Landmark Main Art Theatre
Houston, TX – Alamo Theatres Mason Park
Minneapolis, MN – Landmark Lagoon Cinema
Sacramento, CA – Crest Theatre
San Diego, CA – Landmark Ken Cinema
Santa Rosa, CA – Summerfield Theatre
Seattle, WA – Landmark Varsity Theatre

Philadelphia, PA – Landmark Ritz at the Bourse

St. Louis, MO – Landmark Plaza Frontenac Cinema

Denver, CO – Landmark Chez Artiste
Washington, DC – Landmark E Street Cinema

Atlanta, GA – Landmark Midtown Art Cinema

Honolulu, HI – Honolulu Academy of the Arts
Request the film for your city

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Consumers wary of buying electric cars

Before you use an EV on a regular basis, recharge time and range are concerns. This leads to comments such as, "I won't drive an EV until it can go 300 miles on a charge and it can refill as fast as I can at the gas station."

I am happy to report that once you actually start using an EV, these concerns melt away. EVs exceed expectations and are fun to drive. Starting out each morning fully charged means never taking a side trip to get fuel. This is just one of the many great things about an EV that make most people that drive one say, "I never want to go back!"

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Renewable Energy Subsidies Are a Waste of Money

Renewable Energy Subsidies Are a Waste of Money:
"My Tea Party,

Let us never forget that the original patriots of the 1773 Tea Party threw overboard the product of an oppressive foreign nation and their East India Tea Company (EITC) who sought to relegate us to their servitude. Who severely misjudged the will of the American people for independence and misjudged their desire for tea at any price. A true modern day equivalent of a Tea Party acting in the spirit of those original patriots of 1773, would be one that threw overboard the product of foreign nations and their Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) who seek to relegate us to their servitude. Who severely misjudged the will of the American people for independence and misjudged their desire for gasoline at any price.A true Tea Party patriot would “make their own tea” for the equivalent of $0.40 cents a gallon of gas, and not make populist moronic proclamations such as “if you elect me I’ll give you $2.00 a gallon gasoline.” How’s that for a loaded but true paragraph?

Peder (a lifelong conservative republican)"

Saturday, September 17, 2011

13 Key Questions and Answers about Nissan Leaf Battery Pack and Ordering | Hybrid Cars

13 Key Questions and Answers about Nissan Leaf Battery Pack and Ordering | Hybrid Cars: "Will the DC fast chargers degrade the battery faster?

If fast charging is the primary way that a Leaf owner recharges, then the gradual capacity loss is about 10 percent more than 220-volt charging. In other words, it will bring the capacity loss closer to 70 percent after 10 years."

'via Blog this'

Electric car charging stations may be developed in Seaside - Seaside Signal: News

Electric car charging stations may be developed in Seaside - Seaside Signal: News: ""I think of it as an economic stimulus for the coast," said Biasi. "People who drive over here from the valley in their electric cars will have an additional $80 in their pocket because they didn't have to buy gas. That's money that can be used to buy a meal or applied to a night's lodging.""

'via Blog this'

Forget Electric Cars...Check Out This Idea For Electric Roads

Forget Electric Cars...Check Out This Idea For Electric Roads:

'via Blog this'

I would need to change the name of this blog :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Towing Company Uses Electric Vehicle for Some Calls

In Madison Wi, you can get roadside assistance for your electric vehicle from an electric vehicle. Schmidt’s Auto has launched a new class of service vehicle in 2009, a battery operated light duty truck. They call her “Sparky”. Sparky operates in and around the downtown area providing service to AAA and other motor clubs customers. Appropriately, Sparky is there if a gas car has battery issues and she can help with lock-outs or tire changes. 

“We’re very excited about this move by Schmidt’s”, said Nancy Jackman, Director of Automotive Services for AAA Wisconsin. "AAA has been encouraging our contractors to migrate to light service vehicles for both economic and environmental reasons, and Schmidt's Towing has taken this strategy to the next level. AAA congratulates Schmidt's on going green!”

Electric vehicle costs of operation are much lower. With today's fuel prices Schmidt’s Auto has found a way to keep services affordable. “If we can save some money on the front end by introducing a lower cost vehicle, we can keep our pricing stable and avoid adding price increases such as fuel surcharges. At the same time we were looking at an environmentally friendly vehicle,” John says.

“For Schmidt’s, Sparky works because of its size and range. Every step we take on reducing our carbon footprint and decreasing our dependency on foreign oil is a step in the right direction” said Lucy Zweep of Ozee Cars, the local dealer where Schmidt’s purchased the vehicle.

“As the economy continues to provide challenges and the need exist for us all to review ways to protect our environment, Schmidt’s is happy to do their part. Currently, we recycle thousand of vehicles each year, we market used and rebuilt parts, and now with our battery operated vehicle we feel good about our contributions thus far” said co-owner Mike Schmidt.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The shocking truth about electric cars - The Globe and Mail

The shocking truth about electric cars - The Globe and Mail: "the cost of the batteries, currently about $1000 per kWh or per 4 miles or range. But the prices have been halving every 4 years. The trade-off point for electric drive, either plug-in or EV, is currently about $8-10/gallon of gasoline, depending on amortization costs."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Electric vehicle users don't have to pay for power | MailTribune.com

Electric vehicle users don't have to pay for power | MailTribune.com

MPG for Electric Cars? | Energy Bulletin

MPG for Electric Cars? | Energy Bulletin: "Nukes are no where near as safe as solar, wind and hydro. We've been generating utility scale projects for years with these energy sources. Wind is cost competitive now with new coal, solar thermal and even PV are competitive with peak pricing.

Nukes are costing out at around 20-25 cents/kWh all in, so the big reason they aren't being built is because of cost, not because a bunch of protestors are stopping them."

'via Blog this'

Sunday, August 28, 2011

EV Standard Range to Soon Be 500+ Miles?

EV Standard Range to Soon Be 500+ Miles?: "“A pair of technology breakthroughs added together may quadruple the range of today’s EVs, not only would this make the perceived Range Anxiety of electric cars a thing of the past, but it also gives the battery electric vehicle (BEV) a clear range advantage over fossil fuel powered vehicles” according to Kenneth Burridge"

Utah researchers experiment with electric roads - Connecticut Post

Utah researchers experiment with electric roads - Connecticut Post: "it was continually charging as it drove along the highway.

A technical breakthrough at Utah State University could make that happen. The idea is to make the highways themselves a source of energy"

Monday, August 22, 2011

Truckers Plug In to Save Fuel

Truckers Plug In to Save Fuel

Battery Capacity

My Nissan Leaf Forum • View topic - Range-Speed-Bars Thumb Rule Table (12.5mph best range speed): Battery Capacities:
1. Design Full Capacity - never used, no real way to tell, so not very important in day-to-day use.

2. Allowed Capacity - the part that Nissan allows us to use

3. Wall Capacity - the amount of energy required from the grid/wall/EVSE to charge the battery (maybe 26 kWh)

4. Charging Energy - after the losses in the LEAF's internal charger, the DC energy that is actually delivered to the battery pack (maybe 24.6 kWh, just a guess). The charger's efficiency is not usually as bad as people say.

5. Stored Energy - after modest cell heating and small chemical losses during charging (or Regen), the amount of energy that actually gets stored in the battery (maybe 24 kWh). The charger often gets blamed for this loss.

6. Recovered Energy - the real usable energy, significantly less than the Stored Energy (maybe around 21.4 kWh).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hillsboro is Wired for EVs

HILLSBORO, OR - Nine new electric vehicle charging stations were recently installed in Hillsboro Oregon. This brings the city's total number of stations to 25.

Hillsboro now has more EV charging stations than any other city in the state. For comparison, the city only has 10 gas stations.

The charging stations can be found at the following locations:
  • Civic Center
  • InterModal Transit Facility on 8th and Baseline
  • Gordon Faber Stadium
  • Main Library
  • Walters Cultural Arts Center
Drivers with plug-in vehicles can charge up at these Coulomb and Blink units for free. A membership card is needed for access. See blinknetwork.com and chargepoint.net for access cards.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Charging Station Sharing

In most places, there are few if any charging stations. Plug-in cars like the Leaf and Volt are currently rolling off of assembly lines and into the hands of owners. Inevitably, there will be a case where you want to plug in your vehicle, but someone else is already there. If you really need to charge, is it OK to unplug them? If they have the charging protocol card, then at a glance you know how long they need to charge. If you need them to move their car for access, there might even be a contact phone number.

EV drivers are part of a community. A community that is working together to make the world a little bit better. You can be part of that community by sharing the limited infrastructure that we currently have. The card below helps to facilitate charging station sharing. If you drive a plug-in vehicle, print this out, grab a paperclip to mark the time and drop it on your dash when you are charging in public.


Monday, June 27, 2011

My Nissan Leaf Forum • Adapters for Ingineer's L1 to L2 EVSE mod NOW AVAILABLE

My Nissan Leaf Forum • View topic - Adapters for Ingineer's L1 to L2 EVSE mod NOW AVAILABLE: "For those of you who are familiar with Ingineer's Nissan L1 to L2 EVSE mod (discussed in this thread), you are no doubt interested adapters like those discussed in this thread. As I mentioned in that thread, my brother has picked up the gauntlet and is willing to make them for us. We're going to try and keep this simple so we're not making a full time business out of this. Please bear with us and be sure to read the threads listed above first so you know what you're asking for up front...

The following adapters are available for sale:

A5*: $50, fits NEMA 5-15 & 5-20 (120v - household)
A6**: $60, fits NEMA 6-30 & 6-50 (240v - industrial parks, welders, hotel A/C units, etc.)
A10: $60, fits NEMA 10-30 & 10-50 (240v - 'old style' appliances)
A14: $60, fits NEMA 14-30, 14-50 & 14-60 (240v - 'new style' appliances, campground, rv parks, etc.)
ACS: $90***, fits CS6365 (240v - public parks, stadiums, heavy duty portable generators, etc.)"

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Q&A: Renault-Nissan CEO Pledges $5.6 Billion for EVs | Autopia | Wired.com

Q&A: Renault-Nissan CEO Pledges $5.6 Billion for EVs | Autopia | Wired.com: "The CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance is easily the auto industry’s biggest advocate of electric vehicles, possessed of an enthusiasm bordering on fanaticism. Others may speak with louder voices, but no one is placing a bigger bet on cars with cords."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Kilowatts for Gallons

Gasoline and Oil: "How much electricity does it take to make a gallon of gasoline? We don't know - but here's one stab at it. Ballpark figures only, and NOT a supportable conclusion. The most important message to take away is that it is not trivial! This part of gasoline is ignored by the folks who are concerned about the big impact on our electrical grid if we were to suddenly shift all transportation from gasoline to electricity.

To extract one gallon of gasoline (or equivalent distillate): 9.66 kWh (maybe not all in the form of electricity*)

To refine that gallon: 2.73 kWh additional energy (maybe not all in the form of electricity*)
Total: 12.39 kWh per gallon.

*Roughly one-third of the energy content of a gallon of gasoline produced from California wells is input from natural gas. Less than 2/3's is net energy (probably a lot less!).

So I can get 24 miles in my ICE on a gallon of gasoline, or I can get 41 miles (at 300wh/mile) in my RAV4EV just using the energy to refine that gallon. Alternatively - energy use (electricity and natural gas) state wide goes DOWN if a mile in a RAV4EV is substituted for a mile in an ICE!

Assumptions (sorry, lots of apples and oranges comparisons here):

Data from these sources:
petro industry numbers Word HTML

Saturday, June 4, 2011

EV Route Mapping with Physics models

Celadon Applications - About Us: "Road2TM is the world's first electric vehicle range calculator which relies on a physics simulator instead of approximations or other 'tricks'. This allows us to have much greater accuracy then other techniques. Our users can pick a route and calculate how much of a charge it will take to reach their destination, with everything from terrain to weather forecasts taken into account. Places to charge at are plotted along the route

A traditional electric vehicle charger map will show only electric vehicle-specific chargers. However, these chargers are few and far between. Rather than leaving our drivers stranded, we show them EV chargers, places that rent spaces with high power sockets (such as RV parks), places that commonly provide power to EV owners in emergencies (such as fire departments), et cetera."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Five business models to boost electric cars | Green Tech - CNET News

Five business models to boost electric cars | Green Tech - CNET News: "Everybody wants an auto battery breakthrough that will lead to longer driving range and lower prices than what's found with oil-powered autos. But while scientists are busy at work on the technology, there are a number of clever business ideas to make transportation cleaner and cheaper."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Electric Vehicle Charging Best At Night? | EarthTechling

Electric Vehicle Charging Best At Night? | EarthTechling: "The Institute of Physics has published a study that suggests the best time to charge electric vehicles, in terms of impact to air quality, is at night. While electric vehicles do not produce emissions, electricity generating units do, a lot. Researches from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Texas have specifically been studying ozone pollutants under three different charging scenarios in Texas for plug-in hybrid vehicles."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ruin or Change?

"We should rather be ruined than changed; We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the moment and let our illusions die." W. H. Auden

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Perspective from Portland, Oregon: Disincentive - electric car tax

A Perspective from Portland, Oregon: Disincentive - electric car tax: "it is incentives not disincentives that is needed for them.

Taxing a product before it has an opportunity to achieve the economic advantages of volume production is wrongheaded thinking. While the reduction in the consumption of gasoline is not only necessary, it is the likely effect of the market. But the state rather than considering tax shifting strategies needs to reconsider its tax structuring and its spending."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Head To Head: Three Plug-Ins - KickingTires

Head To Head: Three Plug-Ins - KickingTires

Three Plug-Ins: The Cost to Drive - KickingTires

Three Plug-Ins: The Cost to Drive - KickingTires: "Fueling Cost
The low price of electricity gives the Leaf an advantage in a commute for which it has enough range. Frankly, we expected the Volt to come in cheaper than the Prius Plug-In because the Chevy's electric-only range is roughly twice as great on the low end, predicted broadly as between 25 and 50 miles. In actuality, it went 25.6 miles and then switched over to gas power, where the price of premium gas added insult to injury. (We'll report on the Volt's and Leaf's winter ranges in greater depth in the future.) For a shorter trip, or if higher temperatures delivered longer EV-only range, the Volt might have cost less than the Prius."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nissan LEAF Electric Cars Arrive in the U.S. | Peachy Green

Nissan LEAF Electric Cars Arrive in the U.S. | Peachy Green: "In total, well over 3,500 Nissan LEAFs have been sold, and the company has surpassed the 5,000 production marks. As an aside, that makes it one of the highest volume production EVs in history!"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Japanese official: 'We could have moved quicker' | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Japanese official: 'We could have moved quicker' | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram: "Most of Japan's auto industry is shut down. Factories from Louisiana to Thailand are low on Japanese-made parts. Idled plants are costing companies hundreds of millions of dollars. And U.S. car dealers may not get the cars they order this spring."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Survey: Shoppers Very Confused About Hybrids, Plug-Ins, And EVs

Survey: Shoppers Very Confused About Hybrids, Plug-Ins, And EVs: "Only 50 percent of those surveyed thought that hybrids contain batteries—beyond starter/accessory batteries, we assume. And while about one-third knew that knew that hybrids can run on the electric motor only, 28 percent thought that hybrids have no tailpipe emissions at all. The same percentage thought that it takes more than 15 minutes to refuel a hybrid.
Some people also might have confused hybrids and EVs, as 27 percent thought that hybrids have a maximum range of around 150 miles."

Electric Cars - Jumpstarting the electric car - Baltimore Sun

Electric Cars - Jumpstarting the electric car - Baltimore Sun: "This experimental period in transportation wasn't during the gasoline price shocks of the early 1970s. Try 1911.

Electric vehicles would grow to account for about one-quarter of the automobiles in the United States by the 1920s, historians estimate. But the internal-combustion engine would soon outrun electric motors, steam and even horses. As gasoline-fueled cars improved, electric vehicles would be all but forgotten."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rare earth elements vs model s price | Forums | Tesla Motors

Rare earth elements vs model s price | Forums | Tesla Motors: "Rare earth elements vs model s price
joesontesla | February 26, 2011 - 10:25am

Rare earth elements prices go up significantly theses day, how they affect final price of model s marginal or important effect?
Douglas3 | February 26, 2011 - 10:42am

Not significant. The AC induction motor used in Tesla vehicles doesn't contain permanent magnets, so no rare earths. Rare earths are required in some quantity for NiMH batteries, but Tesla uses Li-ion."

Monday, March 7, 2011

EVs Plug In Free at Oregon's State Offices

If you work for the state of Oregon and you drive an electric vehicle, can you plug in at work? Currently, the answer is "no". If you did, it could even be considered theft.

House Bill 2207 will change this if it passes. It authorizes state agencies to provide electricity for electric motor vehicles. Oregon has taken several steps to encourage plug-in vehicles and this is one important detail.

There has already been one case in the state with a State Park Ranger that only had enough range in his converted EV to commute one way. So he asked if he could charge at work to have enough juice to make it home. The answer was "no", despite an outlet being conveniently near his usual parking spot. His supervisor had no guidance on this issue and wanted to be "safe". You can plug in your phone, computer, or iPod, but not your car. This ranger now drives his gas car to work rather than his electric vehicle.

This bill has a hearing on Wednesday, March 9. HB 2207 was proposed by the Committee on Sustainability and Economic Development. It would authorize state agencies to “provide electric power purchased at state expense for the purpose of recharging privately owned and publicly owned electric motor vehicles at state agency locations.” A state agency is defined as “any state office, whether in the executive, legislative or judicial branch.”

If you have jury duty in a state court or you need to visit the DMV to register your new plug-in car, you may be able to juice up your ride on Oregon's dime. Depending on how far you have driven and how long you are plugged in, a dime may be all that it costs.

The bill justifies the expense by saying “It is the policy of the state of Oregon to encourage the use of electric motor vehicles.” So how much will this cost the state and (more importantly) we the taxpayers? There is no provision in the bill to add charging stations. It only makes plugging in not a crime. So the only cost would be for the electricity itself. The state pays less than 10 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity and it is projected that there will be less than one thousand electric vehicles in the state by the end of 2011. There is no significant cost to this, and there is not likely to be one anytime soon. Even if the goal of 1 million plug-in vehicles nationwide by 2015 is reached, there would be no significant cost to this measure.

The City of Portland has installed a few charging stations and they are giving away the electricity free with parking. However, these downtown parking spots are actually making money for the city. "How?" you ask. These spots are marked as plug-in vehicle only parking and they are a steady source of parking ticket revenue. Now I am not recommending that the state pursue a similar model. Paid parking spots are uncommon in Oregon outside of downtown Portland.

This bill makes sense. No one should be prosecuted for using $0.25 worth of electricity. The state offices can turn off any outlets that become problems, were such trouble to ever arise. If this electricity helps displace gasoline use, it makes the air cleaner for all of us. This is especially important in places like a state park where you want to enjoy nature and get away from the pollution.

Bill Text PFD

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Commentary: Let road user tax be simple

Commentary: Let road user tax be simple: "Sure, owners of conventional motor vehicles pay road taxes every time they fill up, now at the rate of 30 cents a gallon for the state, and 18.4 cents per gallon for the feds. So there’s some rationale for requiring electric vehicle owners to pay as they go as well.

But this takes a lot of technology, not to mention a debate about surveillance and tracking and Big Brother and all that.

How about keeping it simple instead and requiring owners of registered electric vehicles to report their mileage once a year? Along with the mileage report they’d remit the tax.

The proposed fee is 0.6 cents per mile (less than half the average for motor vehicles so as to encourage the use of electric rigs). If somebody reports that his two vehicles together ran for 18,000 miles since the last report, he’d remit the $108 in tax.

It’s not without its drawbacks. But if the penalty for stiffing the state and their fellow highway users is high enough, electic vehicle owners, a responsible bunch, would surely make sure that they pay their share."

FIRST DRIVE: Fisker Karma - Racer.com

FIRST DRIVE: Fisker Karma - Racer.com: "Maybe it was the power breakfast I shared with Fisker Automotive's three main men that changed my mind. Maybe it was the story of their three-year campaign to raise a billion dollars to build their Karma extended-range electric luxury sedan, half of it a U.S. government subsidy and half from venture capitalists impressed both by Fisker's ability to tame hard-nosed legislators and with their store of 3,000 back orders. Perhaps I simply sniffed the balmy Los Angeles air and remembered that the American Dream survives on the West Coast, and one of its better effects is to encourage well-heeled car lovers to try something new. Whatever, my day-long meeting with the Karma – and the men who built it – moved the project in my mental filing cabinet from “brave but probably foolhardy” to “great idea whose time has arrived.”"

Future Mobile Food Technology in Electric Cars - QSR magazine

Future Mobile Food Technology in Electric Cars - QSR magazine: "It wasn’t so long ago that restaurants kept their books with paper and pencil, advertised mainly in print and on television, and offered coupons that existed in actual tangible newspapers. But advances in various technologies, from POS monitors to the Internet to mobile devices, have changed all of that.

Restaurants are finding the pace of technological change both dizzying and promising. One burgeoning innovation that may further change the way restaurants do business, particularly when it comes to delivery and the mobile food business, is the electric vehicle (ev)."

EcoPol Project: New Device to Store Electrical Energy

EcoPol Project: New Device to Store Electrical Energy: "Electrical cars have become a great way of having lower costs and helping to save the environment of pollution from the emission gases. Although, electrical vehicles also have disadvantages such as not having enough energy for driving distances and yet take hours of time to recharge which does not allow much power for acceleration. For only a part of time renewable sources such as wind and solar can deliver such a great amount of power, but this can be very expensive and is too inefficient to deliver enough power for surge demand with these devices."

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The First Electric Freeway Is An Oregon Trail [Electric Cars] | Gizmodo Reviews.

The First Electric Freeway Is An Oregon Trail [Electric Cars] | Gizmodo Reviews.: "The First Electric Freeway Is An Oregon Trail [Electric Cars]
July 4th, 2010 Grace & Billy 228 Comments
Click here to read The First Electric Freeway Is An Oregon Trail

Interstate 5 crosses Washington state from Oregon to Canada. And later this year, work will begin to make it the first electric highway in the United States. It’s good to be a Volt owner in the Pacific Northwest."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

EV WORLD CURRENTS: Funny, 100 Miles Is Now Good Enough

EV WORLD CURRENTS: Funny, 100 Miles Is Now Good Enough: "The Leaf's 24 kWh would, using the $500 figure, still cost a sizable, but more manageable $12,000.

While Deutsche Bank forecasts the kWh costs to eventually drop to around $250 by 2020, carmakers realize they can't wait until then to start engineering, building and servicing EVs. They are in a race not only against onrushing competitors (read China here), but the oil barrel itself."

Plugs and Cars: The electricity in gasoline

Plugs and Cars: The electricity in gasoline: "the electricity alone we use to refine petroleum each year could drive over 16,000,000 electric cars 12,000 miles each year"

Patent encumbrance of large automotive NiMH batteries - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Patent encumbrance of large automotive NiMH batteries - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Patent encumbrance of large automotive NiMH batteries

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The high-power NiMH battery of a Toyota Prius

The patent encumbrance of large automotive NiMH batteries refers to the encumbrance of the commercialization of nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batterytechnology by corporate interests in the early 1990s and 2000s. Nickel metal hydride battery technology is important to the development of battery electric vehicles (BEVs or EVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).




The modern nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) electric vehicle battery was invented by Dr. Masahiko Oshitani, of the GS Yuasa Corporation, and Stanford Ovshinsky, the founder of the Ovonics Battery Company.[1] The current trend in the industry is towards the development of lithium-ion (Li-Ion) technology to replace NiMH in electric vehicles. Some manufacturers maintain that NiMH batteries are important to the commercialization of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV)s and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) because Li-Ion technology, while functionally superior due to its higher specific energy and specific power, is prohibitively expensive and relatively untested with regards to its long-term reliability.[2]

[edit]General Motors and the US Auto Battery Consortium

The Ovonics technology was acquired by General Motors for use in its EV1 electric car, but production was ended shortly after the NiMH batteries began to replace the lead-acid batteries of earlier models

In an interview in the 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?, Ovshinsky stated that in the early 1990s, the auto industry created the US Auto Battery Consortium (USABC) to stifle the development of electric vehicle technology by preventing the dissemination of knowledge about Ovshinky's battery-related patents to the public through the California Air Resources Board (CARB).[3]

According to Ovshinsky, the auto industry falsely suggested that NiMH technology was not yet ready for widespread use in road cars.[4] Members of the USABC, including General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, threatened to take legal action against Ovshinsky if he continued to promote NiMH's potential for use in BEVs, and if he continued to lend test batteries to Solectria, a start-up electric vehicle maker that was not part of the USABC. The Big Three car companies argued that his behavior violated their exclusive rights to the battery technology, because they had matched a federal government grant given to Ovonics to develop NiMH technology. Critics argue that the Big Three were more interested in convincing CARB members that electric vehicles were not technologically and commercially viable.[3]

In 1994, General Motors acquired a controlling interest in Ovonics's battery development and manufacture, including patents controlling the manufacture of large NiMH batteries. The original intent of the equity alliance was to develop NiMH batteries for GM's EV1 BEV. Sales of GM-Ovonics batteries were later taken over by GM manager and critic of CARB John Williams, leading Ovshinsky to wonder whether his decision to sell to GM had been naive.[3] The EV1 program was shut down by GM before the new NiMH battery could be commercialized, despite field tests that indicated the Ovonics battery extended the EV1's range to over 150 miles.[3]

[edit]Chevron and Cobasys

By 2001, the Ovonics technology was owned by the oil company Chevron.

In 2001, oil company Texaco purchased General Motors' share in GM Ovonics. Texaco was itself acquired by rival Chevron several months later. The same year, Ovonics filed a patent infringement suit against Toyota's battery supplier, Panasonic, that ultimately succeeded in restricting the use of its large format NiMH batteries to certain transportation uses.[5] In 2003, Texaco Ovonics Battery Systems was restructured into Cobasys, a 50/50 joint venture between ChevronTexaco and Ovonics, now known as Energy Conversion Devices (ECD) Ovonics.[6] Chevron's influence over Cobasys extends beyond a strict 50/50 joint venture. Chevron held a 19.99% interest in ECD Ovonics as of a public filing made January 15, 2003.[7] In a later filing on May 17, 2005,[8] Energy Conversion Devices announced that they had exercised an option to purchase back 4,376,633 shares of stock from a Chevron subsidiary, and would cancel and return them to authorized-unissued status. This is the exact number of shares that was listed as owned by ChevronTexaco in the January 15, 2003 filing.

ChevronTexaco also maintained veto power over any sale or licensing of NiMH technology.[9] In addition, ChevronTexaco maintained the right to seize all of Cobasys' intellectual property rights in the event that ECD Ovonics did not fulfill its contractual obligations.[9] On September 10, 2007, ChevronTexaco (now known as simply "Chevron") filed a legal claim that ECD Ovonics had not fulfilled its obligations. ECD Ovonics disputed this claim.[10] The arbitration hearing was repeatedly suspended while the parties negotiated with General Motors over the sale of Cobasys back to GM. As of March 2008, no agreement had been reached with GM.[11]

Cobasys contracts demonstrated that the company was willing to sell smaller NiMH batteries (less than 10 amp-hours) for use with hybrid electric vehicles (HEV). For instance, in March 2007, GM announced that it would use Cobasys NiMH batteries in the model year 2008 Chevrolet Malibu hybrid.[12] Toyota uses NiMH batteries in all of its HEV models. However, Cobasys' sales policies raised questions about its willingness to sell larger format batteries for use in EVs and PHEVs.

In her 2007 book Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars that Will Recharge America, Sherry Boschert argues that large-format NiMH batteries (i.e., 25 amp-hours or more) are commercially viable but that Cobasys would only accept very large orders (more than 10,000) for these batteries. The effect is that this policy precludes small companies and individuals from buying them. It also precludes larger auto manufacturers from developing test fleets of new PHEV and EV designs. Toyota employees complained about the difficulty in getting smaller orders of large format NiMH batteries to service the existing 825 RAV4 EVs. Since no other companies were willing to make large orders, Cobasys was not manufacturing nor licensing any large format NiMH battery technology for automotive purposes. Boschert quotes Dave Goldstein, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Washington D.C., as saying this policy is necessary because the cost of setting up a multimillion dollar battery assembly line could not be justified without guaranteed orders of 100,000 batteries (~12,000 EVs) per year for 3 years. Boschert concludes that, "it's possible that Cobasys (Chevron) is squelching all access to large NiMH batteries through its control of patent licenses in order to remove a competitor to gasoline. Or it's possible that Cobasys simply wants the market for itself and is waiting for a major automaker to start producing plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles."[13]

In an interview with The Economist, Ovshinsky subscribed to the former view. "I think we at ECD made a mistake of having a joint venture with an oil company, frankly speaking. And I think it's not a good idea to go into business with somebody whose strategies would put you out of business, rather than building the business."[14] In the same interview, however, when asked, "So it’s your opinion that Cobasys is preventing other people from making it for that reason?", he responded, "Cobasys is not preventing anybody. Cobasys just needs an infusion of cash."

Critics also argue that historical evidence demonstrates the willingness of the oil industry to engage in such anti-competitive behavior. In 1949, the U.S. Supreme Court found Chevron (then known as Standard Oil of California) guilty of conspiring to buy and dismantle the Los Angeles electric street car system, in what became known as the Great American streetcar scandal.[15] In an effort to prevent the passage of California's zero emission mandates in late 1993 and early 1994, oil companies also funded a series of ads that questioned the viability of electric vehicles.[3]

Cobasys' problems with other potential customers also raised questions about the company's sales policies. In October 2007, International Acquisitions Services, Inc. and Innovative Transportation Systems AG filed suit against Cobasys and its parents for refusing to fill a large, previously agreed-upon order for large-format NiMH batteries to be used in the Innovan electric vehicle.[11] In August 2008, Mercedes-Benz sued Cobasys for again refusing to fill a large, previously agreed-upon order for NiMH batteries.[16]

[edit]Current status of the Ovonics battery technology

Multiple companies have tried to develop NiMH battery technology without making use of Ovonics' patents. Electro Energy Inc., working with CalCars, converted a Toyota Prius from a hybrid electric vehicle to a PHEV using its own bipolar NiMH batteries.[17] Plug-In Conversions uses Nilar NiMH batteries and the EAA-PHEV open source control system in its Prius PHEV conversions. These organizations maintain that these developments are allowable because their NiMH battery technologies are not covered by Cobasys' patents. However, these batteries did not become commercially available until late 2007.[18] The technical capabilities of current bipolar NiMH technology are also significantly more limited than those of the ECD Ovonics technology. For example, the operating temperature range for ECD Ovonics NiMH batteries, an important consideration for their use in consumer road vehicles, is -30 to 70 degrees celsius,[19] while the operating temperature range for Nilar's bipolar batteries is a more limited -6 to 52 degrees celsius.[20]

On July 28, 2009, Automotive News reported that Cobasys would be bought from Chevron and Energy Conversion Devices by battery maker SB LiMotive, a joint venture of Bosch and Samsung.[21] At the time of the 2009 Cobasys sale, control of NiMH battery technology transferred back to ECD Ovonics.[22] In October 2009, ECD Ovonics announced that their next-generation NiMH batteries will provide specific energy and power that are comparable to those of lithium ion batteries at a cost that is significantly lower than the cost of lithium ion batteries.[23] It is unclear whether ECD Ovonics will continue to adhere to Cobasys' prohibitive minimum order sales policy.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "5 Things You Need to Know About Nickel-Metal-Hybrid Batteries". 2008-03-07. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  2. ^ http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=aI7Ov7Jyo2nU
  3. ^ a b c d e Shnayerson, Michael (1996-08-27). The Car That Could: The Inside Story of GM’s Revolutionary Electric Vehicle. Random House. pp. 194–207. ISBN 978-0679421054.
  4. ^ Coker, M. (2003-05-15). "Dude, Wheres My Electric Car!?!". Orange County Weekly. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  5. ^ "US SEC Form 8-K, Energy Conversion Devices, Inc.". 2004-07-07. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
  6. ^ Roberson, J. (2007-03-14). "Supplier Cobasys Exploring More Hybrid Batteries". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  7. ^ "ECD Ovonics Definitive Proxy Statement". 2003-01-15. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  8. ^ "ENERGY CONVERSION DEVICES, INC. Form 8K Current Report". 2005-05-17. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  9. ^ a b "ECD Ovonics Amended General Statement of Beneficial Ownership". 2004-12-02. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  10. ^ "ECD Ovonics 10-Q Quarterly Report for the period ending September 30, 2007". 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  11. ^ a b "ECD Ovonics 10-Q Quarterly Report for the period ending March 31, 2008". 2008-03-31. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  12. ^ http://www.cobasys.com/news/20070313.shtml
  13. ^ Boschert, Sherry (2007-02-01). Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars that Will Recharge America. Gabriola Island: New Society Publishers. ISBN 9780865715714.
  14. ^ Greenberg J. (2008-10-14). "The Edison of our Age: Stan Ovshinsky and the Future of Energy [Video Interview Part 1"]. The Energy Roadmap. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  15. ^ Hicks, Robert Eldridge (1973) Politics of land: Ralph Nader's study group report on land use in California, pp. 410–412, 488. Compiled by Robert C. Fellmeth, Center for Study of Responsive Law. Grossman Publishers.
  16. ^ http://wot.motortrend.com/6278400/auto-news/mercedes-sues-cobasys-battery-supplier-ml450-hybrid-suv-delayed/index.html
  17. ^ CalCars news "Electro Energy announces CalCars project". 2005-10-20. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  18. ^ Sebastian Blanco (2007-12-11). "EVS23: Kim Adelman's Plug-in Prius with Nilar nickel-metal hydride batteries". autobloggreen. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  19. ^ http://www.ovonic.com/PDFs/ovonic-materials/Ovonic-Fetcenko-2008-Wolsky-Seminar.pdf
  20. ^ http://www.evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=1403
  21. ^ "Battery venture buys Cobasys". 2009-07-28. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  22. ^ Michael Fetcenko (2009-10-01). "Ovonic NiMH –Strong Now, Room for Growth". Ovonic. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  23. ^ http://www.ovonics.com/PDFs/Batteries2009OctoberNiceConference.pdf