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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...

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

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Volt: The 5-pound iPod | themichiganview.com | The Michigan View

Volt: The 5-pound iPod | themichiganview.com | The Michigan View: "Chevy Volt, on the other hand, is the hypothetical five pound iPod - an unnecessary, unappealing, step backward. It fulfills an agenda, not consumer demand. If the green-happy, big government ideologues that have championed the Volt seriously believe it can succeed at its current price, with its current set of 'features,' they understand nothing of market forces.

They're in for a very rude awakening."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hippies rejoice! VW unveils new microbus - Business - Autos - msnbc.com

Hippies rejoice! VW unveils new microbus - Business - Autos - msnbc.com: "Volkswagen AG is resurrecting its iconic microbus, which debuted in 1950 and became a favorite of hippies for its unique styling and copious space for travelers.

Volkswagen is showing a concept version of the van — known by its German nickname, the Bulli — at the Geneva Auto Show this week. Among the six-seater's modern twists: It's powered by an electric motor and uses an iPad to control the entertainment system, climate control and other functions."