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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Fork in the Road for EVs

2013 will be a bellwether year for plug-in vehicles. 2011 saw the introduction of the Leaf and Volt. 2012 introduced the Ford Focus EV, Tesla Model S, Fisker Karma, Toyota Prius Plug-in, and others. 2013 will add the Chevrolet Spark EV, Fiat 500e, Ford's C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi plug-ins, and more.

As of 1 December 2012, total plug-in sales for the year were 47,500. This is up more than 200% over 2011. Not as high as the optimistic numbers that some manufacturers and research firms predicted, but still an excellent growth rate.

Even more important than the growth rate is the customer satisfaction rating. Plug-in owners love their cars. The enthusiasm abounds for them in the owners' circles. They create forums, blogs, fan pages, share mods, tips, and speculate about the upcoming changes.

Sure, if you look hard enough you can find someone that walked away from an EV because they had unrealistic expectations or their needs changed, but by far the large owner surveys such as those by JD Power show that plug-in cars have the highest satisfaction rating of any vehicles being sold today.

A brief detour:

The title for this blog post came from a story that I recently heard about the fork. This humble eating utensil is arguably the most ubiquitous tool on the planet. This was not always the case. When the fork was first introduced to the western world, it had detractors. It was considered unnecessary, effeminate, and only needed by those who were not skilled enough with traditional implements.

Assorted Forks via Wikipedia
The fork, however, did find an enthusiastic niche. In Italy, it was hailed as the perfect device for twirling long types of pasta such as spaghetti and fettuccine. From here, hundreds of fork variations were invented to meet various needs.

Tying this back to plug-in cars. From today's niche of enthusiastic early plug-in vehicle adopters, the market can continue to grow. More plug-in vehicles will be coming to market soon. If you want two-door, or four-door, or a particular manufacturer, or electric range, there will likely be options. SUVs and trucks are coming too. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, for example, goes on sale in Japan soon. US sales, however, will not start until 2014.

The pace of innovation is increasing. Battery technology is improving 8-10% each year. This allows the driving range, prices, and charge time to all improve with each model year.

Technology improvements combined with more model options will practically guarantee that plug-in vehicle sales will continue to increase in 2013 and 2014. This will allow economies of scale to reduce the price tag while improving profitability.

The internal combustion engine has had 100 years of innovation. Despite some incredible achievements the combustion engine of today is not much better than the 25 MPG engine of the Model T. We have been working on the wrong problem for 100 years.

There is a fork ahead and it is time to take the road less traveled. The electric road. Let's help accelerate this change. If you own an EV, give your friends, family, co-workers, & neighbors rides or test drives. Let them know what you love about it and how nice it is to 'fuel up' in your own garage. Don't, however, just paint a rosy picture. Maybe a pure EV would not work for them so a PHEV would be a better fit. Having the right tool for the right job is what matters and what will make their plug-in experience a positive one.

See you out there in 2013.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Charging Basics

Most electric vehicle (EV) owners charge their cars in their garage, overnight. At other times it is useful to charge while out and about. Charging on the road allows you to drive more than the range of a single charge and opens up more locations to your electrically-powered driving.

To charge up while away from home, you'll need to know how to find the charging stations that will work with your EV. These are two things we'll cover here. To help keep this at an introductory level, we will not be discussing Amps, Volts, kilowatt-hours, or any other electro-technical jargon when it can be avoided.

Types of Charging

There are three different types of charging supported by modern EVs:
Nissan Leaf Charging ports - CHAdeMO (Left), J1772 (Right)
  • Level 1: The slowest and most accessible is Level 1. This is the common US household outlet. To use this, you'll need to have a trickle charge unit. This generally comes with a new EV purchase. For a plug-in car like the Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt, this will provide 4 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging. Not very helpful for a quick stop, but you can find these outlets nearly anywhere. Level 1 is sufficient for locations where your car will be parked for long periods such as workplace charging, an overnight hotel stay, or long-term airport parking.
  • Level 2: This is the most common type of EV infrastructure currently being installed. These stations are the same voltage as a home dryer outlet. These stations have the J1772 connector, aka J-plug, built in so you won't need to bring any equipment. You will, however, most likely need a membership card to activate it. Below there is a list of these networks. These stations provide anywhere from 3 to 6 times the charging rate of a Level 1 station. To know how fast a Level 2 station will charge your EV, you'll need to know one detail: the rating of your vehicle's onboard charger. This is typically either 3.3 kilowatts (kW) or 6.6 kW. The 2011-2012 Nissan Leaf has a 3.3kW charger, while the 2013 model has a 6.6kW charger. Check your owner's manual for your vehicle for the charger's rating. A 3.3kW charger will provide a typical plug-in car with 12 - 15 miles of range per hour that it is plugged in. At this rate, a long lunch or similar stop, perhaps at your destination, can provide you with the range for the next leg or return trip. A 6.6kW charger will give you 24 to 30 miles of range per hour. 
  • DC Fast Charging: You might have assumed after Level 1 and Level 2, this would be Level 3. That might have been true if fast charging had been universally standardized. Unfortunately, it was not. Japanese manufacturers Nissan and Mitsubishi support a standard called CHAdeMO. BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, and Volkswagen, on the other hand, teamed up with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to create a standard that will allow a single port to be used for Level 1, 2, and fast charging. This is called the J1772-combo connector. While this sounds nice to have a widely supported standard, there are currently no vehicles and no charging stations that support the SAE fast charge standard. CHAdeMO was the first to market and is the solution that the West Coast Electric Highway in Oregon and Washington state is using. The (coming soon) Chevy Spark EV is expected to be the first vehicle on the market to use the J1772-combo connector. We'll see if it can displace or co-exist with CHAdeMO. To further complicate the fast charging story, Tesla Motors didn't use either of the two methods we've discussed. Instead, they created their own, the Tesla Super Charger. Ignoring the confusion, the network that is currently installed in the Northwest is CHAdeMO, so we'll discuss this one. These stations will charge a Nissan Leaf from empty to 80% full in 25 to 30 minutes. This means that a quick 10 minute stop can get you 30 miles of range. This rate makes long distance drives possible. The fast charger in Woodburn, Oregon, for example, makes a trip between Portland and Salem easy in an EV.  
Now that you know the various types of charging, how do you find them? 

Finding Charging Stations 

Charging Station Smartphone Apps - PlugShare (Left) and Recargo (Right)
Many of the new EVs have navigation systems that include charging station locations. This is convenient since it is always there in your car, but EV infrastructure is being installed at a rapid pace and these built-in systems are often not up to date. Also, they do not provide you with real-time operational status or availability information. For this, you'll need a smartphone. There are apps written by the charging station manufacturers as well as crowdsourced apps that can tell you all of this valuable information.

The two most popular charging station apps are PlugShare and Recargo. Both of these apps aggregate information from the charging station providers with user provided content. The status information can tell you if the station is operational and available. Users can check in at stations and provide status and location notes. These notes can be very helpful. While an address can get you to the area, a note can tell you that the charging stations at Lloyd Center Mall are on the second floor of the Northwest lot at Pole J12. Check-in reports can also tell you if the station has been used successfully recently. 

Rather than choosing either PlugShare or Recargo, I would suggest installing both of them. Their information, especially the user provided information, is not the same. Depending on what you are looking for, one may be more helpful than the other.

Network Membership 

Charging Network Membership Cards
Many of the public charging station networks require a membership card to activate the charging session. Some of the networks charge you a dollar or two an hour to charge, but even a free station may require a membership card to start the session. You can use the above-mentioned apps to find out which networks are in your area. In the greater Portland area I would suggest joining: 
  • ChargePoint (http://chargepoint.net/) - One of the largest networks in North America. 
  • Blink (http://www.blinknetwork.com/) - Funded by The EV Project, these are prolific in the Northwest US. 
  • AeroVironment (http://evsolutions.avinc.com/) - Selected for the West Coast Electric Highway in Oregon and Washington. 


For most EV driving, you'll have more than enough range for your daily needs. When you do intend to go on a trip beyond the range of your vehicle, make sure you plan it. Google maps or similar tools can give you accurate distance estimations. PlugShare and Recargo can show you the charging stations available on the various route options.

As with any vehicle, occasionally, things go wrong. Make sure you have a backup plan.

If you need charging and there is no EV infrastructure available, campgrounds are one source for emergency charging. Campsites often have 120V and 240V service. If you have a portable Level 2 unit and plug adapters, this can get you back on the road in an hour or two. You'll likely have to pay the typical fees to use the campground. 

In the extremely unlikely situation of running out of juice—which should never happen if you’ve planned ahead—it’s a good idea to have your cell phone and the phone number of roadside assistance. AAA now offers EV services, including roadside charging. If you come up just a mile or two short of your next charging spot, this could prove very helpful. But again, with an understanding of your vehicle’s range, the types of charging, and a few minutes of planning, your zero-emission journeys should be smooth sailing.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fast Charging at Spirit Mountain

DC Fast Chargers in Oregon

Oregon has more than 40 DC Fast Chargers. These chargers can add 80 miles of range to a Nissan Leaf in 30 minutes. Charging stations were recently installed in Newberg, Oregon at Newberg Chevron and in Grand Ronde, Oregon at Spirit Mountain Casino. 

I have been avoiding fast charging. Maybe "avoiding" is the wrong word. I bought my Nissan Leaf in 2011 as a commuter car. This meant that the bulk of my charging happens in my garage, overnight. As such, I have no need for fast charging in my day-to-day driving.

However, these two stations allowed me to drive my EV to Spirit Mountain Casino.

DC Fast Charger in Newberg Oregon 

I have been going to Spirit Mountain Casino with a small group of friends once or twice a year for several years. It is a fun evening and, if you are lucky, you can leave with a little more money than you arrived with. On each of these prior trips, I have been a passenger. These two charging stations now allow me to take my car and drive the guys there in an EV. So last weekend, I did just that. 

From my home in Beaverton, Oregon, the door-to-door round trip drive is 110 miles; far beyond the range of my Leaf given the freeway speeds and elevation changes. The Newberg station breaks the one-way trip there up nicely into a 17-mile leg and a 38-mile leg. Each of these legs is well within the car's range. The charging station at the casino means that the battery pack will be filled long before we are done playing and we'll be starting out the return trip with a "full tank". 

The trip went off without a hitch. We passed the Newberg Chevron and had to turn around to find it. But once we were there, I plugged in and swiped my membership fob to start the charging session. We went into the convenience store and bought soft drinks for the road. Since we had not driven far yet, the was not much need to charge for very long. When we returned from the store, we unplugged and got back on the road. We made it to the Grand Ronde charging station with 22 miles of range to spare. We plugged in and headed to the casino. 

Beaverton to Grand Ronde via Newberg

About an hour later I checked on the car via Nissan's smartphone app. I saw that the car was 80% full and had stopped charging. Opps, I have the car set to "Long Battery Life" mode. This means that it stops charging at 80%. I went out to the charging station and moved the car over to the level 2 charging station that is next to the fast charger to complete the fill-up. This freed the fast charger in case someone else showed up and wanted to use it. I also had the "EV Card" on my dashboard so another EV driver could contact me if they needed me to move the vehicle for some reason. 

After dinner, I again used the smartphone app to check on the car. The charge was complete and the car was 100% full. We still had a couple more hours of fun planned, and I could enjoy them knowing the car was ready whenever we needed it. 

We left the casino in the wee hours of the morning and headed home. We again stopped in Newberg for a quick charge. We are now only 17 miles from home. And the range meter shows more than 30 miles of range remaining. I didn't need to fully recharge the batteries, I only needed enough to know that I could make it home. A quick leg stretch and I unplugged the car and we were back on the road. This stop was shorter than your average gas station refueling stop. 

When I pulled into my driveway, I had 18 miles of range remaining. It was nice to know that I could have skipped the Newberg station and still made it home but it was even better knowing that I could make it home with range to spare such that I was not stressing the batteries by deep cycling them. 

So we made it there and back again in a 100% electric vehicle. We had a fun time and our brief stops were for drinks and a bathroom break, during which time we also happened to charge for a few minutes at a DC fast charger.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Circular Firing Squad

As I was parking my Leaf today at a charging station, a plug-in Prius (PiP) pulled in next to me. The owner and I started chatting. He loved his PiP. He plugged in at home, at work, and many other places in the greater Portland area. This meant that more than half of his driving was on electricity. One tank of gas had lasted him more than 2500 miles and it would have lasted longer if he didn't drive to Salem.

The PiP only has 11 to 15 miles of electric range. Yet even this short distance can move one-third or more of a typical driver's miles to be electrically powered when it is plugged in regularly. 

I am a plug-in vehicle advocate. One thing I have noticed is that many advocates are passionate about their preferred solution. If they drive a pure electric, then PHEVs or EREVs are horrible, and vice-versa.

I'm far from the first to notice this, Plug-in advocate Chelsea Sexton refers to this as the circular firing squad and I have seen it in action more than once and even between people that own the same vehicle types but from different companies.

I've tried to embrace anything with a plug by using the "any electric mile is a good mile" motto. I admit that I have had my own negative moments e.g., when I see a company's marketing department use these same "we're better than them" tactics, it puts them in a bad light to me. I try to reach out to them and let them know they are damaging the entire sector, rather than helping their vehicle.

So maybe a low-speed vehicle or a PHEV with a short electric range would not work well for you, that does not mean there is no one that could use this vehicle. The more options there are in the market, the more people can get behind the wheel of a plug-in vehicle. 

So next time you are tempted to attack this or that type of plug-in vehicle, stop and ask yourself, is it better than an internal combustion vehicle. The circular firing squad needs to turn around and know that the other plug-in drivers have their back. There are plenty of other targets for your rage. When all cars on the road plug in, then you can start worrying about which ones use too much gasoline. Until that time, let's try to get more cars to plug in. The perfect should not be the enemy of the good. 

As much as I'd like to claim I am completely above this fray, I have serious issues with hydrogen vehicles, but that is a post for another day. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

National Panel on Electric Cars

UM professor appointed to national panel on electric car use: "“It’s not just the cars or the batteries – it’s the things around them from a consumer adoption standpoint,” Mohr said. “It’s looking at the oil and gas companies, the dealer repair companies, the mom-and-pop shops and the power companies. Until you get all those perspectives on the table, you don’t understand what all the barriers might be.”"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Electric Fuel Campaign

Freedom and personal control are deeply ingrained in the American DNA, yet when it comes to powering cars – we primarily depend on a single fuel. Transportation is the last bastion of our society left to embrace electricity. 

This campaign is the electric utility industry’s commitment to the growing number of people who have embraced electricity as a transportation fuel. This campaign will amplify the voices of plug-in drivers and help spread their excitement with their friends, neighbors, and beyond. 

The message is simple. Electricity makes driving better: powerful acceleration and torque, a smooth, quiet ride, low lifetime maintenance and predictable, low fuel costs, all from a convenient, guilt-free, low CO2, domestic energy source. Most importantly, electricity injects fun and freedom back into driving. The sense of adventure and lure of the open road is back, and it’s fueled by electricity.

Add your voice to the campaign: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/electricfuel

Thursday, October 4, 2012

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid - Autoblog Review | Honda and Acura Fans: "MPG:100+ MPGe (est.)

After 30 years, Honda is trying to teach the old Accord new tricks, and they're of the plug-in variety.

We've been teased by various prototypes at auto shows and in spy shots, but Honda will finally start selling the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid in January 2013."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Volt and Leaf comparison questions

Volt and Leaf comparison questions:
1. Which one is more fun to drive?
Fun is very subjective. The Leaf is a little faster off the line and gets my vote. 

2. Which one has a better value/price ratio ?
This depends on your needs. I still have a gas SUV for camping and skiing, so this works for me whenever the Leaf's range won't cut it. The Volt costs more than the Leaf and in my case, the range extender would not do much for me, so is not worth the extra cost. 

3. For those that own both cars , If you had to give up one, which would it be ?
I don't own both, but if I were forced to own only one vehicle, I would want a plug-in hybrid SUV with 4WD and towing capability, which does not exist (yet). 

4. Which car needs the most improvement ? 
They are both 1st gen (in 2011) and improvements are trickling in.

More thoughts on value/price ratio: I think the real question is which one fits your needs best. Up leveling from the Volt and the Leaf specifically, I think it is really about what drivetrain (plug-in hybrid or BEV) fits your personal needs best. 

If you have a reliable, consistent commute/driving schedule that is within a BEVs range AND access to a gas powered vehicle when you need it (friends/car sharing/rent/own/taxi…), then a BEV can be a fit for you. However, if you have unpredictable driving needs, or no access to a backup, then a plug-in hybrid is likely a better fit.

Given the specs of most BEVs today, I think more people fall into the plug-in hybrid bucket. As BEVs improve (range, charge time…), this line will slowly shift. To be clear, I drive a Nissan Leaf and I love it, but if you have doubts or concerns about a BEV, then I think a PHV is the way to go. It allows you to move some (possibly a large majority) of your driving to be grid powered, while still giving you the safety net of the gas station infrastructure that already exists. 
There have been many Volt vs Leaf articles, threads, discussions… To me they are very different cars, with very different capabilities. Just as there is no “moving trucks vs sports cars” debate there should not be a PHV vs BEV debate. You pick the one that meets your needs. If you are trying to move furniture with a sports car, you will be disappointed. If you are trying to use that moving van at the track, you will again be disappointed. The Volt and the Leaf were the first high volume plug-in cars of this generation, so there is a natural tendency to compare them. I find them to be serving different market needs, so the comparison seems overblown to me."

Friday, August 17, 2012

Advanced Vehicle Technologies | Union of Concerned Scientists

Advanced Vehicle Technologies | Union of Concerned Scientists: "Electric Cars: The Future Starts Now
"The future is starting now for electric vehicles, with advanced electrified drivetrain technology entering the market. These electric-drive vehicles—battery, fuel cell, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid electric cars—could be the start of a revolution that will change the face of transportation in the years to come. UCS has demonstrated the potential of this technology with its Model E electric vehicle plans, which utilize existing technology to show the feasibility of a low-carbon vehicle future."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

History is bunk

History is bunk: "Henry Ford (1863 - 1947) was the founder of the Ford Motor Company, the father of the assembly line and of mass-production, and one of the wealthiest and most famous people who ever lived. However, history is bunk is probably one of the two things that most of us can recall that he ever said. The other being "People can have the Model T in any colour - so long as it's black".

What he actually said about history was:

"History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history that we make today." (Chicago Tribune, 1916)."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

EV Card | Plug In America

EV Card | Plug In America: "EV Card

The EV Card is an easy way for EV drivers to share charging stations."

Protocol Card, EV sharing, Courtesy Card,

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Building the West Coast Electric Highway

In late 2010, two major grant awards signaled a huge boon for Oregon’s transportation electrification efforts.   

First, the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE), using Recovery Act dollars through its State Energy Program (SEP), awarded ODOT $915,000 to extend the three-phase, 480V fast-charge network along the I-5 corridor.  On March 16, Oregon Leading the Charge Toward Electric Transportation By Ashley Horvat, ODOT Transportation Electrification Project Manager 2012, the first major stretch of the “West Coast Electric Highway” went operational, with a network of 10 EV fast-charging stations along Interstate 5, from Halsey (Exit #216) to Ashland (Exit #14).  Spaced approximately every 25 miles, the charging stations instantly expanded the range of EVs in Oregon.

ODOT and its partners hosted grand opening events at the charging stations in Central Point, Grants Pass and Wolf Creek.  Ultimately, the West Coast Electric Highway will provide seamless travel between Washington and Oregon, and in the near future, California, as all three states are working together to use the same host site and charging station specifications.

The second major grant in 2010 came from the U.S.  Department of Transportation, which awarded ODOT $2 million in TIGER II funds to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure in up to 22 Oregon communities.   This project will create a widespread network of DC fast-chargers that will provide electric vehicles with charging opportunities between Oregon’s major population centers.  


Saturday, May 26, 2012

James Billmaier - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

James Billmaier - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“Jolt! The Impending Dominance of

the Electric Car and Why America Must Take Charge,” Jim Billmaier.
• We shouldn’t subsidize their adoption.
Billmaier estimates that there are still $12,000 in subsidies related to every gas- powered car sold. “I believe in capitalism, but in order for capitalism to work, you have to have a level playing field. You don’t have a level playing field right now,” he says.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Optimizing For Electric Miles: One Reader Does The Math

Optimizing For Electric Miles: One Reader Does The Math: " 12 plug-in Priuses tracked for 23,086 miles, which collectively produced an average 68 mpg. By comparison, the regular 2012 Priuses on the same site got 48.4 mpg. This means 29 percent of the miles traveled by the Prius Plug-Ins are electric miles"

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Electric vehicles still a rarity in Oregon

Electric vehicles still a rarity in Oregon: "It’s just about being part of the community, helping to provide a service. And we hope people might get a cup of coffee while they’re charging up.”

Monday, April 30, 2012

Obama Discusses Climate Change in Rolling Stone Interview - SustainableBusiness.com - Solar Feeds

Obama Discusses Climate Change in Rolling Stone Interview - SustainableBusiness.com - Solar Feeds: "Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, is in favor of stripping the EPA’s regulatory powers, opposes any national energy policy that addresses climate change, has called electric cars “not ready for prime time.” He supports the tar sands pipeline and oil drilling everywhere."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Lohner-Porsche - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lohner-Porsche - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "The Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid was the first hybrid vehicle developed in 1901 by Ferdinand Porsche. It was a series hybrid using wheel hub motors mounted in each wheel, and powered by electricity delivered from both batteries and a small generator."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Rocky Kistner: Lakotas Launch Hunger Strike Against Tar Sands Pipelines

Rocky Kistner: Lakotas Launch Hunger Strike Against Tar Sands Pipelines: "In the Dakotas, members of the proud Lakota Nation rose in protest this week to join a  48-hour hunger strike in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline—and all tar sands pipelines—they say will destroy precious water resources and ancestral lands in the U.S and in Canada. "

Vehicles in Oregon Cities – Data Center

Vehicles in Oregon Cities – Data Center: "Oregon has around 4 million registered vehicles at any given time, serving a wide range of uses in different areas. This database, retrieved from the Oregon DMV commercial vehicle list in 2011, provides information about vehicles registered by city.

Follow Link to search the database."

Sunday, March 25, 2012

C-Max Energi: Why Low All Electric Range Plugins Don't Make Sense

C-Max Energi: Why Low All Electric Range Plugins Don't Make Sense: "As you see, each extra kWh capacity in the car is worth $417 in tax credits. Interestingly that money is close to the marginal cost of one kWh of battery as well. That means, the extra battery that any manufacturer puts in the car is essentially free for the consumers."

EV’s–just drive it! « The Lady Electric

EV’s–just drive it! « The Lady Electric: "the secret behind the EV cult following–it’s not really being “green” that makes EVs so great–it’s the power and performance.  The smooth rocket-like acceleration, the effortless torque, the sleek silence. In any circumstances it’s the riding experience of an EV that really settles the age old dispute of gas vs. electric.

As Ms. Holding’s friend said, “Just drive it.”"

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

RMI Spinoff Bright Automotive Dies, But the Ideas Behind It Remain a Force

RMI Spinoff Bright Automotive Dies, But the Ideas Behind It Remain a Force: "Oil dependence also incurs hidden costs totaling roughly $1.5 trillion a year, or 12 percent of GDP—plus untold costs to human health and the environment."

Friday, February 24, 2012

Why Do You Love your Hybrid or Electric Car? - The Equation

Why Do You Love your Hybrid or Electric Car? - The Equation: "MIT analysis looking at every major part of a car shows that making and disposing a conventional gasoline vehicle produces as much global warming pollution as driving for one year (Table 3). Electric cars boost that by about a half a year, but can save about ten times as much or more."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Cars That Celebrate the Socket - NYTimes.com

New Cars That Celebrate the Socket - NYTimes.com: "Americans bought 19,874 plug-in cars in 2011, according to LMC Automotive. But the research firm expects the number to surge to roughly 70,000 this year, to nearly 170,000 in 2013 and to a healthy 250,000 by 2015, representing a significant 1.5 percent of a 16.5 million vehicle market."

'via Blog this'

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Retailers Plug-in to EV Infrastructure

"Charging at an outlet mall" now means more than using your credit card. Shopping malls and retail centers across the country are installing charging stations for plug-in cars. Retailers nationwide are hoping that these charging stations will draw upscale customers into their store to browse while the cars are juicing up.

An early leader in this movement is drugstore chain Walgreens, which is installing chargers at nearly 800 stores nationwide. Kohl's is undertaking a pilot program to equip 33 stores with charging stations. Ikea is installing charging stations and solar panels starting on the west coast of the US. Best Buy said they will test charging stations at 12 locations. Macy's is installing chargers at a handful of department stores. Kroger retailer, Fred Meyer, is installing stations in several Oregon locations.

Retailers view charging stations as a way to one-up competitors and garner a green image. Many retail chains are hoping to win goodwill with eco-conscious, high-income customers by offering a visible amenity.

The general rule of thumb is that one public charging station is needed for every four plug-in cars on the road. This is in addition to the home charging stations for these vehicles. Currently there are about 5,000 public chargers scattered around the country. This is inline with the nearly 20,000 Leafs and Volts that have been sold to-date since their deliveries started in December of 2011.

There are likely to be more than 50 thousand plug-in vehicles sold in the US in 2012 and the US government has a goal to have 1 million vehicles on the road by 2015. Following this rule of thumb would mean a need for 250 thousand public charging stations.

Woodburn Outlet Mall in Woodburn Oregon
Retailers are moving quickly to fill this void. Currently, most are providing electricity for free. Menno Enters, Walgreens' director of energy and sustainability, said "[At Walgreens] we said, 'Let's lead in this area.' We're all about convenience, and many of our stores are located around commuter routes. We realized that Walgreens was ideally situated to implement a strategy for electric chargers." If the electric car movement takes off, Walgreens is hoping to snatch sales from nearby gas stations that "seek the same convenience-type customers," Enters said.

The Swedish retailer, Ikea, doesn't track how often the stations are used, but the chargers have been conversation pieces, said Ikea spokesman Joseph Roth. "You can just stand and watch folks driving by in the parking lot. They see the space and you can kind of see that 'oh wow, that's kind of neat' look on their faces," Roth said. "We view it as another aspect of the shopping experience."

Retailers usually get most of the costs covered with subsidies by partnering with a handful of companies such as ECOtality and Coulomb Technologies that specialize in installing and supporting charging stations. These companies have in turn received money from a combination of private funds and the Department of Energy to build up an infrastructure that encourages increased use of electric vehicles.

Technology company 350Green installs and manages charging stations, said it gets about 95% of its business from retailers. Some retailers split the cost with 350Green while others get much of the cost covered by federal subsidies, said Mariana Gerzanych, 350Green's chief executive. Clients include Walgreens and Simon Properties Group, a real estate company and mall operator. Gerzanych said the economy has made more retailers interested in charging stations. "It's a very competitive environment for retailers, and they don't want to take the wait-and-see approach," she said. "Retailers have been taking a very proactive approach to attract customers."

Via the LA Times with my edits, corrections, and additions.

Detroit Loving Socialist!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dude! Where Are All of GE's Electric Cars? - DailyFinance

Dude! Where Are All of GE's Electric Cars? - DailyFinance: "GE noted that its commitment to purchase 25,000 electric cars -- that's what it worked out to -- was "the largest single EV commitment ever.""

How the Stimulus Revived the Electric Car · Oregon Public Broadcasting · EarthFix

How the Stimulus Revived the Electric Car · Oregon Public Broadcasting · EarthFix:
"A123 now supplies the luxury electric carmaker Fisker Automotive and the manufacturers of electric delivery trucks used by FedEx and Frito-Lay.

“Quite simply, if we didn’t get that grant, we wouldn’t have built [the factory] in the U.S.,” A123 spokesman Dan Borgasano said.

The battery grants have created and saved more than 1,800 jobs for assembly workers, toolmakers and engineers, according to a ProPublica analysis of stimulus project reports filed by the companies. That number doesn’t include the workers who constructed the plants or those hired by the matching private investment the companies had to make to get the grants."

Monday, January 30, 2012


How much pollution an electric car produces per mile – accounting for all emissions, starting from the gas or oil well where the source fuel is extracted, all the way to the final consumption of electricity by the car’s motor. When we work through the numbers, we find that the electric car is significantly more efficient and pollutes less than all alternatives.

Which Are Better: Electric Cars or Natural Gas Vehicles? - Forbes

Which Are Better: Electric Cars or Natural Gas Vehicles? - Forbes: "1,000 cubic feet (cf) of natural gas, converted to electricity, yields 457 miles in an EV. This same 1,000 cf in an NGV would only have a range of around 224 miles."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012



Trying to forecast EV sales? Good luck with that | Green Tech - CNET News

Trying to forecast EV sales? Good luck with that | Green Tech - CNET News: "Research company IDC Energy Insights this week predicted that there will 120,000 plug-in electric vehicles sold in North America next year"

Volt as Political Pawn

There are congressional hearings tomorrow, Wednesday (1/25/2012), about the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt was recently cleared of its fire issue by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That doesn’t mean General Motors’ problems with the US government are over.

Congressman Darryl Issa, R-California, is contending that the NHTSA tried to cover up the fire. The same fire that has miles and miles of press written about it.

When waste and government spending are being harshly scrutinized, this is not the time to be playing election year partisan politics and wasting taxpayer dollars. If there had been Volt fires on the road, if people had been killed, injured, or harmed in any way, I would support a full investigation. Instead these were “lab events”. There are over 200,000 gasoline fires each year, these are far more worthy of congressional investigation.

Further pursuit of them is a waste of time and (my) tax payer money. Issa has been a sharp critic of GM. His facebook page recently posted a New York Post article titled “GM’s flop in green” that called the Volt “one part lemon, one part taxpayer albatross”.

I encourage you to make your opinions known by contacting him and your local Congress person.

Issa's Office:

Here are some statements that have been left on his site:
The Chevy Volt is an investment in the energy and economic security of our country. Every electric mile driven in America equates to less government money wasted on oil subsidies and imports. We need to encourage automakers to continue the tradition of American innovation for the future of our country. The Volt drivers of America encourage you to drop the Volt investigation today. We encourage you to be a leader for American innovation and prosperity.
What on earth can anyone gain by flogging a manufacturer over a media conflagration that was obviously overblown at the outset? The NHTSA was only able to destroy two batteries, after several attempts, enough to cause a fire days or weeks later. A gas vehicle would explode instantly in the same circumstance. Once the test established that any surviving passengers could be extracted before a fire or explosion I would say any remaining investigation is only allegory. We have over 200,000 car fires each year that kill hundreds of victims. I want my kids to drive a car that gives them a better chance to live through an accident. Don't you?
Let your voice be heard.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Energy and Debt

Clean energy is an investment in our future. Every dollar invested in clean energy leads to savings for American families, savings in fuel costs and health care costs. Whereas, every dollar spent on oil subsidies leaves our country and fills the pocketbooks of oil companies. In 2010, the world's governments, including the U.S., spent over $500 billion in oil subsidies, compared to only 1/10th of that amount in investments in clean energy. We need to end oil subsidies and we need invest in technologies that boost the economy and health of our communities.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Go EV!

Driving electric is smart and patriotic: 

  • Each day we burn roughly 8.5 million barrels of oil in our passenger cars and trucks. To feed our oil addiction, we send nearly $1 billion overseas each day, often to governments unfriendly to US policies.
  • A switch to EVs will make for a more stable and secure United States. Oil payments to foreign nations contribute to half of our trade deficit. US armed forces spend up to $83 billion annually protecting vulnerable infrastructure and patrolling oil transit routes.
  • Even taking into account the emissions from the electricity produced to charge EVs, these vehicles on average emit *at least* 30% less CO2 than gas vehicles. And that’s today; as we clean up the electricity grid, EVs get even cleaner. Of course, charging EVs based on electricity that comes from solar and wind power is the cleanest way to power the vehicles.
  • Fuel and maintenance for EVs are significantly lower than gasoline vehicles. Fueling your car with electricity is about 5 times cheaper than fueling with gasoline. Pure EVs require no oil changes and have one tenth the number of moving parts than a gas car. There's no engine, transmission, spark plugs, valves, fuel tank, tailpipe, distributor, starter, clutch, muffler, or catalytic converter.
  • When Toyota first started selling the Prius in 2000, it sold only 5,800 of these new hybrids, and now more than a million have been sold. It is exciting, groundbreaking, and encouraging that GM and Nissan sold more than 17,000 vehicles in 2011, with tens of thousands of additional sales expected this year and from a growing number of manufacturers.
  • More than 20 different electric drive vehicles will be on the market within the next three years from virtually every major and several new car manufacturers – with plug-in vehicles and components being built in at least 20 states, creating thousands of new domestic jobs.
  • Plug-in vehicles are "fueled" by locally generated electrons. This means the money you spend on electricity stays in your community. This helps employ your neighbors, who then in turn spend more money in your community. Money spent locally circulates an average of 5 to 6 times before leaving the community. Whereas less than ~20 cents of each dollar spent on gasoline returns to the local community. 

Study: Most Gen Y drivers want to own hybrid cars

Study: Most Gen Y drivers want to own hybrid cars: "Gen Y's strong affinity for hybrid vehicles could make it the "generation that leads us away from traditional gasoline-powered vehicles," reports Craig Giffi, vice chairman"

Solid-State Batteries - Technology Review

Solid-State Batteries - Technology Review: "All this adds bulk and cost. So Sastry wondered if she could make a battery that simply didn't need this much management.

Sastry's solid-state batteries are still based on lithium-ion technology, but they replace the liquid electrolyte with a thin layer of material that's not flammable. Solid-state batteries are also resilient: some prototypes demonstrated by other groups can survive thousands of charge-discharge cycles. And they can withstand high temperatures, which will make it possible to use materials that can double or triple a battery's energy density (the amount of energy stored in a given volume) but that are too dangerous or unreliable for use in a conventional lithium-ion battery."

Monday, January 9, 2012

West Coast Electric Highway

My Nissan Leaf Forum • View topic - Portland Oregon Group: "West Coast Green Highway is the I-5 project from Canada to Mexico and is being put together via the various transportation departments of Washington, Oregon, and California. The second project is The EV Project, which will be installing DC Quick Charge stations in metro areas. The third project is one just by the Oregon Department of Transportation's Office of Innovative Partnerships and will be installing DC Quick Charge stations along Oregon's various highways.

'via Blog this'

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 Could Have Record High Gas Prices

Did you spend more on gas in 2011? There were no record breaking gas prices at the pump. In 2008, we saw $4 a gallon prices here in the US. However, if you felt like you spent more on gasoline last year, it is probably because you did.

In 2011, gas prices did not follow their traditional seasonal price fluctuations. This means that you didn't get the budget relief in the fall that we normally see.
US Average Gas Price from Gas Buddy.com
Looking at 2008 in the chart above, you can see that prices spiked in June and July; however, they dropped sharply in September. By November 2008, you could buy gas for less than $2 per gallon in many parts of the country. In contrast, during 2011 gas averaged over $3 per gallon for the entire year, while peaking at $3.96 in May.

Given this, 2011 has the (dis)honor of being the year with the highest annual fuel cost that we have ever had in the US. Welcome to a glimpse of the prices that the rest of the world has been paying for some time now.

Historically, January is one of the cheapest months of the year for gas prices. Given at we are starting this year with an average price of $3.25, 2012 could easily have $4 prices this summer, causing you to put more money in your tank, leaving less for a new phone, savings, and the rest of your budget.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Oregon Codes Simplify EV Charging Station Installs

Oregon's Building Codes Division (BCD) is helping to ready the state for plug-in vehicles by providing information on home charging to electric vehicle buyers with the recently published Oregon Smart Guide on Electric Vehicle Charging at Home. BCD also has taken action to make it easy for electricians to obtain permits for installing charging stations, by expanding the state’s minor label program and simplifying the permit process.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Revving Up: Electric Vehicles In 2012 And Beyond - Forbes

Revving Up: Electric Vehicles In 2012 And Beyond - Forbes: "An electric vehicle is a lot more like an iPad than it is like a fossil-fuel driven car. It is a lot about electronics, hardware and software"