Do EV's merely 'move' pollution?

A friend in Europe recently sent a cartoon showing a blissful EV driver tooling along the highway, unaware of the 'dirty' consequences of a coal-fired power plant (shown in the background) that provides the energy for his electric vehicle.

This is a very common mis-understanding about the energy efficiency and environmental benefit to be derived from electric vehicles. I thought this was a great opportunity take a look at the facts in regard to the real world impacts of driving an EV.

A good place to start is this piece .... by Gregory Milligan, as it appears on Electric Highway. I've kept the original links, including Australian data which is generally applicable across most industrialized countries. At the of the article I've provided some relevant U.S. data for comparison.

I'd also like to note that among our Nevada EV group, rooftop solar - in many cases - came before our electric vehicle. The EV was a logical extension of our efforts to provide clean, renewable and low-cost energy. This isn't always the case in other countries, or for those EV drivers living in densely populated urban areas/multiple unit housing where rooftop solar isn't an option. The key often lies in the final paragraphs of Mr. Milligan's piece - if the pollution is unavoidable, do you want the pollution on the city streets or in a more distant location, where it can be better managed via sophisticated 'scrubbers' and utility regulations? The negative effects of petroleum extraction are often not fully appreciated by those claiming that EV's aren't all that green. Similarly, as growing numbers of EV's provide cleaner air in the more densely populated urban areas, improved human health is also a benefit of cleaner transportation - i.e. less pollution related diseases like chronic lung and heart disease.

 "I pollute and I am ashamed!!!" "Yippee! I roll clean!"

"I pollute and I am ashamed!!!" "Yippee! I roll clean!"

 

Do Electric Vehicles Merely Move Pollution?

by Gregory Milligan

One of the most common arguments against EVs goes something like this; “EVs are not environmentally friendly, all they do is move the pollution to a big dirty power station and make people feel good about doing nothing helpful at all”. This article will dispel that myth.

Firstly, we need to talk about efficiency…this is where an internal combustion engine fares very poorly and an electric motor does very well.

An internal combustion engine, whether it be petrol or diesel, is a very inefficient device. There are many moving parts, each of which has friction. The pistons fly up and down the cylinders at enormous speed, yet at the end of each stroke they must be brought to a complete stop then accelerated back in the other direction in a few milliseconds. Each piston has rings sealing the gap between the piston and cylinder, which create drag. The lubricating oil and coolant must be pumped around taking useful energy to do so. Much of the energy obtained by burning the fuel in the cylinders is lost as heat, either down the exhaust or piped away by the coolant to the radiator where it is dumped as waste heat. Not all of the fuel is completely burned, and the by-products are lost in the exhaust. The noise made by the engine is also lost energy that comes from the petrol you are burning. A modern petrol engine is around 25% efficient, meaning that three quarters of the energy in that petrol you pour into the tank is wasted…older cars and cars in bad tune can be down to 15% efficient, and even the most advanced direct injection economy cars being developed now are only around 35% efficient.

Electric motors are by contrast very efficient, with most offering better than 80% efficiency and many getting 90% or better. Two of the most popular motors used in home conversions, the HPEVS AC-50 and the Netgain Warp 9, both have efficiency ratings of 88%.

The next step in the drive train is the transmission, which is another area where EVs shine over their counterparts.

Because an internal combustion engine needs to be spinning pretty fast to make enough power to move a car away from a stop, and it makes its power in a fairly narrow speed range, it needs to have a multi speed transmission, usually a manual transmission with 3 to 6 speeds, or an automatic with 2 to 8 speeds depending on how new or fancy the car is. Older cars with big flexible engines often had 3 speed transmissions where smaller less flexible engines needed more gears.

An electric car with a DC motor still usually has a multi speed transmission, but because an electric motor delivers full torque from standstill until near its maximum speed, they don’t need a clutch or torque converter and simply move off from stopped, and they usually need only two speeds in the transmission. The reason they need a two speed transmission is that DC motors don’t spin at very high speeds so if they have a single gear ratio it needs to be high enough to give the car highway speed without overspeeding the motor. This is like taking off in third gear in your petrol car, so you can imagine for this to work the motor needs to be very powerful. Even so, a two speed transmission has less gears than a 5 speed and is more efficient.

An AC motor on the other hand can spin at speeds of more than 10,000 revolutions per minute (RPM) which means that highway speeds can be obtained with a single gear ratio that is low enough to allow a relatively small motor to take off from a standing start. This is the drive system used in all production EVs and increasingly in home conversions, and offers both the increased efficiency of a 3 phase AC motor as well as the more efficient single gear transmission.

So, just how much energy is lost in the transmission? In the bad old days of “slushbox” automatic transmissions up to 30% of the power that left the motor would never make it to the road. Modern drive trains can be a lot better, losing only 10%, but the single speed transmission on a modern EV loses more like 5%. Not as big a factor as the motor efficiency, but not to be ignored either!

We have another loss that applies only to EVs though. Not all of the power that leaves the wall socket makes it into the battery, and not all of the energy in the battery makes it to the motor. I have measured the actual energy consumption of my i MiEV and the wall to motor efficiency is approximately 80%, so 10% of the power is getting lost in the charging phase, and another 10% is lost as the power is extracted from the batteries and run through the controller. In this analysis we will be calculating wall to wheel efficiency, so the worst possible scenario for the EV, but the most honest one.

So…we will do a comparison between an average modern petrol car and a modern EV.

Assuming petrol engine efficiency to be 30%, transmission efficiency to be 90%, with electric motor efficiency at 90% and single reduction gear efficiency at 95% and charging efficiency at 80%.

This gives a total efficiency of 27% for the petrol car and 68% for the EV. The EV is more than two and a half times as efficient with its energy as the petrol car. An older petrol car with an old tech automatic and carburetor engine would be even worse, with perhaps 10% total efficiency…..

This assumes constant speed driving…in reality most driving is in the city where we are either idling in traffic jams, or stopping and starting constantly at traffic lights or intersections. This is where the EV is at its most efficient…when stopped at a traffic light the EV is using no energy at all! The petrol car is idling and burning petrol, although modern “soft hybrid” cars are helping this by switching the petrol engine off while stopped and restarting it instantly when you go to move off. Even then, the petrol engines are operating in the less efficient part of their operating range whereas EVs are in their high efficiency conditions.

Another part of the equation for EVs is the power loss between the power station and the end user. This is often cited as being a major factor in making EVs no better than petrol cars, but in fact power losses in transmission are pretty low, as long distance transmission is done at high voltages where losses are around 1%, while lower voltage lines in suburban areas have higher losses. The total loss is usually around 6-8%, with the USA average being 6%.

So…..we have established that the EV is far more efficient with energy than an internal combustion car, even taking into account transmission losses. We now need to consider where that power is coming from.

Of course, if you are in an area where the power is all generated by renewable sources, such as Tasmania where I live where all of our power is from Hydrowind, or solar, then you are truly running a zero emission vehicle.

Most of us are not that lucky, and live in an area where the power is generated by a mixture of renewable and fossil fuels. Almost nowhere is the power completely generated by fossil fuels, but for the sake of it, let’s look at the worst of them all, brown coal.

An ordinary coal fired power plant is around 35% efficient. Some high tech coal plants are over 50% efficient, but we will look at the worst ones we are likely to see in Australia. Taking the coal plant as being 35% efficient and the grid as 94% efficient and using our previously calculated 68% efficiency for the EV, we get a total system efficiency in the worst case scenario of 22%, which is an efficiency slightly worse than the petrol car….but this is the absolute worst case scenario. In fact Australia’s overall average is 86% fossil fuel and 14% renewables, and if we take this as the average mixture being used for your EV then the total efficiency of the system is now around 27%, or about the same as for the petrol car.

So…this merely proves the claim of pollution relocation right?

Not quite. We haven’t finished with petrol cars yet for the true system efficiency.

Oil as it comes out of the ground isn’t ready for your petrol tank. First of all it has to be shipped halfway around the world, then it needs to be refined. This involves heating it to boiling point and subjecting it to a process called fractional distillation. The lighter elements in the oil rise and the heavy ones sink, and each one is tapped off and subjected to further refining, such as catalytic cracking and blending etc until the final petrol is produced. This uses enormous amounts of energy.

The actual amount of energy used to refine petrol is the subject of debate and controversy, and is variable dependant on a number of factors including the quality of crude oil being used (really good crude needs less energy to refine, tar sands need HUGE amounts of energy, and a range of grades in the middle…) as well as the efficiency of the refinery and the energy mix being used at the refinery. Making accurate analysis harder is the reluctance of oil companies to provide the raw data, however several studies have been done which give some idea. Refinery process is around 85-90% efficient, and the total process of extracting the oil and producing petrol from it seems to be approximately 80% efficient.

This would give a total system efficiency of the petrol car as approximately 21%, which is slightly worse than the EV being run on pure brown coal electricity.

Several studies have concluded that it takes between 4 and 6 kWh of electricity to refine a gallon of petrol (around four and a half litres) and that amount of electricity could power an EV for the same distance as that gallon of petrol could power an average modern petrol car. As I said above, the actual numbers are hard to verify, and on the face of it the 6 kWh figure seems plausible, but looking deeper at it I believe that figure is somewhat too high. Whatever the actual figure is, it is clear that a lot of energy is used in refining and shipping petrol and this needs to be remembered when calculating the efficiency of petrol cars vs electric.

So, in conclusion, we have no clear cut exact difference, but rather a range of numbers dependant on variable factors.

An EV running on purely renewable power generated close to its charging location, such as home solar panels, will be around 68% efficient.

One running on renewable energy drawn from the grid will be around 64% efficient.

If running off the current (2015) Australian average mix of renewable and fossil fuelled grid, it will be around 27% efficient and if running on pure coal fired power the figure is 22%.

A petrol car of a modern type in good tune will be around 21% efficient if you take the lower numbers for power used in refining petrol. By the higher estimates it will be more like 10%.

Of course if the petrol car we are comparing is an older carburettor engine with an automatic transmission then we are already down at 10% or less before we even factor in the energy used refining fuel…

To summarise, in the worst case scenario, where the EV is being run on pure fossil fuel electricity, the “moving the pollution” argument is not far from the truth. If you are running an EV on “green power” or fully renewable generated electricity, the EV is between two and three times as efficient as the petrol car. Mixtures of power source will skew that number in either direction.

And there is one more part of the argument that is often ignored….what is wrong with moving the pollution anyway? If two modes of transport are going to generate the same amount of pollution, would you rather that pollution be generated in the midst of where people live, work, play…or is it better to generate that pollution away from population centres? I know which one I would pick…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engine_efficiency

http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/transportation/consumer_tips/vehicle_energy_losses.html

https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/atv.shtml

http://www.evwest.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=83

http://www.evwest.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=49

http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=105&t=3

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2007/07/energy-efficiency-in-the-power-grid-49238.html

http://www.originenergy.com.au/blog/about-energy/energy-in-australia.html

http://greentransportation.info/guide/energy/electricity-to-refine-gallon-gasoline.html

http://gatewayev.org/how-much-electricity-is-used-refine-a-gallon-of-gasoline

https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCcQFjAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fgreet.es.anl.gov%2Ffiles%2F1c49xpjg&ei=H2aaVaGYH4SY8QWQkYPoAQ&usg=AFQjCNFNj86V3TM0Vokj1k74YGvzsebbnw&sig2=CP6-Q5Key7erJA2R1OHqNA&bvm=bv.96952980,d.dGY

https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CC0QFjAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fgreet.es.anl.gov%2Ffiles%2Fhl9mw9i7&ei=H2aaVaGYH4SY8QWQkYPoAQ&usg=AFQjCNGfSYw_JfDuyuD7XeJGiDtUfDvmzw&sig2=p7qViVizTJ7PCrZkXDyFsA&bvm=bv.96952980,d.dGY

 

U.S. Data:

Ratio of Various types of energy in the U.S. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/?page=us_energy_home

 

A newbie experiences EV driving for the first time. In a Tesla.

Well, neither my Chevy Volt or Nissan LEAF came with 'Ludicrous' mode ... but they can both 0-60mph faster than the NHP would tolerate. Nimble. Smooth. Quiet. And, totally a hoot to drive - that's what electric cars are.

 Kaleb Roedel of Northern Nevada Business Weekly prepares to be amazed. Photo by Tom Polikalas of  SWEEP .

Kaleb Roedel of Northern Nevada Business Weekly prepares to be amazed. Photo by Tom Polikalas of SWEEP.

Kaleb Roedel, of Northern Nevada Business Weekly got a taste of why we LOVE our electric cars with Jack Bowers of Reno, and Guy Hall of SacEV.
Want to test a Tesla? I can help you with that. Guy Hall loves any old excuse to drive to Reno. And, Jack Bowers is always pretty keen to let his Tesla 'speak' to you. Snort.

Read on and watch the video. This article just might have you lusting after an electric vehicle sooner rather than later.

 Kaleb straps into the Millennium Falcon ... or rather a Tesla Model X owned by Jack Bowers

Kaleb straps into the Millennium Falcon ... or rather a Tesla Model X owned by Jack Bowers

Time to get ready for Earth Day 2018

Once again, EAANN will be gathering for Earth Day 2018, Sunday, April 22nd, at beautiful Idlewild Park, 2055 Idlewild Dr., Reno, Nevada 89509, on the banks of the scenic Truckee River. We are inviting all EV owners to bring their cars and help us spread the word about the benefits of driving electric.

As before, we will be in the Future of Transportation venue. 

 EAANN at the 2017 Earth Day

EAANN at the 2017 Earth Day

If you plan on bringing a car, we need for participants to arrive no later than 9:30 a.m. so that we can arrange the cars to best advantage. Help setting up the tent, tables and banner will be helpful, too. We suggest bringing your own lawn chairs, drinks and snacks. If you'd like to bring some extra nibbles for the crew, that will be appreciated.

The park will open to participants at 9:00 a.m. The main event starts at 11:00 a.m. and continues until 6:00 p.m. - although we usually wrap it up about 2:00 p.m.

 We had a great complement of EVs last year!

We had a great complement of EVs last year!

Please let us know if you plan to bring a vehicle - the sooner we know how many cars, the better able we can plan. Contact Chuck Swackhammer, or Cindy Ryan to reserve your spot, or for questions. We'll be sending out more specific details as we have them.

 

Myanmar, electric cars, and a more sustainable world

Tonight, I had a rare opportunity to engage with a delegation from Myanmar about their efforts to create a more sustainable world. And, give them rides in electric cars. I can't help myself. Snort. 

These folks - impressive young people - are serious, and committed to effecting change in their country. I came away from this unique gathering inspired and energized. I wish that I saw as many young folks here that were as committed. Sadly, I found out - from one of the local scientists at this gathering - that Washoe County Schools are passing on this years' science fairs. Not even the much vaunted STEM academies are participating ... I was flabergasted. SpaceX launches the biggest cargo rocket, with the coolest cargo, into space and nobody's interested in science?

The world wants a sustainable future. People across the globe are looking for ways that we can make that happen. But, it will be harder without a new generation of scientists from our schools.

This documentary answers a lot of the questions we all have about the extent of the problem, and steps that each and every one of us can take. Now.

Oh, and Elon Musk and the Gigafactory are featured.

Before the Flood with Leonardo DiCaprio on Netflix

Screenshot 2018-02-10 22.32.40.png

2017 Chevy Bolt checks off a lot of boxes for EV drivers

Had the wonderful opportunity to check off another car from my list of 'EV's that I haven't driven yet'.

Chuck Swackhammer stopped by this afternoon with his 2017 Chevy Bolt. WOW! If you're not going EV simply because of range anxiety, the Bolt will change your mind. He's getting 300+ miles, charging at home once a week.

 There's plenty of room in the 2017 Chevy Bolt

There's plenty of room in the 2017 Chevy Bolt

 Chevy has gotten good at putting a LOT into a little space.

Chevy has gotten good at putting a LOT into a little space.

 Ron found the front and rear seats to be much roomier than our 2017 Chevy Volt

Ron found the front and rear seats to be much roomier than our 2017 Chevy Volt

 

If you haul kids/toys/gear/equipment or any sort of load, this could be your next EV. It's got a TON of space. Including a roomy trunk, with extra storage where the 'spare tire' would otherwise go. Ron sat in the backseat and had more head and leg room than he knew what to do with.

This car would be awesome for anybody with a business who needs to carry equipment/goods/passengers within, say, a 100-mile radius of Reno. You'd save some serious money. This would be perfect for a ride-sharing driver.

 As is common with most EV drivers, we prefer to power our cars with roof-top solar.

As is common with most EV drivers, we prefer to power our cars with roof-top solar.

I loved the blue paint, and thought it looked especially sharp. Punching it on Hwy. 395 southbound is everything you'd expect from EV torque! It goes zero to 60 in 6.5 seconds. It's nimble and fun to drive, just like our 2014 LEAF.

 

New to me, and a feature of the Bolt is Regenerative Braking One Pedal driving system. I'd heard about this feature on the upcoming Nissan LEAF, and wondered how that would work. Chuck said it took no time at all to get used to, and he's right. My experiments with it on a backroad were great as I learned quickly how to manage my stopping distance and quit stopping short. Obviously, it's got extremely good regen braking which adds to the overall range. If would want to see more about the e-Pedal system watch how Nissan does it in this video.

 The Chevy Bolt has a cross-over style that should appeal to drivers.

The Chevy Bolt has a cross-over style that should appeal to drivers.

 

This car may give the Tesla Model 3 a run for it's money, especially as it's available here and now. Chuck bought this one right here in town.

If you want to know more, read what Car and Driver has to say! 

 

Just how is the Chevy Volt different?

If you've confused the Chevy Volt with other hybrid vehicles - such as the Toyota Prius, you're not alone. The word 'hybrid' means different things by brand. The definition gets tricky with the Volt. In the strictest sense, it's a plug-in hybrid. But, the Volt is still the only vehicle in the U.S. that operates the same - on gas, or on pure electric. The gasoline engine does not drive the wheels. Volt drivers can all agree that the 8.3 (EV) or 8.1 (hybrid) zero to 60 will get your attention. One comment that Volt owners will offer is the solid, almost luxury car 'feel' that the Volt offers, with excellent handling on the highway. With the Premier package, you don't feel that you've sacrificed anything to go 'green' (and save money!).

(The following data is based on the specs for the 2010 Volt. I've updated numbers where applicable.)

 2017 Chevrolet Volt

2017 Chevrolet Volt

Q: What is the Chevy Volt?
A: The Chevy Volt is an extended-range electric car built by General Motors. It has reached the end of its development cycle and deliveries commenced in December 2010. Cars can be ordered right now.

Q: How is the Chevy Volt different than other cars on the road?
A: The car is a plug-in range-extended electric vehicle with an on-board gasoline generator. It has a large battery that stores power from your home electric outlet and which is connected to an electric motor. The electric motor directly propels the car. The battery can power the car for the first 53 miles. After that, should one continue to need to drive, the on-board gasoline generator provides electricity for the motor and participates in driving the car. The gasoline generator makes a seamless transition when the main EV battery range is exhausted, giving Volt drivers an additional 300+ mile range. As the secondary range is exhausted, drivers either plug-in, or 'gas up' and keep on going.

Q: How is the Chevy Volt different than conventional hybrids, like the Prius?
A: Today’s hybrids are called parallel hybrids. They use a small electric motor for low speed driving, but switch to a regular gas engine for acceleration and faster speed driving with the electric motor providing enhancement, hence both engines work side by side or in parallel. 

The Volt is a series vehicle meaning only the electric motor powers the car at all times, the gas engine is just a generator for making electricity once the battery is depleted.  A little like the Prius, the engine does help spin the wheels after the battery is depleted.  GM engineers chose to do this because it improved efficiency by 10 to 15 percent.

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 10.24.09 PM.png
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Q: What is the driving range of the Chevy Volt?
A: The car has been designed to drive from 50+ miles on pure electricity stored in the battery from overnight home charging. The actual range will vary depending on temperature, terrain, and driving style. (See *NOTE below)

After that the gas engine will kick in and allow the car to be driven an additional 344 miles on a full tank (9.3 gallons) of gas.

Q:  How many miles per gallon will the Chevy Volt get?
A: A bit of a trick question. For the first 35 miles it will get infinite mpg, because no gas will be burned. When the generator starts, the car will get 37  mpg (35 mpg city/40 mpg highway) thereafter. One can calculate the average mpg per for any length drive starting with a full battery:Total MPG = ~37 x miles/(miles-35).  The official EPA fuel economy can be viewed here.

*NOTE: The 2017 model Volt, Premier package gets roughly 54 miles on the pure EV mode with an average charge. The gas tank is 8 gal. but still provides the additional 344 mile range. I've gotten roughly 45 eMPG on drives between Reno, NV and San Francisco, CA.

Q: What type of batteries will the Chevy Volt use?
A: The car is has an advanced battery pack which uses lithium-ion battery cells. This chemistry appears in cell phones and laptops. For automotive use the packs and cells are more powerful and safe.

Q:  Is it a four or five-seater?
A: Four

Q: How much will the car cost?
A: $41,000, $33,500 after a $7500 tax credit. It may be leased for $350 per month for 36 months, 12,000 miles.

Q: What is the cost of operation of the car?
A: With current average U.S. electric rates GM estimates it will cost roughly $1.50 per day to travel 35 miles.  After that, considering mpg in the mid to high 30s, will depend on gasoline rates. We have a family member who lives north of San Francisco (Marin County) and commutes - round trip - to downtown San Francisco on the pure electric range easily. With higher gasoline costs in the Bay Area, that's a considerable savings. If Volt owners aren't able to generate their own electrons from residential solar panels (as we do!), then utility Time of Use rates are the 'way to go', making Volt operation a bargain. 

Q:  Who is making the Volt’s battery packs?
A: GM has chosen LG Chem of Korea to supply the lithium-ion cells.  GM will assemble the packs themselves.

Q;  Does the car use regenerative braking?
A: Yes. This means as the car is slowed, the kinetic or motion-based energy is recaptured as electricity stored in the battery. The 2017 Volt has a regenerative braking 'paddle' on the steering wheel.

Q:  How is the car different than the EV-1?
A: The EV-1 had only an electric motor and older technology batteries, and had a 100 miles driving range. There was no onboard generator.

Q: How long will it take to recharge the Volt?
A: Up to 10 hours using a 120 volt (standard home) outlet, and about 4 hours if you have a 240 volt supply. The 2017 Volt takes about 3 hours for a full recharge with a residential Level 2 charger.

Q: What type of electric motor does the Volt have?
A: A/C 3-phase

Q: Will tall people fit in it?
A: Bob Boniface, chief of Volt design says the car is being designed to accommodate drivers from 5th percentile females up to 95th percentile height males. The 2017 Volt accommodates most average size passengers in the backseat.

Q:  Are there any government incentives to purchase this car?
A:  Buyers will be entitled to a $7500 tax credit for the first 200,000 vehicles sold.

To better understand how the generator on the Volt charges the battery, click here.

For a comprehensive look at the Chevy Volt technology, watch this video.

Electric Vehicles and the CES Las Vegas

CES 2018 was a consumer electronics tradeshow that brought more than 175,000 international attendees and 4,000 exhibitors to Las Vegas during January.

The automotive exhibits within CES this year included over 170 companies and eleven major auto manufacturers. The annual international electronics trade show has also been rated as the 10th largest car show within the US. Each year, the newest innovations in electric drive trains, advanced driver assistance systems, and autonomous vehicles are usually unveiled for the first time at this venue, ahead of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan that is usually staged two weeks later each January.

Ford Motor Company

Jim Hackett, Ford Motor Company CEO, gave a keynote speech about transportation infrastructure during the first day of the tradeshow that showcased a new approach from the company. Hackett came to Ford from outside the car industry and has been spending time with Chairman Bill Ford to rethink how automobiles can be interconnected with urban environments.

Hackett emphasized that company founder Henry Ford’s original vision of providing freedom and progress for American citizens through cheaper transportation succeeded greatly in moving lifestyles outside city limits onto open roads and into “sub-urban” housing expansions. However, urban centers lost their human connections and “shared sense of belonging”, as populations and traffic jams became more dense, requiring the need for more parking regions in a city that displaced gathering spaces, small service businesses, and interactive communication among residents within downtown city centers.

“What is the point of building amazing technology solutions if they don’t improve the destination where you are going?” said Hackett. “How should we live? What is a good life? What kind of cities do we want? How should we communicate with each other?”

Hackett observed that, as technology has gotten faster, bigger, and “more”, it has also become more invasive. People have become anxious about the impact on their private lives and even on civic life in general. How can Ford Motor Company harness changing automotive technologies to improve lives, serve human needs and re-establish a general sense of community within urban city centers?

The company is currently proposing and leading several engineering solutions aimed at improving the quality of life for both urban drivers and residents, a concept that Hackett calls “living streets”. How can roads become hospitality curbs and transportation corridors that improve the quality of life for small business owners and employees who live, work and play in the same location? 

One automotive solution is to enable smarter transportation in cities by creating a software tool called a Transportation Mobility Cloud (TMC) that would be open for interactive usage by city managers, local non-profit organizations and business developers alike. Data acquisition by the TMC would be aided by installing data connectivity into all of Ford’s new vehicles, a development program the company calls Connected Vehicle To Everything (CV2X). Ford is also increasing investment in the electrification of its product line by $11 billion through 2022.

Ford will be partnering with Domino’s Pizza and Postmates to develop self-driving vehicles and fleets that can move food and package deliveries autonomously.

 Ford Fusion Hybrid Equipped with Self-Driving Technology

Ford Fusion Hybrid Equipped with Self-Driving Technology

Ford has also partnered with business developers to brand personal “last mile” transportation for urban travel, such as electric bicycles and electric scooters.

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Honda Emphasizes Friendly Robotics Technologies in Automotive Platforms

Honda considers itself a robot company, as well as an automotive manufacturing company. The CES 2018 display in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center emphasized the need to make the robotics technologies within cars more friendly, intuitive and empathetic while being connected to people and the surrounding world.

 Honda emphasized its empathetic and friendly robotics technologies.

Honda emphasized its empathetic and friendly robotics technologies.

During CES 2018, the Toyota booth featured a concept of an autonomous shuttle bus that included see-through LED display billboards on either side panel of the vehicle. The internal space within the shuttle bus could be reconfigured as more than just rows of seats. The display billboards pictured the vehicle as a traveling office space, sleeping quarters, or mobile party room.

 Toyota autonomous bus with advertising billboards on side panels.

Toyota autonomous bus with advertising billboards on side panels.

  Daimler  SMART car with scissor doors

Daimler SMART car with scissor doors

 Mercedes-Benz concept car

Mercedes-Benz concept car

Hyundai and Kia Concept Cars

Both Hyundai and Kia automotive companies from South Korea were showing advanced concepts of the two companies’ electrified automotive platforms. Hyundai unveiled its “Nexo” fuel-cell powered electric vehicle while Kia gave a closeup look at its “Niro” battery-powered electric car.

 Hyundai unveiled its Nexo fuel-cell EV at CES 2018.

Hyundai unveiled its Nexo fuel-cell EV at CES 2018.

Kia already makes a hybrid and plug-in hybrid version of the Niro. The company introduced a new all-electric model during CES 2018, that will complete the drive train options available, similar to the three Hyundai Ioniq product lines.

 Kia introduced its Niro Electric Car during CES 2018.

Kia introduced its Niro Electric Car during CES 2018.

During November 2017, Delphi spun off its automotive drive train division as a standalone company called Aptiv, that has focused on developing autonomous, self-driving vehicles for major automotive manufacturers.

 Delpi Technologies displayed internal component systems that will enable 800-volt electric drive trains.

Delpi Technologies displayed internal component systems that will enable 800-volt electric drive trains.

During CES 2018, Aptiv partnered with Lyft ride-hailing company to give demos of Level 4 autonomous cars, developed on BMW platforms, that could drive themselves to passenger destinations around Las Vegas. During the demonstration, a driver was always behind the wheel, but driving operations were performed without human intervention within real-world city traffic during a busy CES 2018 trade show that welcomed over 175,000 additional visitors to the Las Vegas Strip and convention centers. 

The Lyft service office was temporarily based in an Airstream trailer on the Gold lot of the Las Vegas Convention Center where ride-hailing app menus were demonstrated to potential passengers by Lyft employees. When an autonomous vehicle arrived at the Gold lot hub, passenger destinations were entered into each vehicle’s GPS system. These included trips to Caesars Palace along Las Vegas Blvd, as well as 19 other destinations.

During the five days of CES 2018, Lyft and Aptiv offered over 400 rides to passengers in their autonomous vehicles. Tech Crunch shared a YouTube video about the autonomous driving experience at CES 2018 in Las Vegas:

Aptiv-labeled autonomous research vehicles were also found at other exhibit booths of major automotive manufacturers within the Las Vegas Convention Center, including Audi.

 Aptiv has partnered with Audi to develop autonomous vehicle driving systems.

Aptiv has partnered with Audi to develop autonomous vehicle driving systems.

Delphi Technologies has continued to develop the internal component systems that will power the next generation of electric-drive vehicles. Within the next three years, Delphi engineers are anticipating that traction battery pack sizes will increase from 400 Volts DC to 800 Volts DC, along with larger power transistors and inverter modules to convert and carry this higher power from the battery pack to the electric drive train. Larger battery packs with more power should continue to improve the range and performance for electric cars, while also encouraging faster recharging rates of battery pack modules up to 350 kilowatts.

New power transistors made from silicon carbide (SiC) materials inside Metal Oxide Silicon Field Effect Transistors (MOSFET), as well as silicon-based Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBT) are already capable of high-speed switching and control of 800-volt electric motor systems. 

The venerable 12-volt auxiliary battery that normally provides power to all the peripheral electronics in a vehicle will also go through an upgrade over the next few years to a standardized 48-volt system. These higher-capacity batteries will more reliably carry low-voltage currents to vehicle lighting, sensor, computing, and actuator systems that will be included in new vehicles, from stop-start mild hybrid systems to fully autonomous electric-drive vehicles. A 48-volt standard auxiliary battery system is still considered a low-voltage power system (blue and yellow cabling) for third-party product implementation on a vehicle, compared to more rigorous standards required for high-voltage traction battery packs (orange cabling).

Continental

Continental is another automotive tier-one components supplier who is also developing systems for electric car drive trains. The company exhibited some of its integrated electric motor and inverter systems, that employ boost electronics to help regulate 400-volt as well as 800-volt drive systems. The company has also partnered with ABB to enable DC Fast Charge systems for quicker recharging of traction battery packs.

 Continental exhibited its integrated electric-motor drive train capable of supporting 800-volt traction battery systems.

Continental exhibited its integrated electric-motor drive train capable of supporting 800-volt traction battery systems.

Velodyne Displays Multiple LIDAR Sensors mounted on NAVYA Autonomous Robotaxi

Commercial versions of LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors have become more popular for implementation on autonomous cars because of their capability to quickly detect both shape and depth of oncoming vehicles, obstacles or people. Velodyne has been a leader in this development space and rolled out several different products, that were showcased on a new NAVYA robotaxi platform.

 Velodyne exhibit showcased LIDAR sensors mounted on NAVYA Robotaxi

Velodyne exhibit showcased LIDAR sensors mounted on NAVYA Robotaxi

 Interior of NAVYA Robotaxi with two passengers, no steering wheel and no human driver.

Interior of NAVYA Robotaxi with two passengers, no steering wheel and no human driver.

NVIDIA and Artificial Intelligence

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang delivered a keynote speech during CES 2018 that dived deeply into Artificial Intelligence, particularly the company’s efforts to create an AI development platform and software ecosystem for autonomous, self-driving cars:

NVIDIA is a 25-year old company that started up in California’s Silicon Valley to make graphics accelerator chips to improve the quality of visual displays for personal computers. The company developed a graphic processing unit (GPU) that could enhance the central processing unit (CPU) microprocessor in personal computers by offloading compute-intensive graphic modeling tasks. The company became a driver in the computer gaming industry with its graphics accelerator printed-circuit boards that could plug into expansion ports in PC-compatible computers.

A GPU speeds up the formation of graphics artwork on a computer monitor by processing electronic instructions and data through multiple parallel paths at the same time, compared to a CPU than processes a wider variety of computing tasks through slower sequential steps.

For many decades, researchers in the realm of artificial intelligence have been seeking to duplicate human senses and cognition inside computer circuitry. The two most important areas of research were in vision recognition and natural language voice recognition, in order to duplicate the way humans use their two keenest senses to understand and navigate the world about them.

During 2012, Geoffrey Hinton, Alex Krizhensky and Ilya Sutskever from the SuperVision research lab at the University of Toronto in Canada, pioneered the use of neural network software models coupled with GPU processing systems from NVIDIA to create AlexNet. The research team conceived that convolutional manipulation of input variables and output errors could create feedback that would make ongoing changes to the weights of AlexNet’s internal processing algorithms. The result was “deep learning” by the software model that could write its own software to modify how it would process and perceive progressive sets of incoming data. 

The team focused its artificial intelligence research on graphics image recognition, in order to group similar digital images of objects together through eight processing layers of visual filtering. Instead of programming the image-recognition algorithms directly, Krizhevsky enabled AlexNet to “learn” the common characteristics of similar graphic objects by feeding the neural net massive amounts of images that it could compare, while the software model adjusted its own internal software processing algorithms with each error. 

During an international ImageNet Large Scale Visual Recognition Challenge in 2012, AlexNet outperformed all other existing benchmark tests of image recognition models that had been previously hand-coded by humans, while running on two NVIDIA GPU graphics processing stations. AlexNet neural net software was capable of writing its own internal software more quickly than humans could do directly, achieving a recognition error rate that was ten percentage points less than its nearest competitor. 

After the competition, large corporations like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft began duplicating the GPU technology used in this image recognition model, to improve each company’s graphic image search and tagging engines. Microsoft’s ResNet was scaled to 152 layers of image filtering, compared to just eight layers in AlexNet.

At Stanford University, AI researcher Andrew Ng applied GPU processing to natural language voice recognition algorithms and succeeded in improving the ability of computer technologies to recognize and caption spoken words. Ng has since become a chief scientist at Baidu, where he has applied this technology to translate spoken Chinese words into readable Chinese characters.

NVIDIA also worked with Tesla Motors, who used its Tegra GPU in early versions of the Model S electric car to develop Autopilot driving features. The Autopilot system could quickly process and filter both images and input data from onboard sensors, that included a forward-facing camera, forward-facing radar and a 360-degree ring of ultrasonic sensors embedded around the body of the electric car.

 NVIDIA unveiled sponsored RoboRace autonomous Formula E-sanctiond race car during CES 2018.

NVIDIA unveiled sponsored RoboRace autonomous Formula E-sanctiond race car during CES 2018.

Since 2014, NVIDIA has developed its own GPU technology, by creating products specifically for the automotive market. The company’s Volta GPU processor is focused on automotive applications. NVIDIA’s recent announcement for CES 2018 is that the company has integrated 512 Volta GPU processors along with 8 ARM CPU processors into a single silicon chip it calls Xavier, with lots of input and out ports to connect multiple sensors and actuators on a CAN automotive bus.

The company also includes a software development environment with Xavier that includes NVIDIA DriveWorks Operating System that can link Xavier’s internal processing AI to a cloud-based mapping systems with high definition for detailed route navigation references.

The Xavier driving platform can process 30 trillion operations per second (Tera-ops) while consuming just 30 watts of power, allowing the integration of a supercomputer on a mobile transportation platform. NVIDIA has linked two Xavier processors together on its Pegasus circuit development board that can achieve 320 TOPs of processing speeds for AI inferencing.

The single PC board can replace a supercomputer and will be used to test potential autonomous level 5 driving platforms by Volkswagen, Hyundai and Aurora, including some of the Robotaxi applications shown during CES 2018.

The Xavier GPU is undergoing certification for safety and resiliency through the automotive industry ASIL (Automotive System Integrity Level) standards committee, as well as the International Standards Organization’s ISO 26262 validation for the company’s integrated circuit manufacturing process and software platforms to insure transparent traceability of any supply chain or development problems that may show up later during actual applications.
The Xavier chip is currently rated ASIL-C while the Pegasus board has been rated ASIL-D. NVIDIA is striving to achieve ASIL-0 certification, that would be validated at the highest level of automotive functional safety.

To test the effectiveness of an autonomous vehicle design, NVIDIA has also created its AUTOSIM virtual reality 3D simulation environment for the automotive industry. Already successful in creating photorealistic images for the gaming industry, the company’s GPUs can create multiple simulation scenarios that can run an automated vehicle model through billions of road trip scenarios at supercomputer speeds.

This helps an automotive designer or engineer get a realistic feel for the effectiveness of sensor placement on a vehicle, as well as performance reliability during changing weather conditions, road conditions and oncoming vehicle traffic by creating as many test scenarios as the designer can imagine.

NVIDIA is also sponsoring a racing team and Robocar for Roborace, a proposed autonomous vehicle international racing competition that will be sanctioned by FIA, while co-staging events along the same international racing circuits as FIA Formula-E manned electric car racing:
https://roborace.com/

Fisker Automotive Returns with EMotion

 Fisker EMotion concept electric car with both gull wing and scissor doors.

Fisker EMotion concept electric car with both gull wing and scissor doors.

Henrik Fisker has revived Fisker Automotive after selling the Karma electric car design to a Chinese automotive manufacturer when the original company faced bankruptcy.

The company’s second electric car effort is called the EMotion and a concept version of the vehicle was displayed during CES 2018. 

Austin EV startup electric car company

 Austin EV three-wheel electric motorcycle.

Austin EV three-wheel electric motorcycle.

Austin EV is a new startup company that has emerged from the capitol city of Texas during the last three years to develop electric utility truck platforms and three-wheel motorcycles. The company exhibited in the North Hall of CES 2018 for the first time.

 Austin EV electric utility truck

Austin EV electric utility truck

The electric trucks and carrier beds are configurable as an urban delivery van or an off-road dump truck. 

Ampere 1 Electric Motorcycle for $10,000

Ampere is a startup company from southern California that exhibited its Ampere 1 three-wheel electric motorcycle during CES 2018. The starting price of the vehicle is $10,000.

 The Ampere 1 three-wheel electric motorcycle from Ampere

The Ampere 1 three-wheel electric motorcycle from Ampere

ChargePoint Booth Displays Latest DC Fast Charging Systems

ChargePoint has been an international leader in the deployment of networked Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE): https://www.chargepoint.com/

 ChargePoint Exhibit Booth at CES 2018 displayed SAE J1772 AC Level 2 EVSE product lines for commercial and personal use.

ChargePoint Exhibit Booth at CES 2018 displayed SAE J1772 AC Level 2 EVSE product lines for commercial and personal use.

ChargePoint has now added an Alexa voice-controlled interface to its personal garage charging station, that also has more direct connections through a customize-able mobile phone app.

 

Tellus EVSE Charging Stations

Tellus is a startup EVSE company that has been selling both SAE J1772 AC Level 2 public charging stations, as well as a new DC Fast Charge system that were both exhibited at CES 2018:
http://telluspowertech.com

 Tellus SAE J1772 AC Level 2 charging station display during CES 2018   Automated Robot EVSE Service Station Attendent by Electric Loading   In the Smart Cities Pavilion within CES 2018,  Electric Loading  displayed a  Fanuc industrial robot arm  that was portrayed as an automated electric car EVSE charging attendant. Two tool appendages were developed by the company for both CHAdeMo and SAE CCS Combo connectors for DC Fast Charging that could be electronically and pneumatically connected to the Fanuc robot arm. With the aid of an onboard stereoscopic vision system, the robot could automatically plug either connector into the DC Fast Charge port of a stationary electric vehicle.

Tellus SAE J1772 AC Level 2 charging station display during CES 2018

Automated Robot EVSE Service Station Attendent by Electric Loading

In the Smart Cities Pavilion within CES 2018, Electric Loading displayed a Fanuc industrial robot arm that was portrayed as an automated electric car EVSE charging attendant. Two tool appendages were developed by the company for both CHAdeMo and SAE CCS Combo connectors for DC Fast Charging that could be electronically and pneumatically connected to the Fanuc robot arm.
With the aid of an onboard stereoscopic vision system, the robot could automatically plug either connector into the DC Fast Charge port of a stationary electric vehicle.

 Fanuc industrial robot arm programmed as automated electric car recharging attendant

Fanuc industrial robot arm programmed as automated electric car recharging attendant

Nevada Governor Sandoval and City of Las Vegas Encourage Smart Transportation Infrastructure

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval is now Chairman of the National Governors Association during 2018. He hosted a meeting of the NGA with over 20 state governors at a Lake Las Vegas resort at the same time as CES 2018. During the event, he showcased autonomous vehicles, including the new NAVYA Robotaxi.

 NAVYA has partnered with Keolis to integrate autonomous shuttle buses and robotaxis into the Las Vegas Innovation district.

NAVYA has partnered with Keolis to integrate autonomous shuttle buses and robotaxis into the Las Vegas Innovation district.

The City of Las Vegas also sponsored a prominent booth exhibit in the Smart Cities Pavilion during CES 2018, that featured vendor partners within the downtown Innovation District. Representatives from the Las Vegas Department of Information Technology, led by CIO Michael Sherwood, were on hand to answer questions about how sensors and autonomous vehicles could be integrated within city infrastructure to improve transportation and city services.

 

Thanks to NEVA blog posted by Stan Hanel, Outreach Coordinator

Cars and second order consequences

In this fascinating look - by Benedict Evans -  at the disruptive power of electric vehicles, you'll be amazed at how far the ripples extend throughout our society, economy and the world as we know it. They already are changing everything.

Article by Benedict Evans .... 

There are two foundational technology changes rolling through the car industry at the moment; electric and autonomy. Electric is happening right now, largely as a consequence of falling battery prices, while autonomy, or at least full autonomy, is a bit further off - perhaps 5-10 years, depending on how fast some pretty hard computer science problems get solved. Both of these will cycle into essentially the entire global stock of (today) around 1.1bn cars over a period of decades, subject to all sorts of variables, and both of them completely remake the car industry and its suppliers, as well as parts of the tech industry. 

 Tech and media analyst Benedict Evans 

Tech and media analyst Benedict Evans 

Both electric and autonomy have profound consequences beyond the car industry itself. Half of global oil production today goes to gasoline, and removing that demand will have geopolitical as well as industrial consequences. Over a million people are killed in car accidents every year around the world, mostly due to human error, and in a fully autonomous world all of those (and many more injuries) will also go away. 

However, it's also useful, and perhaps more challenging, to think about second and third order consequences. Moving to electric means much more than replacing the gas tank with a battery, and moving to autonomy means much more than ending accidents. Quite what those consequences would be is much harder to predict: as the saying goes, it was easy to predict mass car ownership but hard to predict Wal-mart, and the broader consequences of the move to electric and autonomy will come in some very widely-spread industries, in complex interlocked ways. Still, we can at least point to where some of the changes might come. I can't tell you what will happen to car repairs, commercial real-estate or buses - I'm not an expert on any of those, and neither can anyone who is - but I can suggest that something will happen, and probably something big. Hence, this post is not a description of what will happen, but of where it might, and why, with some links to further reading.

Read the rest of the article here ....

What Needs to Happen Before Electric Cars Take Over the World

You have to agree that the auto industry is now firmly committed to an electric future - The following article is from The New York Times.

Electric vehicles have only a tiny market share, but the auto industry is betting billions that they will soon be as cheap as conventional cars.

 

On the slope of a thickly forested Czech mountain, three men in hard hats and mud-spattered fluorescent vests dig for the metal that could power a new industrial revolution.

 A Tesla owner recharges his vehicle near Mountain View, California

A Tesla owner recharges his vehicle near Mountain View, California

They watch carefully as a mobile rig, mounted on tank treads, hammers and spins a drill bit hundreds of yards into the bedrock. Water gushes from the bore as the bit punctures an underground spring.

The men are prospecting for new sources of lithium, a raw material now found primarily in China and Chile that could become as important to the auto industry as oil is now.

Faster than anyone expected, electric cars are becoming as economical and practical as cars with conventional engines. Prices for lithium-ion batteries are plummeting, while technical advances are increasing driving ranges and cutting recharging times.

“Once the trend gets going, it can happen very fast,” said Guido Jouret, chief digital officer at ABB, an electronics company based in Zurich whose businesses include constructing charging stations.

But this electric-car future is still missing some pieces. Some crucial raw materials are scarce. There are not enough places to recharge. Battery-powered cars still cost thousands of dollars more than many gasoline vehicles.

Car companies are racing to overcome these obstacles. They, and the millions of people they employ, risk becoming irrelevant.

“Many people are nervous about how fast this is coming and how much they have to invest,” said Norbert Dressler, a senior partner at Roland Berger in Stuttgart, Germany, who advises the auto industry.

Here’s a look at what needs to happen before electric cars take over the world.

 

Read the rest of the article here .....

 

 

State and Federal EV Incentives

There is still some uncertainty about state and federal incentives that might keep some from plunging into the lease or purchase of an electric vehicle.

Here is a look at state by state, and federal policy and incentives, plus additional resources.

https://pluginamerica.org/why-go-plug-in/state-federal-incentives/

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 3.03.11 PM.png

727,468 Electric vehicles on American roads ...and counting

The Electric Drive Transportation Association published its monthly November 2017 sales figures for plug-in hybrids (PHEV) and battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV):  http://electricdrive.org/ht/d/sp/i/20952/pid/20952

PHEVs:  8,403

BEVs:     8,440

              ---------

Subtotal 16,843

Monthly sales seem to be holding strong above 15,000 each month. Overall plug-in EV sales for this year to date is up 27 percent over last year.

Running Total since 2010: 727,468.

This means more energy security, economic growth, and environmental sustainability for all.

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 3.19.36 PM.png

An electric vehicle is in everyone's future

There have been plenty of reasons that electric vehicles haven't taken off - sticker price being one of the most obvious. However, in the last decade there has been a sea change, hinged on technological advances, which have allowed electric vehicles to take their rightful place as transportation for everyman ... and woman.

If you've still got a naysayer in your circle, here's some reasons that they might be plugging in sooner than they might think. 

-- article courtesy of Muzi Chevrolet. Author - John Hawthorne 

 

8 Reasons You May Be Driving An Electric Car In The Near Future

Pretty soon, you may be cruising around in a sweet electric car that gets 100 MPG. Why? Here are 8 reasons. 

Are electric cars only for the rich? The environmentally conscious? Early tech adopters? Are they something we just watch clips about on Youtube and read articles about on Yahoo News? 

That may have been accurate over the past decade, but the electric car industry is slowly but surely becoming more mainstream. What has long been an interesting concept has been held back by stark realities - lack of inventory, short ranges, inconsistent charge options, very high sticker prices. 

While none of these problems have totally disappeared, they have all moved in the right direction for consumers.

That trend is only continuing. Here are 8 reasons why you may find yourself driving an electric car in the next few years. 

1. Charging Times are Going Down

Drivers have been accustomed to needing to refuel on gasoline every few days or weeks. With only needing a few minutes to fill-up, and with the normal expectation of not needing to encounter any lines at the gas station (save for the odd mega-storm), refueling vehicles is a quick and simple part of life. 

For electric vehicles? It hasn’t always been that simple. 

Earlier models of electric vehicles may have called for overnight charges, even for ranges well under two hundred miles. One Ford Focus charger needed 30 hours for a full-charge that would then only deliver about 115 miles of driving range

Things are starting to change. 

New charges are trying to make things much more practical, like Tesla’s “Supercharger” that would get a driver over 300 miles of range in just a 75 minute charge. 

Though it will still take several years to get charge times much closer to the five minutes it takes to fuel up gas as the station, trends in charge times and delivered driving range are quickly moving in the customer’s favor.

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 2.18.47 PM.png



2. Charging Stations Are Going Up

Perhaps just as frustrating as the length of time it would take to charge your vehicle would be finding charge stations to fuel up on that electricity. Yes, installing a charger at your home might be the norm, but what about your place of business, where you vacation, or along the way on road trips? 

We don’t need to think about gas stations because gas stations are everywhere. And while the same global reach of charging stations might still be far off, they are still growing at a clip.

Electric stations are the fastest growing alternative fueling station in the U.S. by far, with over 50,000 stations as of 2016. This is up from about 10,000 in the year 2011. In the 2000s, electric fueling stations were virtually non-existent. 

The growth trend in charging stations is being driven both by actual increased demand for electric vehicles as well as government support through legislation and funding - both in the United States and abroad. Expect the rapid growth of charging station in the past five years to continue.

3. Traditional Gas Stations Are Slowly Decreasing

The number of electric charging stations is still far below the roughly 168,000 retail gas fueling locations in the U.S. - and not to mention that each of these locations usually have significantly more individual stations to fuel. 

However, while there has been rapid growth in the electric charging stations in the past 5 or so years, gas stations have seen a small but steady decline over the last 20 years. 

While there are a variety of economic and environmental reasons that contribute to this decline, it also suggest that there is a growing spot in the market for electric vehicles. If you think, There are already so many gas stations, where are these electric charging stations going to go?, the answer is that they may end up replacing a few of them. 

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 2.18.55 PM.png



4. Electric Vehicle List Prices Have Dropped

Early adoption and enthusiasm for electric vehicles can really go only as far as its ability to be reasonably marketed to the broad middle class - that huge chunk of the world’s population that drives the car market. In 2010, the average price of an electric vehicle was over $75,000. 

As the continued demand and growth for these vehicles has been met with economies of scale, as well as streamlined technology and better production techniques, the price of electric vehicles has dropped to under $50,000 for the average vehicle in 2010. 

The Chevy Bolt, potentially the first truly mainstream entirely electric vehicle on the market, goes for $35,000, making it more affordable for those in the middle class. The Tesla Model 3 also sits right in the $35,000 range, with upgraded models costing about $10,000 on top of that.  

5. Price Per Mile Is Falling

But the question of why more and more people are getting into electric vehicles goes beyond the list price. 

While list prices have fluctuated a bit over the past three years, what has shown a consistent drop over time is the price-per-mile, or the list price divided by vehicle’s range on a full charge. 

This is to say that electric vehicles are becoming more functional, which is perhaps far more important to the average consumer than just the list price. If a vehicle was launched with a list price of $20,000 but only had a range of 50 to 75 miles, it’s not clear that consumers would find the cost savings worth the lack of usability. 

As time passes, the sweet spot between range functionality and reasonable list prices continue to move in the consumer’s favor. 

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 2.19.04 PM.png



6. Governments Demanding Lower Emissions

New government regulations in China, Europe, and parts of the United States (think California) are forcing both upstarts and major auto manufacturers to consider embracing the mainstream possibilities of electric cars. 

A report from Bloomberg Finance actually predicts that between cheaper battery prices and the changing government landscape around the environment, electric vehicles will account for 54% of new car sales by the year 2040. 

7. You Don’t Need to Buy One To Drive One

No, we aren’t just talking about being in the backseat of a brand-spanking new electric vehicle while using Uber. While ridesharing has significantly changed the transportation landscape over the past few years, there are even still many other transportation models, some of which are a sort of hybrid between traditional rentals and brief Uber trips. 

Some programs, like Los Angeles' BlueLA, gives drivers the opportunity to get behind the wheel of new electric vehicles at an hourly or even a by-minute price. For those lower income folks who qualify, prices could be as low as $9 per hour or 15 cents per minute.

Those who aren’t eligible for the program can still rent the vehicles for 80 cents a minute. 

The success of Uber and Lyft will likely continue to lead to ideas like BlueLA in providing customers creative and cost efficient ways of using electric cars without the need to plunk down that full sticker price to do so. With a significant used electric vehicle market at least a view years off, programs like this will continue to grow and bring more and more people the option to go electric. 

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 2.19.13 PM.png



8. The Opportunity For a Changed Approach To Driving

If the limited availability of charging stations, or lengths to charge, or sticker costs were the reasons people were wary of electric cars, it’s perhaps because traditional gas-fueled vehicles have shaped our habits around driving. 

For one, the obvious stress around wanting more places to fuel up probably arises from the reality that none of us have fuel pumps at our homes. But imagine a reality in which driving electric cars would also come with the understanding that we can charge up every time at our house. 

Second, electric vehicles release us from the fluctuating strain of volatile gas prices. Data has shown that rising gas prices are often enough for families to actually alter or cancel vacation plans altogether. With electric vehicles, consumers will be free from the constant barrage of changes in the oil market. 

In fact, as demand for electric vehicles increases, this will only lead to further volatility in the oil market through reduced gasoline demand. This is only further incentive for drivers to consider making the switch. 

The Future is Near

Over the past 15 years, the option of driving and electric car was on the periphery of consumer’s minds. Would we ever be able to afford one or charge one? How practical would this ever be? 

A barrage of forces, backed by the traditional auto industry, auto upstarts, the ride-share economy, and government demands, have slowly come together to create a near future where mainstream electric cars are seemingly more and more likely. 

Owning or driving an electric car is becoming far more feasible and attractive for the average driver. 

Will you make the change? And when? It might be closer than you think. 
 

Categories: Green

Tags: Future Of Electric CarsChevrolet BoltTesla Model 3Electric Vehicle ChargersHome Vehicle ChargersEV,Plug In Hybrid

 

 

How to negotiate for a new Nissan LEAF battery pack

In designing, testing, and producing the Nissan Leaf, the first modern electric car sold in volume, Nissan made a design decision that some other companies didn't.

It chose not to build an active thermal-conditioning system (otherwise known as cooling) into its battery pack.

Instead, it relies on ambient air to shed heat—which got the maker into trouble with owners in very hot climates like that of Phoenix, Arizona, where asphalt temperatures can reach 140 degrees F or more in the summer.

 2011 Nissan LEAF electric car after battery pack replacement (by owner, Tim Jacobsen, Concord, CA.)

2011 Nissan LEAF electric car after battery pack replacement (by owner, Tim Jacobsen, Concord, CA.)

Nissan later switched to a more heat-resistant battery chemistry, informally known as "lizard cells," but many earlier Leafs have experienced significant battery capacity declines.

Some of those, however, are not quite enough to hit the 70-percent mark within five years, meaning that Nissan's battery-capacity warranty is no longer in effect.

Nonetheless, owners can sometimes bargain with Nissan and their dealership to get concessions on a replacement battery pack.

Owner Tim Jacobsen of Concord, California, was able to get a deal on a replacement battery for his 2011 Nissan Leaf even though the car had only 33,000 miles on it.

He and his husband Steve have shared the car for more than four years, but their saga of negotiating a battery replacement carries some important lessons for all Leaf owners—especially those with the earlier, more heat-sensitive battery packs.

He shared his tips on negotiating with dealers with us, which we've edited only for style and clarity, here:

While keeping your expectations low to avoid disappointment, a few key things can greatly increase your chances of out of warranty coverage.

  • Start calling Nissan early, before you lose your fourth capacity bar, to report your disappointment.
  • Call a few times, and establish a case number.
  • Keep a positive and respectful attitude with every contact: being rude and nasty to a representative will get you nothing in the end.
  • Nissan's end goal is customer retention: they want to hear that you love your car, that you want to keep it for many years, and that you will recommend Nissans to your friends and relatives.
  • Loyalty counts: if you have purchased, or own, more than one Nissan vehicle, tell them! Mention that some day you want to buy a new Nissan electric car again.
  • Mention anything else positive about your car: that you haven't driven it all that many miles, that you keep it nicely maintained, or that you love to drive it.
  • Write a concise, one-page letter with all the information above, and fax it to your Nissan case manager when the time comes to apply for battery replacement assistance.

Intrigued by these tips, we asked Tim for more information about his Leaf purchase and his experience with Nissan warranty claims.

He wrote us the following, which we've edited only for style and clarity:

In 2010 with rising high fuel prices we became interested in the Leaf after an indoor test drive at the San Francisco auto show. I was very impressed with the car.

We decided that we could own a Nissan Leaf, which would be secondary to our other gas vehicle for long trips.

The Leaf could be used as a ‘Bay Area car’ since its range was around 100 miles, largely depending on road usage and speed. This would cut our gasoline budget in half. 

In March 2013, we made our purchase of our 2011 Leaf from Antioch Nissan. It was a manager's demonstrator car with only 4,000 miles on it, and it was their only with our desired equipment and color selection.

After our purchase, we had also applied for the PG&E EV-Rate plan of which resulted in a substantial break on our electric rates. It was a huge bonus to seemingly get paid mileage, when you calculate the difference.

My Nissan Leaf is a great car, and an excellent car to drive. it's very quiet, smooth power, excellent handling. It’s definitely a favorite of the many cars I’ve owned over the years.

But soon after the hot summer of 2013, I started to notice a small drop in range. Then came spring 2014, and I lost my first capacity bar.

It wasn’t long after this when it was announced that the 2011 and 2012 Leafs were built with a lithium-ion battery pack that was highly prone to capacity loss in high temperature zones.

As time went on, thru the following summers, my range continued to suffer and drop. This wasn’t the same car any more.  

Eventually I could not drive it to San Francisco and back without needing to charge en route. And then I couldn't even get to Oakland and back without the blaring messages that warned me of low battery charge. 

I had made contact with Nissan Consumer Affairs twice within the 5/60k capacity warranty range and voiced my frustration at how it wasn’t fair to those of us who lived in hot climates to suffer this terrible range loss.

Since I had not lost my fourth capacity bar, Nissan refused to do anything for me. So I continued to live with the progressing range loss.  

At three capacity bars lost, I had just crossed over the warranty expiration date of August 8, 2016—which was a very frustrating feeling.

March 2017 came along and my four capacity bar was lost at 33,435 miles. I could barely reach 45 miles of freeway driving until the low-battery message activated.  

I immediately contacted Nissan for the third time, and I was fully prepared with a written letter of reasons why they should cover battery replacement for me. I submitted my letter and applied for “out of warranty” assistance.

I was assertive but—MOST IMPORTANTLY—respectful to the representative helping me.  My letter contained facts and explanations supporting my case.

Also, I highlighted my personal brand loyalty, my history of previously owned Nissans, my love for the Nissan electric cars, the desire to keep my Leaf for many years, and future interest in buying another down the road, and lastly the mint-condition in which I keep my Leaf.

Two days later, I received a phone call from Nissan Consumer Affairs. They granted me a deal to cover 80 percent of the cost to replace the battery. I accepted the deal without questioning anything,  knowing that I had just become lucky.

I happily paid 20 percent, or $1,200, for the brand-new battery pack. I am now a very happy customer with my Nissan Leaf regaining its lost range, and grateful for the assistance.

I feel that being organized and submitting my story in this way made all the difference in the outcome. My low mileage was also likely a major factor in receiving assistance. 

My Nissan Leaf is once again ‘the perfect car” for me.  There is not one complaint. (Thank you, Nissan Consumer Affairs!)

-- From Green Car Reports, April 20, 2017

Where have all the 'makers' gone ....

For almost 50 years General Motors and the other auto makers have offered hobbyists, hotrodders and the racing community the option to purchase their best motors for installation in one of a kind vehicles. This practice resulted in increased sales and huge brand recognition with Chevy, Ford, and Mopar motors becoming legend for generations.  But even more, it grew  generations of creative makers who thrived on the intellectual challenges of overcoming the limitations of Detroit engineering, and became a force to be reckoned with for technical aptitude, cleverness, and disruptive vision. Today, this shade tree culture has evolved into the maker culture   - where backyard DIY grew a technological extension.

 Reno's own EV maker, William Brinsmead, and his instantly recognizable, iconic eHearse.

Reno's own EV maker, William Brinsmead, and his instantly recognizable, iconic eHearse.

I am proposing that Tesla investigate the feasibility of a similar 'crate motor' option. Since the model S motor, controller and differential is a powerful compacteasily adapted unit,  it is able to be mounted in a variety of popular repurposed suspension systems such as Jaguar or Corvette.  The components would only need cooling, DC power and control connections, giving builders a fast, reliable and eviromentally sound option to re-power classic, custom built cars and hotrods. 

In addition to the drive units themselves a simplified canbus controller would be needed in order to communicate with the existing motor drive inverter, providing inputs/outputs like regen/braking, throttle, forward/reverse, current/rev limiter, etc. this could be a newly designed unit or a simplified, reprogrammed existing Tesla unit.

Accessories such as, axels, batteries/BMS, charger, cooling and instrumentation would be the responsibility of the individual builder. 

Please give us your thoughts about such an out-reach. And, if you have any contacts with Tesla, we be happy to help initiate discussions. Contact me, or EAANN through this website. Let's see if we can't collaboratively keep the American innovator spirit alive in the EV age.

 

 

Misconceptions about EVs abound.

A recent opinion piece in the Sierra Sun ( a newspaper up at Lake Tahoe, CA.) seemed to encapsulate all the common misconceptions, mistakes and outright fabrications shared by those who either don't understand where transportation is headed, or are pursuing a fossil fuel agenda.

The September 10, 2017  piece by Jim Clark was one of these, based, we believe, on a string of simple but far-reaching mistaken ideas. It required a lengthy, considered rebuttal by EAANN's current Chair, Cynthia Ryan.

If space hadn't been a consideration, we would have gone on to comment that the old canard of 60% of electricity to power EVs is coming from coal is a flat-out fabrication. Coal-fired plants are being closed down across the country, and being replaced either by natural gas, or renewable sources. 

Furthermore, Lithium-Ion batteries are being repurposed and recycled for use in homes and businesses.

 

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Innovative EV advertising campaign resonates

Everybody who drives, and advocates for the adoption of electric cars has been there. Trying to persuade family, friends and the public that EVs are better. We all know they are, but getting the point across in terms of 'better for the environment' seems to be falling on deaf ears. Past experiences with EV's as relatively expensive, no-frills, no-fun cars didn't help the image, either.

Fortunately, along came Matt Stevens and the gang at FleetCarma. They understood that selling EVs as a public service wasn't working, and came up with an approach that's funny and engaging, while making important points about the many EV benefits we EV evangelists have long known about.

To begin with, EV drivers note that they spend much less time and money on their highly reliable electric cars. No more oil changes, timing belt replacements, schedule maintenance, oil and water pump replacements etc. And, more. Electric motors are simplicity personified. An electric car can have a fraction of the moving parts that a fossil fuel car will have.

Then, there's the issue of a full gas tank. Waiting in line at the gas station, getting gasoline stink on hands and clothing is a thing of the past. Drive into your garage, plug in on your way into the house and you're all set. Your car can be charged up and ready to go every single morning. Range anxiety is becoming a thing of the past, too, with the release of the Chevy Volt (an Extended Range Hybrid) and newer pure electric models such as the 2018 Nissan LEAF.

We keep stressing the 'fun' factor of EVs. Yeah. The instant torque of a quiet electric motor, directly to the wheels. We can be 'off the line' while the other cars are still thinking about it. Not that we'd ever do anything like lay rubber. Nope. We're all about safety, and following the rules. Snort.

It's hard to not take a quietly self-righteous stance when listening to your neighbor tout the extra horsepower of his fossil fuel ... um, fossil. We smile, and pretend to be fascinated, while thinking "Wow. How last century! ... how stone age." Eye roll.

But, perhaps the bottom-line will be about the next generation, and the planet we leave for them. Will the skies be bluer? The air cleaner? Will we be able to say that we did our part to leave the world a better place? EV drivers are hoping that will be true ... and that their grandkids will say "Grandma and grandpa were the cool kids. They were early adopters. Yeah."

The cool kids. Because #EVsAreBetter