Needed: A good home for a 2008 Zapino Scooter

Is there anybody out there who would be up for taking a 2008 Zapino scooter? The owner needs it out of his garage by the end of July (preferably!) and will give it to somebody who'll love it, fix it and give it a good home. It has a couple of issues that shouldn't be a problem for someone with the right DIY skills: the right accelerator isn't working well, and the left brake needs attention.

Contact the EAANN FB administrator or the EAANN website admin for details.

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Are you looking for a good used EV?

They're getting easier to find as more dealerships have cars coming back off leases, or owners trade up the next new and shiny (and longer range) EV. I was surprised to see that Tesla was including pre-owned inventory on their website, and sites like AutoList have filters designed to show you a wide variety of EVs.

It seems like local folks are having a pretty easy time at places like CarMax ... even if they don't have it on the lot today, they'll find it.  So, don't let the fear of 'brand new' pricing slow your entry into the brave new world of electric driving. Your first - or next EV - might be as close as your local used car dealer. And, we'll hazard to suggest that buying a used EV might be a lot less stressful than buying a used internal combustion engine car - considering the handful of moving parts in an EV. You won't need to worry about a crap timing belt, water pump, fuel pump, transmission ......

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Yes, you can take the all-American Road Trip in an electric vehicle

Well, not any EV at this time. A Tesla, with it's charging network, is the obvious choice for those who can afford it. But there are other options. Our Chevrolet Volt plug-in extended range hybrid would do it easily with the petite gasoline engine that powers a generator - the range with the pure electric is over 300 miles. A Chevy Bolt would also be an interesting choice - with the right route planning.

True, range-anxiety-free EVs aren't that far off. So, fasten your seat belts, get the road music cued up, and get ready to ride. Read all about it in Afar magazine ....

And, if you have an EV road trip story to share, we'd love to hear about it.

 

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The delicious details of the Jaguar Roadster conversion

The car is a vintage silver-blue 1968 Jaguar E-Type Roadster with one crucial, and major, modification: Its famous six-cylinder gasoline-powered XK motor was replaced with an all-electric drivetrain.

 The newly married Duke and Duchess of Sussex left Windsor Castle in a Jaguar Roadster that was modified to be all-electric. Steve Parsons/Press Association, via Associated Press

The newly married Duke and Duchess of Sussex left Windsor Castle in a Jaguar Roadster that was modified to be all-electric. Steve Parsons/Press Association, via Associated Press

Where the motor had been, Jaguar Land Rover technicians installed a lithium-ion battery pack capable of powering the car for about 170 miles on a charge (less than Tesla’s new Model 3 mass-market car, but perhaps the Jaguar has better braking). And in place of the gearbox, they installed a 220-kilowatt electric motor.

All of that was done without cutting or otherwise modifying the car’s frame, and the new drivetrain weighs about the same as the old one, so there was no need to change the suspension. Such “nondestructive modification” is important, said Nathan Hoyt, a spokesman for Jaguar Land Rover North America, because while owners of vintage Jaguars may wish to switch to an all-electric drive, they may want to reinstall the gasoline motor to sell the vehicle.

“It gives customers options without having to worry about doing permanent harm to the car,” Mr. Hoyt said.

A few other changes were made: the dashboard was swapped out with a new one with gauges to monitor electrical performance, the vintage incandescent headlights were replaced with more efficient LED bulbs, and the gas tank fill tube was removed in favor of an electrical coupling for charging the battery.

Many viewers noted that the steering wheel was on the left-hand side; Mr. Hoyt said this particular car, a one-off prototype that was first shown last fall, was originally exported to the American market after it was manufactured 50 years ago.

Jaguar Land Rover has been weighing reaction to it and may decide to go ahead with a program in which customers could order a new, all-electric E-Type or have their existing vintage car converted at the factory.

Either way, an electric Jaguar won’t come cheap. Mr. Hoyt said that a complete factory restoration of an E-Type that remains gasoline-powered typically costs about $390,000. An electric version would cost even more.

EV naysayers working hard to discredit clean transportation

Electric vehicle naysayers have been really busy of late. Jeffrey Middlebrook offered up arguments designed to show that EVs owner/drivers are "clueless" and "arrogant". Between his beef with Tesla owners/drivers and legitimate concerns over world population, we thought we'd offer a few alternatives to his sometimes tortured EV logic.

 Mr. Middlebrook is right in noting that it takes 15% more energy to produce a Tesla - or any EV - than it does an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle. What he neglected to mention: Once an EV is driven, that calculus changes. Dramatically.

Mr. Middlebrook is right in noting that it takes 15% more energy to produce a Tesla - or any EV - than it does an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle. What he neglected to mention: Once an EV is driven, that calculus changes. Dramatically.

 

 

Jeffrey Middlebrook ( 05.17.18 RNR ‘The EV nonsense and its buffs’) wields a really big brush, with which to tar all Tesla owner/drivers as “clueless” and arrogant, and all electrons as equally dirty.  We’re not sure where the rest of EV owner/drivers such as ourselves, who might or might not own a Tesla (or a Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, Spark EV or Bolt, Honda Clarity EV, BMW i3, or any other EV) stand.  Are we ‘clueless’ and arrogant by extension? I sense more than a whiff of ‘class anxiety’ opposed to the usual ‘range anxiety’ expressed by non-EV drivers. 

Mr. Middlebrook is right in noting that it takes 15% more energy to produce a Tesla - or any EV - than it does an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle. What he neglected to mention: Once an EV is driven, that calculus changes. Dramatically. This extra emissions ‘debt’ is quickly recovered by the savings accrued over the driving life of an EV ( as expressed in Total Cost of Ownership).  The average new gasoline vehicle in the U.S. is rated 25 mpg.  Based on where EVs have been bought to date, the average EV now produces emissions equivalent to a hypothetical gasoline car getting 73 mpg. We’re not aware of any mass-production fossil fuel car on the market today that achieves that, including the full-sized ICE Cadillac (22mpg City/30mpg Hwy) that Middlebrook references. EV drivers don’t add to the aggregate emissions debt by requiring the drilling, transport to production site, refining, transport to pump that ICE drivers do. Then, consider the EV total cost of ownership (TCO) savings of no more oil changes, timing belts, fuel/water pumps, transmission repairs on top of the zero gallons of gasoline purchased, soon you’re talking real value for your wallet and the environment.

Typical of fossil-fuel apologists, they fail to look critically at the true costs of a gallon of gasoline. According to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) the price of gasoline in the U.S. barely covers the costs of production and distribution (forgetting for the moment how heavily fossil fuel industries have been subsidized over the last century) and is estimated to be in excess of half a trillion dollars a year in direct subsidies. Some governments spend more on energy subsidies than they do on education and healthcare. The cost per gallon at the pump doesn’t reflect the costs to society of: traffic, congestion, pollution and global warming. And, the price at the pump certainly fails to capture the financial and human cost of lives lost to foreign wars in the Middle East.  The IMF and other governments are now suggesting that those subsidies should be curtailed, which would reduce deficits and do something about global climate change at the same time. 

 

Then, let’s look at the assertion that charging that rich white persons’ toy, the Tesla, will be using ‘dirty’ electrons at far-flung charging stations, even if the electons at home come from rooftop PV. And, gasp!, there were emissions produced by the very production of PV panels! First of all, this ain’t your daddy’s dirty electrical grid anymore.  It’s ‘greening’ at a rate that was unexpected even a decade ago, as there are no new coal-fired power plants on the drawing boards, and many existing plants are scheduled for decommission as natural gas and renewables become ever cheaper to produce. It is now in the best interest of a utility companies bottom-line (and shareholder value) to transition to natural gas and renewables. In northern Nevada, it should be noted, the majority of our electrons come from geothermal and natural gas. As with many fundamental and disruptive technological transitions, it’s not yet a perfect solution, but light-years ahead of where we were just a few decades ago. Finally, Tesla - in their unprecedented nationwide roll-out of charging stations - are already converting their charging stations to solar. Yup. Tesla - the company which also installs rooftop PV systems. But, that’s unlikely to sway Mr. Middlebrook, as the metal in the charging stations produced emissions via mining, transport and final production.  Sigh.

There’s no perfect technology. So, we might as well give up and quit striving for something better. That’s called sacrificing the perfectly good at the altar of the perfect.

We agree with Mr. Middlebrook that increasing human population is creating historically unprecedented environmental pressures on societies and the planet. But, this is an issue worthy of an op-ed all its’ own. To suggest that admittedly imperfect technologies and innovation should be jettisoned simply because the “20-ton T-Rex in the room” of over-population hasn’t been solved baffles us.

In the meanwhile, we’ll continue to enjoy the very real cost savings, knowledge that we are, indeed, reducing the aggregate C02 being released into the atmosphere, and laugh like loons each time we get to pull away from  a fossil-fuel bully with smooth, quiet and amazing acceleration that only electricity can provide.

Or, as the Roadrunner might say “beep! beep!”

 

Authors:

Cynthia S. Ryan, Co-Chair, Electric Auto Assoc of Northern Nevada. Owner/driver of a 2014 Nissan LEAF, and a 2017 Chevrolet Volt.

William Brinsmead, Co-Chair, Electric Auto Assoc of Northern Nevada. Owner/driver of a 2015 Tesla Model S, and a 2011 Nissan LEAF, and the 1973 Cadillac eHearse.

 

No, electric vehicles won't cause more pollution (or crash the grid)

Once again, the fossil fuel apologists are hard at work in the press trying to lay every possible bit of negative spin to the electric car. In the May 15th online edition of Politico, Jonathan Lesser took a wild swing at our EVs, and missed in his piece: Are electric cars worse for the environment. I couldn't let it slide, and pounded out a rebuttal - which I've pitched to Politico. In case they don't want it, I'll post it below: 

 Chevrolet Volts getting their electrons from the sun.

Chevrolet Volts getting their electrons from the sun.

Oh, my! Electric vehicle drivers will cause more air pollution, but even worse, too many electric vehicles would actually cause utility rates to rise, and could even ‘crash’ the electrical grid. Or, so claims Jonathan Lesser, in the May 15th online edition of Politico.

Lesser, a well-known ‘energy consultant’ and fossil-fuel sector apologist, argues that only the wealthy can afford electric vehicles, and would like you to still believe in the ‘Long Tailpipe Argument’ which suggests that EVs are only as clean as the power that supplies their electrons, and that’s still ‘dirty’.  If that isn’t enough, too many electric cars could crash the grid.

It’s hard to know where to begin with Lesser’s myriad assertions.

It’s easy for somebody with Lesser’s background to ‘cherry pick’ data to prove their point. In this case, he says that new ICE (internal combustion engines) are much ‘cleaner’ when compared to electric vehicles. Yes, new cars are, indeed, cleaner than “a 30-year-old, smoke-belching Oldsmobile”. But, cleaner than an EV? Not so much. That new cars emit “only about 1%” of the pollution of your grandfathers Oldsmobile misses the point of just how dirty those cars were. And, few people stop to think just how ‘dirty’ the process of refining and transporting gasoline is. In fact, a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that the extra emissions from making an 80-mile range EV are only about 15% higher than a comparable gasoline car. This extra emission ‘debt’ is quickly recovered by the savings accrued over the driving life of an EV.  The average new gasoline vehicle in the U.S. is rated 25 mpg.  Based on where EVs have been bought to date, the average EV now produces emissions equivalent to a hypothetical gasoline car getting 73 mpg. We’re not aware of any mass-production fossil fuel car on the market today that achieves that. 

The Union of Concerned Scientists provides a dandy online tool to calculate just how ‘clean’ your EV is according to where you live. In the Reno, Nevada area, a 2014 Nissan LEAF contributes the equivalent emissions to global warming as a gasoline vehicle getting 107 mpg, for example.

Then, Lesser invokes the discredited ‘long tailpipe’ argument (EV electrons are only as clean as the power source they come from). He says “The energy doesn’t come from nowhere”.  Yes, the energy is coming from a rapidly greening grid. He should note that no new coal-fired power plants are being built, while older plants are being phased out. And, since renewables are quickly becoming less expensive than fossil fuel generated electrons, it benefits the bottom-line of any utility to invest in cleaner, renewables.

Lesser says that EV tax incentives (or ‘subsidies’ in his terms) “will disproportionately benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor”. Nice try, making electric cars a ‘class’ issue. EV naysayers point out that the top-selling EVs with the longest range are in the $40,000 range. ‘Longest range’ is the key. The price of EVs did increase in 2016, but that reflected faster growth in more expensive models and doesn’t take into account increases in driving range through battery improvements. Reductions in battery costs are currently translating into more range rather than lower per vehicle prices. As more cars with ranges of over 300 miles become the norm, EV prices will fall to levels comparable with conventional vehicles. EVs like the 80+ mile range Nissan LEAF are already considered ‘affordable’ by most metrics. And, since most people drive less than 40 miles per day to work and back, or around town that's a good fit for most people. So, that leaves a lot of EVs - both used and new - to supply those of us who aren’t in the Tesla crowd. 

Buying an electric car is one of the most influential decisions a household can make to both reduce emissions, and save money.  The savings on gasoline alone can average more than $800 per year, on top of savings for maintenance since EVs don’t need smog checks, oil changes, transmission repairs, new fuel pumps or timing belts. The economically disadvantaged would benefit from EV ownership over conventional vehicles.

Then, Lesser asserts that utilities - and by extension, ratepayers - will be saddled with paying for “the wires and charging stations” which will raise rates. You’d think the electrical grid was born yesterday. Conversely, electric utilities stand to benefit from EV adoption as they can generate significant new revenues (Time-Of-Use home electric vehicle charging), while facilitating the creation of widespread, convenient network of charging stations. Once a certain scale is achieved in EV adoption, utilities can bring more renewable energy into the system from very large, advanced grid-scale storage batteries (like Tesla just installed in Australia). And, with more widespread adoption, it’s estimated that utilities will capture enough incremental revenue from those who charge their EVs at home to increase access to the ‘garageless’ in lower-income areas, and grow their markets there, as well. This also includes deploying charging stations at workplaces and other visible locations that will in turn drive EV and electric utility sales and consumption. This puts the ‘lie’ to wealthy EV owners taking advantage of the poor.

Economically disadvantaged Americans would particularly benefit from adopting electric vehicles. According to the U.S. Department of Energy: "the average U.S. household spends nearly one-fifth of its total family expenditures on transportation, (and) saving on fuel can make a big difference in terms of the average family's budget. Electricity is less expensive than gasoline and EVs are more efficient than gasoline vehicles. Electricity prices are also generally much more stable than gasoline prices. On a national average, it costs less than half as much to travel the same distance in an EV than a conventional vehicle. In addition, some utilities offer even cheaper rates at night, which can further reduce your electricity costs. "

As for the claim that mandates for more renewable energy, like those in California, will only serve to drive utility prices up for ratepayers, it isn’t proven out by actual practice. Charging EVs at off-peak times - when the grid is underutilized - increases utility revenues without commensurate cost increases. Lower rates will be an added benefit as the ‘pool’ of potential customers is expanded. And, charging EVs when there is spare grid capacity avoids the need for new capital investments by utilities - which will also build downward pressure on electricity rates. Lesser also doesn’t mention that electric utilities can leverage the growing number of EVs on the road to absorb increasing kilowatts of renewable energy that would otherwise be ‘dumped’ when there isn’t sufficient demand.

EV detractors, like Lesser, make a lot of noise about the amounts of energy that will be needed to balance the U.S. electrical grid in the coming decades. However, that need could also be met by the batteries from as few as 10% of the electric vehicles anticipated to be on the road by that time.

In the future, EV batteries could stand in for large-scale storage batteries when needed via V2G (Vehicle to Grid) or ‘Battery Second Life’ systems. A 2016 Nissan LEAF can store as much electricity as the average American home uses in a day, and be recharged while its’ owner is eating or sleeping. This type of V2G technology is already available in other countries - like Japan - and the Tesla home storage battery that is now available in the U.S. This would further stabilize the grid and also possibly lower rates while easing the transition to a cleaner grid.

What will it take to accomplish this? The transportation sector accounts for about one-third of U.S. carbon pollution. EVs need to account for 40% or more of new vehicle sales by 2030 in order to meet long-term carbon reduction targets. If you think this can’t be done, remember that over a period of two weeks, nearly 400,000 people put down $1,000 deposits for the Tesla Model 3. There is already a pent-up demand for electric vehicles as the old ‘range anxiety’ becomes a quaint artifact of the past.

To this end, utility policies need to be amended to remove the barriers to EV purchases, facilitate a more competitive market for charging services, and prepare utilities to integrate the EV load (which would mean encouraging driver/owners to charge at off-peak times) and later provide V2G services.

Widespread EV adoption is a welcome gift to a competitive, resilient renewable energy market, and hardly the malign influence that the fossil fuel industry would have us believe.

Electric utilities are singularly positioned to provide ubiquitous access to charging (Lesser’s overblown concerns over “wires and charging stations” notwithstanding )—while supporting the grid and facilitating its transition to variable resources like wind and solar energy, benefiting all customers, and returning value to EV drivers.

As electric vehicle advocates, we understand that the issues surrounding a rapidly evolving energy landscape in the U.S. is complex and at times difficult to communicate. And, not everybody is tuned in to the language of megawatts and EV range. However, we don’t think that articles such as the one by Mr. Lesser are helpful, and certainly, do more harm than good by posing specious dog-whistle arguments that appeal only to fossil fuel true believers.

 

 

More drivers discovering the value of driving electric

Many thanks to our friend 'down south', Stan Hanel, Outreach Coordinator, Nevada Electric Vehicle Accelerator (NEVA) program. REA250.org

The Electric Drive Transportation Association published its monthly sales figures for plug-in electric cars nationwide during March 2018. There was quite a surge in sales during March, compared to January and February:

 

https://electricdrive.org/index.php?ht=d/sp/i/20952/pid/20952

 

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs): 10,882

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs):               14,480

                                                                   ----------

Total Plug-in Electric Car Sales                  25,362

 

I updated the running total on the home page of the Nevada Electric Vehicle Accelerator (NEVA) program website to show 808,892 total plug-in electric vehicles sold, since mass-market adoption began during late 2010 with the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt.

EDTA also tracks the quantity of public Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) charging stations available in the United States. There are currently 20,189 public charging stations available. Many stations have dual plugs or outlets, so total outlets available nationwide are 52,673.

The 'Long Tailpipe' argument runs out of gas for EV advocates

Electric Auto Association of Northern Nevadamembers are surprised to learn that electric vehicles are a bad idea: expensive and not all that “green,”according to David Rothbard and Craig Rucker of CFACT, a climate-change-denying “public policy” organization.

We applaud CFACT for their willingness to carry water for the Koch brothers.

If the price tag on electric cars is holding buyers back, automotive website Edmunds provides a calculator to determine the true cost to own. As an example, a 2018 Nissan Leaf has a true cost of $36,066, versus a 2018 Nissan Rogue at $38,822. The true cost to own also doesn’t take into consideration any tax Incentives given to EV buyers, which further reduce the total cash price around $7,500, making the electric vehicle an even better value.

Driving both a Volt and a Leaf, my 2014 Leaf can be had for well under $9,000 with plenty of battery life remaining. If that’s not affordable (considering that the owner will never need to buy gas, change the oil, get a smog check, replace a timing belt/fuel pump/water pump or many other combustion car maintenance items) then I don’t know what is.

Regarding the claim that EVs get their “green” from “dirty” sources (aka the "long tailpipe" argument), Nevadans have access to some of the cleanest energy in the nation, with 21.6 percent of Nevada's utility-scale net electricity generation from renewable sources. Two-thirds of all Americans now live in areas where driving an EV produces fewer climate emissions than almost all comparable gasoline and gas hybrid cars. To blame EVs for the failings of antiquated power generation in “heartland America” seems silly.

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Although manufacturing a midsized EV can result in higher emissions compared to a combustion vehicle, that math changes radically once that EV is driven. Electricity is cleaner than gasoline, and battery electric cars make up for their higher manufacturing emissions within six to 18 months and continue to outperform combustion cars until the end of their lives. The Union of Concerned Scientists offers a great tool for analyzing just how clean electric vehicles are. My 2017 Chevrolet Volt “produces about as much global warming pollution as a gasoline vehicle getting 77 mpg,” according to the site. Actually, this is assuming that I’m pulling my electrons from the NV Energy grid. Instead, I generate my own electrons from rooftop solar — and that would push this 77 mpg number far higher.

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We believe it makes sense to insist on cleaner tailpipe emissions since more Americans suffer immediate, direct effects from millions of “dirty” fossil fuel spewing tailpipes daily compared to fewer, more distant, regulated power generation facilities.

EAANN hopes that interested drivers will come out to our Earth Day venue on April 22 at Reno’s Idlewild Park to see many different types of electric vehicles, and speak to EV owners/drivers. You might be surprised at how affordable EVs are, how they can save money for budget-strapped families, and how fun they are to drive!

Cynthia S. Ryan, electric vehicle and rooftop solar advocate, is co-chair of the Electric Auto Association of Northern Nevada.

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Our Turn.

The following article in the Reno-Gazette Journal (April 4, 2018) was authored by Cynthia Ryan, co-chair of the Electric Auto Association of Northern Nevada, and renewable energy advocate, in response to an op-ed piece, 'Is Your Neighbor's Tesla Costing You Money' by David Rothbard and Craig Rucker of CFACT.

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

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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.

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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 .....