"Electricity has always been the best way to power a car. They knew that since the turn of the last century." - Jay Leno
Source: Autobloggreen and NBC
"Electricity has always been the best way to power a car. They knew that since the turn of the last century." - Jay Leno
According to the report, a portfolio approach toward reducing U.S. dependence on oil is necessary for long-term success. This should include increasing the fuel efficiency of conventional vehicles and pursuing research, development, and demonstration into alternative strategies, including the use of biofuels, electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.CNN picked up the story questioning whether plug-ins pencil out for consumers.
There’s always the hope that a genius at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or another top school will invent the gizmo that changes everything. But this isn’t Hollywood and technological advances are likely to be incremental. That means no immediate miracles and oil will continue to be a vital part of the economy for the foreseeable future.In fact it doesn't take a miracle. It takes a clarity of purpose, a willingness to pay attention to the science, and the guts to aim high. We need a focused effort at transportation electrification to work in parallel with the move toward renewable energy.
Two items caught my attention this week.
Plug In America has a new ally with the announcement of the creation of the Electrification Coalition. The goal of this high-powered group of corporate executives is nothing less than the complete transformation of our transportation sector, one in which electricity plays the dominant role where possible. Quoting from their website: "electrification is the best path to the fuel diversity that is indispensable to improving the nation’s economic strength, environmental health, and national security." Along with one large automaker (Nissan), infrastructure providers and utilities, FedEx is among the founding members.
Comprehensive does not begin to describe Electrification Roadmap, the report they have issued. Download it.
Bowing to the burgeoning electric vehicle industry in both countries, President Obama and President Hu Jin Tao announced the formation of the U.S.-China Electric Vehicles Initiative. The Initiative is meant to work on joint standards and provide for data sharing as cars roll out in both countries. Public awareness and engagement is one area of specific attention.
With corporate execs and world leaders coming on board, can the cars be far behind?
"In the past years, teams from all the big car manufacturing companies visited us and said they intended to market fuel cell-powered hydrogen cars shortly after 2010," said Bragi Arnason, a professor of chemistry at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik.Three hydrogen busses once served regular Reykjavik routes. "The bus project has now been terminated; we are waiting for the next generation to be built," Arnason said.
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Post: Is GM pulling back on its hydrogen car?[Source: Washington Post]
Henderson: "Are we putting resources into it? Not as much. . . . We spent through the mid part of this decade a reasonably high portion of our research and our development money on hydrogen fuel cells. We put 100 vehicles into the market. Consumers have tested them . . . We've learned a lot. The vehicles work. The issue is always cost, 100 percent cost. [He put the cost of the vehicles at upwards of $400,000.]
"It's still a ways away from commercialization. No question."
For GM India, our investment into this project can be covered if we can sell (the electric version) between 10-15 per cent of all the Spark vehicles sold in India,” GM India Vice-President (Sales & Marketing) Ankush Arora said.
Translation: "EVs are punishment cars."
The political battle for the electric car vote stepped up a gear last week when the Conservative Party pledged that owners of battery-powered cars would be guaranteed an overnight charging point.Source: thisismoney.co.uk
Citing an unidentified source, the paper said engineers working on electric cars at Fuji Heavy would merge with Toyota's electric car team. Fuji Heavy would shift its battery procurement in the future to Panasonic EV Energy, a battery joint venture between Toyota and Panasonic Corp.Toyota may not want plug-in electrics to challenge gas-only hybrids, but it could be seeing data on real world Plug-in Stella performance that suggests plug-in cars are ready for prime time.
During his presentation at the recent California Air Resources Board (ARB) ZEV Technology Symposium, Tatsuaki Yokoyama, from Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, said that Toyota aimed to reduce the cost of fuel cell vehicles to 1/10 of the current level by design and materials improvement by commercialization in 2015.Toyota aims to chop the present-day cost of fuel cell vehicles by 90%. In 5 years.
In reports on FoxNews.com, America's Newsroom, and Your World, Fox News repeatedly advanced misinformation about Department of Energy loans recently granted to Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors to support development of fuel-efficient vehicles, suggesting that those funds would be ill-spent. The false or misleading claims include: that the loans will be used to build cars that cost $89,000 and $109,000; that the loans will finance foreign manufacturing; and that Fisker and Tesla are European companies.Here's one of the FoxNews stories:
"Toyota's iQ-based electric car, due to be launched in 2010, will get its own body style to create a stand-alone model which will become Toyota’s first all-electric car" (emphasis added.)I'm pretty sure I just stepped out of my 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV. With 69,000 miles on the original battery, it still gets over 100 miles per charge.
Creates specific tax credit for purchasers of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and related equipment.Source: StatesmanJournal.com
Limits tax credits for gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles that are not designed for electric plug-in charging to vehicles purchased before January 1, 2010.
Toyota pushed its innovative "21st century" car development into full gear in the early 1990s under company chairman Eiji Toyoda.Full story "Future of 'green' cars begins with the hybrid" in Japan's leading newspaper, The Asahi Shimbun.
"Developing a commercial electric vehicle at that time posed a slew of challenges," the official said. "That is the case even today."
...a battery pack's ability to hold a charge and its durability vary by temperature and driving conditions, the automaker points out.
Reporter: Are you satisfied with the number of hydrogen stations and vehicles we have today?
Schwarzenegger: I wouldn't be here if I was. I'm hungry! I want more cars, more stations, and not just in California. I think Washington has to get with it. . . We will find the partners and we will build the stations. We always march forwards.
"Peter Trepp just can't keep his foot off the accelerator of his new Mini E."Peter blogs about his electric Mini at www.petersminie.blogspot.com/.
"This is the first demonstration program. We have a small number of vehicles in Paris, France and in the UK and we're involved in gathering some data to understand how consumers actually use these vehicles...We will start much bigger scale demonstration... 100 vehicles in Strassbourg, and it's intended a 3 year trial to understand how consumers react, how they use the vehicle, to gather information and this will enable us to decide the best way to configure the vehicle and then we can make decisions about marketing. No decision about introduction of plug-in hybrid vehicle. The whole reason is we have to do the trial to better understand consumer requirements..."
TR: The hydrogen fuel-cell program has been scaled back in the proposed budget, and the emphasis has been changed from transportation to buildings.From an interview with Kevin Bullis of Technology Review, here.
SC: That's right.
TR: It used to be thought, five to eight years ago, that hydrogen was the great answer for the future of transportation. The mood has shifted. What have we learned from this?
SC: I think, well, among some people it hasn't really shifted [laughs]. I think there was great enthusiasm in some quarters, but I always was somewhat skeptical of it because, right now, the way we get hydrogen primarily is from reforming [natural] gas. That's not an ideal source of hydrogen. You're giving away some of the energy content of natural gas, which is a very valuable fuel. So that's one problem. The other problem is, if it's for transportation, we don't have a good storage mechanism yet. Compressed hydrogen is the best mechanism [but it requires] a large volume. We haven't figured out how to store it with high density. What else? The fuel cells aren't there yet, and the distribution infrastructure isn't there yet. So you have four things that have to happen all at once. And so it always looked like it was going to be [a technology for] the distant future. In order to get significant deployment, you need four significant technological breakthroughs. That makes it unlikely.
RE: THE ROAD AHEADSource: The New Yorker
A letter in response to Peter J. Boyer’s article (April 27, 2009)
MAY 18, 2009
Peter J. Boyer, in his otherwise spot-on piece about the car industry, assumes that I once leased G.M.’s sadly fated EV1 electric car and, like other drivers of that twin-seat rocket of a vehicle, watched the emission-free car be wrested from my garage, towed away, and busted up into pieces of metal, glass, and rubber smaller than razor blades (“The Road Ahead,” April 27th). Luckily, I did not. The source of Boyer’s slight inaccuracy may have been the documentary film “Who Killed the Electric Car?,” which used a clip of a visit I made to the “Late Show with David Letterman,” during which I claimed to be saving America one electric car at a time. However, by the time I began shopping for an all-electric car, in 2003, the EV1 had already been yanked from showrooms as if the car had never existed. Instead, I found what was purported to be the very last electric car available for sale in the state of California—a Toyota EV. It had four doors, a rear hatch, room for my family, including a dog in the back, power windows, A/C, a great sound system, and the fastest, most effective windshield defroster known to mankind. When the car companies collectively, and, to some, diabolically, decided to take these cars back, the electric vehicles disappeared. But not mine. I have the pink slip. I own that car, and it is still driven every day, albeit by one of my crack staff of employees. My electric car recently crossed fifty thousand miles on the odometer with its original battery but without so much as a splash of gasoline.
Los Angeles, Calif.
Cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells, once hailed by President George W. Bush as a pollution-free solution for reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, will not be practical over the next 10 to 20 years, the energy secretary said Thursday, and the government will cut off funds for the vehicles’ development.It's about time. Gotta wonder what they're thinking about their pet project now in Sacramento. California does seems determined to be the last supporter of hydrogen and fuel cells left standing. There's still time to reallocate AB118 money being flushed away on a few hydrogen stations. CEC, CARB, anyone listening?
"GM wouldn't be in quite so deep a hole if it had not sunk a billion dollars, and much of its corporate reputation, into a not-very-realistic plug-in electric hybrid vehicle known as the Chevrolet Volt."
"Unless and until gas prices shoot up, you'd be crazy to buy one of these much-ballyhooed vehicles..."Essentially he saying that even the success of the electric car ensures its failure. Wow.
"To be sure, the green-leaning Obama administration has not ruled out allowing a restructured GM to continue pouring (federal) money into the Volt. But I hope it won't. The Volt and other electric vehicles could gobble up more subsidies than ethanol."
"Indeed, to the extent that we use more electric cars, we reduce the demand for petroleum, which drives down the price of petroleum, which makes electric cars less competitive with gas-burning ones."
Stearns to Chu: Last September you made a statement that somehow we have to boost the price of gasoline to the levels of Europe, which at the time exceeded $8 per gallon. As Secretary of Energy would you speak for or against any measures to raise the price of gasoline?
Chu: The Secretary of Energy, especially now in today's economic climate, would be completely unwise to want to increase the price of gasoline. We're looking forward to reducing the cost of transportation in the American family. This is done by encouraging more fuel efficient cars. This is done by developing alternative forms of fuel like biofuels that can lead to a separate source, an independent source of transportation fuel.
Stearns: You can't honestly believe that you want the American people to pay for gasoline at the prices the level in Europe.
Chu: No we don't.
Stearns: Your statement that gas prices ought to rise to the level of Europe, doesn't that sound a little bit silly, in retrospect, for you to say that?
All Fuelmaker employees were abruptly fired without severance or warning, and given just a few hours to gather up their belongings and leave the premises. All Fuelmaker operations were suspended without notice to dealers, clients or suppliers. All assets were immediately placed on the auction block for liquidation.Huh? Wasn't Honda the big promoter of CNG? The only car company offering one in the US, the CNG Civic? Wasn't the home fueling device meant to blaze the path to a home hydrogen fueling device?
Today retired General Wesley Clark, a onetime presidential candidate who now is the co-chairman of an ethanol industry group, asked the Environmental Protection Agency to raise the limit on how much ethanol can be blended into gasoline. The limit is 10 percent; General Clark and his group, Growth Energy, want the amount raised as high as 15 percent.On Thursday CARB logically indicated that "lifecycle emissions" need be calculated in the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, potentially disadvantaging ethanol. I expect Gen. Clark will be seen in Sacramento shortly.
U.S. auto sales dropped by more than 41 percent in February to the lowest level in almost three decades as deepening economic uncertainty drove Americans away from big purchases and new debt despite aggressive discounts from major automakers.Ford down 48%.
General Motors Corp, which is racing to complete a restructuring plan this month to keep it from bankruptcy, led the sinking industry lower with a 53 percent drop in sales.
The results mark the 16th consecutive monthly drop in auto sales...
Pelata's vision is that a third of Renault's line-up will be electric within a decade. He has also promised that it will have three battery-powered models on sale by 2011: an electric Kangoo van, a Clio-sized five-seat hatch and a larger saloon designed primarily for Israel but which would also be sold across Europe.
All three new models will use NEC lithion-ion batteries, jointly developed with Nissan, and have a range of at least 100 miles.
"One of his most promising investments is a company called Green Holdings, which is in the emerging field of carbon trading: buying rights to pollute from cleaner businesses and selling them to dirtier ones. The firm has struck deals in China and India, and Calil has traveled regularly to both nations on the company's behalf, hoping to establish business ties and build political support. It is an ironic turn indeed that Ely Calil, who grew so rich off the excesses of the carbon era, should now stand to profit still more from the long struggle to clean them up."The story is available as a pdf here.
Mr. Perry said there will be some expense in outfitting garages to power the electric vehicles. He said that could range from a couple hundred dollars to up to $2,000 depending on the arrangement and current capacity of the garage.
He said plans are underway for adding charging stations along major highways and at malls and other public places. He said California already has 660 electric vehicle charging stations.
A fast charge takes 26 minutes, he said. He said merchants may want to supply charging stations so they will have the occupants of the vehicle as potential customers for those 26 minutes.
Hydrogen fuel-cell technology won't work in cars. It's a tragic cul-de-sac in the search for sustainable mobility, being used to game the California Air Resources Board's rules requiring carmakers to build zero-emission vehicles. Any way you look at it, hydrogen is a lousy way to move cars.He runs through the numbers and shows the lousy efficiency of hydrogen compared to electricity. And challenges hydrogen advocates to a duel: "I'll meet you on the field on honor. Calculators at dawn."
As recently as last summer, plants that make ethanol from corn were sprouting across the Midwest. But now, with motorists driving less in the economic downturn, the industry is burdened with excess capacity, and plants are shutting down virtually every week.
...In the meantime, plans are lagging for a new generation of factories that were supposed to produce ethanol from substances like wood chips and crop waste, overcoming the drawbacks of corn ethanol. That nascent branch of the industry concedes it has virtually no chance of meeting Congressional production mandates that kick in next year....
...Carlos A. Riva, president and chief executive of Verenium, a company working to produce ethanol from sugar cane waste, said that solving the technological hurdles for this type of fuel was “not a slam dunk.”
...“Cellulosic ethanol is something that is always five years away and five years later you get to the point where it’s still five years away,” said Aaron Brady, an energy expert at Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a consulting firm.
"God has grabbed me by the jockstrap and fired me off his thumb, rubber band-style. Wow."For comparison's sake we get a detailed and fascinating blow-by-blow of the labored, mechanical foreplay required for an internal combustion engine to thrust forward the Porche he left for dead.
"...the Roadster is here now, a divine spark, an animating lightning stroke of a whole new kind of car industry."You can read the full piece in the LA Times here.
"We were modeling $10 a gallon. We were modeling $12 a gallon. We decided we need to be ready the next time this comes around."High gas prices or not, neither the industry nor the environment nor consumers can wait for "next time."
“Consumers would be buying now if there were products,” says Gregor Matthies, a Munich-based partner at Bain who specializes in the auto industry.For years BMW disparaged electric cars, and poured money into liquid hydrogen ICE vehicles and promoted them ad nauseum. I drove one of those, and although luxurious (it's a $100,000 7-series before the hydrogen,) it was lumbering and slower off the line than my RAV4 EV.