According to GM, the “Cadillac Converj Concept, a dramatic luxury coupe with extended-range electric vehicle technology, is moving forward as a production car that will be called the Cadillac ELR.”
Development of the ELR is just underway, so details on performance, price and timing will be announced later.
The Cadillac ELR will feature an electric propulsion system made up of a T-shaped lithium ion battery, an electric drive unit, and a four-cylinder engine-generator. It uses electricity as its primary source to drive the car without using gasoline or producing tailpipe emissions. When the battery’s energy is low, the ELR seamlessly switches to extended-range mode to enable driving for hundreds of additional miles.
Read more here from GM.
While the big U.S. auto makers have struggled for several years, it has opened up the doors for smaller, independent car companies to compete. One emerging company is Maryland-based Genovation Cars, a designer and builder of plug-in electric vehicles. (PHEV). The company has been awarded a $135,110 product development grant from the Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program (MIPS). The monies will be used to fund validation of the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models of its PHEV G2 automobile at the Glenn L. Martin Wind Tunnel at the University of Maryland, College Park.
“We are very pleased to have received this grant,” said Andrew Saul, Genovation Cars CEO. “Having the University of Maryland’s wind tunnel facility and its faculty involved with the G2 project will be a tremendous boost in the development and production of the car.”
The grant marks the 48th round of MIPS funding. Products developed with MIP grant funds have generated more than $21.6 billion in revenue and created thousands of jobs. MIPS is an initiative of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute at the University of Maryland and provides grants to companies that partner with researchers in Maryland public universities.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley added, “Our number one priority is to create jobs in this new economy. The Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program invests in innovation, enabling us to improve our quality of life and create jobs for the next generation of businesses in Maryland.”
U.S. automakers are making the move to produce more environmentally friendly vehicles. They are also making the move to producing them in a more environmentally friendly way, and Ford has even gone a step further to partner with SunPower Corp. to help consumers who purchase plug-in electric vehicles to charge up with renewable energy.
According to Mike Tinskey, Ford director of Global Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure, the “Drive Green for Life” program enables Focus Electric owners to reduce their cost of ownership by generating enough energy from their SunPower rooftop solar system to offset the electricity required to charge the vehicle at night. “It’s an eco-friendly solution that perfectly complements our plug-in products and other green initiatives,” he said.
“SunPower’s innovative partnership with Ford is a win-win for customers, providing a comprehensive sustainability program,” said Tom Werner, SunPower president and CEO. “By taking advantage of this program, Focus Electric customers can receive the added benefit of installing a SunPower solar system, the highest-efficiency, most reliable on the market today, generating the electricity needed to charge their vehicles.”
The 2.5 kilowatt rooftop solar system generates roughly 3,000 kilowatt hours of power each year. SunPower says this is nearly 50 percent more energy than conventional panels while at the same time utilizes less roof space than other panels. This is enough energy to charge an EV that drives about 1,000 miles a month. The rooftop solar system will also be compatible with the C-MAX Energi PHEV that Ford is rolling out in 2012.
This is the second renewable energy initiative that Ford has undertaken. In January, the company announced a partnership with Best Buy to offer a 240 volt home charging station for the Focus Electric and all future Ford EV models.
The U.S. government may not be able to figure out how to save our country from it’s multi-trillion dollar debt, but for the second time during his administration, President Obama has increased CAFE standards or the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. The goal for all new cars and light duty trucks manufactured in 2025 and beyond must be at least 54.5 miles per gallon (54.5 MPG) up from the increase to 35.5 mpg goal set for 2016 that was announced in 2009. This marks the largest mandatory increase in fuel economy in the history of the country; however it is short of the original goal of 62 mpg.
During a press announcement, President Obama cited this action would save consumers money at the pump – $1.7 trillion dollars in real fuel costs over the life of the vehicle and save families an estimated $8,200 in fuel savings over the lifetime of the vehicle, relative to the Model Year 2010 standard.
The movement to better fuel economy has been caused by many factors but concerns about prices at the pump, a dwindling supply of oil and climate change have all played major roles in causing auto manufacturers to finally spend some R&D in producing cars with better fuel mileage. The leading sector in improved mileage has been electric vehicles and hybrids, a combination of an electric vehicle with a gasoline engine (and some are flex-fuel vehicles meaning they can use up to 85 percent ethanol).
So what do consumers think about this move and who do they think will get their first? In a recent poll commissioned by LeaseTrader.com, 63.6 percent of respondents believe Hyundai is best positioned to meet these standards, even before 2025. During the week of July 18-22, 1,138 drivers from across the U.S. responded. Seventy two point four percent of the respondents are in favor of the higher fuel standards, but only 34.5 percent remain supportive if it means vehicle prices will rise more than $2,000.
Other results show that 63.3 percent of those polled believe the automakers already have the technology to significantly improve fuel standard technology and 47.2 percent believe domestic carmakers can be profitable under these fuel standards.
I read an unusual book this week. “Energy, Convenient Solutions,” by Howard Johnson. The book was part Energy 101, part manifesto, part conspiracy theory. It began with a look at various forms of energy ranging from fossil-fuels to biofuels – to nuclear energy. From there, Johnson laid out his manifesto, per se, or his ideas on energy, our current state and what the future could or should look like. The end of the book reviewed factors that make it difficult to effect change as well as highlighted several “hate campaigns” that have been lobbied against big oil and nuclear energy.
Johnson says the real purpose of the book is to present many different ideas about the generation, transport and use of energy. “The study of these ideas and the efforts to make them into realities can result in excellent and viable solutions in years, instead of decades. Creative solutions are sure to be found that require few and inexpensive infrastructure changes and by using both new and existing technologies.”
Now, before I continue, some of you will accuse me of being in the pockets of Big Oil. I’m not. I’m simply reviewing the author’s book and the thoughts contained therein. What makes the diversity of energy books so compelling is the fact that each author has his or her own ideas, predictions and solutions.
Speaking of predictions, Johnson outlines a few in his book. First, he notes that the largest energy growth sector is expected to be in electricity and the largest growth product will be nuclear energy followed by geothermal. He believes there will be a decline in coal-fired power plants unless carbon sequestration technologies come a reality, and also believes wind and solar energy will require long-term substantial subsidies to compete, and even so, may never be cost competitive. In addition, he predicts hydropower will stay fairly stagnant due to environmental concerns and finally believes electric vehicles will dominate and vehicles fueled by liquids (such as gas or biofuels) will be phased out. Needless to say, like so many others, Johnson does not believe first generation biodiesel or ethanol is a solution but does have hope for things such as algae-based biofuels. Read the rest of this post…
Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA along with Mitsubishi Motors of North America (MMNA) has debuted an electric vehicle (EV) solar-powered charging station at its MMNA headquarters in Cypress, California. This is the city’s first of its kind EV charging station and the debut signals the company’s commitment to developing and launching its first plug-in electric vehicle, the Mitsubishi i in all 50 states. The EV will be available this November. The charging station is powered by 96, 175W photovoltaic modules produced by Mitsubishi Electric. The solar panels are made with 100 percent lead-free solder, and according to the company, have one of the higher sunlight-to-energy conversion ratios in the industry.
The EV charger is able to charge up to four PHEV’s simultaneously and features three types of chargers with different voltages: standard level 1 (110v) will fully charge an EV in 22 hours; level 2 (220v) that can fully charge an PHEV in six hours; and level 3 CHAdeMO Quick Charger that can charge the battery up to 80 percent in 25 minutes.
“This project will build awareness of solar power’s versatility and efficiency,” said Katsuya Takamiya, president and chief executive officer, Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA. “As electric vehicles’ popularity grows, we expect to see more charging stations at large employers, automobile dealerships, shopping centers and schools, where cars can charge while people work, shop or study.”
The DC Quick Charger used for the Cypress charging station is manufactured by Eaton Corporation, and is the first-of-its-kind CHAdeMO Quick Charger certified for U.S. sale and public utility. Mitsubishi hopes that consumers who purchase the Mitsubishi i will use the charging station as gateway charging pad when commuting between Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
Mitsubishi Motors North America President Yoichi Yokozawa added, “We hope that our dealers, learning institutions, and municipalities will look to this technology with a keen eye towards the future, and bear in mind that the gradual acceptance of the pure-EV transportation will be aided by increasing the number of facilities like this one.”
Today consumers who support electric vehicles (EV) are pushing for plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs). But in the not too distant future, EV owners will be able to charge their cars wirelessly. Utah State University Research Foundation’s Energy Dynamics Laboratory, located in North Logan, Utah, has successfully operated the first high-power, high-efficiency wireless power transfer system. This system is able to transfer enough energy to rapidly charge an EV, demonstrating 90 percent electrical transfer technology of five kilowatts over an air gap of 10 inches.
“This demonstration is an extraordinary and historic step in providing technologies to electric vehicle owners who will be able to pull their cars into garages at home and charge without having to plug in with cords,” said Jeff Muhs, director of the Energy Dynamics Laboratory. “Our scientists and engineers have proven that enough power can be transferred over large distances to safely and efficiently charge electric car batteries from a pad under the ground to a receiver attached to the undercarriage of a vehicle – and this is just the beginning.”
As a base, EDL expanded on the theory that enables consumers to wirelessly charge toothbrushes and cell phones. According to the company, their wireless power transfer system is tolerant within six inches in any direction if the user accidentally misaligns the car with the receiver. They also say the power level and efficiency specifications are firsts in the U.S. for a system of this kind and that there is no other similar system in the world.
Muhs added, “In the not-so-distant future, we will see vehicles go from being charged by plugging into the electric grid, to wirelessly charging in garages, shopping centers and dedicated refueling stations, to mass transit vehicles that are charged as they are in motion and eventually wireless electric roadways where cars will travel at 75 miles per hour while being charged.”
“Future versions of the system architecture developed at EDL have the unique potential to be embedded under pavement and transfer power wirelessly to vehicles at speeds of 75 mph or more and provide enough power to completely eliminate the range anxiety of electric vehicles. Wireless power transfer represents the disruptive technology that will eventually enable the safe and efficient electrification of highways, end our dependence on foreign oil, and enable a new era of enhanced mobility,” Muhs concluded.
Today U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act today in an effort to eliminate dependence on foreign oil by 2030 and create a National Council on Energy Security that would be charged with providing recommendations to the President and Congress to ensure America’s energy goals are met. More specifically the act calls for more production and use of electric vehicles, increase in travel options (more public transportation including high-speed trains), infrastructure improvements, development of alternative transportation fuels and reduce the use of oil to heat buildings.
“America’s dependence on oil from the Middle East, Nigeria, and Venezuela makes us increasingly vulnerable to economic and national security risks,” said Merkley. “American entrepreneurs and workers have the ingenuity and grit necessary to break this addiction to foreign oil – the challenge is whether politicians in Washington are willing to choose American strength over vulnerability.”
With all of the proposed pieces of alternative energy legislation that have been introduced and voted on over the past few weeks, as an aside, I thought I would provide a bit of education on how a bill becomes a law. Remember, School House Rock?
Now that you know how the process works, let’s see what the industry is saying.
Michael McAdams, President of the Advanced Biofuels Association said, “This legislation authored by Senators Carper, Merkley and Bennet is precisely the way our nation must rethink, and how Washington must confront, our energy challenges. By resisting the past temptations of picking a winner, the bill instead offers a comprehensive approach that focuses on the future of all biofuels, including advanced drop-in, algae, and cellulosic fuels to deliver as many gallons to back out foreign oil as quickly as possible.”
He concluded, “Developing renewable energy alternatives is an inevitable part of our shared global future and America should help lead the way. This bill puts us on the road to doing just that by encouraging the development of a robust and thriving domestic advanced biofuels market.”
The Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act would reduce oil consumption in the U.S. by over 8 million barrels per day by 2030, enough to end the need for oil imports from beyond North America.
A greener Popemobile is reportedly in the works and could be on the road by next year.
A German newspaper reported over the weekend that Mercedes-Benz is designing a new hybrid four-wheel drive for Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican has confirmed that such a vehicle is under development but will not be ready in time for the pope’s visit to his native Germany in September as speculated and may be the end of next year before it will be put on the road.
The report says that Mercedes is working to develop a hybrid variation on the Pope’s M Class SUV that can run about 16 miles emission-free on a rechargable lithium-ion battery, yet have the backup power and pick up to reach high speeds in case of emergencies. The Mercedes Popemobiles feature thick bulletproof glass and a heavily-armored build for security and are mostly used on papal visits to other counties.
Napa, California-based Hall Wines has paid for and installed an ECOTality electric vehicle charging station. “We are pleased to be working with an organization that is as passionate and supportive of the environment, as ECOTality,” said Jonathan Read, CEO of ECOTality, Inc. “In addition to enriching the successful execution and continued maintenance of rich electric vehicle charging infrastructures in California, the installment of EV Charging Stations in Napa Valley and Sonoma is an exciting opportunity. HALL Wines’ support of the EV Project further allows us to expand our outlets of data collection, enabling us to evaluate the effectiveness of charging infrastructure, ultimately leading to our goal of widespread EV use throughout the United States.”
Hall Wines installed a Blink Level 2 Commercial Pedestal Charger. According to EcoTality, their design is easy and safe to use and provides user-friendly features to charge electric vehicles. The system is integrated with the Blink Network and offers easy payment options. Hall Wines will also be able to access informational delivery data flow, AMI interface capability, internal meter to monitor energy and demand usage as well as energy usage data evaluation.
“Since launching HALL Wines, we have been dedicated to preservation of the environment and bringing innovation to Napa Valley,” said Ambassador Kathryn Hall, HALL Wines Owner and Vintner. “HALL Wines is always looking for new ways to provide support and dedication to the sustainable living movement. We continue to reinforce our commitment to the health of the land, as well as that of the greater Napa Valley ecosystem. The latest initiative to install EV charging stations at HALL St. Helena and Roessler Cellars, is an expansion of our sustainability efforts and is our way of not only encouraging health of the land in wine country, but everywhere.”
Proterra Inc has secured $30 million in financing led by Silicon Valley venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Also participating were GM Ventures, Mitsui & Co. Ltd., Vision Ridge Partners, and 88 Green Ventures. Golden, Colorado-based Proterra will use the money to accelerate the commercialization of its fast-charge battery electric transit buses and automated bus charging system.
“Our goal at Proterra is to fundamentally transform urban transit,” said Jeff Granato, President of Proterra. “The tremendous resources of Kleiner Perkins, leveraged with GM’s automotive expertise and the financial and technical strength of Mitsui, Vision Ridge and 88 Green Ventures gives us an enviable platform to compete and win in the electric transit bus market.”
Proterra’s main product is its 35 foot EcoRide BE35 bus. A bus is currently being tested by Foothill Transit in Pomona, California since last September. The company plans to deliver EcoRide buses to VIA Transit in San Antonio and Tallahassee Star Metro later this year. The bus is emission free, quiet and charges in less than 10 minutes with the company’s FastFill charging station. When compared to the diesel buses EcoRide is designed to replace, the bus is averaging nearly 24 miles per gallon, a 600 percent improvement over a typical diesel bus that averages only 4 miles or less per gallon.
Former Vice President Al Gore, a partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers noted, “Electrification of public transportation has tremendous benefits to governments, municipalities and citizens by reducing the operating cost of transit, while also eliminating local air pollution and reducing C02 per passenger mile in the industry.
The funds will be used to complete federal validation testing, launch additional pilot fleets, as well as enable the company to reduce costs and increase volume of production at its production facility in Greenville, South Carolina.
Ford Motor Company has announced that it will triple its production of electric vehicles (EVs) by 2013. The company plans to invest more in its C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid vehicles. In addition, Ford already has on the market the Transit Connect Electric and the Focus Electric will debut later this year. Production of these vehicles is scheduled to begin at the company’s Michigan Assembly Plant in 2012 and will locally source battery packs and electric drive transaxles built by Michigan workers.
“Customers have come to expect fuel efficiency with every new vehicle Ford delivers today, and now we are further differentiating our electrified vehicle lineup with something else people truly value – choice,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s group vice president of Marketing, Sales and Service. “Whether people want a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid or full battery electric vehicle, we have a family of vehicles for them to consider, providing a range of options to best meet their needs and support their driving habits and lifestyles.”
Today, Ford sells approximately 35,000 electrified vehicles a year, led by the Fusion Hybrid and Escape Hybrid. In par with is commitment to EVs, Ford plans to produce more than 100,000 each year by 2013. The new Ford C-MAX five-passenger vehicle, which is the base for the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, is already a hot seller in Europe. To date, more than 100,000 C-MAX models have been sold in the country since their launch in late 2010. As part of this initiative, Ford will also increase production of these models for the European market.
“European customers are snapping up our C-MAX five-passenger models, telling us they love the vehicle’s sporty appearance, driving quality, interior comfort and clever use of space,” said Farley. “We plan to be aggressive in delivering products like this that people really want and make smart decisions supporting our One Ford plan.”
The C-MAX model launch in North America will signal the first time Ford customers have the choice of a dedicated body style for a range of Ford EVs.
The largest electric vehicle (EV) trial is underway in Canada. According to Hydro-Quebec, a number of Mitsubishi iMiEVs have been delivered to several Boucherville businesses selected to participate in the second phase of the EV trials. The iMiEV stands for Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle and is an all-electric, plug-in vehicle with zero tailpipe emissions. The iMiEV can travel 120 km, or 74.5 miles, on a single charge. Using a 240-volt outlet, the car can be charged in 6 hours, or 13 hours using a 120-volt outlet. However, using a quick-charge station, the EV’s battery can complete an 80 percent charge in 30 minutes.
“We are delighted with the response we’ve received from Boucherville businesses. This second phase brings us to the very heart of the project, focusing on the needs of businesses and their employees who work in Boucherville,” said Thierry Vandal, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hydro-Québec.
The EV testing was coordinated by Hydo-Quebec and have been designed to study users’ charging habits, driving experiences and overall satisfaction. In addition, the tests will study vehicle behavior when the cars are plugged in to the electric grid. On April 7, the Quebec government passed the Action Plan for Electric Vehicles and this EV testing program is part of that initiative.
“I hope that drivers working for the businesses selected in the second phase will be as delighted as I am to be driving an i-MIEV! The project has not only caught the attention of Boucherville businesses, but also sparked considerable interest among citizens,” said Jean Martel, Mayor of Boucherville and spokesperson for the project’s institutional users.
Koji Soga, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada said of the project, “Our partnership with Hydro-Québec and our joint pilot project have met with much success over the last four months. The data collected and monthly reports have demonstrated that the i-MiEV technology is well suited to the Canadian market. The second phase of our program will help us better understand all-electric vehicles and will give them more visibility, allowing Québecers to become more familiar with this technology.”
Amidst high gas prices consumers, legislators and NGO’s (non government organization) have all called for stricter fuel economy standards. Yesterday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled new fuel economy labels designed to help consumers take advantage of increased efficiency standards enacted under the Obama Administration. The increased fuel economy standards are designed to help save consumers money at the pump.
Changes to the new labels are the most dramatic in over 30 years, and provide more comprehensive fuel efficiency information, including estimated annual fuel costs, savings, as well as information on each vehicle’s environmental impact. The announcement was made today at electric car maker Tesla‘s headquarters in Palo Alto, California.
“Smart energy policy, advanced engineering, and technology are working together to move the auto industry forward,” said EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld. “The Obama Administration delivered the first-ever tailpipe greenhouse gas emission and fuel efficiency standards. What we are doing today, with the new labels, is helping the American public make decisions that can reduce the burden on their pocketbooks, and the burden on our environment.”
The improvements to the fuel economy labels will give consumers better, more complete information to consider when purchasing new vehicles. Starting with model year 2013, the improved fuel economy labels will be required to be affixed to all new passenger cars and trucks – both conventional gasoline powered and “next generation” cars, such as plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. The new rules, passed in 2010, should improve fuel economy of cars and trucks built between 2012-1016 to the tune of 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program and save consumers an average of $3,000 in fuel costs. Switching to an electric vehicles should reap even more savings at the pump.
“Looking at the true cost of gasoline – not just at the pump, but the cost in terms of our national security, our economy and the environment – electric vehicles simply make the most sense,” said Tesla VP of Corporate Development Diarmuid O’Connell. “Tesla is committed to putting as many affordable electric vehicles on the road as quickly as possible to end our reliance on foreign sources of oil and reduce the economic shocks that are driven by the volatility of oil prices.”
“Historically, California has been a trend-setter for the rest of the world in the transportation and fuel sectors,” said Mr. Sturtz. “California represents one of the largest fuel markets in the world and also houses some of the most technically innovative people, research institutions, and businesses to create an environment that incubates innovative and next-generation technologies. “These market factors coupled with a unique set of state government regulations that are creating a push for alternative fuels points to a large market that could potentially provide commercial benefits to all components of the fuel supply chain.”
While the report suggests a reduction of fossil-fuel based transportation fuels, because it takes between 10-15 years to change a fleet, by 2030 at least 75 percent of the fuels used will still remain petroleum-based. The report discusses three principal drivers for development of alternative fuels worldwide: reducing greenhouse gases, energy security, and urban air pollution. The report also discusses state policies, socio-economic factors, market forces, and business environment in California. Read the rest of this post…