40 PHEV/EVs Available By End of 2010!

Thursday, September 24, 2009 1 comments
Updated: 11/10/09


I was checking out the nice list of PHEV/EV's that Plug-in Partners is tracking on their Plug-in Vehicle Tracker page and I wanted to see the list in Chronological order.  So after a bit of sorting, I created the list below... 
  • 2009: 19 vehicles 
  • 2010: 21 vehicles
  • 2011: 9 vehicles
  • 2012: 7 vehicles
  • Future: 14 vehicles
The best part about this list is that there is a nice cross section of vehicles (economy, bus, truck, motorcycle, luxury, performance) coming our way within the next 1.5 years, so there's going be a vehicle available for nearly everyone.  And this doesn't include the new trucks from Freightliner/Enova or my favorite EV of them all, Focus Design's Self Balancing Unicycle which is available today :-).

Obviously, as time runs out in the future, manufacturers have less info on what models they'll have available, so that's a good reason why the list is lighter past 2011.  The big question will be if they deliver when they say they will...which is a big IF when you're launching products with new technology.

2009

  1. BMW MINI E EV - (Beta Testing)
  2. BYD Auto F3DM PHEV
  3. Commuter Cars Tango T600 EV
  4. Phoenix Motorcars Phoenix SUV EV
  5. Subaru Stella EV EV
  6. Tata Motors Indica EV
  7. Tesla Motors Roadster EV
  8. Toyota Prius Plug-in PHEV
  9. Motorcycle: Brammo Enertia 2 wheel EV
  10. Motorcycle: Electric Motorsport Electric GPR-S 2 wheel EV
  11. Motorcycle: Vectrix VX-1 2 wheel EV
  12. Motorcycle: Zero Motorcycles Zero X 2 wheel EV
  13. Truck: Balqon Natilus E20 / E30 EV
  14. Truck: Electrorides ZeroTruck EV
  15. Truck: Modec Box Van EV
  16. Truck: Smith Electric Vehicles Edison EV
  17. Truck: Smith Electric Vehicles Newton EV
  18. Bus: IC Bus CE 10AHJ School Bus PHEV
  19. Bus: Proterra EcoRide BE35 EV 

2010

  1. Chrysler Dodge Circuit EV  (Killed by Fiat)
  2. Coda Automotive CODA Sedan EV
  3. Daimler Mercedes Benz Blue Zero PHEV
  4. Detroit Electric e63 EV
  5. Fisker Karma PHEV
  6. General Motors Chevrolet Volt PHEV
  7. Heuliez WILL EV
  8. Lightning Car Company GT EV
  9. Lumeneo SMERA EV
  10. Mindset AG Mindset PHEV
  11. Mitsubishi iMiEV EV
  12. Nissan LEAF EV
  13. Pininfarina-Bolloré BLUECAR aka B0 EV
  14. REVA NXR EV
  15. Th!nk City EV
  16. Th!nk O EV
  17. Toyota FT-EV
  18. Volkswagen Twin Drive PHEV
  19. ZENN CityZENN EV
  20. Motorcycle: Aptera Motors Aptera 2e 3 wheel EV
  21. Truck: Boulder Electric Vehicles Truck & WUV EV
  22. Truck: Ford Transit Connect EV (Smith Electric Vehicle)

2011

  1. Audi A1 Sportback PHEV
  2. BYD Auto e6 EV
  3. Ford Focus EV
  4. General Motors Opel Ampera PHEV
  5. Loremo Loremo EV
  6. Renault FluenceEV EV
  7. REVA NXG EV
  8. Tesla Motors Model S EV
  9. Truck: Ford Tourneo Connect EV

2012

  1. Daimler Smart ED (Electric Drive) EV
  2. Ford Escape PHEV
  3. Hyundai Blue-Will PHEV
  4. Hyundai i10 Electric EV
  5. Renault Z.E. (Zero Emission) EV
  6. Volvo V70 PHEV
  7. Truck: Bright Automotive Idea PHEV 

Future


  1. Audi e-tron EV
  2. BMW Vision PHEV
  3. Chrysler Town and Country PHEV  (Killed by Fiat)
  4. Chrysler Jeep Patriot PHEV  (Killed by Fiat)
  5. Chrysler Jeep Wrangler Unlimited PHEV  (Killed by Fiat)
  6. Chrysler 200C PHEV  (Killed by Fiat)
  7. Citroën REVOLTE PHEV
  8. Daimler Mercedes Benz SLS eDrive EV
  9. General Motors Cadillac Converj PHEV
  10. NICE Micro-Vett e500 (Fiat) EV
  11. SEAT León TwinDrive PHEV
  12. Subaru R1e EV
  13. Volkswagen E-Up! EV
  14. Truck: EVI eviLightTruck EV

2 Gamechangers That Could Seriously Affect EV Infrastructure

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 0 comments
Here are 2 technologies on the horizon that could seriously affect how we’ll charge our vehicles in the near future.

1. Battery Swapping/Exchange

What is it?
Instead of taking the time to charge your vehicle’s battery, just swap it out with a fully charged one.  This would be similar to swapping out your grill's propane tank using rentable, prefilled tanks from tank exchange companies like www.bluerhino.com, but for an EV, it would be more like www.BetterPlace.com’s vision as seen in the video below. 


Gamechanging Advantages:
  • 3 Minute “Charges”…or how ever long it takes to swap the battery.  This is perfect for delivery fleets and other uses where vehicles are not in one place too long.
  • Easier upgrades to new battery technology.  Anyone that has owned a laptop knows how fast their new 6 hour battery becomes a 3 hour battery.  Battery swap services could keep you in the latest technology by turning their inventory.
  • Buy the car, rent/lease the battery…which could lower the initial cost of EVs.  This would work best for fleets, but it gets messy for consumers.

Challenges:
  • Design challenges.  To get economies of scale, several vehicle manufacturers would have to standardize on the same basic battery location, packaging, and technology.
  • Commoditizes Battery Technology Competitive Advantage.  Since battery technology is rapidly evolving and overcoming range anxiety is paramount, EV companies are likely to use battery technology as a competitive advantage. 
  • Inventory.  What if they are out of the battery that goes into your vehicle?  This is why economies of scale and standardization are so important to this model. 

2. UltraCapacitor

What is it?
Like batteries, capacitors store energy...however, capacitors typically only store energy on a very short term basis (second or less).  Because of their construction, capacitors have significant advantages and disadvantages from a battery (see below), but scientist and materials engineers are making good headway on delivering a capacitor that is better than a traditional battery.

The idea of using ultracapacitors for EVs is not new, but the idea is still valid and could at the very least help batteries handle large peak electrical conditions (charging and speed inc/decrease).  This NASA brief from 2000 outlined the benefits and possibilities of using them: UltraCapacitors Store Energy in a Hybrid Electric Vehicle  

The biggest development over the past two years has been within the walls of the mysterious EEStor company in Texas, which is working with Zenn Cars to power their vehicles using UltraCapacitors.  EEStor is operating in “stealth mode” and doesn’t have a website, but it does have a Wikipedia entry - make sure you check out the specs of their UltraCapacitor compared to batteries.  Another key UltraCapacitor manufacturer is Maxwell Technologies

Gamechanging Advantages:
  • They can soak up HUGE amounts of power VERY QUICKLY (3-6 min for full charge)...and it can give it back just as fast...much faster than a battery (3+ hours for full charge).  Ultra-Capacitors could replace or augment batteries...and to help soak up large charging currents from fast chargers (Level 3) or help make regenerative braking even better.  There are a few studies on this out in cyberspace (Google Search)
  • They work in the Cold, where batteries can be sluggish
  • Provide consistent performance over time
  • They are potentially MUCH cheaper to build than batteries, lighter, need no maintenance, and are not nearly as harmful to the environment when they are discarded.
Challenges:
  • Their big challenge for UltraCapacitors to create one that doesn’t leak (discharge to air) over time.  If EEstor delivers on its promises, they will create a UltraCapacitor that leaks less than a Lithium Ion battery!
  • Large Charging Currents.  While it’s an advantage that UltraCapacitors can suck up large amounts of energy, it could challenge charging infrastructure…enabling...and thus requiring Level 3 charging stations which are very expensive to purchase and “feed”.  This would be less of a problem for fleets that could benefit by fast charging vehicles and afford their cost.
  • Oh yeah, they’re not real…yet...

Is your City getting ready to support PHEV/EVs? Here are some questions to ask...

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Is your City getting ready to support PHEV/EVs?  

If not, you've got less than one year before several auto manufacturers aggressively start selling PHEV/EVs in the US.  Although it might seem simple to hang a EV charger on the wall, there's far more to it than that.  How much different depends on how forward-thinking your city officials are, as cities that have a sustainable vision will create and execute a plan that ensures that EVs will be adopted quickly and smoothly.


If you haven't visited the Rocky Mountain Institute's (RMI) "Project Get Ready" website yet, you should check it out ASAP. 
This smart group of people have amassed a nice tool set, including plans, calculators, and best practices that will get you started off on the right foot.  To help get you started, here's a link to their getting started guide.  RMI has also partnered with several cities which are committed to the successful rollout of EVs...and you can learn from their experience by talking to their project managers.

Here are a few questions you can ask utilities and governments to get the inside scoop on how they are preparing for supporting PHEV/EVs in 2010...

Questions for Utilities
  • How is your utility planning to support PHEVs/EVs in this area?
  • How does your utility see the grid impact of PHEVs/EVs in the area over the next 5 years?  Will our grid be at risk by supporting PHEVs/EVs?  Do you see a peak capacity problem?
  • How important is it for your utility to control/limit service (Demand Side Management - DSM) to PHEV/EV charging stations in an area to limit risk to grid?
  • What number of Level 2 charging stations does your Electrical Utility consider it to be a large enough installation that you would like DSM implemented?
  • Does your utility plan to change pricing or rate structure based on assumed PHEV/EV adoption?
  • When does your utility plan to implement Vehicle to Grid (V2G) in the area?
  • Does your utility plan to introduce Solar Powered charging stations in the future?
  • Does your utility impose any steps on permitting/installation for a residential Level 1 or Level 2 charging system (separate meter, verifications, etc.)?  What about a commercial installation?
  • Does your utility have a person or website that prospective EV owners (business or residence) can go to get more information about
  • Does your utility plan to incent businesses of certain sizes to utilize charging stations with DSM?
  • Given that electric utilities have the most to gain by a transition to PHEVs/EVs, how does your utility plan to manage the successful adoption of them? 
  • Given that utilities have the most to lose by a poor transition to PHEVs/EVs by way of risk to grid, how does your utility plan to manage that risk?  (with other stakeholders)
  • How will the adoption of PHEVs/EVs affect your disaster planning/response (evacuation)?
Questions for Governments
  • How do see the adoption of PHEVs/EVs in your area (commercial and residential)?
  • How are you planning to support PHEVs/EVs in this area?
  • Are you planning to deploy a fleet of PHEV/EVs?  When?  What type? Etc.
  • Do you plan to adopt/encourage/mandate PHEV/EV busses, trucks, taxis?
  • Do you have a project manager assigned to help coordinate EV Infrastructure deployment between stakeholders (utilities, gov’t, business, residents)?
  • Do you plan to encourage/mandate installations of EV charging infrastructure in new construction?
  • Are you planning to deploy public EV chargers?  How many, Where, When, What Type, How paid…
  • Are you applying for any grants (e.g. ARRA) for help with EV Infrastructure?  Are you following RMI’s Project Get Ready guidelines?
  • Does your area have any goals for PHEV/EV adoption to help with GHG/Pollutant/Carbon  emission reduction?
  • Do you plan to encourage businesses (fleets) or residents to adopt PHEV/EVs?
  • Do you have a defined permitting process for charging stations yet?   If so, what’s the charge for the permit and how long should it take?   FYI: Permits cross several lines of government to install, including Planning, Police (enforcement of EV parking spaces), and Public Works
  • How will the adoption of PHEVs/EVs affect your disaster planning/response (evacuation)?

Gas Prices: The Key Incentive to Go Electric

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Every time I talk to people about PHEV/EVs, it doesn’t take long for the primary motivator to surface…Gas Prices…as the higher they go, the more people will consider purchasing a PHEV/EV. 

This was best exemplified over the last few years when the US saw large spikes in fuel prices: When gas prices jumped, so did the line of people at the Toyota dealership waiting to buy their Prius. 

Unfortunately, American’s are very short term focused (months or less).  We like our fast food (1500 cal in 5 minutes), pharmaceuticals (why live healthy when you can take a pill?), and quarterly earnings reports (buy/hold?  yeah/right!).  So it makes since that we remember the pain of rising gas prices only for the duration of the peaks in price spikes.

To see if there was a strong correlation, I graphed gas prices against hybrid vehicle sales using data from the Department of Energy.  Here’s what I found…
  • Once gas prices broke the $2.00 AND $3.00/gallon barrier in 2005, Hybrid sales jumped 150%...everyone knew what a hybrid was that year.
  • On average, gas prices have risen 195% from 2002 to 2008 (before the recession took effect). 
  • Since the fall of gas prices in 2008, the price of regular gas has risen sharply and is on track to match its pre-recession price levels ($3.50) within a year.


Given the current GDP growth rates of China (8% growth in 2009) and India (6.7% growth in 2009)…and their increases in per capita income, yearly increases in an unreplenishable resource (fossil fuel) are here to stay.

To me, this graph makes it clear that gas prices will seriously help the transition to using PHEV/EVs in the near future…even for short term thinking Americans.  In fact, it looks like there’s a perfect storm brewing for a successful transition to electric vehicles…
  • Increasing gas prices
  • Mature EV technology
  • Lots of government incentives…worldwide
  • GHG awareness and action
  • “Good enough” battery technology
  • Cool cars
  • and a Charging Infrastructure starting to be implemented
…all we need to do now is not screw up the implementation!

Does Ford's announcement of a EV-To-Grid System help it gain ground on EV Rivals?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 0 comments
On August 18th, Ford Unveiled 'Intelligent' System for Plug-in Hybrids to Communicate with the Electric Grid.   This was major announcement for Ford as the company prepares to significantly enter the PHEV/EV market in the next two years.  The big question is, does this announcement help Ford gain ground on EV Rivals?

The short answer: Yes, it helps somewhat.  Ford, like every large Electric Vehicle company, needs to work with DOE's Clean Cities and Smart Grid to ensure there is somewhere their customers can charge their new cars, pay for charges, and not take down the grid doing it. 

Smart Charging via a Smart Grid has huge features, especially in terms of preserving/controlling our electrical system when EV's are everywhere.  It's in our nation's best interest that don't do something stupid like introduce a new transportation technology that takes down the county's electrical grid.

...after all: no watts, no GDP. 

That's why the DOE is promoting Smart Grid and Clean Cities to herd suppliers and governments into a common vision for supporting renewable energy and EVs.  This includes auto makers like Ford to make sure their cars can talk to electrical grid with a common socket and communications language.  It also includes planning for the charging infrastructure which will eventually replace the gas pump in our lifetimes.  The impact of adopting EVs will be a positive change for the climate, auto industry, and consumer.

All this said, Ford is smartly doing what other manufacturers are doing...they have to make it easy for us to fill up and pay for the "gas"...all without knocking out the power grid.  After all, we get real cranky when a power outage takes out the A/C for 2 hours.

How will Wireless Charging technology fit in with Electric Vehicles?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 0 comments
The idea of wirelessly transmitting power has been around for over a century, thanks to Nikola Tesla.  Back in 1893, Tesla first demonstrated to the world the ability to wirelessly illuminate phosphorescent lamps at the Chicago World’s Fair.  Since then, the technology has been slowly maturing in research facilities. 

One notable large scale demonstration of the technology was made in NASA’s JPL/Goldstone facility.  Back in 1975, NASA demonstrated that it could effectively transfer 34KW of power across 1.5 KM at 82% efficiency…very cool stuff, especially back then. You can see the test in the video here:


The focus of using wireless power transfer over the last 10 years has been charging small devices like your cell phone or wireless headset directly on a charging pad (e.g. www.wipower.com).  However, a company in Massachusetts called www.WiTricity.com is gunning for applications that are separated by a few feet…and one of their applications is charging electric vehicles!  The video shows WiTricity’s CEO, Eric Giler, at a TED Conference showing off his cool technology.


Even Nissan, who has announced a bold strategy to concentrate on EVs has announced that they are actively working on a Wireless Charging technology.  Read about it here at the Guardian.

Considering what I know about the technology today, I see the following opportunities and challenges for charging wirelessly…

Opportunities
  • Convenience, just drive up and charge!  Whether it’s in your garage, at a traffic light, or on one of our city roads that becomes a parking lot during drive time commute, you wouldn’t have to do anything to get a charge.  Very cool!  Don’t be surprised to see this convenience depicted in a SciFi movie soon.
  • Could be integrated with Smart Grid.  Like other network level chargers, this technology could be integrated into the Smart Grid to provide utility control and accounting of how much charge and which vehicle got the juice…all automatically.
  • For charging vehicles at Apartment Buildings or Public Areas, wireless charging has these additional benefits...
    - No cords to wear out (it's built into the street, parking place, etc)
    - No cords to vandalize
    - Park and charge in bad weather (don't have to take the time to plug/unplug if it's raining/snowing/etc.)
    - Ensures the charge power is used for a specific device (vehicle with receiving antenna)

Challenges
  • Efficiency: To get high efficiency out of wireless charging, the receiving device either needs to be very close to the transmitter and/or the transmitter must be able to focus the energy directly on the receiving device.  WiTricity is claiming 50%+ efficiency now for close distance charging and NASA saw 82% efficiency from the JPL experiment, so it’s possible that this might not be a limiting issue.
  • Cost: While the technology might be cheap to produce, how much to install this technology in roads, garages, and vehicles?  This includes routing power cables to transmitters.
  • Standards: Technology like this must be standardized to be widely adopted…especially considering the potential installation costs.  
  • Power Scale/Charge Time: Most of the companies today have demonstrated wireless power transfer of just a few watts.  Will the technology be able scale up to pump 7,000 W (Level 2) into your vehicle so it can charge quickly?
  • Value: Assuming Corded Power is 100% efficient, will the cost of the technology, installation, and the inefficiencies to wirelessly transmit power be worth the inconvenience of plugging in your vehicle?  For instance, if the technology is only 50% efficient, then you’d be paying double to power your vehicle wirelessly…is it worth it?
You can find a few companies making wireless charging systems for EVs on my EVSE Vendor Page.