Apr 052014
 

By Nicholas Brown.

Matt Farah and Zack Klapman of The Smoking Tire went on an electric car test drive to compare the value of the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR. Zach Klapman drove the Cadillac ELR, and Matt Farah drove the Chevy Volt.

Video Credit: The Smoking Tire on Youtube.

Unsurprisingly, the ELR was found to be more pleasant overall, but the reviewers were disappointed in its value. They agreed that $50,000 would be a much better price for the Cadillac ELR (where value is concerned). There is an enormous price difference of $40,815 between these two electric vehicles. The Chevy Volt MSRP is $34,185, and the Cadillac ELR is $75,000 (as of April 2014 for the base models).

GM-Volt.com asked if this makes me happy I have a Volt, or if I wished for an ELR. If I had a Volt, my answer would be the former.

Source: GM-Volt.com.

Apr 042014
 

By Nicholas Brown.

Panasonic, a major manufacturer of batteries, is hesitant to join Tesla Motors’ ‘Gigafactory’ project, because it would raise investment risks, according to Panasonic’s CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga.

Tesla Model S Drivetrain. Image Credit: Kompulsa.

Tesla Model S Drivetrain.
Image Credit: Kompulsa.

“Our approach is to make investments step by step,” Tsuga said yesterday. “Elon plans to produce more affordable models besides Model S, and I understand his thinking and would like to cooperate as much as we can. But the investment risk is definitely larger.”

I don’t blame them for being cautious, as this is a very large project. It costs $5 billion! (Tesla already raised $2 billion). On the other hand, sometimes big risks result in big rewards.

If this project succeeds as Elon Musk hopes it will, it could reduce lithium-ion battery manufacturing costs, making them more feasible for electric vehicles and home energy storage. It would also enable Tesla to manufacture hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles annually. To top it off, the success of this project could provide peace-of-mind to others who are interested in pursuing similar projects, leading to more large-scale factories that produce low-cost lithium-ion batteries.

Those are big rewards!

Source: Bloomberg.

Apr 022014
 

The title may appear a bit simplistic, or even ridiculous. After all, more speed causes more accidents, doesn’t it? If using cars, it does. If using trains, not so much (train accidents are rare, car accidents are a much more prevalent issue).

Electric trains powered by overhead power lines.  Image obtained from Vagabond Shutterbug on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/waikikiweekly/

Electric trains powered by overhead power lines.
Image obtained from Vagabond Shutterbug on Flickr.

I’m not referring to an increase in the speed of road-based transit, which is inherently limited by braking and tyre technology. I’m referring to public transit (excluding buses). High-speed public transit (especially high-speed rail) has the potential to increase throughput, because it can transport many people in little time. At the moment, public transit systems around the world are outdated and slow.

For example: Modern high-speed trains can carry hundreds of passengers at over 200 MPH. This means that a light rail train carrying 220 passengers could transport them in (theoretically, excluding slowdowns for cornering) 220 miles, in only an hour!

Cars, on the other hand, must not exceed 85 MPH in any case, plus, they have to wait at stop lights. They would likely require more than two hours to transport only 7 people (if an SUV) the same distance. To add insult to injury, cars waste even more gas than they usually do at high speeds. Trains are more energy-efficient than cars.

The moral of the story: Maybe it is time to start looking to high-speed rail as an energy-efficient, punctual solution to the growing problem of congestion, rather than just a way to save a little money on long trips.

Undermentioned Benefits Of Expanded High-Speed Rail To Economies

The last time you travelled to another country, what was the first thing you had to do after collecting your baggage? You had to find transportation, or wait for a friend to pick you up. If a country is equipped with a well-developed, ubiquitous public transit system, that could be a motive for frequent travellers. Travellers would appreciate it if they knew that they could simply hop on a train and quickly arrive at their destination (or near to it), rather than walking around and struggling to find transportation options.

Public transit needs to be, and could be an option that people actually want to use, because it is convenient. Feel free to visit the Brainstorm Project page and leave a comment, or send me an e-mail!

Mar 202014
 

Brainstorm Project – Home

Autonomous cars open a window of opportunity for amputees, people who suffer from visual impairment, Parkinson’s disease, and any other condition that could have an effect on their safety, such as severe cases of ADHD.

Ford Fusion Automated Research Vehicle. Image Credit: Kompulsa / Nicholas Brown.

Ford Fusion Automated Research Vehicle at the NAIAS (Detroit Auto Show).
Image Credit: Kompulsa / Nicholas Brown.

It enables them to get around privately without soliciting lifts. That’s a godsend, but how is this related to energy or science?

Autonomous vehicles offer the ability to avoid the consequences of typical driving habits, such as reduced fuel efficiency, which is caused by frequent, sudden acceleration, sudden braking, and speeding.

Implications Of Autonomous Vehicles For Electric Propulsion

The electrification of automobiles is impeded by the short range of electric vehicles. Therefore, the improved efficiency achieved by autonomous vehicles (especially due to the fact that they don’t speed) can help to conserve range. As a matter of fact, it can substantially improve average range, making electric vehicles a far more viable and attractive option than they ever have been.

Autonomous vehicles can also be equipped with smaller battery banks and achieve the same range that today’s electric cars do, reducing their cost.

Mar 192014
 

By: Rachel DiFranco, Sustainability Coordinator, City of Fremont

The City of Fremont has made a number of local headlines this month for reports on the high number of electric vehicle owners living within its boundaries. With a population of 221,986, Fremont holds 14.3 percent of Alameda County’s 1,554,720 residents.1 But with 3,870 electric vehicle rebates issued in Alameda County since 2010 under the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, Fremont, with its 1,143 rebates to date, represents 29.4 percent of all-electric vehicles owned within the County.2

Pie Chart

Fremont's EV Rebated By Month

The reason for the heightened media attention is that many people were surprised that this southern Alameda County suburb could be “the East Bay’s epicenter for electric vehicles,” questioning, “What makes it so special?” The news of increasing EV ownership in Fremont, however, is less of a surprise to those responsible for City development. As the City’s deputy director of Community Development, Dan Schoenholz, stated when pointing out that a slightly larger number of electric vehicle rebates had been issued in Fremont than in San Francisco, “San Francisco has the reputation for being a super-green city, but this shows that Fremont is quietly pushing the envelope.”

The story, in fact, fits nicely into the future vision that the City has created for itself. This is a future of sustainable urbanism, one in which Fremont has evolved beyond its early agricultural roots and post-war suburban sprawl into a center for clean technology, a mecca of cultural diversity, and the home of eco-conscious citizens. Beginning in 2011 with the City’s award-winning General Plan that strategically positioned “Sustainability” as the opening chapter for its 2030 vision, and gaining momentum with the adoption of its Climate Action Plan in 2012 to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25 percent by the year 2020, the City of Fremont continues to challenge the conventional model of development with an alternative one that places the health and well-being of future generations at the forefront of policy-making.

Continue reading »

Mar 122014
 

Originally published on Cleantechnica by James Ayre.

The e-NV200 — essentially a compact commercial electric van inspired by the LEAF — was recently unveiled by Nissan. The electric van will be only the second battery-electric vehicle to feature into Nissan’s global line-up — the first being, of course, the highly successful LEAF.

The general idea behind the vehicle was to combine all the best qualities of the LEAF with the cargo capacity of the NV200, creating an effective electric transportation solution for delivery services/small businesses (or for people who have too many kids).

Image Credit: Nissan

If you’re already familiar with the gas-powered NV200, then you may have some idea in your mind already, but the e-NV200 is actually quite a different vehicle. It has been the subject of a full engineering development program, as if it were being designed from the ground up.

At the time of release in June, there will be two versions available — the Combi (a van), and the more luxurious Evalia, a five-seater. Nissan hasn’t revealed the pricing information for either versions yet.

Green Car Congress provides further information:

The battery can be recharged overnight using a domestic 16-amp single-phase 3.3 kW supply which reduces to four hours if a 6.6 kW/32-amp supply is used. A dedicated CHAdeMO DC 50 kW quick charger can recharge the battery from 0-80 percent in 30 minutes or less if the battery is already partially charged.

The instant torque delivery typical of an electric vehicle means the battery-powered version accelerates faster than its conventional cousin: its 0-100 km/h time is quicker than the 1.5 dCi-powered NV200, with final figures to be confirmed later this year.

Another drivetrain change over LEAF determined by e-NV200’s likely usage pattern is a new braking system with a higher regenerative capacity. This takes advantage of the vehicle’s typical stop/start city driving modes, while Hill Start Assist is fitted as standard, holding the vehicle for two seconds after the footbrake is released to allow smooth starting.

Continue reading »

Mar 042014
 

People have driven more than 1 billion miles in Tesla, Nissan Leaf, and Chevy Volt electric vehicles. This signifies that the public, and the electric vehicle manufacturers now have over 1 billion miles of EV driving experience and test data.

Tesla Model S touch Screen Interface.

Tesla Model S touch Screen Interface. Image Credit: Kompulsa.

This is critical to the electrification of the automobile, as early adopters are putting EVs to the test. When they fail, manufacturers learn of the mistakes they made, and enhance their electric vehicle designs further.

This also entails that many more than the billion people have been exposed to electric vehicles (due to the fact that they give their friends lifts and test drives in their electric vehicles).

Early adopters got today’s big industries where they are, and they are doing the same for the EV industry.

Source: Cleantechnica.

Mar 032014
 

The Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has ordered seven battery-powered electric buses from Proterra, along with a charging station. Delivery to Nashville, Tennessee is slated for this year, after they are constructed at Proterra’s Greenville, South Carolina manufacturing facility.

Image obtained with thanks from Proterra.

Image obtained with thanks from Proterra.

The buses, which will operate in the free Downtown Music City Circuit, were funded by the city of Nashville and a federal Clean Fuels grant, and the Proterra won this deal via a competitive procurement process. They had to compete with BYD, EV America, New Flyer, and Wave.

From Proterra’s website: “We are committed to investing in transit improvements that better our community by reducing harmful emissions and improving fuel economy,” said Paul J. Ballard, CEO of Nashville MTA and the Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee (RTA). “By incorporating the Proterra buses into our fleet, we are moving in the right direction to ensure Nashville MTA’s transit services benefit the environment for years to come.”

Main Source: Green Car Congress.

Mar 022014
 

Originally published on Cleantechnica.
By James Ayre.

Tesla’s stock has exploded upwards once again, climbing up to about $264 a share at about 10:00 am on February 26th — that’s a climb of over 15%, and only a week or so after a separate large percentage jump.

The most recent big boost that the stock received is largely down to all of the talk going around about Tesla’s soon-to-be-built Gigafactory, and a report that the market analysts over at Morgan Stanley released about that.

The expectations expressed in the report are very optimistic — anyone who trusts the judgement of the authors would be hard-pressed not to invest further, given the great potential for further growth that is noted.

AutoblogGreen provides more details about the report:

Authored by analyst Adam Jonas, the document looks forward to a Utopian future (around 2026, for those anxious for such a thing) where it is predicted that Tesla will enjoy a commanding share of both the battery and autonomous automobile market, and its revenues will be sixty times that of today. Sixty times. That’s a pretty sunny outlook. Not incidentally, the financial services company also has doubled its target price for TSLA, from $153 to a nice, round $320.

That rosy outlook report is not necessarily the only thing filling the sails of the California automaker today. Consumer Reports has also added to the momentum, naming the Tesla Model S its best overall top pick for 2014. And now we hear that Panasonic and some partners are interested in investing almost a billion dollars into Tesla’s new gigafactory.

It’s of course hard to say exactly what will happen when talking about something as volatile as stock prices, but, that said, it does look as though Tesla has placed itself on a solid course for growth, one that will likely make the company’s stock continue to appear as a strong choice for investors.

Feb 282014
 

Tesla Motors Takes Another Step Forward

Tesla Motors’ electric vehicles are among the best-selling EVs, and that means they need many batteries to build their cars. The company intends to construct an enormous ‘Gigafactory’ (possibly in Nevada) which could produce up to 500,000 electric vehicle batteries annually.

The batteries are to be constructed from the ground up in the new factory, potentially increasing their profits by a factor of two, and drive down the cost of the batteries via economies of scale, another step forward for the EV industry which will force the rest of the automobile manufacturers to kick their R&D into high gear.

Elon Musk, the CEO, hinted that the factory will utilize solar and wind power, making their electric cars greener than ever, or maybe it could make the rest of the car brands’ batteries greener, as it could sell those batteries to them. After all, this factories production capacity far exceeds their current battery demand.

Source: Gas 2.

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