September 8th, 2009

Pictures from the 9th Annual Power of DC

August 10th, 2009

Introducing the Nissian Leaf

Nissan recently announced details on their new electric vehicle that will be produced at their Smyrna, TN plant.  Nissan says they plan to release this car to the show rooms in the fall of next year and that they are hoping to beat GM to the punch and release the LEAF before the Volt.  Nissan expects production capacity to reach 200,000 units a year by 2012.  The LEAF looks like a regular Nissan Versa only it has better aerodynamics for less drag.  The vehicle makes use of a 107HP electric motor that is powered by a 85KW Lithium-ion battery pack.  The batteries that are being used in this vehicle have been in the works for several years due to the Renault-Nissan partnership.  Nissan is in the process of building a state of the art battery factor in Tennessee near where the cars are manufactured.  The vehicle has a range of 100 miles per charge.  What is really nice is that he has a quick acceleration of 0-60 mph in 7 seconds, which is not to shabby for a production electric car.  I believe this car will do wonders for the American population that is clamoring for an electric car to drive to and from work.  We will have to see if we can squeeze more performance out of this vehicle once it hits the market.  I am going to be making vehicle specific pages dedicated to modifying production electric vehicles.   I am going to try and dig up some more information on the vehicles at home charger.  Right now it looks like charging time takes approximately 8 hours on a standard 200V outlet but buyers can opt for the DC 50kW quick-charger, which recharges the battery up to 80 percent in under 30 minutes.  It also looks like the Leaf will have it’s own iphone app to display the progress of a charging cycle.   The price for the car should start around $30,000 and I am hearing that Nissan my offer the option to lease the $10,000 battery pack.   Good job Nissan, I can’t wait to drive it.

July 16th, 2009

So where do the GM pieces fall?

GM exited bankruptcy on July 10th, 2009 one of the quickest bankruptcy proceedings for a company of that size.  Now that GM is back, what pieces remain and where did the other pieces go.  Here’s a run down:

GM still owns these core brands; Chevy, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC.  The U.S. Governement will own 60.8% of the new company while the United Auto Workers will get 17.5%.  The Canadian governement gets 11.7% and the remaining 10% goes to the bond holders.

Hummer was sold to the privately owned Chinese company Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. for between $150Million to $250Million.

Saturn was sold to racing legend Roger Penske and his Penske Automotive Group.

SAAB was sold to a Koenigsegg, a Swedish car company known for making supercars.

Pontiac brand has been abandoned by GM however recent news this monday is that GM will save the Pontiac G8 by releasing it as a Chevy Caprice.   I believe the Caprice moniker has a bad reputation and is not befitting of such a grand car as the G8.  Come on GM this is the car industry not Hollywood, we don’t have to reuse every name!

GM retains 35% of its European brand Opel while selling 20% to Canadian Auto parts supplier Magna and 35% to Sberbank from Russia.  The remaining 10% goes to the employees.

While we are at it, Ford has sold its Jaguar and Landrover lines to TaTa Motors.  You may remember that TaTa motors is the company that plans to sell a $2,700 car soon.

Ford also stated that they may let the Mercury line slip into extinction.

As far as I am aware Chrysler is keeping all of its core brands; Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep.

The GM numbers were pulled  from Forbes.com article

June 23rd, 2009

BLACK Dodge Circuit in action

I know these video has been out there for a while but I wanted to post it here just in case someone missed it.  I am a huge fan of this electric vehicle being that is being designed by Chrysler.  Built using a Lotus Exige body much the same as the Tesla Roadster uses the lotus Elise body, it sports a 200 Kilo Watt (200 KW/ 746 = 268 HP)  electric motor that can do 0-6o in under 5 seconds.  All of this while offering a driving range of 150-200 miles.  It is a plug-in electric and the only one from Chrysler that doesn’t have a range extending engine.  I just realized that we don’t have an acronym or designation for true plug-in’s versus range extended plug-ins.  I am going to coin those as REEV or Range Extended Electric Vehicles, where as the Dodge Circuit is just a PEV.  It is my understanding that this will be the first electric vehicle to be produced from Chrysler.

Here is several videos from a test drive of the Dodge Circuit. The first video is from Autoguide.com and the second is a test drive from a Chrysler employee.

June 16th, 2009

Color changing Tesla at EVADC meeting

You always know there is something surprising about to happen when you pull in to the parking lot of the local Electric Vehicle Association of greater D.C.’s monthly meeting and notice that everyone’s ganged up outside hovering around a car.  I wasn’t able to see what it was until I got close enough to part the crowd…. and behold it was a color changing Tesla Roadster!!!  I have seen plenty of these but none with such an eye catching paint job.  One of our members had recently received his Roadster shipment after putting the money down for it two years ago I believe he said.  He also says he has only gotten it up to 90 mph which is good cause I would assume you would want to slowly break in the batteries and motor.  Now on to the pictures …..

June 11th, 2009

Sierra Nevada Brewing company is electric car friendly

sierra-nevada1

Last week I had the pleasure of drinking Sierra Nevada beer while talking to one of the founders of Sierra Nevada Brewing company, Ken Grossman.  During our conversation about his fine beer, I let slip my interest in electric vehicles and he enthusiasticly informed me that his company has 1.8 Megawatt solar array that provides power to the company as well as power to several electric vehicle charging stations in the employee parking area.  I was quick to ask if anyone actually took advantage of it and he said there were several employees that drive and charge their electric cars there while at work.

On top of the solar array, Ken tells me he also has a 1 Megawatt fuel cell that also power the beer production.  He says that 90% of the company power comes from renewables.  That is an amazing feat and you can color me green to say the least, I am highly impressed with Sierra Nevada’s renewable energy installation.  Now I have another reason, other than just how good it taste, to drink their beer!

May 26th, 2009

Chrylser seeks money from DOE for EV development

News was released today that Chrysler has submitted up to three proposals for two Department of Energy initiatives, The Transportation Electrification Initiative and Electric Drive Vehicle Battery and Component Manufacturing Initiative, the total proposed would be $448 million.  The proposal is a 50/50 cost sharing that would mean Chrysler will fork over $224 million and DOE will contribute the remaining $224 million.

The most interesting piece of news is the inclusion of the Dodge Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle because there had been no previous mention of Chrysler working on a PHEV version of the Dodge Ram.  This is extremely exciting news because the Ram is a very popular vehicle and to my knowledge the first PHEV pickup truck.  Ford hasn’t really said anything about a hybrid or electric version of the F-150 so I believe the PHEV Ram will be in a league of its own.  Here is some advice for Chrysler, please use HUB motors on all four wheels for true EV 4×4!   Chrysler also mentions EV and PHEV versions of the popular Town and Country minivan will also be produced.   Chrysler says they will demonstrate 100 Town and Country’s and 100 Rams across the diverse landscape and climate of the United States to insure feasibility.  Chrysler will also deliver 165 T&C cargo minivans to the United States Postal Service for testing as potential fleet replacement vehicles.  They go on to say “ENVI has created numerous partnerships with energy providers and utility companies in order to develop an electric-vehicle charging infrastructure that will efficiently service its electric-vehicle test fleet.”  I know about one possible partnership that Chrysler has for supplying fast charging stations and that is a company called Aker Wade which is based in Charlottesville, VA.  Aker Wade manufactures fast charging stations that take in 480 volts AC and deliver 400 to 600 amps at lower voltage to charge battery packs in a matter of minutes.   Aker Wade could make Chrysler the next fleet supplier of the United States Postal Service.

Like I have said before, Chrysler has a good idea of making say three drive trains, the EV drive train, the PHEV drive train, and the EV Range Extention drive train.  Then placing any body on any of those drive trains.  This way the public can have more choices when they shop for a new car.  This will also lower producation cost and allow Chrysler to turn a profit quicker than any other idea I have heard thus far.  I can’t wait to see what Chrysler can come up with, lets just hope they stay out of the financial hole.

May 19th, 2009

Daimler shocks with its Tesla investment!

The German automaker Daimler, which once owned Chrysler as recently as 2007, has bought into American electric car company Tesla.  Diamler purchased 10% of Tesla on Tuesday.  The investment is said to be in the area of “double-digit million dollar sum” says one report.   I should have seen this coming, because Tesla was showing off the all electric Smart car when they held their Model S reception here in Washington D.C. just a few months ago.  Seeing how Daimler owns Smart, it would only be wise to invest in Telsa since they are supplying Smart with batteries.  It’s obvious that Daimler understands that the future is in electric vehicles and that Chysler wasn’t going to get them there.

April 26th, 2009

Did GM shoot the horse today? is the Pontiac brand forever gone?

pontiac_logo1The rumor is that GM will officially announce the end of the Pontiac brand today.  I think this is a good move because Pontiac had quality problems in the early 90′s that have dirtied the brand name.  Only recently has the quality improved because of Holden in AU doing all of the production of the vehicles.  I know for a fact that Holden made the GTO and G8.  I am also not too worried because the brand didn’t have any Plug-ins or hybrids in the works that I know of.  An all electric version of the Solstice would have been a good idea GM.   This closure has also made me wonder if the 2008/2009 G8 which is getting great reviews, would be an instant collectors item? Can anyone weigh in on this?

UPDATE:   I just checked out the Holden webpage and was suprised to see a half truck half car called the Ute.  I must say this would have been a very sweet looking electric car and very practical since the area under truck beds are the perfect place for storing batteries.  Oh well I guess we can shoot that dream.   However, I would assume that GM would continue using Holden for some future Chevy models, maybe we will see this half truck as a branded Chevy.

April 22nd, 2009

GE ups it’s stake in A123

General Electric just infused A123 with $15 million, this should help A123 with expanding it’s production facilities.  A123 is the MIT battery maker that specializes in the production of lithium nano-phosphate batteries for the auto industry.  I believe this brings GE to a 30% stake in A123.  I also believe that A123 has lost the competiton to be the battery supplier for GM and Tesla while inking a deal to be the sole provider for Chrysler.  As my regular readers can atess, I am an avid supporter of Chryslers electric vehicle designs.  Chrysler has some game changers in their line up and I can only hope that they stay afloat long enough to produce them.  The Chrysler 200c and the Dodge Circuit are amazing looking and performing vehicles.  I know some things about A123 that I have learned in the industry, such as their batteries can handle a rapid charge unlike most lithium-ion batteries.  When I say rapid, I mean a 10 minute full charge at high amperage (around 400 to 600 amps).  Whats even better is a blend of these batteries and ultra capacitors to even lower the charging times.  This would be extremely useful for creating electric vehicle charging stations, which is the largest hurdle to overcome with electric vehicles.  I believe range anxiety will not even be an issue in a few years.

Here is the press release.