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 Technology Stocks | The Electric Car, or MPG "what me worry?"


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To: deeno who wrote (1948)2/15/2012 1:36:59 PM
From: Eric
   of 2550
 
Letting the utility act as the battery is efficient. My Seattle home burns about 32 kilowatt hrs a day in the coldest winter months (Heat via heat pump and all other appliances) and in the summer about 5 kilowatt hrs per day.

So I'll be installing a 7 Kilowatt PV array to zero out that bill plus provide excess to charge the vehicles and keep them happy.. I'll still get paid by the utility for the excess so my utility bill will be negative. My system will have battery backup because we lose power here on average about four times a year averaging over 40 hours total. So I'm designing the system to have about two days of backup.

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To: Eric who wrote (1950)2/15/2012 3:40:30 PM
From: deeno
   of 2550
 
currently here you can not get paid for excess generation. the best you can do is have a zero usage, but your bill would still be like $100 for some base fees of some sort.

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To: deeno who wrote (1951)2/15/2012 7:44:55 PM
From: Eric
   of 2550
 
In Washington State you can get up to $ .53 cents per kwHr. The program ends in 2020.

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From: Eric2/16/2012 7:31:13 AM
   of 2550
 
Tesla Motors Fourth-Quarter Loss Widens to $81.5 Million


Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), the maker of battery-powered cars run by entrepreneur Elon Musk, projects revenue will grow in the year’s second half as deliveries of the new Model S sedan eclipse those of the outgoing Roadster.

The company said yesterday its fourth-quarter net loss widened to $81.5 million. Revenue in 2012 may be as much as $600 million, almost triple that of last year, with 90 percent coming in the second half, Tesla said.

“The bulk of 2012 revenue is Model S-related,” Musk, 40, said in a conference call yesterday. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla plans to deliver as many as 5,000 of the cars this year.

The carmaker, named for inventor Nikola Tesla, aims to be a dominant maker of premium electric vehicles and to be profitable as early as next year. Sales of its $109,000 Roadster sports car are ending and production of the Model S, with a $57,400 base price, begins mid-year with a goal of boosting annual vehicle deliveries to more than 10 times the current pace.

Until Model S deliveries begin, Tesla’s main revenue source is supplying battery packs and other parts to Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) and Daimler AG (DAI), two of its investors.

The net loss for the three months ended Dec. 31 was 78 cents a share. That compares with a deficit of $51.4 million, or 54 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding some items, the per- share loss was 69 cents, compared with 47 cents a year earlier, Tesla said. The average of 11 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg was for a loss of 62 cents.

Tesla rose 1.3 percent to $33.60 yesterday in New York trading, before the results were released. The stock has gained 18 percent this year.

Daimler Deal

The company also said it’s starting a development program with Daimler for a new Mercedes-Benz vehicle with a full Tesla powertrain, including batteries, a motor and electronic controls and software. Musk didn’t elaborate on the project, saying details would come from Daimler.

“I do expect that this will be significant, probably more significant than the sum of all deals we’ve done with Daimler to date,” Musk said. Tesla has previously supplied battery packs for Daimler’s electric Smart minicars and Mercedes A-Class hatchbacks.

Tesla said Nov. 2 it had a letter of intent from Daimler for the new vehicle, and provided no details at the time.

Han Tjan, a Daimler spokesman based in New York, wasn’t immediately able to comment on the matter.

Design Expertise

“It’s probably not something that will be for a mass-scale vehicle,” said Ed Kim, an industry analyst at researcher AutoPacific Inc. in Tustin, California. While Tesla’s projects with Daimler and Toyota aren’t large in vehicle volume, “the benefit they get from even associating themselves with Daimler and Toyota is worth a ton,” he said.

Tesla will begin shipping battery packs and motors for use in an all-electric version of Toyota’s RAV4 compact sport- utility vehicle this year.

“What those projects say is they’re being viewed as a credible source of design expertise,” said Alan Baum, principal of Baum & Associates, a provider of auto-industry analysis in West Bloomfield, Michigan. “Daimler has the capability internally to do this, but is choosing to work with Tesla.”

Tesla said fourth-quarter revenue rose 8.5 percent to $39.4 million and that annual sales in 2011 increased 75 percent to $204.2 million.

“The market, at least so far, is a little skeptical,” said Jeremy Anwyl, vice chairman of Edmunds.com, an automotive pricing and data service in Santa Monica, California. “The risk for Tesla is that they get overenthusiastic and run ahead of the market for electric vehicles.”

Roadster Sales

Sales of Roadsters exceeded 2,150 through the end of 2011, and a final 330 units of the car will be sold in Asia and Europe this year, Tesla said. Chassis production for the car at Group Lotus Plc’s factory in Hethel, England, has ended.

Tesla plans to build as many as 20,000 Model S cars next year, with top-end versions selling for $97,900. The company unveiled and began taking reservations last week for the Model X battery-powered SUV, which will go on sale in late 2013.

Advance sales of the Model X exceed 500 vehicles, representing future revenue of more than $40 million, Tesla said in a statement yesterday.

“This is by far the best-selling car in Tesla history, by a significant margin,” Musk said.

Model X

The Model X, Tesla’s first crossover, is derived from the underpinnings of the Model S. The mid-size SUV, touted by Tesla as faster than Porsche AG (PAH3)’s 911 sports car and roomier than the Q7 SUV of Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Audi brand, will be built in 2013 at the Fremont, California, plant that starts making the Model S this year.

Model S reservations exceed 8,000, Tesla said yesterday.

Tesla is among the most-shorted U.S. stocks. Almost 65 percent of its shares available for trading, or float, were sold short as of Jan. 31, the second-highest total in the Russell 1000 Index (RIY), according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Short sellers profit from price declines by selling borrowed securities and replacing them with stock bought at lower levels.

The company will face tougher competition in the next few years as larger automakers begin releasing lower-priced electric vehicles, Anwyl said.

“Success is not assured,” he said.

bloomberg.com

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From: Eric2/16/2012 10:52:53 AM
1 Recommendation   of 2550
 


US one way commute distances

How Far Is Enough?

By Bill Moore

ANSWER: 437 kilometers or if you wish, 271 miles.

That’s the average driving distance most respondents to the Accenture consumer survey believe is required of a fully charged electric car before it needs recharging. So, reports a recently published study out of Columbia University’s Earth and Environmental Engineering Department. Consumers expect this because this is what they have become accustomed to. Most petroleum-fueled ICE-age vehicles typically have driving ranges of from 234 miles (Dodge Ram 1500 pickup) to 383 miles ( Toyota Camry and Honda Accord). The Chevrolet Silverado 4WD claims an incredible 491 miles (that must be one whopping fuel tank).

So, it’s little wonder the average consumer expects an electric vehicle to be capable of similar range performance. They’ve built their lives around that expectation.

Or have they?

Not according to the Columbia study, which analyzed 2009 population data from the National Household Travel Survey of some 150,000+ American households. What they discovered is that while gasoline car drivers expect a vehicle to travel many hundreds of miles/kilometers before needing to refuel, in actual day-to-day practice, they drive only a fraction of that distance.

What the Columbia study discovered isn’t particularly new information. We’ve known for years that the average commute (see page 6) is typically between 30-40 miles, with the U.S. national average about 27 miles. Over half of those weekday trips into work are under 10 miles; with more than half of the total miles driven being 40 miles or less. So, while the average IC-engine vehicle can drive 300 or more miles, their owners typically only drive one-tenth of that distance on a daily basis.

Most drivers seem to have a good grasp of how far they usually drive on a daily basis; after all, they do five days a week. (When I used to commute, my drive was 12.5 miles one way. My wife’s daily drive is 5.5 miles one way.) What they don’t have a good grasp of is what the capabilities are of an electric car, which the authors define as both battery and electric hybrids or PHEVs. The Accenture study cited by Columbia notes that, on average, 30% of the respondents said they had ‘enough’ understanding of the technology to make an intelligent buying decision; and in a footnote, Accenture researchers commented that they felt even this group likely overstated what they claimed they knew. Chinese respondents had the highest score (44%), Japanese, the lowest (20%); U.S. came in at 36%.

The people who have the best grasp of the capabilities of EVs are those who actually drive them, and here the Columbia researchers turned to U.C. Davis’ study of BMW Mini-E lessees in California. While 60% of the 72 drivers interviewed ‘agreed very strongly’ that an EV was suitable for daily use, 81% answered ‘Yes’ when asked, “Are there any locations you would like to be able to access in your Mini E but can’t or prefer not to because of range issues?”

Another important issue the study addresses is range variability. While OEMs and EV advocates usually discuss the range of these vehicles, it’s usually only in the context of what they are capable of under ideal circumstances or based on EPA tests. In fact, real world experience can produce range distances that can vary widely with driver skills, weather conditions, state of battery charge, etc. The Columbia study uses the Nissan LEAF as an example. Under ideal driving conditions, it has a range of around 135 miles, with LEAF owners reporting up to 130 miles. Run through two different EPA drive cycles (SAE-J1634 & LA4) reduces this to 74 and 100 miles, respectively. Run through winter driving in urban stop-n-go, and this falls to just over 60 miles, less than half that under “ideal conditions.” That’s a driving range variability typically not seen in an ICE vehicle.

The authors observe that most American households have the luxury of having more than one vehicle from which to select for a particular trip: the national average is 1.9 vehicles per household. Significantly, 39% of those vehicles aren’t even driven on a daily basis.

What they also found was that 95% of all individual trips are below 30 miles and 99% below 70 miles. Also, it turns out that my old commute of 12.5 miles is the national average (12.6).

They conclude, “Assuming the electric car is charged overnight only, a Nissan LEAF with a 62-138 mile range would be able to satisfy 83-95% of all travel days, depending on driving conditions as described before. A 2011 TeslaRoadster would be able to satisfy > 98.5% of travel days, assuming a minimum range of 0.85 times the EPA-labeled range.”



Download the full study at:http://www.solarjourneyusa.com/HowFarWeDrive_v1.2.pdf

evworld.com

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From: Eric2/16/2012 11:11:13 AM
   of 2550
 
Obama hikes subsidy to wealthy electric car buyers

The White House intends to boost government subsidies for wealthy buyers of the Chevy Volt and other new-technology vehicles — to $10,000 per buyer.

That mammoth subsidy would cost taxpayers $100 million each year if it is approved by Congress, presuming only 10,000 new-technology autos are sold each year.

But the administration wants to get 1 million new-tech autos on the road by 2015. The subsidy cost of that goal could reach $10 billion.

The planned giveaway will likely prompt populist protests from GOP legislators, but it will likely also will be welcomed by auto-industry workers in the critical swing state of Michigan.

That welcome is critical for President Barack Obama, who is touting his support for blue-collar manufacturing programs to help offset his low public approval ratings.

The new subsidy level represents a 33 percent jump from the current $7,500 government payout for each Volt buyer, even though the Volt’s buyers are already among the wealthiest Americans. It will be offered to buyers of any new-technology autos, including battery-powered autos and cars powered by natural gas, said a White House official.

The extra money for wealthy buyers will be borrowed funds, eventually paid off by future taxpayers in all income brackets.

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Mike Kelly, who owns a Chevy dealership, has already introduced legislation to end the auto subsidies. “The nation is $15.2 billion in debt and climbing, so we’ve got to be a lot more careful about how we spend the money,” he told The Daily Caller in January.

The bill, he said, will also help citizens recognize the money-losing crony-capitalist deals between Democratic legislators and business interests, such as Chevy, he said. “How do we get this crony capitalism across to the voters? We tell them, ‘Folks, this is your money, not the administration’s money. … It’s being thrown around by this president. … It’s not a good investment, and there’s no positive return on it.”

For example, even with the $7,500 rebate for each buyer, Chevy sold only 7,671 Volts in 2011, far below the target of 10,000 earlier touted by company officials. Last month Nissan made the 10,000th sale of its all-electric Leaf model.

The average income of the Chevy Volt’s buyers is $170,000 per year, according to General Motors CEO Dan Akerson. “Some of them — I think roughly half — are either [Toyota] Prius or BMW owners,” Akerson said in a Dec. 16 interview with the Associated Press.

That high income puts the Volt’s buyers in the top 7 percent of households, according to census data, and slightly above the rankings held by households with BMWs, Lexuses or Cadillacs.

The average income of BMW buyers is nearly $170,000, according to a May 2010 article in Bloomberg Business Week.

Cadillac buyers earn almost $130,000, and Lexus buyers take home an average of $141,000. Only Mercedes-Benz drivers earn more than Volt drivers, an average of $174,000 per year.

The extra subsidy is buried in President Barack Obama’s request for the 2013 budget, but was briefly described by White House economic chief Gene Sperling during a White House briefing today.

“We give consumers the incentive to buy these cars, he said, adding that the credit would be $10,000 per auto.

The budget document, titled “Investing in Our Future,” includes a goal of putting “One Million Advanced Technology Vehicles on the Road by 2015.”

To reach this goal, the budget “continues to support electric vehicle manufacturing and adoption in the United States through new consumer rebates, investments in R&D, and competitive programs to encourage investment in advanced vehicle infrastructure,” says the document.

news.yahoo.com

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From: Eric2/16/2012 11:16:39 AM
   of 2550
 
Myths and Facts About Electric Cars


As automakers are starting to bring electric vehicle (EV) technology into the mainstream, conservative media outlets have repeatedly misled consumers about electric cars by trying to paint them as environmentally harmful and unsafe, among other false claims.

CONSERVATIVE MEDIA OUTLETS ARE CAMPAIGNING AGAINST THE ELECTRIC CAR BY:

Denying That EVs Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Downplaying EV Sales

Misleading About EV Distance Range

Distorting Volt Safety

Feigning Concern About Battery Disposal

Spinning Consumer Tax Credits

Fearmongering About The Electric Grid

Overstating Subsidies For Volt

Conservative Media Pummel Emerging Industry With Misleading ClaimsMYTH: Electric Cars Do Not Reduce CO2 Emissions
  • Fox News' Greg Gutfeld said that "the entire reason for doing these stupid little cars is a lie" because electricity "comes from coal. In some cases, some studies show that these can produce more pollution than internal combustion engines." [Fox News, The Five, 1/27/12, via Nexis]
  • Jonah Goldberg wrote in a Chicago Tribune op-ed: "The point is to reduce CO2 emissions, right? But in some regions, we get our electricity from CO2-spewing coal. The more electricity pulled from the grid, the more coal is burned, essentially replacing dirty oil with dirtier coal." [Chicago Tribune, 8/10/10]
  • A Washington Timeseditorial said that when a person uses an electric car, "instead of coming out the tailpipe, the unwanted carbon-dioxide molecules are instead released at the power plant, which is generally coal-fired well outside their view." [Washington Times, 1/17/12]
  • FACT: Electric Vehicles Cause Substantially Fewer CO2 EmissionsElectric Vehicles Emit Less CO2 Even If Coal Supplies The Power.This chart from the Department of Energy shows that, even though coal is the source of nearly half the nation's electricity, all-electric vehicles (EV) like the Nissan Leaf, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) like the Chevy Volt cause on average substantially less carbon dioxide emissions than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles:



    In states like Indiana that are heavily reliant on coal-fired power, hybrid cars cause fewer emissions than plug-in EVs, but EVs still cause fewer emissions than conventional gasoline powered cars. In areas where electric car sales are high, EVs are significantly more environmentally friendly than the national average. For example, the Los Angeles area is projected by Pike Research to have the second highest electric car sales in the nation over the next 5 years, and carbon emissions for all-electric cars there are nearly half that of the national average:



    [Department of Energy, 9/22/11] [Pike Research, 2011]

    Study: In Every Scenario, Plug-In Hybrid Electric Cars Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions "Significantly."A 2007 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Electric Power Research Institute, which represents electric utilities, examined nine potential scenarios to determine the impact of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle use through 2050. The study found that in each scenario greenhouse gas emissions were "reduced significantly" -- even if the electric sector remained carbon intensive and PHEVs only accounted for 20% of the market in 2050. The study further found that each region of country would yield reductions in greenhouse gas emissions if PHEVs were adopted. The study was a "well-to-wheels" analysis that accounted for emissions during production of both electricity and gasoline. [EPRI and NRDC, July 2007, via CFR]

    U.S. Coal Use Is On The Decline.A January 24 Reuters article shows that as electric car sales ramp up, coal use in the U.S. is decreasing:

    U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions will be 7 percent lower than their 2005 level of nearly 6 billion metric tons in 2020 as coal's share of electricity production continues a steady descent over the next two decades, according to new government data.

    [...]

    "Over the next 25 years, the projected coal share of overall electricity generation falls to 39 percent, well below the 49-percent share seen as recently as 2007, because of slow growth in electricity demand, continued competition from natural gas and renewable plants, and the need to comply with new environmental regulations," it said.

    The retirement of old, inefficient coal-fired power plants will outpace new construction, and the report added that gas-fired plants - which are cheaper to build - will generate 13 percent more power in 2012 than they did last year. [Reuters, 1/24/12]

    MYTH: 2011 Sales Show Americans Won't Buy Electric Cars
  • On The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley said: "You know how many Chevy Volts they've sold? Like three because nobody, a) wants to drive a toaster oven for a car. Secondly, we don't have the infrastructure in this country yet to support mass electric cars." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 11/22/11]
  • Citing July sales numbers, Eric Bolling said on Fox News that "The only Volts sold are to the government." Co-host Greg Gutfled added that the federal tax credit for purchasing EVs is "like forcing Americans to buy broccoli flavored ice cream." [Fox News, The Five, 8/4/11]
  • Erin Burnett stated on her CNN show, "Despite all the advertising and the celebrities saying it's cool to drive these cars, we looked at the numbers, and it just doesn't seem to be the truth. GM has sold 5,000 Volts. Nissan, 8,000 Leafs, less than one percent of those companies' total sales." [CNN, Erin Burnett Out Front, 11/11/11, via Nexis]
  • FACT: EV Sales Topped First-Year Hybrid Sales Despite RecessionEV Sales In 2011 Were Significantly Higher Than The First Year Hybrid Sales. From a post by the Rocky Mountain Institute:

    Figures this week showed that the first mass-produced electric cars in the United States, the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, had total sales of 17,345 in 2011, the first year in which they were available. Compared with sales of 9,350 gas-electric hybrids in 2000, the first year the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius were offered in the U.S.--where total hybrid sales have now topped 2 million--17,000 might seem like a decent start for EVs. [Rocky Mountain Institute, 1/5/12]

    Media Cherry-Picked Sales Data To Paint Volt As A Failure.Yahoo! Finance ran a piece on December 27 titled "The Worst Product Flops of 2011." The article included the Volt on the list, stating "Only 124 models were sold in July 2011," without mentioning any other sales data. [Yahoo! Finance, 12/27/11]

    Gathered from news reports on GM's self-reported sales, the following chart shows that July was an outlier month, and that Volt sales significantly increased in the latter months of 2011:



    Volt Sales Affected By Lack Of Supply.CNNMoney reported:

    GM executives said on the company's conference call that Volt sales have been constrained not by lack of demand, but by lack of supply.

    Volt sales had slowed to a trickle during the summer months as GM temporarily shut down the Detroit factory where the car is built. The month-long shut-down allowed GM to revamp the factory in order to boost the car's production volume. [CNNMoney, 12/1/11]

    Volt And Leaf Were Not Available Nationwide In 2011.From a Yale Environment 360 report:

    But much of the reporting on the subject, and the attacks, failed to tell the full story. Neither the Volt nor Leaf were available nationwide in 2011, and both were plagued by supply problems. Leaf customers on the East Coast, who put down early deposits, should be getting their cars in the coming months, and Nissan hopes to double production and delivery in 2012. The EV technology is still a novelty for prospective buyers, but the necessary charging networks, though still embryonic, are growing rapidly.

    Yet while the big electric car launches of 2011 failed to find as many buyers as hoped, automakers and analysts still see increasing success for electric vehicles in the U.S. and in global markets, including China, which will soon be the world's largest. The future, they say, lies in new battery technologies that will lower the cost and increase the range of EVs. And tougher mileage standards for U.S. auto fleets, set to kick in over the next decade, will give the cars a big boost. [Yale Environment 360, 1/25/12]

    Pike Research: 40% Are "Extremely Or Very Interested" In Purchasing An EV.From the " Electric Vehicle Consumer Survey" by Pike Research:

    The survey found that, based on Americans' driving and commute patterns, PEVs should be a strong fit for a large number of consumers. Likewise, survey respondents indicated strong fundamental interest in PEVs, with 40% of participants stating that they would be extremely or very interested in purchasing such a vehicle, assuming the price were right. [Pike Research, 1/5/2012]

    EVs Trying To Compete With Artificially Low Gasoline Prices.As Washington Postcommentator Ezra Klein noted, "the price you pay" for gasoline "is less than the product's true cost. A lot less, actually":

    Most of us would call the BP spill a tragedy. Ask an economist what it is, however, and you'll hear a different word: "externality." An externality is a cost that's not paid by the person, or people, using the good that creates the cost. The BP spill is going to cost fishermen, it's going to cost the gulf's ecosystem, and it's going to cost the region's tourism industry. But that cost won't be paid by the people who wanted that oil for their cars. It'll fall on taxpayers, on Gulf Coast residents who need new jobs, on the poisoned wildlife on the seafloor.

    That means the gasoline you're buying at the pump is -- stick with me here -- too cheap. The price you pay is less than the product's true cost. A lot less, actually. And it's not just catastrophic spills and dramatic disruptions in the Middle East that add to the price. Gasoline has so many hidden costs that there's a cottage industry devoted to tallying them up. At least the ones that can be tallied up.

    Topping that list is air pollution, which we breathe in whether or not we drive. Then there's climate change, which is difficult to slap a price tag on because it involves such esoteric calculations as how much your grandchild's climate is worth. There's traffic congestion and accidents, which harm drivers and non-drivers alike. There's the cost of basing our transportation economy on a resource that undergoes wild price swings.

    Some of the best work on this subject has been done by Ian Parry, a senior fellow at Resources for the Future. His calculations -- plus some data from other sources and studies -- suggest that adding all the quantifiable costs into the price of oil would increase the cost of each gallon by about $1.65. According to the Energy Information Administration, the average price of a gallon of gas was $2.72 last week. It should really be as high as $4.37.

    That, however, is almost certainly an underestimation. [The Washington Post, 6/13/10]

    Electric Car Market Hampered By Lack Of Comprehensive Climate Policy.ClimateWire reported:

    [MIT] Symposium participants generally agreed that a comprehensive federal policy to limit carbon emissions would be the most effective boost for electric vehicle development, stimulating steadily growing consumer purchases and moving the United States toward low-carbon or carbon-free generation of electricity to charge the cars.

    But the summary pessimistically concludes: "The prospect for such a policy at the national level is remote. More likely, is a hodge-podge of state and federal regulation and targeted subsidies for favored technologies."

    Leaving the matter to separate states "is sheer lunacy," but that is where the matter is headed, [Professor John] Deutch said.

    "We need to continue aggressive R&D on these areas," he said. There was consensus on that point, as well, at the symposium, although the participants differed on how much government support should go to pure research versus manufacturing operations with current technologies. [Scientific American, 1/14/11]

    MYTH: Consumers Won't Want Electric Cars Because Of Reduced Range
  • Writing for Forbes,Patrick J. Michaels of the Cato Institute claimed that "no one has figured out how to produce a comfortable electric car at an affordable (non-subsidized) price that has enough range to be practical for the most of us." [Forbes, 8/19/11]
  • Fox Business analyst Gary Kaltbaum said the public doesn't want to "buy an electric car where you've got to stop every 40 miles." [Fox Business, Cavuto, 12/19/11, via Nexis]
  • Author and motivational speaker Larry Winget said on Fox Business that "we still can't make an electric car that can go more than 40 miles without a recharge." [Fox Business, The Willis Report, 12/7/11, via Nexis]
  • FACT: EV Range Is More Than Enough For Most DriversAutoObserver: Studies Show 72% Of Drivers Travel Less Than 40 Miles A Day.Edmunds AutoObserver reported on October 21:

    In a phone interview with AutoObserver last week, Perry said exhaustive data gleaned from the U.S. Department of Energy's EV Project and from the 7,500 Nissan Leaf EV (above) hatchbacks now on U.S. roads makes it abundantly clear that "there's no market need" for an EV that gets hundreds of miles between charges.

    The data shows that the typical Leaf driver averages 37 miles a day in the car, and that the typical trip length (distance between power on and power off) is seven miles, Perry said. The findings are consistent with studies of conventional-vehicle driving patterns that found that 72 percent of American drivers travel less than 40 miles a day, and 95 percent drive less than 100 miles a day. [AutoObserver, 10/21/11]

    Survey: Average Driver Travels 29 Miles Per Day.According to the Federal Highway Administration's most recent National Household Travel Survey, the average driver travels 29 miles per day and the average vehicle trip length is 9.7 miles. [Department of Transportation, 2009]

    All-Electric Nissan Leaf Can Travel Over 70 Miles On A Charge.In 2010, the EPA gave the Nissan Leaf an official rating of 73 miles on a full charge. Tests byConsumer Reportsyielded about 90 miles "in ideal conditions" and about 60 miles "on cold days, with the heater running." One test by Nick Chambers of PluginCars.com showed that the Leaf can travel up to 116 miles on a charge. [CNN Money, 11/24/10] [Consumer Reports, 9/30/11] [PluginCars.com, 10/21/10]

    Mitsubishi Electric Car Has Projected Range Of 62 Miles.According to the EPA, the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV will travel 62 miles on a charge. The range increases to 98 miles under certain conditions. [GreenCarReports.com, 7/6/11]

    Plug-In Hybrids Offer Extended Range.Consumers who need to travel long distances have the option of purchasing plug-in hybrid electric cars like the Chevy Volt or the forthcoming Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid. From Hybridcars.com:

    Plug-in hybrids provide the benefits of an electric car, while maintaining the same driving range as conventional vehicles. Plug-in hybrid drivers travel in an all-electric mode for the vast majority of common local driving. When the battery's electric charge is depleted, a downsized gas engine is used to either recharge the batteries (as the car moves), or as the primary source of propulsion until recharging the batteries via a plug.

    Plug-in hybrid cars are also known as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles or PHEVs. Plug-in hybrid cars that use a gas engine exclusively for recharging batteries--rather than directly powering the wheels--are also called Extended-Range Electric Vehicles or E-REVs. [Hybridcars.com, accessed 2/2/12]

    There Are Over 5,500 Electric Charging Stations.According to the Department of Energy, there are over 5,500 electric charging stations in the country. DOE provides a map of public charging stations on its website. The Department of Energy is investing $8.5 million to further expand charging infrastructure. [Department of Energy, accessed 2/2/12] [Department of Energy, 9/8/11]

    MYTH: Volt Batteries Are Unsafe
  • In a recent editorial, The Washington Postsaid that "the Volt brand is suffering from news that some of its batteries burst into flames after government road tests." [Media Matters, 1/5/12]
  • On The O'Reilly Factor, Lou Dobbs said the Volt "doesn't work" because "it doesn't go fast and go far on electricity. What happens is it catches fire ... This is considered a negative when we're trying to move an automobile." O'Reilly then repeatedly said that the Volts "catch fire" without mentioning that the fire only happened during a crash test. [Media Matters, 1/27/12]
  • Neil Cavuto said on his Fox Business show that the Volt is "a plug-in that blows up. The battery heats up. It's killing people. It's maiming them." [Media Matters, 1/27/12]
  • FACT: Investigators Concluded Volts Are Just As Safe As Conventional CarsBattery Fire Happened Weeks After Pole Crash Test And Rollover Test.From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's description of the test:

    During an NCAP [New Car Assessment Program] oblique side pole impact test conducted by NHTSA in May 2011, the pole struck and deformed the sill plate under the driver's door at a location where there is a structural member. The lateral member displaced inward, pierced the HV battery enclosure and battery, and caused a battery coolant leak. Thereafter, the Agency conducted a rollover test (the rollover test consists of four 90-degree rotate-and-hold movements about the vehicle's longitudinal axis). In that test, the HV battery and electronics were exposed to coolant that leaked as a result of the crash. The vehicle fire that occurred three weeks later and the additional testing NHTSA conducted are discussed in a report titled "2011 Chevrolet Volt Battery Fire Incident Report" a copy of which is available in the public file. The report indicates that intrusion induced coolant leakage, and subsequent rollover that saturates electronic components, were the only test conditions which resulted in a subject vehicle HV battery fire. [NHTSA, 1/26/12]

    CNN: "No Fires Were Reported In Cars That People Were Actually Driving." CNN's Erin Burnett made clear that fires had only occurred in crash tests, not real-life scenarios:

    ERIN BURNETT: Investigators did not find a safety defect. They also supported GM's fix, which reinforces the structure surrounding the battery. No fires were reported in cars that people were actually driving. This came from crash tests. [CNN, Out Front with Erin Burnett, 1/20/12]

    NHTSA Did Not Drain Battery After Crash, As GM Protocols Require.From an Associated Press report:

    General Motors spokesman Greg Martin said the test did not follow procedures developed by GM engineers for handling the Volt after a crash. The engineers tested the Volt's battery pack for more than 300,000 hours to come up with the procedures, which include discharge and disposal of the battery pack, he said.

    "Had those protocols been followed after this test, this incident would not have occurred," he said.

    [...]

    After the crash test, NHTSA found a coolant leak and moved the damaged Volt to a back lot, where it was exposed to the elements, said Rob Peterson, a GM spokesman who specializes in electric cars. Exposure to the weather caused the coolant to crystalize, and that, combined with the remaining charge in the battery, were factors, he said.

    NHTSA did not drain the battery of energy as called for under GM's crash procedures. But at the time, GM had not told the agency of its protocols, Peterson said. NHTSA normally drains fuel from gasoline-powered cars after crash tests, he said. [Associated Press, 11/11/11, via MSNBC.com]

    GM Knows Via OnStar About Any Crash Significant Enough To Compromise The Battery.The Detroit Free Press reported:

    Chevrolet dealers have sold about 6,000 Volts, all of which are equipped with the OnStar emergency notification system, said GM spokesman Greg Martin.

    "There have been no reports of comparable incidences in the field," GM said in a statement. "With Onstar, GM knows in real time about any crash significant enough to potentially compromise battery integrity."

    Since July, GM has implemented a process with first responders that includes depowering of the battery after a severe crash. [Detroit Free Press, 11/26/11]

    GM Provided A Fix To Volt Owners.Automotive News reported:

    The agency [NHTSA] said that modifications intended to reinforce the Volt's 435-pound lithium-ion battery pack that General Motors announced on Jan. 5 should "reduce the potential" of the pack catching fire in the days or weeks following a crash.

    [...]

    Company executives [at GM] say the voluntary fix will make the car "safer" by reinforcing the steel surrounding the battery pack to prevent it from being punctured during a crash. It also will add a sensor to the battery pack to monitor coolant leaks.
    GM is asking its 8,000 Volt customers to visit their Chevy dealership to have the work done. Dealers will be ready to perform the work starting in February, GM said. [Automotive News, 1/20/12]

    NHTSA Concluded Investigation After Finding "No Discernible Defect Trend."Wired's Autopia blog reported:

    Federal regulators have closed their investigation into the Chevrolet Volt, saying they are satisfied with the steps General Motors has taken to protect the car's lithium-ion battery and minimize the risk of a fire in the days and weeks after a severe crash.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posted an explanation and summary of its inquiry on Friday and announced the conclusion of the investigation it launched Nov. 25.

    "The agency's investigation has concluded that no discernible defect trend exists and that the vehicle modifications recently developed by General Motors reduce the potential for battery intrusion resulting from side impacts," the feds said in a statement.

    The statement adds, "Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles."

    The findings vindicate General Motors, which always argued the Chevrolet Volt is safe, and electric vehicle advocates who argued that the inquiry was much ado about very little. [Wired, Autopia, 1/20/12]

    Around 250,000 Conventional Cars Catch Fire In Real-Life Every Year. Brad Plumer wrote on The Washington Post's WonkBlog:

    [E]lectric cars have recently had to endure panicky headlines over safety, after three separate Volt batteries caught fire in crash tests. On the technical merits, this wasn't a huge worry: The batteries caught fire days or weeks after extreme crash testing in the laboratory, and even then the fires only broke out because post-crash procedures weren't followed. As MSNBC's Dan Carney snarks, "The lesson here is to get out of a crashed car within a few days, and be sure to turn off the lights when exiting." There was also the little-noted fact that, as government statistics show (PDF), some 250,000 gas-powered vehicles catch fire in real-life settings every year. [Washington Post's WonkBlog, 1/9/12]

    MYTH: Batteries In Electric Cars Are An Environmental Hazard
  • A FoxNews.com article about the Chevy Volt claimed "the industry has not figured out how to dispose of 500 plus pounds of highly hazardous lithum [sic] batteries per car." [FoxNews.com, 1/9/12]
  • Columnist Rick Martinez wrote that "lithium and other toxic elements and chemicals are needed to make electric car batteries, which don't last forever. Sooner or later, car batteries will surpass computers and televisions as the Earth's most pressing environmental disposal challenge." [News & Observer, 3/9/11]
  • National Legal and Policy Center's Mark Modica said on Fox Business that "the lithium ion battery production and disposal is a problem itself. There's been studies that show that the Volt is not even as green as an internal combustion engine because of the battery - the lithium battery issue." [Fox Business, Cavuto, 10/12/11, via Nexis]
  • FACT: Battery Recycling Efforts Are UnderwayEV Batteries Are Not Toxic Like Conventional Lead-Acid Car Batteries. CNNMoney reported:

    We've all had to get rid of spent lithium-ion batteries from laptops and cell phones so it's natural to worry about the ones in electric cars.

    Won't those eventually have to be disposed of, too? Are they just going to sit rotting in land fills fouling the environment?

    Probably not. First, the lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars are less dangerous to the environment than most other batteries to begin with. That's because they don't contain large amounts of toxic rare earth metals. Second, all kinds of batteries, large and small, are routinely recycled and electric car batteries can be, too. [CNNMoney, 12/20/10]

    Recycling Firms, Automakers Already Building Infrastructure To Handle EV Batteries. The New York Times reported that companies involved in recycling electronics "have already begun spending money to build an infrastructure to handle the flood of partly depleted battery packs" from electric cars. The article further stated:

    Toyota Motor, whose experience goes back to 1998, shortly after the introduction of the RAV4 all-electric vehicle, has established partnerships in Europe and the United States to recycle batteries, including from the hybrid Prius. This year, it began shipping some batteries from Prius models sold in the United States to Japan to take advantage of a more-efficient recycling process at home.

    Honda Motor recycled nearly 500 batteries during 2009 from the electric hybrid models it began selling in Japan more than a decade ago. But it still is exploring ways to structure that part of its business as it rolls out models like the Insight and the CR-Z.

    General Motors and Nissan Motor, whose Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf are newer to the market, are taking a different tack. They have agreements with power companies to develop ways of reusing old batteries, perhaps for storing wind or solar energy during peak generating times for later use.

    [...]

    In the United States, the Department of Energy has granted $9.5 million to Toxco to build a specialized recycling plant in Ohio for electric vehicle batteries. It is expected to begin operations next year, handling batteries from a variety of makes and models. [New York Times, 8/30/11]

    Greenwire: Certain Battery Components "Far Too Valuable To Send To The Landfill."Greenwire reported in September 2009 that "though lithium currently fetches very little on the open market, other components in lithium-ion batteries, such as nickel and cobalt, will make the batteries far too valuable to send to the landfill." The report also quoted Linda Gaines of the Argonne National Laboratory, who is studying global lithium supply:

    Currently, lithium is mined by only one company in the United States from a brine operation in the Nevada desert, and USGS data show that more than 85 percent of the world's lithium reserves is in Bolivia, Chile and China.

    Gaines' research found that the amount of lithium needed for some types of lithium-ion batteries could be cut in half if those batteries are effectively recycled.

    "If we had a careful recycling program in the U.S., we could conceivably be self-sufficient," Gaines said. "The ideal would be to take the whole battery apart, clean up the material and recycle them back to battery-grade." [Greenwire, 9/14/09, via Scientific American]

    EV Batteries Could Be Used For Stationary Energy Storage.Wired's Autopia blog reported in November 2010:

    Energy storage is a growing industry, and automakers see a demand for used packs, which could help make the grid more efficient. Nissan expects demand in Japan to be so great by 2020 that it would need 50,000 EV batteries to meet it. Automakers are confident they'll find buyers because the lithium-ion packs used in electric vehicles are expected to retain around 70 percent of their storage capacity after 10 years. Although that may not be enough for a commuter who needs maximum range, it's fine for stationary applications like backup power in a hospital or load-leveling at a substation.

    "We expect to see an entirely new industry arise to use these batteries," said Paul Gustavsson, vice president for business development at Volvo. The company expects to sell its first electric cars in 2013. "Every hospital has a huge battery backup in the basement. So do power plants, military installations, some skyscrapers. There's some fascinating business opportunities there that are just now being discovered." [Wired,Autopia, 11/24/10]

    MYTH: Electric Car Subsidies Only Benefit The Rich
  • In a recent editorial, The Washington Post argued against tax credits for EV consumers, in part because "only upper-income consumers can afford to buy an electric vehicle." [Media Matters, 1/5/12]
  • In an article at FoxNews.com titled "Electric Car Subsidies Transferring Wealth From Poor To The Rich?", William La Jeunesse wrote that "billions in federal subsidies for electric vehicles are going those [sic] who need them the least: the 1 percent." [FoxNews.com, 1/9/12]
  • Neil Monroe of The Daily Caller said on Fox Business: "President Obama wants to give $10,000 per car to wealthy blue state voters that should make Americans see red," adding, "It is redistribution towards the wealthy. [Fox Business, Cavuto, 11/3/11, via Nexis]
  • Fox Business' Liz MacDonald said: "one percenters, are the only ones who effectively can afford these cars, so why not support, you know, tax breaks for the upper brackets who can buy these cars?" [Fox Business, Cavuto, 12/27/11, via Nexis]
  • FACT: Tax Incentives Make Advanced Technology Accessible To Middle ClassMitsubishi Electric Car Will Cost $21,625 After Tax Credit.The all-electric car from Mitsubishi, the i-MiEV, will cost $29,125 -- or $21,625 after the $7,500 federal tax credit. The tax credit makes the price of the i-MiEV comparable to the Toyota Camry, the top selling car in the U.S. in 2011. [Mitsubishi, accessed 1/24/12]

    Nissan Leaf Costs $27,700 After Tax Credit.The 2011 Nissan Leaf, an all-electric vehicle, costs $27,700 after the federal tax credit. [AutoGuide, 1/3/12]

    Electric Cars Cost About Five Times Less Than Conventional Vehicles To Operate. According to the Department of Energy, a conventional vehicle costs 10 to 15 cents per mile in fuel to run, while an electric vehicle costs 2 to 4 cents per mile for fuel, based on the average U.S. electricity price. A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle costs 2 to 4 cents per mile when running on electricity, and 5 to 7 cents per mile when running on gasoline. [Department of Energy, 10/3/11]

    Study: Battery Costs Will "Decline Steeply As Production Volumes Increase."From an analysis of the electric car battery market by the Boston Consulting Group, a leading consulting firm:

    Battery costs will decline steeply as production volumes increase. Individual parts will become less expensive thanks to experience and scale effects. Equipment costs will also drop, lowering depreciation. Higher levels of automation will further trim costs by increasing quality, reducing scrap levels, and cutting labor costs. However, some 25 percent of current battery costs - primarily the cost of raw materials and standard, commoditized parts - are likely to remain relatively independent of production volumes and to change over time.

    The analysis also showed how continued government purchase incentives would "directly influence" the total cost of ownership (TCO) of EVs. According to the study, if the incentive programs continue to 2020, consumers in Western nations could recoup the added upfront cost of electric cars in 1-5 years, rather than 9-15 years:



    [Boston Consulting Group, 1/7/10]

    Tax Credits For Electric Vehicles Have Bipartisan History.As the following summary from the Congressional Research Service shows, Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush signed legislation providing tax incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles and other cars that reduce reliance on oil:

    EPAct 1992 established tax incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles and "clean-fuel vehicles," including alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Section 1341) significantly expanded and extended the vehicle purchase incentives, establishing tax credits for the purchase of fuel cell, hybrid, alternative fuel, and advanced diesel vehicles.

    [...]

    The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 established a tax credit for the purchase of plug-in vehicles, both pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids (i.e., gasoline/electric hybrid vehicles that can fuel on gasoline or be recharged from the electric grid.) For passenger vehicles, the credit is a maximum of $7,500, depending on the vehicle's battery capacity. After sales of vehicles eligible for the credit exceed a total of 250,000 for all manufacturers, the credit is phased out. [Congressional Research Service, 2/4/10]

    Tax Credits Contribute To Development Of American Advanced Battery Industry And Jobs.A Duke University analysis of the U.S. value chain for lithium-ion vehicle batteries stated: "Largely as a result of financial support by federal and state governments, the U.S. domestic lithium-ion battery supply chain is developing very quickly." The report also said "U.S. production capacity has indeed grown very quickly, from just two relevant plants before the ARRA [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] funding, to 30 planned sites aiming to achieve a projected 20% of world capacity by 2012, and 40% by 2015." [Duke University Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness, 10/5/10]

    MYTH: Electric Cars Are A Threat To The Grid
  • On his Fox Business show, Cavuto stated that electric car owners are "compromising our grid." [Fox Business, Cavuto, 12/8/11, via Nexis]
  • Fox's Eric Bolling suggested that if a "million" or two million electric cars were on the road, we would have "no ability to charge these cars. The electric -- the power grid right now is on its ear already." [Fox Business, Happy Hour, 7/19/09]
  • The National Legal and Policy Center's Mark Modica suggested on Fox Business that the "electric grid isn't ready for" the amount of electric cars that advocates want on the road. [Fox Business, Cavuto, 10/12/11, via Nexis]
  • FACT: Studies Show EVs Are Unlikely To Strain Grid, Particularly With Good PlanningStudies Indicate That Plug-In Cars Won't Strain The Grid.GreenCarReports noted:

    A comprehensive and wide-ranging two-volume study from 2007, Environmental Assessment of Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles, looked at the impact of plug-in vehicles on the U.S. electrical grid. It also analyzed the "wells-to-wheels" carbon emissions of plug-ins versus gasoline cars.

    The study is well regarded, in part because of its authors. It was a joint effort by two somewhat unlikely partners: the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), which is the utility industry's research arm, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

    It looks at the consequences of drivers charging plug-in vehicles at different times during the day. And it assumes a gradual rollout of electric vehicles into the current U.S. fleet of 300 million vehicles. GM, for example, will only sell 10,000 Chevy Volts during all of 2011.

    In practice, this means electric cars will only impose marginal increases on the electric grid. The load of one plug-in recharging (about 2 kilowatts) is roughly the same as that of four or five plasma television sets. Plasma TVs hardly brought worries about grid crashes.

    [...]

    Knowing all this, the EPRI-NRDC study concluded -- not surprisingly -- that plug-in vehicles won't strain the grid. Two earlier, more limited studies from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory concluded essentially the same thing. [GreenCarReports, 7/13/10, via Discovery News]

    Utilities And Regulators Can Institute Policies To Smooth Demand.A 2011 MIT study on "The Future of the Electric Grid" stated:

    The degree to which EVs pose a stress to the power grid depends on their local penetration rate, as well as the power and time at which they charge. If regulators and utilities appropriately influence charging so that it mostly does not coincide with the system peak demand, EVs will improve system load factor and will not cause unmanageable disruption to the bulk generation and transmission system. Otherwise, integrating these loads will require more investment in equipment. [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2011]

    Engineers Are Developing New Software To Address Added Demand.Goodreported:

    As I explained in a previous column, some automakers with EVs in the pipeline are already working on the issue. Ford, for example, recently joined up with Microsoft Hohm for an in-vehicle charging system in the 2011 electric Ford Focus. The system will allow drivers to schedule vehicle charging during off-peak hours, or times when the grid has capacity to spare.

    Microsoft and Ford aren't the only companies working on EV charging software. Google is also working on a platform that will use something called a vehicle dispatch algorithm to smooth out the electricity load on the grid. And the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is developing a Smart Charger Controller to automatically juice up vehicles when electricity is cheapest and the demand for power is lowest. [Good, 11/11/10]

    Electric Cars Could Provide Backup Power For The Electric Grid.Miller-McCune reported in October:

    For 15 years, [Willett] Kempton, who directs the University of Delaware's Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration, has pushed the idea that fleets of electric vehicles -- rather than being another big draw on the electric grid -- could provide valuable backup power on demand to utilities. This would reduce the need for costly new generating plants, and help ensure a reliable supply of electricity.

    Utilities pay each other billions of dollars a year for such backup power through wholesale electricity markets, and Kempton believes that a hefty slice of that pie could be paid to electric-vehicle owners instead.

    Some industry analysts agree that the approach, known as "vehicle-to-grid," could take off; a December 2010 report from the business research firm Global Data conservatively projected a global market for vehicle-to-grid that would pay $2.3 billion to electric vehicle owners by 2012 -- and $40 billion by 2020. [Miller-McCune, 10/31/11]

    MYTH: Each Volt Cost Taxpayers More Than $250,000 In Subsidies
  • In a CBS news brief, Ashley Morrison stated: "According to a new report, every car sold so far has cost taxpayers as much as two hundred and fifty thousand dollars." [CBS, CBS Morning News, 12/22/11, via Nexis]
  • Fox News promoted the figure on Fox & Friends, Special Report, and The Five(twice). Fox Business covered the figure in at least 9 segments. [Media Matters, 12/22/11] [Nexis search, 1/20/12]
  • Rush Limbaugh and numerous conservative blogs repeated the figure. [RushLimbaugh.com, 1/11/12] [HumanEvents.com, 1/7/12] [Washington Examiner, 1/23/12] [National Review Online, 12/21/11] [MichelleMalkin.com, 12/21/11] [Hot Air, 12/21/11]
  • FACT: Subsidy Estimate Was Based On Fuzzy MathEstimate Includes Subsidies For Supplier Companies And Subsidies That Haven't Actually Been Distributed.The source of the claim that each Volt costs taxpayers $250,000 in subsidies is James Hohman of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank that has received money from fossil fuel interests. The estimate, which Hohman conceded was "simple math," included state and federal subsidies "via tax credits and direct funding for not only General Motors, but other companies supplying parts for the vehicle." It also included subsidies that the companies haven't yet received. Hohman divided that total by 6,000 - the number of Volts sold at the time. [Media Matters, 12/22/11]

    Finance Writer: "Fundamental Flaw" In The Estimate "Discredits The Entire Report."Writing for TheStreet.com, Anton Wahlman - who said he is "totally opposed to government subsidies" -- stated that "there is a fundamental flaw behind the math in this 'report' that discredits the entire report straight down to zero, in my view." From his post:

    Here is the point: Why divide whatever amount -- $1.5 billion or otherwise -- by the number of Chevrolet Volts sold to date? If he had done this study one year from now, when we could be looking at 60,000 Volts made, as GM repeatedly has promised, the headline number would be $25,000 per car-- not $250,000. You would divide the $1.5 billion by 60,000 instead of 6,000.

    But why stop at a year from now? This investment in automotive propulsion technology is meant to be refined and influence generations of cars for decades. Some part of GM's Voltec architecture and techniques will drive sales of approximately 60 million cars over the next 25 years or so, in any reasonable estimation.

    [...]

    The absurdity of the math used can be further shown by asking what the study would have yielded if it had been done six months ago or a year ago. Six months ago, 3,000 Volts had been sold and therefore the implied subsidy was $500,000 per car -- half as many cars, twice the subsidy per car. One year ago, the first Volt was sold and therefore this one car must have cost $1.5 billion, according to the reasoning by the people who wrote the headlines around this study.

    This is the way it works in almost every industry. The first iPad manufactured probably cost Apple $100 million or whatever. Does that mean Apple lost $100 million minus $500 on this iPad? Of course not. The development cost for any product is written off across large volumes, typically multiple generations, where both hardware and software accumulate constantly.

    evworld.com

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    From: Eric2/16/2012 11:33:26 PM
       of 2550
     
    Can Tesla Survive?As major automakers turn their attention to electric cars, the company faces serious challenges.

    The year 2012 will be an important one for Tesla Motors. Amid growing competition from established automakers, Tesla plans to sell a new Model S luxury sedan in July, and to supply Toyota with batteries, motors, and control systems for a new electric RAV4 SUV. Yesterday it announced a similar deal with Daimler for a new electric Mercedes-Benz. The success of these efforts could determine whether the company survives long-term—and what it might look like if it does.

    Even if Tesla can't succeed as an independent automaker, it could still be acquired by a bigger company, or live on as a supplier to major automakers.

    Tesla is best known for its electric sports car, the Roadster. But from its early days, the company has hoped to move beyond the Roadster to lower-priced electric vehicles sold in much higher volumes. Earlier this week, Tesla revealed a luxury electric SUV, the Model X, which it plans to sell starting in 2013.

    But the automotive industry has changed dramatically since Tesla was founded in 2003. At the time, changes to a California mandate that had required carmakers to make electric cars had just led GM to cancel the electric EV1, and Toyota to cancel the original electric RAV4. By and large, Tesla had the electric vehicle market to itself, its only competition coming from a handful of other small electric car companies.

    Now, GM, Nissan, and others are selling electric vehicles in numbers that after one year far exceed the total production of the EV1. In fact, every major automaker has announced plans to sell electric cars of some type. Furthermore, vehicles from companies including BMW and Mercedes will compete directly with Tesla in the market for high-performance or luxury electric vehicles.

    In its earnings report this week, Tesla said it expects to triple its revenue this year, in large part from sales of the Model S and components for the RAV4. But it doesn't expect to be profitable until it starts selling its Model S in high volume next year. Tesla's business plan calls for the production of 20,000 Model S sedans per year, but selling that many cars could prove difficult. Aaron Bragman, a senior automotive analyst for IHS, compares the Model S, which will sell for between $50,000 and $98,000, to the Porsche Panamera, a four-door sports car with similar acceleration that has a base price of $75,000. It's not a perfect comparison—the Model S is bigger and seats more people—but it's close, he says, and Porsche sells only about 7,000 Panameras a year. And Porsche has far more dealers and is a better-known brand than Tesla. "The big question is, how will Tesla convince people en masse to give up their established brands and take a chance on them? It's a difficult sell," he says.

    Tesla can still survive even if it doesn't sell enough vehicles to become profitable. If it can sell a significant number of the Model S and Model X, this will further establish Tesla as a valuable brand, and could eventually make it an attractive target for acquisition. "Tesla could be an excellent electric vehicle brand for a major automaker," Bragman says.

    Some experts think Tesla could also have a future as a supplier to other automakers. Unlike Fisker Automotive, another small automaker that's attempting to break into the electric vehicle market, Tesla developed its own motor, controls, and battery pack technology for its electric vehicles. That gives it valuable intellectual property and expertise and, as a result, it has developed similar technologies for electric vehicles made by Daimler and Toyota. In his shareholder letter this week, CEO Elon Musk said that the company has produced more batteries for these automakers than it has for its own Roadsters.

    That arrangement might not last forever, though. If electric cars fail to sell in large numbers, and automakers abandon them, Tesla would have few options left. If, on the other hand, electric vehicles do become popular, major automakers may want to develop the core technology themselves. Just as GM, for example, likes to design its own engines, deeming those a core technology, it's also decided to develop and build the battery packs for the Chevrolet Volt.

    Paradoxically, a modest success for electric cars could also be good for Tesla. Recent changes in manufacturing make it easier for automakers to produce electric cars at volumes that are too low to justify developing their own technology in-house.

    "The industry is getting very good at making profits on lower volumes of vehicles for niche applications," says Jay Baron, CEO of the Center for Automotive Research. In part, this is because factories are using more robots, and robots that can perform more functions, so they can be quickly reprogrammed to make different vehicles. Some automakers have announced that they will offer three versions of a car—one gasoline-powered, one hybrid, and another electric. With flexible manufacturing, they can switch between these according to demand. Baron says Tesla may have a future in selling technology for these niche vehicles.

    In this scenario, it would be cheaper for a company like Toyota to buy the batteries and motors from Tesla rather than developing them itself. And Tesla could make significant revenue by making relatively small volumes of its battery packs for several automakers, since it can adopt its technology for many different kinds of cars.

    How Tesla fares this year with its Model S and its projects with Toyota and Daimler will give a clearer idea of the company's future. But even if Tesla can't stay afloat, it will have played a central role in the technological shift that's now reshaping the auto industry.

    "It's arguable how much influence they had over the development of electric vehicles," Baron says. "But there's no doubt they created a lot of excitement around them."

    Updated 2/16/2012, 12:25 pm

    http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/39734/?p1=A3

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    From: Eric2/16/2012 11:39:34 PM
       of 2550
     
    Tesla to Use High-Energy Batteries from Panasonic

    A new partnership could help the automaker increase the range of its vehicles.



    Charging up: New batteries could help extend the range of cars produced by Tesla Motors, including the planned Model S, shown here.

    Tesla Motors, the maker of high-performance electric vehicles, is working with Panasonic, the battery and consumer electronics giant, to develop its next generation of batteries. The partnership is intended to help Tesla lower the cost of its batteries and improve the range of its vehicles.

    Last month Panasonic announced two high-energy batteries for electric vehicles. These new batteries store as much as 30 percent more energy than its previous lithium-ion batteries, and this increased storage could, in theory, increase a vehicle's range by a similar amount, thereby addressing one of the main problems with electric cars. Tesla's Roadster currently has a range of 244 miles and takes three and a half hours to charge with a special charger.

    The other major challenge with electric vehicles is the cost of the battery packs. Tesla isn't announcing the potential cost savings with future batteries, but JB Straubel, Tesla Motor's chief technology officer, says battery costs have been steadily declining at about 8 percent a year.

    Tesla plans to incorporate Panasonic's cells into its battery packs, and will work with Panasonic to develop cells fine-tuned for use in cars, Straubel says. To do this, Tesla will draw on data gathered from the 1,000 cars it has made so far, which have been driven for over a million miles. Tesla currently gets its batteries from a variety of manufacturers.

    Those driving Tesla cars won't immediately see the added range from the new high-energy battery cells, Straubel says, since there is a lengthy process for validating the performance of new cells. What's more, the actual range increases can vary. (For example, electronic controls keep a battery from completely discharging to help improve safety and reliability--complete discharges can harm some battery materials. The way the battery is controlled depends upon its chemistry and other details of the cell design.)

    One of the new cells in particular will require extensive testing, since it relies on silicon-based electrodes. In theory, silicon electrodes can hold much more energy than the carbon electrodes they replace, but silicon electrodes tend to swell and break apart. They'll need to be tested to make sure these problems have been overcome.

    The approach Tesla is taking with Panasonic is different from that of other automakers, such as Nissan and General Motors, that are developing electric cars and plug-in hybrids (which run extensively on electric power). Tesla uses small cylindrical cells of the type used inside the battery packs in laptops and other consumer electronics, while the other automakers are turning to larger, flat battery cells developed specifically for use in cars. Straubel says that the fact that the manufacturing process for cylindrical cells is well-understood from many years of experience helps drive down costs and improve performance and reliability.

    But flat batteries developed specifically for cars may ultimately prove better for electric vehicles, since they are designed to last longer, says Menahem Anderman, an automotive battery industry analyst. Also, because the flat batteries are larger, fewer cells are needed, reducing the number of things that can go wrong inside battery packs. Tesla uses thousands of cells, whereas other automakers can use just a couple hundred.

    There's also the question of safety. The new flat batteries typically use chemistries that are less volatile than those used in laptops, making it easier to ensure they don't catch fire or explode. Indeed, the lithium-nickel chemistry that Panasonic uses in its high-energy cells can be even less stable than the materials in conventional laptop batteries. Tesla has worked around this by implementing special safety features inside its battery packs.

    Straubel says that, for now, the manufacturing experience with cylindrical cells outweighs the potential advantages of flat cells, but as Tesla and Panasonic collaborate, they may eventually turn to flat cells.

    Panasonic's partnership with Tesla is part of a larger strategy to dominate the market for advanced automotive batteries. Panasonic is already a leading manufacturer of batteries for hybrid vehicles, which typically use nickel-metal hydride batteries. Together with Sanyo, a subsidiary it acquired at the end of last year, it provides nickel-metal hydride batteries to several major automakers, including Toyota, Honda, and Ford, and has an agreement to develop batteries for Volkswagen. In November, a joint venture between Toyota and Panasonic started manufacturing lithium-ion batteries for the plug-in hybrid version of the Toyota Prius.

    technologyreview.com

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    From: Eric2/21/2012 1:42:42 PM
       of 2550
     
    Taking a Spin in an Electric BMW

    Bradley Berman for The New York Times

    THE SILENCE OF THE AMPS: The first all-electric BMW, the ActiveE is an eerily quiet sporty coupe.
    More Photos »
    By BRADLEY BERMAN
    Published: February 17, 20

    FALLING trees may not make a sound when nobody is there to hear — but the sound not coming from the BMW ActiveE poses an equally profound riddle. Even in full sprint, the rear-drive coupe has absolutely no exhaust note.

    That’s because the car doesn’t have a tailpipe — or an engine, for that matter. It’s the first 100 percent electric Bimmer, offered to 700 Americans who will help BMW evaluate its electric technology.

    I recently spent a week driving one of the first production units around the San Francisco Bay Area, and never stopped marveling at the muted whir, like a jet turbine’s, from the 125-kilowatt electric motor. Which poses the question: Is a BMW any less of an ultimate driving machine if it is silent?

    The limited-production ActiveE — only 1,100 will be produced globally — weighs a hefty 4,000 pounds, some 800 pounds more than the BMW 1 Series on which it is based. But the ActiveE carries its bulk with near-gymnastic dexterity. I thoroughly enjoyed tossing the two-ton Teutonic subcompact between the lanes of the Bay Area’s bridges, up and down San Francisco’s steeply pitched streets and along the winding roads of Berkeley’s hills.

    Acceleration from a stop to 60 miles per hour comes in an unremarkable 8.5 seconds, but the feel behind the wheel — especially the swift and smooth-as-silk surges from 0 to 30 m.p.h., and from 50 to 80 — was blissful. The steering response is everything you would expect from a BMW.

    A well-calibrated suspension helps to counter the extra weight. Dave Buchko, a BMW spokesman, said, “Our engineers are really good at selecting shocks and spring rates that provide well-controlled jounce and rebound.”

    Removing the engine and related parts lightened the 1 Series donor car, but installing a 32 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack added back 992 pounds. The 192 battery cells are crammed all over the place: under the raised “power dome” hood, along the driveshaft tunnel and where the fuel tank used to be.

    The added bulk takes a toll on driving range. Yet I managed at least 80 miles of charge every day, even when flogging the system. Driving with more restraint took me closer to 90 miles.

    One evening I took a two-hour highway spin, averaging 49 m.p.h. Using the Ecopro setting — which dials back the throttle response, but not to a compromising degree — I went 101 miles with 9 percent of the battery charge remaining, according to the dashboard monitor. Plugged into a 240-volt circuit, the on-board 7.7-kilowatt charger provides an empty-to-full charge in about four hours.

    The interior is quintessential BMW, with tasteful materials, austere but useful displays for information like the battery state-of-charge and attention to detail that extends to each meticulous stitch in the leather upholstery.

    “It’s a step up from the Mini E,” said Rich Steinberg, BMW’s manager of electric vehicle operations and strategy in the United States. “It’s got leather. It’s got navi. It’s got cruise. It’s got heated seats. It’s got satellite. All the things you’d expect from BMW.”

    Mr. Steinberg was referring to the all-electric version of the Mini, the previous test platform, since discontinued, in BMW’s electric-car program. The Mini E was a relatively spartan car with a rough ride and batteries where the backseat might have been. The ActiveE is more refined in all respects, and it uses the same battery, motor and electric drivetrain — developed by BMW in partnership with Bosch and SB LiMotive — that will end up in the company’s full-production electric car, the i3, which is to start trickling into the market late next year.

    In the ActiveE, BMW added a liquid-based thermal management system to keep the batteries from becoming too cold or too hot. This helps to prevent the loss of driving range — as much as 40 percent — experienced by Mini E drivers in extremely cold weather.

    The most remarkable feature carried over from the Mini E to the ActiveE is the very assertive regenerative braking, which applies strong deceleration as soon as you lift your foot off the accelerator. I drove the ActiveE down Marin Avenue, the steepest street in the Berkeley hills. Without my touching either pedal, the ActiveE slowly glided down the incline to 20 m.p.h. and eased to a crawl — as if in an ultralow “granny gear.” Imagine that same sub-first-gear feel applied on flat roads as soon as you lift your foot, bringing the car from 40 m.p.h. to a stop in about four seconds.

    “One-pedal drive is something we’re proud of,” Mr. Steinberg said. “We’re continuing to exploit it not only for the energy reasons, but also because of the driving experience.” BMW estimates that one-pedal driving increases by 20 percent the amount of energy reclaimed when the electric drive motor switches into generator mode and pumps juice into the battery pack.

    It took me only a few stops to figure out how to approach a stoplight — lifting my foot off the accelerator at the right time to reach a complete stop at the right spot without touching the brake pedal. On highways or surface roads, I learned how to gently move the accelerator pedal slightly up and down, never taking my foot off, to produce the desired speed — or to find the sweet spot where the car glides along as if coasting.

    E.V.’s like the Tesla Roadster have used the single pedal approach, but BMW’s one-pedal E.V. driving will become, I believe, the model for electric car engineering. I’m a convert to the single pedal, and wish the Nissan Leaf — my usual car for daily commutes — drove the same way.

    Most E.V. makers aim to give their electric vehicles a driving and braking experience as familiar as possible to drivers of conventional gas-powered cars. The Leaf, even with its impressive quickness, has a wispy feel, whereas the ActiveE operates like a maglev train, hurtling forward, hugging corners and engaging the road (while not burning a drop of petroleum, I might add).

    I had ample opportunity to switch back and forth between the ActiveE and my own Leaf. My week with the ActiveE coincided with the week I was to drive my daughter’s car pool to high school. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in my latest effort to convince my daughter that her electric-Bimmer-driving dad is cool. The driver seat, slid all the way back to make room for my 6-foot-4 frame, touched the rear cushion, leaving insufficient room in the back seat for her schoolmates.

    The batteries in back also trim the trunk space to a barely usable 7 cubic feet. The Leaf, on the other hand, can handle five people along with some gear under the hatch.

    So the four students piled into the Leaf each morning. As soon as my parental duties were completed, I rushed back to park and plug in the Nissan and jump into the ActiveE — transforming myself from dad-nerd to electronaut, the name BMW invented for the 700 consumers in a few Northeast and West Coast cities who are putting down $2,250 and paying $499 a month for a two-year lease. The ActiveE is not available for purchase.

    The car is a “technology shakedown,” according to Mr. Steinberg, letting BMW gain feedback as it continues development of the i3. That purpose-built electric four-seater — not a conversion — is to go on sale in a few markets by late next year, followed by wider release in 2014.

    The company hasn’t officially announced prices or sales goals for the i3, but a year ago Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of global sales and marketing, told Automotive News that the company hoped to sell 30,000 of the futuristic cars in 2014.

    Given that the ActiveE is a test platform, it was perhaps not surprising that I encountered a few glitches. Several times, a warning screen told me the shifter couldn’t be moved to “P” — and to take the car to a service center. Another time, a more emphatic “drivetrain malfunction” screen warned, “Stop carefully and turn off vehicle.” I knew from online forums to ignore these as false alarms.

    There were also small hiccups in ultra-low-speed driving when various conditions that were hard to identify or replicate — maybe high torque on wet roads or braking-software miscommunications — produced momentary wheel shake. This happened three times during my week of driving; BMW said fixes were expected within days.

    As engaging as I found the ActiveE, it is just a step toward the i3, which will have a body mostly of lightweight carbon fiber. The i3 will have more legroom, four doors and subfloor packaging of the batteries — and most important, weigh some 1,300 pounds less than the ActiveE. This will let BMW reduce the size of the battery pack to about 20 kilowatt-hours, from 32, while still providing 100 miles of range. Using the ActiveE’s drivetrain and 170-horsepower motor, the much lighter i3 is likely to be a startling performer.

    BMW’s electric efforts won’t end with the i3. “To one degree or another, you’ll see plugs cascade throughout the entire BMW line,” said Mr. Steinberg, the company’s electric vehicle manager.

    nytimes.com

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