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From: Eric10/5/2017 11:38:33 AM
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Electric Vehicles Report: Part 2 – The Impacts Of The Electric Vehicle Revolution

October 5th, 2017 by John Farrell

The following is an excerpt of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Choosing the Electric Avenue: Unlocking Savings, Emissions Reductions, and Community Benefits of Electric Vehicles report. We’ll be republishing the full report in order to bring more attention to the changing landscape of electric vehicles. Read part one.

Impact: Improving the Grid Electric vehicles boost demand for electricity

On one hand, that’s great news for utilities. The average electric-powered car driver covers 12,000 miles annually, and one study calculated that the additional 4,000 kilowatt-hours used by an electric vehicle would increase a typical household’s yearly energy need by 33% (without adoption of energy efficiency measures). In small numbers, electric cars will change little, but in large numbers they could reverse the stagnant growth in electricity use, which has dropped in five of the last eight years and affected the bottom line of many electric utilities.

On the other hand, could this increased demand also increase the cost of operating the electric grid (and costs for electric customers) by shortening the life of grid components, requiring replacement or upgraded infrastructure such as transformers and capacitors, or even building new fossil fuel power plants?

Fortunately, the evidence suggests that electric vehicle expansion will reward, not ruin, the grid and its customers.

A rigorous analysis spearheaded by the California Public Utilities Commission in 2016 found substantial net benefits in electric vehicle adoption for the state’s electric grid and customers: worth $3.1 billion by 2030, even without smart charging policies and with vehicle adoption clustering in particular areas of the grid. This included the benefits of capturing federal tax credits, gasoline savings, and carbon credits in California’s greenhouse gas allowance transportation market plus all of the associated costs to the customer and grid.

The study also found surprisingly low costs for upgrading the local distribution grid. Even with a much higher vehicle adoption assumption of 7 million cars by 2030 (one-quarter of all registered vehicles), annual distribution infrastructure costs would be just 1% of the annual utility distribution budget.

A rigorous analysis by the California Public Utilities Commission found substantial net benefits in electric vehicle adoption: $3.1 billion by 2030, even without smart charging policies and with vehicle adoption clustering in particular areas of the grid.

A set of studies for northeastern states found a similar net benefit, even without smart charging policies, for vehicle owners, utilities, and society.

Relatively simple policy changes can enhance the payoff of adding thousands or millions of electric vehicles to the grid. California’s study suggests that the most potent and simplest tool to smoothly integrate electric vehicles is controlling when they charge. This can be done with special rates that give customers a discount for charging at grid-friendly times, or even using special chargers that disallow charging when grid demand is at its highest. These tools increase the efficiency of the electricity system, but also mean lower-cost fuel for electric vehicle owners, a win-win.

Relatively simple policy changes can enhance the payoff of adding thousands or millions of electric vehicles to the grid. California’s study suggests that the most potent and simplest tool to smoothly integrate electric vehicles is controlling when they charge.

In an exhaustive analysis using time-of-use (TOU) pricing to strongly incentivize nighttime charging, the California Public Utilities Commission found that shifting from flat-rate to time-of-use charging increased net benefits from $3,600 to $5,000 per vehicle through significant reductions in the energy and infrastructure costs of charging.

While the California calculation includes the federal tax credit, the benefits are expected to persist even when that incentive expires because of falling electric vehicle and battery costs.

This following sections explore pricing tools that allow utilities and regulators to better manage grid supply and demand, rather than building new power infrastructure that could be obsolete early in its decades-long life.

EV Charging Terminology

A quick note on charging before we dive in. Electric vehicles can be charged at different speeds by using different voltages. A standard 120-volt outlet can deliver about 1.3 kilowatts per hour but may take 12 or more hours to fully charge a vehicle. A 240-volt circuit can deliver a substantially faster charge and can be wired in a typical home or business. Direct current (DC) fast charging uses 440-volt charging that can “refuel” an electric vehicle battery in less than an hour. The following graphic from FleetCarma illustrates.

Managing Demand

With proper price incentives, grid managers can motivate electric vehicle users to avoid charging during periods of peak demand, to instead charge when demand is otherwise low, and to help smooth out large increases or decreases in demand.

The electric grid is designed around periods of peak energy use, with requirements for significant energy reserves dictated by the single-most congested hour of the year. By raising electricity prices at times of peak energy use (and reducing them elsewhere), utilities can largely minimize electric cars’ contribution to peak energy demand. Recent modeling by the Rocky Mountain Institute suggests optimized charging rates would limit Minnesota’s peak demand increase, for example, to just 0.5% when electric vehicles hit 23% penetration, compared with an increase of more than 3% without charging controls.

Minnesota wasn’t alone. In the four other states modeled, the Rocky Mountain Institute found peak demand impacts of widespread electric vehicle adoption could be significantly reduced with controlled charging. The following graphic illustrates.

Utilities can also leverage electric vehicles to manage rapid changes in electricity demand. Historically, these ramps up or down have been driven by a morning surge in demand as people wake up and turn on lights and appliances, and another in the evening when stores remain open and residents return home. In some cases, these ramps are also influenced by rooftop solar generation, which sharply reduces demand from solar-powered neighborhoods in the daytime but spurs a sharp increase in local demand in the evening when residential demand increases as the sun sets.

Utilities typically prepare for these surges by activating gas power plants that can be put on standby or ramped up quickly. However, because these plants are relatively under-utilized, the electricity provided at peak periods is expensive. An August heat wave in Texas, for example, sent hourly electricity prices on the grid well over $1 per kilowatt hour on several occasions, more than ten times the usual price.

Utility wonks illustrate this challenge with the “duck curve,” shown below for the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). The issue is the steep curve starting around 4 p.m. and peaking around 8 p.m., driven largely by adoption of rooftop solar that drives down daytime electricity demand. One caveat: the deep dip is sometimes called “overgeneration” — implying that there’s too much solar energy production — an issue enhanced when the bottom axis reflects a minimum of 14,000 megawatts. One German observer notes that this issue (as opposed to the ramp) is exaggerated. For context, the chart is also shown with a zero axis.

Although there are many potential solutions (the linked report from the Regulatory Assistance Project is particularly thorough), electric vehicles can help smooth the curve. By drawing power from the grid during the midday hours when solar output is greatest, electric vehicles can soak up the sun-generated power and in turn reduce the evening ramp-up. Fortunately, data from California suggests that 40% of electric vehicles remain at home even through the midday hours. If vehicle owners have access to charging at home and at work, over 70% of vehicles are available to absorb excess daytime electricity generation.

By charging these idle electric vehicles during daytime hours, grid operators could reduce the steep afternoon ramp-up in electricity demand. The chart below illustrates how charging these vehicles between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. would help smooth the rise in demand, giving grid managers more time to accommodate increasing electricity consumption.

The amount of additional demand needed from electric vehicles to achieve this outcome is well within projected capacity. The 1.5 million electric cars California expects by 2025 would have a maximum energy demand of about 7,000 megawatts, more than double the capacity needed to substantially smooth the current afternoon rise in peak energy demand.

As discussed later, widely distributed charging infrastructure will be key to accessing this resource, as few homes or businesses currently have car chargers. Furthermore, the amount and availability of bill credits or compensation for grid exports (or in the case of Hawaii, a tariff that provides no payment for excess solar production) will strongly impact customer behavior.

Soaking Up Supply

Charging controls or pricing incentives can also motivate electric vehicle drivers to charge overnight, or whenever clean energy production is strongest.

In markets like the Midwest that have abundant wind power, clean energy production often peaks overnight when demand is lowest. The chart below shows the daily demand curve for the Midwest Independent System Operator, which serves a number of states in the Midwest. The 50,000 megawatt-hour gap between daytime and nighttime demand (in July, when the grid is built to accommodate daytime load boosted by air conditioning) could accommodate over 7.5 million electric vehicles on Level 2 (240-volt) chargers without building a single new power plant. That’s almost 2 million more cars than the total number registered in the entire state of Illinois.

The 50,000 megawatt-hour gap between daytime and nighttime demand could accommodate over 7.5 million electric vehicles on Level 2 (240-volt) chargers without building a single new power plant.

The hungry batteries of electric vehicles can also be coordinated to improve the capture of wind and solar power.

The most common constraint in a grid with high levels of renewable energy (over 30%) is overgeneration. This happens when there’s so much renewable energy available that making room for it would mean ramping down or turning off inflexible power plants (coal, nuclear, hydro). In electricity markets, renewables tend to undercut any other resource because — having no fuel — they have almost no marginal cost to produce electricity.

Electric vehicles represent a new source of electricity demand that can absorb this excess production.

Charging electric cars during nighttime low-demand periods, for example, means increasing the use of wind energy. A 2006 study from the National Renewable Energy Lab found that electric vehicle deployment “ results in vastly increased use of wind” because overnight vehicle charging overlaps with windier nighttime conditions. A 2011 study from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories found that if one in eight cars were electric, the additional storage capacity would allow the Northwest grid to handle 12% more wind energy.

Electric vehicles can also help grids put more solar power to use. The illustration in the previous section — Ready to Charge — illustrates how most electric cars could be available to charge during afternoon hours to absorb solar energy output, although it requires daytime charging (and potentially non-home charging infrastructure) that nighttime charging does not.

Portuguese researchers found that growth in both solar generation and electric vehicles maximizes the grid benefits of each. Portugal’s heavy emphasis on solar generation means that, as time goes on, it will build up a “substantial amount” of excess daytime solar energy. Because neighboring countries are also building out their solar portfolios, Portugal’s exports would yield low prices, suggesting that solar power might be curtailed (or lost) instead. But researchers found that an expanded electric vehicle fleet — and a preference for midday workplace charging — could decrease the midday solar surplus by 50%.

A separate Portuguese study includes analysis of simulated solar production during a given week in April. With no electric vehicles, 202 gigawatt-hours — or 48% of solar production — was curtailed during that span. With electric vehicles added to the mix, curtailment fell to 123 gigawatt-hours, or 29% of solar production.

Together, solar and electric vehicles can do more to smooth the demand curve than either technology could on its own. The following chart, from the Rocky Mountain Institute, shows how optimized electric vehicle charging increases daytime electricity demand by over 200 megawatts (nearly 14% of peak demand) in Hawaii, allowing for more solar production.

Other studies confirm this potential. A 2012 study by the Imperial College of London, for example, suggests that energy storage, including electric vehicles, can reduce curtailment of renewables by more than half.

Providing Ancillary Services to the Grid

By starting, stopping, or varying the level of charge, electric vehicle batteries can provide two crucial “ancillary” services to the grid: helping maintain a consistent voltage (120 volts) and frequency (60 Hertz). These services are provided by short bursts of “reactive” power: either drawing power from the grid or putting it back in. Since nearly all commercially available electric vehicles lack the ability to send power to the grid, car batteries would provide reactive power today only by drawing power (charging).

The vehicle’s ability to aid the grid also hinges on the power of its charger and the ability to aggregate with other vehicles. On a typical home 120-volt outlet allowing up to 1.3 kilowatts of power per vehicle, it would take over 250 vehicles to reach the minimum threshold to provide ancillary services in energy markets run by regional grid operators PJM or MISO, which cover a substantial portion of the U.S. A 240-volt Level 2 charger with a capacity as high as 6.6 kilowatts per car significantly reduces the number of vehicles needed ( as few as 27) to join the market.

Electric vehicles can provide substantial value to the grid as they charge (and in the future, perhaps by supplying power back to the grid, see Appendix A — The Vehicle-to-Grid Future).

Impact: Cutting Pollution

One major benefit of electric vehicles is reducing pollution impacts of driving. The following chart shows the greenhouse gas emissions from electric vehicles based on the grid electricity supply in 2015. The numbers on the chart are the miles per gallon required from a gasoline-fueled vehicle to have the same greenhouse gas emissions impact as an electric vehicle. The numbers will have risen since 2015, as additional coal plants have been retired.

Driving electric also significantly reduces other pollutants. The adjacent chart is from a 2007 study of the pollutant impact of hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars in Minnesota. It assumes a grid with a mix of 40% wind power and 60% coal power. The former is likely in the next decade, the latter is laughable in the face of a massive switch from coal to gas and renewables. With that context in mind, the bar representing sulfur dioxide should be ignored as the emissions rate of sulfur dioxides is 99% lower with natural gas, and 100% lower with more wind or solar power.

Impact: Readying Energy Democracy

The cumulative power of electric vehicles goes beyond stabilizing the larger electricity system; it offers an opportunity to draw more power from the local economy. Electric vehicles operate in a distinct geography (near the owner) and therefore their benefits are localized. This makes electric vehicles part of a larger transition from energy monopoly to energy democracy, as distributed technology from solar to smartphones localizes everything — production, consumption, and decision making — on the electric grid.

The following graphic illustrates the shift from energy monopoly to energy democracy. The flow of electricity changes from one-way to two-way as many customers install rooftop solar and purchase electric vehicles. The share of renewable energy grows and that of fossil fuel power shrinks. In general, the community sources more of its energy locally.

This section details the three key local benefits of electric vehicles: enabling the combination of the “sexy electrics” (solar and electric cars); increasing the capacity for local distributed solar energy production; and providing resilient, local backup power.

Complementary, Sexy Technology

Electric vehicles can encourage increased deployment of distributed solar. The same environmental values and spending habits that helped rocket the Toyota Prius to 1 million sales in a decade propel people to install solar panels. Like the conspicuous sustainability credential provided by the unique Prius, economists have speculated that homeowners invest more in solar panels than more affordable insulation and caulking. As such, it is not surprising that two of the clearest signals of green values — electric vehicle ownership and rooftop solar installation — often go hand-in-hand.

In California, roughly 39% of electric vehicle drivers also owned residential solar in 2013 — far outpacing the general population in the US, where less than 1% of all households had rooftop arrays through the second quarter of 2016. Meanwhile, 17% of California electric vehicle drivers expressed “strong interest” in installing solar in the near future. Of those that already had both, 53% said they sized their at-home solar systems with electric vehicle charging in mind, exposing synergies that reduce grid strain and help accommodate higher electricity demand.

Boulder County, CO, captured this complementary relationship by offering a program that promoted bulk buying for electric vehicles and solar. Area residents could opt in to access discounts on their purchase of either upgrade. The initiative provided a significant boost to electric vehicle sales. During the September-to-December promotional period, a local dealership sold 85 Nissan Leafs in 2013 and 2014 before jumping to 173 in the same period in 2015. Boulder County, home to less than one-tenth of 1% of the US population, accounted for 3.5% of all US Leaf sales over that span.

Meanwhile, program participants installed 147 solar arrays totaling 832 kilowatts. At least 19 households (over 10% percent of those participating) purchased both a Leaf and a solar array, and of that group, 11 right-sized their solar project to ensure it could power both their home and their new electric vehicle. By harnessing the federal electric vehicle tax credit alone, participants brought $1.8 million into the local economy — a huge gain, considering Boulder County estimated the program required just 165 hours of staff time and $650 in out-of-pocket expenses. The program was aided by the state electric vehicle tax credit, worth about $3,800 per car or $660,000 altogether.

The relationship between solar and electric vehicles may not remain as tight in the long term. A 2016 survey of plug-in car owners found that the percentage owning a solar array had fallen from 25% in 2012 and prior to 12% in 2015. This could be due to less affluent car owners or vehicle sales in areas with poorer solar resources. On the other hand, it also means that electric vehicles are dispersing beyond the very savvy customers that already own solar.

Either way, electric vehicles and solar arrays are both appealing to consumers, in a way that other energy improvements are not. And fortunately, this marriage of sexy electrics delivers benefits to the grid and local economy.

Electric Vehicles and Community Solar?

As electric vehicle ownership expands, it will reach many Americans who lack a sunny rooftop but may still have interest in solar. Community solar programs allow these customers to invest in or subscribe to solar energy projects, and the revenue from these subscriptions could offset the cost of charging an electric vehicle. It also allows them to, indirectly, charge their car from the sun.

The technical benefits of marrying solar and electric vehicles using community solar would be diminished unless customers subscribed to a community solar array located on the same distribution feeder as their primary place of vehicle charging.

Increasing Local Energy Capacity

Electric vehicles boost electricity demand and expand local storage, increasing capacity to produce more electricity from local, renewable sources.

Solar energy, for example, can reduce a neighborhood’s peak energy consumption. If a community is served by a distribution line with a maximum capacity of 1 megawatt and it’s running near that limit, the utility may consider an expensive hardware upgrade. But adding local solar can reduce demand during hot, sunny summer afternoons, potentially allowing the utility to defer that upgrade.

We illustrate the effect in the graphic to the right. If many homes and businesses in a neighborhood add rooftop solar, it supplants power from the grid with local energy to avoid new capacity needs.

As solar continues to proliferate, a second set of issues can arise. Lots of small solar power plants can result in a portion of the local grid remaining energized when there’s a larger blackout. This could cause safety issues for utility workers who would expect power lines they’re repairing to be dead. However, smart inverters for solar arrays can automatically turn off power production when the grid goes dark. An even better solution is to island the home or business with solar, allowing them to have power even when the grid is dark. Newer inverters can supply up to 1500 watts for use during blackouts, even as the solar array stops sending power to the grid.

A second issue is a technical and competitive concern called “backfeed.” Backfeed is what happens when the supply of electricity (including from local solar) exceeds total use on a certain area of the grid. In this case, power flows back onto the grid, as shown in the illustration below.

This may require substation upgrades to mediate power flow from the high-voltage regional grid to the low-voltage local grid, which weren’t designed with this flow in mind. It also allows local solar generation to compete against many other sources of electricity, including traditional fossil fuel power plants. In the many states where the utility company is responsible for grid safety and owns power plants that would be in competition with local solar, this creates a challenging conflict of interest.

Electric vehicles can solve backfeed issues by absorbing more local power generation, in turn enabling it to serve local needs. This also reduces wear and tear on utility hardware, inevitable in longer-distance power distribution. The following illustration shows how increasing electric vehicle ownership can reduce solar energy exports to the larger grid.

Without an additional local source of energy consumption, utilities can “curtail,” or effectively shut off, clean power production from local solar arrays. But a 2016 study in Hawaii confirmed that more electric vehicles on the grid translates to greater potential reductions in curtailed energy. That is especially significant in a rooftop solar stronghold — 17% of utility customers in Hawaii generate their power this way, including at least 32% of single-family homes on Oahu. The study’s authors modeled a scenario where 10% to 30% of Oahu vehicles were electric, and predicted an 18% to 46% reduction in curtailed generation when vehicle charging was controlled to match local power production. In this model, wind and solar provided close to 50% of the island’s total electricity needs.

The authors cautioned that marked day-to-day fluctuations in wind and solar curtailment obscure the precise effects of controlled charging in capturing curtailed energy, but found that using electric vehicles to integrate more storage makes distributed generation more valuable, more effective, and even more pervasive.

It’s a scenario that could play out in markets across the country. For example, the California grid operator CAISO reported 132 megawatt-hours in local curtailments of solar generation between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sept. 15, 2016. These curtailments were due to a limit on the capacity of the local grid to export. Typically, such curtailments involve utility-scale solar. If the capacity of the average electric car battery is 30 kilowatt-hours (the size of that in the 2017 Nissan Leaf), 8,800 parked electric vehicles needing a 50% charge could collectively offset that day’s curtailment, benefiting those generating solar power and helping to stabilize the grid.

Local Value

Sourcing power locally has two spillover benefits. First, it keeps more of the economic benefits of power generation within a given community. A typical 1-megawatt solar array creates $2.5 million in local economic activity and 20 jobs. Through its 25-year lifetime, a locally owned solar project will redirect an additional $5.4 million of electricity spending back into local hands.

The energy may also be more valuable to the grid if it is consumed locally, as ILSR explains in our 2016 report, Is Bigger Best? In many debates nationwide over the proper valuation of solar, most policy outcomes include a higher value for energy that can be used on-site or locally, rather than exported to the larger grid. Utilities and regulators in Hawaii and New York, for example, have adopted measures for distributed solar that favor on-site consumption.


Electric vehicles can also provide individuals and communities greater resiliency in the face of natural disaster. In the wake of week-long power outages following Hurricane Sandy, many communities on the East Coast sought ways to reduce their reliance on their (often distantly located) utilities. Many states encourage the installation of solar energy generation and even microgrids, miniature versions of the electric grid that can operate when the larger grid goes dark. Microgrids, typically powered by solar and batteries, could use electric vehicles to soak up excess energy production — and keep it local — to provide power during extended grid outages.

A pilot project at the University of California-San Diego, a campus which supplies more than 90% of its own energy, equipped its microgrid to host 70 electric vehicle chargers. The microgrid can ramp down charging to reduce campus-wide demand. In turn, drivers who allow flexibility in charging receive compensation when their vehicles perform services like frequency regulation. This symbiosis makes electric vehicle integration a compelling prospect for microgrid operators and vehicle owners.

“The link between a microgrid and an electric vehicle can create a win-win situation wherein the microgrid can reduce utility costs by load shifting while the electric vehicle owner receives revenue that partially offsets his/her expensive mobile storage investment,” researchers wrote in a 2010 study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

While microgrids currently comprise a small portion of the total US electric generation capacity, their numbers are expected to double or triple within a decade — rising in tandem with electric vehicle ownership in the US. Particularly as both markets grow, outfitting microgrids with technology to tap into storage and ancillary services from electric vehicles can fortify local power systems. Together, electric vehicles and microgrids promote resiliency.

As noted above, electric vehicles may also offer a resiliency benefit to existing “microgrids” — homes. The typical second-generation electric vehicle battery (such as the Chevrolet Bolt) stores sufficient electricity to power the average American home for two days. This is a powerful secondary benefit for a purchase centered on mobility.

The typical 2nd generation electric vehicle battery (such as in the Chevrolet Bolt) stores sufficient electricity to power the average American home for two days.

Read the full report online, here. For timely updates, follow John Farrell or Karlee Weinmann on Twitter or get the Energy Democracy weekly update.

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From: Eric10/5/2017 1:09:45 PM
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Nissan e-NV200 electric van gets longer-range battery; still no U.S. plans

John Voelcker

4 Comments Oct 5, 2017

While U.S. buyers eagerly await the arrival of the 2018 Nissan Leaf electric car at dealerships early next year, the company has updated another of its electric vehicles as well.

Unfortunately, it's one that the company has no current plans to sell in North America.

That's the new longer-range version of the Nissan e-NV200 small delivery van, which has been on sale for several years in Japan and various European countries.

DON'T MISS: Nissan e-NV200 beats Renault Kangoo ZE in electric van sales in Europe

On Monday, Nissan unveiled the updated e-NV200 at its Nissan Futures 3.0 event in Oslo.

The Norwegian capital may have the highest concentration of electric cars of any city in the world, given the strong financial incentives to buy them. Norway expects to end sales of cars with combustion engines by 2025, and appears to be well on its way to that goal.

Europe, meanwhile, is expected to be at the forefront of rapid growth in electric trucks of all sizes and classes over the next decade.

2018 Nissan e-NV200 electric delivery van (European version)

The 2018 version of the e-NV200 uses the same 40-kilowatt-hour battery pack that the 2018 Leaf does.

The longer-range Leaf, incidentally, went on sale in Japan this week as well, while U.S. pilot production is now underway at the company's sprawling assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.

The e-NV200 is the all-electric version of the gasoline-powered NV200 that has been sold in the U.S. since 2013.

READ THIS: Driving Nissan e-NV200 All-Electric Small Commercial Van (Jun 2014)

Nissan Europe said it is rated at up to 280 km (174 miles) on the NEDC test cycle, though a comparable U.S. EPA figure would likely be 120 to 140 miles.

The 2018 Leaf, which is considerably more aerodynamic than the upright e-NV200 van, is rated by the EPA at 140 miles from its 40-kwh battery.

A longer-range Leaf with a 60-kwh battery and range of more than 200 miles will go on sale at a higher price as a 2019 model in the U.S.

"Given the huge impact that business deliveries and collections and professional drivers have on air quality and traffic congestion," said Gareth Dunsmore, Nissan Europe's electric-vehicle director, "helping cut the CO2 emissions they create is a vital part of creating a more sustainable future."

Buyers in numerous European countries will be able to order the longer-range Nissan e-NV200 electric van before the end of this year.

CHECK OUT: VW Westfalia Camper Van Spiritual Successor: Nissan e-NV200 Camper (Nov 2014)

While Nissan has been testing earlier versions of the e-NV200 in the U.S. for a few years now, it has made no moves toward importing it for sale.

Reasons likely include far cheaper gasoline in the U.S., lower sales for small commercial vehicles the size of the NV200, and longer and more unpredictable delivery routes and usage than in European city centers.

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From: Eric10/5/2017 1:19:15 PM
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Costco members now get GM Supplier Pricing on Chevy Bolt EV, Volt

Sean Szymkowski


Oct 5, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Costco members in the market for a new vehicle now have a new round of incentives to consider as they head into the final car-buying months of 2017.

Specifically, shoppers interested in a General Motors vehicle will discover Supplier Pricing on nearly every car—including the Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car and Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.

Even better news: buyers can combine that Supplier Pricing from Costco with nearly all other incentives available on a particular vehicle, including leasing and financing rebates.

DON'T MISS: 2017 Chevy Bolt EV price: electric car starts at $37,495 before incentives (as promised)

It's an understandable incentive as well: Costco members pay the factory invoice, plus a small program fee, and the no-haggle price is fixed.

Buyers are still able to negotiate a lower price if they feel compelled, but many historically see the no-haggle price as a major benefit.

Cars Direct reports the supplier pricing even extends to newly launched GM vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Equinox Diesel crossover utility vehicle.

2018 Chevrolet Volt

There are few exclusions; the only cars not eligible for Supplier Pricing include various base models that most dealers rarely stock.

(Think of L-trimmed Chevrolet vehicles, which exist mostly for advertising purposes.)

If an interested car shopper isn't currently a Costco member, the money saved through the incentive likely outweighs the membership fee to join the buyer's warehouse club.

READ THIS: Driving a Chevy Bolt EV electric car halfway across the U.S.: what it takes

Becoming a Costco member costs $60 annually for Gold status and $120 for Executive status.

Executive members receive a 2-percent rebate on purchases, though it's capped at $1,000 annually so buying a car doesn't help boost that figure.

To sweeten the deal, Costco will include a $300 Costco Cash Card for Gold members, and Executive members who purchase a GM vehicle through the program will receive a $700 cash card.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV - 2016 Consumer Electronics Show

California and other CARB-compliant states will likely see the best deals on the Bolt EV under the Costco program; lease rates and finance offers in these states continue to exceed national offers.

The Bolt EV has seen steadily rising sales figures, despite launching nationwide just several weeks ago.

September sales of the Bolt EV tallied 2,632 vehicles, which brings the running sales total to 14,302 units over nine months.

CHECK OUT: Plug-in electric car sales for Sep: Bolt EV hits new monthly high (updated)

Chevrolet's affordable electric car starts at $37,495 before federal tax credits up to $7,500 are applied.

Costco and GM's Supplier Pricing will run one day past 2018; the offers expire on January 2, 2018.

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From: Eric10/5/2017 1:24:38 PM
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New Flyer invests $25 million in Alabama plant, adds innovation center for ZEVs

Posted October 3, 2017 by Charles Morris & filed under Newswire, The Vehicles.

Transit bus and motor coach manufacturer New Flyer plans to invest $25 million in building renovations and expansions at its Anniston, Alabama production campus. Part of the investment will go towards an innovation center for zero-emission bus production.

The company’s Xcelsior buses are offered with a range of drive systems, including diesel, natural gas, diesel-electric hybrid, trolley-electric, and battery-electric. Of the 44,000 New Flyer transit buses currently in service, 6,400 are powered by electric and/or battery propulsion.

“We are extremely fortunate to have both local and state cooperation and support for this project,” said Wayne Joseph, President of New Flyer of America. “This investment in process efficiency, operational capacity, and technological development further elevates Anniston as a leading manufacturing site for zero-emission vehicles, and invests in jobs and infrastructure in Alabama.”

“This investment not only enhances our technical capabilities, but also provides advanced air quality measures to provide the safest possible work environment for our team members,” added Kevin Wood, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing.

Source: New Flyer

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From: Eric10/6/2017 7:10:40 AM
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Honda Will Shutter A Japanese Factory To Shift Manufacturing Towards EVs

15 hours ago by Mark Kane


Honda Urban EV Concept

Honda, needing to address a serious problem of domestic production overcapacity in Japan, has decided to close one of its plants – the 1964 Sayama Automobile Plant. The facility will close its doors by March 31, 2022.

Honda Urban EV Concept

Today’s production will be consolidated into the nearby Yorii Automobile Plant, which is much more efficient, and not surprisingly a much newer facility (opened in 2013).

Both sites have the capacity to build 250,000 vehicles each, while overall, Honda’s capacity in Japan stands at 1.06 milion cars, but lowering that to ~800,000 would increase utilization from today’s low 76%.

At the same time, the Yorii plant will become Honda’s global center for electrified vehicle.s The production processes will be then applied in other plants globally. States Automotive News:
“Yorii will be positioned as a global center for electrified vehicle production. It will serve as a template for overseas manufacturing as Honda launches more hybrids and EVs overseas.

A longtime EV skeptic, Honda announced in June that it had established an Electric Vehicle Development Division to create EVs based on dedicated all-electric platforms. That is a departure from Honda’s current stance.”
Honda called the move an “evolution”.

At the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, Honda will present several new concept electric cars, including the new Sports EV Concept…although at this point we’d much rather see “production-intent” offerings on the show stand:

Honda Sports EV Concept

Press blast:

Honda to Evolve its Automobile Production System and Capability in Japan Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today announced that the company will evolve its automobile production system and capability to further enhance Mono-zukuri (the art of making things/manufacturing) in Japan. In more concrete terms, Honda will pursue two key initiatives: to evolve production operations in Japan and to newly establish a function to evolve production technologies in Japan to be shared globally.

Due to the rapid advance of new technologies such as electrification and intelligence technologies, the automobile industry is undergoing an unprecedented and significant turning point in its history. Anticipating major changes in automobile production, Honda will largely evolve its production operations in addition to product development operations.

Since its foundation, Honda has been establishing the technologies and know-how of Mono-zukuri in Japan and then evolving them rapidly to operations outside Japan, where each region applies its own originality and ingenuity at the spot. This is how Honda has achieved growth on a global basis. However, from here forward, automobile manufacturers must be able to accommodate new technologies speedily, and therefore it became essential for Honda to further evolve its production function in Japan and establish a structure where Japan operations will lead the other Honda operations on a global basis.

Based on this understanding of the situation, Honda will pursue the following initiatives.

1. Evolving production operations in Japan

While leveraging the respective strengths of automobile production plants in Japan, Honda will establish a production system and capability which will enhance Honda’s competitiveness.

1) Saitama Factory:

In order to accommodate the production of vehicles equipped with new technologies such as electrified vehicles, the automobile production of the Sayama Automobile Plant and Yorii Automobile Plant will be consolidated to the Yorii Automobile Plant, which employs the latest production technologies. This consolidation is expected to be completed by around fiscal year 2022 (fiscal year ending March 31, 2022).

Production know-how involving new technologies will be amassed at the Yorii Automobile Plant and evolved from Japan, Honda’s Mono-zukuri leader, to Honda operations outside of Japan, which will establish a structure where Japan operations will lead other Honda operations on a global basis.

Associates who are currently working at Sayama Automobile Plant will be transferred mainly to the Yorii Automobile Plant and fully utilize the production know-how they have amassed in their career.

2) Suzuka Factory:

Suzuka Factory will continue to establish technologies and know-how for producing highly-competitive mini-vehicles and also continue to play a role to evolve such production technologies and know-how horizontally to other Honda operations on a global basis.

3) Yokkaichi Factory of Yachiyo Industry Co., Ltd. (Yachiyo)

Striving to further increase the efficiency of producing low-volume-production models, which Honda is currently entrusting to Yachiyo, Honda and Yachiyo today signed a basic agreement to begin discussion toward making Yachiyo’s automobile assembly business a wholly-owned subsidiary of Honda.

While leveraging the technologies and human resources amassed at Yachiyo, Honda will further increase efficiency by optimizing its low-volume production system and capability.

The two companies will continue to discuss more details, such as the scope of Yachiyo business Honda will take over, and strive to reach a final agreement.

2. Newly establishing a function to evolve global production technologies in Japan

Within the Yorii Automobile Plant, Honda will newly establish a function to create, standardize and globally share new production technologies to accommodate new automotive technologies such as electrification technologies. Honda associates from production operations in each region will come together in Japan to jointly plan new production technologies and processes based on know-how amassed in Japan. Then, such production technologies and processes will be verified on the demonstration line built for this function, matured and then become standardized. Standardized production technologies and processes will be evolved horizontally to other Honda operations on a global basis so that Honda can launch high-quality new products to the market speedily.

Moreover, through this function, Honda will further develop and foster global human resources.

Through these initiatives, Honda will further strengthen and significantly evolve its automobile production system and capability in Japan to reinforce its automobile business structure.

source: Automotive News

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From: Eric10/6/2017 7:35:52 AM
   of 5879
EVs and storage: Lithium’s wild ride and why it will be bigger than LNG

By David Leitch on 6 October 2017

Wild thing, I think you move me” The Troggs cover 1966

Always be gneiss and you’ll ever be taken for granite” – 1960s high school geology joke (thanks Mr Gilchrist it’s the only thing I ever remembered from Geology)

It’s a boomer out the back – $1.5 billion to $9 billion lithium market in a decade

A bit over a year ago we had a first look at the lithium market. Since then what already looked exciting has become ever more so.

Three factors are driving the surge in optimism:
  1. The total cost of ownership [TCO] of, say, a Chevy Bolt, especially in Europe is already within 5% of the cost of a VW TSI Golf.
  2. Various government policy announcements have been very, very bullish.
  3. In the real world we can observe 38% growth for the first six months of the year and there are signs of acceleration. On the basis of these factors we say…
The lithium market is expected to grow from about US$1.5 billion in 2016 to maybe US$9 billion by 2025.

The current growth rate of the EV segment is 40% per year. Despite the seemingly endless new supply options, the reality so far has been that commissioning new lithium facilities has lagged well behind budget. In fact, we see by far the main challenge for the sector is keeping up with demand.

As a result lithium carbonate battery grade (the main product) prices could stay higher for longer (always a risky conclusion), and it is currently over US$10,00 per tonne. Canaccord Genuity forecasts prices averaging over US$10,00 a tonne out to 2025. Lithium represents only a small part of a battery cost.

At the growth rates we discuss in this note that will require perhaps US$10-US$12 bn of investment just for the lithium extraction capacity. That estimate is based on Roskill US$12,500/t LCE capex and a Lithium Carbonate market perhaps as much as 1 mtpa by 2026.

Those same numbers suggest that about 750 GWh of battery making capacity is required. That’s about 20 of the Tesla 35 GWh super factories and that first one was $5 billion, so you can expect up to US$80 -US$100 billion of investment in battery factories.

Those numbers are comparable with investment in total Australasian LNG manufacturing capacity. A key but unpublished number in the below table is the KWh of storage per EV.

We see this going to an average of 50 KWh by 2025. That could easily be too high and perhaps 35-40 KWh as an average would be better. Our thinking is that range anxiety is the second highest concern after car price and that as battery cost comes down manufacturers will address concerns via bigger batteries.

Figure 1: Lithium Carbonate supply & demand. Source: ITK adapted from Deutsche

EV & PHEV sales to total over 5 million by 2021 – It’s happening

In our view are one of the few organisations keeping global data on EV vehicle sales, by region and by model, and also keeping associated battery chemistry sales records.

We choose to adopt their forecasts, even though they are at the upper end, because we think they are closer to the data. estimate is for about 5X growth in total EV passenger car sales between 2017 and 2021. This would imply a slight acceleration in the annual growth rate.

We would not use higher numbers than those of but we do think there is a good case for using higher than consensus numbers as at the moment at least forecasters tend to be revising up.

UBS, for instance, is significantly lower than us in 2021 in its May estimates, due to lower numbers from China. However, since May China has firmed up policy.

Even hybrid volumes are expected to triple but the real growth is in fully electric vehicles [BEVs].

Figure 6 EV sales forecasts. Source:

The following chart gives an indication of the regional numbers making up this forecast. If we had to question the numbers, it would be in the USA where despite the Tesla Model 3 and despite the Chevy Bolt, economics are relatively unfavourable for EVs.

That in turn mainly relates to the USA not taxing petrol consumption in the way that virtually every other country in the world does.

Figure 7: Regional forecasts of EV sales. Source: EV

2017 H1 Global EV sales up 38%. Not all EVs use big batteries

Similar growth rates are seen in all three major markets despite policy differences.

Figure 5: Plug in car sales. Source:

There is some data that suggests acceleration in the monthly numbers. For instance in Europe July was up 54% and August 69%. EVvolumes expect 0.5 m sales in China for the full year.

Many of the Chinese cars are small for instance the number 2 selling car in China in August was the Zhidou D2 Ev with just a 12 KWh battery.

Figure 8 Zhidou 120 km range, 90 kph max speed (down hill). Source: cleantechnica

Total cost of ownership

[TCO] the major tipping point UBS Electric vehicle research lead by Patrick Hummel is fantastically interesting. Your author had the pleasure of taking a very minor role on some of Patrick’s reports when he covered utilities prior to taking up the car manufacturing analysis role and in my opinion his research was the most interesting to read of any UBS analyst on any sector.

In May 2017 UBS published a ground breaking piece of research, as reported by RenewEconomy, that covered a “teardown”, by a specialist company, of the Chevy Bolt.

As discussed below, the teardown revealed a battery cost lower than expected. The teardown report was supplemented by an earlier online (2016) global survey of 9400 qualified people looking at the key concerns of consumers about BEVs [battery electric vehicles]. The main concerns were:

Figure 9: Consumer concerns about BEV. Source: UBS survey, 2016

EV manufacturers are addressing both of the two main concerns, purchase price and range. Access to plug in stations is very easily solved once suppliers decide there is a market.

TCO based on 3 year lease with 50% residual

Cost can be thought about in many ways, initial purchase cost v life time cost, consumer v manufacturer perspective, environmental cost. Here we focus on Total cost of ownership. UBS compares a Chevy Bolt v VW TSI Golf.

A 3 year lease, 50% residual model is used and the best comparison is found in Europe. Even in 2017 using the UBS data (partly confirmed by my own calculations) the TCO of the Golf is very close to the Bolt.

In bearing the below in mind the note of caution is that Bolt sales in the USA have climbed to 2632 in Sep 2017 or a 31 K annual rate from about a 12K rate in January, but this is still a tiny number relative to say Model 3 expectations of say 30K a month.

Figure 10: TCO, Bolt v Golf. Source: UBS

The Bolt initial purchase cost (US$37 k) , and along with other electric vehicles, is expected to come down about $/Euro 1000 per year or about 4% until say 2025.

The key source of cost reduction is batteries. We show selected numbers from the UBS analysis. Note the relative share of the inverter cost. Total cost comes down by about 1/3 over 8 years. A good improvement, but when utility PV costs fell 30% last year, hardly out of the ordinary.

Figure 11: Selected Chevy Bolt costs and forecasts. Source: UBS

The cell reduction costs comes from a change in chemistry (using less cobalt) and a change in energy density (less materials needed) as well as general manufacturing improvements.

Household battery buyers look at the above numbers and weep

A Tesla Powerwall 2 is A$8200 before GST & installation or A$607 KWh, so let’s call it US$500 KWh. That’s more than double the per KWh cost of a car battery which, using all the components in Fig 11 ,works to US$230 KWh.

Undoubtedly the inverter for household use costs more, but we still see that household batteries can come down a long way based on the above comparison

Global policy development brings manufacturing switch acceleration

Various Government/Regulators/manufacturers have made stronger than ever statements of intent in 2017.
  • In Germany regulators have mandated all electric vehicle sales to be fully-electric by 2030 (3.4 m cars)
  • France’s ecology minister (imagine one of those in Australia) has announced an end to the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040
  • In Great Britain a similar policy has been adopted.
  • Volvo will only make electric vehicles from 2019
  • VW has targeted 1 m electric car sales by 2025
  • China has adopted legislation requiring 8% of vehicle sales to be electric increasing to 12% by 2020 (2.2 m cars). These shares are measured in NEV [New energy vehicle] permits. 1 NEV permit is equal to 4 fossil vehicle permits which means that in reality the 12% target is actually about 3.4%. That’s still a lot of EVs
These are big announcements but in stockmarkets 2040 is an eternity away and even 2020 is hopefully a lot further away than the next bonus. The discount rate is about 20% for this.

Carbon and other emissions are driving policy

Policy towards EVs is so supportive partly because oil is around 1/3 of and the second largest contributor to global CO2 emissions, and partly because EVs provide fuel security. EVs are quieter, well suited to city commuting, including the use of busses and likely play well to autonomous driving trends.

Figure 3: Global carbon emissions. Source: CDIAC, 2014 latest data

The growth in battery electric vehicles, is not just in cars. In China at least busses are converting to electric, and a bus needs about 3X-4X bigger battery pack compared to say a Tesla Model 3. Electric bikes are becoming far more prevalent, even in Australia.

All this is producing a massive spike in the demand for the lithium. As such it represents one of the few ways for Australian investors in Australian share markets to get exposure to decarbonization themes.

Australia lead by the National Party is an ostrich on vehicle policy

Australia light vehicle emission standard is 1 gC/lm based on the Euro 5 standard. A ministerial forum was convened in December 2015 to consider tighter standards.

The proposed policy had the potential to increase fuel efficiency, saving consumers up to $500 per year and potentially reducing carbon emissions in Australia by as much as 10%. Following release of the proposed policy it became clear the Federal Govt. did not have enough internal support to get the policy mandated. What a disgrace.

As a result no final paper has been released by the forum. That said, QLD has just announced the Electric Vehicle Superhighway.

We have some of the dirtiest petrol in the world, are totally dependent on imports but its doubtful if senior members of the National Party, eg Ron Boswell, would even recognize a Tesla if it ran over him in the street.

Any mention of carbon is censored more strongly by the Federal Government than a Chinese netizen talking about personal freedom would be in Beijing. Still in the same way that Canute couldn’t hold back the tide the National Party won’t be able to hold back the wave of change sweeping the world and EVs are an important part of that.

Moving on to the lithium supply bottleneck

In our view supply considerations are the biggest bottleneck to the emerging growth forces for BEVs. We think the market has strongly underestimated the amount of new supply and investment in both lithium and battery manufacturing capacity.

For years investors have worried about over supply of lithium but this is not what we see. To us it seems like manufacturing lithium has so far proved to be a relatively difficult process with projects late and over budget to an extent. As global production goes up learning rates should drive costs down and this will bear watching.

Roskill, in a quite optimistic May presentation talking about the 1 MTPA future Lithium market noted the following head and tailwinds.

Headwinds Tailwinds
End of, or reduction in, incentive schemes; vehicle prices Cost reduction in battery and EV drive components
low oil prices CO2, SOX, NOX mandates/ city national targets
Supply Chain constraints Simpler design and build large scale battery factories
Raw material availability Improved efficiency & recovery, upstream investment
Charging infrastructure Network expansion, improved range
Range Improving cell performance
Availability Greater number of models
Lower car ownership Shared services like autonomous driving more suited to Evs
Look/feel of ICE models Younger drivers more used to high-tech
Figure 4: Roskill pros & cons for elecrtric vehicles. Source: Roskill

Australia remains a “digger” and financier

Australia presently supplies about 35% of the world’s lithium, in hard rock “spodumene” form. The ore is further processed, mainly in China, to produce Lithium Carbonate. It’s presently more capital expensive, but lower overall cost, and arguably more environmentally friendly, to produce lithium carbonate from evaporating brines.

These brines can be found in South America for the most part and a number of Australian listed companies are active in the South American market including Galaxy Resources and Orecobre.

The relative LRMC advantage of the brine producers over spoduemene hard rock processors is somewhat under question due to the higher spec (99% lithium carbonate) grade required for batteries and the extra processing cost required to produce this grade at brine facilities.

The listed lithium sector in Australia has a market cap of around A$4 bn, still small but growing rapidly. We do not distinguish or comment on the merits or otherwise of any of these stocks. Investors are cautioned to do their own research.

Figure 2 Selected Lithium focused stocks. Source: Factset, prices as of Oct 5

Raw materials used in lithium batteries

We take our numbers from Argonne Labs BatpaC model. However most of the estimates for lithium production and sales are measured in lithium carbonate Li2CO3. 0.8 kg of Li2CO3 =

Figure 12: Raw materials in lithium car batteries

Lithium reserves by geography and deposit type

Lithium carbonate of battery grade (99.5%) can be produced in two ways.
  1. By evaporating brines and then purifying via solvent extraction absorption and ionic exchange followed by recrystallisation. About 75% of the global lithium reserves are in brine form with Chile the largest single source.

Figure 13: Lithium process chemistry. Source: Deutsche from Swiaowska 2015

2. Spodumene deposits are recovery via open pit mining and “beneficiated” via gravity to produce a 6% Lithium Carbonate grade. The concentrate is then typically shipped to China to a converter where it is roasted, leached and ion exchanged to produce 98% or 99% Lithium carbonate About 19% of global lithium resources are Spodumene and about 11% of global total lithium resources are in Australia.
Disclosure. The author of this note is the beneficial owner of shares in lithium miner Orecobre.

David Leitch is principal of ITK. He was formerly a Utility Analyst for leading investment banks over the past 30 years. The views expressed are his own. Please note our new section, Energy Markets, which will include analysis from Leitch on the energy markets and broader energy issues. And also note our live generation widget, and the APVI solar contribution.

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From: Eric10/6/2017 8:00:20 AM
   of 5879
Camden To Be Home To New Jersey’s 1st All-Electric Buses, Purchasing Units From Proterra

October 6th, 2017 by James Ayre

Camden, New Jersey, will soon be home to the state’s first all-electric buses thanks to the utilization of a $500,00 Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Grant (Low-No) for the purchase of several battery-electric buses from Proterra, according to the nonprofit coalition ChargEVC.

Once the purchase has been completed by NJ Transit, the all-electric Proterra buses will be operating out of Camden’s Newton Avenue Garage.

“This action by NJ Transit follows ChargEVC’s recent Roadmap release, which includes electrification for all communities so that the benefits of electrification are enjoyed equitably throughout the state,” Green Car Congress reports.

“Each Proterra bus will eliminate more than 243,000 lbs. of CO2 and help to improve air quality for the Camden community. These transit vehicles will also provide marked savings. With lower year-over-year operation and maintenance costs resulting from having thirty percent fewer parts, and lower and more stable fueling costs when compared to a standard diesel bus, NJ Transit has the potential to achieve more than $450,000 in operational savings, per vehicle, over 12 years, according to ChargEVC.”

On a related note, it’s probably worth taking a look at the recently released details of the Federal Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Grant program — there are a quite a number of cities other than Camden set to benefit substantially from the program.

Also take a look at further background information on Proterra’s offerings: Proterra Electric Buses Up To 8x More Efficient Than Their CNG-Powered Cousins. Or scroll through dozens of previous Proterra articles for a deeper dive.

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From: Eric10/6/2017 8:02:07 AM
   of 5879
More Launch Details About Zunum Aero Electric Hybrid Planes

October 5th, 2017 by Nicolas Zart

We’ve covered the Zunum Aero previously, as well as the state of the electric flight industry here. One of the pioneers in modern electric aviation is releasing more details on the launch of its Aero aircraft today. The hybrid-to-electric aircraft is the first of an ambitious line of electric and hybrid regional platforms that promise to seat up to 12 passengers for short hops. Zunum just announced that they will be available for delivery by 2022.

Zunum Aero Electric Hybrid Regional Planes

Zunum aircraft aims to tap into a not so well represented market, that of regional flights with a range of up to 1,000 miles. This is good news since we are now more than ever shuttled back and forth through impersonal enormous airport hubs that bring us away from our final destination and force us through the dreadful connection rigmarole. The only options available today are chartered local flights, or learn how to fly and then rent one. However, regional flights from mainstream carriers are very limited, expensive to operate with the cost handed down to travelers and simply not that practical. This stalemate will eventually disappear with the renewal of smaller airports hops as it was more common a few decades ago.

Aiming squarely at the $1 trillion stock of aircraft serving regional routes, Zunum wants to slash operating costs and bring them more in line with those of regular commercial airliners. What Zunum also brings to the plate is that its Aero platform will be much quieter with the hybrid system. They are designed to compete with mid-sized aircraft, but with quietness, a greener footprint, and faster door-to-door service to secondary airports. This also means less noise, which is something regional airports will rejoice over.

The Zunum Aero Electric Hybrid Regional Planes Announcement

Zunum announced that the Aero will cost 8 cents per seat mile or $250 per hour for the aircraft. It will have a maximum cruising speed of 340 MPH with a take-off distance of 2,200 feet and a range of 700 miles. All of this will come with 80% lower emissions and noise.

Zunum Aero 12-Passenger Aircraft

According to Logan Jones, Managing Director at Boeing HorizonX, and a Zunum investor: “Zunum is reinvigorating the regional market with a solution that’s both innovative and realistic… We see them as a leader in electric aviation, building on proven technologies, with a mature technical and commercial team.”

Zunum shared more information on its hybrid-electric series powertrain as well. The battery system will allow for a seamless transition from hybrid to electric power. The electric propulsors will have variable pitch fans and will allow for a 40% reduction noise on the runway. Zunum estimates that this will translate to a 75% noise drop for local communities.

So where are the batteries? They will rest inside the wings and will be fully integrated but will enable a quick swap or recharge at airports, and this is perhaps the key advantage the Zunum Aero provides. With fresh packs in its hubs and quick recharging DC stations in secondary airports, the Aero would be favored over traditional jet engines.

Zunum goes even further by implementing a control system that will optimize power management, fault detection, and recovery in real-time flight conditions.

JetBlue Onboard the Zunum Aero

A company that stands to win the most from opening secondary airport routes is JetBlue. JetBlue and Boeing have backed Zunum since April of this year, according to fellow writer Steve’s article, Hybrid Electric Airplane Startup Zunum Aero Collects Investments From JetBlue & Boeing. And according to Bonny Simi, President of JetBlue Technology Ventures, another Zunum investor, “We believe that the regional transportation industry is ripe for disruption and we’re excited to support Zunum and its efforts to help introduce a new era of aviation.”

The economics that the Zunum aircrafts bring mean more work for 5,000 under-utilized secondary airports, as well as lightening up the load for other mid-range aircraft that would be better used on other routes. Zunum expects its Aero aircraft could deliver significantly lower door-to-door times, costs, and emissions below than what is commercially available today.

The Serious Need To Redesign Routes and Approaches

If you’ve ever watched the trajectory of any given flight, either long range or short hops, you will find they never fly a direct route. Taking off from and landing at airports means circling around the landing sites. International routes correct their navigation courses more than once during their flight. All of this adds time and fuel, thus raising prices on the overall effectiveness of traveling. Trains have answered this prickly problem by rolling directly into the heart of most cities. It is also noteworthy to see that the FAA is currently looking into ways of having aircraft radar systems better detect traffic and give them direct routes. This would make the Aero a perfect contender for secondary more direct routes, especially with cities that have more stringent noise ordinances. Zunum believes a Boston to Washington, DC flight would take 2 hours and 30 minutes door-to-door, compared to 4 hours and 50 minutes today.

Let The Zunum Aero Testing Begin

Zunum Aero plans to do test flights by 2019 and will open a second development center near Chicago for ground tests. It is surrounding itself with senior technologists from various fields, including power electronics, electric motors, propulsors and more from folks having worked on the Boeing 787, the Lockheed Martin F35, and the Rolls Royce Ultrafan.

According to founder and Aero Chief Engineer Matt Knapp: “This aircraft is going to transform how we live and work… We’ve pushed ourselves to challenge conventional wisdom and the limits of engineering to deliver an aircraft of which we are extremely proud — one that offers efficiency and performance without compromise.”


So what’s in a company name? Zunum is derived from the Mayan “tzunuum,” which means hummingbird, according to Steve’s article. How a propos! We’re excited to see the Zunum Aero continuing to gather momentum and can only imagine the comments on those V tails.

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From: Eric10/6/2017 8:25:45 AM
   of 5879
US Senate Panel Gives Green Light To Self-Driving Car Fast-Track Bill

October 5th, 2017 by James Ayre

The commercial deployment of self-driving car tech in the US now appears to be on the fast track, following the unanimous approval of a bill aimed at just that outcome by a US Senate panel.

It should be noted here, though, that the bill — which would block states from imposing regulatory roadblocks against fully autonomous cars — still has to make it through a Senate vote. Though, this appears to now be more or less a given according some of those involved.

This news follows extensive lobbying efforts funded by GM, Alphabet/Google/Waymo, and Ford, amongst others — all of which seem to view self-driving vehicles as a means of capturing the business of the millennial generation, which in aggregate purchases far fewer vehicles than earlier generations.

“The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved the bill, and the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a similar measure last month. Automakers would be able to win exemptions from safety rules that require human controls. States could set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance, and safety inspections, but not performance standards,” Reuters notes.

“Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, sought to amend the bill to require human controls in case of emergency, but dropped that proposal. Some senators argued it would be more dangerous to allow human drivers to seek to take over driverless cars.

“After lengthy negotiations, congressional aides added language to the bill aimed at preserving legal rights to sue over defective vehicles. This resolved a dispute that threatened to derail the bill.

“Within three years, the bill would allow automakers to each sell up to 80,000 self-driving vehicles annually if they could demonstrate they are as safe as current vehicles. Auto safety advocates complained it lacked sufficient safeguards. The phase-in schedule was revised to initially allow 15,000 per manufacturer in the first year and up to 80,000 after 3 years, down from 50,000 to start and up to 100,000 in 3 years. It would eliminate the cap after 4 years.”

The bill gives the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the authority to exempt vehicles from federal safety requirements, and requires it to create permanent rules on self-driving cars within 10 years. The regulators involved are apparently expected to study the impact of self-driving cars on traffic congestion, infrastructure wear, and fuel consumption.

Notably, none of these points pertain to self-driving commercial trucks, which will have to seek approval separately — partly as a result of union opposition, it seems.

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From: Eric10/6/2017 3:39:28 PM
   of 5879
Do not do this at home!

(and I'm a FAA Flight Instructor!)


Pilotless airplanes closer with Boeing acquisition

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