The Truth About Cars » Alternative Energy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 11:00:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Alternative Energy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/alternative-energy/ SAE J2601, J2799 Standardize Hydrogen Fueling, Increase FCV Range http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/sae-j2601-j2799-standardize-hydrogen-fueling-increase-fcv-range/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/sae-j2601-j2799-standardize-hydrogen-fueling-increase-fcv-range/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871970 hydrogen_fueling_station

It took 13 years, but SAE International has introduced a new standard for hydrogen fueling stations: SAE J2601.

Autoblog Green reports J2601 will enable fueling of FCVs at 35 and 70 megapascals (MPa) of pressure, delivering 3- to 5-minute fueling times like those of gasoline-powered vehicles. This will likely be good news for all involved in the hydrogen movement, especially as infrastructure is only in the embryonic stage at this point — most located in California.

Meanwhile, another standard — SAE J2799 — will better enable communication between the FCV and the pump via wireless transmission, helping to boost driving range to over 300 miles per tank via a high State of Charge, or SOC.

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Daimler To Enter FCV Market In 2017 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-to-enter-fcv-market-in-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-to-enter-fcv-market-in-2017/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871914 Mercedes Blue Efficiency

While Japanese and Korean automakers like Toyota and Hyundai are jumping into the hydrogen game, Daimler plans to begin its own journey in 2017.

Automotive News interviewed Daimler head of corporate research Herbert Kohler about his employer’s hydrogen plans. Kohler briefly reflected on how Daimler were questioned on focusing upon fuel-cell technology before everyone else, stating that if an automaker wasn’t now at least considering the game, it would have to ask itself “some uncomfortable questions.”

As for the timetable of releasing an FCV by 2017, he states that while Daimler had planned to do so by 2015 at the latest, its joint partnership with Nissan and Ford to develop the technology will give all three time to bring the tech’s high costs down amid increasing volumes by the time 2017 rolls around.

Finally, when asked how much Daimler would charge for their FCV — in light of the $68,000 price tag for the 2015 Toyota FCV — Kohler says his employer’s goal is to price its FCV on par with “the hybrid version of a comparable model.”

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Kato: EVs Need Nobel Prize-Quality Battery Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kato-evs-need-nobel-prize-quality-battery-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kato-evs-need-nobel-prize-quality-battery-technology/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=861553 Mitsuhisa Kato + Toyota FCV

Toyota’s global R&D head Mitsuhisa Kato has little regard for the current crop of EVs, proclaiming the technology to make them viable in his eyes has yet to be invented.

Automotive News reports that although his team will still do R&D work on EVs, Kato believes there are few customers seeking a vehicle with short cruising ranges:

The cruising distance is so short for EVs, and the charging time is so long. At the current level of technology, somebody needs to invent a Nobel Prize-winning type battery.

He added that while EVs could be brought to parity with ICE vehicles, doing so using current technology would establish “a vicious circle” over costs and charging times.

Toyota itself is moving away from EVs into hydrogen with the upcoming 2015 FCV; the outgoing RAV4 EV and eQ will be gone from the global lineup by the time the FCV arrives in January of next year.

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Nissan: 633 CHAdeMO Fast Chargers Available For Use Today, More Coming http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nissan-633-chademo-fast-chargers-available-for-use-today-more-coming/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nissan-633-chademo-fast-chargers-available-for-use-today-more-coming/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858009 nissan-leaf-using-chademo-fast-charger_100457004_l

Just in time for the Fourth of July travel weekend, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MIEV owners will have access to 633 CHAdeMO fast chargers, up from 160 stations in January 2013.

Green Car Reports says back then, the majority of those chargers were along the West Coast and Texas, with Nissan promising to triple that number within 18 months. Nissan North America senior manager of corporate communications Brian Brockman announced last week that his employer had gone above and beyond by bringing online nearly 500 units in the time period, with all listed on PlugShare.

As for the rest of FY 2014, Nissan will push forward to bring more CHAdeMO stations online, from its network of dealerships, to top Leaf markets such as Atlanta, Los Angeles and Houston. Meanwhile, another vehicle will be able to make use of the chargers when the 2015 Kia Soul EV goes on sale later on this summer.

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Hydrogen Digest: July 1, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/hydrogen-digest-july-1-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/hydrogen-digest-july-1-2014/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 12:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=856681 DSC_0018

In today’s hydrogen digest: Toyota asks the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a two-year exemption on its FCV; the automaker banks on subsidies to help the FCV leave the showrooms at home and abroad; and ammonia may be the secret to hydrogen’s success as a fuel.

Bloomberg reports Toyota is asking the NHTSA for a two-year exemption from FMVSS No. 305, which requires automakers to isolate high-voltage parts in electric cars in the event of a crash. The FCV doesn’t meet this rule in full because said isolation would render the vehicle inoperable, opting instead to use insulation on high-voltage cables and related components to protect first responders and occupants from potential electrical shocks in the event of a low-speed accident. Toyota claims the protections will be at least equal to those in compliance with the agency’s rule.

Meanwhile, Automotive News says the automaker is banking on subsidies at home and in markets such as the United States and Europe to help the FCV leave the showroom toward the path of success. The ¥7 million ($69,000 USD) will need a sizable credit to match its Lexus-esque pricing when it goes on sale in Japan next April; the highest subsidy is ¥850,000 (approximately $8,400). As for the U.S., where fueling infrastructure is woefully inadequate, Toyota may instead opt to lease the FCV, details of the plan still in discussion.

Finally, Autoblog Green reports ammonia may be the way toward the hydrogen future. The Science and Technologies Facilities Council in Swindon, England have discovered a process which cracks ammonia into nitrogen and hydrogen using sodium amide as the catalyst. The lower-cost process could be conducted on-board an FCV via an ammonia decomposition reactor no bigger than a 2-liter bottle of Coke, providing enough power for “a mid-range family car” while easily handling NOx-free tailpipe emissions. The STFC is now in the process of building a low-energy demonstration system to prove ammonia’s viability as a source of hydrogen fuel.

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Vehicle Wireless Charging Market To Double Yearly Through 2020 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vehicle-wireless-charging-market-to-double-yearly-through-2020/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vehicle-wireless-charging-market-to-double-yearly-through-2020/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2014 11:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=841506 Electic_car_wireless_parking_charge_closeup

For owners of PHEVs and EVs like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, the prospect of putting away the cord for wireless induction charging grows with each passing year, doubling per year toward the next decade.

Autoblog Green reports research firm Frost & Sullivan forecasts the wireless market will experience a compound growth of 126.6 percent between 2012 and 2020, resulting in nearly 352,000 units sold around the globe. Usage of the technology is expected to be at 1.2 percent of public and private charging in North America, 2.6 percent of the same in Europe — where adoption will be at its most rapid — while 70 percent of overall wireless charging will likely be in the home.

As for who all is throwing their support behind the technology, the firm says Renault, Nissan, Daimler, Volvo, BMW and Toyota are working on chargers for their upcoming EVs, with an additional 10 automakers entering the testing phase. The current obstacles for greater adoption include charging time, charging rates and production costs.

Finally, Frost & Sullivan expect on-the-road wireless charging will arrive in the next decade while stationary offerings “will be most sought after in the near-term.”

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Toyota’s First FCVs To Arrive In Showrooms Christmas 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/toyotas-first-fcvs-to-arrive-in-showrooms-christmas-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/toyotas-first-fcvs-to-arrive-in-showrooms-christmas-2014/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 10:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=840394 Toyota FCV Concept With Penguins

Toyota is wasting no time in moving forward toward a hydrogen future, announcing it will build its FCV Concept-based fuel-cell sedan this December, with sales coming just in time for the big-red-bow-tie Christmas 2014 sales extravaganza.

The Japan Times reports the FCV will likely be built by the dozen on a monthly basis at the automaker’s Motomachi plant in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture. As for price, early adopters can expect to fork over some ¥8 million (~$78,000 USD), while those coming aboard in the next decade will pay between ¥3 million and ¥5 million (~$29,000 and ~$49,000 USD) to contribute toward the water cycle.

For those who dive into Toyota’s hydrogen-electric future, range is expected to be 300 miles per tank, with refueling to take anywhere from three to five minutes at a hydrogen fueling station. Though the automaker has no plans to emulate Tesla’s Supercharger infrastructure for its FCV, it will lend its hand in developing and managing the supply of hydrogen.

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BMW: China To Be Largest EV Global Market By 2019 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/bmw-china-to-be-largest-ev-global-market-by-2019/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/bmw-china-to-be-largest-ev-global-market-by-2019/#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 12:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=834009 2014 BMW i3 01

Though Chinese consumers have been slow to adopt electric vehicles thus far, BMW believes China will become the largest global market for EVs by 2019 at the earliest.

Bloomberg reports the automaker entered into a joint venture with municipal power company State Grid Shanghai, installing public charging infrastructure at the city’s former World Expo site as one of 46 such sites around the city to be installed by the end of 2014. The charging equipment will be compatible with products made by BMW, SAIC and BYD et al, while Tesla owners will have to use Supercharger stations instead.

Meanwhile, BMW will begin deliveries of the i3 in China this September, being sold in showrooms alongside the i8. BMW China CEO Karsten Engel says he expects only 1,000 will arrive in showrooms this year due to lack of supply, while BMW overall will sell over 400,000. The Bavarians join fellow Germans Volkswagen and Daimler in producing EVs for the Chinese market to help boost adoption among consumers. Currently, 70,000 total EVs are on the road in the nation, far behind the Chinese government’s goal of 500,000 by next year.

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Renault, LG Chem Sign MOU To Develop Long-Range Battery Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/renault-lg-chem-sign-mou-to-develop-long-range-battery-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/renault-lg-chem-sign-mou-to-develop-long-range-battery-technology/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 11:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=833473 Renault LG Signing Ceremony

With most EVs getting around 100 miles on a single charge from their battery packs, such vehicles are more suited for the downtown core than a trip to the mountains. However, Renault and LG Chem are looking toward boosting range toward Tesla-like levels, together.

Autoblog Green reports Renault’s CCO Thierry Bolloré and LG Chem’s battery chief Kwon Young-soo signed a memorandum of understanding to develop battery range technology through the use of the latter company’s high-energy-density batteries. LG makes the batteries for EVs and PHEVs, including the Chevrolet Volt, and will supply packs to 20 automakers in 2015, double the business it does currently.

Meanwhile, Renault may use the results of its joint-venture with LG Chem to improve the range — and therefore, potential sales — of its Twingo and other Z.E. EVs. The Twingo was recently shelved in part to less-than-expected demand for the city car, with no word on when the EV will go back on sale.

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Volvo To Conduct Electric Road Study With Focus On Inductive Charging http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volvo-to-conduct-electric-road-study-with-focus-on-inductive-charging/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volvo-to-conduct-electric-road-study-with-focus-on-inductive-charging/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 10:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=833433 Volvo Hyper Bus PHEV

Coming off its study of stationary vehicle wireless charging, Volvo will turn its attention toward on-road charging of its Hyper Bus diesel-electric in a year-long study with partner Swedish Transport Association.

Autoblog reports the two parties will build a 300- to 500-meter section of electrified road that would use inductive charging for the PHEV’s batteries while shuttling passengers back and forth along the way. Currently, the buses use charging stations at either end of the route, delaying further travel until fully charged.

The road will be located in central Gothenburg, and is expected to be the herald for the ElectriCity route between Chalmers and Lindholmen, which will provide more data on charging and electric power for heavy vehicles such as buses for future industrial and political decisions.

The intended result of the study is to prove the viability of electric roads, including their impact on the environment as a piece of a greater puzzle involving sustainable transportation.

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Toyota Turns Away From Batteries, Toward Fuel Cells http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/toyota-turns-away-from-batteries-toward-fuel-cells/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/toyota-turns-away-from-batteries-toward-fuel-cells/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=828210 Toyota FCV Concept

After 20 years of pursuing a battery-powered future, Toyota has decided to take a different course powered by hydrogen.

Automotive News reports Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz says his company sees EVs’ viability “in a select way, in short-range vehicles that take you that extra mile, from the office to the train, or home to the train, as well as being used on large [corporate] campuses.” This view is reflected in the decision to end its purchase agreement with Tesla of battery packs for 2,600 RAV4 EVs over three years, which Lentz personally felt future investment into the agreement would be better spent developing hydrogen fuel cells instead.

Speaking of such things, Toyota’s commitment toward a hydrogen future includes a $7 million “arms-length” investment in FirstElement Fuel Inc. — the startup founded by former General Motors and Hyundai executive Joel Ewanick — in its plan to build 19 hydrogen fueling stations throughout California by the autumn of 2015. The automaker’s own research found that 68 stations would be needed in California to meet the needs of 10,000 fuel cell vehicle owners, 50 of which are expected to come online by the end of 2016.

Lentz says he hopes his company won’t be alone in developing the emerging market like it was when the Prius first arrived. So far, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai are working on new fuel cell vehicles to help spur demand, the first of which are predicted to arrive in 2015.

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Ewanick’s FirstElement Fuel Receives $27.6M Grant For 19 Hydrogen Stations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/ewanicks-firstelement-receives-27-6m-grant-for-19-hydrogen-stations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/ewanicks-firstelement-receives-27-6m-grant-for-19-hydrogen-stations/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 12:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=815482 Joel Ewanick. Picture courtesy motormaniabuzz.eu

Former Hyundai and General Motors marketing executive Joel Ewanick’s newest endeavour — a hydrogen fuel filling station network called FirstElement Fuel Inc. — has won a $27.6 million grant from the California Energy Commission, allowing Ewanick to move forward with the startup.

Automotive News reports FirstElement will install 19 filling stations throughout California at existing filling stations, including a few locales considered unprofitable:

We’re putting some stations in areas that will not be profitable. We did that to demonstrate that customers will have the ability to use their cars anywhere in California, same as a gasoline-powered car. It will be a true network.

The stations will initially receive hydrogen via delivery, with the capability to produce the alternative fuel on-site down the road.

Ewanick also has eyes on the Northeastern United States, as several states have adopted California’s clean air standards as their own. In the meantime, his 19-station network is part of 28 total stations that will open thanks to funding from the CEC, joining the nine fully operational and 17 under-construction stations already in California as the state marches toward its goal of 100 such units by the end of the decade.

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FTC Resumes Review Of Fuel Economy Advertising Guidelines http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/ftc-resumes-review-of-fuel-economy-advertising-guidelines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/ftc-resumes-review-of-fuel-economy-advertising-guidelines/#comments Fri, 02 May 2014 11:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=813969 FordCMaxHybridAdCap-626x338

The Federal Trade Commission voted 4-0 Thursday to resume its review of fuel economy claims in advertising by automakers and dealers, and whether or not the agency should revise the 40-year-old guidelines governing them.

The Detroit News reports the FTC had been considering making changes to the Guide Concerning Fuel Economy Advertising for New Automobiles since 2009 to help “marketers avoid deceptive or unfair claims” such as those that befell Hyundai, Kia and Ford over the past few years. The agency paused in 2011 until after the Environmental Protection Agency’s new fuel economy labeling requirements were in place, as well as to look over its own Alternative Fuel Rule.

The FTC plans to go over general and unspecified fuel economy claims in advertising, as well as define Combined Fuel Economy for electric vehicles, all in an effort to remove outdated language and establish clearer information on advertised economy going forward. It is currently asking for comments on updates to reflect the new EPA guidelines and MPG claims, and the need for guidance on alternative fuel vehicle claims. The comments are due by July 10.

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EPA Sets Lower 2013 Cellulosic Ethanol Use Requirement http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/epa-sets-lower-2013-cellulosic-ethanol-use-requirement/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/epa-sets-lower-2013-cellulosic-ethanol-use-requirement/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:30:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=809314 Ethanol plant

Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency put in place 2013 requirements for cellulosic ethanol for automotive use in the United States at 810,000 gallons, an amount far short of the 1 billion gallons Congress desired seven years earlier when the Renewable Fuel Standard Act came into force.

The Detroit News reports production of the fuel has fallen short of expectations, prompting the agency to set required production for 2013 to what was actually produced “due to the reduced estimate of anticipated cellulosic biofuel production in 2013 that was announced shortly after EPA signed its final rule by one of two companies expected to produce cellulosic biofuel in 2013.”

The reduction comes on the heels of a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in favor of the American Petroleum Institute, stating the EPA had overstepped its authority by mandating refiners buy more fuel — 17 million gallons for this year alone — than what was produced. API official Bob Greco applauded the decision, calling upon the agency to base future mandates on reality instead of prognostication:

EPA should base its cellulosic mandates on actual production rather than projections that — year after year — have fallen far short of reality. For four years running, biofuel producers have promised high cellulosic ethanol production that hasn’t happened. EPA must also reconsider its unrealistic proposal to mandate 17 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels for 2014.

Despite lower production numbers and delays in bringing ethanol refineries online, the Obama administration is pushing ahead with the RFS, which requires 21 billion gallons of biofuel — including 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol — to be in use annually as a way to wean the nation’s dependency on foreign oil resources.

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US Energy Department Unveils Four-Year Strategy For Alternative Energy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/us-energy-department-unveils-four-year-strategy-plan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/us-energy-department-unveils-four-year-strategy-plan/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:15:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=798026 South_Point_Wind_Farm

The U.S. Department of Energy unveiled last week a four-year plan that would advance the goal of energy security by building upon as many alternative sources as possible, further reducing dependence on imported petroleum.

Autoblog Green reports the 27-page plan illustrates the proposed aims of the DOE to double the amount of energy produced by renewables, improve battery technology, usher in advances in biofuels and hydrogen fuel cells, and push further electrification of vehicles.

In addition, the DOE also has strategies ready for testing the nation’s nuclear deterrent for safety, security and overall effectiveness, as well as boosting the tools needed to bring improvements on the nation’s security infrastructure.

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CARB ZEV Credit Restructuring Leaves Tesla With Fewer Credits http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/carb-zev-credit-restructuring-leaves-tesla-with-fewer-credits/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/carb-zev-credit-restructuring-leaves-tesla-with-fewer-credits/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 13:01:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=788698 tesla-model-s-logo

A change to the California Air Resources Board’s Zero-Emission Vehicle credit program will leave Tesla with four credits per car cold for the foreseeable future, down from seven credits for every Model S through 2013.

Bloomberg reports the change will award zero-emission vehicles with long-driving ranges and refueling times no greater than 15 minutes — such as the outgoing Honda FCX Clarity, with its hydrogen fuel cell technology — the maximum of nine credits, while Tesla — which had, until now, earned the maximum of seven — will receive four credits going forward due to failing the rapid-refueling requirement.

Tesla, the top seller of CARB ZEV credits to other automakers, has plans to introduce battery-swap stations that would allow drivers to exchange depleted packs for new ones in around one minute. However, until enough of the stations are in place, the 2014 Model S will be rebranded a Type III ZEV going forward.

The new standards — originally meant to be in place by October 2013 — were designed by CARB to emphasize actual use of ZEVs over theoretical capabilities.

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Fewer Than 4,000 Green Calif. HOV Stickers Remain http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/less-than-4000-green-calif-hov-stickers-remain/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/less-than-4000-green-calif-hov-stickers-remain/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 12:56:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=776521 2012-Chevrolet-Volt-HOV-052_610x407

For potential California PHEV owners, time may soon run out to obtain the Green Clean Air Vehicle Sticker issued by the California Environmental Protection Agency for HOV lane use, as only 3,770 of the 40,000 stickers remain available.

Inside EVs reports a huge spike in applications for the green stickers since the start of 2013, with 12,000 issued last year, and 8,000 more since January. This is in contrast to 2012, when around 500 stickers per month were issued in the first seven months of the year.

The stickers, meant for AT PZEVs such as the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt, will likely be gone by the time BMW brings the i3 extended-range model to the United States this summer, and in spite of the automaker’s best efforts, only the pure-electric i3 will be eligible for the White Clean Air Vehicle Sticker issued to as many approved EVs, fuel-cell- and CNG-powered vehicles — like the Tesla Model S, Ram 2500 and Honda FCX Clarity — as can be registered.

Both green and white HOV stickers are set to expire New Year’s Day 2019, extended from the same date in 2015.

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Porsche 919 Hybrid LeMans Racer Goes After The Two Thirds of Gasoline’s Energy That’s Wasted As Heat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/porsche-919-hybrid-lemans-racer-goes-after-the-two-thirds-of-gasolines-energy-thats-wasted-as-heat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/porsche-919-hybrid-lemans-racer-goes-after-the-two-thirds-of-gasolines-energy-thats-wasted-as-heat/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 19:19:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=763457 2014 Porsche Motorsport- Porsche 919 Hybrid- Angle

The problem with battery electric and fuel cell cars is gasoline. Petrol is genuinely a superior fuel, at least in terms of energy. It has so much energy per gallon, 116,000 btu/gal, that we can use it in an engine whose theoretical maximum efficiency is only 37%. That means that with all the gizmos a modern gasoline powered internal combustion engine has that increase fuel economy, still two thirds or more of the energy in the fuel is being turned into unusable heat, not motive force.

 

Even with all that waste it still is a more practical powerplant than using batteries or other alternatives. It’s long occurred to me that in addition to improving the efficiency of the engine itself, recovering energy from that waste heat might be a productive way of improving the overall efficiency of the car. Porsche is returning to international endurance sports car racing this year with the 919 that they plan on racing at LeMans, and as part of its hybrid system it incorporates a device that in fact generates electricity from the heat in the exhaust, recovering energy from what would normally be waste heat.

Porsche isn’t the first car company to look into recovering waste heat. In 2005 BMW announced their “TurboSteamer” test bed concept that they said gave 10-15% improvements in fuel economy and power. The TurboSteamer integrated a series of sophisticated (and probably very expensive) heat exchangers into the exhaust and cooling systems to power a two stage Rankin cycle engine that assisted the internal combustion engine. A second generation TurboSteamer was announced in 2011. By then BMW had succeeded in miniaturizing the components enough to fit in the standard packaging of a 5 Series sedan.

2014 Porsche Motorsport- Porsche 919 Hybrid- Technical Drawing- Engine

One difference between turbochargers and superchargers is that superchargers are mechanically driven by the engine while turbos’ turbines are driven by the pressure and heat energy in the waste gases that are the product of combustion. For that reason, turbocharged engines have greater thermal efficiency than normally aspirated motors. The Porsche 919′s hybrid drive puts a new spin on recovering energy from exhaust gases with turbine devices. The 919′s V4 engine does have a conventional exhaust driven turbocharger, but it has another exhaust driven device that’s part of the race car’s hybrid drive. The 919 is a through-the-road 4WD hybrid. In other words, it has gasoline power driving the rear axle and electric power that can power the front axle on demand. The batteries for the electric motor are charged by two different systems. One is Porsche’s “conventional” KERS-like system that’s used in the 918 Spyder supercar which is essentially a regenerative braking setup. Porsche’s describes the other source of electrons as “a system that recovers thermal energy from exhaust gases via an electric generator driven by the exhaust gas stream.”

2014 Porsche Motorsport- Porsche 919 Hybrid- Technical Drawing- Hybrid System

What that sounds like is that instead of driving an impeller that pressurizes the fuel/air charge, as a conventional turbocharger does, Porsche’s “fundamentally new” device is an exhaust gas driven turbine that spins a generator. In a sense it’s a reversed setup for an electrically driven supercharger. Instead of a belt drive running off the engine, an electrically driven supercharger uses an electric motor to pressurize the induction. Porsche apparently did the equivalent of flipping one of those around and mounting it on the exhaust system.

We’ll probably seem more efforts, for both racing and road cars, to turn that 63% or more of the energy that’s currently waste heat into usable power. Turbocharging guru Gale Banks, who knows a thing or two about using waste heat energy, recently said on The Smoking Tire’s podcast that he was hopeful that engine waste heat could be recovered by large scale Peltier devices. Peltier devices are what heat and cool your drink in heated and cooled cupholders. They’re very interesting electronic heat exchangers. If you apply DC voltage, one side will heat relative to ambient temperature and the other side will cool. Reverse the polarity and hot and cold change sides. Fortunately, like piezoelectric devices, the entire process is reversible. If you make one side of a Peltier device hot and the other side cold, it will start generating electricity, something called the Seebeck effect. The term Thermo Electric Generator, or TEG, has been coined for devices that use the thermoelectric effect to make power.

Banks hope may actually see the light of day. Purdue professor Xianfan Xu is indeed heading a research team that is developing large scale Peltier devices designed to work with the temperature differentials one finds in a typical car engine and exhaust. BMW is also working on TEGs in addition to their work on the TurboSteamer concept.

Porsche isn’t saying just how many kilowatts their exhaust driven generator puts out, but it’s safe to assume that the power it harvests is worth the weight it adds to the race car or it wouldn’t be there. Race cars may use technologies that are not yet economically practical, but the engineers who design and build them aren’t going to use something that is a net energy loss.

Source: Porsche

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Tesla Unveils $5 Billion Gigafactory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tesla-unveils-5-billion-gigafactory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tesla-unveils-5-billion-gigafactory/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 15:10:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=755721 Tesla Gigafactory

After months of speculation, Tesla drew back the curtain on their most ambitious project to date, the Gigafactory.

Yahoo News reports the Gigafactory’s price tag would total $5 billion, $2 billion of which would directly from Tesla — including a portion from a proposed $1.6 billion convertible note offering that will also be used for future vehicle development — with current partner Panasonic and their partners fronting the remainder of the investment. Interestingly, Morgan Stanley announced it was expecting to collect underwriting fees from the note just one day after also issuing a research memo that called for a doubling of their price target for Tesla shares.

Four sites in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas are under final consideration for the site of the Gigafactory, and the finished project will employ 6,500 workers. The first goal for the Gigafactory is to begin construction this year in time to open its doors in 2017 at the same time the low-cost Model E is set to enter showrooms, with battery costs projected to fall 30 percent in the same timeframe. The milestone will be followed by a push to increase cell and pack outputs by 35 and 50 GWh/yr by 2020, where Tesla expects to move 500,000 units a year into showrooms around the world. Despite widespread reports to the contrary, Musk told Bloomberg that Panasonic’s participation “is not 100 percent confirmed“.

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Panasonic, Partners Plan To Invest $1 Billion In Tesla Gigafactory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/panasonic-partners-plan-to-invest-1-billion-in-tesla-gigafactory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/panasonic-partners-plan-to-invest-1-billion-in-tesla-gigafactory/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 15:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=754985 Toyota Panasonic TF108

In the wake of Tesla shares hitting an all-time high of $259.20 after Morgan Stanley raised its target price to $320/share, battery maker Panasonic is gathering a few partners to go all in on a $1 billion investment in the automaker’s Gigafactory battery production plant.

The Globe and Mail reports that the plant, set to open in 2017 (just in time for production of the Tesla Model E), will help bolster Panasonic’s supply of lithium-ion batteries already found in the Model S and, soon, the Model X. The Gigafactory would also provide packs to Toyota and various automakers interested in the technology.

Though the proposed factory would lower production costs by placing the entire process under one roof, the main purpose according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk is “to support the volume of the third generation car”:

Meanwhile, investors heeded the advice of Morgan Stanley Tuesday, pushing Tesla share prices to a record peak of $259.20 before falling to $248 at close. The firm raised its target price per share from $153 to $320 based on the potential effects the Gigafactory could have on the United States auto industry in the next 14 years, an assessment Stifel analyst James Albertine believes to be a game-changer in the energy storage market:

While we remain negative on Tesla shares above $200 as an automotive OEM (original equipment manufacturer), the energy storage opportunity requires a broader perspective and could very well justify current, if not higher valuation levels.

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BASF Investing In EV Battery Market Despite Industry Setbacks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/basf-investing-in-ev-battery-market-despite-industry-setbacks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/basf-investing-in-ev-battery-market-despite-industry-setbacks/#comments Tue, 25 Feb 2014 15:04:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=753761 BASF BMW M1 Procar

Though some electric vehicles have seen their share of woes, from fires in individual cars to bankruptcies filed by manufacturers, German chemical maker BASF is going in for the long game by investing in the EV battery market.

Bloomberg reports the world’s largest chemical maker will use a part of its annual $2.3 billion R&D budget on battery materials — one of 10 areas targeted for growth by BASF — in the pursuit of a better battery that will help EVs run longer. Company head of global business management for BASF’s battery materials unit Adrian Steinmetz says his employer is committee to making the battery materials focus a success, noting that newer and safer batteries with a higher capacity will prove beneficial to the overall EV market:

The battery can only be as good as the chemistry inside. It’s a very technically demanding field and you really need to understand the whole interplay between different chemical compounds.

To accomplish this goal, BASF has bought four companies, established a nickel cobalt manganese plant in the United States, and bought patent licenses from rival Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp, one of three market leaders — the others being Sumitomo Chemical and Ube Industries — whose dominance over lithium-ion technology, aided by proximity to related tech industries, reigns supreme.

By 2020, BASF aims to be one of the top three battery materials suppliers, pushing overall market valuation to $20 billion in the same time frame. Part of this plan includes taking the fight to the home turf of their Asian rivals, already begun with the company’s establishment of a battery materials research and development center in Amagasaki, Japan. The R&D unit provides BASF with the majority of its Asian sales.

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Renewable Energy To Power Tesla Gigafactory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/renewable-energy-to-power-tesla-gigafactory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/renewable-energy-to-power-tesla-gigafactory/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 11:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=752585 tesla-model-s-logo

Sometime this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk will announce everything there is to know about the EV automaker’s Gigafactory, from location and price tag, to its heavy reliance on renewable energy sources.

Autoblog Green reports the Gigafactory will be “heavily powered” by solar and wind energy sources, with older battery packs storing the collected energy. Meanwhile, the factory will mass-produce finished battery packs from raw lithium sources, with the aim of generating 30 gigawatt-hours annually. By taking advantage of economies of scale, costs should be reduced by 30 to 40 percent in the same timeframe needed to bring the $35,000 Model E from the drawing board to the showroom floor.

As for where the $2 billion-plus factory will be built, one rumored location is Nevada. Aside from the obvious solar power available for Musk’s green aspirations, the state also houses the sole commercial brine pool lithium production facility in the United States at this time, though more could be brought in from Wyoming’s recently discovered underground lithium brine in the state’s Rock Springs Uplift formation if needed.

Finally, funding for the Gigafactory could come from a number of sources, including new stock and alliances with other companies interested in what the factory — and the future — has to offer.

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Beijing EV Licenses Ignored In Spite Of New Car Registration Difficulties http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/beijing-ev-licenses-ignored-in-spite-of-new-car-registration-difficulties/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/beijing-ev-licenses-ignored-in-spite-of-new-car-registration-difficulties/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=748241 SCMP   28JAN13  CH SMOG

Though the municipal government in Beijing has set aside 20,000 license plates for electric vehicles in an attempt to offset their ongoing air quality woes, very few residents are interested, even if it means waiting a long time to own a gasoline-powered car.

South China Morning Post reports only 1,701 potential EV owners have filed applications for new vehicle licensing thus far. The figure is less than 0.1 percent of the nearly 1.9 million new vehicle licensing applications received by Beijing’s city government for gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles.

Though all 20,000 applications would be issued if more applicants entered their name in the lottery system used to issue licenses, most would rather wait until they received approval for a conventional vehicle. As a result, the city government recently tweaked their lottery to improve the chances of those 640,000 applicants who tried their hand over 25 times to buy and license a non-EV vehicle, resulting in a 2.4 percent chance of success for those who applied more than 37 times.

The reason for the lack of enthusiasm in Beijing for EVs? A lack of supporting infrastructure for charging the vehicles, and a perception of poor performance and unreliability overall, with taxi drivers complaining of limited range and long-wait times to charge in regards of the 1,000 taxis and the 500 charging stations in the city to keep the taxis moving.

Beijing aims to alleviate the issue by installing 1,000 stations within city limits by the end of 2014, extending into the suburbs by 2017. City officials also aim to bring 1.7 million EVs to the road by 2017, as well, with subsidies of up to 108,000 yuan to help encourage more residents to buy electric.

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Delaware Bankruptcy Judge Approves Sale Of Fisker Automotive to China’s Wanxiang http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/delaware-bankruptcy-judge-approves-sale-of-fisker-automotive-to-chinas-wanxiang/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/delaware-bankruptcy-judge-approves-sale-of-fisker-automotive-to-chinas-wanxiang/#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 17:50:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=745993 800px-Fisker_Karma_2
Last week, Rueters reported that Wanxiang, a Chinese parts supplier, had won the bankruptcy auction for Fisker Automotive. The bid was valued around $149.2 million. The deal comes to close after a bidding war between Wanxiang and Hybrid LLC — a group who includes Richard Li, a Fisker investor and Hong Kong billionaire. In November, Fisker asked for Hybrid Technology LLC to purchase the bankrupt company for $25 million, but creditors objected the deal in November and brought Wanxiang into the case in December.

Today Delaware, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross approved of the sale to Wanxiang. He stated that the auction “shows that a fair process is a good thing.”

The sale came after a 19 round biding war between Wanxiang and Hybrid Technology LLC, and includes the shuttered General Motors assembly plant that Fisker purchased in 2010. Bloomberg reports, “[the] offer includes $126.2 million in cash, plus equity and $8 million in assumed liabilities.”

Wanxiang also bought A123 Systems Inc. last year after its bankruptcy for $256.6 million. A123 produced the Fisker batteries, which Henrick Fisker attributed to the failure of Fisker after A123 went through bankruptcy in October of 2012, and exiting in March of 2013.

 

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Birthwhistle: Mazda’s SkyActiv Program Influences RWD Design In FWD Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/birthwhistle-mazdas-skyactiv-program-influences-rwd-design-in-fwd-vehicles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/birthwhistle-mazdas-skyactiv-program-influences-rwd-design-in-fwd-vehicles/#comments Sun, 16 Feb 2014 19:15:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=740809 2014 Mazda Mazda6 Exterior

As other manufacturers downsize their offerings to meet ever-increasing fuel economy milestones, Mazda’s SkyActiv program utilizes engine geometry to hit those marks, resulting in the automaker’s current offerings looking rear-wheel drive while feeling front-wheel drive.

In an interview with Automotive News Europe, Mazda Europe design boss Peter Birthwhistle explained that since the automaker’s SkyActiv technology allows for engine size to remain larger than the competition, the layout of the exhaust system results in the passenger cell being pushed back to accommodate a “sloped angle” where the pipes exit from the engine. In turn, the overall look is that of the traditional long hood/short deck RWD layout in spite of the power going toward the front.

Turning toward alternative power, Birthwhistle mentioned a few offerings in the works, including a hybrid variant of the 3, a rotary-powered range extender that may see use in a future plug-in hybrid, and a move into electric vehicles. That said, the designer sees a lot of continuing potential with the internal combustion engine:

There’s still a lot of potential in conventional engines. They remain very inefficient in terms of things like heat loss. Get that sorted out and there’s amazing potential in gasoline engines in terms of fuel economy.

Looking further into the future, Birthwhistle also believed that by 2100, most cars will be automated personal pods, with small cars made for weekend warriors to use on track days.

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