Some buyers of Ford’s gas/electric hybrids have expressed disappointment the their 2013 Ford C-Max, Fusion and Lincoln MKZ hybrids have not returned those cars’ EPA rated fuel economy. Some have even sued.
Category: Alternative Energy
Though development versions of the Porsche 918 hybrid supercar have been spotted testing in Colorado, California and other locations, and though we’ve seen concept and track versions, until now Porsche has not given the production car its official public debut. Last weekend, with the eyes of the car enthusiast world aimed at the event, Porsche couldn’t have picked a better location or event for that debut, racing the 918 up the hillclimb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Fortunately, a British car blogger named Tim aka Shmee, who does great video work with cars, had cameras stationed along Lord March’s famous driveway to record the new debutante’s coming out party.
One drawback to cars that run on batteries is that over time and multiple charge/discharge cycles, batteries will lose capacity. Individual cells start to fail to meet specifications and when enough cells go bad, it’s time for another battery pack. Since capacity is directly related to range and since battery packs are expensive to replace, how quickly batteries deteriorate is an important factor in the overall cost and practicality of EVs.
While Damon Lavrinc at Wired’s Autopia makes the observation that the revived Detroit Electric company seems to be following the Tesla playbook, launching their company with a car based on an electrified small Lotus, Detroit Electric CEO Albert Lam insists that his team is using a different business model than Tesla and that they have learned from other EV startups’ mistakes. Lam also said there was no comparison between Detroit Electric and Fisker, which appears to be headed to bankruptcy soon, having just furloughed all but 50 employees. Detroit Electric says they are following the model of Apple (on Lam’s CV along with a stints at Lotus and Sun Microsystems) focusing on design and engineering with much of everything else contracted out. Lam pointed out, at a press conference following the reveal of the SP:01 sports car, that buying and equipping a factory to build an original platform, as Tesla is doing, or even contracting out assembly of an original platform, as Fisker has tried to do, both require up front investments of hundreds of millions, perhaps a billion dollars or more, requiring quick success and substantial early sales just to break even. Read More >
Until the modern day revival of electric vehicles like the Teslas, Nissan’s Leaf or the Chevy Volt, the best selling electric car ever was the Detroit Electric, produced by the Anderson Carriage company from 1907 to 1939. They sold thousands of them (1914 was the high water mark with ~4,500 produced). Among the people who drove Detroit Electrics were electricity pioneers Thomas Edison and Charles Steinmetz and the wives of automotive industrialists Henry Ford and Henry Joy (he ran Packard). Interestingly, John D. Rockefeller, who made his enormous fortune from petroleum products like gasoline, owned a pair of Detroit Electric Model 46 Roadsters. Now, not only has the electric car industry been revived, but also the Detroit Electric company, which says it will start producing battery electric sports cars in a Michigan facility by the end of this summer. Following Tesla’s example, their first car will be based on a Lotus, in this case an Exige coupe, and the company promises two other “high performance” models in 2014. Read More >
Volkswagen has been tinkering with hydrogen for longer than I can remember. Yesterday, CEO Martin Winterkorn said it was all for naught. Hydrogen fuel cells are unlikely to become a cost-effective way to power cars in the near future, Winterkorn told Automotive News at Volkswagen’s press conference in Wolfsburg. He said it’s not Volkswagen’s fault: Read More >
Energy density isn’t the only reason why battery-powered cars have never caught on. As was highlighted in Tesla’s somewhat less than successful media road trip, the amount of time it takes to fill batteries with electrons can be as significant a factor in the practicality of EVs as the amount of electrons those batteries can hold.
While following the he said he said back and forth between the New York Time’s James Broder and Tesla’s Elon Musk, over Broder’s unsuccessful drive from New York to Boston in a Tesla Model S, it seemed to me that one important factor affecting consumer acceptance of EVs is being obscured by all the Sturm und Drang of the NYT and Musk both working this story for maximum bad publicity for their respectless enterprises. That factor, ironically, is why Tesla set up the media road trips in the first place, the fact that EVs will need a publicly accessible charging infrastructure if they are going to be seen as anything other than town cars. The Model S press trips from DC to Beantown were supposed to demonstrate Tesla’s expanding network of locations equipped with Tesla’s “Supercharger” quick charging stations.
“Everybody uses the road and if some pay and some don’t then that’s an unfair situation that’s got to be resolved,” said Jim Whitty, manager of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Office of Innovative Partnerships and Alternative Funding.
Ah, yes. As with any number of current governmental activities, the rationale for per-mile taxation will be fairness.
Yesterday, we told you about that miracle battery, Toyota allegedly has developed. The Nikkei [sub] said it will double the range of an EV. The Tokyo wire quoted researchers as saying that they “may also be able to achieve a driving range of between 500km and 1,000km” (310 to 620 miles), You possibly noticed the skeptical tone when we reported on the report . As it turns out, the Nikkei was a bit – exuberant. Read More >
Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne finds it “most shocking” that the U.S. auto industry is not throwing its might behind natural gas, which has been found in abundance in the United States: Read More >
TTAC is no stranger to the topic of Peak Oil, but the theory has fallen by the wayside with the recent explosion in unconventional oil and gas. A study by the British think tank Chatham House argues that the biggest issue facing oil and gas producers in the coming century isn’t Peak Oil, but Peak Demand (summary here).
“We do not need incentives for natural gas technology to drive adoption,” Bill Larkin, CFO of Westport Innovations, a Vancouver-based developer of technology that allows truck and bus engines to run on natural gas, told Reuters in an interview:
“It actually hurts the investment in this technology because the U.S. government has been dangling this carrot … and so investments are delayed.” Read More >
Tesla has officially launched their long-awaited “Supercharging” network last night to a star-studded crowd in Southern California. (We assume it was star-studded since our invitation got lost in the mail.) The EV network promises to enable Model S and Model X owners to charge 150 miles of range in 30 minutes. What about your Roadster? Sorry, you aren’t invited to this charging party. Have a Tesla and a LEAF? You’ll have to be satisfied with separate but equal charging facilities as the Tesla proprietary charging connector restricts access to Tesla shoppers only. Is this class warfare or do we parallel the computer industry where connectors come and go with the seasons?