The Truth About Cars » Charging http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 11:00:59 +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 » Charging http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Living With an EV for a Week – Day Four (can we get a charging standard please?) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/living-with-an-ev-for-a-week-day-four-can-we-get-a-charging-standard-please/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/living-with-an-ev-for-a-week-day-four-can-we-get-a-charging-standard-please/#comments Sun, 02 Jun 2013 19:18:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=490456 2014 Fiat 500e Under The Hood, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

If you’re just now reading this series, here’s what’s going on. Because reviews of electric vehicles (my own included) seem to be 1/4 review and 3/4 whining about EV related issues, I decided to divorce the review from the “EV experience” and post daily about driving a car with an 80-95 mile range. You can catch up by going to Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 before coming back to the saga. Don’t worry, we’ll wait for you. Day three ended with my battery at 15% because I drove the orange creamsicle Fiat we have named “Zippy Zappy” over 175 miles. I don’t have a 240V charging cable at home so the car told me it would be 24 hours until the car was charged at 120V. Good thing day four was a Saturday.I woke up and debated whether I should shirk my weekend chores and head to the beach. After all, I had discovered the beach was equipped with a 240V station. No dice, I looked up the station online and it was occupied, probably because charging is free in Capitola By The Sea. Looking at the ChargePoint station map it’s obvious to see how the landscape has changed in a year. The SF Bay Area now has 781 public charging stations on the ChargePoint network,  172 on the Blink network, 23 DC “Fast Charge” stations that deliver 90 kW (nearly 14x faster than the onboard charger in Zippy Zappy or the 2014 LEAF). Of course Fiat hasn’t signed onto the CHAdeMO bandwagon yet leaving the LEAF and iMiEV the only cars capable of sucking down electrons at such a speed. No, I haven’t forgotten about Tesla, we’ll talk about that later.

In addition to those stations there another 980 private 240V chargers in the Bay Area that are part of PlugShare, a deal where you let random EV people charge at your home using your juice. Last time I had a LEAF, I decided to use a PlugShare station, so I looked one up and followed the directions. I texted the guy who was sharing his station and he told me to just drive up and plug my car into his station in his driveway. I was so blown away by thig I interviewed him. He told me he thought of PlugShare as”EV random acts of kindness.” How sweet. Let me ask you all a question to put this in perspective. How many of you would sign up for “GasShare.com” a place where you keep a 5-gallon gasoline can in your driveway so you can share it with your fellow neighbors? Anyone? I suspect that as EVs become more popular and the charge rate increases fewer people will be willing to let strangers park in their driveway and suck down $10 worth of electricity.

2012 Nissan Leaf, Exterior, charging connector, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

About that Tesla. The charging standard situation  is like a VHS/Betamax battle with only one player on the Beta side: Tesla. I do understand the logic with the new charging connector, it is without a doubt superior into the J1772 that every other EV and plug-in hybrid uses. It is also better than the CHAdeMO DC charging plugs on Mitsubishi and Nissan EVs. Finally it’s way, way more attractive than that funky SAE combo connector the society is pushing.

How is Tesla’s cord better? First off the connector is smaller. I’m not convinced this is a big deal since every car has a fuel door and so far nobody has  told me they hated their fuel door because it was too big. But the electrical side of the connector? Tesla rocks. J1772 started out with a 30A max draw, later amended to 80A in 2009 (although I have yet to see an 80A capable station). If your car supports J1772 AC charging and CHAdeMO quick charging, you have the ginormous connector above shown above ( on the left of the J1772 connector). It’s HUGE. Now we really do have a size problem because  you can’t hide the two of them together behind a normal fuel door. Tesla went another way and (we can only guess at some of this because they haven’t shared their charging standard with anyone) and combined the AC and DC charging onto the same pins. (You can see the Tesla connector below.)Even though the Tesla connector is smaller it’s just as beefy with a Model S drawing 80A if you buy the 20kW charging option. That’s over 330% faster than a LEAF, Focus EV or Fiat 500e. The only problem being that your home needs to support that and my home has only a 100A service so I would have to choose between charging my car and using the oven. If that’s not fast enough you can stop by a Tesla “Supercharger” station and suck down power at 100kW (400 volts at 250 amps) 10kW faster than CHAdeMO.

The problem with this charging superiority is that it’s exclusive to Tesla. With the adapter that comes with every Tesla model S, you can use the 1,933 J1772 charging stations in the Bay Area, but you can’t share your home station with a LEAF driver. If you’re a multi EV family with a Model S and a 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV (powered by Tesla ironically), you will need to either use a J1772 station and deal with the slower charge in your Tesla or have two stations at home. (You know, aside from the fact that you’re going to be nearly maxing out your 200A service.) More vexing than that is DC quick charging your Tesla. Yes, I freely admit CHAdeMO is an enormous chunky plug, but there are already 23 CHAdeMO stations in the Bay, 28 in Tennessee, 18 in Portland, 6 in Seattle, 19 in Phoenix and several in Southern California. (Not to mention hundreds in Japan.) Right now there are only eight Tesla Supercharger stations in the USA growing to some 50+ stations by the end of the year. Great. But as of now you can’t charge your Tesla from the existing CHAdeMO stations and you can’t charge your CHAdeMO car from a Tesla station. If we cared about the EV landscape and wanted EVs to succeed, we need to use the same connector. How would it go down if Honda came up with a new Accord and used an all-new and all-sexy fuel filler neck that was incompatible with anything but a Honda gas station unless you used a funnel? A comparison to Apple is usually drawn here, but even Apple has always used industry standard NEMA power cords.

socket4, Image from blog.widodh.nl

This this is all about Tesla vs Nissan? Think again. There is so much indecision in the industry over what charging standard to support that most manufacturers do nothing, which is probably worse. That means you can’t fast charge your RAV4 EV, a car that really needs it, or your Focus, 500e, Fit EV, Mini e, A3, Active e, iQ EV, fortwo, Spark EV, or Transit Connect Electric. What do the car companies say? “We are waiting for a standard to emerge.” Funny, I’d call the hundreds of DC stations already installed in America a standard that has emerged.

After 15 hours of charging, the wee Fiat was ready for a trip to civilization as we had a party to attend. We pre-planned and carpooled with some friends so we could leave Zippy Zappy plugged into their garage outlet for a few hours. There was zero range anxiety this time with an 84% charge. The EV Fiat proved amusing to drive quickly on the winding mountain roads we traversed. EVs add a fair amount of weight to any conversion like this, but because the battery pack is positioned low in the vehicle, it improves the centre of gravity and weight balance when compared to the gasoline 500. Four hours of partying later, the 500e was a minor celebrity with all manner of people wanting to see it/sit in it/ride in it. Even though you see EVs driving around all over the place in N. CA, they still have a novelty factor that makes people interested. Saturday was a slow day with only 49 miles going on the Fiat and an estimated time to a full charge when we rolled in of 9 hours even at 120V.

Looking for the other installments? Here you go:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

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Living With an EV for a Week – Day Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/living-with-an-ev-for-a-week-day-two/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/living-with-an-ev-for-a-week-day-two/#comments Fri, 31 May 2013 22:52:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=490093 2014 Fiat 500e, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Because of my RA (Range Anxiety), I drove Zippy Zappy gently on day 1, plugged the EV in immediately upon arriving at home and nixed my impromptu drive to the beach. (I haven’t named a car since I was 12 but the garish orange hue and pill-box proportions have made the name stick.) Thanks to my prudence (or was it fear?) I awoke to a 90% charge. According to Fiat’s computer, that was good for an 87 mile journey, plenty for my 52 mile one-way commute. Of course, it was after I started climbing up the mountain pass that separates my home from civilization that I asked “how am I going to charge today?”

You see, [for me] planning is something you do after you meet a problem, then you back-date the plan so you can claim you were prepared all along. As a result, I decided to turn off the heater in the car to save mileage, after all it was “only” 43 outside. The heater is thing most people don’t think about when it comes to EVs. In your gasoline car, you use the heater all you want and don’t run the A/C to save gas because heat is a “waste” product of combustion engines. EVs turn this logic on its head. Since there’s very little heat happening under the hood they have to use resistive heating elements to heat the cabin. According to Toyota, heat pumps would be more efficient but they cost way more and add a great deal of complexity and weight. Running the A/C in the little Fiat consumed about 1.5kW of power while the heater on medium sucked down nearly 8kW. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, I decided the heated seat wasn’t cutting it and I needed to be more realistic so I set the climate control to 68. Let the future be damned!

Once on the freeway I realized my RA had returned. I decided to set the cruise control to a decidedly pokey 59 MPH, a speed that even tractor trailers don’t stoop to in California (even though their speed-limit is 55). At this speed I was able to commune with other EV drivers on the highway  (the ones I normally fly by in the left lane.) When I drove a BMW Active E, I got waves and thumbs up from the LEAF drivers. I decided to try the same in Zippy Zappy but the lack of decals announcing the Fiat’s electrification caused confusion in the LEAF drivers and just made them swerve wildly thinking I was some crazy person out to get them. My bad.

2014 Fiat 500e Charging Illegally, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

55 miles later (I decided to take the flattest and shortest route) I arrived at work where I discovered my RA was unjustified. I had 45% of my battery left. Charge time at 120V was 12 hours and 45 minutes. Electrical codes in the USA limit the 120V EVSE plugs to about 12A which isn’t very fast. Logically 8 hours at 120V would be more than enough to get me back home, but since I work in an area that has only street parking, things had to get creative. Extension cord plugged into the outlet in the hall (the breaker that wouldn’t trip), down the hall, through my office, out the window, across the lawn, over the sidewalk and into the street. I don’t recommend trying this in San Francisco, I’m sure an ADA compliance mob would stone you to death. (If you are meter maid in the Bay Area, I deny all knowledge of the picture above. It was someone else.)

After a few hours, I bothered to look into charging stations. After all, I did sign up for a ChargePoint account a while back. Low and behold there was a charging station just around the corner charging $0.49/kWh. Looking at the map it’s obvious what a year has done to the EV landscape, there are easily three times the number of public EV charging stations in the Bay Area than there were a year ago. Because I’m selfish, what mattered was there were now EV stations near ME.

2014 Fiat 500e, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

I’ll digress for a moment. People call the thing on the curb with the cord and plug a “charging station” but that is something of a naming error. All modern EVs have on-board chargers. That thing that you connect to your car is an over glorified “smart” extension cord. The purpose of the “charging station” is to tell the car what kind of power is available (120/240 V) how much current the car is allowed to draw and to provide some safety mechanisms to protect the person plugging in. All the magic is happening *in* the car. As parts are getting cheaper and more widely available, faster chargers are being integrated into EVs. The first LEAF’s 3.3kW charger took 9 hours to fill the battery at 240V, barely 2.5x faster than at 120V. A year later most EVs use a 6.6kW charger that completes the task in 1/6th the time. Good news for me. Since I’m supposed to be getting more exercise I drove a few blocks, plugged in and walked back. Two hours later I had for the first time in my life, a full EV battery and I have a picture to prove it.

Drive Route With Topo

Feeling like an ePrisoner eLiberated from their eBondage, I renewed my pledge to test drive Zippy Zappy like any other car. That meant taking Highway 35 home. If you aren’t familiar with the Bay Area, the coastal mountain range separates the population from the sea. At some point a brilliant highway engineer decided to put one of the most scenic highways in the state along the ridge of the range. The trip (shown above with an elevation profile) takes me from sea level to 3,157 ft, then down to about 400 ft with plenty of ups, downs, sweeping curves and corkscrews. If you haven’t driven it and live nearby, shame on you.

About the time I reached that first 2,000+ foot blip on the left of the graph, I had a mild panic attack. ZZ said I wouldn’t reach my destination. Had I bitten off more than she could chew? No, because the software in the car is only using your past record for future range. By climbing rapidly, it assumed the next 40 miles would be on a similar incline. Don’t blame the software. Blame me. The driver is in control so I had to take my (limited) experience into account. I decided not to bail (and charge in Palo Alto). I pressed onwards. (But I set the cruise control to 50.) In the process I snapped some cool photos.

2014 Fiat 500 Electric, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

 

My faith was rewarded as I neared CA Highway 17 with a battery still 40% charged. I decided to throw caution to the wind and visit downtown Los Gatos. The EV gods smiled upon my diversion and without looking for one, I stumbled upon a brace of EV chargers. One was occupied by a decidedly non-EV BMW 760iL, which I briefly considered putting a door ding in “accidentally” as I got out.  One expensive carrot cake and a 1.8kWh charge later I headed home.

Since I didn’t make it to the beach yesterday, I decided today would be the day. Thanks to my nifty iPhone app from ChargePoint I found that there was an EV station operated by the City of Capitola By The Sea just two blocks from my favorite beach dive restaurant. A quick numbers game in my head told me that 2 hours would not only power me back up the hill to home, but also put me in a better charge situation. There was just one problem. OK, two. The EV station had one broken charge cord and some douche in a LEAF had occupied the other for 2 hours over the parking limit and counting. What would you have done?

Columb ChargePoint Station, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

I sat in the car and contemplated my options. 1 unplug him and plug myself in (not on his dime, the sessions stop when you unplug). 2 leave him a nasty note and hunt for another station. 3 wait him out. I waited for 20 minutes at which point he had been over his 4 hour parking limit (clearly signed) by almost 3 hours (according to the charging station). I thought: lave a note explaining why I had unplugged his ride so that he (or maybe she) wouldn’t retaliate by unplugging me when they returned. No pen. I took the high road and moved on to an EV station 7 blocks away.

After a stroll along the beach and dinner, we walked by the LEAF (still plugged in) and left him a more tactfully-worded note than I had planned. I reminded the driver that the spot clearly said “4 hour limit” and that there are other EV drivers out on the road that need to charge. I may or may not have indicated that I would unplug his shiny red LEAF with “NOGAAS” license plate should I see it there for 4 hours again. Or maybe not. Is this the start of “plug rage” perhaps??

Upon returning to ZZ, something else crossed my mind. This EV station is new, and like others is no longer in a prime parking area. Instead they jammed it at the back of the parking lot. Preferential EV treatment may be starting to end as early as it started.

EVs in the mist, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Day two and 155 miles ended with a 68% charge.

Looking for the other installments? Here you go:

Day 1

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

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Ontario Giving $1,000 Rebate On EV Chargers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/ontario-giving-1000-rebate-on-ev-chargers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/ontario-giving-1000-rebate-on-ev-chargers/#comments Fri, 07 Dec 2012 14:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=469410

Perenially broke Ontario is now subsidizing electric vehicle charges. Consumers can claim as much as $1,000 of the total cost of the charger

The Globe and Mail reports that

Starting Jan. 1, 2013, the government will cover 50 per cent of the total purchase and installation cost of installing a 240-volt charging station at their home or workplace, up to a rebate limit of $1,000, whichever is lower. The program is aimed at homeowners and businesses who received a provincial electric vehicle rebate and have installed or are planning to install an electric vehicle charging station, or to help potential plug-in car buyers interested in low or zero local emissions vehicles, but reticent about the extra upfront costs involved.

Plug-in vehicles also carry a $5,000-$8,000 rebate, but unlike other provinces, there were no funds earmarked for charging equipment. The subsidy comes at a time when Ontario residents are fuming over the suspension of their provincial legislature and questions about hundreds of millions in misspent government funds for various green energy projects.

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The Truth About Tesla’s Charging Stations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/the-truth-about-teslas-charging-stations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/the-truth-about-teslas-charging-stations/#comments Tue, 25 Sep 2012 16:52:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=451848

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?

What’s the big deal with charging? Let’s go over the Model S’s charging time chart and you’ll understand. From a regular 120V wall outlet the Model S will gain 4-5 miles per hour of charging and consumes about the same amount of power as a space heater. Charging at 41 amps, the car gains 31 miles per hour and consumes as much power as TWO average electric clothes dryers. Charging at 81 amps (a service that many homes with older wiring or smaller services cannot support) the Model S gains 62 miles an hour and consumes more power than an average home’s A/C, dryer, washer, stove, oven, lights and small appliances put together. With a range of 300 miles and a 10 hour charge time at the 41A rate, it’s easy to see why fast charging stations are appealing. Tesla’s Supercharger’s specs are yet to be revealed, but by the numbers it is apparent the system is delivering a massive 90kWh charge which is likely 440V DC at around 200A. An hour of charging at that rate is 70% of the power that my home uses in an entire month.

Is this a Tesla issue? No, it’s an EV issue. If you expect your EV to drive like a regular car, modern EVs are a delight. If you expect your EV to refuel like a regular car, we’ve hit a snag. But it’s more complex than that, you see, only three of the four Model S trims support DC fast charging and the only other EVs on the market with a DC charge port are the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Except they don’t use the same connector or the same standard. Oops. Adding more complications to the mix are the EVs with no DC charge connector like the RAV4 EV, Volt, Prius Plug-In, Accord Plug-In, Focus, Active E and Coda while the new Chevy Spark is rumored to début a third standard: the SAE combo plug.

Of course, if you think of your car like you think of your cell phone, this makes sense as the phone you bought last year wont use the same charger as the phone you buy today. If you think of this in car terms however it’s like buying a new car and finding out that most of the gas stations have a nozzle that won’t fit your car.

Back to those Tesla charging stations. Tesla opened the first four in Southern California and announced two more stations will go online in October with stations in Las Vegas, Northern California and Oregon by summer 2013 with the 100 station network being complete by 2015. If that network sounds familiar then it should, because the recent settlement in the California vs NRG lawsuit means there will be 200 new CHAdeMO stations in California over the same time frame in addition to the 8 already installed and the 75 commercial stations planned or under construction. It isn’t just California on the CHAdeMO bandwagon however, the Department of Energy claims there are over 113 CHAdeMO stations in the USA and a 1,200+ unit installed base in Japan.

What does this mean to Tesla owners? Until Tesla creates a CHAdeMO to Tesla charging adapter cable (much like they have a J1772 to Tesla cable for use at public AC charging stations), Tesla owners will be restricted to regular AC charging or the smaller Tesla only charging network. On the flip side, Tesla is promising the Tesla charging stations will be free to Tesla owners, positioned next to trendy restaurants and you won’t have to mix with the Leaf owning rabble. You can also feel superior because Tesla’s newer standard charges 80% faster than the 50kWh CHAdeMO connector.

What does this mean to LEAF and i-MiEV owners? It means this is just the beginning of a standards battle. If you bought an EV before this raft of new J1772-connector-toting models, you know what I’m talking about. While CHAdeMO has the lead now, depending on what standard the rest of the industry supports this could change rapidly.

What about the rest of us? If we continue to build more battery electric vehicles and continue to develop batteries that are more and more power dense, you can expect even the snazzy Tesla charging connector to be outdated on a few years. If you expect an EV SUV to deliver 300 miles of electric range, AWD, decent performance, mild off-road ability and Range Rover quality luxury trappings, then expect it to have a battery that is 50-100% larger than the Model S’ massive 85kWh pack. This means you have to either take all the charging rates and nearly double them, or you have to develop a charging method that charges 50-100% faster to keep the same performance.

Of course, just like LEAF owners experience battery degradation caused by repeated use of DC quick charge stations, Tesla owners should be mindful that batteries don’t last forever and the faster you charge them the shorter their life will be.

 

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GE WattStations and LEAFs: We’ll fix it in software. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/ge-wattstations-and-leafs-well-fix-it-in-software/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/ge-wattstations-and-leafs-well-fix-it-in-software/#comments Fri, 27 Jul 2012 17:15:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=454460

As we reported back on July 17th, there were reports of Nissan LEAFs “bricking” themselves while connected to GE’s WattStation home charging stations. Over the last 10 days, I have been on a number of conference calls, spoken with a number of Leaf owners, electrical engineers and battery charging gurus. As it turns out, the problem was exactly as I had surmised: bad utility power damaged the LEAF. The only involvement the GE WattStation had, was that it was merely the connection between the LEAF’s on-board charger and the utility.

Back when I was contemplating getting an electrical engineering degree, I was working for a small computer peripheral design company. The experience has proved useful countless times, but this popular engineering joke is particularly àpropos: how many hardware engineers does it take to change a light bulb? None, we’ll fix it in software. To that end, GE released the following statement this morning:

“Nissan and GE have completed their investigation into the instances of Nissan LEAFs experiencing on-board charging (OBC) issues when using certain EV chargers. Nissan has traced the root cause of the issue to the LEAFs OBC software that can allow damage to occur to its OBC components while using certain chargers and in certain instances, such as when a brief under voltage or blackout condition occurs. Nissan is working to address this issue as quickly as possible, and in the meantime is advising customers to avoid charging during times when brownouts or momentary power dips may be likely, such as during electrical storms or high power usage on the grid.”

Until Nissan releases this fix, Nissan and GE are both telling us that LEAF owners should continue charging as normal, and on the off-chance you fry your LEAF during an electrical storm before Nissan has this fix, your warranty should cover the problem.

What about the problem with LEAF batteries permanently loosing their charge in the Arizona heat? Check back for an in-depth look next week.

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Pre-Production Review: 2013 Honda Fit EV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/pre-production-review-2013-honda-fit-ev/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/pre-production-review-2013-honda-fit-ev/#comments Tue, 03 Jul 2012 13:19:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=450721

Despite accounting for an incredibly small percentage of new car sales in America, the EV is all the rage in California. Rather than starting from scratch and designing an all-new car from the ground up (like Nissan), Honda chose the more economical route and electrified the second-generation Honda Fit. On the surface, the recipe sounds like a slam dunk, since the Fit is one of Honda’s most attractive and most fun to drive models now on sale. To prove to the masses that Honda has what it takes to go green, they flew me out to Pasadena to sample the all-new, all-blue Fit EV.

Before we begin, we should talk about the elephant in the room: California Air Resources Board (CARB) compliance. Some years ago California decided that by 2025 15.4% of all new cars sold in California would have to meet the “Zero Emissions Vehicle” (ZEV) standard. Like any government program, the loopholes, credits and credit trading allowed in the convoluted legislation allow OEMs to sell only a small number of the “required” EVs over the next decade. Strangely the legislation doesn’t require that the vehicle be actually “sold” to the consumer either. Enter the lease-only 2013 Honda Fit EV.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Because the Fit EV was designed to be an incredibly low volume vehicle (only 1,100 will be made for the 2013 and 2014 model years combined), you can get your electric Fit in any color you want, as long as you want blue. Aside from the single shade of “EV blue”, a tweaked front grille and some EV stickers, nothing about the Fit screams “electric vehicle” the way the Leaf’s unique sheetmetal does. Some may want the world to know they are saving the planet, but I prefer Honda’s discreet approach. While the Fit EV may look just its gasoline cousin, the Fit EV has different bumpers, side sills, an increased ride height and a totally different floorpan to accommodate the batteries and improve aerodynamics.

Say what you will about the logic and politics involved with making a “compliance” EV, the 2013 Fit EV has one of Honda’s best economy car interiors. The EV’s interior is dominated by various shades of light beige plastic, a soft leather steering wheel and comfortable fabrics. Compared to the 2012 Civic, the interior is luxurious. Pitted against the gasoline Fit, the interior has been tweaked enough that Honda isn’t kidding when they say the Fit EV is the “perfect Fit.” To help conserve power, a single-zine climate control system and heated seats have been adapted to the Fit in addition to the usual bevy of EV-specific gauges. While this may seem counter-intuitive, climate control allows more efficient control over fan speed and A/C compressor usage while heated seats make the cabin feel warmer than it really is on cold days. All Fit EVs come with Honda’s usual touch-screen navigation system with EV-specific software to find charging stations and graphically display your battery range. We were not able to test the feature during our time with the Fit EV, but all models will be equipped with their new voice command system á la Ford’s SYNC.

In addition to being 14mm higher than the gasoline Fit, the addition of the battery pack required changes to the shape of the Fit’s body. This in turn means the rear seats are unique to the Fit EV riding 1.4 inches higher, 3.3 inches further back and reclined just over 4 degrees more than the regular gasoline Fit. While the extra legroom is welcome and the headroom is still sufficient for all but the tallest passengers, I found the seat back angle to be uncomfortably reclined. Fortunately the front seats remain excellent, providing decent bolstering and above average lumbar support. If you are a shorter driver, be sure to check out the seating position before you lease, as the driver’s seat is not adjustable for height.

Since Honda’s press event was boiled down to a 4 hour event, our time behind the wheel was limited to a collective 3 hours and some 80 miles. While the added weight of the battery pack and the low rolling resistance tires limit grip compared to the gasoline Fit, the battery positioning means the center of gravity is very low. The low-mounted mass and a unique independent rear suspension make the Fit EV more fun on the twisties than I expected. Honda had a collection of 2012 Nissan Leafs on hand for comparison and the back-to-back is less than shocking: the Fit handles well and the Leaf handles like a large, heavy hatchback on skinny low-rolling resistance tires. Much like the Leaf, the Fit EV’s top speed  is limited by the combination of the redline on the motor and the single-speed transaxle.

The Fit EV shares its 92kW (123HP) electric motor with the Honda FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell car, but the single-speed transaxle is unique to the Fit. The unique gearbox seems to indicate that although the Fit EV is destined to be rarer than a Rolls Royce, Honda is willing to invest in new EV technology. In order to extend the range, the Fit provides three driving modes: Sport, Normal and Eco. Sport provides accelerator pedal mapping and motor output similar to a regular gasoline hatchback. Normal reduces engine power to around 75kW (101HP) under all but full-throttle situations and Eco reduced power further to 47kW (64HP). While some described the Eco mode as “aggravating,” the goal of an efficient city-car style EV isn’t to jet around at top speed. According to Honda, the combination of the most efficient EV drivetrain on the market, a 6.6kWh on-board charger and an 82-mile range makes the Fit EV the best electric vehicle in its class. In reality, it’s the way the Fit EV drives that makes it the best. While the steering is as numb as anything on the market with electro-mechanical power steering, the handling is light-years ahead of the Leaf in terms of both road feel and grip. It was faster too, hitting 60 MPH a full second before the Nissan Leaf (7.91 seconds).

The eternal problem with an EV is charging time. While a car with an 82 mile range would be livable for every driving occasion as long as fill-ups took only a few minutes, charging times for EVs is rated in hours. For reasons that were never officially explained, Honda decided not to equip the Fit EV with the “CHΛdeMO” DC quick-charge connector Nissan has put their weight behind. This means that while your neighbor’s Leaf may take twice as long (7 hours) to charge on your 220V home charger, they can get an 80% charge in half an hour by visiting a quick charge station.

While I’m unsure that California’s ZEV mandate is good politics, it’s obvious we can thank CARB for the existence of the Fit EV. Yet it’s the very nature of the way the Fit EV came into being that makes it both the perfect Fit and the most frustrating. For many Americans looking for a commuter car, $389 a month for the most economical car on the market including collision insurance is a fantastic deal. The flip side of course is that only 1,100 people will get to experience the low operating costs of what may be the best EV in America.

 

Not a fan of our Facebook page? Too bad, if you liked us on FaceBook you’d have been able to ask the Honda engineers and minders your burning questions about the Fit EV.

Honda paid for a Southwest flight, one night’s stay in a hotel, a buffet lunch and all the electrons the Fit could consume.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.24 Seconds

0-60: 7.91 Seconds

 

2011 Honda Fit EV, Exterior with Nissan Leaf, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Exterior with Nissan Leaf, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Exterior with Nissan Leaf, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Exterior with Nissan Leaf, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Exterior with Nissan Leaf, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Exterior, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Exterior, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Exterior, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Exterior, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Exterior, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Exterior, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Exterior, wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Exterior, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Exterior, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Interior, cargo area, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Interior, rear seats, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Interior, infotainment, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Interior, cargo area, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Motor, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Motor, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2011 Honda Fit EV, Motor, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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American, German Automakers Show Off Rival Fast-Charging Standard http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/american-german-automakers-show-off-rival-fast-charging-standard/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/american-german-automakers-show-off-rival-fast-charging-standard/#comments Mon, 07 May 2012 17:25:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=443220  

Even though the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i already have their own standard for “quick-charge” stations  - known as CHAdeMO, a standard supported by Nissan, Mitsubishi, Fuji Heavy Industries (parent company of Subaru) - the SAE is apparently pitching its own standard of quick-charger outlets (pictured above), creating a situation that would be akin to having certain cars only compatible with certain gas pumps.

Supported by  BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, GM, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, the new plug (above) is supposed to standardize charging across the world – even though CHAdeMO is already being used in significant numbers. While there is only one CHAdeMO station in the United States, Japan has adopted CHAdeMO as a standard, with 130 stations in Japan. The Nissan Leaf can be had with a standard plug and an optional CHAdeMO plug. The SAE system is being debuted at the May 6-9 EV Symposium – perhaps the opening salvo in the newest “VHS vs Betamax” spat.

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Chevrolet Volt 120V Charging Cords To Be Replaced By General Motors http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/chevrolet-volt-120v-charging-cords-to-be-replaced-by-general-motors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/chevrolet-volt-120v-charging-cords-to-be-replaced-by-general-motors/#comments Fri, 23 Mar 2012 14:34:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=436207

General Motors will be replacing the 120-volt charging cords that come with the Chevrolet Volt after one utility company had their cord melt during charging. There have been other anecdotal reports of malfunctioning cords being replaced by General Motors at fan sites like GM-Volt.com

GM initially blamed wiring problems in the electrical outlets, but the company has announced that they will replace all the 120V chargers in all 2011 and some 2012 models, with a new unit. About 9,500 charging units will have to be replaced. A GM spokesman said that the chargers are being replaced to  “offer a more consistent charging experience.” We presume that will allow owners to avoid the melted-G.I Joe-esque charging plugs as shown in the photo above.

The new design features a revised plug and a thicker cord for the 120V outlet side of the unit. Photos of melted and damaged cords have appeared on the internet since the first problems emerged late in 2011. While the 120V charger is not meant to be a primary charger, it is often used by owners to top up their car’s battery when a proper charging station is not available.

Worse than burns are inconsiderate jackasses unplugging your 120V charging cord while the vehicle is charging, and leaving the also-charging electric scooters untouched. Ask me how I know.

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Canadian Condo Won’t Let Chevrolet Volt Owner Charge His Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/canadian-condo-wont-let-chevrolet-volt-owner-charge-his-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/canadian-condo-wont-let-chevrolet-volt-owner-charge-his-car/#comments Fri, 27 Jan 2012 16:49:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=428315

A Chevrolet Volt owner in Ottawa, Ontario has been blocked by his condominium board from charging his Chevrolet Volt – even though he has offered to reimburse the board for the $1 (approximately) in electricity it takes to charge the Volt at local rates.

Mike Nemat, who bought a Volt a couple months back, lives in a high-rise condominium building where tenants collectively share the cost of things like electricity bills. Nemat has an electrical outlet near his parking spot, originally intended for an engine block heater, that he’s been using to charge his Volt.

Under the condo’s rules, Nemat is allowed to use a block heater, which consumes almost as much electricity as a Volt. But if Nemat wants to use his outlet for charging purposes, the board says he must install a separate electrical meter, at a cost of $3,000. The board claims that they do not subsidize the fueling of other vehicles, and therefore shouldn’t be paying for electricity for the Volt – Nemat offered to reimburse the board for any electricity used, but the board still declined (though without a meter, a precise figure couldn’t be determined), and will disable that particular outlet.

One of Nemat’s neighbors had a pragmatic take on it, suggesting that someone using a toaster or leaving the lights on all night is just as much of a drain on electricity as Nemat’s Volt. Increasing numbers of Canadians in urban areas live in these buildings, and some are friendlier than others – one Toronto condo even hosts Tesla Toronto’s vehicles and allows them use of a 240V charging station. Nemat and his Volt are likely the tip of the iceberg with respect to this issue – as plug-in vehicles and higher density housing take root (and really, a downtown condo owner is the kind of person that a Nissan Leaf is perfectly suited for), there will be increased demand for charging stations.

Disclaimer: The above photo is not Nemat’s Volt. I tested a Volt for a week in December, and parked it at a public garage which has a 240V EV charging station. One day, a Durango took my spot, and so I parked it next to a standard 110V outlet and used the factory trickle charger. I came back to find the unit unplugged, thus ruining my 4-day streak of not using a single drop of gasoline. In typical Canadian fashion, the cord was neatly drapped across the side-mirror, the charge port door had been closed and the trickle charger unit placed off to the side and out of harm’s way. I can only assume it was done by a security guard who thought I was “stealing electricity” from the garage.

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Musk Sees Tesla Profit In 2013, But Losses (And Issues) Are Still Piling Up http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/musk-sees-tesla-profit-in-2013-but-losses-and-issues-are-still-piling-up/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/musk-sees-tesla-profit-in-2013-but-losses-and-issues-are-still-piling-up/#comments Mon, 31 Oct 2011 19:18:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=416223

According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the EV luxury brand has pre-sold all 6,500 units of its new Model S to be built next year, and the company is on-track for a 2013 profit. Bt if you’re comparing Tesla to the erstwhile EV darling BYD in order for it to look good, you have to wonder how good things really are. If anything, Tesla should be compared to Audi, an established (and hot) luxury brand with the same EV technology and one of Tesla’s founders on board. Losses for this fiscal year are estimated at $437m, and Tesla’s crucial loans from the Department of Energy are attracting a distracting investigation in the wake of the Solyndra scandal (but hey, Musk is “personally guaranteeing” those loans, so no worries…). And, in a truly puzzling move, Tesla is ignoring the SAE J1772 protocol for rapid EV charging because it isn’t sexy looking enough. As EV guru Chelsea Sexton puts it to the New York Times

It’s hardly unusual for Tesla to zig where the rest of the industry zags. But it’s particularly counterintuitive not to use the J1772 standard, since Model S drivers will be more interested in public charging than Roadster owners. Tesla’s proprietary connector choice requires getting customers to care about form over function on one of the most utilitarian aspects of the car. How many people stare at a gas nozzle and think, ‘If only that were better looking’?

Selling out of a first-year production run is good news, but hardly surprising (all plug-in vehicles are currently capacity-constrained). Preventing buyers from using public charging infrastructure because it’s unsexy is the kind of surprising news that could seriously damage Tesla’s long-term efforts. Meanwhile, we still don’t know how this company will do with regards to manufacturing quality and reliability, especially as volumes ramp up to 20k units per year. After all, Tesla’s hype and niche marketing efforts are well-proven… it’s all the other aspects of building and selling cars that we’re still unsure about.

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Chevy Volt: Ask the Men and Women Who Own Them http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/chevy-volt-ask-the-men-and-women-who-own-them/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/chevy-volt-ask-the-men-and-women-who-own-them/#comments Fri, 19 Aug 2011 18:06:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=407853

Volt owners gather before their parade down Woodward

Photos courtesy of Cars In Depth

As part of the festivities surrounding the Woodward Dream Cruise, GM organized a parade down Woodward and back up again made up of 50 Chevy Volts driven to the event by their owners, at their own expense, from around the country. As far as car company promotional events go it was fairly low key (I was asked not to publicize the pre-parade reception for the owners) but it was clearly a high priority item for GM. The Volt marketing team was out in force and they brought in NASCAR champions Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, who are racing at Michigan International Speedway this weekend, to wave green flags at the start of the Volt parade. Gordon and Johnson both own Chevy dealerships and they both personally own Chevy Volts. They race for Rick Hendricks, who owns quite a few Chevy (and other GM) stores himself. There were news teams from at least two of the Detroit tv stations and a satellite truck that I believe was used for a national network or cable interview of the NASCAR drivers. GM also brought out a number of pace cars from their private stash of Camaros, Corvettes and even one Chevy SSR that paced races at Indianapolis and Daytona. There was also the ZR1 that set a lap record for production cars at the Nurburgring. Marketing being what it is, the parade also included 2 squadrons of Chevy’s most recent new product, the Camaro convertible and the subcompact Sonic. There were 100 cars in total, one for each year in Chevy’s current centennial.

There were t-shirts and baseball caps for the guests, and the Volt owners each got a nice die cast model of their car, but the Volt owners weren’t there for the swag or for autographs, though they eagerly accepted both. The Volt owners were there because they really, really, really like their cars.

Comments like “the best car I’ve ever owned” were not uncommon. Ear to ear grins were everywhere. These folks were bursting with pride. Sometimes people don’t want to talk to reporters and writers. Not in this case. These people were eager to tell all. I watched more than one Volt owner do more than one tv interview.  Understand, these are early adopters, and a number traveled across the country to buy a Volt and then drove the car home hundreds or thousands of miles after taking delivery. Likewise many drove hundreds of miles to come to this event. The chances of any of them driving to Detroit to complain were pretty small.

The sign on the side of that Volt reads "American Made - Solar Powered".

I don’t like to say I told you so, but I predicted that early adopters of the Volt would love it to pieces and want to tell everyone about it. That’s what early adopters do, isn’t it? There were a fair number of Apple enthusiasts in the crowd. iPhones and iPads aplenty. When I gave one owner my business card, which for this event had TTAC on one side and Cars In Depth, the 3D car culture site, on the other, he showed me his 3D HTC phone. If I were to make a snap judgment, the crowd was mostly white, about equally split male and female, well educated, and seemingly upper middle class. For some this was their first “green” car. One lady from Alabama traded in a Saab 9.5. Others were not new to alternative propulsion. One owner traded in a Prius. He said that his overall gas mileage with the Volt was higher than with the Prius and said that the even with the cost of recharging, it was still cheaper to run than his Toyota hybrid. It was not a homogeneous group of drivers in terms of how they were using there cars. Some were hypermilers, but most said they just drove their cars normally. Some had short commutes and could operate on battery power most of the time, others had 70 mile commutes or took their Volts on long trips. My favorite answer was the guy who had a 40 mile commute but couldn’t charge his car at work. Where does he work? The GM Tech Center in Warren. There are charging stations at the Tech Center, but not near his building and the shuttle buses don’t run on afternoon shift when he works.

With at least 50 Volts in attendance, this may be the largest gathering of privately owned Volts yet.

I asked each of the Volt owners that I spoke to the same questions: Do they hypermile or do they drive normally? How many gallons of gas have they used? What’s their overall gas mileage? What’s their gas mileage when on the range extender?

The satellite truck was for uplinking a network interview with Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson

Most drove normally, but some had short commutes. The champion gas miser had used a total of 2 gallons of liquid fuel since March, but he’s self employed and works at home. Others reported using as little as 8, 22 and 25 gallons of gasoline over months of service. One person said that charging their Volt was costing them about $1 per full charge. I think that most drivers wouldn’t mind paying only $1 to drive 40 miles. At the price of gasoline today, $3.65/gallon, you would have to get something in the neighborhood of 150mpg to get the same fuel cost. It takes about 12Kw-Hrs to completely recharge a Volt to get an idea of the cost based on your local electricity rates.

A Volt owner admires a '63 split-window Corvette

All of the Volt owners reported getting at least 40 miles per charge. One guy said he can sometimes get 50. The Volt owners that used the range extender regularly reported overall gasoline mileage of at least 65 miles per gallon, but many reported much higher numbers, double and quadruple that 65mpg. The reports on gas mileage while on the range extender were impressively uniform. All but one said “42 miles to the gallon”, and the one outlier said “42 to 45 miles per gallon”. One said that it was “consistently 42. 42 miles of range on the battery and 42 mpg on the range extender”. All were pleased with the level of fuel economy when the ICE was running. I asked if there was anything that displeased them, and one owner reported being less than thrilled with the navigation system. That was about the only complaint.

Gordon and Johnson schmooze while waiting for their satellite interview. For all the talk of any feud, the men are in business together. Gordon is a part-owner of Johnson's #48 team. Other than personally winning the championship they share interests.

I did bring up the question of hybrids and EVs being a false economy. One of them, a businessman from Ann Arbor, said that a $40,000 car is a $40,000 car and you don’t buy a car for that much for the purposes of saving money. He said that when his friends raise the issue of the Volt’s (or any hybrid’s, for the matter) false economy, he points out that their $300 smartphone and $120/month data plan for it is costing, not saving, them money. I didn’t get the impression that any of these people were starry-eyed idealists. They also didn’t seem smug, which is nice.

Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, who are Volt owners themselves (and Chevy dealers too) wave green flags to start the parade of Volts.

Obviously, this is not a crowd that is going to be hypercritical of the Volt. There’s a lot of selection and self-selection going on here, so they’re not going to be average drivers, no matter how average their use of the car may or may not be. A few days ago the notion of GM emulating Apple was bandied about. I’d say that most people outside of GM scoffed at the notion. I’ve been around personal computers since the early Altair and Sol days and I remember something from when Apple was rolling out the original Macintosh after the computer they branded as Lisa was a dud in the market. The Lisa was not a bad computer. A solid advance over the Apple IIe, it had some innovations that later became standard issue on Macs and PCs, but the Lisa didn’t sell. Then there was the Macintosh, which had evangelists, literally. Guy Kawasaki was given the title of Chief Evangelist to go out there and spread the good word about the Mac.

Chevy Volts parading on north Woodward Avenue

I think that GM has indeed taken a page from Apple’s book in terms of how they are cultivating the people who are buying the Volt, using them as evangelists for the brand. I mentioned swag above. When people were gathering around Johnson and Gordon to get the NASCAR stars’ autographs, I noticed that a number of them were having some kind of book signed. I asked one of them about it, and they said it had come as part of a thank you package from GM when they took delivery of the car. Obviously it was a gesture, like Hyundai giving away iPads with the Genesis sedan (and Hyundai discontinuing that practice is a different kind of gesture to consumers), but it appears that the gesture was appreciated with these Volt owners. The success of the Volt is an open question that won’t be answered until the dealer network is fully supplied and we see if those dealers sell enough Volts to match the annual production capacity of 60,000 units. I think in the case of the early Volt buyers, GM can rely on them to spread positive things about the car, to be their brand evangelists.

Like every hotel that GM uses for Volt events, the Kingsley Radisson has charging stations. Those are not manufacturer's plates so most likely, a private owner was topping off before the parade.

The Volt is a special case with special attention, special marketing, and a special group of consumers. It’s a cutting edge, high tech product that appeals to both tech geeks and people concerned about the environment so you’re already, again, doing some selection for people that tend to be good evangelists for the products they buy. I don’t know if this kind of marketing would work with more mass market cars like the Cruze, but it is possible. The name that GM gave the event, Volt Homecoming, evokes memories of the two Saturn Homecomings that GM sponsored in Spring Hill, TN. Before the Saturn brand was dissipated through badge engineering and poor product planning, the 1994 and 1999 Saturn Homecomings drew 30,000 and 44,000 people to Spring Hill, respectively. Now those homecomings may just have been part of ad genius Hal Rainey’s overall touchy feely promotional campaign but they do show that you can generate some brand loyalty to a mass market car with something that looks and feels like a personal touch. Meanwhile, based on the Volt owners who attended this event that I spoke to, they have both responded to that personal touch  and are willing to extend it to others on behalf of a car that clearly has charmed them.

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EV Racing: Saved By Scalextric? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/ev-racing-saved-by-scalextric/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/ev-racing-saved-by-scalextric/#comments Tue, 26 Jul 2011 23:28:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=404440
Between Nissan’s Leaf racer and a new EV-only racing cup, electric auto racing has been coming along in recent months, although significant challenges remain. For one thing, batteries are still extremely heavy, and for another, they take a long time to recharge. Finally, thermal management issues conspire with both of these battery challenges to force EV races to be quite short. And in search of a solution, one team that’s entered into the EV Cup is looking to the original EV racers for inspiration: slot cars. Rather than getting hot and heavy with big batteries, figures Drayson Racing Technologies, why not charge the car as it’s racing at speeds upwards of 200 MPH? Luckily HaloIPT has come aboard the project, bringing its eponymous wireless Inductive Power Transfer technology to bear in order to create life-sized, wireless, slot-free slot cars.

A press release notes:

[HaloIPT's] partnership with Drayson Racing, which develops and races green motorsport technology, including electric vehicles, aims to pioneer the deployment of dynamic (in-motion) charging of zero emission electric vehicles. The racing cars, fitted with HaloIPT technology, will pick up power wirelessly from transmitters buried under the surface of the road or race track; transferring power directly to the vehicle’s electric battery, ensuring that the vehicle receives constant charging on the move. This innovation is made possible because HaloIPT’s tried and tested technology provides a significant tolerance to misalignment over the transmitter pads, automatically adjusting for changing vertical gap. The system has the ability to intelligently distribute power: ensuring a consistent delivery of power at speed.

The EV Cup isn’t involved yet, so don’t hold your breath for high-speed cordless charging just yet… in the meantime, Drayson and HaloIPT are developing a trackside inductive charging system to replace “internal combustion engine and fuel pit stops.” But it’s clear what Lord Drayson is dreaming of, when he says

Dynamic wireless charging will be a real game-changer, enabling zero emission electric vehicles to race over long periods without the need for heavy batteries. This is a milestone innovation that will have a dramatic effect not just on racing but on the mainstream auto industry. We’re looking forward to putting this technology through its paces as it charges electric race cars at speeds of up to 200 mph.

Research on wireless charging for mainstream cars is being conducted (so to speak) by Korean and German researchers, GM, Toyota, Google, and others. Motorsport seems like an ideal place to validate the technology, but ultimately the real challenge will be figuring out how best to deploy it. The public/private debate over charging on public roads alone could be huge. For now though, the goal of getting a race with on-track inductive charging seems like challenge enough…

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