The Truth About Cars » electric vehice The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 14:03:49 +0000 en-US hourly 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 (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 » electric vehice Imagine (Again): A Car, Powered By Free Sunshine Mon, 20 Dec 2010 13:20:29 +0000

EVs are, nice wouldn’t there be (putting range and price aside for a moment) one niggling problem: The power has to come from somewhere. And currently, the exhaust that will no longer be produced by the car, will come out of the smokestacks of a mostly coal fired power plant. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could power our cars from sunshine alone? Definitely renewable. And free. Honda is trying to do just that.

Sorry, forget about solar panels on roof and hood of the car. The power produced that way literally won’t get you far. But what about much larger solar panels on the roofs of your house or large parking garages? Now we are getting in the realm of the possible.

Honda said today that they will conduct a joint trial with Japan’s Saitama Prefecture to “examine the potential of low-carbon transportation systems driven by solar power,” as The Nikkei [sub] reports.

The study focuses mainly on train stations, where cars are parked during the day until the salaryman returns from the city. Large solar panels on the roofs of these stations could provide sufficient power to recharge the battery for the short ride home. Which also has the benefit of a clearly defined range.

“Joint use,” i.e. sharing of EVs, will also be studied.

]]> 28
And Now: Grid Anxiety Sun, 28 Nov 2010 16:00:09 +0000

Imagine: It’s Friday evening, and the sun is down. You are rolling home in your environmentally responsible EV after an honest day’s work, emitting exactly zero greenhouse gases. You give a wave to your likewise electrified neighbor who’s bringing home the bacon to wife and family. You put the car in the garage and hook it up to the charger that nice electrician had installed. You shout “daddy’s home!” Suddenly, all hell breaks loose.

A huge fireball shoots into the sky as the transformer on the pole out on the street explodes. Down at the corner, another explosion. A block down, a substation throws angry arcs into the night, then goes up in flames.

Suddenly, it is pitch dark and dead silent. Minutes later, the silence is pierced by the sound of sirens …

This is the nightmare scenario that flashes through the heads and across the spreadsheets of managers at the nation’s electric utilities. While some of them already draw hockey stick graphs and count the money they will make from all those electric cars that will hit the road soon, others are very, very worried.

“Electric vehicles have the potential to completely transform our business,” says David Owens, executive vice president of the Edison Electric Institute, a trade group. He’s right. It could blow it up.

Not since air conditioning spread across the country was the power industry faced with such a potential surge in consumption. We all know what can happen on a hot evening when everybody comes home and turns on the A/C. This is nothing compared to what that Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt can do to the circuitry.

“Plugged into a socket, an electric car can draw as much power as a small house. The surge in demand could knock out power to a home or a neighborhood,” explains Associated Press, here via The Toledo Blade.

The drivers of any market are fear and greed.  So much for the fear.

Now for the greed part:  Last year, Americans spent $325 billion on gasoline. Your friendly utility company would like to have a slice of that monster pie.

So as you are reading this, power companies are scratching their heads and are sifting through what little data there is to divine where the first pockets of EVs are most likely to appear. That’s where they will put in beefier equipment.

Utilities think they have enough plants and equipment to power hundreds of thousands of electric cars. The problem is in the grid. And in a phenomenon long known as keeping up with the Joneses, or what car makers and utilities now call “clustering.”

Thick pockets of EVs could suddenly crop up where

  • Generous subsidies are offered by states and localities
  • The weather is mild, batteries perform better in warmer climes, but A/C cuts down on range in really hot ones
  • High-income and environmentally conscious commuters live

And if your electric company doesn’t do something now, this is where the transformers will go kaboom.

California cities including Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, and Monrovia could suddenly have several vehicles on a block.

Down South, Progress Energy Inc. plans for clusters in Raleigh, Cary, and Asheville, N.C., and around Orlando and Tampa, Fla.

Duke Energy is expecting the same in Charlotte and Indianapolis. The entire territory of Texas’ Austin Energy is expected to be an electric-vehicle hot spot.

But look at the bright side: “Sorry, can’t come to work today. We had rolling brownouts all night, and my charger was taken off the grid remotely. Better luck tomorrow, boss!”

The absolutely most nightmarish scenario? Nobody buys the EVs and the hefty equipment has been put in for nothing. You’ll read it in your electric bill, one way or the other.

]]> 71
EVs? Honda Throws A Fit Thu, 18 Nov 2010 14:30:14 +0000

Honda had been the first automaker that had the Insight to sell a hybrid in the U.S. But what about pure battery-powered ones? After a lot of hesitation, Honda will throw an all-electric Fit on the U.S. market, says Bloomberg. The plug-in will arrive in 2012, which might as well be pronounced “year of the EV.”

The car will be standard EV fare: Lithium-ion-powered, range about 100 miles between charges – on a good day. A price has not been announced. Expected volume? It “will be small” said  Honda President Takanobu Ito at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Like the colleagues at Toyota, Honda doesn’t view the EV as a runaway hit. Amazingly, also like Toyota, Honda sees hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars such as its Clarity sedan as the “ultimate” solution.

Karl Brauer, senior analyst for industry researcher in Santa Monica, California, already has indentified the target group for the electric Fit: The car should “work well for fleets with predetermined routes like mail trucks and delivery trucks, especially because of the reconfigurable interior.”

More and more, there is a consensus building that the biggest small market for electric vehicles should be in 9-5 jobs at governments and companies that use the cars on carefully mapped out routes that do not stray too far form the charger back at the dock. That’s not what Musk and Fisker had in mind.

]]> 24