Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ global hybrid chief said that the newly announced Chrysler Pacifica minivan will be the largest vehicle for FCA’s new hybrid powertrain and that the gasoline and battery combo will be scalable to smaller cars.
“This’ll be the largest footprint — in the Pacifica,” Michael Duhaime told us last week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. “As we get into the smaller vehicles, basically what we’ll do is put smaller electric motors. The power electronics is part of the transmission … all that stays consistent. We’ll just go with smaller motors, and then the final drive will change with the different vehicles.”
The Detroit News reports that two versions of the Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010 will be introduced today in the House and Senate. Both bills would spend about $11b by sending $800 million to $1 billion five to eight “deployment communities.” One of the EDVDA’s bipartisan sponsors, Rep Judy Biggert (R-IL) explains that these funds
will help regional communities establish themselves as models for the development and installation of the next generation of transportation infrastructure, including public charging stations
The bill is being backed by several small EV firms, like A123 Systems and Bright Automotive, under the rubric of the Electrification Coalition. And despite the fact that everyone loves a good subsidy, the mainstream automakers are not amused.
Optimism and food were the two abundant commodities at Better Place’s press conference yesterday morning, announcing the company’s first Visitor Center, established – how ironically – inside what used to be an oil tank in Pi Glilot, a former gas depot. It seems that the entire event and the resounding optimism around it were eclipsed by HSBC’s recent $350 million investment in the company.
I’ve been warned before by the B&B not to read too much into the forward-looking statements in SEC filings, especially the ones where companies ruminate over all the things that could still go wrong with their struggling firms. These legal disclosures of worst-case-scenarios often reflect unlikely scenarios and can be downright misleading, so we held off from diving too deep into Tesla’s IPO S-1 filing [complete document here]. Others around the web have jumped in without compunction, and this week has yielded a steady drip of troubling revelations. It’s a wild and woolly collection of issues, but given that people are going to be asked to invest in this nightmare of a company, it’s only fair that we give the grievances an airing.
It goes without saying that it’s always good news for a business to be able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars on the financial markets. Just as important as the financial boost, such capital-raising also raises the profile of the company, presenting it as a viable investment and implicitly endorsing its underlying business plan. In the case of Project Better Place’s recent $350m funding boost however, the benefits might be largely limited to the firm’s balance book. Heavy participation by HSBC, Lazard and Morgan Stanley do help raise Better Place’s profile, but HSBC and Lazard are the only new investors in this most recent round of financing: Morgan Stanley, IsraelCorp, VantagePoint and other previous investors make up the rest of the round. This speaks to a fundamental challenge underlining Project Better Place: broadening, rather than deepening its appeal and support.
While we at TTAC continue to cover the serious, the silly and the sublime from the world of cars in this holiday season, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. We have a grip of new blog and editorial series in development right now, the first of which we’re debuting today: The Project Better Place Birthwatch. This series will be a collaboration between a new contributor here, Tal Bronfer, who will be monitoring and reporting on Better Place’s Israeli rollout, and Martin Schwoerer who will be covering Denmark’s collaboration with the EV dream company. True to TTAC’s mission, we’ve asked Messrs Bronfer and Schwoerer to dig deep into Better Place’s heady swirl of public funding, private companies, and new technology to critically explore the reality of Better Place’s reimagination of the automotive relationship. Because coverage of all things EV tends to be enthusiast- or hobbyist-oriented (read: strictly for the fanboys), the idea for this series is to look beyond Better Place’s green-tinted pitch and learn more about the true viability, costs, benefits and complications of the nascent EV infrastructure business. To ensure that we don’t miss any of the important questions, please take a moment to read Tal’s introduction to the fundamentals of Project Better Place, and let us know what questions you would like answered and what elements you would like to see explored as we take on this sprawling story.
How do you make the world a Better Place? If you ask Shai Agassi, president and founder of the eponymous American-Israeli Company, the answer lies in the development of an infrastructure that makes charging an electric car as simple as pulling over in a gas station. This deceptively simple idea has spawned an international project, which brings together automakers, governments, activists and scientists in a hugely ambitious attempt at creating the first localized electric vehicle charging infrastructures. With brand new technology, millions of tax dollars and the fate of at least one global automaker hanging in the balance, the evolution of Better Place is a crucial story in the rise of electric vehicles. But before we begin chronicling the build-up to this ambitious plan, we have to get back to the basics of EVs and their fundamental shortcomings. (Read More…)