Day six brought a typical Northern California morning: it was 41 degrees, foggy and raining in my forest. But because I was driving an electric vehicle, a squirrel greeted me at the doorstep to thank me for saving his home and a group of hummingbirds dried my charging cable with their tiny wings so I wouldn’t electrocute myself as I unplugged. Then I woke up. But it was still 41. And foggy. And raining.
Day five in our week-long look at living with an EV started once again with a full battery. If you’re just checking in, catch up by going to Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 before coming back to the saga, I promise we’ll wait for you. Since I’m still afflicted with religion, and because the Episcopal denomination despises change, my Sundays have taken me to the same church, the same building and the same pew for over 33 years. It also means driving 22 miles each way because finding something closer would involve change.
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?”
It’s April, when automotive engineers from all over the world gather in Detroit for the SAE World Congress. Protean Electric, which has been promoting the electrification of cars with their in-wheel mounted direct drive motors for the past few years, used the occasion of the World Congress to introduce the production version of their motor, which will start being assembled in a Protean owned factory in China next year.
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.
The GE Wattstation killed my Leaf! That’s the story being reported by the New York Times as well as PlugInCars.com. As the tale goes, 11 Leaf owners have had their chargers “damaged” while charging with GE’s Wattstation home charging station. The relative significance of only 11 failures aside, the Nissan Dealer in San Pablo, CA confirmed to PlugInCars.com that Nissan North America has notified dealers of a potential problem with the Leaf and the GE home charging station. TTAC contacted Hilltop Nissan and they have yet to return our calls. Rather than just parroting back the usual news reports we dug deep. We contacted GE and Nissan, consulted some professional electrical engineers and read though hundred of pages of boring SAE documents. Click past the jump to learn more about EV charging than you ever wanted to know. (Read More…)
The investigation into a Texas house fire that apparently started in a 2 month old Fisker Karma continues, with an EV expert weighing in with his opinion that the packaging of the combustion engine that drives the Fisker’s generator was likely the cause of the fire, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration saying it is looking into the incident, and the car’s owner and his attorneys firing back after Fisker initially implied there might be fraud or foul play.
CARB has mandated that 15.4 percent of new vehicles sold in California by 2025 must be plug-in, electric or fuel cell powered. The new mandate was supported by major OEMs and could mean as many as 1.4 million zero-emissions vehicles (as well as plug-in cars) on California roads by 2025.
NHTSA has closed their investigation into the Chevrolet Volt’s fire risk, stating that the agency “does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles.”
As documented here, German carmakers mostly talk about EVs, but build very few. Volkswagen’s Christian Klingler even said that customers don’t want EVs, only governments do. He’s sure right about the government part. The German government prods its carmakers to get on with the building of EVs. Germany’s Economy Minister Brüderle (the very same that said no to Opel help) demanded “more tempo” in the EV department. The German government wants to see a million EVs by 2020. The government is worried that the Germans are missing the (electric) train. Just like the automakers, the government is a lot of talk, and little action. (Read More…)
I’ve always maintained that despite green noises about electric cars, Volkswagen, deep in their Wolfsburg hearts, doesn’t believe in them. Because they don’t make sense. If they are too expensive, people won’t buy them. Volkswagen has ample experience in this arena, probably more than anybody else. Ages ago, VW built a fuel-sipping 3 liter Lupo (3 liter / 100 km, 78 mpg.) The press lapped it up. The greenies creamed in their pants. Focus groups swore they’ll buy it, no matter the cost. They lied. In the showroom, the 3 Liter Lupo was a dud: Advanced materials had made it light, but also expensive. Customer reaction: “Interesting. Now how about that red GTI over there?”
Now finally, someone high up at Volkswagen has the guts to say it: Volkswagen doesn’t build electric cars because the customer wants them. Volkswagen makes EVs because the government demands them. (Read More…)