Thursday, December 23, 2010

EV News Roundup Week of 12/20

This Week's Top 3 EV New Stories in Order of Sexiness:


Everybody knows how I feel about this car.  Also loved Brandon's radical truth-speaking: "... this disruptive technology promises to de-centralize power." Please check out our local boy gone national.
A puff piece, but nice e-bike porn.  Who doesn't like looking at electric motorcycles?

#3 Tesla Motors Will Make $60 Million From Toyota's 2012 Electric RAV4

A puffy economic forecast (illustrated by the fact that though the headline says "make" they really mean "earn revenues").   And no, I do not think the new RAV-4 is sexy (though it was cute back before it blew up like a balloon -- and those original RAV-4 EV's are still going strong, so they were adorable AND had staying power).   No, what's sexy about this news is the fact that Tesla and Toyota have hooked up.  I love it when two of my friends, much to my surprise, get together and become a couple.  The unlikelier the match the better! Also liked the fact that this article emphasizes Tesla's capitalization strategy, which I continue to find strategically imaginative and worthwhile in pursuit of their goal to bring out the White Star. 

 #4 Top EV Story, in a nod to the season -- this one is just for fun, and well-worth checking out:

 The rest of the news round-up for this week:

In the video Fabio is the "face" for gas cars, but irl he seems to be being positioned as the face for EV's (or how else to explain his appearance on Fox News plugging them)?  Oy, can we have more Chelsea Sexton please!

and in more wide-ranging transportation & clean energy news 

Local Calendar Notes:

The next EEVC meeting will be on Wednesday, January 12th
7 PM in Room 49
Plymouth Whitemarsh High School
201 East Germantown Pike
Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

Saturday, April 30, 2011 (Rain date May 1)
10 - 4 p.m.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

100th Blog Post! Brandon Hollinger Is My Hero - and Weekly EV News Roundup

I've been saving up my Brandon Hollinger story for too long.  Now that he's officially come out as an EVAmerica conversion shop I have to devote my triple-digit-blogpost to promoting his work. 

I'm gonna confess right now that I think this car is sexier than the Tesla by far!  You've seen this lovingly-restored Saab 96 on this blog before (it debuted at the EV-ent in Macungie back in 2009, was displayed at the PA Energy Fest in September 09 and 10, and won an award at the 21st Century Automotive Challenge in May of this year).  But you may not know that Brandon turned up at our Energy Fest workshop back in September 2008 without any cash on hand and talked his way into the class saying, "I didn't know there was a $15 fee, I promise I'll send it in -- I already know I'm going to convert my car."  Of course I let him in, and I was pleased a couple of weeks later to receive the promised check in the mail.  I wasn't expecting to see him rolling his finished conversion into Macungie the following May!  He's not just an honest guy, he follows through on what he says he's gonna do. 

Brandon says if he  can convert a vehicle anyone can.  A musician by trade, he had never done more than change his own oil before he saw Who Killed The Electric Car and became an EV convert.  He researched online and used resources like (ahem, self-plug) our one-day workshop to transform this classic and beautiful vehicle into battery-electric operation and keep it on the road as a daily driver.  Brandon is well into his 2nd conversion -- a Mazda Miata which will sport a lithium-ion pack -- and has gotten some terrific press coverage of his efforts, which you can admire on his brand-new website   Although he believes anyone can convert their own vehicle with a little self-education, he has officially opened up shop as BH Electrics to perform conversions for those who just don't want to do the work themselves, and I am delighted to endorse his new initiative.  

The big EV news this week was the release of the trailer for the Who Killed the Electric Car sequel.  Go Chris Paine and Chelsea Sexton -- they said they'd go for it when their Facebook page reached 10,000 fans and hit the magic number last Friday!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tesla Revisited -- And 2011 EV Conversion Workshops Confirmed

So here are those promised photos of Jenny in the Tesla -- one very nice look at the car (with representative Michael Sexton dancing out of the shot), and one featuring my great big EV grin (which is what it's all about)!  

Thank you to Melissa, the lovely event coordinator at the Centre Bridge Inn in Stockton NJ, for documenting the moment -- and now I can finally catch you up on the other BCR news from last week.  


March 26, 2011
One Day Mini-Workshop 
at the Green Jobs Academy in Bristol, PA
9 a.m. - 1 p.m. 

Registration Open Now through Bucks County Community College

 July 25-30, 2011
Six-Day Hands-on EV Conversion Workshop
co-sponsored by the Green Jobs Academy
to be held at Middle Bucks Institute of Technology
Jamison, PA

Oh man -- what an exciting visit I had to MBIT.  Back in 2006 when I was first calling around looking for a space to host the 2007 workshop, I spoke to the then-Administrative Director of this very facility.  He was very interested in the project, but at the very end of our phone conversation he confessed that their auto bays were scheduled for renovation during the summer of 2007 and would not be available.

The fully-renovated auto labs are very impressive.  There is a welding booth right in the shop, a fully-wired classroom, and state-of-the-art automotive tools.  Both Rich Hansen, their Facilities Manager, and Nancy Messick, the Director of Adult Education,  are very enthusiastic about hosting our workshop, and I was thrilled to learn that MBIT is in the process of building a solar farm on its property. Rich seemed pleased that I was excited about this, and justifiably proud of their efforts so far.  

This week he will attend the final zoning meeting to sign off on the new solar zoning ordinance which was required.  The township initially resisted the plan on the grounds that solar panels would constitute '"impervious surface" (as if the school were proposing building a parking lot).   This made me laugh pretty hard, especially when Rich said that he had to explain to them that it was more like a few thousand people holding umbrellas on a football field.  Yes, the rain will still hit the ground, yeesh!  

MBIT is the only high school in the country that is a member of the Green Building Council.  You can bet that I talked up the electric-cars-and-solar-power-go-great-together concept pretty fervently.  I'm a little excited, can you tell?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

EV News Roundup Week of 12/6

This is a great interview -- wonderful background info on WKTEC, plus Chelsea on Tesla, GM's Volt initiative, and the Revenge of the Electric Car movie due out next spring

 Major auto rental company enters the car-share business -- and commits to electric!

Southern Oregon University finds it's cheaper to convert existing vehicles than to buy new. And their goal is to convert their entire fleet to alternative fuels by 2016! 

Video: 2011 Nissan Leaf assembly process detailed
Delivery to begin in Japan and select U.S. states this month!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Yes I DID Drive a Tesla Roadster!

Oh boy oh boy yes I did, thanks to the kindness of Tesla rep Michael Sexton, who squeezed me on Friday afternoon when it turned out all the Saturday drive slots were taken, answered all my questions knowledgeably, laughed at my humorous EV riffs and said he was going to steal some of them, and was incredibly tolerant of my initial nervousness about being behind the wheel of a $110,000 sportscar for the first time in my life. 

So, meet the Tesla Sport Roadster model 2.5.  I quizzed Michael all about the differences in this version, and he pointed first to the new nose.  Vents have been added on the front and sides to increase the aerodynamics of the vehicle; the gill-like side vents are clearly visible here in front of the wheel.  In this photo you can also see the somewhat makeshift extension-cord-through-the-window arrangement he's using to top off -- turned out the Center Bridge Inn didn't have an accessible 240v plug, so he was just using ordinary household current, but while I was there the electrician arrived to remedy matters in time for tomorrow night's charging.  Now that is an accommodating host facility! 

This is the 2nd time the Center Bridge Inn has hosted a Tesla test drive event, and Melissa -- the friendly, helpful manager who saved me from despair when my camera batteries gave out in mid-session by taking the all-important Jenny-behind-the-wheel shot -- tells me that she's so sold on EV's that she's working on installing a charging station for their customers.  For her the "aha!" moment came when she calculated how much it was going to cost the hotel cost to charge the visiting Tesla overnight.  It came out to $4.00 -- and that's for 200+ miles of range!  She was amazed at the miles-per-dollar value of an EV.  Even when our electricity prices zoom up in PA next year, fuel-free driving will still be a bargain!

Although the Tesla is no bargain, the price of the 2.5 hasn't gone up -- just the range.   The major interior improvement was to the touchscreen video controls; the screen has doubled in size (to 7").  It was very visible which -- as you'll hear -- was helpful to me on the drive itself. They've also added HD radio and a couple of other electronic bells and whistles; upgraded the steering wheel and made minor changes to the seats.  Michael said the nice thing about Tesla's flexible, software-based production approach is that they don't have to wait for a whole new model year to put in improvements -- as soon as they innovate, they can start implementing improvements on the vehicles as they're rolling out, and this will scale up even as their manufacturing volume increases. 

That exemplifies what I think of as Tesla's corporate intelligence, as illustrated by their business plan from the get-go: to begin by targeting the high-end market in order to generate the capital to bring a more affordable sedan into production.  If you ask me, this gutsy start-up succeeded in embarrassing the major car companies into bringing mass-market EV's to the public sooner rather than later -- and that makes me a fan.   

Here's a close-up of the charging set-up.  The Tesla does not use the new J1772 connector that was approved as a standard last fall by the Society of Automotive Engineers -- Michael rather ruefully confessed the company had hoped their connector would become the standard (after all they brought the first production EV to market way ahead of GM & Nissan!), but they'll soon be bringing out an adapter so that Tesla owners will be able to use the new standard public EV chargers.  Not seen in this picture are the flashing lights that surround the coupler as it's charging -- a handy "I'm fueling up now" signal, though Michael said that feature turns off when you lock the car, in case you want to charge without drawing any special attention to the vehicle. 

Hard to imagine how the Tesla could fail to attract attention whether the charging outlet is blinking or not.  Outside and in, it's pretty sleek and sexy.  Also, very very littleI was amused to discover I didn't even have a place to put my bag -- I had to stow it in my own car before I finally got behind the wheel, nervously adjusted the driver's seat and mirrors (both fully manual), and pulled out of the Centre Bridge Inn to go for our cruise.  I was too cowardly even to attempt a left turn out of the inn's driveway, and took the easy right instead, over the bridge to Stockton, NJ and then down Route 29 towards Lambertville.  After having driven the mini-E I was accustomed to the fact that every time you lift off the gas, the electric motor stops (also true on the e-Van, but since that doesn't have regen you still keep rolling -- in the mini-E and Tesla, you slow down almost to a stop). 

Frankly, I was so nervous at first I could barely make it up to the speed limit.  Initially I had trouble even seeing my mph (I kept accidentally looking at the indicator telling me how many amps I was pulling instead, which was hilariously misleading since it varied from 9 to 50), but with a few taps Michael pulled up a larger display on the video screen and I firmly dedicated myself to not being too hideously wimpy.  By the time I turned around in Lambertville I had mustered up the nerve to deploy some of the Tesla's famed power in order to make my left turn ahead of oncoming traffic and then get up to speed.  It felt like this: ZOOOOOOOOOM.  (Imagine a very quiet zoom.)  I didn't quite achieve what Car and Driver once wrote about the Tesla's acceleration ("Slings you forward like a rubber band off the finger of God") but I certainly outdid anything I've ever experienced in a Volkswagen Vanagon or even in my ridiculously overpowered Highlander Hybrid.  Wheeeeeeeeee! 

Some days it is really, really fun to be an EV activist, and this was one of them.  Oddly, however, this was not the highlight of the week here at Bucks County Renewables!  I will post the Really Big News later this weekend --  along with the all-important Jenny-behind-the-wheel-of-Tesla shot, which is still in transit.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Test Drive a Tesla in New Hope This Weekend! & EV News Roundup

This just in -- what an opportunity, and right in my neck of the woods!  I have a major schedule squeeze on Saturday but if they can fit me in early I'll be there ...

Go Electric Roadster Tour
Saturday, December 4, 2010  
10am - 4pm
The Centre Bridge Inn
2998 North River Rd
New Hope, PA 18938
Test Drives Available by Appointment Only
To RSVP to this event, contact Michael Sexton at 646.996.3316 or   


Dan Monroe did not let Thanksgiving distract him from rounding up the latest EV news last week, but I failed to post it.  Whoops!   I'm sure nobody reading this missed the big story that the Chevy Volt was named Car of the Year by both Motor Trend and Automobile Magazine, though ... 

Here is this week's news (along with a sprinkling from last week):

Amping Up the Drive to Reduce Gasoline Consumption, GHG Emissions

Who Are The EV Charging Station Players?

London's Comprehensive Electric Vehicle Plan Takes Shape

Essex Credit Corporation to Finance CODA Sedan Purchases

Students Drive Electric Car From From Alaska to Argentina

Nissan LEAF Gets 99 MPG-e Rating from EPA

Volt Now Bests Prius in Overall Fuel Economy

German Firm Introduces All-electric Fiat 500

Honda Unveils the Fit EV Concept and a Plug-In Hybrid Platform 

Carlos Ghosn: Electric vehicle profitability may come "within next 3 years"

Coalition Issues Fleet Electrification Roadmap

Graphene supercapacitor breaks storage record

Bonus blast from the past: Before Who Killed the Electric Car?
The BBC's Samira Ahmed's 1996 report on the new all-electric EV1 reminds us that simply converting to EV's will not take care of automobile congestion on our highways; we also need to invest in public transportation.