Wednesday, February 23, 2011

EV News Roundup Week of 2/21 with an extra helping of commentary

Straight-up Pure EV News 

Automation could speed up EV conversions -- a professor at Carnegie Mellon University has developed a process he says could convert a Honda Civic in just two days for a cost of $14,000.   Everybody I know who's converted their own EV is jealous of the fact that a workshop effort can put out a finished car in six days -- imagine cutting that time down by a third!  I want to know more!

Rolls-Royce 102EX Phantom Experimental Electric to debut in Geneva
There are pictures, but none of the actual car so the hi-rez image gallery here is just a tease: a sketch of the charge-intake port, a slide that was broken (what gives, Autobloggreen?), and a quite unflattering shot of the iconic winged-lady hood ornament.   The guy who sculpted the flying lady called her "A graceful little goddess, the Spirit of Ecstasy, who has selected road travel as her supreme delight" and it turns out she flew right out of a romance novel to alight on the nose of the Rolls-Royce or so Wikipedia has it  and I for one choose to believe every word. 

Porsche Unveils Boxster E, a Fully Electric Sports Car
Treehugger notes the Boxter E in prototype form, unfortunately also repeating the mantra/disclaimer that seems mandatory in all EV reporting these days: "There's still the issue of the infrastructure needed to support wide use of electric cars ...."  I wish the mandatory mantra were, "One significant advantage of EV's is that our national electric infrastructure is already well-established.  Home-owners with power in their garages can begin driving one today, assured of reliable, convenient access to their vehicle's fuel needs."

Meet the Meguru
Because it's made largely of recycled bamboo, this hilarious electric rickshaw is compostable at end of life -- something Treehugger failed to mention in the link above, but Autobloggreen noticed when they reposted.  (Both sites ran the same photo, which came from GreenLaunches.)  There's no airconditioning or heat on board: all temperature problems are solved by a cooling pinwheel and comfy blankets.

Hybrid News: Yes, Fisker Karma, I do mean you

Once again I am forced to address the question of EV nomenclature.  In this older article the New York Times allies with me: they appellate the Fisker-Karma a series plug-in hybrid, and note that it's a heavyweight compared to the 3,7000-lb Chevy Volt. 

Early Reviews Are In: Karma Called "Sexy" and "Drool Worthy"
Daily Tech rounds up the test drive reviews from automotive publications and also correctly refers to the Karma as a plug-in hybrid.

Over at Autobloggreen, meanwhile, they insist on characterizing the Karma as an "extended-range electric sedan."  Then they go even farther, calling it a "purely electrically driven car" and noting, "You could call it a 'plug-in electric' and leave it at that ...."  Having an ICE on board doesn't make it a hybrid; it just makes it "more interesting."

They even dis the Volt's occasional use of ICE-to-power-train to make the following exceedingly fine distinction:  "Unlike the Volt, however, the Karma is a pure series EV – the ICE up front does not in any way directly power the forward progress of the driven axle."  Come on, Autobloggreen, do we really have to sacrifice the useful existing nomenclature of series hybrid , not to mention the meaning of the words purely and pure, here? 

If I recall correctly, when the Prius (a type of parallel hybrid, yo) was developed, it was designed with no plug precisely to de-emphasize the whole electric aspect.  The wisdom then was "consumers are afraid of electric cars."  A few years later we find the marketing departments of GM and Fisker Automotive insisting that the series plug-in hybrids they're selling are electric cars.  I guess this shows public acceptance is growing for EV's (in case anybody didn't notice already!) but I get indignant when such liberties are taken with language.  Claiming that a car with an engine is an EV is like announcing that you're a vegetarian who eats fish. 

The New York Times describes this new diesel-electric hybrid as a "high tech dune buggy."

Business News & Forecasts

Nissan rockets to #4 position in Fast Company's 2011 Most Innovative Companies list

BMW's new eco sub-brand to be called "i"
Also worth checking out: BMW's videos about the "future of mobility"-- click on the logo to get to them.  I actually only watched the trailer but I kept forgetting to post the link and now the videos are up.

Toyota to launch home electric car chargers in 2012
Chicago getting 280 electric vehicle charging stations thanks to 350Green

Tesla Co-Founder Sizes Up President Obama’s E.V. Pledge
Marc Tarpenning, who left Tesla in 2008, says he's still gung-ho on EV's but doubts  we'll see one million on U.S. roads by 2015. 
Meanwhile, the Chinese plan to be putting one million EV's on the road every year by 2015. 

In Wider-ranging Transportation & Energy News

Industry insiders on our move away from crude
At the International Energy Forum Secretariat meeting in Riyadh, they're saying: "Transition is the name of the game."

New Survey Reveals Desire for a Smarter Energy Future 
This article's a "sponsored" piece over at the normally trustworthy ecopolitology, meaning it was contributed by the company that did the survey.  Hmmmm ... it is comically unsurprising that a survey of energy professionals finds them rooting for government incentives as well as the market to boost "energy efficiency uptake by consumers," but the piece gives a pretty good overview of our national renewable energy strategy compared to e.g. China -- and while I was reading it I beat Dan to the following very informative and piece I am sure he would have shared with me next week (it just went up today).

The Union of Concerned Scientists Asks: Who's Got the Power?
All states have clean energy resources -- but some of them are shipping those overseas while importing dirty coal.   Go figure!

Kentucky Aims to Become ‘Sanctuary State’ for Big Coal 
Finally from ecopolitology -- some state legislators really like mountaintop removal mining more than clean water.  Go figure.

Technologies on the Horizon

New Alloy Provides 25 Percent Greater Thermoelectric Conversion Efficiency

Salt and silicon - key ingredients to new hydrogen-powered charger
This cute, portable charger could power mobile phones, laptops, & GPS systems : just add water! 

Retro Automotive Technology News

Tee hee.  Unfortunately is a somewhat awkward link, as the Treehugger article will guide you to a slideshow over at Der Spiegel Online, which is in German. You can either keep two windows open to read the vehicle descriptions, or use Babelfish to translate the website (with accompanying hilarity: machine translation of German remains entertaining!).  All in all a bit more involved than your average unnecessary web-browsing session but who could resist further investigation of a concept like the 1958 Ford Nucleon:

Oh my gosh, is that a personal-use atomic reactor in the rear (surrounded thoughtfully by shielding)?    Best automotive prediction ever:  "Engineers estimated a range of 5000 miles before refueling."

High School Physics Olympics, Two New EV-ents this spring

The Physics Olympics competition is this Saturday, February 26.   Spectators are most welcome!

High School Physics Olympics
February 26th, 8:30AM
Harriton High School
600 North Ithan Avenue
Rosemont, PA 19010

The Physics Olympics features many physics activities including an annual electric hybrid model car event.  Eastern Electric Vehicle Club members will be on hand to help run & judge the event and give a special award to the vehicle judged best-engineered.  Event begins at 8:30 a.m. at Harriton High School, Rosemont PA (near Villanova University).  

New On The EV-ent List for April!

Joe Bonaparte is inviting EV owners to come participate in the 3nd annual Collingswood Green Festival (NJ) on April 16. Last year EEVC members Alan Arrison and Ed Kreibick displayed their vehicles. Lew Ayers was there with his electric del Sol as well.  Joe is using this event as a deadline to have his own Rabbit EV up and running! If you would like to display your vehicle or would like more information please contact Joe at: joe.bonaparte(at)gmail(dot)com or (856) 296-6643

And I hate to plug an EV display opportunity on the same day as the EV-ent in Macungie, but seems like there's one scheduled every year -- and those of you closer to Rutgers University deserve to know that the NJ Clean Cities Coalition ( is coordinating an alternative vehicle fair as part of the annual Rutgers Day event to be held April 30, 2011.  Organizer Chuck Feinberg writes, "This is a great opportunity to show off all your EV's and to talk to students and prospective students (and their parents)about them.  If you have a vehicle to display, please let me know in advance so we can allocate enough spaces."   To get in touch with Chuck email  chuck.feinberg(at)gmail(dot)com

WEEKLY EV NEWS ROUND-UP WEEK OF 2/21 got broken into separate post because it was soooo long.  Dan Monroe of the EEVC is my hero this week 'cause in addition to digging up all these great links he did a little technical tinkering with our electronic transmission system.  With less cut-and-paste to do I had lots more time to read & write!  Being me, I went completely overboard.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Looking for a Donor Truck to Convert to EV? Or Some Crazy Little Vehicles that are Already Electric?

Normally this is an ad-free space of course, but here are two sale offerings I do want to publicize this week.

A friend of the web-sleuth who turns up all those great articles for the weekly EV news round-up is looking to sell his Ford Ranger for six hundred bucks.  It has new brakes and is an ideal subject for conversion, will need some body work.  

Owner drives an electric del Sol that he converted so he knows what he's talking about:

“I am selling my 1997 Ford Ranger Pick-up.  It has just over 150k miles.  I am asking $600.00.  It needs a clutch, shocks and exhaust system - plus the gas gauge does not work.
It needs a right front fender and a paint job. The cost of doing all this work is over $3,000 parts and labor. 
I just put brakes on it, including new rotors and brake drums.  It has 15" Jeep Cherokee 5-spoke steel wheels and Bridgestone Revo tires.  

This truck would make a great donor for conversion to an EV. It has a 5 speed manual transmission, manual steering, no air conditioning and crank down windows. Because of the conversion no exhaust system needed, gas gauge not needed, no clutch needed, heavy duty shocks would replace worn shocks. The fenders and hood I would change out with a one piece fiberglass tilt front end. I was planning on converting the truck myself, but would rather concentrate on doing more work to my del Sol.”

click here to inquire and I'll forward the info on!

If you're not ready to do your own conversion, how about a cute little relatively low-voltage run-around vehicle for the property?  Here are 4 from the studio of Val Bertoia, artist & EV owner -- just click on the photos to get to his for sale page. 

The 50/50 Miracle Insight, Val's full-battery-electric conversion of an Insight Hybrid by Stephen Miracle of Burlington, VT can be seen on the EV-ent in Macungie website.  Val's on the ad hoc planning committee along with Bob & Don Young from Macungie, the father-and-son team who founded the EV-ent, our fearless leader Anna Digate, and me.   But he didn't ask me to post this ad, it's just that he's gonna be out of town for the EV-ent itself so he won't be able to show any of these funky numbers, which is too bad!  It occurred to me that if someone bought one of course they should bring it right on over to display at the EV-ent, where all kinds of electric-powered vehicles are welcome!  Last year we had 2 home-converted lawn tractors and a racing e-kart as well as a variety of converted ICE cars and trucks ranging from the classic to the contemporary. 

So bring on the EV's in every flavor, shape & size.  I am jazzed for April 30!

Last ad - don't forget to check out the New Technology, Small Business & Inventors Conference on March 4 & 5 in Philadelphia at the Logan Free Library.  Saturday morning will be devoted to EV's -- detailed schedule is up now here and it's all free!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

EV News Roundup Week of 2/14, with some commentary

Pure EV Stuff

I really liked the picture. 

Although for suburban drivers charging an EV is as simple as plugging in overnight, in urban areas, a new infrastructure will be needed -- parking facilities with overnight charging.

To some market studies, all you can say is: duh.  

Market News, Rumors & Predictions

This teeny-tiny production EV is gonna roll out to Smart dealers all over the US in 2011 -- maybe there's one near you! 

Warning: no actual pictures.  :-(

Wider-ranging energy news (though hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas is an issue close to home here in Pennsylvania, and duh, we here at Bucks County Renewables are Against Fracking!):

You will note that this piece ends with the usual doomsaying remark about the costs of renewable energy.  What is with these people and their total lack of understanding of the externalized costs of fossil fuel extraction?  Hello, economic literacy department? 

Remember, EV's are Not the Only Way to Revolutionize Transportation & Our Cities
The proposed limit is 18 mph.  They're letting the citizens decide, ohmygosh how amazingly democratic of them. 

This is really very cool though the article spends an unnecessary amount of time comparing the thing to a Segway, which is just silly.  Get a closer look at the amazing sexiness of the eROCKIT on the original German website (Babelfish translations of German are also sure to entertain).   I certainly do hope this little item rolls onto US roads soon oh my goodness. 

The Big Picture, Cats and Kittens

A nice piece about supporting the EPA against the onslaught of corporate lobbyists determined to buy the right to waste our natural resources for short-term gain.  

An awesome visual picture of not just Chinese but global energy resources in both fossil and renewable form.  There is a lot of interesting info on this chart for browsing.  Skip the silly public opinion survey results in the upper left however.  A sample of 1,024?  Hello, statistical literacy department? 

Monday, February 14, 2011

EV-related events coming up soon

OH MY GOSH there's so much going on!

Solar Carport for Charging Plug-ins
2/15 Philadelphia, PA

The Philadelphia  Solar Energy Association (PSEA)  will meet this coming Tuesday Feb 15th at 7 p.m. at the Philadelphia Free Library. Guest speaker Vincent O'Grady will present his own completed solar system project consisting of three arrays, one of which is a car port to be used to charge a plug in hybrid.  Vincent has been in the solar business for seven years as a project manger and is currently employed at GeoPeak Energy in central New Jersey.

High School Physics Olympics
2/26 Rosemont, PA

The Physics Olympics features many physics activities including an annual electric hybrid model car event.  Eastern Electric Vehicle Club members will be on hand to help run & judge the event and give a special award to the vehicle judged best-engineered.  Event begins at 8:30 a.m. at Harriton High School, Rosemont PA (near Villanova University).   

Introduction to Building an EV 
starts 2/28 in Morris County, NJ

This evening class at the Morris County School of Technology in Denville New Jersey will cover the history of EV's & current state of technology along with budgeting, safety, purchasing parts, the build and more. The course will include some hands-on training as well as a text book.
START DATE: Monday Feb. 28
DAYS: Monday
COURSE: 6311S11
TIME: 7:00 PM to 9:PM
Length: 16 Hours ( 1 night a week for 8 weeks )
LOCATION: Bld.4, Room 401A
TUITION: $135.00 ( Seniors: $ 75.00 )
                           New Jersey Electric Vehicle Conversions
                           Co-founder of the New Jersey Electric Auto Assoc.
Register on line at or call (973) 627-4600 X245, 296, 231
2nd Annual New Technology, Small Business & Inventors Conference
3/4-5 in Philadelphia, PA
Back at the Philadelphia Free Library, this two-day conference sponsored by the Nikola Tesla Inventors Club & the American Society of Inventors will put the spotlight on EV's on Saturday morning!   I'll present on the History & Advantages of EV's; Dan North of Newark DE will speak on the specifics of converting ICE vehicles to battery-electric operation; and the EEVC's resident battery expert Michael Manning will give a talk on battery chemistry.  Also on the schedule are two in-depth looks at accelerated and wireless charging technology.

Admission is free both Friday and Saturday!
Next post: a return to the weekly EV news round-up, I promise.