Tuesday, May 31, 2011

21st Century Automotive Challenge Report from Dan Monroe of EEVC

Oh my gosh I was so happy to get this behind-the-scenes report & pix of the EEVC team from Dan.
Yellow Geo Metro = Ken, Green ,VW Rabbit Truck = Al,  Narrator = Dan

I got to drive Ken’s car a few rounds in the autocross and half of the around town loops. Then I got to drive Alan’s truck for the first 30 laps of the range event. With both Al and Ken switching battery types it certainly was an odd weekend. The Rabbit came close to dominating the autocross (Al had to turn the Zilla down so he wouldn’t spin the tires whenever he hit the accelerator), but it only went 44 laps in the range event. The Metro is certainly much slower now (it really struggled up some of the hills around town), but came close to beating the Lorax in the range event. Ken drove 71 laps and Methacton drove 73.

In typical fashion Ken and I rushed to meet deadlines and keep things running all weekend. ^_^  When we got there (twenty minutes late) we immediately had to start making hold-down straps for the rear battery pack. Then the charger was acting up the first night. We thought we had it running around 11:00 pm so we left, only to find out the fuse blew out only giving us a partial charge. Just in time for a full day around town starting with a fourteen mile run to Wegmans and two twenty five loops around town. O_o  The highway guys got a chance to drive out to take a tour of a wind farm.

Ken got the charger working, but we figured out that it was too underpowered to really be of any use. With the new 6v, 215ah batteries it would take 20+ hours to get a full charge out of it!  Fortunately we were able to borrow Penn State’s Manzanita charger they use for the Berkeley. We were able to top up enough for the around town loops and get a full charge for the range event! 

Penn State let Ollie drive the Berkeley in the range event. Everyone told him that he looked great in the car and he admitted that it drove very well. So now we have to find a Berkeley, MG, Austin-Healey Sprite, or some other micro sports car that we can convert for him!

Ken, Alan, & Ollie on the track
. ^_^

I had a wonderful time up there this weekend.



Here is an easter egg of sorts that Dan buried at the very end of the photos he sent me, without comment,   PERHAPS TESTING TO SEE WHETHER I AM PAYING ATTENTION.  Ha, paying attention is one of the things I do best.  So naturally I have already followed up.  You will note this poor abandoned Vanagon is a Syncro (be still my heart) and additionally the exact same color that die Sprite used to be, before she was orange and electric.    It has a broken window and probably lots of things wrong inside it and nobody but me wants it I am sure, but just in case I am NOT going to disclose its location.  Stay tuned for further reports on potential rescue operations.  

Friday, May 27, 2011

Major Local EV-ent taking Place June 8!

Um this fabulous opportunity kind of exactly conflicts with my own talk about EV's at Lehigh Valley Green Drinks at the Bethlehem Brew Works which I was just about to start promoting the heck out of here on this blog, but hey it all depends whether Plymouth Meeting or Bethlehem are closer to you.  Also, on whether at this point in your EV education you need to see cars, because if you want to see some boy o boy here is the place to be on Wednesday June 8:

The EEVC  (Eastern Electric Vehicle Club) of Valley Forge PA will present an electric car display in the west parking lot of Plymouth Whitemarsh High School from 6:00- 8:00 PM Wed June 8, 2011. A number of electric conversions will be featured along with the renowned electric Tesla sports car and a historic GM EV-1.  

Dr. Joel Anstrom from the Hydrogen and Hybrid Research Lab of Pennsylvania State University will present some of the latest research regarding electric & hybrid vehicles at a meeting in the Plymouth-Whitemarsh Senior High School west end cafeteria at 8:00 P.M. Highlights & awards of this year's 21st Century Automotive Challenge (21st CAC) at Penn State will also be presented.

This special event is sponsored by the EEVC, the 21st CAC, and the industrial technology department at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School. It is open to the public. Students, parents, community members, and anyone interested are encouraged to attend.

Announcement by Mr. Oliver H. Perry, President EEVC

EEVC President Oliver Perry behind the wheel of the vintage 1958 Berkeley belonging to Penn State's Hybrid & Hydrogen Vehicle Research Laboratory this past weekend at the 21st Century Automotive Challenge.  (More on that to come!)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Great Stuff Vaguely Related to Electric Vehicles

If you want to know why we at Bucks County Renewables love this video so much, listen up for the part about how the road diet increases foot traffic in local stores while helping drivers mellow out.  Road diets make sense -- spread the word. 

Click on the pretty globe graphic the Autobloggreen elves chose to accompany a recent article on market distortion of  fuel prices.  Richard Canny (former CEO of the Think electric vehicle company) calls for "a thoughtful energy policy that's developed not according to the power of the lobby group, but guided by scientists and policy makers that can help markets reflect the true cost – both to consumers and to society – of the fuel choices we make."

Speaking of markets, here is a rap video which it is possible you like me will really dig.  It is about economics.

If you enjoyed that and are thinking to yourself, "My appetite for rap throwdowns having to do with economics has not yet been sated, I could go for seconds"  you are in luck because here is the sequel.  I also hope you will pass both of these videos on because they are so excellent.  You could while doing so mention that you saw them originally on an EV blog, which would automatically make the topic relevant to electric vehicles (more focused posts coming up I promise).

In the meantime, here's to cheap, efficient, long-lasting DIY tech as an alternative to the wasteful & bloated mass-production/consumer model -- clink clink cheers!  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Plug In America Reports on EV Legislation

and here is their monthly newsletter in case you do not get it in your email which you should!  Keep your eye on the federal bills mentioned below and let's all think about the model state legislation coming out of California.  Dan Davids who is the hard-working president of Plug in America wrote what follows but I agree with it 100%.

The modest retrenchment of gasoline prices from recent highs comes as good news to consumers already stretched thin, but we at Plug In America remain convinced the overall cost trend for petroleum-based fuels is upward. In the face of rising worldwide demand and dwindling discoveries of new oil fields, hopes for a return to cheap gas are folly at worst and poor planning at best.

The solution, of course, is to get more plug-in vehicles on the road so that more people can enjoy the many benefits of driving electric, not the least of which is a dramatic reduction in fuel cost. The production hiccups caused by the Japan earthquake are quickly being corrected by Nissan and GM. The makers of the Leaf and Volt, respectively, say they’re on track to deliver all their 2011 production commitments. This is good news for the EV car segment.

This month’s newsletter shines the light on the activities of our ever-busy legislative arm. With EVs slated for delivery in more states, we’re seeing a significant increase in requests for our expertise in this area. If you haven’t officially joined Plug In America yet, please consider doing so today. Your donation helps us continue this vital policy work across the country.

Thank you for supporting the cause of plug-in vehicles.

Dan Davids

Legislative Update

Plug In America’s legislative team, which has helped shape some of the country’s most EV-friendly public policy, has been following several new bills and EV incentives-in-the-making.  Led by board member/Legislative Director Jay Friedland, the team has been meeting with lawmakers’ staffs to keep momentum moving in the right direction. These issues are expected to come to a head this summer. Stay tuned. When the time is right, we’ll ask our members to ask their representatives to show support for these crucial measures.

Here’s what’s up:

In the U.S. Senate:
Charging America Forward Act, S298, Sen. Debbie Stabinow (D-Mich.): Would raise from 200,000 to 500,000 the number of EVs eligible to receive the existing $7,500 tax credit. Also converts the tax credit into a rebate, similar to that in the Cash for Clunkers program.

In the U.S. House of Representatives:
Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act of 2011, HR 1685: A bipartisan effort driven by the Electrification Coalition to create 10 geographic regions across the U. S. which would receive increased support for EV infrastructure ($300 million per region) and boost the $7,500 EV credit for to $9,500 for the first additional 500,000 drivers.

Also just introduced in the House is another bipartisan bill, the Open Fuel Standard Act, which would require that 50 percent of new automobiles in 2014, 80 percent in 2016 and 95 percent in 2017 be warranted to operate on nonpetroleum fuels in addition to or instead of petroleum-based fuels. Electricity is one of the key nonpetroleum fuel technologies specified in this bill.

We are also working hard to make sure that the federal incentives for EV charging infrastructure and 2-3 wheeled plug-in vehicles are extended before they expire at the end of the year.

At the State Level in California:
SB209, Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-San Leandro): Prevents condo homeowners associations from denying residents to install chargers. Modeled after legislation that Plug In America helped to pass in Hawaii. Click here to see a video of the recent panel that Plug In America convened on EV charging for multifamily housing.

SB730, Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego): Accelerates the permitting process for EV charger installations.

AB475, Assemblymember Betsy Butler (53rd District): Gives plug-in hybrid EV drivers the vehicle sticker (now awarded only to EV drivers) needed to use public chargers and parking spaces.

We’re also watching:
California Energy Commission funding for EV projects and infrastructure, and actively participating in the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) efforts to renew the Clean Vehicle Program, which provides the rebates of up to $5,000 for new EVs. These rebates are slated for a three-fold increase in overall funding but individual rebates would likely be cut in half by the end of summer. This would mean that nearly six times as many cars would be eligible for the incentive.

EV road taxes, which are being considered in several states including Washington, Oregon, Texas and Minnesota. While EV owners want to pay their fair share, we see this as a troubling trend of dis-incentivizing plug-ins at the very time we should be increasing incentives. A fair way to address this issue would be to base a fee—for all vehicles—on Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and vehicle weight. Meanwhile, any EV road tax should be waived until a substantial number of EVs are on the road.

APA Planning Conference

There’s an old axiom, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” When it comes to rolling out charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, Plug In America is doing its part to ensure that failure is not an option. President Dan Davids spoke recently at the National Conference of the American Planning Association in Boston. His topic was best practices and lessons learned around the installation of EV infrastructure (EVI).

Based on the groundbreaking work done last year in Washington that produced “Electric Vehicle Infrastructure: A Guide for Local Governments,” coupled with Plug In America’s real-world experience with charging installed under CARB’s legacy Zero Emissions Vehicle program, urban planners were treated to both theory and practice.

The session in Boston was well received, with municipalities from a number of cities contacting Plug In America for more information. Fleshing out a fuller presentation, Dan has assembled a rogue’s gallery of photographs of public charging stations, good and bad. He’ll be sharing them at a meeting of the U.S. Green Building Council in Spokane Washington this month. If you come across a new charging station that you particularly like or dislike, take a picture, tell us why, and send it to dan@pluginamerica.org.

Nissan Leaf - official pace car for the 2011 Boston Marathon

Plug In America On the Road
Plug In America co-founder Paul Scott will speak on June 14 at Automotive News magazine’s Green Car Conference in Novi, Mich. Paul will be joined by what the leading trade journal calls some of the other “most influential leaders in area of sustainability in the automotive world.” These experts include Tony Posawatz,
Vehicle Line Director, Chevrolet Volt and Global Electric Vehicle Development,
General Motors; Nancy Gioia, Director,
 Global Electrification,
 Ford Motor Company; and Bill Reinert,
 National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Manager, Toyota Motor Sales, USA.

Friday, May 20, 2011

EV News Roundup Returns!

As I drove my hybrid around today on these delicious Upper Bucks County windy hill roads where nobody needs to drive more than 30 miles an hour ever, I was thinking how when I was a kid I was really into going to space; I was 5 when I watched the Apollo 13 moonwalk and I pretty much assumed that the moon would be a regular tourism destination by the time I was grown up.  I assumed I would get to visit, stopping along the way at  the orbiting galaxy lounge.  I also thought, because I read Ranger Rick Magazine, that everybody on the planet would be recycling and using geothermal energy, and because my family boycotted grapes I labored for years under the misapprehension that abusive agricultural labor practices were a thing of the past.  On all these matters I was sadly confused, though I must say I like the internet, cellphones, craft beer, good coffee, delicious local food and the incremental improvements in gay marriage & medicinal marijuana so I am not complaining about this future that I live in exactly, just pointing out that it too could be improved with more space travel and less capitalism and war.  Back in the day my own grandparents were pointing out that the latter two constituted a waste of human resources and time so folks -- let's get with getting over that stuff already.

So, just reminding everybody that my fascination with EV's is sublimation for the tragic absence of actual spaceships in all our lives, and presenting Dan Monroe's EEVC news round-up now that he is back from watching the space shuttle launch -- which I hope I am going to get a report on that I can somehow work into this blog, obviously space shuttles = related to EV's, because I said so.  

EV History, My Favorite Topic

Riding the World's First Hybrid Car: 1900 Porsche Semper Vivus  Yes!  Treehugger's Brian Merchant revives an ancient technology, nice article and photos!  

Pure EV News

Moto Mundo Electric World Tour completes around-the-world trip with EV Without a support team, a production Qashqai Electric from Danish AfutureEV was driven from Copenhagen around the world, through Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Russia, Mongolia, China, USA, Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Poland and Holland.between June 25, 1010 and May 7, 2011.  Kudos to Danish husband and wife team Nina Rasmussen and Hjalte Tin

An Electric Buggy Will Be the First EV to Take on the World's Toughest Race  EV buggy heads off to the Dakar Rally, a rugged 9,000k off-road trek thru Chile, Argentina & Peru.  If you were looking for a road race with a geographically confusing name you are reading the right blog tonight!

Peugot's 100% Electric Concept EX1 Has Broken Six World Records   Current world's fastest EV, also very sexy looking, yum! 

Batteries & Charging Stations

Toyota Explores Wireless Car Charging  Again with the connected thing, apparently EV's are coming along at just the right time to synergize with other technologies, wireless everything-charging for me and Nikola Tesla!  ¡Viva la rEVoluciĆ³n!

Hybrid News

Future Tech of All Sorts, My Second Favorite Topic

Ultracapacitors to Boost the Range of Electric Cars MIT Technology Review reports on CA start up Nanotune's electrolyte advancements for high-energy storage.  

New Way to Control Conductivity: Reversible Control of Electrical and Thermal Properties Could Find Uses in Storage Systems  Science Daily reports on materials science advancements from MIT that could play fuse or thermal collector role.

Laser Sparks Revolution in Internal Combustion Engines Kind of like a double-flame cigar lighter, this technology has nothing whatsoever to do with EV's but  hello in my actual present future apparently a "yttrium-aluminum-gallium" laser exists so this obviously must be celebrated, thank you Science Daily.   

Splitting Water for Renewable Energy Simpler Than First Thought? Manganese-Based Catalyst Shows Promise Only including this hydrogen thing because Science Daily is a respectable source and "Birnessite"-- the name of the known and harmless mineral formation that is the catalyst in this research -- is such a pretty name.  

New horizontal turbine can capture wind from all directions Ecoseed.org reports on an Australian company called Katru Eco-Energy on more renewable tech.  

Present Day Stuff Plus Predictions

Orlando gas station charges $5.69 a gallon  We at Bucks County Renewables are for high gas prices, as everybody knows.

Five business models to boost electric cars CNet's Green Tech columnist Martin LaMonica points out how easily smart EV operation could integrate into our present circumstances, where everybody already understands all about connection and recharging.  

Video: Volt, Leaf impress in crash tests‏  This is shameless crash porn typical of what I'd expect of a mainstream outlet like CNN.  Ok I guess we can open up the EV market to the people who watch stuff like this, yippee.  

Americans Are Working To Feed Their Cars, Not Their Families  Lloyd Alter summarizes fellow Toronto blogger James Schwartz's statistical breakdown of the true costs of owning an ICE vehicle

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Whew! Happy Ending To Pre-Show Prep, & Miata update

As I mentioned in a pre-EV-ent blogpost, just a couple of days before the Macungie show our rebuilt & upgraded controller was still winging its way back from Iowa (burning LOTSA fossil fuel on its special hurry-up airplane ride). I was trying to play it cool but I was sweating a little bit!  Fortunately Dave Mosher of Custom Electronics came through like a champ so the controller arrived in a timely fashion. On Thursday Saint Bill & Adam the Intern wired up a SUPER-NIFTY new cooling fan that looks a lot like a flux capacitor, and on Friday I moseyed on down to assist Bill in the last stages of the install.

Naturally things did not go quite as smoothly as we hoped; there were still a few obstacles to overcome. For one thing, Bill had carefully photographed the original set-up prior to disassembly, but then his camera went on a trip with relatives and never returned so we had to wing it! It took us a long time (turn key, hmmm, this contactor opens, that contactor doesn't, rewire, rewire, now both contactors open but motor doesn't spin, rewire, rewire) to figure out from the wiring diagram that 1 of the high-voltage cables had been hooked up wrong. Whew, no smoke got out of our newly-upgraded controller during the testing process!

For another thing, we dropped a whole box of tiny electrical connectors into the engine bay while we were working and of course one fell into the motor and it took me 20 minutes to extricate it, which is absolutely par for the course when time is short and you are sweating to get your vehicle ready for a show.

I have now learned that tiny electrical connectors are aluminum & thus scattered ones (thank goodness they didn't ALL fall into the motor) cannot be cleaned up with handy magnets. I did sort them all once more by color, size & gender; Bill had to drag me away from that engrossing task to take our triumphant test-ride around the block in the re-rolling e-Van!

Sadly, pressure on my personal schedule made it impossible to bring the e-Van out to State College this coming weekend for the 21st Century Automotive Challenge or even attend sans vehicle. I am sad that I won't be able to document this year's event, but looking forward to hearing and posting about the gathering.

Meanwhile the Miata scheduled to be converted during our July 25-30 hands-on workshop (registration open now, 5 of 16 slots filled, get yours in soon!) is over at North Montco Technical Career Center getting enthusiastically de-ICEd (or "de-fossilized" as Bill sometimes says) by a team of eager automotive technology students. He's sent me lots of photos and it's so great to see how it is coming along -- here are a few, possibly not in accurate chronological order. Remember, this blog is not a to-do manual, more like an impressionistic painting or um maybe a comic strip with lots of words by ME accompanied by photographs of cars, sometimes in the act of having their insides taken out.

So yay St Bill & the kids from NMTCC who are helping move the Miata on to a new LiFe (stole that joke from Brandon Hollinger of BH Electrics) as a quiet, clean, efficient, no-blood-for-oil, who-cares-what-gas-costs-let's-get-off-the-junk, you-can-do-it-yourself-in-your-own-garage-if-you-want-to-bad-enough converted EV.  ¡Viva la rEVoluciĆ³n!  

Friday, May 6, 2011

Yay - What a Great EV-ent in Macungie 2011

We had gorgeous weather (once the day warmed up) & a terrific turn-out of vehicles and spectators!  Most of the photos below are ones posted by Nevyn & Chris in the forum over at www.ecomodder.com --  they were MUCH more timely than I have been in posting this update and I thank them for the documentation and for letting me link to their pix -- plus a few by Peggy Heminitz from the Emmaus Patch.

We had some great additions to the display this year so I've focused this blog entry on the cars that were new to our show.

So many cars they couldn't all fit in the frame ... the green 1979 Comuta-Car above was a last-minute addition this year, brought by Rick Tompkins of Hatboro PA who recently revived it and has been using it to, yes, commute to work.  It had been sitting since 1984 and started right up when he put new batteries in!  Behind the Comuta-Car is a white 1983 Nissan pick-up with a tilting aluminum bed which was converted by Don Barry all the way back in 1999.  I met Don & his wife at the very first Energy Fest I attended back in 2006 (just after we bought our Dodge Colt EV).  He was the first fellow EV owner I ever met, so I was thrilled to finally get to see his truck on Saturday!

batteries under the bed of Don Barry's pick-up allow it to be used for hauling cargo

A truly last-minute addition to the display was Chris Freyman's very sweet 1983 VW Rabbit, which he has been working on since June 2009 (right after our first EV-ent -- coincidence????).  On Saturday it was all ready to roll and fully inspected, but he hadn't gotten his registration back from the DMV yet so he was resigned to staying on the audience side until, fortunately for us, one of the show's attenders offered to loan him a fully-transferable dealer registration for the day.  So home went Chris (he lives just a couple miles away) and back he drove -- legally -- to join the exhibitors at his very first EV show!  Hurray!

In addition to performing the meticulous installation above, Chris lovingly restored the vehicle AND built all the electronics himself -- unsurprising news, since he was also instrumental in the design of that OpenRevolt open-source controller which Adam Brunette brought down from Massachusetts in 2010.  This year Adam was proud to add a new open source component of his own design to their table display -- a home-built (but not quite complete) 6kW PFC charger. 

When finished, this universal charger will be capable of charging any type of battery -- lead-acid,  lithium, and more -- from 12-400V!  It runs off either 110 or 220VAC, and on the side it features a stylish knob-and-touch-screen interface.  Click here for more info on this charger!

 It was great to welcome Adam, his wife Jessica, and friend Kyle Gibbons back again for their second year -- they win the prize for farthest-traveling exhibitors!

Having debuted his just-completed Saab here in 2009, Brandon Hollinger triumphantly returned with this 1997 Miata, the first vehicle converted by his brand-new Lancaster, PA conversion shop, BH Electrics.   Also rolling out for the very first time, this conversion is so fresh that it's still lacking a BMS and some of the bells and whistles that its owners have requested (including air conditioning -- a rare amenity in an EV).  As the only AC/lithium-ion conversion on display the "Mazda LiFE"  drew admiring crowds all afternoon; the Emmaus Patch called it "the most popular car of the day" and Brandon's smiling face (and beautiful workmanship) was featured in both the online and the print versions of the Morning Call article on the EV-ent.  

As always the EV-ent was the culmination of a lot of planning and hard work by our little organizing committee, but none more than former Judge Bob Young, who last year proposed that our EV-ent this year should feature the installation of an EV plug-in station at the park and who worked determinedly away to bring that vision to reality!  What a thrill it was to watch Representative Doug Reichley cut the ribbon on this conversion-friendly installation (it is not one of the new "charging stations" designed for production EV's, but a pair of regular 120-volt outlets for free opportunity charging at the park):

Left: State Rep. Doug Reichley (R-Berks/Lehigh)  Right: Former Judge Bob Young of Macungie
Other highlights of the day included our traditional owner panel (standing room only this year!)

plus these nifty solar cookers built by Boy Scout Troop #31 of Zionsville PA, who sold solar-cooked hot dogs all day -- I can testify that they work just as well for veggie dogs as for the regular kind!

For a full listing of the vehicles present and video of the Silent EV Parade, check out the EV-ent website.  (May not be updated till later this weekend.)  Thanks once again to all our exhibitors and participants on the owner panel -- and a grateful shout-out to the members of the organizing committee: our fearless leader Anna DiGate, the father-son team of Don and Bob Young, and Val Bertoia, who couldn't be with us on the day of the EV-ent but whose spirit was present every time somebody rang the EV gong he had donated for our raffle!

Many of the EV's featured last Saturday in Macungie -- and lots more alternative fuel vehicles -- will be on display at the Transportation Tent at the Pennsylvania Renewable Energy & Sustainable Living Festival Sept 16-18.  Energy Fest sponsors MAREA gave a generous financial contribution to the EV-ent to cover our insurance requirements, and I hope to see lots of faces from Macungie out at the Festival in Kempton this fall!