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Blog of articles and comments related to Electric Vehicles, Wireless Power, the Environment, and other news.

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Nissan has plans for inductive charging of EVs

Posted by on 10:09 am in Wireless Power | Comments Off on Nissan has plans for inductive charging of EVs

CNET reports that Nissan is planning to offer inductive charging for the Nissan Leaf.

CNET Article on inductive charging from Nissan

Nissan has been experimenting with inductive charging – a way of transferring power without a physical conductor – for a number of years.  The earliest versions involved a circular module, nicknamed the ‘charging turtle’ because it looks a little like a turtle shell that is placed on the floor underneath the vehicle, and required the car be positioned directly over the charging turtle to transfer power.  Nissan even developed an automatic parking technology to position the car for maximum charging efficiency.

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It appears that the technology is improving and may be able to be placed in a bumper for recharging at your favorite restaurant or hotel.  Long term, the technology could be implanted in the roadways, allowing vehicles to charge on the move and reducing the size of battery that an EV would require.

What’s changed?  Advances made earlier this century in using strongly coupled inductive resonance for power transfer has increased the distance that power can be transferred with high enough efficiencies to make it worthwhile.  Inductive resonance is similar to how a tuning fork will sound with the same pitch if the note it is tuned for is played on a nearby instrument.  When an AC current is passed through a coil at a certain frequency, a coil, or even a series of coils, tuned to the same frequency that is nearby – as far as several feet – will pick up a current that can be used to power a motor or recharge a battery.

Nissan’s efforts may be another means of eliminating EV range anxiety and bringing about the obsolescence of the gas burning vehicle.  That’s good for everyone’s health and to reduce global warming.

Sunspeed Enterprises’ founder Richard Sachen featured in North Bay Biz

Posted by on 2:10 pm in Company News | Comments Off on Sunspeed Enterprises’ founder Richard Sachen featured in North Bay Biz

Richard Sachen, the founder of Sunspeed Enterprises, was featured in North Bay Biz’s Game Changer 2015 special edition.

Click Photo to go to Article

Freedom. Girl looking at the sea. Her car is near. Click photo to go to article

The article explores Richard’s vision of EV chargers in rural communities and destination sites, starting with the Pacific Coast Highway.  Starting there, the vision is to make electric vehicles the vehicles of choice by providing recharging sites throughout California, then the county and ultimately the world.  The chargers would be run on renewable energy, so every day would be a ‘spare-the-air-day’ and we would be that much closer to a smog free world.

The article also discusses EV charging, “Who Killed the Electric Car”, and adds a quote from Alan Soule, the president of the local chapter of the Electric Automobile Association.

Here’s a link to the article:

http://www.northbaybiz.com/Bonus_Issues/GameChangers/Energizing_Richard_Sachen.php

Audi e-tron quattro EV to have 311-mile range

Posted by on 10:40 am in Electric Vehicles | Comments Off on Audi e-tron quattro EV to have 311-mile range

The cabin of the Audi e-tron quattro concept tapers strongly toward the rear end, approaching the idealized shape of an aerodynamically optimized droplet.

The cabin of the Audi e-tron quattro concept tapers strongly toward the rear end, approaching the idealized shape of an aerodynamically optimized droplet.

Audi has announce that it plans it’s own EV design to compete with the Tesla Model X.  The Audi E-tron quattro will be an SUV and one of the few vehicles planned with a 300+ mile range.  The combination of an SUV sized vehicle with a range over 300 miles makes the e-tron quattro a first.  Tesla’s Model X plans a 270-mile range in a crossover format.  The smaller Chevy Bolt planned for 2017 and the 2017 Nissan Leaf both are planned to have 200-mile ranges.

Audi will unveil their EV SUV concept car at this September’s Frankfurt auto show.

Audi expects the vehicle to be available in 2018.  With this announcement, Audi has set the bar higher for EV ranges.  Todays 80-100 mile range vehicles work well for commuter cars and local trips.  Many people are finding that they work well as commuter cars.  The 200 and 300 mile range EVs planned in the next few years will allow EVs to compete head-to-head with gas burning vehicles.

Charged EVs’ article on the Audi e-tron Quattro:

https://chargedevs.com/newswire/audi-targets-tesla-model-x-with-all-electric-311-mile-e-tron-quattro/

CNBC article on the Audi

http://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/20/audi-set-to-rival-teslas-model-x-with-electric-suv.html

Better Materials lead to Better Batteries

Posted by on 12:21 pm in Electric Vehicles | Comments Off on Better Materials lead to Better Batteries

This recent blog post by Ian McClenny at Navigant Research discusses some of the recent developments in battery technology.

http://www.navigantresearch.com/blog/a-better-battery-through-better-materials

The post discusses some of the history of batteries.  How Lithium Ion battery technology made the 275 mile range EV a reality and 80 mile range EVs a price effective alternative.  Prior to that the weight of lead acid batteries limited range to 40-50 miles.  NiCad batteries reduced the weight restriction, but had a limited number of recharges.  Lithium ion (Li) battery technology increased the number of recharges and further reduced battery weight.

New developments in solid state technology for Li batteries promise even more energy per pound, more charges per battery, and faster recharge times from better temperature regulation.  This will result in long EV range and reduced wait times for charges.  The technology will also be useful for the grid by providing energy storage, load leveling, frequency regulation, and voltage support at the utility scale.

Not mentioned in the post are some of the alternate battery chemistries, such as zinc-air or aluminum-air batteries.  Here’s a link to a recent article regarding zinc-air batteries.  The potential of zinc-air batteries exceeds even the solid state Li technology.

http://www.cnet.com/news/cheap-zinc-air-battery-promises-beefier-power-grid/

New research increases efficiency of wireless power transfer

Posted by on 4:12 pm in Wireless Power | Comments Off on New research increases efficiency of wireless power transfer

New research from North Carolina State University and Carnegie Mellon University shows that wireless power transfer efficiency can be more than doubled using a MRFE – Magnetic Resonance Field Enhancer.

Wireless power transfer has been around for years, but until recently was limited in range to a few inches.  Recent advances in magnetic resonance have improved ranges to several feet.  Magnetic waves, much like audio waves, resonate at particular frequencies.  Tapping a tuning fork set for C flat will cause an nearby tuning fork tuned to C flat to vibrate and issue the same note.  When two metal coils are tuned to the same frequency, running AC current at the tuned frequency in the first coil can induce a current in the second coil.

The MRFE is a device that can be as simple as a copper loop that is tuned to the frequency of the power transfer system and, based on the research, improves the efficiency of the whole system.  This has potential to make wireless power transfer a practical solution for electric vehicle chargers.

https://chargedevs.com/newswire/researchers-find-a-way-to-double-transfer-efficiency-of-wireless-charging/

Renewable energy is actually cheaper now

Posted by on 8:05 am in Economy | Comments Off on Renewable energy is actually cheaper now

According to this recent article in The Nation, Americans are switching to renewable energy because its actually cheaper.

As a salesperson at JBL Solar, a Sonoma County California Solar Installer, has been telling me recently, there’s never been a better time to install solar.  Why?  Prices have dropped dramatically and owners can make a profit on purchased systems even if they pay as little at $80/month for electricity.  In California, Solar installation has passed grid parity on the retail level and is heading in the direction of wholesale grid parity.

The Nation’s article notes that, but also reports that the US shale oil and natural gas boom will be short lived.  Shale oil and tracked wells have a short lifespan – about 3 years.  They cost quite a bit to start up $3 million or more each and aren’t profitable with oil priced at $50-$60 per barrel.  Without the funds to pay for new oil wells, the recent boom will go bust soon.

Price Anxiety, rather like range anxiety for electric vehicle drivers, is causing some utilities and energy consumers to invest in wind and solar energy in order not to get caught in the next price increase to $100/barrel oil.  In addition, wind and solar energy systems are technologies, not fuels.  Technology has a track record of improving over time, while fuels are commodities that fluctuate in price with market supply/demand.  Switching to Solar or wind allows energy consumers to lock in prices over time and have the promise of cheaper energy in the future as technology improves.

Here’s the link to the article in The Nation

http://www.thenation.com/article/why-are-americans-switching-to-renewable-energy-because-its-actually-cheaper/

EV Sales for July are down

Posted by on 10:55 am in Electric Vehicles | Comments Off on EV Sales for July are down

For the second month in a row, EV Sales are down for both month-to-month and year-to-year sales.  As with last month, the causes are similar.

  • No major new introductions.  Just the new Mercedes S550 Plug-in Hybrid.
  • The end in production of Toyota plug-in vehicles in favor of fuel-cell vehicles that are not available yet.
  • The switch over of production in both the Volt and Leaf from 2015 to 2016 models that promise better range.
  • Even Tesla sales were below 2000 in July also as they prepare for the new model X.

With the manufacturers and consumers looking forward to new models and better ranges, EV sales will probably continue to move sideways or show decline until the fourth quarter.

For more details and model-by-model analysis, follow the link below:

http://insideevs.com/monthly-plug-in-sales-scorecard/

California to eliminate gas burning cars by 2050?

Posted by on 10:11 am in Electric Vehicles, Environment | Comments Off on California to eliminate gas burning cars by 2050?

California regulator Mary Nichols is looking to transform the auto industry.  In order to meet emissions reductions in California, the state will need 100% of vehicles to be zero emissions or almost zero emissions by 2050.  As a practical matter, that means that all vehicles sold in California will need to be battery electric vehicles, plug in hybrid vehicles, or fuel cell vehicles by 2030.  The conventional internal combustion engine will be a thing of the past and California will eliminate gas burning cars.

Will this be technologically feasible?  Yes, all three technologies are available now and offered to the public.  The current limitation for the adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEV) is range and charging infrastructure.  Battery improvements have meant that acceptable range of almost 300 miles to a charge is available at a high price with the Tesla, and more affordable 200 mile range vehicles are expected in 2017.  Charging infrastructure is growing by leaps and bounds.  With electrical supply available in almost all but the most remote areas, making chargers available is often a matter of running wires and installing the chargers.

Fuel Cell vehicles don’t have the range issues that BEVs have, but the infrastructure doesn’t exist.  California plans to build more fuel stations but they cost 10 times or more the cost of a DC Fast charger for a BEV.  The method of generating hydrogen can also be an issue.  It takes four times the energy to create hydrogen that is zero emission vs using natural gas methods.  Natural gas methods don’t cost as much or use as much energy, but don’t reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions as much.

Plug in hybrids are a compromise solution that doesn’t give the energy efficiency of a BEV or completely eliminate emissions due to their gas engine.  These will probably be the car of choice until BEV technology and costs come down or fuel cell vehicle infrastructure and costs become competitive.

Here’s the link to the original article in Bloomberg:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-03/california-regulator-mary-nichols-may-transform-the-auto-industry

EV sales for June 2015

Posted by on 11:39 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on EV sales for June 2015

For the first time, year-over-year plug-in sales are actually down.  Sales were 12,363 in 2014 and are now 10,365 for June 2015 a drop of almost 2,000 vehicles.  Why is that?  Was it gas prices, demand, supply, or something else?

Gas prices aren’t the culprit, since they have been steadily rising from lows this winter.  While gas prices don’t seem to be the major driver of EV sales, the recent increases should have seen EV sales increase.  It seems that a c
ombination of discontinued models, fewer new entries into the market in 2015 and anticipation of longer range EVs in 2016 and 2017 are the causes.

Discontinued Models:  There are fewer EV models on sale today than at the same time last year.  The Honda Fit EV, Toyota RAV4 EV, are no longer on sale.  More importantly, production on both the Chevy Volt and Toyota Plug-in Prius have stopped.  In the case of the Volt, production will restart with the 2016 in September.  The Plug-in Prius may not be available until mid-2016 or early-2017.  Decreased sales of these four vehicles represent over 1,700 of the 2,000 in decreased vehicle sales.

Supply: The Ford plug-in models also saw decreased sales.  Inside EVs reports that the lower sales seem to be related to lower supply in the spring.  Ford has started delivering more plug-ins and July sales should start recovering.

Demand: The Nissan Leaf is also showing a decrease in sales from 2,347 in June 2014 to 2,074 in June 2015.  This seems to be tied to lower demand for the Leaf caused by the imminent release of the 2016 model with a longer range, due out in October.  Demand is still reasonably strong with over 2,000 units sold in June.  It’s hard to know if recent incentives from Nissan will keep sales strong when the Georgia $5,000 rebate ends.

Here’s the link to the insideevs.com page where you can read model by model sales analysis:

http://insideevs.com/monthly-plug-in-sales-scorecard/

Drive Electric Week 2015 comes to Santa Rosa Sept 13

Posted by on 3:25 pm in Electric Vehicles | Comments Off on Drive Electric Week 2015 comes to Santa Rosa Sept 13

Drive Electric Week – the annual show-and-tell event for Electric Vehicles (EVs) is coming to Santa Rosa’s Coddingtown Mall on Sunday Sept 13 from 11am to 4pm.DEWgraphic

Curious about Electric Vehicles?

They’re not only fun to drive and good for the environment, they’re also cost effective!  Learn more at the Expo.

  • Admission is FREE!
  • Ride in or drive a variety of electric vehicles – cars from last year included BMW i3, Tesla, Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus, Chevy Volt, and Kia Soul.
  • Talk with EV owners about their experience
  • Talk with owners of cars converted to electric.
  • View Charging Station Maps and learn about EV charging

National Drive Electric Week 

National Drive Electric Week is a series of events put on nationwide to educate people about electric vehicles.  EV’s have several advantages over gas vehicles and a few disadvantages.  EV’s tend to have more acceleration, better handling, smell better, cost less to operate, cost less to purchase or lease in California, give access to the diamond lanes, are more efficient, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and are better for the environment than gas burning vehicles.  While most are currently range limited to <100 miles freeway driving, newer models coming in 2016 and 2017 will have from 100 to 200+ mile ranges.

Visit driveelectricweek.org to learn about other events throughout the country and volunteer to attend.

This event is sponsored by  Plug In AmericaSierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association.