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Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, & the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Posted by on 2:00 pm in Electric Vehicles | Comments Off on Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, & the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Elon Musk’s biography (Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, & the Quest for a Fantastic Future) is now available for purchase and most of the reviews have been positive. Charged EVs, a media outlet covering the electric vehicle industry, offers up some tidbits on the 400-page bio.

Here are some highlights:Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 1.54.24 PM

Among the key takeaways is the author’s view that space exploration is Musk’s true passion, and that everything else is secondary. The author, Ashlee Vance, gained this perspective after spending more than 40 hours in conversation with Musk and speaking with close to 300 individuals about the genius entrepreneur.

Other notes from the book that help shape the persona of Musk is his undying devotion to quantitative thinking. According to the book, Musk never wants to be told that something “can’t be done.” If something is indeed impossible, then you would have to “take it down to the physics.” That science governs his management philosophy isn’t all that surprising since Musk did earn a B.S. in physics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Another interesting story that received a ton of press is the fact that the launch of the Model S in 2013 nearly bankrupted Tesla. It forced Musk to have informal discussions with Google about possibly selling the young company. An offer, however, never materialized from the search engine giant.

Basics of EV Charging

Posted by on 5:38 pm in Electric Vehicles | Comments Off on Basics of EV Charging

Green Car Reports recently posted a good introductory article about the basics of EV (Electric Vehicle) charging.

Here’s the link to the article:

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1098401_electric-car-charging-the-basics-you-need-to-know

The author provides a good overview of the different levels of charging Level-1 (110v) charging, Level-2 (220v) charging, and DC Fast Charging, also known by me and many others as Level-3 charging, which is 480v.  The author doesn’t really explain why DC Fast Charging isn’t Level-3 charging, and I suppose that’s for the best in an introductory article.  I believe the reasoning is that, under an older IEEE designation, before the standards were adopted, Level-3 charging referred to a high voltage AC charger.  High voltage AC chargers never became popular and have not be adopted in the US.  It would seem to me that referring to DC Fast Charging as Level-3 would be appropriate now.

SunspeedPtReyesCharging2

The article goes on to note that level-1 and level-2 have a single standardized connector and that level-3 charging uses three different standards – CHAdeMO, CCS (or SAE Combo) and Tesla.  While Tesla chargers only work for Teslas, the CHAdeMO and CCS standards are often available on the same charger in more recent installations.  One of the keys for using an EV for longer trips, is to make sure that the vehicle has a fast charging connector installed at purchase.  Retrofitting a car for fast charging is usually not possible, though some aftermarket options are available for cars like the RAV4.

The author goes on to note some of the common forms of EV charging etiquette for public chargers.  Among them are not to leave your car parked in a charging spot if it’s not charging, don’t charge if you don’t need it, and if you won’t be able to get back to the car to unplug it when the charge is done, leave a note explaining when someone can unplug you so they can charge.  Most of all try to get along.  The author decides to steer clear of whether plug-in hybrids should charge at public charging stations.  From my experience, it’s best never to unplug anyone unless their charge is done and to leave a polite note explaining what you’ve done.  As the author says, the goal is for us all to get along.

Cadillac ELR Wrongly Priced from the Start

Posted by on 2:37 pm in Electric Vehicles | Comments Off on Cadillac ELR Wrongly Priced from the Start

Electric vehicles have been growing in popularity, so much so that every car manufacturer is dedicating showroom space for the next generation of vehicles. Certain automakers, like Nissan, Tesla, and BMW, have hit home runs with their respective electrified fleets. Others, not so much.

Among the car companies that have whiffed – Cadillac, particularly with its ELR compact-sized coupe. The company now admits that the initial price tag of over $75,000 was too high for the market. According to Green Car Reports,  electric-car advocates were stunned when they heard the initial MSRP of $75,995. While the 2014 ELR had a ton of great standard features, it was also the smallest car Cadillac sold and the least powerful.Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 1.28.57 PM

As a result of the pricing dilemma, fewer than 2,000 ELRs have been sold since the car went on sale more than a year ago, and dealers are now offering remaining 2014 models at prices below $50,000. Just to give you an example of how anemic those numbers are, Tesla sold 1,700 units of its Model S this April.

The 2016 Cadillac ELR – there was no 2015 model year – received more power, additional standard equipment, and a $10,000 price cut.

The ELR is certainly a head turner, with its pronounced grill and sleek design. One can only wonder how well it would have sold if it were appropriately priced right out of the gate.

Sunspeed in Silicon Valley Over the Weekend

Posted by on 6:24 pm in Company News, Electric Vehicles | Comments Off on Sunspeed in Silicon Valley Over the Weekend

Richard Sachen, CEO of Sunspeed Enterprises, will address the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Electric Auto Association this Saturday, May 16 at 10 a.m. from the HP Auditorium in Palo Alto, Calif. Sachen will speak on the need for more public EV charging sites, and update the EV community on the company’s latest happenings, specifically investing opportunities for California residents.

In the afternoon, Sunspeed will host an exhibit at TiECON  2015, an entrepreneurship expo that brings together Silicon Valley’s diverse, dynamic, and expert ecosystems to ignite and display disruptive technological innovation. The conference takes place at the Santa Clara Convention Center. You can find us at booth #426.

New Report on how to eliminate gasoline and diesel fuel within 25 years

Posted by on 1:51 pm in Electric Vehicles | Comments Off on New Report on how to eliminate gasoline and diesel fuel within 25 years

Is it possible to eliminate gasoline and diesel fuel within 25 years?  Plug-in America has released a report today with a review of what has been done, what has been most effective, and how, with the right policy moves, we can eliminate gasoline and diesel fuel within 25 years.

Why would we want to get rid of gasoline in favor of electricity?  There are actually quite a few reasons, but here are a two.

  • Protect our safety and health.  Gasoline and diesel fuel are carcinogenic, poisonous, highly flammable liquids that create poisonous, carcinogenic gases when burned.  There are also the green house gas emissions that are related to climate change.  Not to mention the recent studies linking diesel exhaust to Alzheimer’s and autism, since, as the oil companies remind us, there are no credible studies showing a cause and effect relationship.
  • Save money and energy.   Electric Vehicles (EVs) generally get about four times the mileage for the same amount of energy that a gas burning vehicle gets.  Not only is there the inherent efficiency of an electric motor vs the gas engine, there is the lack of a multi-gear transmission in an EV.  Unique to EVs and some hybrids is regenerative braking that recharges the batteries when going downhill or when slowing down that further increase mileage.  That increase in mileage can save $10,000-20,000 over the average 10 year life of a car, depending on whether you would have bought an SUV/minivan or economy car.  With the price of electric vehicles trending downward, the up front costs are no longer as much of an issue.

What were some of the key findings from the report?

  • Lack of awareness about EVs and the technology remains a roadblock to widespread adoption.
  • EV availability is still significantly restricted.  Many models are only available in California.
  • A small number of automakers – Nissan, Ford, GM, BMW, and Tesla – dominate the market.
  • There is a lack of coordinated national promotional effort.  Most is done by auto manufacturers to promote specific vehicles.
  • Test-drive events are highly successful at driving sales.
  • Transitioning to EVs is needed to meet US environmental goals.
  • EV policy needs to be aligned at all levels.
  • Driver expertise and best practices need to be shared widely.
  • There is wide bi-partisan support among legislators for EVs.
  • Experience EV drivers are the most convincing.
  • Philanthropic foundations should take a more active role.

Unlike the electric lightbulb, which was so clearly an improvement over gas burning lamps, the EV still has a way to go to replace gas burning vehicles in all uses.  Range and recharge time limit long distance travel and hauling.  However, for commuter purposes and as a second vehicle in a two car household, current models provide a cleaner, cheaper alternative to gas burning models in the same class.  Several of the recommendations in this report will get the word out and make the transition faster.

Here’s the link to Plug-in America’s webpage where you can download the report.

http://www.pluginamerica.org/reports

Here’s a link to the Green Car Reports article on Plug-in America’s report

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1098230_electric-cars-whats-needed-in-25-years-to-eliminate-gasoline-diesel

April Plug-in Sales – Tesla Number One

Posted by on 6:09 pm in Electric Vehicles | Comments Off on April Plug-in Sales – Tesla Number One

Monthly plug-in sales have become predictable with the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S in strong control of the top two positions. For April, it was the Silicon Valley upstart that took home first place with 1,700 units. The Nissan Leaf moved a respectable 1,553, although this number is slightly down from March. Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 6.07.08 PM

According to Charged EVs, total plug-in sales for the month were fairly slow at 9,094, just barely beating the April 2014 mark. The overall U.S. auto market posted a 5% gain from last year, as trucks and SUVs continued to fly off the lots.

The Chevy Spark EV, a relatively new entrant to the pure EV field, posted third place with 920 sales. GM recently dropped the base model price to $25,995, and have released tempting lease offers starting at $139 per month. The Chevy Volt, which is not a pure EV, position itself at number four with 905 sales. The Fiat 500e rounds out the top five with 717 units.

The biggest surprise in April was that of the BMW i3 only posting a very paltry 406 sales – after hitting 922 the previous month.

Test Drive of a Petrol Car

Posted by on 11:22 am in Electric Vehicles | Comments Off on Test Drive of a Petrol Car

Article courtesy of Tesla Club Sweden

Having heard so much good about petrol cars, we decided to test drive one. They are said to combine cheap price with long range and fast charging. A winning formula on paper – but how are they in real life?

We sat us in the loaner car at the car salesman’s office. Automakers do not sell the cars themselves, only through independent car repair shops as middlemen. It may sound like a bad omen to buy the car from a car repair shop that you want to visit as seldom as possible. But you apparently can’t buy the car directly from the manufacturer but must go through such intermediaries. The seller was very ”pushy” and tried to convince us to buy the car very forcibly, but the experience is perhaps better elsewhere.Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 11.20.28 AM

So we sat in the car and pressed the START button. The car’s gasoline engine coughed to life and started to operate. One could hear the engine’s sound and the car’s whole body vibrated as if something was broken, but the seller assured us that everything was as it should. The car actually has an electric motor and a microscopically small battery, but they are only used to start the petrol engine – the electric motor does not drive the wheels. The petrol engine then uses a tank full of gasoline, a fossil liquid, to propel the car by exploding small drops of it. It is apparently the small explosions that you hear and feel when the engine is running.

The petrol engine consists of literally hundreds of moving parts that must have tolerance of hundredths of a millimeter to function. We begun to understand why it is car repair shops that sell the cars – they might hope for something to break in the car that they can mend?

We put in a gear and drove away with a jerk. The jerk came not from any extreme acceleration, but gasoline engines apparently cannot be driven as smoothly as electric motors. The acceleration did not occur at all, because we could not get the car to go faster than 40 km/h! By then the petrol engine literally howled and the whole car shook violently. Convinced that something must have broken we stopped the car. The seller then explained that with petrol engines you need to ”change gears” on a regular basis. Between the engine and the wheels are not a fixed ratio gear, but a variable one. The petrol engine can produce power only in a limited speed range, and must therefore be geared with different ratios in order to continue to accelerate. There are 5 different gears we can select with increasing speed as result. It is -as we learned quickly- very important that each time select a suitable gear otherwise the engine will either stop or get seriously damaged! You need a lot of training to learn to select the right gear at the right time – though there are also models with automatic transmissions that can do this themselves. In the manual transmission car, we needed to constantly guard the engine from damaging it. Very stressful.

We asked if the constant sound of the engine -that frankly disturbed us from being able to listen to the radio- could be turned off. But it couldn’t. Very distracting.

After getting the car up to speed through intricate changing of gears we approached a traffic light. Releasing the accelerator pedal resulted in no significant braking, we had to use the brake pedal very much to slow down the car. We were surprised to hear the brakes are completely mechanical! The only thing they generate is heat – braking gives no regeneration of gasoline back into the tank! Sounds like a huge waste, but it would soon get even worse.

When we came to a stop the engine continued to run and the car vibrate – even though the car was standing still! The engine continued to burn gasoline without moving the car forward. Can it really be true? Yes, the seller explained, it is so with gasoline cars: the engine is always running and burning gasoline – even when the car is stationary. Some models however switches off the engine at a red light, he explained. Well that certainly makes more sense.

After a while we came to a gas station where we could charge the car. The car claimed that it still had half a tank left, but we wanted to try the famous super-fast charging of petrol cars!

So we drove to the gas station and opened the fuel cap. The filling nozzle is very similar to a charging connector, but it is not electrons that come out of it but gasoline. Gasoline is a highly carcinogenic, smelly and flammable liquid derived from plants and animals extinct since millions of years ago. The gasoline is pumped to a tank in the car, which then drives around with about 50 liters of this hazardous liquid in it.

We put the nozzle to the car, but nothing happened. The seller then explained that we must pay to fuel! Much like those extremely expensive fast chargers some electric utility companies have set up. After we put the credit card in the reader we could start fueling. It was extremely fast! In just two minutes we filled the gas tank to the max! But there were two counters on the pump: one that showed the number of liters we have fueled and one that showed how much it would cost us. And that counter was spinning so fast that we could hardly keep up with its pace! Sure we filled the tank full in two minutes, but it did cost us an unbelievable €30! A full charge would thus cost us double that – a whopping €60! We cursed our luck that we apparently have chosen one of the most expensive gas stations, and began to ask the seller what other alternatives are there? How much does it cost to fill up at home, and how many free stations are there?

The seller looked very puzzled at us and explained that it is not possible to refuel gasoline cars at home, and there are no free gas stations. We tried to explain our questions, in case he had misunderstood, but he insisted that you can not. Apparently you have to several times a month drive to the gas station to recharge your petrol car at extortionate prices – there are no alternatives! We thought it was very strange that no gasoline car manufacturers have launched their own free gas stations?

There are no gas stations either where you can fill up more slowly at a cheaper price. We started calculating price versus consumption and came to the shocking conclusion that a petrol car costs unimaginable €12 per 100km! Sure, electric cars could also theoretically come up to these amounts if they quick charged at one of the most expensive charging stations in the country – but for petrol cars there are no cheaper alternatives! While electric cars are comfortably charged at home every night for €2 per 100km petrol cars must make detours several times a month to fill up at these extortionate rates – without exception! Monthly cost for a petrol car can -just for the gasoline alone- easily exceed one hundred Euros! We begun to understand why they are so cheap to purchase – operating them is extremely expensive instead.

We also begun to understand why there must be so many petrol stations everywhere, if all petrol cars always have to drive to them to refuel. Imagine if you could charge your electric car only at the power companies’ most expensive fast chargers – and nowhere else!

With this in mind we ended up in a traffic jam and was horrified that the gasoline engine continued to burn these expensive gasoline drops even when the car was standing still or moving very little. With gasoline vehicles it is easy to run into cost anxiety – the feeling that the car literally burns up your money! No cheap home charging and no regeneration of gasoline back to the fuel tank when braking sounds like economic madness – especially given that all gasoline must be imported from abroad.

We returned the car to the dealer’s premises, pulled the handbrake and step out of the car. The petrol engine continued to run! Apparently one must manually switch off the combustion of the precious liquid. But we wanted to see the petrol engine, so the seller opened the bonnet. The entire front portion of the car was completely cluttered with hoses, fittings, fluid reservoirs, and amid all a huge shaking cast iron block which apparently constituted the motor’s frame. There was no space for luggage in the front of the car! Despite its enormous size, high noise and vibration, the engine barely delivered one hundred horsepower. The engine was also extremely hot, we burned ourselves when we touched it. Even though this was on a warm summer day so the engine did not need to generate heat to the passenger compartment.

We became also worried about what would happen if we crashed with a petrol car? The cast iron block that occupied most of the engine compartment was sitting in the middle of the collision zone! Where would it go if we collided – would we get it in our lap? The salesman assured us that the motor in such case somehow gets folded down under the car but we could not escape the impression that the engine block was very much in the way at the front – the safety beams were built around it, which surely impairs their functionality. Avoiding that one hundred kilo iron lump in the front of the car makes it so much easier to build safe cars. In addition, we have seen on the Internet hundreds of pictures and videos of burning gasoline cars. The petrol tank apparently often leaks after an accident so the flammable liquid pours out and becomes ignited!

From the engine, under the car runs an exhaust system – a kind of chimney for engine exhausts. When you burn the carcinogenic gasoline a lots of noxious gases are produced. The car cleans away the most dangerous gases, but what remains is released into the open air behind the car. It is still unhealthy to breathe in – and smells very bad! And petrol cars are allowed to emit these harmful gases in the middle of our cities? Do not confuse petrol cars’ exhaust pipes with fuel cell cars’ – while hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles emit only water vapor gasoline cars spew out noxious gasses, and even fossil carbon dioxide that contribute to Earth’s future-catastrophic warming!

We thanked the seller for the display, shook our heads and gave back the ignition key (yes, it’s called that) to him. He realized that there would be no business for him so except for one lame attempt he did not try to sell us the car any more.

On the way home in our electric car we looked with completely different eyes at our poor fellow commuters, who still had to put up with their gasoline cars. But soon it will be their turn to trade up, too!

Big Oil Losing its Grip on Auto Industry

Posted by on 9:00 am in Economy, Electric Vehicles, Environment | Comments Off on Big Oil Losing its Grip on Auto Industry

Citing numerous empirical studies, analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) stipulate that the future of transportation is poised to look a lot different than the current oil-fueled model. Their analysis shows oil consumption peaking in 2004, and since then, it has remained flat for about a decade due to inventories surging through the fracking boom, increased vehicle fuel efficiency mandated by federal regulation, and the dawn of a new, clean form of transport – the electric vehicle. Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 2.25.59 PM

All of these factors have coalesced to make oil a far less valuable commodity. In the U.S. alone, dramatic improvements in miles per gallon has cut oil demand to the point that automakers were averaging 24.5 MPG in 2001, and by 2014, that number was 31.6  – a 29% improvement in just thirteen years.

In addition to more efficient cars, automakers are steadily electrifying their fleets. Global sales of plug-ins reached 288,500 units last year, according to BNEF research. While that is less than 1% of total sales, it’s more than five times the number in 2011. The surge is due to the continued falling costs of electric batteries. BNEF estimates that the price of lithium-ion batteries that power most electric cars has fallen 60% from 2010, and will keep declining at the same pace. Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 2.26.19 PM

There is also dwindling interest in continued investment in biofuels – gasoline substitutes made from corn and sugar in the form of ethanol. Currently, biofuels account for 10% of the U.S. fuel supply, and efforts to find an alternative from crops that cannot be eaten have stalled. Plus, lower oil costs make it economically unfeasible to produce fuels in such a manner.

Sunspeed & Electric Auto Association Partner Up

Posted by on 9:00 am in Company News, Electric Vehicles | Comments Off on Sunspeed & Electric Auto Association Partner Up

Sunspeed Enterprises, and the Electric Automobile Association (EAA) have agreed to a strategic marketing agreement, the Bay Area-based electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure company announced today.

As part of the agreement, the EAA will provide digital, and social media advertising solutions, plus additional marketing services. EAALogo_

Sunspeed Enterprises will offer on-site ads on 24” LCD screens throughout its various EV charging station hubs in California, in addition to offering a 10 percent charging discount to all EAA members.

“Our partnership with the Electric Automobile Association will help us engage with our target audience in an efficient and effective manner,” said Richard Sachen, CEO of Sunspeed Enterprises. “We plan to aggressively promote our commitment to a zero-emission transportation network. By partnering with the EAA, we will be able to position our message in front of a large, EV-friendly audience.”

Madonna Inn Latest EV Charge Hub on SunTrail Route

Posted by on 10:06 am in Company News, Electric Vehicles | Comments Off on Madonna Inn Latest EV Charge Hub on SunTrail Route

Sunspeed Enterprises, has added another EV charging station to its SunTrail Route, a planned network of 30-40 EV charge hubs on California’s Pacific Coast Highway.

The nationally recognized Madonna Inn, located in San Luis Obispo, Calif., is the latest coastal installation point to offer EV drivers charging flexibility as they travel up and down tourist friendly Highway 1. IMG_1741

“The Madonna Inn is quite possibly the most well known hotel on California’s Central Coast,” said Richard Sachen, CEO of Sunspeed Enterprises. “It is the ideal location for our SunTrail charging hub because of its proximity to lodging, restaurants, shopping, and hiking.

“Furthermore, the area is known for embracing clean, sustainable energy practices. The zero-emissions charge hub will not only benefit the abundance of tourists that frequent the area, but also the environmentally conscious residents of San Luis Obispo.”

“Madonna Inn is excited to partner with Sunspeed Enterprises to offer state-of-the-art electric vehicle charging,” said Clint Pearce, Madonna Enterprise President.  “We are proud that this amenity is available to our guests as it provides convenience while helping to lessen carbon emissions. It fits perfectly with the high quality, creative hospitality that Madonna Inn is known for.”

The charging hub will be located in the southwest corner near the hotel’s entrance off Madonna Road. Construction on the site began in March, and is expected to be complete by the end of April.

Once finalized, the SunTrail charge hub will include DC fast-charging options for EV drivers that need a quick charge, and medium speed charging for those planning on staying in the area for a longer period of time.