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A Roundup of All-Good News on Plug-Ins

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  • Felix Kramer
    Are you in the doldrums about dimming chances we as a society can seriously address energy security and climate change? Maybe you can refuel from the growing
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 12, 2010
      Are you in the doldrums about dimming chances we
      as a society can seriously address energy
      security and climate change? Maybe you can refuel
      from the growing momentum for plug-in cars, and
      the impending arrival of production vehicles!
      Before next week's LA Auto Show brings more news,
      here's your weekend reading: in-depth info &
      raves about the Volt, car ads, the first cars in
      consumers' garages, PHEV sports cars on the way, and future fleets.

      (Shortly after it goes out on email, this posting
      will also be viewable at
      http://www.calcars.org/news-archive.html -- there
      you can add CalCars-News to your RSS feed.)

      We expect that many of our readers are already
      following the daily avalanche of news about the
      Chevy Volt and the Nissan LEAF at sources like
      those we list at
      http://www.calcars.org/partners.html#opb -- so
      we're highlighting the biggest items for people
      who don't tracking every announcement.

      GM VIDEO ADS FOR CHEVY VOLT: If you've glimpsed
      print ads that say "Chevrolet Volt: It's More Car
      than Electric," when you see the 33-second ad
      that aired during the World Series, you'll
      understand it. GM is invoking a traditional theme
      -- the freedom of the open road -- and is
      comparing the Volt not to conventional combustion
      cars but to all-electric EVs. If you missed the
      spot, it's under videos at
      http://www.chevroletvoltage.com/ or at

      GM PRINT ADS FOR VOLT: In the December Automobile
      magazine, it's refreshing to see an eight-page
      "special advertising section" on the Volt. Some
      tag lines remind us of our past tag-lines,
      especially "Beyond Hybrids" and "Gas is
      optional." (GAS-OPT remains the license plate on
      Ron Gremban's world's first converted Prius.)

      of GM's Chevy Volt Customer Advisory Board (list
      ) got their cars this week. For three months,
      they'll give the company feedback. Participant
      Lyle Dennis is hosting a discussion area for
      reports at his GM-Volt website ; we hope many
      will participate at
      . For one high-profile member's problems getting
      the charging system installed right, see links
      . San Francisco isn't part of the test area, but
      Ron and Felix at CalCars have been told their
      vehicles are consumer units #24 and 9. We'll see
      if how well plans the installation /approval
      process for Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) go in the coming weeks.

      ENTERTAINING EV ADS: Plug In America has unveiled
      the first two of seven PSA-style ads inspired by
      the "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" series. We especially
      like "Cell Phone;" "Ocean Crude" is also amusing.
      Well-produced by an ace all-volunteer team from
      around Hollywood and Santa Monica. See them at
      http://www.pluginamerica.org/drive-electric/ .
      PIA has a revamped website including an improved
      vehicle tracker and an "accessory" tracker (charging systems).

      "VOLT: THE MAGAZINE" Yes, there's actually an
      entire magazine about the Volt, and it's worth
      getting (free online). Don't be intimidated that
      it's from the Society of Automotive Engineers. To
      be sure, its 34 pages include tech info for
      gearheads. But it also profiles the team,
      highlights supplier partners, explains the design
      and body, and looks at the challenges of the
      market launch. Veteran auto journalist and SAE
      Senior Editor Lindsay Brooke has put together a
      great package to launch a "one-stop shop" for
      vehicle electrification at evsae.com. View the
      magazine online at http://tinyurl.com/saeV01tmag
      or download a ZIP file of the PDF at
      Comment at

      * Since 2007, battery packs have been TESTED for
      a million miles and four million hours
      (equivalent of 465 years) (21), and the vehicle has 6,000 welds (37).
      * GM says the its testing shows the coefficient
      of DRAG of the Prius at .30, not the claimed .25,
      meaning the Volt at .28 is better (39)
      * Why are "FENDER SKIRTS" as unpopular as
      proposing a gas tax? Bring back wheel partial
      fairings (as on the EV1 and original Honda
      Insight) that reduce drag significantly!
      http://www.wired.com/autopia/2008/08/calling-raymond/ (39)
      Maintenance Mode every 45 days and an annual Fuel
      Maintenance Mode will maintain the car. (Where's
      the Text Mode to urge those drivers: "Get a pure EV?")
      * Full two-page spreads: SPECS (14-15) and TIMELINE (24-25)
      * 20 major Vehicle Control Software Calibrations
      (we hadn't heard the VESCOM acronym before) plus many interim iterations. (3)
      * FUN QUOTES from GM team: John Lauckner, "We
      know that sometime in the future we'll move away
      from petroleum as the centrality of our whole
      propulsion strategy." (10) Tony Posawatz:
      "Looking back the team made many, many smart
      decisions and maintained a maniacal focus on
      developing this vehicle." (23) Andrew Farah:
      "Looking ahead we can optimize many of the
      technologies as aspects of the car that are
      somewhat suboptimized on Volt, due to the program
      timing and our focus on getting the battery
      absolutely right." (41) Pam Fletcher: "We made a
      lot of choices and spent a lot of development to
      make it a comfortable, smooth, quiet,
      pleasant-driving vehicle as well as making
      efficiency a big priority." (51) Britta Gross
      [before we start talking about secondary use of
      batteries or vehicle-to-grid or vehicle to home]:
      "Wait a second, guys! We've got to get the car
      right first." And from David Cole of the Center
      of Automotive Research: "Volt is perhaps the auto
      industry's most notable technological advancement of the past 50 years." (8)

      Neil's words in the Wall Street Journal:
      "Chevrolet Volt: A Win for the Home Team:"
      GM's futuristic extended-range electric vehicle
      and the company's most technologically
      significant car since the 1912 Cadillac…. A bunch
      of Midwestern engineers in bad haircuts and cheap
      wristwatches just out-engineered every other car
      company on the planet. And they did it in 29
      months while the company they worked for was
      falling apart around them. That was downright
      heroic. Somebody ought to make a movie."

      Healey "Chevy's easy-driving Volt could be your
      only car:" Most of the time, you drive on battery
      power only. Some of the time, you burn gas to
      keep the juice flowing. No place to plug in to
      recharge? No problem. Fill the gas tank and drive
      on. How, exactly, is that anything but

      CNN: JUST A VERY GOOD CAR by Peter Valdes-Dapena
      "Chevy Volt can go the distance:" On a long
      rainy-day drive from Washington, D.C., to Times
      Square, the Chevrolet Volt showed itself to be
      more than just a technological oddity….The Volt,
      it turns out, is a really good, fully functional
      automobile that could just save you a lot of cash
      on gasoline, too. … Bottom line, the Volt is a
      very good car and oh, it can drive for 40 miles
      without using any gasoline.

      CAR & DRIVER CHIMES IN: by Dave Vanderwerp, 2011
      Feature Test, "Electric Revival: Not only did it
      not kill the electric car, GM's reinvented it:"
      This is without a doubt the most important new
      car since the advent of hybrids in the late ’90s,
      and GM has nailed it. Is this the handing off of
      the Prius’s very illustrious torch? The Verdict:
      The ideal, near-term EV solution.

      CARS.COM GETS INTO DETAILS: Expert Review by Joe
      Wiesenfelder: After years of anticipation and
      inflated expectations, the Chevrolet Volt still
      manages to impress, bringing a new type of
      motoring in a package that's remarkably refined,
      comfortable and livable. For certain buyers, it's
      perfect. Who are those buyers? People who want
      two things: to drive an appreciable distance on
      electric power and to not worry about what
      happens if the battery runs out….With time it
      could prove to be the model that makes drivers
      comfortable enough with the experience of plug-in
      motoring that they'll consider a battery-electric
      without the safety net of an onboard generator as
      their next car. http://www.cars.com/chevrolet/volt/2011/reviews/?revid=56683

      DETROIT NEWS AUTO CRITIC Scott Burgess "Volt test
      drive quiet, efficient -- and fun:" Who knew a
      revolution could feel so normal?

      LOS ANGELES TIMES by Susan Carpenter: With its
      Volt, Chevy has made an EV for the masses that is
      alluring from all angles — inside, outside and
      under the hood. The Volt doesn't redeem GM from
      its past reclamation and crushing of the EV1, but
      it's a bold and impressive step into the

      OTHER REVIEWS: See the Wikipedia entry on the car
      for much background, including a summary table
      showing the results and linking to the
      journalists' reports of average all-electric
      range (AER) and 35-40MPG fuel economy after the
      battery is depleted at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevy_Volt#Test_drives .

      has shifted from "40-mile all-electric range"
      (AER) to "your mileage may vary" from 25-50. And
      once its patent filings were in place, GM
      revealed that under some conditions, the
      combustion engine actually joins the electric
      motor in directly powering the wheels. Experts
      applauded the refinement (a move away from a pure
      series hybrid) for permitting the entire system
      to be further optimized. PHEV originator Andy
      Frank notes that his company, Efficient
      Drivetrains, hopes to demonstrate how
      transmission technologies can further reduce the
      system's cost and improve efficiency. See GM's
      explanation at
      pages 29-34 in the SAE Magazine, and a
      non-technical explanation at

      taking orders for the Opel Ampera. It's priced
      far higher than the Volt, in part because of the
      European Value Added Tax.

      WRIGHTSPEED RAISES $5M: Ian Wright is best known
      for his X1, which he describes as the "world's
      fastest street legal electric car" (0-60 MPH in
      2.9 seconds). He built it in Silicon Valley after
      leaving Tesla. Less well understood is that the
      vehicle previews technology destined not only for
      extreme-performance sports cars but also for PHEV
      systems in medium-duty trucks. You can understand
      the company's Digital DriveSystem technology by
      reading http://www.wrightspeed.com/technology .
      Now Wrightspeed has raised $5M from private
      sources, and after more than five years, the company can move forward!

      MARKET PENETRATION RATES: JD Power projects poor
      future prospects for plug-in cars. Its study
      assumes business-as-usual scenarios for energy
      policies, stable oil prices, and slow
      improvements in technology. The report sparked
      anotherther wave of negative media stories,
      includng a much-noted editorial in the Washington
      Post. We posted a comment at Edmunds.com pointing
      to PlugInCars.com's able critique. (We added,
      "One more point: whether the penetration rate for
      new plug-ins is 5% or 20% of new cars by 2020,
      the resulting reduction in petroleum use will be
      no more than a drop in the bucket compared to the
      fuel used by cars already on the road, which
      makes the case for converting tens of millions of
      existing vehicles to run partly or entirely on
      electricity, as we at CalCars.org have been
      advocating.") See
      http://blogs.edmunds.com/greencaradvisor/2010/10/formidable-roadblocks-remain-to-broad-acceptance-of-electric-drive-vehicles-report-by-jd-power--associates-says-growth-prospects-may-be-over-hyped.html .

      Then Bloomberg New Energy Finance came up with
      better numbers. Looking to 2030 and changing only
      assumptions about gas prices, plug-ins' percent
      of new vehicle sales could be 14% at $2.08, 22%
      at $3.34, and 31% at $5.48. (Less than double in
      20 years? What about $10 or $15?) See

      GE'S GIANT FLEET PURCHASE: General Electric has
      committed to buy 25,000 PHEVs and EVs in the next
      five years, plugging in half of its fleet. GM
      says it will include 1,000 Volts in 2011 and
      2-3,000/year after that. And signaling that this
      and other fleet purchases could increase Volt
      production volume plans, the Wall Street Journal
      quotes GM saying the GE purchase 'won't reduce
      the number of Volts available to the public."
      . On Monday watch for
      roundtable and announcement of its Fleet Electrification Roadmap.

      Automakers are realizing they can cash in on the
      immediate, continuous torque of electric motors.
      Fast, small-volume models won't solve our energy
      problems, but they'll help make electric drive a
      must-have for mainstream models. Porsche says it
      has 2,300 soft orders for its previously
      announced 918 Spyder PHEV scheduled for 2013,
      costing up to 500,000 Euros ($682,260). BMW just
      approved production of its Vision
      EfficentDynamics 2+2 (smaller seats) "supercar,"
      expected to cost over $140,000.

      JAGUAR C-X75 (concept-experimental-75th
      anniversary) PHEV sportscar with diesel turbo
      generators and a 68-mile range. 0-62mph in 3.4
      seconds is something -- how about 0-200 in
      17.5? AUDI E-TRON SPYDER is another diesel PHEV,
      0-62 in 4.4 seconds, but speed limited to a mere 155 MPH.

      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
      Felix Kramer fkramer@...
      Founder California Cars Initiative
      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
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