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PI-08: Company News: GM/V2Green/Coulomb/Google/HEVT/PlugInSupply

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  • Felix Kramer
    In the first of several roundup postings about Plug-In 2008, we present lots of news from companies at the Plug-In 2008 Conference. All the citations below are
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 28, 2008
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      In the first of several roundup postings about
      Plug-In 2008, we present lots of news from
      companies at the Plug-In 2008 Conference. All the
      citations below are highly compressed excerpts of
      announcements and news reports: read the links for details.

      * GM announces partnership with utilities and EPRI
      * V2Green demonstrates real-time smart-grid control, partners w/eTec, Coulomb
      * Coulomb unveils street charging/shows Saturn Vue, partners w/V2Green
      * Google.org's Acta/Aptera investments and new fleet data
      * Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies debuts Ford F-150 pickup conversion
      * Plug-In Supply announces lower prices on Prius conversion kits
      * Last (and least) news from Felix Kramer about
      his new advisor relation with several companies

      GM allies with U.S. utility group on electric cars: Wed Jul 23, 2008
      (REUTERS): General Motors Corp on Monday said
      it is collaborating with an organization
      representing U.S. utilities to ready the nation's
      electric infrastructure for the widespread sale
      of plug-in electric cars, such as the Chevrolet Volt.
      The tie-up with the Electric Power Research
      Institute will address three issues: guaranteeing
      safe and convenient vehicle charging, consumer
      outreach and advocating public policies that
      support plug-in vehicle technologies, GM said.
      The company is the second major U.S. automaker
      to announce a collaboration with EPRI, which
      represents utilities that generate more than 90
      percent of the power in the United States.
      Asked whether it made sense for GM to join
      forces with rival automakers, in addition to
      utilities, Gross said GM was working on a faster
      schedule than its rivals because of the Volt's planned 2010 launch.
      "We have an actual production program in the
      works," Gross said. "We need to move through
      these issues as quickly as we possibly can."

      EARLIER STORY: GM, utility group to announce
      electric car tie-up: Fri Jul 18, 2008
      (REUTERS): Automakers have said the adoption
      of the electric cars would be speeded if electric
      utilities would set up recharging stations and
      allow them to send power back to the grid from
      parked cars to reduce operating costs.
      Auto executives have also suggested the
      utilities could create a market for recycled but
      still-powerful lithium-ion battery packs from older electric cars.
      Those batteries could be stitched together to
      store energy for peak demand periods, a secondary
      market that could bring down the initial cost of plug-in vehicles.
      For their part, the utilities stand to gain
      revenue as consumers turn to the grid rather than
      the gas station as the source of power for cars, analysts have said.
      "GM was unsuccessful in the commercialization
      of electric cars before for reasons that remain
      controversial," said Felix Kramer, founder of
      CalCars, a nonprofit group that promotes
      plug-ins. "This time, they realize they need partners."

      The first live demonstration of smart grid
      technology controlling the bi-directional flow of
      electricity between the grid and a fleet of
      plug-in vehicles. In real-time, V2Green will
      simultaneously manage the power flow to a fleet
      of plugin vehicles, including two on the Plug-In
      2008 show floor -- an AC Propulsion eBox electric
      car and an A123 Systems/Hymotion converted Toyota
      Prius plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.
      eTec to Evaluate PHEV Fast-Charging and Smart
      Grid Interactions for the U.S. Department of
      Energy eTec will work with V2Green and the USDOE
      to demonstrate and evaluate the value of
      bi-directional fast-charging for PHEVs and smart grid technologies
      Coulomb Technologies and V2green Announce
      Smart Charging Infrastucture Technology and
      Marketing Partnership for Plug-in Vehicles
      ...a technology and marketing partnership to
      create an intelligent charging infrastructure for
      plug-in vehicles. Coulomb’s innovative Smartlet
      Charging Stations and Communications Network
      provide convenient, easy-to-use charging
      stations, delivering bi-directional energy
      metering and user authentication. V2Green’s smart
      grid technology establishes two-way communication
      between plug-in vehicles and the grid, allowing
      utilities to control charging behavior in
      real-time, within parameters set by vehicle
      owners. By joining forces, Coulomb and V2Green
      are able to offer a charging infrastructure that
      is effortless for drivers and responsive to the needs of the grid.

      Coulomb Technologies Announces New Smart
      Charging Infrastructure for Plug-In Vehicles
      Smart Charging Stations, Payment Subscriptions
      and Utility Grid Management Target New Market of Plug-In Vehicles
      Coulomb Technologies today announced a smart
      charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles.
      Coulomb has developed a complete solution
      targeting plug-in vehicles including Extended
      Range Electric Vehicles, Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles,
      and Battery Electric Vehicles. Coulomb's
      ChargePoint™ Network includes public charging
      stations, a consumer subscription plan and
      utility grid management technology for electric
      utility companies to smooth electrical demands on the grid.
      1. Smartlet Charging Stations: Perform
      bi-directional energy metering and control, user
      authentication, and 802.15.4 wireless local area
      network technology, which enables a subscription
      model through communication with a data center.
      2. Smartlet Communications Network: Provides a
      high reliability meshed network using 802.15.4
      technology and GSM/GRPS technology to communicate
      with the Network Operating System for user
      authentication, access control, energy flow control and energy metering.
      3. ChargePoint Network Operating System (NOS):
      Manages the Smartlet Charging Stations through
      the Smartlet Communications Network. The
      ChargePoint Network also provides web portals for
      subscribers, hosts and utilities. Functions
      include user authentication, access control,
      energy flow control, location management, utility
      company policy administration, user portal, host
      property portal, utility portal and GPS system interface.
      "Major automakers have announced delivery of
      plug-in vehicles to the U.S. marketplace by 2010.
      But with 54 million garages for the 247 million
      registered passenger vehicles in the U.S. today,
      most consumers do not have a way to charge a
      plug-in vehicle." said Richard Lowenthal CEO of
      Coulomb Technologies. "We have developed a
      scalable, smart charging infrastructure that
      provides municipalities and parking lot owners a
      recurring income stream through public charging
      stations that are easy to install and maintain.
      Our complete technology solution also provides
      electric utility companies a means to control the
      load that plug-in vehicles put on the grid and a
      means to compute and implement taxes on electricity as a transportation fuel."
      [Our note: We always emphasize that PHEVs don't
      need a new infrastructure -- polls have shown
      that many more than half of homeowners have
      access to a plug to charge their cars. Of course,
      since the grid is ubiquitous, creating a charging
      infrastructure for EVs and for PHEVs for those
      who don't have such access, or who want to charge
      at work, is a much smaller challenge than to
      deliver a new alternative fuel type. It requires
      broadly accepted standards and companies that can
      use today's hardware and software technologies to
      begin. Coulomb is taking the lead in integrating
      the pieces for such an infrastructure.]

      GOOGLE.ORG INVESTS $2.75M: Aptera and ActaCell
      Last June Google.org launched RechargeIT, an
      initiative to accelerate the adoption of plug-in
      electric vehicles. At that time we announced a
      request for investment proposals (RFP) from teams
      working on technologies relevant to this goal.
      Today we are pleased to announce our first
      RechargeIT investments in two promising companies
      tackling the challenge of vehicle electrification.
      Aptera Motors of Carlsbad, California is
      building an ultra-high efficiency vehicle based
      on improved aerodynamics and composite materials.
      Aptera's first prototype achieved over 230 miles
      per gallon during testing, and they are
      developing an all-electric as well as a plug-in
      hybrid vehicle based on this design.
      ActaCell is an Austin-based company working to
      commercialize lithium-ion battery technology
      developed at the University of Texas at Austin.
      ActaCell's technology offers the promise of
      improved battery cycle life and lower costs,
      while maintaining a focus on battery safety, all
      of which are important factors in the widespread adoption of plug-in vehicles.
      The Google.org URL has links to both companies
      and to media reports on the news Green Car
      that Aptera has raised $24M in a series C
      financing and
      that Acta has closed on a $5.8M series A
      financing, both including the Google investments.
      Also see reports at Earth2Tech:

      Many people have been curious why Google's PHEV
      fleet was getting an average in the high 60MPG
      range. The quick answer: lots of cold starts,
      brief trips where the engine often didn't warm
      up, mostly highway driving, and no orientation
      for drivers. The managers designed a test program
      to compare results of city, combined city/highway
      and highway driving. See
      http://www.google.org/recharge/experiment/ for
      the assumptions and results. The new numbers
      match reports by drivers, conversion companies,
      CalCars and national laboratory analyses.
      Our plug-ins perform: 90+ MPG by Rolf Schreiber, RechargeIT Engineer
      We were curious to see how the cars would
      perform under controlled conditions - and how
      they would stack up against other conventional
      automobiles typically found in U.S. households.
      With that, the RechargeIT Driving Experiment was born!
      In total, it took just over seven weeks to
      complete all the trips in all the vehicles. And
      with the results in, our plug-ins did great, with
      the Priuses getting more than 90 miles per
      gallon. The PHEVs not only greatly outperformed
      the average American fleet fuel economy of 19.8
      MPG, they did significantly better than the
      standard hybrids – 53% fuel economy improvement
      for the plug-in Ford Escape and 93% improvement for the plug-in Prius.

      EVT unveils the first plug-in hybrid electric
      vehicle (PHEV) version of the Ford F-150, helping
      the light truck achieve better gas mileage
      without sacrificing the size and utility that makes it so popular.
      It isn't a small improvement, either: HEVT —
      the name stands for Hybrid Electric Vehicle
      Technologies — claims that the stock 16-mpg
      figure is hiked up all the way to 41 mpg.
      However, the 41 mpg is only for up to 30 miles
      per day; beyond that, the vehicle will get 21 mpg
      as a hybrid. The truck will be able to travel 15
      miles on electric power alone. HEVT hopes that
      this technology will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use.
      The truck will be produced on a custom basis
      for individuals and organizations. Full details,
      including horsepower figures, have yet to be released.
      Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies, Inc.
      Unveils World's First Plug-in Hybrid Ford F-150 Pickup
      Chicago Company Showcases Plug-in Hybrid Electric
      Conversion Kits Adaptable to Most Vehicles
      The HEVT prototype was displayed during
      today's keynote address by Dr. Andrew S. Grove,
      former chairman of Intel Corporation. "Trucks,
      SUVs and vans are the least-efficient vehicles on
      the road, so retrofitting them should be a high
      priority if we want to make a meaningful,
      near-term difference in oil consumption. Rapid
      commercialization of prototypes like HEVT's is the way to go," Dr. Grove said.
      “HEVT's solutions apply to not just smaller
      passenger cars and hybrids, but almost any
      vehicle including larger gas guzzlers,” said HEVT
      founder Ali Emadi. “Our laboratory simulations
      show that the larger the vehicle, the greater the
      benefits – in gas costs, particulate and
      greenhouse emissions, and sound pollution. For
      this reason we are currently focused on PSVs and
      will later expand to school buses as well as transit buses.”

      http://www.pluginsupply.com ANNOUNCEMENT
      Plug-In Supply Inc. Unveils World’s First Plug-in
      Hybrid Conversion Kit Under $5,000 With Extended Life Batteries
      Plug-In Supply, Inc. unveiled the world’s first
      Prius Conversion System priced at $4995. Buyers
      can install it themselves or pay well under
      $2,000 for installation by a Plug-In Supply
      dealer.The PbA10 (lead acid) Conversion System,
      which turns a standard 2004-2008 model year Prius
      into a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
      based on the CalCars Open Source design...has an
      all-electric range of 10 to 15 miles and improved
      average mileage of up to 100 miles per gallon
      (plus 1 cent/mile of electricity). By refining
      the design for manufacturing, Plug-In Supply’s
      Conversion System reduced the conversion time
      from several weeks to just one day in 2007.
      Further improvements in design have reduced the
      cost and complexity while improving reliability and battery longevity.
      The conversion system uses new extended life
      lead-acid batteries (over 800 cycles), for better
      battery longevity than was previously available.
      The combination of longer battery life and lower
      price improves the affordability of converting a
      Prius. The system is designed to permit an
      upgrade to lithium Iron Phosphate batteries with
      an all-electric range of 15-20 miles, as costs
      for these longer range batteries decline. Under
      development for release this year: PSI Lithium
      Ion Phosphate Prius+ conversion, featuring the
      latest batteries from Phoenix Silicon
      International (PSI). The chassis will provide
      access to the spare tire and is expected to
      provide 16 miles of EV mode operation and last the life of the car.
      Plug-In Supply is working closely with CalCars
      to develop these products to put more plug-ins on
      the road. Plug-In Supply will donate 5 percent of sales to CalCars.org.

      DISCLOSURE BY FELIX KRAMER: Since 2002, CalCars
      has been working to commercialize plug-in
      vehicles. During that time, we've remained
      resolutely independent and neutral, providing
      visibility and assistance to all individuals and
      institutions that contribute to that goal (see
      list at http://www.calcars.org/partners.html).
      We've had non-disclosure agreements with many
      companies -- and have been good at keeping
      secrets! Now, after years as an informal advisor
      and networker, I've just agreed to act
      (individually, not as on behalf of CalCars) as an
      advisor, compensated with options for activities
      on behalf of several companies. (I am motivated
      primarily by the opportunity to help promising
      ventures succeed rather than by the prospect of
      possible financial rewards.) I've just
      established such an advisor relationship with
      Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies,
      www.hevt.com co-founded by Prof. Ali Emadi, and
      with Efficient Drivetrains Inc.,
      www.efficientdrivetrains.com co-founded by Prof.
      Andy Frank. I've secured their informal
      commitment that when they are in a position to do
      so, they will contribute to CalCars.org in
      recognition of our role in the industry. I've
      insisted on having no restrictions on my working
      with competing companies. I assure you that
      CalCars will continue to remain a neutral
      "Switzerland" in its relationships with companies and organizations.
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