PI-08: Company News: GM/V2Green/Coulomb/Google/HEVT/PlugInSupply
- 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
GENERAL MOTORS PARTNERS WITH UTILITIES
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."
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTS
V2GREEN REAL-TIME SMART GRID CHARGING/PARTNERS WITH ETEC & COULOMB
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. Coulombs innovative Smartlet
Charging Stations and Communications Network
provide convenient, easy-to-use charging
stations, delivering bi-directional energy
metering and user authentication. V2Greens 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.
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTS
COULOMB DEMONSTRATES CHARGING STATIONS/NETWORK WITH SATURN VUE
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."
ANALYSIS & COMMENTS
[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
that Acta has closed on a $5.8M series A
financing, both including the Google investments.
Also see reports at Earth2Tech:
GOOGLE.ORG RE-LOADS G-FLEET PERFORMANCE NUMBERS
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
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.
HYBRID ELECTRIC VEHICLE TECHNOLOGIES SHOWS FORD F-150 PICKUP PHEV
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.
PLUG-IN SUPPLY BRINGS DOWN COST OF CONVERSIONS
Plug-In Supply Inc. Unveils Worlds First Plug-in
Hybrid Conversion Kit Under $5,000 With Extended Life Batteries
Plug-In Supply, Inc. unveiled the worlds 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 Supplys
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.