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IEEE names DaimlerChrysler's Sprinter PHEV a 2004 Winner

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  • Felix Kramer
    Great New Year s gift http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/WEBONLY/publicfeature/jan04/0104intro.html IEEE SPECTRUM Jan 4, 2004 COVER STORY: SPECIAL REPORT: 2004
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 1, 2004
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      Great New Year's gift

      http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/WEBONLY/publicfeature/jan04/0104intro.html
      IEEE SPECTRUM Jan 4, 2004
      COVER STORY:
      SPECIAL REPORT: 2004 TECHNOLOGY FORECAST & REVIEW
      INTRODUCTION:
      Winners, Losers, Holy Grails

      True technologists thrive on the chance to be in on the moment of creation,
      to make something elegant and enduring. Maybe once in their career, if
      they're really fortunate, they might even get a chance to help
      fundamentally change the way we work, commute, or play.

      Of course, in this big game, technical prowess is necessary but not
      sufficient for victory. It's all about the project: is it in sync with the
      shifting shoals of government regulation, market competition, investor
      interest, and the most murky of all, the public zeitgeist? Those are the
      questions that inspired this issue.

      As you may have gathered already, we picked six categories of technology --
      electric power, biotechnology, and so on. Then, within each of these
      categories, we picked a specific project that looked like a winner, one
      that looked like a loser, and a Holy Grail -- a long-standing quest that
      could fundamentally change something about our lives. We favored bold,
      risky projects with a sizable potential payoff.

      The winner and loser choices here reflect nothing more, or less, than the
      opinions of this magazine's staff, based on countless telephone
      conversations, in-person interviews, news database searches, e-mails, and
      discussions with our editorial board and other sage advisors. We culled all
      this information, and then argued among ourselves until, exhausted, we had
      a final list, and then a revised final list, and then a revised revised
      final list, representing the best judgments of a staff whose combined
      tenure in technology journalism is measured in decades.
      <snip>

      http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/WEBONLY/publicfeature/jan04/0104epow1.html

      ELECTRIC POWER
      Winner: The Smart Hybrid

      Flip a switch, and DaimlerChrysler's plug-in hybrid electric van will
      become an electric vehicle

      By Glenn Zorpette

      When it comes to our cars and the environment, we are all slightly
      sociopathic -- even those movie stars in their Toyota Priuses. It's just a
      matter of degree.

      If you commute 25 km each way to work in a mid-sized car, you make an
      annual contribution to the Earth's atmosphere of about 5500 kg of carbon
      dioxide and 1300 grams of the pollutant brew known as smog, according to a
      study by the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif. A
      comparable conventional hybrid vehicle, such as the justly venerated Prius,
      will cut those emissions by roughly 25 percent and 15 percent,
      respectively, EPRI says.

      Now add an electrical outlet plug to that hybrid, a bigger battery, and a
      few other modest changes, and a remarkable thing happens. "What you get is
      this very efficient vehicle on gasoline that can also be an electric
      vehicle, which is even more efficient," says Mark Duvall, an expert on
      hybrid vehicles at EPRI.

      In round numbers, the total amount of energy you use to travel in your car,
      week in and week out, is cut by as much as 50 percent, depending on the
      efficiency of your local utility's generating plants. And you don't have to
      give up the slightest bit of performance, comfort, or range. Need to take a
      1000-km trip that crosses mountainous terrain? No problem. You can travel
      in air-conditioned comfort, smug as a Prius-driving film star in the
      knowledge that over the long haul, you are cutting emissions of carbon
      dioxide and smog by at least 50 percent, according to EPRI's figures. Best
      of all, dependence on petroleum comes down by a whopping 75 percent, on
      average, in the United States.

      That, in a nutshell, is the promise of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle,
      and it is about to be demonstrated in a US $1.5 million pilot program based
      at a facility of DaimlerChrysler AG in Mannheim, Germany. Several U.S.
      organizations are helping fund the project; they include EPRI, California's
      South Coast Air Quality Management District, the utility colossus Southern
      California Edison Co., and the Metropolitan Energy Center of Kansas City, Mo.

      Under the project, DaimlerChrysler is putting together three commercial
      vehicles -- two light-duty utility trucks slated for California and a
      public transit van for Kansas City -- all based on the company's rugged
      Sprinter truck. But instead of the Sprinter's standard 156-horsepower
      (115-KW) diesel engine, the utility vans are going to be outfitted with a
      hybrid gasoline-electric propulsion system and a beefy battery pack that
      can be recharged by plugging it in.


      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      WINNER: PLUG-IN SPRINTER VAN
      GOAL Build three hybrid gasoline-electric service trucks whose batteries
      can also be charged overnight

      WHY IT'S A WINNER Hybrid cars are poised for steady growth, and plug-ins
      improve upon ordinary hybrids because they can cruise in a pure-electric mode

      ORGANIZATIONS DaimlerChrysler, EPRI, Southern California Edison Co., South
      Coast Air Quality Management District, Metropolitan Energy Center

      CENTER OF ACTIVITY DaimlerChrysler facility in Mannheim, Germany

      NUMBER OF PEOPLE ON THE PROJECT Approximately 15

      BUDGET US $1 525 000 (total project cost)


      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      The resulting trucks will be able to travel at least 32 km between
      rechargings in a pure-electric mode. For longer trips, the vehicle will
      respond to the dwindling charge on the batteries by automatically firing up
      the truck's combustion engine, which will begin recharging the batteries
      and spinning the wheels, extending the range indefinitely.

      Daimler has no firm plans now to produce a plug-in passenger car, but that
      could change. "I am convinced we can commercialize this technology," says
      Ferdinand Panik, an alternative-vehicle expert and retired Daimler senior
      official who now consults for various organizations, including EPRI. "First
      for the delivery van, and then for passenger cars as well." The plug, he
      and other proponents believe, has the potential to transform the burgeoning
      hybrid-electric vehicle market, in which Japanese automakers, led by Toyota
      and the surprisingly successful Prius, have established an early and
      commanding lead over their U.S. and European counterparts.

      Cars that both plug in and fuel up? How about a switch on your dashboard
      that turns your car into an electric vehicle? For plug-in technology to
      succeed in passenger cars, one of the tricks will be finding a way to avoid
      befuddling a general public conditioned to do little more than turn a key,
      step on an accelerator, and buy copious quantities of gasoline. As one U.S.
      driver told EPRI pollsters: "I'm lazy. I wouldn't be organized enough to
      remember to plug in."

      For those who could remember to plug in, however, the benefits would be
      considerable. Like most people, you probably travel a set distance to and
      from work five days a week, and also make intermittent excursions of varied
      lengths. If you had a plug-in hybrid with a battery big enough to cover
      your daily commute, you would have, in effect, a pure-electric vehicle five
      days a week, but one that could burn gasoline whenever you wanted to go on
      a ski trip, visit your cousin, or drop off the kids at summer camp. You'd
      go to a gas station maybe six times a year instead of six times a month.

      There would be other benefits, too. For example, that dashboard switch --
      the one that lets the driver put the vehicle into a pure-electric mode --
      could let the car operate in a crowded, downtown urban area where
      combustion-engine fumes and noise were unwelcome. And utility executives
      become visibly excited about the possibility of recharging millions of
      vehicle batteries at night, when their generating plants would otherwise
      languish. "Powering up generating plants in the day and then powering them
      down at night is very inefficient," notes Ed Kjaer, director of electric
      transportation at Rosemead-based Southern California Edison.

      The first glimmerings of that vision are to be seen at Daimler's
      Kompetenz-center für Emissionfrei Nutzfahrzeuge, known as KEN, where the
      plug-in hybrid project is based. KEN already does a modest but steady
      business converting small trucks, mostly Sprinter vans, to run on
      compressed or liquefied natural gas, electricity, or hybrid electric drive
      trains. The group has 7700 square meters tucked away in a cavernous Daimler
      truck engine factory in Mannheim.

      On a rainy October afternoon, a couple of dozen Sprinter vans are scattered
      around the facility in various stages of conversion, many of them up on
      lifts. A pair in one corner, one orange and one white, are being outfitted
      with pure-electric drive trains; a tangled rainbow of harness wires spills
      out through their open front hoods. One of these Sprinters is destined for
      the University of Bremen in Germany and the other for Helgoland, a North
      Sea fishing and resort island where internal combustion engine vehicles are
      banned.

      Across the street from the factory, in a small white conference room, Heinz
      Jörgensen gives me a status report and reviews the technical challenges.
      Jörgensen, an electrical engineer, has been corresponding with EPRI's
      Duvall and leading a team of four other engineers at KEN who are working
      out the electrical and mechanical details of the van. Precise, wry,
      sleepy-eyed, the 35-year-old Jörgensen is a study in contrasts: an
      automotive expert who walks to work and a son of lifelong Volkswagen
      employees who works for Daimler.

      The first of the plug-in hybrid Sprinter vans are due in late 2004, he
      tells me. Although the team hasn't built any hardware yet, they have worked
      out the basic design of the drive train -- based on specific engines,
      motor, and batteries -- and even simulated the vehicle's performance. They
      plan to stick with proven components, including an ac motor of about 70- or
      75-kW output power, which is being produced by ZF Sachs AG of Schweinfurt,
      Germany.

      The 14.4-kWh battery pack will use durable nickel-metal hydride batteries
      from Varta Automotive GmbH, Hannover, Germany. (The company is 80 percent
      owned by Johnson Controls Inc. of Milwaukee, Wis.) The vans destined for
      California will use Daimler's four-cylinder, 2.3-liter M111 gasoline
      engine; a Kansas City bus will have a 2.1-liter diesel engine.

      Of course, there's much more to a hybrid vehicle than motor ratings and
      battery chemistry. The most fundamental choice in the design of any kind of
      hybrid is whether the drive train will use the series or parallel
      configuration. Series hybrids are conceptually very simple: a combustion
      engine turns a generator that charges a battery that powers an electric
      motor, which turns the wheels. Only the electric motor can spin the wheels.
      Parallel hybrids are more complicated; because both the electric motor and
      the combustion engine are connected to the drive shaft, either one or both
      can make the wheels turn.

      At first glance, at least, the series option seems better suited for a
      plug-in hybrid. A series hybrid must have an electric motor that can
      supply, all by itself, enough rotational force, or torque, to accelerate
      the car briskly. As it happens, you want such a powerful motor for a
      plug-in hybrid, too, so that when you're in pure-electric mode, the car's
      acceleration won't be sluggish.

      "As soon as you want significant range and performance on batteries alone,
      you're going to want a series [configuration]," argues Alan Cocconi, a San
      Dimas, Calif., electrical drive consultant whose company, AC Propulsion
      Inc., builds high-performance electric and hybrid cars.

      Cocconi built one of the handful of plug-in hybrids now on the road; he did
      it by pulling the gas-powered guts out of a Volkswagen Jetta and replacing
      them with a 120-kW electric motor and 8.7 kWh's worth of lead-acid
      batteries, which are charged by a four-cylinder, 1.4-liter internal
      combustion engine scavenged from a Volkswagen Lupo. He and I hit the road
      on a brilliantly sunny October afternoon, cruising among
      multimillion-dollar mansions in the foothills of southern California's San
      Gabriel mountains.

      The Jetta is a joy to drive. The acceleration, particularly at low speeds,
      is strong and silky smooth, and Cocconi is happy to explain why. Series
      hybrids, like pure electrics, can fully exploit the most endearing feature
      of an electric motor: its relatively flat curve of torque versus
      revolutions per minute. What a driver feels as acceleration is a function
      of torque. And in a gasoline engine, not much torque is available at low
      RPM; maximum torque is available only when the engine is spinning at
      roughly three-fourths of its red-line RPM, or, say, 4000-5000 RPM. That's
      why a combustion engine vehicle needs a transmission -- to let the engine
      spin fast enough, even at low vehicle speeds, so that it can generate
      enough torque to move the car.

      An electric motor, on the other hand, delivers maximum torque pretty much
      the instant the rotor starts spinning. Thus, an electric motor with no
      transmission whatsoever delivers torque in a manner that is almost ideally
      suited to the demands of accelerating a car from a standstill. It's the
      main reason why electrically powered cars are so much fun to drive.

      Still, series hybrids have their drawbacks. The long chain of components
      from the engine to the drive shaft leaves lots of places for power to leak
      out, lowering the overall efficiency. But perhaps the biggest problem with
      series hybrids is the fact that they are regarded as a leap for a global
      automotive industry that has grown quite comfortable converting combustion
      directly and mechanically into propulsion.

      That comfort factor weighed heavily on the plug-in Sprinter design team.
      "We don't want to change the normal drive train too much," explains
      Jörgensen, the Daimler team's technical leader. "If you make something
      totally new, there's more chance of failure."

      So the team has decided to go with the parallel option. That leaves them
      two fundamental technical challenges, Jörgensen notes. One is specifying
      the configuration and placement of the major drive-train elements --
      engine, motor, starter motor (if any), clutches, gearboxes, transmission,
      and so on. The other is working out the details of the control strategy
      that will determine when the vehicle is being powered by electricity, the
      combustion engine, or some combination of the two.

      There are several different basic configurations of a parallel hybrid. The
      Daimler team has chosen one of the most common, in which there is a clutch
      in between the engine and the electric motor and also a separate, smaller
      starter motor to start the engine. It's an apt choice for a plug-in hybrid
      because, crucially, it can operate in a pure-electric mode: with the clutch
      open, the engine is decoupled from the drive train and you are running on
      electrons only. Of course, with the clutch open, it's also possible to
      operate on the engine alone.

      Yet another nice feature of this arrangement is the ability to use the
      vehicle as a mobile generator of electricity. You start the combustion
      engine, put the gear shift in neutral, and close the clutch, and you can
      use the motor to generate up to 40 kW -- enough to supply a small home.

      The challenge with this configuration is figuring out a way to start the
      combustion engine when you are cruising in the pure-electric mode.
      Remember, both the engine and the motor connect to the drive shaft. With
      the motor spinning the drive shaft, starting and engaging the engine
      demands a bit of choreography: start the engine with the starter motor;
      bring the engine up to the same rotational speed as the spinning drive
      shaft; and close the clutch to engage the engine. It could all be done in a
      fraction of a second, Jörgensen says, and timed so that the driver wouldn't
      notice the minute discontinuity in torque.

      The other major challenge -- the control strategy that determines when the
      vehicle is electric, when it is a fossil-fuel burner, and when it is both
      -- is a bit trickier. The goal is to wring every last pure-electric
      kilometer out of the battery packs. And to be really effective, the
      strategy must change depending on the length and even the topography of the
      journey.

      To understand why, first consider a 30-km trip in a plug-in hybrid with a
      32-km range. That's easy: do the whole thing in pure-electric mode. Run on
      your battery until it's almost dead. But what about a 320-km trip? For that
      one, it would be better to start off in pure-electric mode and then use up
      only, say, two-thirds of the battery's charge. Then fire up the engine for
      the remaining 300-odd km. That way, you would still have enough battery
      energy to run like a conventional hybrid for the rest of the trip, using
      the electric motor mainly to absorb load surges to climb hills and
      accelerate and keeping the engine running steadily and relatively cleanly
      at its most efficient rate.

      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      The power of the 16.6 million cars and light trucks sold in the United
      States in 2003 adds up to TWO AND A HALF TIMES THE TOTAL U.S. ELECTRICAL
      GENERATING CAPACITY
      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      And what about that switch, the one that would put the vehicle in
      pure-electric mode? For fleet vehicles and delivery vans, "it's a must,"
      says DaimlerChrysler's Jörgensen, because it will let them operate in
      restricted areas, such as some urban centers. But in passenger vehicles,
      such a switch might merely baffle some drivers.

      That fact prompts Kjaer, of Southern California Edison, to wonder aloud,
      "Do you allow the consumer to have control of the control strategies, or do
      you let the car's computer have control of the control strategies?" There's
      no clear answer at the moment.

      Kjaer has other things on his mind, anyway. What he really wants to talk
      about is a pipe dream called V-to-G, for "vehicle to grid." Imagine
      countless plugged-in vehicles parked in lots and trickling electric power
      back into the grid during the day. It would greatly help utilities manage
      peak loads and would give the vehicle owners a break on their utility bills.

      Say you have a plug-in hybrid with a 40-km range, and your daily commute
      starts with a trip to a train station only 6 km away from your home. That
      train station, happily enough, has receptacles where you can plug in your car.

      Now imagine that electrical demand soars that day. With your prior consent,
      the local utility could use some of the energy from the battery in your car
      -- and many thousands of other cars -- but leave enough charge for you to
      get home. (In fact, even if they drained your battery, you still have a
      combustion engine to get you wherever you wanted to go.) The electricity
      would flow through that same plug, in the other direction, of course, and
      you'd be credited for the transaction on your utility bill.

      Kjaer wants to be clear about this. "You could be paid to park your car in
      an urban center," he says, enunciating clearly and with a defiant smile on
      his face.

      A back-of-the-envelope calculation, at least, suggests that the idea is not
      all that far-fetched. According to the research firm J.D. Power and
      Associates in Westlake Village, Calif., 16.6 million new cars and light
      trucks were sold in the United States in 2003. The power output of all
      those engines adds up to roughly 2500 GW -- or two and a half times the
      entire electrical generating capacity of the United States.

      In the grand scenarios of transportation analysts, plug-in hybrids occupy a
      box of indefinite length straddling those of conventional hybrids in the
      very near future and, farther out, fuel-cell cars, which experts predict
      will begin to dominate in 20, 30, or 40 years ("depending on which liar you
      believe," says one West Coast transportation expert). Plug-ins will be "an
      enabling pathway from where we'll be in a few years, with hundreds of
      thousands of conventional hybrids on the road, to nirvana, with zero- or
      near-zero-emission vehicles," Kjaer says.

      What is the obstacle to getting plug-in hybrids in showrooms? "The main
      thing is cost," says project leader Jörgensen. With its relatively big
      battery pack and more powerful motor, a plug-in would be more expensive up
      front than an ordinary hybrid, although the total cost over the life of the
      vehicle would be less.

      In the meantime, DaimlerChrysler, EPRI, and their partners will take the
      crucial first step, showing what plug-in hybrids can do not only on the
      test track but also in real applications, with ordinary drivers, and in
      actual working conditions. As EPRI consultant Panik puts it, "If you make a
      vehicle, you will find out the truth."
    • Paul Scott
      Felix, This is great news! Thanks for forwarding it. Are you planning on coming down for the LA Auto show? We re planning a joint parade of hybrids, EVs and
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 1, 2004
      • 0 Attachment
        Felix,

        This is great news! Thanks for forwarding it.

        Are you planning on coming down for the LA Auto show? We're planning a joint
        parade of hybrids, EVs and bio-diesel vehicles. We are also writing a
        thorough response to Patrick Bedard's article in the January issue of Car &
        Driver. It was a typical horrendous sounding of the death knell for EVs,
        full of lies and distortions. We intend to pass our responses out to the
        press at the show since it's highly unlikely Car & Driver would print it.

        Once we get going on it, I'll include you in on the group helping to write
        it.

        Cheers,

        Paul

        Great New Year's gift

        http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/WEBONLY/publicfeature/jan04/0104intro.html
        IEEE SPECTRUM Jan 4, 2004
        COVER STORY:
        SPECIAL REPORT: 2004 TECHNOLOGY FORECAST & REVIEW
        INTRODUCTION:
        Winners, Losers, Holy Grails

        True technologists thrive on the chance to be in on the moment of creation,
        to make something elegant and enduring. Maybe once in their career, if
        they're really fortunate, they might even get a chance to help
        fundamentally change the way we work, commute, or play.

        Of course, in this big game, technical prowess is necessary but not
        sufficient for victory. It's all about the project: is it in sync with the
        shifting shoals of government regulation, market competition, investor
        interest, and the most murky of all, the public zeitgeist? Those are the
        questions that inspired this issue.

        As you may have gathered already, we picked six categories of technology --
        electric power, biotechnology, and so on. Then, within each of these
        categories, we picked a specific project that looked like a winner, one
        that looked like a loser, and a Holy Grail -- a long-standing quest that
        could fundamentally change something about our lives. We favored bold,
        risky projects with a sizable potential payoff.

        The winner and loser choices here reflect nothing more, or less, than the
        opinions of this magazine's staff, based on countless telephone
        conversations, in-person interviews, news database searches, e-mails, and
        discussions with our editorial board and other sage advisors. We culled all
        this information, and then argued among ourselves until, exhausted, we had
        a final list, and then a revised final list, and then a revised revised
        final list, representing the best judgments of a staff whose combined
        tenure in technology journalism is measured in decades.
        <snip>

        http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/WEBONLY/publicfeature/jan04/0104epow1.html

        ELECTRIC POWER
        Winner: The Smart Hybrid

        Flip a switch, and DaimlerChrysler's plug-in hybrid electric van will
        become an electric vehicle

        By Glenn Zorpette

        When it comes to our cars and the environment, we are all slightly
        sociopathic -- even those movie stars in their Toyota Priuses. It's just a
        matter of degree.

        If you commute 25 km each way to work in a mid-sized car, you make an
        annual contribution to the Earth's atmosphere of about 5500 kg of carbon
        dioxide and 1300 grams of the pollutant brew known as smog, according to a
        study by the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif. A
        comparable conventional hybrid vehicle, such as the justly venerated Prius,
        will cut those emissions by roughly 25 percent and 15 percent,
        respectively, EPRI says.

        Now add an electrical outlet plug to that hybrid, a bigger battery, and a
        few other modest changes, and a remarkable thing happens. "What you get is
        this very efficient vehicle on gasoline that can also be an electric
        vehicle, which is even more efficient," says Mark Duvall, an expert on
        hybrid vehicles at EPRI.

        In round numbers, the total amount of energy you use to travel in your car,
        week in and week out, is cut by as much as 50 percent, depending on the
        efficiency of your local utility's generating plants. And you don't have to
        give up the slightest bit of performance, comfort, or range. Need to take a
        1000-km trip that crosses mountainous terrain? No problem. You can travel
        in air-conditioned comfort, smug as a Prius-driving film star in the
        knowledge that over the long haul, you are cutting emissions of carbon
        dioxide and smog by at least 50 percent, according to EPRI's figures. Best
        of all, dependence on petroleum comes down by a whopping 75 percent, on
        average, in the United States.

        That, in a nutshell, is the promise of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle,
        and it is about to be demonstrated in a US $1.5 million pilot program based
        at a facility of DaimlerChrysler AG in Mannheim, Germany. Several U.S.
        organizations are helping fund the project; they include EPRI, California's
        South Coast Air Quality Management District, the utility colossus Southern
        California Edison Co., and the Metropolitan Energy Center of Kansas City,
        Mo.

        Under the project, DaimlerChrysler is putting together three commercial
        vehicles -- two light-duty utility trucks slated for California and a
        public transit van for Kansas City -- all based on the company's rugged
        Sprinter truck. But instead of the Sprinter's standard 156-horsepower
        (115-KW) diesel engine, the utility vans are going to be outfitted with a
        hybrid gasoline-electric propulsion system and a beefy battery pack that
        can be recharged by plugging it in.


        ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
        ----
        WINNER: PLUG-IN SPRINTER VAN
        GOAL Build three hybrid gasoline-electric service trucks whose batteries
        can also be charged overnight

        WHY IT'S A WINNER Hybrid cars are poised for steady growth, and plug-ins
        improve upon ordinary hybrids because they can cruise in a pure-electric
        mode

        ORGANIZATIONS DaimlerChrysler, EPRI, Southern California Edison Co., South
        Coast Air Quality Management District, Metropolitan Energy Center

        CENTER OF ACTIVITY DaimlerChrysler facility in Mannheim, Germany

        NUMBER OF PEOPLE ON THE PROJECT Approximately 15

        BUDGET US $1 525 000 (total project cost)


        ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
        ----

        The resulting trucks will be able to travel at least 32 km between
        rechargings in a pure-electric mode. For longer trips, the vehicle will
        respond to the dwindling charge on the batteries by automatically firing up
        the truck's combustion engine, which will begin recharging the batteries
        and spinning the wheels, extending the range indefinitely.

        Daimler has no firm plans now to produce a plug-in passenger car, but that
        could change. "I am convinced we can commercialize this technology," says
        Ferdinand Panik, an alternative-vehicle expert and retired Daimler senior
        official who now consults for various organizations, including EPRI. "First
        for the delivery van, and then for passenger cars as well." The plug, he
        and other proponents believe, has the potential to transform the burgeoning
        hybrid-electric vehicle market, in which Japanese automakers, led by Toyota
        and the surprisingly successful Prius, have established an early and
        commanding lead over their U.S. and European counterparts.

        Cars that both plug in and fuel up? How about a switch on your dashboard
        that turns your car into an electric vehicle? For plug-in technology to
        succeed in passenger cars, one of the tricks will be finding a way to avoid
        befuddling a general public conditioned to do little more than turn a key,
        step on an accelerator, and buy copious quantities of gasoline. As one U.S.
        driver told EPRI pollsters: "I'm lazy. I wouldn't be organized enough to
        remember to plug in."

        For those who could remember to plug in, however, the benefits would be
        considerable. Like most people, you probably travel a set distance to and
        from work five days a week, and also make intermittent excursions of varied
        lengths. If you had a plug-in hybrid with a battery big enough to cover
        your daily commute, you would have, in effect, a pure-electric vehicle five
        days a week, but one that could burn gasoline whenever you wanted to go on
        a ski trip, visit your cousin, or drop off the kids at summer camp. You'd
        go to a gas station maybe six times a year instead of six times a month.

        There would be other benefits, too. For example, that dashboard switch --
        the one that lets the driver put the vehicle into a pure-electric mode --
        could let the car operate in a crowded, downtown urban area where
        combustion-engine fumes and noise were unwelcome. And utility executives
        become visibly excited about the possibility of recharging millions of
        vehicle batteries at night, when their generating plants would otherwise
        languish. "Powering up generating plants in the day and then powering them
        down at night is very inefficient," notes Ed Kjaer, director of electric
        transportation at Rosemead-based Southern California Edison.

        The first glimmerings of that vision are to be seen at Daimler's
        Kompetenz-center für Emissionfrei Nutzfahrzeuge, known as KEN, where the
        plug-in hybrid project is based. KEN already does a modest but steady
        business converting small trucks, mostly Sprinter vans, to run on
        compressed or liquefied natural gas, electricity, or hybrid electric drive
        trains. The group has 7700 square meters tucked away in a cavernous Daimler
        truck engine factory in Mannheim.

        On a rainy October afternoon, a couple of dozen Sprinter vans are scattered
        around the facility in various stages of conversion, many of them up on
        lifts. A pair in one corner, one orange and one white, are being outfitted
        with pure-electric drive trains; a tangled rainbow of harness wires spills
        out through their open front hoods. One of these Sprinters is destined for
        the University of Bremen in Germany and the other for Helgoland, a North
        Sea fishing and resort island where internal combustion engine vehicles are
        banned.

        Across the street from the factory, in a small white conference room, Heinz
        Jörgensen gives me a status report and reviews the technical challenges.
        Jörgensen, an electrical engineer, has been corresponding with EPRI's
        Duvall and leading a team of four other engineers at KEN who are working
        out the electrical and mechanical details of the van. Precise, wry,
        sleepy-eyed, the 35-year-old Jörgensen is a study in contrasts: an
        automotive expert who walks to work and a son of lifelong Volkswagen
        employees who works for Daimler.

        The first of the plug-in hybrid Sprinter vans are due in late 2004, he
        tells me. Although the team hasn't built any hardware yet, they have worked
        out the basic design of the drive train -- based on specific engines,
        motor, and batteries -- and even simulated the vehicle's performance. They
        plan to stick with proven components, including an ac motor of about 70- or
        75-kW output power, which is being produced by ZF Sachs AG of Schweinfurt,
        Germany.

        The 14.4-kWh battery pack will use durable nickel-metal hydride batteries
        from Varta Automotive GmbH, Hannover, Germany. (The company is 80 percent
        owned by Johnson Controls Inc. of Milwaukee, Wis.) The vans destined for
        California will use Daimler's four-cylinder, 2.3-liter M111 gasoline
        engine; a Kansas City bus will have a 2.1-liter diesel engine.

        Of course, there's much more to a hybrid vehicle than motor ratings and
        battery chemistry. The most fundamental choice in the design of any kind of
        hybrid is whether the drive train will use the series or parallel
        configuration. Series hybrids are conceptually very simple: a combustion
        engine turns a generator that charges a battery that powers an electric
        motor, which turns the wheels. Only the electric motor can spin the wheels.
        Parallel hybrids are more complicated; because both the electric motor and
        the combustion engine are connected to the drive shaft, either one or both
        can make the wheels turn.

        At first glance, at least, the series option seems better suited for a
        plug-in hybrid. A series hybrid must have an electric motor that can
        supply, all by itself, enough rotational force, or torque, to accelerate
        the car briskly. As it happens, you want such a powerful motor for a
        plug-in hybrid, too, so that when you're in pure-electric mode, the car's
        acceleration won't be sluggish.

        "As soon as you want significant range and performance on batteries alone,
        you're going to want a series [configuration]," argues Alan Cocconi, a San
        Dimas, Calif., electrical drive consultant whose company, AC Propulsion
        Inc., builds high-performance electric and hybrid cars.

        Cocconi built one of the handful of plug-in hybrids now on the road; he did
        it by pulling the gas-powered guts out of a Volkswagen Jetta and replacing
        them with a 120-kW electric motor and 8.7 kWh's worth of lead-acid
        batteries, which are charged by a four-cylinder, 1.4-liter internal
        combustion engine scavenged from a Volkswagen Lupo. He and I hit the road
        on a brilliantly sunny October afternoon, cruising among
        multimillion-dollar mansions in the foothills of southern California's San
        Gabriel mountains.

        The Jetta is a joy to drive. The acceleration, particularly at low speeds,
        is strong and silky smooth, and Cocconi is happy to explain why. Series
        hybrids, like pure electrics, can fully exploit the most endearing feature
        of an electric motor: its relatively flat curve of torque versus
        revolutions per minute. What a driver feels as acceleration is a function
        of torque. And in a gasoline engine, not much torque is available at low
        RPM; maximum torque is available only when the engine is spinning at
        roughly three-fourths of its red-line RPM, or, say, 4000-5000 RPM. That's
        why a combustion engine vehicle needs a transmission -- to let the engine
        spin fast enough, even at low vehicle speeds, so that it can generate
        enough torque to move the car.

        An electric motor, on the other hand, delivers maximum torque pretty much
        the instant the rotor starts spinning. Thus, an electric motor with no
        transmission whatsoever delivers torque in a manner that is almost ideally
        suited to the demands of accelerating a car from a standstill. It's the
        main reason why electrically powered cars are so much fun to drive.

        Still, series hybrids have their drawbacks. The long chain of components
        from the engine to the drive shaft leaves lots of places for power to leak
        out, lowering the overall efficiency. But perhaps the biggest problem with
        series hybrids is the fact that they are regarded as a leap for a global
        automotive industry that has grown quite comfortable converting combustion
        directly and mechanically into propulsion.

        That comfort factor weighed heavily on the plug-in Sprinter design team.
        "We don't want to change the normal drive train too much," explains
        Jörgensen, the Daimler team's technical leader. "If you make something
        totally new, there's more chance of failure."

        So the team has decided to go with the parallel option. That leaves them
        two fundamental technical challenges, Jörgensen notes. One is specifying
        the configuration and placement of the major drive-train elements --
        engine, motor, starter motor (if any), clutches, gearboxes, transmission,
        and so on. The other is working out the details of the control strategy
        that will determine when the vehicle is being powered by electricity, the
        combustion engine, or some combination of the two.

        There are several different basic configurations of a parallel hybrid. The
        Daimler team has chosen one of the most common, in which there is a clutch
        in between the engine and the electric motor and also a separate, smaller
        starter motor to start the engine. It's an apt choice for a plug-in hybrid
        because, crucially, it can operate in a pure-electric mode: with the clutch
        open, the engine is decoupled from the drive train and you are running on
        electrons only. Of course, with the clutch open, it's also possible to
        operate on the engine alone.

        Yet another nice feature of this arrangement is the ability to use the
        vehicle as a mobile generator of electricity. You start the combustion
        engine, put the gear shift in neutral, and close the clutch, and you can
        use the motor to generate up to 40 kW -- enough to supply a small home.

        The challenge with this configuration is figuring out a way to start the
        combustion engine when you are cruising in the pure-electric mode.
        Remember, both the engine and the motor connect to the drive shaft. With
        the motor spinning the drive shaft, starting and engaging the engine
        demands a bit of choreography: start the engine with the starter motor;
        bring the engine up to the same rotational speed as the spinning drive
        shaft; and close the clutch to engage the engine. It could all be done in a
        fraction of a second, Jörgensen says, and timed so that the driver wouldn't
        notice the minute discontinuity in torque.

        The other major challenge -- the control strategy that determines when the
        vehicle is electric, when it is a fossil-fuel burner, and when it is both
        -- is a bit trickier. The goal is to wring every last pure-electric
        kilometer out of the battery packs. And to be really effective, the
        strategy must change depending on the length and even the topography of the
        journey.

        To understand why, first consider a 30-km trip in a plug-in hybrid with a
        32-km range. That's easy: do the whole thing in pure-electric mode. Run on
        your battery until it's almost dead. But what about a 320-km trip? For that
        one, it would be better to start off in pure-electric mode and then use up
        only, say, two-thirds of the battery's charge. Then fire up the engine for
        the remaining 300-odd km. That way, you would still have enough battery
        energy to run like a conventional hybrid for the rest of the trip, using
        the electric motor mainly to absorb load surges to climb hills and
        accelerate and keeping the engine running steadily and relatively cleanly
        at its most efficient rate.

        ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
        ----
        The power of the 16.6 million cars and light trucks sold in the United
        States in 2003 adds up to TWO AND A HALF TIMES THE TOTAL U.S. ELECTRICAL
        GENERATING CAPACITY
        ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
        ----

        And what about that switch, the one that would put the vehicle in
        pure-electric mode? For fleet vehicles and delivery vans, "it's a must,"
        says DaimlerChrysler's Jörgensen, because it will let them operate in
        restricted areas, such as some urban centers. But in passenger vehicles,
        such a switch might merely baffle some drivers.

        That fact prompts Kjaer, of Southern California Edison, to wonder aloud,
        "Do you allow the consumer to have control of the control strategies, or do
        you let the car's computer have control of the control strategies?" There's
        no clear answer at the moment.

        Kjaer has other things on his mind, anyway. What he really wants to talk
        about is a pipe dream called V-to-G, for "vehicle to grid." Imagine
        countless plugged-in vehicles parked in lots and trickling electric power
        back into the grid during the day. It would greatly help utilities manage
        peak loads and would give the vehicle owners a break on their utility bills.

        Say you have a plug-in hybrid with a 40-km range, and your daily commute
        starts with a trip to a train station only 6 km away from your home. That
        train station, happily enough, has receptacles where you can plug in your
        car.

        Now imagine that electrical demand soars that day. With your prior consent,
        the local utility could use some of the energy from the battery in your car
        -- and many thousands of other cars -- but leave enough charge for you to
        get home. (In fact, even if they drained your battery, you still have a
        combustion engine to get you wherever you wanted to go.) The electricity
        would flow through that same plug, in the other direction, of course, and
        you'd be credited for the transaction on your utility bill.

        Kjaer wants to be clear about this. "You could be paid to park your car in
        an urban center," he says, enunciating clearly and with a defiant smile on
        his face.

        A back-of-the-envelope calculation, at least, suggests that the idea is not
        all that far-fetched. According to the research firm J.D. Power and
        Associates in Westlake Village, Calif., 16.6 million new cars and light
        trucks were sold in the United States in 2003. The power output of all
        those engines adds up to roughly 2500 GW -- or two and a half times the
        entire electrical generating capacity of the United States.

        In the grand scenarios of transportation analysts, plug-in hybrids occupy a
        box of indefinite length straddling those of conventional hybrids in the
        very near future and, farther out, fuel-cell cars, which experts predict
        will begin to dominate in 20, 30, or 40 years ("depending on which liar you
        believe," says one West Coast transportation expert). Plug-ins will be "an
        enabling pathway from where we'll be in a few years, with hundreds of
        thousands of conventional hybrids on the road, to nirvana, with zero- or
        near-zero-emission vehicles," Kjaer says.

        What is the obstacle to getting plug-in hybrids in showrooms? "The main
        thing is cost," says project leader Jörgensen. With its relatively big
        battery pack and more powerful motor, a plug-in would be more expensive up
        front than an ordinary hybrid, although the total cost over the life of the
        vehicle would be less.

        In the meantime, DaimlerChrysler, EPRI, and their partners will take the
        crucial first step, showing what plug-in hybrids can do not only on the
        test track but also in real applications, with ordinary drivers, and in
        actual working conditions. As EPRI consultant Panik puts it, "If you make a
        vehicle, you will find out the truth."





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      • murdoch
        http://www.caranddriver.com/article.asp?section_id=27&article_id=7606&page_number=1 Didn t know about this until Paul mentioned it. Some of the keys here in
        Message 3 of 3 , Jan 3, 2004
        • 0 Attachment
          http://www.caranddriver.com/article.asp?section_id=27&article_id=7606&page_number=1

          Didn't know about this until Paul mentioned it. Some of the keys here in my
          view:

          1. The EV1 was never (never) offered for sale. It was leased, and then only to
          a small number of people, on a very limited scale, only after you were "vetted"
          as a suitable leasor. *All* available ones were leased, and waiting-lists
          existed.

          2. The RAV4 EV's supposedly poor sales were pretty good when you consider the
          low number of dealers allowed to offer them, and the other factors that
          inhibited purchase. 10 vehicles per dealer in 6 months doesn't seem that bad to
          me, considering the unbelievably limited nature of the program and the marketing
          and so forth. All available ones were sold or leased, and waiting-lists still
          exist, whether Toyota acknowledges this or not. As to the manufacturer's cost
          per vehicle.... *whatever*. I mean, that's it? You just take everything that
          every large company tells you at face value?

          *All* of the better highway-capable EVs that were offered over the last 10 years
          were leased or sold. The way in which they were offered was sometimes
          *anti*-sales and *anti*-lease oriented. The programs and availability were so
          limited, and the manufacturers' anti-sales delaying tactics were so obvious that
          I cannot draw the same conclusions that Mr. Bedard draws.

          A recurring theme in Mr. Bedard's discussions is his contempt for "Enviros". He
          should realize that not all EV fans can so easily be categorized as "Enviros",
          and that furthermore it is he and his supposed anti-enviros who occupy the
          anti-free-market-anti-competition-anti-consumer-demand position here.

          He seems satisfied that he has been given the straight dope by the
          manufacturers, so what does he give a damn that they have obviously told him
          only 2/3 of the story, or that they have contradicted themselves?

          He's always been a bit of a fan of muscle-cars (at least that is my
          recollection) and I can only hope that, at some point, Mr. Gage or someone else
          seriously embarrasses him with a fast EV. Better yet, let them give him and his
          colleagues an extended test-drive over several days or weeks and see if any of
          them decide to try to endorse production of the vehicle.

          It is Car and Driver, and other similar car magazines, which have for years been
          touting extremely-limited-production fairly-useless super-cars, without fretting
          so much about limited demand or high price or high manufacturer cost. They
          don't seem to care so much about limited markets when it comes to Ferraris.
          Then why care about limited markets for tzeros?

          I don't fault Mr. Bedard for questioning whether or not EVs might be in demand
          by consumers, but I think he cuts the manufacturers an absurd amount of slack
          (to the point of poor journalism) in his evaluation of that question by
          swallowing so much of what they feed him.

          When a good highway-capable EV is offered for sale at an affordable price,
          nationally or worldwide, without the hassle (something that is taken for granted
          in the sale of regular cars) then I guess we'll see if there's any demand. I
          think it would be limted, but I think it would exist. Certainly I think it will
          exist for PIHEVs.

          Until it happens that such vehicle are offered for sale *in the manner I have
          described*, the argument is one of speculation. When such arguments take place,
          the limited available data should be treated with a bit more care, rather than
          just buying what a Toyota official tells you.


          MM

          On Thu, 1 Jan 2004 14:06:05 -0800, you wrote:

          >Felix,
          >
          >This is great news! Thanks for forwarding it.
          >
          >Are you planning on coming down for the LA Auto show? We're planning a joint
          >parade of hybrids, EVs and bio-diesel vehicles. We are also writing a
          >thorough response to Patrick Bedard's article in the January issue of Car &
          >Driver. It was a typical horrendous sounding of the death knell for EVs,
          >full of lies and distortions. We intend to pass our responses out to the
          >press at the show since it's highly unlikely Car & Driver would print it.
          >
          >Once we get going on it, I'll include you in on the group helping to write
          >it.
          >
          >Cheers,
          >
          >Paul
          >
          >Great New Year's gift
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