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Jan 25

OnStar project promises renewable energy for recharging


As we’ve seen with the Volt and other green initiatives, GM is working to promote sustainability with perhaps its latest project being enablement of recharging from renewable energy.

On Monday, OnStar Communications contacted us and announced Volt owners “may soon be able to charge their vehicle using renewable energy.”

The actual time frame is “to be determined,” but the kinks are being worked out by OnStar and a company called PJM Interconnection with 17 Chevrolet Volts operated by Google’s Gfleet.


The way it generally works is OnStar-enabled technology receives a signal from PJM Interconnection showing the percentage of available renewable energy on the grid.

Data from this forecast is downloaded to the OnStar cloud, or Advanced Telematics Operating Management System (ATOMS). OnStar uses this signal to simultaneously manage the charging of many Volts and to match the renewable energy availability.

OnStar says a mobile app could be used to alert customers when renewable energy is available.

Google’s Gfleet is based at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., and as many of you know, Google is highly involved in other green projects and automotive experiments that include cars that drive themselves.

At the same time, Google is naturally willing to collaborate with real human drivers, as the species does not yet seem ready to go extinct.

This week, the OnStar-enabled fleet’s technology will be demonstrated at the 2012 DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition in San Antonio.

The public demo fits with an announcement by Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president of planning and business development, who said it is nearly ready for prime time.

“This demonstration shows that in the near future customers will have a real signal of demand for renewable energy,” said Pudar. “As customers configure their Volts to favor renewable energy for their charging cycle, this real demand signal will influence utilities to tap into renewable sources.”

Note that Pudar says demand will prompt utilities to increase (now limited) renewable energy supply.

We asked Adam Dennison, an OnStar Communications representative who sent the info, “How hopeful are you that this will have a measurable or significant influence that it will push utilities to adopt more renewable energy sources?”

In response, he said “We think that as EVs continue to penetrate the marketplace that customers will drive a variety of demands throughout different industries. Certainly we believe that the energy industry will be one of these. Based on the level of interest a number of utilities have expressed in OnStar’s Smart Grid solutions, we are pretty confident that that they’ll be willing to look to more renewable energy sources.”

At present, peak hours for renewable energy generation from wind is generally between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. according to PJM data.

OnStar says it would therefore be possible for customers to use Smart Grid solutions to further reduce their carbon footprint and – as is already possible regardless of energy source – “save money by charging during these off-peak times.”

“Solutions like this one will ultimately lead to increased renewable energy generation and allow Chevrolet Volt owners to be a key part of that energy transformation,” said Pudar.

If the renewable energy service goes into production, customers interested in using it would need to sign up. Dennison did not say if it would cost extra or be made available with existing OnStar service.

Once signed up, OnStar would regulate customers’ charging using the renewable energy signal.

This video is not directly about the current project, but OnStar says it highlights an app it did for Google’s Gfleet of Volts.

OnStar says this renewable energy technology is the latest addition to its suite of Smart Grid solutions.

For your review, OnStar says it has developed other “intelligent energy management technology solutions,” including:

Demand response – This solution connects utilities to companies that have intelligent energy management products. These companies can use OnStar to manage energy use for Volt customers who opt in for the service. This future service allows the customer to save money on energy costs while enabling more efficient use of the electric grid.
Time-of-Use (TOU) rates – OnStar can receive dynamic TOU pricing from utilities and notify Volt owners of the rate plan offers via email. Owners will be able to use OnStar to load the rate plans directly into their vehicle and access them to schedule charging during lower-rate periods.
Charging data – OnStar also sends and receives EV data that helps utility providers without having to interface with the vehicle’s electric vehicle supply equipment. This includes location-based EV data that identifies charging locations and determines potential load scenarios.


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Jan 18

GM and Powermat Studying Wireless Recharging of the Chevy Volt


Recently, GM announced a small investment in a company called Powermat.  That company makes wireless device charging systems.  Their current product allow users to place a receiver in the charge port of their device (cell phone, iPad, etc) and plug in the mat.  If the device is rested on the mat, it is wirelessly charged.

The first automotive application expected to result from this partnership is an option for the 2012 Chevy Volt that will become available next year.  It will be a wireless charging mat in the center of the console that drivers can rest their cellphones on while driving to have them wirelessly recharge.

The technology works through the use of induced magnetic fields:

Powermat uses magnetic induction to transfer energy.   Specifically, energy is transferred from a transmitter (which will be embedded in vehicle) to a receiver (which is connected to or embedded in the device) through a shared magnetic field.   Communication between the Mat (transmitter) and the Receiver (personal device) allows the mat to deliver an exact amount of power for the proper length of time so that the transfer of power is safe and efficient and no energy is ever wasted.  When a device reaches full charge, power is shut off to that device. This not only saves energy, but it also prevents overcharging of the device’s battery, which can shorten battery life.

This story begs the question as to whether this option could this be all the relationship is about?  After all, GM Ventures is a VC unit that invests in small companies that may have big automotive futures.

Over the years there has often been talk and theoretical discussions about wirelessly charging not only small devices, but whole electric cars themselves.

The concept would be to have a large wireless mat in one’s garage, simply park on top of it, and the battery will recharge automatically.

Powermat spokesperson Scott Eisenstein admits his company is looking at how to charge large electric car batteries.  “Yes, we are certainly looking into that,” he said.

Also according to Volt vehicle line executive Tony Posawazt, so is GM. “We are studying many exciting new technologies for the future, said Posawatz.  “This includes wireless, hands-free inductive charging of the high voltage battery.”



Feb 24

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Review – First Drive


By Jeff Nisewanger

With the dawn of 2017, South Korea’s Hyundai Motors has begun rolling out an ambitious new mainstream line of Ioniq liftback sedans in the U.S. market that goes directly against Japan’s venerated Toyota Prius, king of the hybrids.

It’s a battle for efficiency and consumer value between a well-established stalwart and a hungry and ambitious upstart. Hyundai is bringing hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrain options but also one-ups Toyota with an all-electric variant of this new model.

Ioniq for the win?

In order to learn more, we attended a media first drive event last week along California’s sunny and scenic Santa Barbara coast.


The Ioniq Hybrid

The Ioniq model trio starts off with a basic hybrid using Hyundai’s new 1.6 liter Atkinson cycle “Kappa” gasoline engine that matches the 40-percent thermal efficiency of Toyota’s latest Prius engine as well as Honda’s Earth Dreams engine used in its Accord Hybrid.

The Hyundai engine alone can generate up to 104 horsepower (78 kilowatts) and 109 pounds-feet of torque. It is mated with a 6-speed automatic dual clutch transmission (DCT). Sandwiched between them is a thin 43-horsepower (32-kilowatt) electric motor that provides up to 125 pounds-feet of torque on its own. A clutch allows for the gas engine to be disengaged when it isn’t needed such as when launching from a stop or during low speed driving for short distances. Combined with the gas engine, the total peak system output is rated as 139 horsepower.

At up to 58 mpg combined city and highway for the base Blue trim, the Ioniq just beats out the Prius Eco model’s 56 mpg EPA rating. The regular Ioniq scores a combined EPA estimate of 55 mpg to the regular Prius rating of 52 mpg. These numbers are outstanding. Ford’s C-Max hybrid only manages 40 mpg.

What all this means is that the Ioniq drives like a conventional car with an automatic step transmission. The vast majority of drivers today are familiar and comfortable with Hyundai’s type of arrangement that directly matches engine rpm and vehicle speed. The DCT shifts quickly and competently. The downside is the usual hunting between gears while driving uphill or under hard acceleration. Some other hybrids like the Prius use an electric continuously variable transmission that doesn’t abruptly shift between separate fixed gears.

The engine starts instantly when needed but imperceptibly turns itself off at other times. An available computer graphic illustration shows the power flow through the vehicle’s drivetrain between engine, motor, and wheels but doesn’t show absolute power levels. It can be difficult to predict when the engine starts up or shuts down. The Prius shows more advanced gauges that allow for more confident driver control of engine use for those who care to hypermile.


A unique feature in the Ioniq hybrid is its 12-volt battery. Rather than a traditional lead acid standalone unit, Hyundai uses a lithium-ion design that is electrically separate from – but co-packaged with – a 1.56 kilowatt-hour high voltage hybrid battery under the rear seats. Both batteries are covered under a lifetime failure warranty for original owners.

If the 12-volt battery should ever be temporarily run down too low to start the car it can be revived by the large hybrid battery by pressing a button inside the car. If that fails for some reason the car can still be traditionally jump started.

Another uncommon feature is the ability of the navigation system to guide efficient driving using its knowledge of upcoming elevation changes on the road ahead.

An available sport mode optimizes for quicker reaction to accelerator changes by keeping the engine running and dipping deeper into the battery for assistance.

The Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

The plug-in hybrid model swaps in a bigger 8.9 kilowatt-hour high voltage battery and the electric motor is boosted to 60 horsepower (44.5 kilowatts) from 43 horsepower (32 kilowatts).


Hyundai says the plug-in model is expected to provide at least 27 miles of EV driving range although official EPA estimates are not yet available. A standard J1772 AC charging inlet takes in 3.3 kilowatts during recharging or you can use the provided 120-volt charge cord. The faster rate fully charges in just over two hours at public charging stations or at home while the regular charge cord can take as many as eight hours.

Even though its battery is slightly larger than the 8.8 kilowatt-hour pack in the Toyota Prius Prime, Toyota’s plug-in hybrid, the Ioniq is limited by its smaller motor. The Prime has two motors which it can combine together to put out the power of 91 horses, or about 50 percent more than the Ioniq. This allows the Prime to accelerate up to 84 mph without needing to start the gas engine while driving on only battery power. The Ioniq is more likely to tip the gas engine into play during normal driving. Even the basic Ioniq Hybrid can theoretically drive electric-only at speeds up to 75 mph (for a short time) so the plug-in hybrid with a much bigger battery should do at least that well.

The Toyota comes with a heat pump that efficiently heats the cabin by acting as a reverse air conditioner even in cold outdoor winter temperatures. The Ioniq, however, has no electric heating and must start the gas engine to generate waste heat that can be routed to the cabin. Someone fixated on keeping the gas engine turned off during all-electric daily commuting but with extended range via a gasoline engine on the weekend may be better suited to the Prime.

The Ford C-Max Energi and Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrids come with electric resistive heating which is less efficient than a heat pump. They can also keep the engine off while driving solely on battery power. The Volt provides by far the strongest electric-only acceleration and twice the electric range but also comes with a bit higher price tag. It’s possible to drive the Ioniq without starting the gas engine if you drive mildly and disable any heating but it requires effort.

The Ioniq Electric

Alright, enough about gasoline engines! The all-electric Ioniq charts its own course and starts off fresh with a completely different package under the hood.


A 28 kilowatt-hour battery pack with cells from LG Chem extends from under the rear seats and into the lower part of the liftback storage space. A fan is used to actively cool the pack with cabin air since it likes the same temperatures that people prefer.

The pack provides enough to fully power the 88 kilowatt (118 horsepower) motor at up to 218 pounds-feet of torque. The EPA rated driving range of 124 miles at 136 MPGe gives the Ioniq top marks out of all electric cars with a range of less than 200 miles. Hyundai has disclosed plans for a future 200+ mile electric vehicle but it will be a CUV rather than an Ioniq model.

Recharging the battery using the standard J1772 inlet supports twice the charging rate as the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid and so can take in up to 6.6 kilowatts and fully charge in 4 hours. Unlike the plug-in hybrid which locates the charge port on the left front fender, the electric model moves it to the left rear fender.

The electric Ioniq also comes with a standard DC charging inlet with faster than usual charging rates. There are two DC charging standards competing in the marketplace today. Japanese brands support CHAdeMO but as a practical matter that mostly means Nissan. Hyundai’s sister brand Kia has a compact Soul EV that comes with a CHAdeMO socket. The Ioniq Electric supports the other standard which is called CCS and Kia is adopting this also in the future. CCS is supported by all of the U.S. and European car brands.

Using today’s base of installed CCS-capable 50 kW stations the car can fill up to 80-percent full in 30 minutes. Using a new generation of stations coming out later this year it can take the same charge in as little as 23 minutes at a peak charge rate reportedly near 70 kW. That’s apparently even faster than the new Chevrolet Bolt EV can add miles of range for every minute of charge time.

Acceleration from a stoplight or when merging onto the freeway feels competent — think 0-60 mph in about 10 seconds.

Unlike the hybrid Ioniq variants, the electric Ioniq uses a heat pump to warm the cabin. While this is becoming more common, some cars including those from Tesla and the Chevrolet Bolt EV are still using less efficient resistive electric heating.


Regenerative braking is an area where carmakers are innovating with new ideas. The Ioniq Electric has a small paddle switch on each side of the steering wheel. Toggle the left paddle and it increases the strength of regenerative braking. Do the same on the right side and it bumps down the strength. A small graphic indicates on the driver’s screen the regeneration strength level.

The amount of electric drag runs from a no-braking pure glide up through three levels of progressively stronger peak electrical braking drag. The actual amount of regeneration under that peak level is controlled by how the driver presses on the “go” pedal. Press down to accelerate and lift off to control the amount of regenerative braking.

The actual brake pedal works well and was free of the kind of squishiness and awkward transition when blending from regenerative to friction brakes that used to plague early hybrid cars.

The Ioniq Electric has good EV range for the price and is very competitive but it has only about half the range of the new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV. The Bolt has much stronger acceleration. The Ioniq’s dynamically selectable regenerative braking levels are a nice touch but, again, are no match for the Bolt EV’s elegantly implemented strong regenerative braking that can often smoothly bring the car to a complete stop without any use of the traditional brake pedal. The Bolt EV also has a starting price that is $7,000 higher.

Other key competitors with 100 to 125 miles of electric range include the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus EV, VW Golf EV, and BMW i3 BEV with MPGe ratings that mostly range from 112 to 119.

Shared Features

All three Ioniq models use modern light-weighting techniques like aluminum hoods and hatches and varying grades of high strength steel along with advanced structural adhesives to reduce unnecessary weight and increase rigidity to improve the ride.


Careful attention to aerodynamic design resulted in an excellent coefficient of drag of just 0.24, on par with some of slipperiest mainstream sedans.

The exterior and interior design is uncontroversial and mainstream. The usual physical buttons and knobs are provided along with a now-typical 7-inch LCD center infotainment display screen. Hyundai supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so smartphones are seamlessly integrated. An upgraded 8-inch display is available.


The general dimensions of the Ioniq are typical of its key competitors. The EPA labels the Ioniq as a “large” car based on its interior passenger and rear storage areas. Although headroom is adequate in the rear it does quickly taper downwards right where the headrest is positioned so the fully reclined head of passengers may brush the headliner above.

Advanced safety features like front collision detection, lane departure warning, automated emergency braking, blind spot and rear cross-traffic alert, and Smart Cruise Control are available. The Ioniq has received 5 star “best in class” crash test results in European testing and Hyundai says they are expecting similar results from future US testing.

Hyundai’s Blue Link telematic system is available on the hybrid models and is standard on the electric. It provides remote information and services like door unlocking, remote climate control, and vehicle recharging control via a dedicated smartphone app.

The hybrid and plug-in hybrid models have tanks that can hold almost 12 gallons of gasoline and thus provide over 600 miles of driving range.


Hyundai’s new line of electrified Ioniq sedans narrowly capture the prize from
Toyota’s Prius for efficiency while providing excellent value for your money.



Ioniq Pricing

The so-called Blue basic hybrid model starts at about $23,000 including mandatory delivery charges. A slightly fancier SEL trim starts at about $24,800. The upscale Limited edition starts at just over $28,300. Hybrid sales have already begun.

Note, that Toyota now includes their equivalent of the hybrid SEL Tech Package in the price of every Prius so someone wanting advanced camera and radar-based safety features would actually pay slightly more for the Ioniq than a Prius II.

The plug-in hybrid model’s pricing is not yet available since it does not arrive in the U.S. market until late this year.

The all-electric Ioniq arrives in April with distribution in California although it can be special ordered by any Hyundai dealer in all 50 states. It has a base model price of about $30,300. The Limited edition goes for just over $33,300 and with the Ultimate package it surpasses $36,000.

An innovative new subscription leasing program for the electric model that includes unlimited miles may also help affordability although the final details have not yet been announced.

Up to $7,500 in federal tax credits are available for the electric and about $4,500 on the plug-in hybrid. Some states may have additional incentives such as California which rebates $2,500 for the electric and $1,500 for the plug-in models.


Dec 30

How Many Sub-$40,000 / 200-Mile Range EVs Might We See In 2017?



The year 2016 saw the first 200-mile range electric car for under $40,000 and 2017 is expected to witness a few more.

General Motors’ well-publicized $37,495 Bolt EV is the forerunner fast-tracked to being first, but really, it is the inaugurator of a new price-for-range benchmark effectively raising expectations and dictating other automakers follow ASAP.

This double-the-range-for-the-dollar has come faster than some might have imagined just a few years ago. The first mass-production 200-mile-plus range electric cars – excluding Tesla’s limited-production 2008-2012 Roadster – was the $70,000 and up 2012 Tesla Model S.

Its 200-plus miles for roughly $70,000 has only been with us for a short time, so the jump this year to 200-plus miles for under $40,000 is mighty significant. That’s the good news. The open question is whether as big of a range-for-dollar increase can be done again as soon as early next decade using lithium-ion batteries.

Does anyone even need more than 200 miles range? No! Get over it! Why pay for and drag around all that extra battery? Even 107 miles can be enough, some advocates have said. However, mainstream consumers speaking with their pocketbooks have said "no sale" and the U.S. market share is just 0.45 percent. Most consumers say they want more and faster recharging, cost parity and no perceived downside with conventional cars. This is actually the goal in places like Norway, and they hope by next decade EVs will stand alone without subsidies.

Does anyone even need more than 200 miles range? No! Get over it! Why pay for and drag around all that extra battery? Even 107 miles can be enough, some advocates have said. However, mainstream consumers speaking with their pocketbooks have said “no sale” and the U.S. market share is just 0.45 percent. Most consumers say they want more and faster recharging, cost parity and no perceived downside with conventional cars. This is actually the goal in places like Norway, and they hope by next decade EVs will stand alone without subsidies.

To consumers on the fringes, this year’s progress report may sound like about what they’d expect as they’ve seen computer processing power multiply year by year to astonishing heights, but EVs are not based on the silicon chip, rather it’s batteries they rely upon. And unlike computers following Moore’s Law, cars like the Bolt are not getting a radically improved battery chemistry with double or more the energy density that comes in a Tesla Model S to enable a price cut by half.

Rather, as researchers work on “beyond lithium-ion” chemistries, li-ion is being incrementally tweaked, the Bolt itself is economically built, and a big help has been li-ion’s costs have come down faster than many predicted.

SEE ALSO: Could JCESR’s Li-Sulfur Battery Revolutionize EVs?

As observed by George Crabtree, director of the federally sponsored JCESR project working on new chemistries, cars like the Bolt and others are benefitting from less-expensive li-ion batteries, and more can be stuffed in for a lower selling price.

Li-ion battery prices have plummeted multifold from many hundreds of dollars per kWh to $145/kWh for GM which got a special deal from LG Chem for its cells. By 2020 GM would like to see li-ion cells costing $100/kWh and Tesla has indicated it wants its entire assembled battery packs to be that inexpensive. It may therefore be possible to get up to 350 miles range or so for the same bucks, assuming other cost cutting. Unknown also is whether the leaders GM, Tesla, and Nissan use up their 200,000 allotted federal tax credits by 2018.

Li-ion battery prices have plummeted multifold from many hundreds of dollars per kWh to $145/kWh for GM which got a special deal from LG Chem for its cells. By 2020 GM would like to see li-ion cells costing $100/kWh and Tesla has indicated it wants its entire assembled battery packs to be that inexpensive. It may therefore be possible to get up to 350 miles range or so for the same bucks, assuming other cost cutting. Unknown also is whether the leaders GM, Tesla, and Nissan use up their 200,000 allotted federal tax credits by 2018.

How long this one-upmanship with tweaked and price-reduced li-ion may be done is not known. That is, whether a 450-mile EV using li-ion chemistry could be economically sold for under $37,495 by 2021 is anyone’s guess. Some believe that may be a bit much to ask, others are more optimistic, and otherwise the answer is time will tell.

As it is, automakers are throwing all they can at a market as soon as they can while more and faster charging infrastructure is being planned and put in place as well.

Synergies are happening to enable EVs with broader appeal than they’d had, and this year are projected a small handful of production or pre-production EVs to keep the Bolt EV company – which we’ll mention first, because it actually is a 2017 model.

2017 Bolt EV


As noted, the Bolt EV is this year’s most range for the dollar, representing the most advanced engineering GM has yet put into an electric car, according to Pam Fletcher, executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles.

“We got here by a lot of learning and experience, and this is our greatest electrified vehicle so far,” said Fletcher.

With a $7,500 federal tax credit whittled off a base $37,495, and possibly a state credit, these may net a couple thousand below the $30,000 mark, and offer 238 miles EPA-rated range.

Performance is also quick, with 0-60 mph in a respectable 6.5 seconds from the spacious compact crossover.

General Motors “launched” the Bolt EV to its first retail customers mid December in a way not unlike how Tesla launched the Model X – a few in Oregon and California will get them this year while the rest of the country is to get them the following year.

“A number of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States including New York, Massachusetts and Virginia will see first deliveries this winter,” said Chevrolet, adding that more will make it to major metro dealerships through the first half of 2017 with full U.S. rollout by mid-year.

2017 Opel Ampera-e


If you know about the Chevy Bolt, then little needs explaining about the re-badged Opel Ampera-e.

Sales began Dec. 14, and plans for left-side-drive versions only at this point are for first deliveries in Norway in the spring. Following that, next in line are Germany, Netherlands, France and Switzerland.

“Most other European countries will follow in late 2017 or during 2018 as production volume grows,” says Opel.

The priority for initially limited volumes in the “staggered launch” is being given to markets with existing infrastructure and/or those wanting EVs the most.

Norway, of course, is the poster child of EV adoption, with over 25 percent market share for plug-in cars and EVs are the preferred type.

2018 Nissan Leaf

Nissan IDS Concept believed by some to contain elements foreshadowing the next Leaf’s design language.

Nissan IDS Concept believed by some to contain elements foreshadowing the next Leaf’s design language.

Nissan, the original purveyor of “mass” appeal EVs is fashionably – or is that unfashionably? – late to its second-generation reveal party.

Now with two range upgrades since a Dec. 2010 launch, the company has said it will compete with the Bolt but the latest indicator may be year one sees less than the whole potential range for it.


More than one battery option expected means multiple range options, and the rumor is the smaller battery will be shown first. This may be because word has it there are issues with the new Leaf’s battery, but what they could be is unknown. Its Renault ZOE and Kangoo Z.E. siblings have already receive next gen batteries, so we shall see.

When it will be shown is also a mystery. Some have suggested Tokyo motor show later this year, but a report by Forbes contributor Bertel Schmitt cites Nissan insiders saying “I think you’ll be hearing about the car much earlier than that.”

The new Leaf is expected to look more conventional than the willfully funky – others have said “frumpy” – design that screams without a word “I’m green.”

2018 Tesla Model 3


Have you heard of the Tesla Model 3? Unless you have been living under a rock, odds are good you have even if you have no other interest in EVs.

This is the $35,000 EV with 215-plus miles range that’s garnered north of 400,000 refundable pre-orders at $1,000 apiece, and is due for a second pre-production reveal this year before going on sale later this year.

The second reveal will show more than its original unveiling in prototype form last March. Among the exciting details, aside from the sporty lines and Tesla brand image, are this is to be a highly configurable car.

Unlike the Bolt and Leaf which will be front wheel drive only, the Model 3 is rear or all wheel drive, and multiple battery and power options are expected from mild to wild.

Green car analyst Alan Baum projects first sales by October, and 5,000 new owners may have them in their driveways before Dec. 31.

This is the car that’s likely to steal the show from this spring forward, and it is the big news of the year.

Something from Hyundai?


Hyundai has potentially two cars to show, but question is whether either will be here in 2017 with 200 miles range.

First up is the Ioniq which is due for first sales this year with 124 miles range, and a bump to much more is expected after model year one. Whether this is revealed in 2017 may be doubtful lest it steal thunder from the still-new original, but we shall see.

Hyundai has also said it is planning a sport utility vehicle with 200 miles or more range for 2018, so this may be revealed, but this also is unclear.

Is That It?

There’s a hodge-podge of interesting new electric cars planned but with what we know so far, none may be revealed by 2017’s end with a whole 200 miles range.

One of these is the Honda Clarity. It is to be based off the Clarity fuel cell vehicle’s platform, and though Honda may surprise everyone, it may get something like 124 miles range give or take also.


Later, it may be updated to longer range but this is a question mark.

Another we’ve heard whispers of is Ford’s Model E – yep, they own the name Tesla wanted for the Model 3, and Baum projects it won’t be shown till after 2017, possibly 2018, and in production in 2019.

In fact, it’s tough to guess what the carmaker may do as it otherwise aggressively postures its advanced tech, including autonomous drive plans.

Ford Focus EV. Range was increased this year, but the 200 mile new car is further off.

Ford Focus EV. Range was increased this year, but the 200 mile new car is further off.

The main hint we have is CEO Mark Fields said in answer to being competitive with the Bolt and company, “Clearly that’s something we’re developing for.”

That’s pretty vague, but the remark was interpreted to mean a Bolt competitor is pending just the same.

Yet one more potential 200-miler is the Kia Niro Electric, and this also is up in the air, but may not be revealed until after 2017, possibly 2018, and in production in 2019, Baum said.

Kia Niro hybrid.

Kia Niro hybrid.

We’ve also heard a lot from the VW Group and its plans for 30 new battery electric cars by 2025, but it may not reveal a 200-miler in 2017.

Its VW e-Golf was just updated, and won’t likely be upgraded so soon again. The Audi Q5 electric will appear in 2017, but not with 200-miles range and it could cost north of $40,000.

Audi Q5.

Audi Q5.

Another, the Audi Q6 e-tron will get 200-miles range, but it won’t cost under $40,000 either and, said Baum, won’t likely appear until 2018.

At this stage, he added, it is unknown what automakers will do with respect to showing their cars in concept or production form since in most cases they have not made final decisions.

So that may be it, but then more could always come out of left field, as regulatory and market pressure is increasing, battery costs continue to decline and demand stands to rise as well.

This article appears also at

p.s. And have a Happy New Year!


Dec 09

Supercapacitor Breakthrough Allows Electric Vehicle Charging In Seconds


Note — Apologies for the Bolt Farm Bureau story. A dealer had the Bolt and rebate offer tied together and when I contacted Farm Bureau media reps about the Bolt, they did not correct the record either. Turns out the car is not at this time listed for the Farm Bureau rebate. The Volt is however. A list of eligible vehicles is here. If I learn more from Chevrolet, will let you know. – Jeff

By Larry E. Hall


UK technology firm Augmented Optics has revealed a new supercapacitor material it says can accept a charge in an electric vehicle as quickly as refueling a conventional car while threatening to render lithium-ion batteries obsolete.

The new material intended to replace conventional batteries is a polymer based on soft contact-lens technology that may dramatically boost the performance of supercapacitors – lightweight electronic components that store and distribute high volumes of power.

They are based on large organic molecules composed of many repeated sub-units and bonded together to form a three-dimensional network.

The new material has been tested by researchers at Great Britain’s University of Surrey and University of Bristol, with their analysis estimating it to be between 1,000 and 10,000-times more effective than current supercapacitors.

Dr. Donald Highgate, technical director at Augmented Optics, said the potential is high indeed.

“If these are half as good as we think they are, and with more experience, they may take over entirely,” said Hughes. “Disruptive, yes — it would be a terrible shock to car manufacturers — but cars could be built on the same factory lines.”

Heathcote said that the group has been working in secret on the project until this point, having filed worldwide patents only last week.

SEE ALSO: European Electric Carmakers Announce Major Ultra-Fast Charging Network

Supercapacitors have the ability to charge and discharge rapidly over very large numbers of cycles, but current supercapacitors are unable to hold charges as efficiently as batteries. Some existing examples used on buses in China require charging every three or four miles.

The new material brings the new supercapacitors closer to the storage capacity of a lithium-ion battery, but with the added benefits of immediate recharging and cheaper production costs.

University of Bristol’s Dr. Ian Hamerton, a scientist on the project, said: “Although we didn’t initially look at the automotive industry, as the results came in, it became apparent the car industry could be one of the first ones to adopt this technology.”

Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk previously said he would bet on supercapacitors over batteries to deliver a breakthrough for electric cars.

Heathcote said the group is actively seeking partners in order to supply the polymers and offer assistance to build these ultra-high-energy density storage devices.

British publication Auto Express reports that the team hopes to build a prototype electric car by 2017 that can be charged up to a 150-mile driving range in just a few seconds.

Auto Express,


Nov 30

European Electric Carmakers Announce Major Ultra-Fast Charging Network


Notable is GM is not involved …


If things go to plan for a pervasive ultra-fast charging network in Europe, by 2020 automakers will make publically recharging electric cars as convenient as a fuel station stop.

That’s the takeaway from an ambitious collaboration announced today by BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche.

As they anticipate a profound ramp up in plug-in electric cars starting now, the major automakers say they are investing in an initial 400 ultra-fast charging 350-kW sites along critical highways.

SEE ALSO: Europe Is Awakening From Diesel-Induced Sleep to Chase New Electric (Car) Dreams

“By 2020, consumers should have access to thousands of high-powered charging points,” said Ford on behalf of fellow collaborators in outlining the undertaking.

While estimated recharge times were not given – and ultimately will depend on how large a battery needs to be filled – the up-to 350 kW charge standard is significantly above anything now in service, including Tesla Superchargers.

 Tesla cars cannot presently use CCS chargers. They can use CHAdeMO chargers via an adapter that Tesla sells for $450 in the U.S. That adapter is limited by specification to CHAdeMO's existing 125A specification (really 62.5 kW but sometimes called 50 kW) specification.

Tesla cars cannot presently use CCS fast chargers. They can use CHAdeMO chargers via an adapter that Tesla sells for $450 in the U.S. That adapter is limited by specification to CHAdeMO’s existing 125A specification (really 62.5 kW but sometimes called 50 kW) specification.

Indeed, the planned faster network using a competing charge standard, while not stated by the collaborators, appears to be a direct response to Tesla’s Supercharger network, Tesla has also announced aggressive EV expansion plans and recently said it plans a new joint Gigafactory battery plant and car assembly plant in Europe.

On that note, the collaborators have agreed to use the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard, with the aim of being as inclusive – not exclusive – of as many EV makers as possible, assuming they also design cars compatible with this standard.

At the Paris Motor Show, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche introduced its new EQ brand. The move parallels ongoing initiatives by VW Group and BMW.

At the Paris Motor Show, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche introduced its new EQ brand. The move parallels ongoing initiatives by VW Group and BMW.

The automakers, who will be equal partners in the collaboration, say their next-generation battery electric vehicles will be optimized to take advantage of the quick fill, and they invite other automakers to join in.

“Vehicles engineered to accept the full power of the charge stations can recharge brand-independently in a fraction of the time of today’s battery electric vehicles,” said Ford on behalf of the collaborating manufacturers. “The network is intended to serve all Combined Charging System-equipped vehicles to facilitate battery electric vehicle adoption in Europe.

Unstated is exactly how much money all this will cost.

“The automobile manufacturers intend to make substantial investments to create the network, underscoring each company’s belief in the future of electric mobility,” said Ford.

Otherwise, the chief executives of the different brands all gave their take on why they are doing it, led off with BMW which has its i-brand represented by the i3 and i8.


“This high-power charging network provides motorists with another strong argument to move toward electric mobility,” said Harald Krüger, chairman of the board of management of BMW AG. “The BMW Group has initiated numerous public charging infrastructure projects over the last years. The joint project is another major milestone clearly demonstrating that competitors are combining forces to ramp up e-mobility.”

BMW was one of the companies who in October said it wants 15-25 percent of its sales coming from plug-in electrified cars. While it got an early head start on electrification, it’s caught criticism for being slow to develop new i-series models faster.

Today’s news indicates it has not at all lost the vision, which in turn is shared by rival Daimler AG which in October announced its EQ brand, and plans for 15-25 percent of all sales to be plug-in by 2025.

Generation EQ.

Generation EQ.

“The breakthrough of e-mobility requires two things: convincing vehicles and a comprehensive charging infrastructure. With our new brand EQ, we are launching our electric product offensive: by 2025, our portfolio will include more than 10 fully electric passenger cars. Together with our partners, we are now installing the highest-powered charging infrastructure in Europe,” said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “The availability of high-power stations allows long-distance e-mobility for the first time and will convince more and more customers to opt for an electric vehicle.”

Audi e-tron Quattro.

Audi e-tron Quattro.

And not to be forgotten is the VW Group, which intends 30 battery electric cars spread among its 13 brands by 2025, and said this year it wants 20-25 percent of sales coming from plug0in cars by 2025.

Brands Americans know, aside from VW, are Porsche and Audi.

“We intend to create a network that allows our customers on long-distance trips to use a coffee break for recharging,” said Rupert Stadler, chairman of the board of management of AUDI AG. “Reliable, fast charging services are a key factor for drivers to choose an electric vehicle. With this cooperation, we want to boost broader market adoption of e-mobility and speed up the shift toward emission-free driving.”

The one U.S. based carmaker doing business in Europe that’s collaborating in the charging network initiative, Ford, says it too is on board, as it otherwise reinvents itself into a mobility company.

“A reliable, ultra-fast charging infrastructure is important for mass consumer adoption and has the potential to transform the possibilities for electric driving,” said Mark Fields, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “Ford is committed to developing vehicles and technologies that make people’s lives better, and this charging network will make it easier and more practical for consumers across Europe to own electrified vehicles.”

“There are two decisive aspects for us: ultra-fast charging and placing the charging stations at the right positions,” said Oliver Blume, chairman of the executive board of Porsche AG. “Together, these two factors enable us to travel in an all-electrically powered car as in a conventional combustion engine vehicle. As an automobile manufacturer, we actively shape our future, not only by developing all-electrically powered vehicles, but by building up the necessary infrastructure as well.”

“There are two decisive aspects for us: ultra-fast charging and placing the charging stations at the right positions,” said Oliver Blume, chairman of the executive board of Porsche AG. “Together, these two factors enable us to travel in an all-electrically powered car as in a conventional combustion engine vehicle. As an automobile manufacturer, we actively shape our future, not only by developing all-electrically powered vehicles, but by building up the necessary infrastructure as well.”

The carmakers call the initiative an “unprecedented collaboration” but more will need to be seen. Plans are to get started in 2017 and appear to add substance to the push to make EVs mainstream.

Behind it all are of course regulations forcing automakers to clean up their fleets. The Paris Accord on climate change in 2015 also saw 195 nations agree that the world faces a deadline to slow the rate of global temperature increase.

These forces backed by threat to the ecosystems and environments of the world are the lever that appears to be moving formerly reluctant players to embrace electrification.

These are truly unique times in the history of motorized transportation.

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