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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.”



Aug 12

Will the 2016 Volt Be Worth It?



As orders are being taken now in California, Chevrolet hopes its 2016 Volt due in a couple months will prove to be a superior fuel and money saver for more people.

Since the first-generation model was launched in December 2010, the Volt has had a polarizing effect on people – or ducked under the radar – for too-many nuanced reasons to elaborate here, but those who “get it” mainly love it.

The outgoing 2015 Volt had an electric range of 38 rated miles and the new one is pegged at 53. Less-well known is the EPA rates it for 57 all-electric miles in the city, and 49 all-electric miles highway.

SEE ALSO: Complete Chevy Volt Award List

Efficiency on electricity has now been bumped from 98 MPGe combined to 106 MPGe. Fuel economy on gas only has increased from 37 mpg to 42 combined – 43 city, 42 highway – and the new range-extending engine runs on cheaper regular fuel.

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt can run on pure electricity for 53 miles

The compact Volt still will catch criticism by some for having a tight-ish back seat but where it is like the super genius in the classroom is in the efficiency spectrum.

“The 2016 Volt is engineered to offer customers more of what they want: range, range and more range,” says Chevrolet, and this is not exaggeration.

The next-closest plug-in hybrid competitor is the Ford Fusion Energi EPA-rated at 19 miles all-electric miles. Hyundai’s 2016 Sonata plug-in hybrid is expected to deliver 24 miles all-electric miles – so the 2016 Volt more than doubles that.

How important is just 29-more electric miles per charge that the 2016 Volt affords? This message may be lost on people who hear of EVs going 80-270 miles, but for daily driving, this is enough to put lots of people over the top and stay in pure electric mode.

The average daily drive is under 40 miles says government data, and electricity in most parts of the country is far-less to pay for than gasoline, even at presently low prices.

2015 Volt Total Cost of Ownership. Data for the 2016 and 2016 Prius and Fusion Energi following is not yet available. Source: Edmunds

2015 Volt Total Cost of Ownership. Data for the 2016 and 2016 Prius and Fusion Energi following is not yet available. Source: Edmunds

Given the Volt – which starts at $33,995 – is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, and in California and other states further money back from governments encouraging low-emitting cars, the value proposition looks like it could be good-to-great.

According to’s Total Cost To Own calculator, the present 2015 Volt, though priced higher, already compares favorably to the most-efficient hybrid sold in the U.S., the Toyota Prius Liftback.

2015 Prius trim level IV. Note cash price less, but TCO is more than Volt. Source: Edmunds.

2015 Prius trim level IV. Note cash price is less, but TCO is more than Volt. Source: Edmunds.

Next to the Fusion Energi, the Volt comes in around $12,000 less to own over five years based on the averaged numbers and algorthms Edmunds applies.

When the Volt was first launched GM wanted to say it was good for 230 mpg, but facts get confusing when mixing potential gas savings by turning the engine off and running on battery power for a span.

As it is, Volt fans for the past four years have been raving that they do indeed exceed the EPA’s conservative estimates and net crazy high “mpg” – but of course this is augmented by electricity, which is not free but still less.

In Detroit this year at the generation two’s launch, the two top General Motors engineers responsible for the Volt’s development separately told us the main thing Volt owners wanted was to not have to turn on the gas.

Why? A few reasons, but one is once people get used to the Volt’s gas-free operation, it makes them want more. Frankly, the noise, vibration and harshness of engine-on versus engine-off spoils them for the all-electric drive experience. GM says the NVH is superior for the new 1.5-liter Ecotec replacing the 1.4 in the gen-one Volt, but the real goal is it not be used more than absolutely necessary.

2015 Fusion Energi SE TCO. Source: Edmunds.

2015 Fusion Energi SE TCO. Source: Edmunds.

Beyond those considerations, saving gas of course means less money spent, and fewer greenhouse gases emitted.

With its hands tied by liabilities and higher accountability, Chevrolet says conservatively the improved 2016 Volt will do well.

“Chevrolet expects many next-generation Volt owners will use power solely from their batteries for more than 90 percent of trips,” the automaker says based on OnStar telematics data. “Today, Volt owners use battery power on 80 percent of their trips.”

The carmaker hinted around the edges the vehicle may over-deliver with people who drive it sensibly and take advantage of recharging.

SEE ALSO: 6 Ways the 2016 Chevy Volt Has Been Improved

“Data shows that drivers of the first-generation Volt achieved, and often exceeded, the published EPA-estimated mileage,” says the automaker. “Chevrolet expects the same label-exceeding result with the next-generation Volt.”

In cold weather, the estimates will go down to one degree or another and the Volt does still need to run the engine due to cold temperature in frigid conditions.

But while the TCO compares available 2015 data, progress continues for everyone.

Unknown is how the new Volt will fare against the fourth-generation 2016 Prius due to be revealed later this year.

With regards to the Volt’s ability to run on battery only, that is a slam dunk – 53 miles versus maybe 1. How it may do later against a Prius plug-in hybrid is also an open question and rumors have it more EV range will be provided than the present car’s 11.


What Toyota has going for it is a long track record back to 2000 in the U.S., and superior gas-only mpg. Daily drives will still see the Volt averaging better but longer trips will see its edge diminish as the new Prius may get close to 55 mpg versus 42.

Of course a buying decision is based on far more than these narrow factors so other criteria even beyond those weighed in TCO estimates will need to be considered.

But within the other set of criteria – average-length daily driving – the Volt offers advantages of a pure EV with a built-in gas engine to go farther and stands heads above.

This article also appears at


Aug 06

Why Wrightspeed is getting it right with hybrid trucks


Most of you probably already have heard of Wrightspeed. And, you know the opportunities are there. This article is submitted by an advocate who sees synergies in the making.


By Daniel Matthews

Ian in Shop

Sometimes the stars align for a tech innovator. Here in the world of the automobile, the “stars” aren’t gigantic burning spheres of helium and hydrogen in the cosmos—they’re the market conditions that, if they continue on their trajectory, will determine the fate of an entity.

Tesla co-founder Ian Wright broke off from Tesla in 2005 to start his own company, Wrightspeed. With his Wrightspeed Route electric powertrains, Wright is betting the commercial trucking industry’s bottom line will cripple combustion engines in trucks. Wright is wagering mail trucks, garbage trucks, freight trucks—commercial trucks of all kinds will take to hybrid-electric technology over alternatives.

Those of us who aren’t huge fans of the fossil fuel industry can only hope he’s right. But will the market stars align for Wrightspeed? The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, and one of the big ones is whether Wrightspeed can gain traction in the gigantic freight industry.

Disrupting freight

The freight industry is an extremely important niche, especially if Wright intends to help in the fight against climate change.

According to Popular Mechanics, semis travel about 42 percent of all miles American commercial trucks travel. The EPA estimates that 70 percent of freight in the U.S. is hauled by trucks. That works out to about 60,000 pounds a year of food, hardware, cars, etc. per person; to accomplish this feat of distribution, class 7 and 8 semi-trucks account for roughly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions trucks spew on the road today. And with the 2014 gas-mileage standard of 7.2 mpg on a flat road, they’re consuming the most fuel and using it at the lowest efficiency level.

In order to disrupt the freight industry, Wright has to convince fleet operators his product will save more money than a new truck.

A new semi-truck costs between $130,000 and $180,000 without the trailer and the whole rig can cost up to $260,000 (or more) depending on customizations. According to, to retrofit a truck with one of Wright’s powertrains, it’ll run about $200,000.

Beyond these baseline numbers, freight industry fleet buyers need to take into account climate change regulations that will force them to get fuel efficient, and start to put the kibosh on the old way of doing things.

Regulating emissions

New federal fuel economy regulations for commercial trucks are kicking in this year. “Phase 1” requires semi-trucks, pickup trucks, and every kind of bus and work truck to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent. The Phase 2 regulations on class 7 and 8 semis will get even steeper in 2021. According to the Phase Two Regulatory Announcement, by the year 2027 these trucks will have to cut emissions up to 24 percent.

Wrightspeed Back axle 1

Wrightspeed is primed to take advantage of regulations in an industry that is typically a hard sell. But the regulations aren’t calculated to revolutionize how these trucks run. Regulators have looked into the industry and they’re not saying the changes will force freight to go hybrid, or electric. That type of move would give an unfair advantage to companies like Wrightspeed.

In the Regulatory Announcement, the EPA suggests that the freight industry can employ technologies such as “aerodynamic devices, lower rolling resistance tires, automatic tire inflation systems, and weight reduction” to meet the new standards. For Wrightspeed, this sets up a Battle of the Tech. Here again it has to convince fleet operators its system is more beneficial than the alternatives in the tech arena.

Comparing Technologies

Wright’s electric powertrain uses plug-in lithium-ion phosphate battery power for about 30 miles. During that stretch, regenerative braking power also feeds up to 730 kw of power to the battery. Then a microturbine generator kicks in and allows for unlimited range by recharging the battery completely; Wright claims the powertrains will double fuel efficiency and lower maintenance costs.

A standard stop-and-start delivery truck, the diesel-fed Isuzu NPR averaged 12 mpg before installing the powertrain. After the Isuzu was retrofitted with a Wrightspeed powertrain, which includes an electric plug-in engine and an electric transmission, the same Isuzu got 44 mpg around the city, a 300-percent improvement. And that was using the old Capstone microturbine generator, for which Wright didn’t own the intellectual property (IP) rights.

Wrightspeed  suzii

Recently, Wright unveiled the new Fulcrum microturbine, for which he owns the IP rights. Like the Capstone before it, the Fulcrum range extender can run on a host of fuel alternatives, including diesel, compressed and liquid natural gases, landfill gases, biodiesel, kerosene, propane, and heating oil. A=nd better than the Capstone before it, it has a power-to-weight ratio of 750 W/kg compared to the Capstone’s 478 W/kg. Through fuel combustion and gas compression the turbines generate electricity and send juice to the battery pack, creating 325 horsepower.

The Fulcrum’s 30-percent improvement in efficiency compared to existing turbine tech is due to a recuperator that recovers exhaust heat that would otherwise be lost. The exhaust heat is fed back in with gases created by a combination of combustion and compressed, heated atmospheric air. These gases power the expansion turbines, which drive the inlet compressor and drive shaft.

Combined with an intercooler system, the Fulcrum setup is lighter, and therefore more efficient, than piston generators, which have to use catalytic converters to meet emissions standards . The microturbine is so clean, it needs no “after treatment” such as a catayltci converter or other technologies.

As good as this may sound, big names such as Freightliner, Navistar, PACCAR, and Volvo are competing with Wrightspeed by implementing various structural changes to trucks, as suggested by the EPA.

Wrightspeed screenshot 2

According to Wired, some of the most basic improvements include streamlining truck bodies with a more aerodynamic, rounded design, adding skirts and a custom tail to the trailer, replacing mirrors with cameras, widening tires—generally engineering these things to work better with the wind and road. One strategy involves “platooning,” or follow-the-leader for the long haul, where trucks closely mimic the movements of a truck in front, cutting down on wind resistance and saving up to 6 percent on fuel.

Other more high-tech solutions include using heat generated by brakes to create power, which the onboard computer feeds into the battery. Wrightspeed is harnessing that idea already. Or, the hydraulic hybrid model, as tested by UPS, takes power generated by brakes and stores it in a high-pressure accumulator. Using the accumulated power, a truck can run for up to 90 minutes with the engine off. This works especially well for delivery trucks that have to make a lot of stops.

Wrightspeed’s niche

So far, delivery trucks and garbage trucks—the trucks that make a lot of stops—are the niche where Wright is generating the most interest. A new garbage truck costs about half a million dollars, over which Wrightspeed’s Route powertrains have the monetary advantage, and Wright has already secured a deal with Ratto Group waste management company to run Route powertrains in 17 of their trucks. Ratto is hoping to convert all 200 of their garbage trucks moving forward. In the delivery niche, Wright also has a deal with FedEx to try out his electric powertrains on 25 trucks.

The long run

One can only speculate on how Wrightspeed will fair with the freight industry. Wrightspeed is backed up with orders currently, and initial interest from garbage and delivery concerns will help fund continued advancement. Down the line, it’s not unreasonable to expect at least some interest from the freight industry, and Wrightspeed will hit gold if it can partner with a major manufacturer. Ian Wright doesn’t wish to comment on where he is with that yet.

Whatever the case is for the future, what we’re seeing right now looks promising because Wrightspeed’s technology is continually progressing, and emissions regulations are sure to help Wright’s focus on trucks continue to build up steam.

Daniel Matthews is a freelance writer and green car enthusiast from Boise, Idaho. You can find him on Twitter @danielmatthews0.


Jul 31

Wireless charging is ready today, says Momentum Dynamics


Note – not said in the article – the technology was tested at the FCC laboratory to prove it transfers power and complies with FCC rules and magnetic emission standards; they have a report. And, John M. Miller, PhD, retired from ORNL has verified this as not vaporware.

I have an invite next week to see 28 kilowatts being transferred through the air in a prototype unit that is being delivered to an auto company, with meters attached that prove the efficiency.

UPDATE – 28 kw is NOT for the Volt, but another company un-named.

Of course the video with a Volt at the nearby Target is a mock-up, but I’ve seen it really work at their office, and the tech is real. If you ask nicely, and are near Malvern, Pa., they might be willing to provide you a live demonstration yourself.

Volt wireless charging

Imagine being able to wirelessly recharge an electric car in less than one hour instead of plugging in and waiting 4-7 hours or longer.

Far off future fiction? No fact today, and something Momentum Dynamics has working in prototype form as it quietly works with companies intent on incorporating inductive charging technology into passenger cars and commercial vehicles.

This is according to the company’s CEO, Andy Daga, who we sat down with this week for a progress report on what may be the most powerful wireless inductive technology going.

Due to nondisclosure agreements, Daga is for now mum on household name clients being worked with, but he describes a push by nearly all automakers and those in commercial transportation toward charging that doesn’t need plugs and cables.


A finalist for the SAFE Energy Award which will announce winners July 31, Momentum Dynamics is a self-funded privately held corporation with “more business than we can handle” in prototype projects in several industries.

It’s hiring to take on more projects, and the six-year-old 20-plus-employee, suburban Philadelphia startup is a nominee for the SAFE (Secure America’s Future Energy) Award because energy security hawks are looking for ways to switch from petroleum.

An electric car can be made more practical today if zapped back in under an hour, as has been demonstrated with a Nissan Leaf, or in relatively short time, in the case of EVs with larger batteries.

Momentum Dynamics’ prototype home system has up to 10 kilowatts, 50 amps of 240-volt current. It’s hands free and safe and can work through snow and ice, if needed, or embedded under concrete, or portable, as desired. Public systems have proven up to 50 kilowatts, but 25 kilowatts is the “sweet spot” that Momentum is proving in field trials today and believes will become the standard.

The at-home charge rate for a sub-100-mile EV like a Leaf is not much slower than a 30-minute high-power DC quick charge.

How It Works

Momentum Dynamics uses wireless inductive technology with origins dating back to before Tesla – Nikola Tesla, that is.

What’s new about it is the company has found elegant ways to tweak technology employing a pair of round coils – one on the ground attached to the grid, and another attached to the vehicle to charge the battery.

These create “donut” shaped waves of invisible magnetic fields. Momentum’s engineering VP Bruce Long in essence devised a way to “squash the donut” and make the system far more effective.


Daga said the system “contains” the field so it does not interact with nearby objects, such as a vehicle’s metallic components. This leads to higher efficiency at high power levels.

After more than five-years development, patents, and pilot projects, the company has proven its technology doesn’t heat surrounding metal, and does the job as fast or faster than plug-in charging systems and for comparable cost and no efficiency loss.

“At 25 kilowatts continuous power throughput the overall power transfer efficiency is 91 percent,” says Daga. “We believe we can improve this to 93 percent in the near future. This is measured from the supply of the AC wall current to the battery.”

The technology conforms to international magnetic emission standards, and is harmless to humans and animals.

For commercial applications, Momentum Dynamics has invented technology enabling wireless and inductive power transmission allowing several EVS parked next to each to charge without conflict.

“It is a form of Near Field Communications,” says Daga. “It uses the existing magnetic system that is used to transfer electrical energy across an air gap to also, simultaneously, communicate information.”

What it does is solve a dilemma stumping others wanting to charge multiple vehicles without crosstalk, potential for cyberhacking, or safety risks, and this innovation itself is also something Momentum wishes to license.

This and other innovations not least being its raw speed of power transfer has Momentum Dynamics on the radar, if for now mostly behind the scenes.

Who Wants to Go First?

Today wireless charging systems are not available from any automaker but the first could arrive as soon as two years from now based on suggestions by Volkswagen, Audi, and Nissan.

At least one un-named major automaker is also evaluating Momentum’s tech, and may choose it as an OEM supplier. Here the carmaker could pre-configure EVs to be able to readily bolt up the wireless receiver making them plug-and-play, potentially as a dealer add on.

2015 Nissan Leaf

The mentioned aftermarket consumer charger being tested by Momentum Dynamics may be ready within a year and would work like any level 2 charger you now buy with a receiver added under the car.

It would not be the first to market, but with 5-10 kilowatts depending on what the house is set up for, it could be faster than anything now available.

Does Volkswagen’s robot arm essentially automating plugging in present a solution, or show a glaring need for a better solution?

Daga estimates 75 percent of Momentum’s business is commercial, 25 percent passenger vehicle, but the passenger car business is increasing.

Certainly the need for automatic charging is perceived. As one case illustrates, Volkswagen recently unveiled a complicated robotic arm that does little more than plug into an existing plug port.

That’s novel, perhaps a point of Teutonic engineering pride, but it could be complicated, pricey, and meanwhile automakers are working toward getting rid of the wires and plugs altogether.

Several efforts are underway around the world. Toyota is working with a competitor to Momentum Dynamics.

Several efforts are underway. Toyota is working with a competitor to Momentum Dynamics.

There’s a bit of a dilemma in all of this. Being a conservative bunch, some automakers are not wanting to dive in too fast with technology. They are however looking to see which competitor does what first, while simultaneously nervous that the same competitor may beat them to the punch.

If you’ve not noticed, not all automakers tentatively proffering electrified cars today are as bullish and gung ho as, say, Renault-Nissan led by Carlos Ghosn, or Tesla, with Elon Musk at the helm.

Within this climate, Daga say every automaker is hedging bets on many technologies, but wireless charging is just a matter of time. To date, we’ve heard nothing even from Tesla on adapting it but others, even Toyota – yes, Toyota – are developing solutions.


While some have wondered where the electrified vehicle industry is heading, a study by Goldman Sachs bullishly forecasts one in four cars by 2025 will be either plug-in hybrid or battery electric. Out of 120 million total vehicles, that’s 30 million PHEVs and EVs annually on a global basis.

Due largely to a steady push by regulations, Goldman Sachs forecasts a paradigm shift over next decade and someone will have to offer them recharging solutions.

Note the logo is photoshopped off of this truck. You’d recognize it instantly if you saw it. A UL approval is pending that makes them keep quiet on who this client is. I’ve seen the logo but can’t show you the actual photos un-retouched.

“The auto industry’s need to embrace technological change is more urgent now than ever before,” says Goldman Sachs in a study titled, “A disruptive new era of the Automotive Age.”

Another study by Morgan Stanley sees a bright forecast, and also bases projections on regulations that are more predictable to forecast the industry with than by guessing fuel prices, or consumer demand, or less than-eager manufacturer supply.

That said, 25 percent electrified market share one decade from now does sound intensely optimistic given the U.S. is presently mired at below 1 percent today.

Daga says even if the reality is only a fraction of this, it’s at least certain many more vehicles will need charging.

Making it Work

When they are not engineering prototypes, Daga and company have also spent time figuring ways to sell their technology into publicly accessible locations.

Charging systems costing $10,000 or more can make some prospective business owners wince. Attracting electrified car drivers to their business to shop can be appealing, but it’s not without complications.

Problems may include car owners who park at charger-equipped spots and hog them all day. Blink network is planning to impose a surcharge to penalize such behaviors, but some businesses on the fence about installing chargers see potential headaches.

In China and elsewhere in Asia, large automated parking garages are cropping up. Wireless charging would be ideal to replenish batteries without need a human to plug them in.

In China and elsewhere in Asia, large automated parking garages are cropping up. Wireless charging would be ideal to replenish batteries without need a human to plug them in.

While catering to anyone, Momentum Dynamics aims to sell to businesses which do not have cars parked all day – places like convenience stores, restaurants, and shopping malls, among others. A two hour or less in-and-out time will let its high-power chargers zap some range in and the problem of people leaving a car in space after it’s fully charged will take care of itself.

SEE ALSO: Momentum Dynamics’ Wireless Charging Could Relegate Plugs To History

Beyond this, Daga foresees a shift from primarily home-based charging to greater dependence on public charging. In places like China, Korea, and even the U.S. and Europe, not everyone has a garage. In some cases almost no one does.

Thus the need for many more public chargers to accommodate many more electric cars will make wireless all the more appealing, he postulates.

In short, seamless convenient charging dotting a community would help stave off range anxiety from limited-distance EVs.

A 100-200 mile EV that can quickly net an extra 15-50 miles just by parking during ordinary daily coming and going would effectively extend range, asserts Daga.

Beyond bigger batteries, a much broader charging network would make EVs more viable, he says.

“We should not force people to dramatically change their lives to experience the benefit of cleaner transportation. We should instead reward them for making the transition,” says Daga who himself dislikes surcharges and financial penalties on people already spending extra to go electric. “Wireless charging allows people to drive an EV without a need to change their behavior. They drive and park and when parked they charge without even realizing they are charging. It becomes even easier than pumping gasoline.”

Where it’s Heading

Momentum Dynamics’ technology has potential applications beyond the car business, such as in medical devices, and in other fields, but its sole focus is electrified vehicles, something Daga says he personally believes in deeply.


While the ratio of fuel pumps are enough to supply millions of vehicles on the road, because EVs take longer, Daga suggests several times more chargers would be needed for as many EVs, and this too has Momentum Dynamics energized.

While it’s impossible to perfectly predict the future, wireless charging is expected soon, and could grow in lockstep with global EV markets.

If things go to plan, it will be a natural transition of greater convenience than plugs and cords, and Momentum Dynamics aims to be there.

CNBC will announce the winner in Charleston today. Tony Posawatz, who is on their board will be there. I say these extra things because someone wrote a long lambaste at HybridCars raising some of the usual objections, speculating, shooting from the hip, saying this is like Eestor. I do not think that is the case, and we may hear more as soon as September as this company fights against resistance.

This article also appears at


Jun 23

How plug-in hybrids (and the extended-range electric Volt) save money


This may be preaching to the choir, but for any Volt skeptics who you’d like to pass this along to, here you are: independent sources, the federal government and a respected auto website not known for bias for the Volt, no less.


If we showed you an independent research source that reveals how a $32,500 Chevy Volt earns back the difference and then saves you $6,000 in five years ownership time compared to a $21,400 Chevy Cruze, would you be interested?

Before we get to that, if you’re just beginning to look into alternative energy vehicles, a simple way to conceptualize plug-in hybrids is to think of them as hybrids on steroids.

Like the best full conventional hybrids, the plug-in varieties do save on operational (energy) costs for the life of the vehicle, and, with qualifiers attached, the U.S. EPA promotes this assertion as generally true.

SEE ALSO: 6 Ways the 2016 Chevy Volt Has Been Improved

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) merge the best of both worlds from pure electric vehicle (EVs) and non-plug-in hybrids as their grid-supplied batteries are bigger than those in regular hybrids and allow part-time gas-free operation as well.

Both regular hybrids and PHEVs merge power from an internal combustion engine and blend it with a battery powered electric motor, but bigger batteries mean less gas use, and this can add up.

Reports on car shopper behavior however have shown the higher starting price of PHEVs may mean a snap decision against them as perceptibly too much to pay for what you get, but a closer examination may prove this an unfounded assumption.

Online cost calculators available may reveal the PHEV is still a better choice for your particular needs than a comparably equipped regular hybrid or internal combustion powered near-equivalent.

Real World Results Vary Widely

Operational (energy) costs are typically much less for PHEVs. Where they may vary is what you actually pay for gas, and what you actually pay for electricity. The federal government’s window stickers factor nationally averaged rates, and this is what gets reported often times.

Below we’ll show you where the feds redeem themselves and let you fine tune your actual energy costs on cars that can cost an average $4,000-$8,000 more than conventional equivalents.


Meanwhile, if you pay less or more than the 12 cents per kilowatt-hour or 2.79 per gallon the EPA figures for regular gas ($3.19 for premium) at the moment, your results could be better or worse than boilerplate window sticker assumptions.

On the other hand, anyone with access to renewably sourced energy, such as from a solar array, has a much higher likelihood of benefitting from the electric drive of PHEVs and it’s tantamount to receiving free fuel. Employers or other sources where you can get a free opportunity charge in your daily going to and fro also helps skew things in your favor.

How PHEVs Beat Conventional Cars

If you figure every machine costs money to run, PHEVs are like those which are most frugal with the energy “budget,” as it were.

Hybrid technologies like regenerative brakes capture energy otherwise wasted during stops.

And on those stops, Stop-Start systems ensure the gas engine is not running, idling, and burning fuel while you wait for the light to change.

Smaller than otherwise needed gas engines are right-sized to match their power with the electric drive.

PHEVs get stronger motors than regular hybrids that let them hit highway speeds in all-electric operation – usually up to 62-100 mph, depending on model.

However, plug-in hybrids differ – with the most notable metric to be aware of being battery size and effective all-electric range, as well as efficiency in gas-plus-electric or gas-only operation.

Also affecting the outcome will be your driving habits, particularly how far you drive between recharging.

Not Just About Costs

PHEVs let you bypass gas stations, which is convenient, liberating, even, while letting you “refuel” at home (assuming you have a place to do it).

They are estimated by the EPA to use about 40-60 percent less petroleum than conventional vehicles and this is conservative. Some drivers who stay within their electric range may beat this by much more. The EPA’s plug-in cost calculator which we’ll link below estimates how many gas station visits you’ll need depending on specific cars, and your exact energy costs, drive, and charging opportunities.

Prius PHEV. Numbers based on 40 miles per day, 15,000 per year, 15 miles to work, 110-volt charging on both ends of commute. Eighteen gas stops per year. Other PHEVs with larger batteries are much fewer. The Volt would never need to stop for gas and could do much more than this with its superior AER. Source: EPA.

Another benefit, of course, is PHEVs typically emit less greenhouse gas than conventional vehicles. True, some of those emissions are upstream at the power generation plant, and this varies by region. Nuclear, hydroelectric, and other renewable sources are cleaner than coal-fired power plants, but even the worst case scenario has seen scientists come out endorsing electrified vehicles over fuel burners.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Buy An Electric Car Now

And yet another reason to go with a PHEV is they can be enjoyable to drive. All-electric operation is quieter, smooth and can spoil you, and stories of people who went on to pure EVs have been told.

When It’s About Costs

Beyond sticker price, a wise buying decision factors all costs of ownership.

To drill down on your specific situation, the EPA’s My Plug-in Hybrid Calculator is a handy tool to determine energy costs. It covers every PHEV on the market, some of which are supercars like the million-dollar McLaren P1 which is sold out, but among more-ordinary vehicles, there are eight sold in the U.S. covered on the monthly sales Dashboard.

Beyond this, evaluating ownership costs means weighing available federal and potentially state incentives along with other meaningful info needed to make a qualified decision. An unaffiliated site that has a useful tool is and its proprietary True Cost To Own calculator.

2015 Chevy Cruze Eco. Do you get what you pay for? Source: Edmunds TCO calculator. We simply inputted zip code and model. This is the result of the websites’s proprietary algorithms. Cruze Eco (most fuel efficient) bought for $21,405 sure looked cheaper. Unfortunately, it will cost another $20,300 to own in five years, according to this calculator.

2015 Chevy Volt. It costs $11,100 more than the Cruze Eco. What a rip-off. We can almost hear the conservative talk show hosts now. however says despite heavier depreciation in year one, and with a full $7,500 federal tax credit, this buyer will pay another $2,900 over initial payment net net instead of $20,300 in five years. We did not make this up – and as always, your actual results may vary. is not compensated by your car buying choice; this article is purely info to enable you to decide what is best for you. Caveat emptor still applies.

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