Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Formula E: plans for second season Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag has outlined his plans for the second season of the fully-electric FIA Formula E Championship in which he hopes to attract ‘three or four’ manufacturers – reinforcing the series as the centre of electric vehicle development and also help it gain world championship status.

In an interview released on social media channels, the series boss talks about his plans to move away from the current one-make format and open up the regulations to allow full manufacturerinvolvement. Teams would then be able to develop their own powertrains for year two in 2015/16 and their own batteries from season three.

"In year two the teams will be able to build their own batteries and their own motors,” said Agag. “They could build their own whole car if they wanted. But the regulations are quite strict and they don’t allow a lot of development in aerodynamics, but they do allow development in motor and battery. I would hope that we have three or four different makers of motors and batteries in the championship for year two."

This move would also pave the way for Formula E to make a bid for world championship status with the series requiring the involvement of four manufacturers to become a world championship under FIA rules.

Speaking earlier in the month at the opening Formula ePrix in Beijing Agag said: "There is a condition of a world championship to have a certain number of manufacturers; you cannot be a world championship as a one-make series.

"We hope to attract manufacturers, meet the conditions and hopefully the FIA will grant us world championship status."

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

US: EVs Earn $110 Per Month Selling Electricity Back To Grid Electric Vehicles Sell Power Back to the Grid as Delaware Test Fleet Makes Money by Serving as an Electricity Reserve

In the 1990s, Willett Kempton, a professor at the University of Delaware, proposed in a paper that electric vehicles could help pay for themselves by selling power back to the grid. When no one jumped on the idea, he decided to develop the technology himself.

Now, the pilot project he spearheaded at the university in conjunction with power-plant operator NRG Energy Inc. brings in roughly $110 a month per electric vehicle. The operation uses software to link a minimum of nine electric vehicles, mostly Mini Coopers, together into a virtual power plant on wheels that can both draw energy from the grid and discharge energy when needed.

"We're not earning enough money to get rich," says Dr. Kempton. But "it earns money, and it earns more money than it costs to do it."

The vehicles—which come with chargers that allow for a two-way flow of energy and have a custom-made circuit board added to control the connection with the other cars and grid—essentially are being used as a short-term ministorage facility by PJM Interconnection, the operator of the electricity-transmission system in much of the Eastern U.S.

When more electricity is produced than is required, PJM can discharge power to the car batteries for storage; when demand rises, it can draw the juice back out. The utility agrees to pay for the reserved capacity whether it uses it or not, and the controller in the vehicle ensures that the battery isn't drained to the point that the car can't be driven.

Scott Baker, a senior business-solutions analyst at PJM, says the grid operator sees electric vehicles as potential stabilizers for the system, helping to keep frequencies smooth, especially as intermittent alternative-energy sources like solar are added to the grid.

The Delaware project requires that a certain number of vehicles be strung together because PJM's system won't recognize a "power plant" with less than 100 kilowatts of capacity, which is about what nine vehicles can provide, Dr. Kempton says. But he envisions a day when there could be hundreds of thousands of electric cars selling power to the grid while plugged in at home or the office, making the vehicles more affordable for owners.

That day, however, could be a long way off. One issue is that many EVs don't come with two-way chargers, which Dr. Kempton estimates would cost around $200 per car if auto makers were to design them into new EVs. Another issue is that the control boards are not commercially available, though Dr. Kempton says there have been promising discussions with two big auto makers and an auto-parts manufacturer.

Auto makers, meanwhile, don't know yet whether frequent charging will shorten a vehicle's battery life.

And laws and regulations have to change before cars can be used as power sources. Although the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has passed rules that allow for alternative storage technologies, other regulatory bodies have been slower to do the same.

Dr. Kempton worked with Delaware's utility commission to create the needed regulations, and the state legislature passed a law allowing vehicles to sell power back to the grid.

Still, the success of the Delaware project has inspired other research, says Scott Fisher, the director of alternative-energy services at NRG, which has licensed the vehicle-to-grid technology used in Delaware. NRG says it now plans to test whether electric vehicles could power a building and will apply for funds from a $6 million pool of EV-to-grid research money available from California's Energy Commission.

"I'm not saying it's a 100% slam dunk," Mr. Fisher says. "But it's important enough to warrant the time and energy and expense."

The U.S. military, meanwhile, has a $30 million project in the works to test vehicle-to-grid technology on five bases, including Los Angeles Air Force Base, starting this fall.

UK: one third of Source London chargepoints not working The Source London electric vehicle public charging network reportedly has flagged nearly a third of its charging point locations as temporarily unavailable.

According to, which tracks charging point locations and availability, the network has made important progress since French company, IER, took over responsibility from Transport for London (TfL) earlier this month.

After testing all of Source London’s 464 charging stations, IER discovered 168 were faulty and required maintenance work, the report said.

"Unfortunately, for EV drivers and Source London members, this means that currently the amount of publicly accessible points in London has diminished significantly," said. It added this presumably was the case before the IER take over, just not public knowledge.

IER said it was working with six charge point manufacturers to fix the stations and reopen them to the public as soon as possible.

"Despite the short-term inconvenience, this should be viewed as a big step forward for Source London," said.

"IER is building a platform for future expansion, once existing points are back online and operating as they should, the French company has indicated [it has] major investment plans focused on expanding the charging network.

"At the moment, Source London mainly consists of slow and fast charging points. With the developments in rapid charging over the last year and major backing from government funding, it is safe to assume that a sizeable chunk of IER’s investment will be centred on rapid charging facilities."

Non-members can currently sign up to the Source London network for GBP5 which will give them access to the network’s charging points till the end of 2014. Existing members have automatically had their memberships extended to the end of the year. A new membership scheme will begin at the start of 2015.

The UK-wide charging map, Zap-Map Live, details Source London points down for maintenance or still available for public use.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Mini Clubman PHEV in 2016 The Mini Clubman Plug-In Hybrid will be all-wheel drive in at least one configuration.
The 2016 Mini Clubman Hybrid will have a 1.5L three cylinder lifted from the F56 Cooper powering the front wheels. Integrated into that will be a plug-in hybrid system (likely derived from the BMW i8) powering the rear wheels only. Think of it as similar to the all-wheel drive i8 powertrain layout but reversed.
The system that BMW has shown in concept form (and has been testing for years in R55 Clubman mules) has an output of approx 140 kW / 190 hp. With a fully charged battery, the electric only range should be over 30 kilometers giving the Clubman Plug-In Hybrid the ability to be in 100% electric mode for the majority of day-to-day trips.
The Mini Clubman Hybrid will likely debut around the same time as the Clubman itself, in the second half of 2015.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Germany: New Incentives To Buy EVs The German government just passed a new law on electromobility, including perks for electric car drivers, such as parking privileges, permission to use bus lanes and special transit access.

A new law on electromobility was approved by the German federal cabinet on Wednesday (24 September).

The new measure is expected to come into effect in early 2015 and is set to expire on 30 June 2030.

Its scope covers battery powered vehicles, as well as especially environmentally friendly, externally chargeable hybrid cars, and fuel cell vehicles.

For plug-in hybrids, carbon dioxide emissions are capped at 50g per kilometre or a minimum 30km range on purely electric power (40km starting in 2018).

To a large extent, this established minimum range for electric power is enough to cover short day-to-day journeys.

Free parking and access to bus lanes

Under the new law, vehicles approved in Germany are intended to receive special identification via their number plates.

Cars approved outside the country are also expected to be given certain benefits. Because they cannot receive a German number plate, the legislation says they will be identified by a special sticker. This is meant to ensure that electric vehicles can be easily recognised in traffic by police and others on the road.

The law will also give municipalities the possibility to reserve parking spaces at charging stations for electric vehicles as well as provide free parking.

Local authorities can also dole out special access and transit passes (in areas sensitive to air or noise pollution) as well as opening bus lanes for appropriately labeled vehicles, when conditions allow. Final decisions, however, are in the hands of the relevant traffic control authorities.

"With our electromobility law, we are creating additional incentives for electromobility," explained German Transportation Minister Alexander Dobrindt.

"In the future, municipalities will be able to choose how to locally promote the use of electric cars, such as offering free parking or special transit rights. In addition, electric vehicles will be identifiable to anyone at a glance thanks to individual labelling. Because of the growing selection of e-models on the market, and the growing number of e-cars on the roads, sales will continue to rise," Dobrindt said.

Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks added, "With this law we are giving municipalities the possibility to promote electromobility in a way that makes the most sense for their community, from an air quality control perspective for example. Meanwhile we are creating a foundation to better accommodate alternative forms of mobility in urban development."

Auto industry pleased

The auto industry welcomed the new measure. The Automobile Industry Association (VDA) said it expects a boost for electromobility.

"Through individual identification for e-models, these vehicles will be more visible in traffic. Opening up bus lanes and offering free parking areas make driving electric-powered cars more attractive," the VDA's president Matthias Wissmann commented.

"These incentives must be implemented throughout Germany so that they are convincing to [potential] customers,” Wissmann said, adding, “To do this, it is critical to have an approach that includes coordination among the federal government, regions, cities and municipalities."

Wissmann hopes the law will take effect as soon as possible. "This is a first step in the right direction, which must followed by others", the VDA president emphasised. Research and development projects should be continued just as training and qualification efforts should be promoted, he said.

Germany is well-positioned with regard to electromobility, Wissmann pointed out.

"In no other country do car dealers have such a large selection of electric models. International assessments show: Compared to other countries offering electric cars, Germany's auto industry is at the top of the list," he commented.

By the end of the year, 17 production models made in Germany will be released on the market. 12 more will follow in 2015.

The German Transport Forum (DVF), a multi-modal industry association, also welcomed the fresh legislation.

The DVF's managing director Thomas Hailer said, "Now it is important to get e-vehicles into the fleets of companies and public officials. This has the beneficial side-effect that a market is created, in which used electric cars become available much more cheaply to private users after 2 years."

“But to do this,” Hailer continued, “there must be a procurement initiative at the national, regional and municipal levels as well as a move to introduce special tax write-offs for commercially operated vehicles. And credit programmes with reduced interest-rate loans for purchasing e-vehicles must be implemented quickly."

Japan: Nissan One Way Car Sharing Scheme Extended Last October, Nissan launched an EV initiative in the city of Yokohama called the One-Way Car Sharing Service, and Green Car Congress reports that the program has been extended another year after more than 10,000 people signed up for the service.

In total, 10,651 people had joined the service, which had capped expectations at 10,000 users between 131 stations spread out between 63 different locations. The average ride lasted just 16 minutes and covered just 1.9 miles in the New Mobility Concept EV, which looks a whole lot like a Renault Twizy. Seeing as how Renault and Nissan are tied at the hip, I think it’s a pretty safe assumption to make.

The next phase of the car-sharing study aims to better integrate local businesses, shopping centers, and public transportation stations. Ultimately, Nissan hopes to develop a free-standing business model it can expand for use in other large cities, and is also introducing new efficiency measures to improve the program. This includes a reduction from 70 vehicles to just 50, though the small EVs are still restricted from highway use (a good call since the top speed is just 50 MPH). Two new payment systems are also being introduced with Phase 2; Plan A costs a monthly fee of about ¥1,000, or $9.17, which includes 50 minutes of driving per month, while each additional minute costs ¥20, or about 18-cents.

Plan B has no monthly fee, though rates are set at about 28-cents per minute. This plan is aimed at tourists who may only be passing through and don’t need a monthly membership. Might such a system ever gain a following in the US? If the price was right, it could prove to be a popular alternative for bike-wary tourists and urbanites alike.

China: Dongfeng Nissan launches electric car

Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle Company, a joint venture between Japanese automaker Nissan and China's Dongfeng Motors Corporation, launched its first electric car in the northeastern city of Dalian on Wednesday.

The E30 pure-electric vehicle model from its local Venucia brand in China, was put on sale at a price of 267,800 yuan (US$43,550).

With a 47,500-yuan (US$7,740) subsidy from the central government and a 100,000-yuan (US$16,294) subsidy from the Dalian municipal government, local residents can buy the car for 120,000 yuan (US$19,550).
The vehicle has a maximum speed of 144 km per hour and a range of 175 km per charge.
Customers who buy the vehicle this year will enjoy free installation of recharging facilities.
There are expected to be 5,000 new-energy vehicles on Dalian's roads by the end of 2015, including 3,600 in the public sector, according to the municipal government.
Chinese automakers are competing to introduce electric vehicles into the market with a strong government impetus. Local firm Lifan launched an affordable electric car earlier this month with prices starting at 43,800 yuan (US$7,137), 6% of the cost of the Tesla Model S.
China is giving policy support, including tax exemptions, to new-energy vehicles to save energy and combat pollution. There are price subsidies and requirements for government departments to buy more new-energy cars.
New-energy cars have been exempt from a 10% purchase tax since Sept. 1. The tax break will remain in force till the end of 2017.

Norway: electric car sharing Japan’s Toyota reveals a new electric car for city use, partnering with France’s Grenoble and energy supply company EDF to pilot the scheme. Several Norwegian municipalities are also thinking electric vehicle-sharing thoughts.

The project in France will involve 70 Toyota i-ROAD vehicles around the city. They can be located using a smartphone app, which will also give information on the amount of power the car’s battery has.

Company Sodetrel has installed 27 charging points around the city, bringing Grenoble’s total to 120. 41 of these are available for use by other vehicles. The same company has installed 1,374 in various places in Norway.

The French scheme starts on 1st October, and will last around three years. The price for renting the vehicle is set at 3 euros for 15 minutes. Extending the time to up to 30 minutes incurs an additional fee of 2 euros, while each 15-minute period after this will cost 1 euro. Consequently, an hour’s use costs 7 euros, total.

Private initiatives
Five of Norway’s biggest cities – Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, and Kristiansand – are at various stages when it comes to electric vehicles and car-sharing.

“We cooperate with a private company called Move About, environmental organisation ZERO, and Norway’s Electric Car Association (Norsk elbilforening) regarding developing vehicles,” Oslo municipality’s Sture Portvik, head of their electric vehicles division, tells The Foreigner.

The municipality has set aside 50 million Norwegian kroner to substitute their fossil fuel-powered vehicles with electric ones. According to him, they are halfway. Private individuals can also set up an account with Move About, founded in Norway in 2007.

“Car-sharing is popular. Frankfurt and London are very keen on the scheme. When it comes to electric vehicles, people can familiarize themselves with them, and they are safe to drive,” says Mr Portvik.
Capital, capital

Stavanger, Norway’s oil capital located in Rogaland County is following Oslo’s example. Officials’ move applies to both municipal employees and private individuals.

“We’re working on different schemes for electric vehicle-sharing to expand the one Oslo has. Part of this is enabling the municipality to hire private EVs from businesses during the day, while they can be used for private purposes during the evening and at night,” remarks the municipality’s chief environmental officer, Olav Stav.

35,902 electric vehicles were on the road in Norway as of 31st August this year. Figures for regions Oslo, Hordaland (containing Bergen), Sør-Trøndelag (which includes Trondheim), Stavanger, and Vest-Agder (in which Kristiansand is situated) were 7,110, 5,205, 3,372, 2,900, 3,372, and 1,289, respectively.

“We don’t have an electric car-sharing scheme in place, but some municipal employees and inhabitants are members of [cooperative] Bildeleringen,” comments Lars Ove Kvalbein, mobility and climate information advisor in Bergen municipality. “We’re also going to be replacing 730 of the vehicles currently in our fleet (about 20 per cent) with zero emission ones.”
State allocations

Transnova, a Ministry of Transport and Communications subsidiary, has recently announced 2 million kroner (about 245,320 euros) is to be allocated towards an electric car-sharing programme.

Bjørn Ove Bertelsen, chief engineer at Trondheim municipality’s department of the environment, states that “we haven’t begun an electric vehicle-sharing scheme yet, but are very keen to get one started.”

Kristiansand municipality’s climate and environment advisor Kim Øvland says they do not currently have an electric car-sharing scheme in place either. According to him, however, some car dealers might have a scheme where electric vehicle customers can borrow a fossil fuel-based one for longer journeys.

“There have been public discussions regarding electric vehicles in relation to a plan for the region, but these have mainly been about infrastructure. We’ve spent quite a lot of money establishing fast charging stations in the region, but there’s still some way to go,” he concludes.

Controlling vehicle pollution, improving public transport and shifting away from the car culture could save 1.4 million lives and trillions of dollars, according to a new report by the University of California Davis and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Germany: free parking for EVs?

Germany is offering electric-car buyers the prospect of free parking as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government seeks to boost demand for the vehicles.

The German cabinet today backed a bill that would enable municipalities to offer drivers of battery-powered cars, fuel cell vehicles and some plug-in hybrids privileges including parking and the right to use bus lanes, the Environment Ministry said today in an e-mailed statement.

“Electric cars will get their own labels so they’re recognizable to everyone,” Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said in the statement. “Sales will rise amid an increasing selection of electric models and a growing number of e-cars on the roads.”

Germany, the focal point of the European auto industry, has set a goal of having 1 million electric vehicles on its roads by 2020, from about 21,000 at the start of the year. The goal is aimed at underscoring the country’s prowess in auto manufacturing as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet climate-protection targets.

Transport, which accounts for about 16 percent of the country’s carbon-dioxide emissions, generated about 140 million metric tons of CO2 in 2012, from about 161 million tons in 2001.

The measures “can boost electric mobility,” Matthias Wissmann, president of the VDA auto industry group, said today in an e-mailed statement. The rules have to take effect quickly and apply nationally to convince customers, he said.
Motoring Culture

Germany was a transport pioneer when it opened Europe’s first car-only highway in 1921 in Berlin. Its free-wheeling autobahn, which often doesn’t have a speed limit, has spurred a motoring culture, helping Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), Daimler AG (DAI)’s Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Audi and Porsche dominate the market for high-end cars.

Including vehicles like BMW’s i3 and an electric version of Daimler’s Smart car, German automakers will offer 17 electric-powered models by the end of 2014, and another 12 will be going on sale next year, VDA said.

Hybrids with CO2 emissions of no more than 50 grams per kilometer or an electric range of more than 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) qualify for the benefits, according to the government’s statement. The changes are to take effect in spring 2015.

London: Tesla-only taxi service opens GLiiDE is an all Tesla taxi service launching in London, allowing residents of this English capital to get around without emissions or congestion charges, reports EV Fleet World. Billing itself as London’s first all-electric taxi, GLiiDE is based around a smartphone app and corporate portal that handles booking, tracking, and payment for effortless transactions.

Convenience, luxury, and the Tesla Model S are three reasons GLiiDE says customers should choose its service, though it also claims to undercut traditional black cab service by as much as 50%. Payment goes through a linked credit or debit card, receipts are sent via email, and its Twitter feed is already showing plenty of signs of life.

But the biggest reason to want a ride in GLiiDE is a chance to experience first hand the Tesla Model S, a vehicle that has been praised by just about everyone that’s driven it. GLiiDE is also claiming the cost savings from going electric and being able to avoid the costly London congestion charge mean it can undercut traditional black cab services for a ride in a case many have heard about, but few have experienced.

Alas, for the moment at least, GLiiDE is invite only, which is basically a closed beta to work out the kinks. If/when it opens up to the public as a whole though, this slick company could have people lining up just for a ride around town. A similar idea has launched in nearby Kent, and a few taxi services in the US and Norway are giving the Model S and other EVs a shot at livery work.

GLiiDE looks to be the slickest attempt yet to integrate electric cars into 21st century taxi service, as long as it works. There’s a reason taxi companies haven’t rushed to replace their gas guzzlers with Teslas or LEAFs.