Electric Car Wars Hit the California Central Valley

By dancurranjr On December 19th, 2010

The charger is not universal yet but if you own a Nissan Leaf, one of the first all electric cars on the market, this is how you charge it away from home — for free.

“Right now we don’t have any intention of charging the customer any money for charging. And you realize this is the first stage of the electrical, 100% electrical car,” said Ashish Desai, general manager of Lithia Nissan in North Fresno.

Desai is has already installed four stations. There are no Leafs on the lot yet but three Valley customers have pre-ordered them online.

Desai: “The actual MSRP is somewhere around $27/30 (thousand) but with the rebates fluctuating you can look at somewhere down to $18 or $20,000.”

An overnight charge from home will get Leaf owners about 100-miles on the road … that’s less than half as far as a traditional car or truck. If drivers stop at one of Desai’s quick charge stations a 30-minute hook-up can return the battery to 80%.

Desai: “Is this a complete perfect electric car? No. Because of the range anxiety and I’m pretty sure the next couple of models they are going to solve that.”

Lithia Nissan invested about $50,000 to make this new technology possible in the Central Valley. That includes new tools to take care of the Leaf as well as a new 240W electrical line to power this charging station.

Leaf is not charging the zero emission field alone.

“People need to understand that it is not a hybrid it’s truly electric,” said Brett Hedrick of Hedrick Chevrolet in Clovis.

Hedrick is selling the new Chevy Volt … An extended range electric car promising at least 350 miles on the road and requiring a shorter time to charge … However gas is still a part of the car’s make-up.

Hedrick: “But what the gas is … there’s an onboard generator that will recharge the battery and extend the range.”

The MSRP for a Volt is $42,000 before government rebates. Both dealerships said these new electric cars will be on the road within the next two weeks.


Meet Russia’s First Gas-Electric Hybrid Car

By dancurranjr On December 17th, 2010

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who owns the New Jersey Nets basketball team, rolled out another pet project on Monday: Russia’s first gas-electric hybrid car.

It is called the Yo (picture), for the Russian letter “?”, and it can use either gasoline or natural gas to generate its electric power.

Proponents say the Yo makes use of Russian engineering innovations but can be priced for mass consumption because of its bare-bones approach to hybrid automotive technology.

While two electric motors propel the Yo, a small petroleum engine that can burn either gasoline or natural gas will run nearly continuously to generate the electricity they consume. Instead of charging a battery, as in the hybrid Toyota Prius, the generator in the Yo either powers the motors directly or fills a bank of capacitors that can hold only a small charge.

The designers say that at about 108km per gallon, the Yo will achieve better fuel economy than the Toyota Prius, in part because it is lighter.

Like other gas-electric hybrids, it will also have a total range far beyond that of a pure plug-in electric car like the newly-introduced Nissan Leaf.

The Yo, which is expected to go on sale in Russia in mid-2012 and cost about US$14,500 ($18,900), will have a top speed of 80 miles 129kmh and a range of 1090km if both its natural gas and gasoline tanks are filled.

SOURCE: Today Online

South Korea Aims to Make 1.2 Million Hybrid, Electric Cars

By dancurranjr On December 14th, 2010

South Korea aims to build 1.2 million electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel-cell vehicles in the country by 2015 as part of efforts to reduce emissions.

The government, which provided an update of its earlier plan made in September, plans to export 900,000 of the vehicles from the country and bring their total domestic market share to 21 percent by 2015, according to an e-mailed statement from the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Ministry of Environment.

South Korean automotive companies may invest about 3.1 trillion won ($2.7 billion) in technologies for electric, plug- in hybrid, and fuel-cell vehicles in the five years starting 2011, the statement said. The government referred to vehicles that will be produced by Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. and Renault Samsung Motors Co.

Kia, South Korea’s second-largest carmaker, aims to build 2,000 electric vehicles and its affiliate Hyundai plans to produce 500 units of the BlueOn electric car by the end of 2012, the Seoul-based companies said in September.

The government said in September it aims to produce 1 million electric vehicles in the country by 2020 and may give tax benefits to buyers. It said today the government may review giving tax breaks to electric-car buyers from 2012, instead of from 2013 as previously considered, according to the statement.

SOURCE: Bloomberg

Chevrolet Volt for UK sale in November 2011

By dancurranjr On December 14th, 2010

Chevrolet will start selling the Volt range-extender hybrid from UK Chevy outlets in November 2011 and plans right-hand drive from launch. It means that GM will offer Europeans the choice of the Volt or the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera – the Euro spec version of the same car.

Although prices are not yet set for either model, CAR understands the Chevy is likely to be positioned slightly cheaper than the Vauxhall. Sadly it’s not as simple as taking the US price and converting it; that would point to a UK list price for the Volt of £25,500.

‘It will be a higher price product,’ said Wayne Brannon, president of Chevrolet Europe. ‘The Volt will be restricted in terms of volume for some time. It will be a small number of cars for 2012 and we will not sell an impressive number – but it will gain credibility for the Chevrolet brand over here.’

Where can I buy my Chevrolet Volt in the UK?

Brannon said that the Volt would be sold from around just 50 of the existing Chevrolet dealerships across Europe, with just a handful in the UK rather than at all 150 showrooms.

Sales are likely to focus around the larger metropolitan conurbations, such as London, Birmingham and Manchester. ‘That’s where the early adopters and people who drive low-mileage commutes of 40 miles or less are most likely to live,’ said Brannon.

Chevrolet is undertaking a European pricing study at the moment and will announce the European cost for the Volt at the 2011 Geneva motor show.
Chevrolet Volt: the background

There’s a buzz around the so-called range-extender hybrids, as they bridge the gap between full electric cars and hybrids. They remove ‘range anxiety’ as the battery will never go flat in day-to-day driving; the on-board internal combustion engine is used primarily as a recharger to top up the battery, rather than to turn the wheels.

That brings many advantages, and owners who use the car to commute short distances and plug in the Volt overnight to charge may have to fill up with petrol only once a year. However, it also means that they are lugging around a heavy and compromised combustion engine in what is essentially an electric car.


Tesla Electric Car Makes Pit Stop

By dancurranjr On December 11th, 2010

As they stepped out of the sleek, hand-built, carbon fiber Roadster, Danielle Molleur of Summit and her daughter Madeleine, were all smiles. “I can understand why there’s so much excitement and why we put our money down on one,” said Danielle, one foot still in the Tesla’s futuristic cockpit.

On Saturday, Summit residents interested in checking out, and test driving, Tesla’s innovative, high performance sports car were able to do so during the manufacturer’s national Go Electric Roadster Tour. All they had to do was make an appointment with Tesla’s representative, Michael J. Sexton, and meet at the Grand Summit Hotel.

“We’re not your typical type of automotive company,” said Sexton. “Our (business) model is very much like Apple. We go out into the marketplace with the vehicle and present it to prospective clients. We want people to experience the car, and the response is overwhelming. Today, my first drive is at 10 and my last drive is at 3. We’ll probably do 10 drives in Summit, altogether. And that’s a good manageable amount.”

The buzz around Tesla and its car has truly reached a fever pitch. In a climate where consumers are increasingly concerned not only with economics but also with reducing their impact on the environment, it’s easy to understand why.

The Tesla doesn’t need a single drop of gasoline and produces zero fumes. Twice as efficient as a typical hybrid, the Roadster is a pure, electric sports model. It accelerates from 0-60 in a mere 3.7 seconds, with a maximum speed of about 125 mph, and a range of up to 245 miles on a single electric charge.

Although the base model price is $106,000, Sexton is quick to point out that the car qualifies for a federal tax credit of $7,500 and that there is no sales tax on the vehicle, in the state of New Jersey.

According to the company, the Tesla’s sales numbers have been growing steadily ever since the company went public in June of this year. There are currently more than 1,400 Roadster owners in the world. Together, they have driven more than 8 million electric miles — saving more than 400,000 gallons of gas and 21,000 barrels of oil, in the process.

Named after the Serbian electrical engineer, Nikola Tesla, the company took its inspiration from the great inventor, who also happened to be the father of AC (alternative current) power. The Tesla has an AC induction motor.

“It was always a dream of Tesla’s to have a fully electric vehicle. At the turn of the 20th Century, he tinkered with electric vehicles. There was the Baker electric vehicle and he toyed with that — how to make that run without even using batteries,” added Sexton.

Tesla will be coming out with a four-door sedan version of the Roadster in 2012 — the Model S. This one will have a range of up to 300 miles. That’s the model that Danielle Molleur has actually committed to buy.

“The nice thing is that you buy one of these and you’re done. I mean, there’s no gas and an electrician can fix the engine. And no combustion engine. No spewing all kinds of stuff in the air. We have to move in that direction. Even Kuwait and Dubai are putting in solar fields. They know that the end is coming for fossil fuels,” she stressed.