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

Fiat & Chrysler Ditch Hybrid Cars in Favor of Natural Gas

By dancurranjr On December 5th, 2010

In the search for the next green car many automakers have pinned their hopes on hybrid technology. The combination of a gasoline engine and battery pack system has had the attention of car buyers with hybrids like Toyota’s Prius to Chevy’s new Volt. Fiat, however, is betting on natural gas to help them grab a part of the green car market in the US.

Fiat’s beef with hybrid cars is all about money. Instead of sinking a lot of cash into developing new technology like batteries, why not use their knowledge of cars powered by natural gas to crack the US market? After all, the US is the world’s largest producer of natural gas, the fuel is pretty cheap to produce, and it is cleaner than regular gasoline.

The Italian automaker has a long history of using liquefied natural gas (LNG) or compressed natural gas (CNG) to power their cars. Fiat has locked up 80% of the consumer based market in Europe by promoting the technology through flex-fuel type cars that operate via natural gas as well as gasoline.

While Fiat has hinted about adding natural gas engines to Chrysler’s current lineup, it seems that their latest move may be targeting the commercial market. 55% Of natural gas based light commercial vehicles in Europe are Fiats, a number that includes everyday transport vehicles like delivery vans or postal trucks. Instead of relying on the 1,300 natural gas stations in the US, these fleets could be managed through a single fueling point at a regional hub or central office.

LNG or CNG engines aren’t as dirt cheap as their gasoline cousins but they are still cheaper than the average hybrid motor. There’s only a $3,000 difference between the cost of a gasoline based car when compared to one powered by natural gas. Fiat estimates that the additional cost for a hybrid car is about $8,000.

Fiat and Chrysler don’t have solid plans yet to bring natural gas cars and trucks to the US, but they will soon join the natural gas vehicles association in Washington D.C. The duo may only be in the planning stages but they’ve hit on an important change in consumers; MPG is the new MPH. Corporations and everyday consumers are more concerned with the intrinsic value of their car rather than how fast it travels. Until there’s a strong infrastructure for EV’s, car buyers and fleet managers will be looking for affordable options rather than dealing with high gas prices.

SOURCE: TaintedGreen

Car Charging Group, Inc. Installs Electric Vehicle Charging Station at Icon Parking Systems in Manhattan

By dancurranjr On December 5th, 2010

Car Charging Group, Inc. today announced that EV Charging Services are now available at Icon Mercury Parking LLC, located at 350 West 50th Street, New York, NY in Manhattan’s Worldwide Plaza. This is the first installation following an agreement signed in August with Icon Parking Systems, the premier provider of parking services in Manhattan.

The EV charging services available for use now include a ChargePoint(R) Networked Charging Station, which is manufactured by Coulomb Technologies. The charging station has dual outputs that deliver energy simultaneously: a 7.2 kW output delivering Level II (208/240 VAC @ 30 A) charging via the standard SAE J1772(TM) connector and fixed 18-foot cable, and a 2 kW output delivering Level I (120 VAC @ 16 A) charging via a standard NEMA 5-20 receptacle protected behind a locking door. Car Charging provides EV charging stations at no charge to property owners/managers while retaining ownership, thus allowing drivers access to convenient locations and partners to realize a percentage of the charging revenue generated.

The ChargePoint(R) Network is open to all drivers of plug-in vehicles and all manufacturers of plug-in vehicle charging stations. ChargePoint Network’s unique features include:

  • The ability for a station owner to set fees for use of their stations (including free charging)
  • The ability for drivers to access stations without a subscription via contactless credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, and Discover)
  • 24/7/365 telephone driver support via a toll free number on all charging stations
  • Smart Grid ready with built in Utility Grade Capable Metering, Time of Use (TOU) pricing and Demand Response (DR) control
  • Multiple Smart Phone applications (iPhone and Blackberry) to findunoccupied stations and navigate to them
  • The lowest operating cost possible due to real-time operational monitoring, alerts, diagnosis, and control of millions of stations

More than 20 different electric vehicles are planned to go on sale in the U.S. in the next three years and the U.S. government has backed $5 billion in investments for battery technology and consumer incentives to kick-start the market. The Chevrolet Volt, made by GM, and the Nissan LEAF are due to arrive in showrooms in the U.S. in the next few months.

Icon Parking Systems operates more than 200 parking facilities in Manhattan. Many of Icon’s locations are in the City’s busiest and most vibrant commercial neighborhoods, others can be found near famous New York City landmarks, and many are in residential areas throughout the City.

SOURCE: MarketWatch

The Future of Electric Cars

By dancurranjr On December 3rd, 2010

Utilities across the country are studying hard and fast the demand on the grid that adding tens of thousands of electric cars will bring.  The worst case scenario:  a super-hot summer day, home air conditioners on full-blast and Electric Vehicle (EV) owners all getting home at 5 o’clock, plugging in their cars and neighborhood transformers start frying.

That’s not likely though, according to Duke Energy in Charlotte, N.C. along with the Electric Power Supply Association in Washington, D.C.  The number of Americans driving fully electric isn’t expected to be massive overnight, but a gradual transition from the gas engines almost all of us currently have.  But local and bulk distribution systems are being inspected to make sure a surge in demand doesn’t lead to blackouts..

As for the new “propulsion grid” that electric cars will need, car charging stations are being built in public parking places, condo garages and office parks, but so many more are needed, like at shopping malls and the parking lots of wherever EV owners work, so that while they’re not driving, their cars can be powering back up to full battery.   EVs need to recharge when they’re not being uses, as their range on the road is a fraction of gas engine vehicles.

Twenty thousand new car charging parking spots will be online by this upcoming summer.  But the two companies which have received millions of federal tax dollars to install charging stations in public places and apartment buildings are still finding the right spots and acquiring permission to set up at those spots.  ECOtality and Coulomb Technologies are first targeting about 35 major metro areas for their EV charging stations, but that leaves a lot of rural space and most of the nation without a car charging parking spot for miles and miles.

Bonnie and John Osher just bought a $100,000 Tesla Roadster.  It’s fully electric (not a gasoline hybrid) and can go 241 miles on one charge. Both are full of excitement to be going green when they go anywhere down the road.

“(I just love) that it’s fully electric, that we don’t have to go to a  gas station again, ever, ever, ever,” says Bonnie.

Fortunately for them, their Tesla’s range allows them to always get home each night to power back up in their garage.  But “range anxiety,” the fear of running out of EV power on the side of the road and becoming stranded before reaching a place to recharge, is real, and remains a major concern of potential electric vehicle buyers.

SOURCE: LiveShots

Nissan Hopes Zero-Emission Leaf Will Electrify Drivers

By dancurranjr On December 3rd, 2010

Billed as the world’s first mass-produced electric car, this month’s launch of the Nissan Leaf is expected to send a jolt through an auto industry racing to build greener vehicles.

The Leaf — short for Leading Environmentally-friendly Affordable Family car — has enjoyed a crescendo of industry buzz, last month becoming the first electric vehicle to win European Car of the Year.

The fulcrum of Nissan’s green ambitions, the mid-sized five-seat hatchback is already a sell-out in Japan and the United States on pre-orders and is set to launch in Europe early next year.

Nissan is expected to announce the date of its Japan launch on Friday, with all eyes on whether the automaker’s big bet will herald the readiness of electric vehicles to hog the middle of the road.

“The Leaf will serve as a standard, a benchmark, for other manufacturers when they build new electric vehicles,” said Mamoru Kato, auto analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.

Emitting none of the tailpipe pollutants that have covered skies over cities from Los Angeles to Mumbai in smog, the all-electric Leaf is touted as an evolutionary step from petrol-electric hybrids made by the likes of Toyota.

It and other electric vehicles’ carbon footprint is instead determined by the way its battery is charged — meaning it can effectively be powered by anything from fossil fuel or nuclear plants to hydro, wind or solar energy.

Despite the development of electric cars being constrained by issues over whether sufficiently large networks of re-charging stations exist worldwide, the Leaf has caught the imagination.

The first US shipment has sold out, Nissan said, with the company having received 20,000 orders and separately at least 6,000 more orders in Japan.

Nissan, controlled by French partner Renault, started mass production of the Leaf in October in Japan and plans to expand production in North America in 2012 and in Europe in 2013.

“This is a significant milestone, not only for Nissan and the Renault-Nissan alliance, but also for the entire automotive industry,” Nissan President Carlos Ghosn said at an October ceremony marking the start of production.

The Leaf can top 145 kilometres (90 miles) per hour and can manage 175 kilometres on a single eight-hours charge. For those in a hurry, it can be rapid-charged to 80 percent of capacity in 30 minutes.

By 2020, Nissan predicts, electric cars will account for 10 percent of the global auto market.

American research firm J.D. Power and Associates estimates combined global sales of hybrid and electric vehicles to total 5.2 million units in 2020, 7.3 percent of the global auto market.

But it also warns the current demand for hybrid and electric vehicles is “over-hyped”, adding that the firm did not expect “a mass migration to green vehicles in the coming decade”.

But the concept of a car that can be charged like a cellphone by plugging it into a wall socket, preferably during overnight off-peak hours, is appealing in the face of volatile petrol prices.

Nissan estimates the cost of a battery charge for the Leaf to be only 13 percent of gasoline cost for conventional autos.

Despite a price tag of 3.76 million yen (44,700 dollars) in Japan, likely tax breaks and other incentives for green vehicles are expected to reduce that price, analysts say.

The Leaf is not the first electric vehicle to hit Japanese streets, and will face challenges from rivals such as Mitsubishi Motors’ “i-MiEV” minicar.

Toyota, which has for more than a decade sold petrol-electric hybrids such as the Prius, aims to launch its own electric car by 2012 but has put its immediate focus on new hybrid models.

Honda’s hybrid Fit went on sale in Japan in October as the cheapest petrol-electric car available in the nation at 1.59 million yen.

Last month US giant GM unveiled the battery-powered Chevrolet Volt combining electric power with a gasoline-powered engine/generator.

But the Leaf’s advantage, say analysts, lies in its roomy comfort in addition to the silent and powerful performance that has won it rave reviews.

Last month it became the first electric vehicle to receive the 2011 European Car of the Year award, speeding ahead of rival nominees Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Opel/Vauxhall Meriva.

“In spite of the lack of a large recharging network and the limited range, the Leaf represents a technical and commercial bet that might otherwise satisfy many potential consumers, especially where public incentives will come to reduce the paying price,” the award jury said in a statement.