Department of Energy Provides $3.9M for Hybrid-Car Chargers Research

By dancurranjr On December 17th, 2010

The University of Arkansas says electrical engineering researchers at the school have been awarded $3.9 million from the U.S. Department of Energy for continuing work on the development of a compact and highly efficient silicon-carbide charger for hybrid electric vehicles.

A news release from the university Monday said benefits could extend beyond vehicles into other areas, such as wind and solar power, and could lead to reduced energy consumption.

Alan Mantooth, professor and director of the university’s National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission said he was confident the effort would lead to breakthroughs in efficiency, size and weight reduction as well as overall improved vehicle performance.

The program calls for the Arkansas researchers to develop basic semiconductor device models that will enable other researchers to design integrated circuitry.


Ford to Spend $500M on Michigan Battery, Hybrid Production

By dancurranjr On December 26th, 2009

Ford Motor Co. has outlined plans to invest as much as $500 million in Michigan to engineer and assemble battery packs for a new generation of electric vehicles and manufacture a new hybrid and plug-in hybrid here — if state lawmakers approve a request for tax credits it is submitting today in Lansing.

These moves would consolidate much of Ford’s electric vehicle research, development, engineering and manufacturing in the state, creating approximately 1,000 new jobs at the company.

“We think it has a great opportunity to help in the economic growth of Michigan,” said Nancy Gioia, director of Ford’s global electrification programs. “It promotes Michigan’s competitiveness.”

Ford’s announcement comes a day after General Motors Co. said it would invest $336 million to upgrade its Hamtramck plant to produce the Chevrolet Volt and the next-generation Malibu.

Ford, which was the first U.S. car maker to manufacture a hybrid, plans to begin production of a battery-powered commercial van next year, to be followed by a battery-powered version of its new Focus compact in 2011. The company also is readying a new generation of gasoline-hybrids.

It currently purchases battery packs for its hybrid vehicles from Delphi Corp., which assembles them in Mexico. But the automaker said battery engineering is a “core competency” that is too important to entrust to a supplier.

If the state does not approve tax credits for Ford, the automaker said it is considering other sites.

The new Ford Focus and other vehicles based on the global compact platform are slated to be produced at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.

Ford said it has not decided where in Michigan the batteries would be assembled.

SOURCE: Detroit News

Saving the Plug-In Hybrid, Part II

By dancurranjr On June 7th, 2009

plug-in-hybrid-car-phevThe California Air Resources Board gave the nascent plug-in-hybrid-car industry a reprieve when it rejected a proposal that would have put small conversion companies out of business. The board voted 6-2 on Thursday to allow small companies, such as 3 Prong Power of Berkeley, to convert up to fifty Toyota Priuses into plug-in hybrids before having to undergo expensive emissions testing. The board’s staff had recommended that small companies such as 3 Prong Power could only convert ten cars to plug-ins before having to pay for the tests, which can cost up to $200,000. But the board rejected that proposal out of hand after hearing testimony from business owners who said it would bankrupt them, because it wouldn’t give them enough time to raise money for the tests. “Overall, we were impressed that we actually made a difference and people saw our side,” said Paul Guzyk, co-founder of 3 Prong Power. “It could have been a lot worse, and probably couldn’t have gone much better.”

Guzyk and his business partner Daniel Sherwood had proposed that the air resources board allow them to sell up to 100 conversion kits before paying for the tests, but the board deadlocked on that proposal 4-4. Air board staff was concerned that converted Priuses could cause more air pollution and urged for stricter standards, even though all sides agreed that they lower greenhouse gas emissions. Plug-in hybrids can get in excess of 100 miles per gallon because they can run on battery-powered electricity for around-town driving. Small conversion companies contended that they had found simple solutions that would not increase air pollutants.

Guzyk also credited the Express for its coverage of the plug-in hybrid issue, saying the paper’s stories stimulated a “whole movement” to keep the air board from killing the plug-in-hybrid industry, just as it had done with electric cars earlier this decade. After an Express cover story in January, the air board rejected a staff proposal that would have forced small conversion companies to begin paying for expensive tests right away.

SOURCE: East Bay Express

100mpg Hybrid Van Launched

By dancurranjr On May 26th, 2009

bright_idea_plug_in_hybridThe Idea, a multi-use LCV designed to be run by urban-based delivery fleets with typical round journeys of 50 miles, is claimed to be between five and 10 times more efficient than current combustion engine powered vans.

Bright Automotive said when it introduces the zero-emission van here, probably in 2013, it will make it available to lease on typical three-year contracts. On a full charge, the van, which has a 1-tonne cargo capacity, uses battery power for the first 30 miles, using little or no petrol.

After this, it functions like other hybrids.

On a 50-mile daily urban route, the Idea uses just over two litres of petrol, which is equivalent to getting 100mpg. But over a 70-mile journey that drops to 70mpg.

High volume production will begin in the US by the end of 2012 – with an annual run rate of 50,000 units in 2013. “We created the Idea by starting with a clean sheet of paper, listening to customer needs, and using breakthrough technologies and materials,” said John E. Waters, CEO and President of Bright Automotive.

“We are not publishing the acquisition cost yet,” Lyle Shuey, Bright Automotive vice president of marketing and sales told Fleet News. “However, we have determined that the Idea will provide a cost of ownership advantage for commercial fleet customers.”

Bright consulted over 50 fleet managers in the van’s development.

As a result of this fleet input, the manufacturer claims the Idea is the first high-volume plug-in hybrid electric vehicle to be designed exclusively for commercial and government fleet use. Meanwhile, the electric Th!nk city car has been granted the first pan-European homologation certificate for an electric vehicle.

The new certificate only became available from the start of the month, and is intended to help accelerate the introduction of roadworthy EVs. It means the car can now be registered in each European country without additional national tests or approvals.

The Th!nk has ABS brakes, airbags and three-point safety belts meaning it meets all of the primary safety requirements expected of modern cars.

SOURCE: FleetNews

U.S. Batteries for First U.S. Plug-in Hybrid

By dancurranjr On May 15th, 2009

hybrid_battery_packThe Fisker Automotive Karma, which looks like it will be the first plug-in hybrid sold in the United States, could be powered by lithium ion batteries from Enerdel, based in Indianapolis.

The two companies have signed a letter of intent for a supply contract, pending the results of reliability and performance testing, according to a press release from Enerdel. The battery maker also announced the opening of “the first commercial-scale production line for automotive-grade lithium-ion batteries in the U.S.” The plant is in Indiana.

Enerdel uses lithium manganese oxide electrodes, the same type used in the batteries selected for GM’s Volt plug-in hybrid. It was developed at Argonne National Laboratory with support from the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (comprising Ford, GM, and Chrysler).

Fisker had originally said that it would use batteries from Advanced Lithium Power, based in Vancouver, BC.

Plug-in hybrids use large battery packs that can be recharged by plugging them in, reducing gasoline consumption far more than ordinary hybrids, which can’t be plugged in.

SOURCE: MIT Technology Review