Toyota to Launch Prius Plug-in by 2012 in all Major Markets

By dancurranjr On December 24th, 2010

“Green Thinking” and development of nature friendly hybrid cars in the coming years is going to become a top priority for all the automakers. So says the Japanese company Toyota, which is one of the pioneers in the field of ‘green’ cars and is planning to bring hybrid car Prius by 2012 in a big way.

Now, while evaluating the results of this year, it is evident that Toyota has made huge investments in the development of innovative, and nature friendly technologies. In order to explore vast potentials of eco-cars, the company has set before it a large number of tasks for the next two years.

By the end of 2012, the world should see 11 brand new and updated hybrid models. Also in 2012, the company plans to begin intensive selling of Prius Plug-in model simultaneously in Europe, Japan and the U.S.: it is estimated that they will be able to sell about 50 thousand cars per year. In 2015, Toyota plans to release a model with a hydrogen engine mounted under the hood. Next year 2011, for strengthening the positive image of alternative technologies, Toyota iQ (in the electric version) will be included in the European program of road tests.

This year, as in the past, Toyota continues to develop new technologies. One of the promising areas is its development of new generation of batteries, which by their performance will be much better than the currently available lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are now being used in Toyota Prius Plug-in models. By the way, in order to evaluate the use of new generation of batteries in the automotive industry, earlier this year the company created a special organizational unit, bringing together a team of 100 people.

Toyota’s management is confident that eco-cars can have a positive effect on the state of nature, only if they would be used by maximum possible people in the world. Moreover, if the demand will be higher, more people will opt for the cars with new technologies thereby eventually leading to lowers costs.


Uncommon Alliance to Accelerate Plug-in Cars in California

By dancurranjr On December 16th, 2010

With plug-in cars arriving in showrooms this month, a new plan outlines steps to be ready for up to 1 million plug-in hybrid and battery-powered cars by 2020.

The report was unveiled at Universal Studios Hollywood where Back to the Future’s electric car was first introduced 25 years ago.

“It’s a bright, clean new world when automakers, electric utilities, infrastructure providers, regulators, public health organizations and others join hands to support a new transportation plan for California,” said Diane Wittenberg, Executive Director and Chairman of the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative. “We’re determined to pave the way for healthier, cleaner and cheaper transportation options for the 21st century.”

The new plan, “Taking Charge: Establishing California Leadership in the Plug-In Electric Vehicle Marketplace,” was developed by an uncommon alliance and offers 30 suggested actions to build a successful electrified transportation system in California.

Key recommendations from the plan include:

* Simplify the process to get home charging stations installed quickly
* Develop solutions to enable charging at apartments and condos
* Structure electricity prices to encourage off-peak charging
* Increase consumer demand through education and awareness programs
* Develop new service industries to make charging a car easier than fueling at a gas station
* Encourage tech-based solutions (e.g. smart phone apps) to help drivers find existing public charging stations
* Ensure local governments help establish the strategic placement of a public charging network

“We aim to address all the questions. It must be simple, simple, simple for consumers to choose plug-in electric vehicles,” added Wittenberg.

This plan will serve as a roadmap for developing a specific course of action. The Collaborative will support ongoing work and start up new efforts to address the 10 major recommendations in the report.

SOURCE: PR Newswire

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

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.

Is the Age of Electric Vehicles Finally Upon Us?

By dancurranjr On December 3rd, 2010

The LA Auto Show took place last week and several of the hottest cars were electric vehicles (EVs). On display were the much anticipated Chevy Volt along with its current biggest competitor the Nissan Leaf. According to Chevy, the Volt will be available sometime this year for pre-order and manufacturing will begin sometime in the first quarter of 2011. Once it is finally available, the price tag is expected to be in the $40K range. So maybe, just maybe consumers will actually get their hands on the Volt in 2011.

Nissan took orders for the the Nissan Leaf earlier this year and according to the company, the first year model is sold out. With a price tag around $32K it will definitely be a competitor to the Volt. But here is where the cars really differ. The Volt is both a plug-in electric vehicle with flex-fuel capability (PHEV). In other words, it has a gas backup that can run on anything from 100 percent gasoline to eighty-five percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, (E85) while the Leaf is a plug-in electric only vehicle (PEV).

But how hot will EVs and PHEV’s really be? The auto industry is banking on them and nearly all major auto companies have either an EV or PHEV car that will hit the market by 2012. Here are some examples: Audi is releasing 2 models, BMW is releasing 4 models, Ford is releasing 2 models, Mercedes Benz is releasing 4 models, Toyota is releasing 4 new models, Lexus is releasing 5 models, and Honda is releasing 5 new models. In addition, Cadillac has one model, Hyundai is launching its first hybrid, as is Jaguar, Infiniti, Mitsubishi, KIA, SAAB, and Volkswagen. And this list doesn’t include the hybrids and EVs from independent car companies such as Fisker Karma, the Coda sedan, Smart Fortwo EV and Weego LiFE.

What is interesting is that very few of these vehicles are set to be plug-in electric FFV vehicles (PHEVs) meaning most won’t be able to use higher blends of ethanol for their “gas” back-ups. However, if you take a closer look, you’ll notice two things of interest. First, most of the EVs are coming from foreign manufacturers and countries such as China have plans to dominate the EV market. These same manufactures are not releasing many, if any FFVs. Second, American auto manufacturers are not releasing as many EV models as foreign manufacturers. However, in their case, they are releasing significantly more FFVs.

It will be extremely interesting to watch consumer adoption of the next generation of FFVs and EVs and simultaneously see if the American auto industry comes out on top with its gamble on alternative fuels or if foreign auto makers will continue to gain market share with their gamble on EVs.

SOURCE: Domestic