The LA Auto Show: Hybrid Battery Replacement and Winterizing

By dancurranjr On December 21st, 2010

The thirtieth meeting of the Milwaukee Hybrid Group (MiHG) on Saturday December 18 featured Wayne Gerdes’s eagerly anticipated report on the Los Angeles Auto Show, lively discussion of new projects for the five year old organization, and comparison of mileage and winterizing methods among the members.

Gerdes, organizer of, advocates ending American dependence on imported oil entirely. He supervised a staff that test drove and examined cars at the LA show, which featured 20 world debuts of new car models, and 30 American debuts. While reporting on the features of the new Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, Gerdes played up mid-size high-mileage gasoline cars, and mid-size or luxury electric and hybrid models, such as the Volvo C30 electric, Lexus CT 200h, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, and Honda Fit EV. He expects these cars to attract many drivers who are not interested in the Prius or the Chevy Volt.

“Range anxiety” is a new term discussed at the meeting, a concern to those who will be driving cars powered solely by an electric battery. Randy Mays, a member of the MiHG planning committee, observed that Milwaukee commuters do not have to drive the distances of Chicago or LA drivers, and that he rarely drives more than fifty miles in a day. The Nissan Leaf has an EPA estimated range of 73 miles without needing to be recharged.

Gerdes related that Nissan is experimenting with direct current (DC) Level 3 charging equipment at Cracker Barrel parking lots near the Nissan plant in Tennessee that will be producing the Leaf, which can bring a battery to eithy percent of capacity in half an hour – less than the time it takes to eat lunch. This equipment is not likely to be available for individual home use for several years.

Owners of current hybrid models were glad to hear about a company called ReVolt, based in North Carolina, that provides replacement batteries. A member who arranged a battery swap at the Green Drive Expo in Madison last summer reported paying $1700, about half the price a dealer would charge. Gerdes observed that the company has a good reputation, and offers Gen II cells in replacement batteries, an upgrade from the Gen I cells in older Prius models.

More immediate practical discussion for the winter included use of standard foam pipe insulator material, available at most hardward stores, to block the flow of cold air through the grill. Cutting tubes of insulation in half, then fitting strips into the grill, can save a few miles per gallon.

Debbie Anders’s Ford Escape Hybrid continues to amaze with an average of 40 miles per gallon, and a couple from Fond du Lac reported their Toyota Highlander gets 29 mpg if they keep the speed under 55 miles per hour. Anders and Gerdes trained drivers for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sanitation District in the MiHG Drive $mart program, resulting in a sixteen percent mileage improvement. MiHG Bradlee Fons continues to hold one of the top records, with 88.8 average mpg in his Honda Insight.


VW Signs Agreement With BYD, May Work Together on Hybrid and Electric Cars

By dancurranjr On June 3rd, 2009

vw-polo-bluemotionVolkswagen has teamed up with BYD to explore their options of forming a partnership for production of hybrid and electric vehicles.

The agreement, technically called of memorandum of understanding, states that both companies will work together to see if a partnership for developing hybrid and electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion technology could be beneficial to both involved parties.

The deal was signed last week by Chairman of the Board for VW Dr. Martin Winterkorn and Chairman of the Board for BYD Wang Chuanfu.  The agreement was put into terms during a visit from BYD to Volkswagen.

During the visit, BYD execs got a chance to explore the Volkswagen facilities at the Elektrotaktion Technology Centre in Isenbuttel and then proceeded onto the test tracks at Wolfsburg.  During their stay, BYD execs got an opportunity to drive the Golf twinDrive and a Volkswagen prototype electric vehicle.

Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, a VW Member of the Board for Technical Development sums up the reason for the meeting of the two companies as follows, “Volkswagen will consistently expand its successful BlueMotion Technologies.  Hybrid and electric vehicles will play an increasingly important role, of course.  Particularly for the Chinese market, potential partners such as BYD could support us in quickly expanding our activities.”

SOURCE: All Cars Electric