The San Francisco to Silicon Valley corridor made many a millionaire during the dot-com boom as companies wanted their mail to arrive at a place close to technical talent and potential investors. While much smaller in scale, the industry for electric vehicle charging technology is also being largely centered in the Bay Area for similar reasons. (more…)
Yesterday, President Obama spoke with workers at Smith Electric’s new factory in Kansas City. Missouri. With a $32 million grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act coupled with $36 million in private capital, the electric vehicle company is building up to 500 all-electric trucks.
While he was there, the President also had the pleasure of announcing the company was hiring its 50th worker at the plant. By September, that number is expected to grow to 70, and at the project’s peak, Smith tells us the project will create more than 220 direct and indirect jobs. As the President said:
Imagine that every car in America was an Electric Vehicle (EV) powered by a electric battery like the Tesla’s (Nasdaq: TSLA) Roadster. Imagine also that each and every car was powered with solar energy. Here’s a question: what amount of land would you need to generate the solar energy to power every electric vehicle in America? And how would that solar acreage compare with the land surface that the oil industry uses to drill today?
I did the numbers and the answer will surprise you. (more…)
Those who are passionate about electric cars know that, after many fits and starts, 2010 will likely be the year the world finally gives birth to an EV for the mass market. GM has its Volt, Nissan its Leaf, Tesla its Model S and Coda… its Coda. Now Daimler AG appears poised to get a jump-start on the competition by rolling out its electric Smart Fortwo. In a cool display of marketing savvy, Daimler will be cruising to more than a dozen US cities this fall where it will be inviting the public to come and take its Smart-ist car out for a spin. (more…)
“Absolutely awesome!” is how Jit Bhattacharya the COO of Mission Motors based in San Francisco, CA described a recent test run of their Mission One electric motorcycle. With Tesla already proving that an electric sports car can outperform its gas-powered predecessors, Mission Motors is seeking to show that electric motorcycles are every bit as capable at high-performance endeavors as their four wheeled counterparts.
Nissan is on tour promoting its upcoming electric vehicle, the Leaf, in select cities across the U.S. The 5-passenger EV will become available in December 2010, and faces many challenges in fostering a supporting vehicle charging infrastructure and creating consumer-friendly financing options, but thus far they seem to have a well-conceived plan. During an event in Portland this week I spoke with Nissan senior manager for corporate planning Brian Verprauskus about the Leaf launch plans.
Ensuring that consumers will be ready to charge on the day that they bring the vehicle home is a new challenge for Nissan and the other EV manufacturers. Nissan plans to partner with a nationally known company to provide the wall box for plugging in the vehicle and to manage matching vehicle owners with electricians. Nissan will choose a company that has experience going into consumers’ homes, and will likely announce the partner in early 2010. Consumers will need to connect the box to a dedicated circuit for EV charging, which requires carefully managing the process to reduce risk of a customer improperly plugging in a vehicle and causing damage to the vehicle or property. Nissan’s plan is smart because many consumers will need hand holding to understand the issues of EV charging, and a company with adept at customer relations will be key.
Driving to work and flipping on a light switch may seem to unrelated activities, but very soon lithium ion batteries will assist in making both possible.
The nascent electric vehicle market is likely to standardize on lithium ion batteries. Today the cost of plug-in and all-electric vehicles is too high for many consumers thanks to batteries, which can add $10,000 or more to the price tag. The cost of batteries is only expected to come down after battery cells and packs are produced in sufficient volume to achieve economies of scale.
Just as your mileage varies by where and how you drive, so might the performance of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid’s batteries.
The batteries in the GM vehicle due out in a year (November 2010) will have at least 10 years of life, according to company representatives who briefed the media on Tuesday. But vehicle owners who live in temperate climates are likely to see their batteries last much longer.
American cars with turbochargers are currently few and far between, but that may soon be changing. While a significant and sustained increase in the price of fuel would greatly boost demand for turbochargers, auto manufacturers’ need to comply with carbon emissions and fuel economy targets will be the primary drivers of the domestic turbocharger market. When compared with cars with similar horsepower, those with turbocharged smaller engines can reduce emissions by 20 to 40 percent, and can increase fuel economy by 15 to 20 percent.
As is often the case, the U.S. lags Europe in adoption of this technology, partly because it has primarily been used with diesel engines. Turbochargers are now used in about half of all European cars. By comparison, U.S. penetration is at just five percent.
These are the days for clean tech observers and professionals. Our most innovative companies are finally bringing game-changing technologies to market and into competitive parity on cost. The political will that has been lacking for decades seems to be gaining critical mass. Even corporate America seems to be on board with making a profitable shift to a green economy.
Still, it’s not all rosy in the green tech picture. Getting climate change legislation through the house was a bloodsport and, as previously noted on the CleanTechies Blog, the Senate looks increasingly unlikely to put anything substantial on the President’s desk this year. And that is just the new policy. Around the country, existing policies designed to enable clean energy adoption are floundering, and even with all of the aforementioned momentum, in a down economy policy makers cannot afford too many false starts.