I-GO Car Sharing Leads the Way

November 30, 2011 at 10:44 am

I-GO Car Sharing is a nonprofit organization in the Chicago area. This week they announced plans to build 11 solar powered charging stations around the city. The company is currently midway through a $2.5 million electric vehicle project that will add 36 all-electric vehicles to its fleet and 11 publicly-available solar charging stations to power its cars. Once completed, I-GO will have the largest electric vehicle fleet in the Midwest, and it will use more solar power to charge electric vehicles than anywhere else in the country.

Grants from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will be used to fund the project and will be completed in early 2012. Each solar charging station will form a canopy that covers four parking spaces, and will be able to power two electric vehicles. Two spaces will be reserved for I-GO at each location, and the others will be available to the public. Each canopy will be topped with 44 solar panels. In aggregate, the canopies will produce about 200,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which will power as much as 600,000 miles driven per year.

The company responsible for building the charging stations is 350Green LLC, a San Diego-based company. Thanks to a package of $2 million in federal and state grants 350Green LLC was able to cut costs in half in order to do that project.

I read so many similar stories to this one, it is only a matter of time before seeing charging stations all over cities will be a common occurrence. Cant wait.


GM Offers Free Loaner Cars

November 28, 2011 at 9:41 am

In response to a series of fires that occurred in crash-testing of the Chevy Volt and its batteries GM have offered to provide free loaner cars to anyone who is concerned about this issue. In true holiday spirit Mark Reuss, president of GM North America said, ”Our customers’ peace of mind is the most important thing. This technology should inspire confidence and pride and not fear and doubt” .

Federal officials on Friday launched a formal safety-defect investigation into GM’s plug-in hybrid vehicle after crash tests on several Volts and their batteries resulted in fires. In one case, a fire that started in one of the test vehicles consumed three others parked nearby. The problem occurs when electricity is left stored in the batteries for some time following a crash, said Mary Barra, GM’s senior vice president of global product development.

When GM learns of a crash involving a Volt from the vehicle’s onboard communications system, the automaker sends technicians to hook up equipment to drain the electricity from the battery.

This is an amazing example of the commitment that GM have towards the EV industry. They understand that those people who took the leap of faith in purchasing the first generation of EVs from General Motors deserve peace of mind and security when considering their vehicles safety features.


Volkswagen to be Producing EVs in China from 2013

November 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm

In order to meet demand for Electric Vehicles, Volkswagen AG has declared that by 2013 they plan to be producing the environmentally friendly vehicles in China.

Volkswagen is counting on China to help it surpass General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. as the world’s biggest automaker by 2018. VW will spend 14 billion euros ($19 billion) from 2012 through 2016 to expand in the nation it first entered three decades ago, as part of a push to increase sales in emerging markets.

Karl-Thomas Neumann, chief executive officer and president of the Wolfsburg, Germany- based automaker’s China unit said, “Governments in China and Europe are getting more realistic that electric cars could quickly replace internal- combustion engines.”  Neumann reiterated VW’s plans to double production capacity by 2015 and said it will exceed 2 million deliveries in China this year. The maker of the Jetta sedan and Tiguan SUV sold 1.89 million vehicles in the first 10 months, an increase of 15 percent from a year earlier, it said on Nov. 11.

VW produces cars and sport-utility vehicles in China through ventures with SAIC Motor Corp. and China FAW Group Corp. The two ventures have each created a prototype EV and will introduce test fleets next year, said Neumann.


Renault Opens EV Test Center

November 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Earlier this year Renault, a French car manufacturer, released the Kangoo Z.E, the companies first all electric vehicle. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQFq7QkKAvE)

The testing for this vehicle was conducted in a new EUR28m electric vehicle test facility in Lardy, France, which houses most of the test facilities for electric motors and batteries. Over time the facility has expanded  to cover 3,300 sq m and some 100-test benches.

Renault said that the test center is capable to run 15 different tests on the lithium-ion traction batteries, simulating the most extreme conditions (‘abuse’ tests).

The automaker’s engineering staff at Lardy have benefited from building new skills as part of a staff re-training and mobility programme, they have also developed new testing expertise in electric motor technology.

Renault SVP of powertrain engineering, Jacques Prost, said the Lardy test centre is supporting the company’s move into the electric vehicle market – now a concrete reality after the launch of our first electric vehicle, Kangoo Z.E.

“Our goal was to sell vehicles that are reliable, powerful and 100 percent safe. Lardy has helped us to achieve that goal thanks to 170,000 hours of testing in 2011,” Prost said.

“Investing in this centre will enable us to pursue and support new developments in electric powerplant technology and make Renault the leading manufacturer of electric vehicles in Europe.”

EV Strategic Council is Launched in Bay Area

November 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm

In the Bay Area, an EV Strategic Council was launched today that aims  to ensure that the Bay Area becomes the “EV Capital of the U.S.” Led by the region’s big city Mayors, regional officials and clean tech industry executives, the Bay Area EV Strategic Council aims to develop the infrastructure needed for an influx of new electric vehicles (EVs) now available and soon to arrive from GM, Nissan, Tesla, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Ford, BMW and others.

In announcing the awards, Steve Kinsey, Marin County Supervisor and Co-Chair of the EV Strategic Council, said: “One of the smartest things we can do as a community is to ‘Go EV.’ By reaching our target of 100,000 EVs in the Bay Area by 2015, drivers will save over $200 million a year that can be re-invested in local jobs, and vehicle emissions will be reduced by nearly 80% compared to conventional cars. Moreover, as we invest in more renewable energy, EVs will get even cleaner and our energy independence will be strengthened. EVs are a triple win — for the economy, the environment, and our national security.”

Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino, another founding member of the EV Strategic Council, said: “Who would have thought even five years ago that the Bay Area would emerge as a center for electric vehicle manufacturing? Yet here we are with Tesla and Toyota in a joint venture, two new EV factories coming on line (Tesla in Fremont and Coda in Benicia), and GM, BMW and Daimler all working on EVs and other R&D projects here in Silicon Valley.

This is what the declaration of intent from the green friendly Bay Area. I, for one, am excited to watch the progress.


Wave Energy Park Plan Outlined for Oregon

November 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has proposed certification of the Ocean Power Technologies wave energy park off the coast of Reedsport, but is inviting public comment prior to finalizing its approval.

The proposed plan requests permission for a total of ten 140ft buoys bobbing in the ocean off  the coast of Oregon. The buoys, if approved, would occupy a quarter square mile in water between 165 and 225 feet deep, and they’d generate as much as 1.5 megawatts of power, enough to supply 1,000 or more homes. Most of the concerns raised thus far about wave energy buoys raise questions about whether the buoys and their undersea transmission cables could entangle whales or ensnare crab pots.

DEQ approval is all but certain at this point. The state’s staff is recommending granting the certification, and has only denied such an application once in its history, said Marilyn Fonseca, natural resource specialist for the state. But such approval would include multiple conditions on the permit; that Ocean Power Technologies monitors water quality at the site, for example, and have a spill plan in place to determine what happens if the 200 to 265 gallons of hydraulic fluid in each buoy were to leak.