Electric Car

The Leonard Lopate Show

Building the Battery For the Next Electric Vehicle

Monday, February 09, 2015

There is a worldwide race to perfect the lithium-ion battery, a device with the potential to power the electric car. The stakes are huge for the company that can bring it to market.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Why Tesla Can't Sell Cars Directly to NJ Drivers

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A new rule in New Jersey bans car companies from selling vehicles directly to customers. Hunter Walker,  politics editor for Business Insider, explains what the decision means for the electric car company Tesla, which doesn't want to work with car dealerships that sell gas-powered cars.

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New Jersey News

Senate Committee Takes Up More Than a Dozen Bills for Alternative-Fueled Vehicles

Monday, September 17, 2012

New Jersey has one of the most ambitious clean energy programs in the nation, but some have criticized the state for not doing enough to promote the development of electric vehicles and other alternative-fueled cars.


Transportation Nation

Europe Slow to Warm Up to Electric Cars

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A charging station in Berlin (photo by Kate Hinds)

Europe is home to expensive gas, a growing wind farm industry and aggressive carbon reduction goals.  But so far, when it comes to electric cars, il n'y a pas d'amour -- pas encore.

Transportation ministers and industry leaders, speaking last week at the International Transport Forum in Leipzig, Germany, said government subsidies and ever-increasing numbers of charging stations aren't yet enticement enough to convince European consumers.

Case in point: Sergio Monteiro, Portugal's Secretary of State for Public Works, Transport and Communications, said his country is laying the groundwork for EVs -- but so far his fellow citizens aren't buying.

"We have more than 1,300 charging points," he said, adding that Portugal is also financially incentivizing the purchase of EVs. "The average cost (of an electric car) is around 35,000 euros in Portugal, and we have a reduction of five thousand euros subsidized by the state."

But, said Monteiro, "we only managed to sell 200 vehicles last year." And 60 of those went to government administrators.

Monteiro dusted off a phrase uttered by the Irish transport minister earlier that day.  "It was like the field of dreams," he said. "You have the infrastructure, then services would come. That was not the case." He added that it was "living proof that infrastructure can only do so much -- you need to break a number of barriers." And chief among them is cost. Even with a 5,000 euro reduction, Monteiro said, EVs are too expensive for the average Portuguese citizen navigating austerity measures.

The wait for lower prices may be a decade away. Nissan vice president Mitsuhiko Yamashita said it usually takes ten years to reduce the price of new technologies by half. He used airbags as an example, saying it now cost automakers as much to put six airbags in a vehicle today as it did to include two a decade ago. "We can do the same thing for the EV, takes maybe five to ten years, ten years on average. But during that time frame, I'd like to expect some type of support from the government."

While some European countries offer subsidies to purchase EVs, not all do.

Another issue hampering EV adoption is standardization. Europe is home to multiple electrical grids, and different EVs have different plugs. Pat O'Doherty, the CEO of Ireland's Electricity Supply Board, said "I should be able to drive my electric vehicle from Dublin in the future, down through Britain and charge it, down through France and into the South of Spain." He added that even the technology governing payment systems at public charging stations differs from place to place.

Yamashita later said ruefully "that's my headache at this moment."

Nissan launched the all-electric Leaf at the end of 2010, but so far sales have been underwhelming. Yamashita tried to put a good face on it. "We already sold more than 27,000 vehicles worldwide as of the beginning of April," he said. "Thirteen thousand in Japan, 11,000 in the U.S...We just started sales in Europe but we've sold 3,000."

Those are stark numbers, and it doesn't look much better when you read reports that Nissan wants to sell 20,000 to 25,000 of them in Europe in 2012. The company is trying to boost sales by moving production to the U.K., which will lower costs, and also redesign it in order to appeal to European tastes.

One bright spot for the Leaf, though, can be found in Norway, where 1,000 of them were sold in six months.

But on a large scale, "it will only work if the customer benefits financially," said O'Doherty. He said the Nissan Leaf had been selling better in Ireland since Nissan had knocked 5,000 euros off the price.

Watch a video of the conversation at the ITF summit below.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Joe Nocera on the Chevy Volt

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Joe Nocera, op-ed columnist at The New York Times, discusses the right's reaction to the Chevy Volt-.

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Transportation Nation

Houston's Electric Car Drivers Have a New Place to Power Up

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The eVgo Freedom Station at Memorial City Mall in Houston. (Photo courtesy of eVgo via Flickr)

Jimmy Sauers was the first person in Texas to take delivery of a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle. "Both my wife and I are engineers," he said, "and so we were very meticulous about doing cost-benefit analysis." Sauers uses his Leaf to drive from his home in Seabrook to his job in downtown Houston. That's about a 75-mile round trip. He charges his vehicle at home and on the road.  So how much money have they saved? "In 13 months, based on the miles I've driven," he said, "it's been about $3,000 dollars."

Sauers was one of the electric car drivers on hand for the unveiling of a new charging station at Memorial City Mall, just off I-10 in west Houston. The charging station is operated by the eVgo company, a subsidiary of NRG Energy.  Electric car drivers can use the station as much as they want for a monthly fee.  They can add about 50 miles of range in a 15-minute charge. Laura Spanjian, the sustainability director for the City of Houston, said the new station will be a huge benefit to drivers along the I-10 corridor. "It will give them the confidence," she said, "that if they do need a little more electricity to power their car, they can quickly get off the freeway."

Spanjian said the city is encouraging the use of electric vehicles by teaming up with private partners to install charging stations around the city.  She's hoping drivers will see hundreds of new stations by the end of the year. "There's been statistics out there that say that by 2020, fifteen percent of the cars on the road will be electric."

The city of Houston is also adding to its fleet of electric vehicles.  Spanjian said the city will soon have about 40 electric cars, one of the largest alternative fleets in the country.

To listen to this story, visit KUHF.


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Electric Vehicles to be Manufactured in the Bronx

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An electric truck maker is opening up a factory in the Bronx — saying it wants to be near a market for zero-emission delivery vehicles.


The Leonard Lopate Show

Revenge of the Electric Car

Friday, October 14, 2011

Director Chris Paine and Elon Musk of Tesla Motors, discuss the documentary “Revenge of the Electric Car.” Paine (who directed the 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car”) goes behind the closed doors of Nissan, GM, the Silicon Valley start-up Tesla Motors to follow the race be the first, the best electric car, and to win the hearts and minds of the public around the world. "Revenge of the Electric Car" opens October 21 at Landmark Sunshine Cinemas.

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Watch | Ride Shotgun With an Electric Car Test Driver

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

An attorney from White Plains traded his Camaro for a chance to be a test driver for the Chevrolet Volt, an electric car that he has used to commute 14 miles from his home to West Nyack since November.

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Transportation Nation

NRG Energy Co. to Launch Privately-Funded EV Charging Network in Houston

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rapid charging station - gives full charge in around 30 minutes

Rapid charging station - gives full charge in around 30 minutes

(Houston - Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) Houston's ambition to become a model city for the electric car just got a major boost from NRG Energy. The power giant is launching the biggest charging network in the nation right here in the oil capital of America.

Listen to the story over at KUHF News and check out the slideshow here.

NRG, a power company, just announced plans to build the country’s first privately-funded electric charging network, called eVgo. And, perhaps surprising to some, it’s starting with Houston. The energy company is spending $10 million on public charging infrastructure, so as to assuage any of that pesky range-anxiety we all keep hearing about. Glen Stancil, with NRG EV Services, says the electric vehicle (EV) chargers will be installed along major roadways in Houston and in the parking lots of retail chains like Walgreens and Best Buy.  “Really it’s a commuter car," says Stancil, "and we want to make sure commuters have confidence that when they need power they’ll get it.”

NRG's EV charging network plan for Houston

NRG's EV charging network plan for Houston

NRG says it will install 150 charging stations by the end of 2011. Some will take thirty minutes to give a full charge, others will take hours. But the majority of EV charging is expected to take place at home — some 80 to 90 percent. David Crane, CEO of NRG, underscores the significance of this, asserting, "the  service station of the future is actually your garage."

And NRG, being the electricity company it is, hopes to take over that part of the charging equation too. It’s serving up home charging stations as part of a package, if you sign on with one of their utility partners, that is — like Green Mountain or TXU. The charging packages are akin to a TV and internet bundle. Buyers would get a home charging station plus electricity for the charger and access to the public charging network around Houston. The most expensive plan is $89 dollars a month.

Crane says he hopes to have 1000 subscribers to NRG’s plan by the end of 2011. But he says the demand could increase exponentially in the future. He gave reporters at NRG's press conference a little food for thought:

“I would remind everyone that in 1980 the leading management consulting firm in the United States told AT&T that there’d be no more than 900,000 cell phones in the country by the year 2000. By the year 2000 there were a hundred million cell phones in the United States. So they were off by a factor of 120.”

NRG’s investment in charging stations is unique because it’s the first electricity provider to do it without any money from the federal government. But it could be a while before NRG gets any return on its investment, since the charging stations will sit mostly unused until there are more EVs on the road.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Amnesty for MTA Scofflaws, Moving day for Masdar, and Traffic-Clogged cities team up

Monday, September 27, 2010

The New York City MTA, in an effort to encourage scofflaws to pay up, has declared October to be late-fee amnesty month for subway and bus riders who have received tickets (New York Post). Meanwhile, lawmakers give the MTA a "B" for its work on the Second Avenue Subway (New York Daily News). And: this weekend saw planned work on nearly every subway line, culminating in the largest MTA shuttle bus deployment ever (Gothamist).

People have begun moving into Masdar, Abu Dhabi's "zero-carbon" experimental city--where the ground level was elevated 23 feet so that a fleet of electric vehicles could operate below the surface. (New York Times)

Southwest Airlines to buy rival AirTran, expand service on East Coast.  (Wall Street Journal)

Ray LaHood says that this year the Department of Transportation has "completed more NTSB safety recommendations than in any of the last five years" (Fast Lane).  But: a recent investigation found that "Americans are exposed every day to risks in highway, air, rail and water travel because of government delays in acting on recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board." (Washington Post)

The Transport Politic takes a look at the long-term consequences the recession has had upon urban transit agencies.

Los Angeles and Beijing are teaming up to share ideas on dealing with traffic. (AP)

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Studio 360

Let's Take A Ride

Friday, September 04, 2009

They Might Be Giants is just about my favorite working band, and not just because they're also the only band -- apart from the Byrds, many many years ago -- with whom I've actually worked a show onstage and back stage. TMBG are smart and good and nice and funny. And live in Brooklyn. Really: what more could one want?

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