Thursday, July 25, 2013
There are now more than 100,000 electric vehicles on U.S. roads. A new report from the boosters at the Electrification Coalition hails increasing -- if still small -- EV sales and lays out some optimistic projections.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
A study from Norway sheds a little light on what kind of person is buying electric cars, and how they drive.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to add 10,000 public parking spots for electric vehicles over the next seven years.
According to prepared remarks for his 12th and final State of the City address Thursday, the Mayor says:
“This year we’ll pilot curbside vehicle chargers that will allow drivers to fill up their battery in as little as 30 minutes. We’ll work with the City Council to amend the Building Code so that up to 20 percent of all new public parking spaces will be wired and ready for electric vehicles."
The proposal would require that a fifth of new parking spaces to be charging stations for electric vehicles. Zoning laws in New York require the construction of new parking spaces along with new building construction, usually in the form of parking garages under or next to the building. According to the mayor's office, about 10,000 new parking spaces are added each year in this way.
The City currently has 100 public charging stations and 120 for the city's own fleet of EVs. Thirty more government stations would be added under this proposal.
Building public charging stations however is no easy task. As experience in other cities has shown, building codes, utility cooperation and construction permitting can all slow or impede installation of EV charging stations on public streets.
Private companies began installing public charging stations in New York City in 2010. According to a New York state initiative last year, there were about 400 charging stations set to be live by April 2013. San Francisco city government offered free charging in about 20 public garages at one point. Houston has built, or plans to build about 50 charging stations.
Under the mayor's NYC proposal the city would also initiate testing of curbside charging with two chargers that can fill batteries in as little as 30 minutes, rather than the standard eight hours. One would be in Seward Park, a middle class apartment development and park on Manhattan's Lower East Side.
The second station will be just for electric taxis, located at the ConEdison Building. This year six all-electric Nissan Leaf taxis will join the more than 13,000 yellow cabs already on the road. The winning model for the Taxi of Tomorrow, also by Nissan, is designed to enable retrofitting run as an electric vehicle if testing shows that's workable and preferable.
The mayor is also expected to announce that the city will add 50 new battery electric cars to New York's municipal fleet, which already includes 458 plug-in electric cars, the third largest EV fleet in the country after the federal government and General Electric.
According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles: as of December 2012, there are 2,069 electric vehicles registered in the five boroughs of New York CIty. The breakdown by county: 10 in Richmond (Staten Island); 80 in Queens; 753 in New York (Manhattan); 413 in Kings (Brooklyn) and 813 in the Bronx.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Early adopters are a risk-friendly group of people. They put in a little extra effort to make new technology work for them, often before all the kinks are ironed out.
They also like to brag.
Chevy wants to harness all of these character traits with a new smartphone app. “Volt owners do like a lot of information,” said Paul Pebbles of GM's OnStar division. “These early adopters, they are very into the data.”
They also want to say: "I spent $1.50 to fill up my car yesterday," possibly with a smug eco-friendly smile aimed at an SUV-owning co-worker. Soon they will be able to.
GM's OnStar is testing out a new mobile app called EcoHub that lets Volt owners track exactly how much -- or how little -- it costs to recharge their cars. OnStar's built-in features already lets Volt owners track how many miles they drive using gas vs. electric power, kilowatt-hours consumed,and other stats. What Chevy wants to do is turn data into dollars. The company estimates it costs about $1.50 a day to power a Volt.
“I think people have a good sense how much a car costs to fill up a car with gas, but when it comes to electric there’s been a lot less visibility of the cost side of the vehicle,” Pebbles said.
A Volt costs about $39,000 -- more than twice the price of other cars. Chevy argues that the savings come over time.
EcoHub is being tested in a single neighborhood to start out, the Pecan Street Demonstration Project subdivision in Austin, Texas. It's a newly built community designed to test out smart energy grid capabilities, constructed with some funding from the Department of Energy.
The houses have more control -- and more data readily available -- over energy , consumptionand some of them are solar powered as well. So EcoHub can adapt to that data, changing when the Volt pulls in power to charge based on when there might be excess solar energy, or time it to when demand is lower.
It will then also be able to compare a Volt's energy use to other household use. "If you look at the energy consumption of a Volt it is a quarter of the average consumption of an average house," Pebbles said. "That’s less than an A/C."
And he wants people to start telling their neighbors that.
Watch a video of Paul Pebbles explaining how EcoHub works.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
The number of electric vehicles able to power buildings and feed the power grid will grow from 100,000 today, to more than 5 million in 2017, according to a new study by Pike Research, a market research firm for the clean technology industry.
The prospect of a power grid made more stable and efficient by millions of EVs connected to homes, and thus the power grid has been a much vaunted secondary benefit of widespread adoption of electric cars. So far it's not even close to happening. But, the researchers predict, it will by the middle of the next decade after continued exponential EV adoption, especially in commercial fleets.
As of now there has been exactly one commercial test project of V2G possibilities. That was headed by the University of Delaware and PJM Interconnection, and it concluded in 2010 (PDF report). The data from that project will shape future plans for commercialization, Pike research predicts.
There are a few obstacles and disincentives for utilities to connect cars to the power grid, according to the report. One hitch to growth right now is that one Nissan Leaf on a block is not enough to interest a power company in building out vehicle-to-grid connections in an area. There needs to be a cluster of EVs close enough to each other to tempt a utility. Fleet vehicles, like these electric delivery trucks, are the best candidates for a cluster of battery power storage the researchers posit.
While EVs could take on excess power from utilities, something they certainly want, utilities could potentially lose money on power served to homes with vehicle to grid capacity. If car batteries are able to take and store the cheaper power offered in off hours, the car itself could be a cheaper power source for a home or business during the expensive peak daytime hours.
Just how an electric car, a home, and the power grid will all interact is still far from sorted out. "Vehicles will compete with traditional generation sources as well as with emerging technologies, such as stationary battery storage," according to the report. What might turn out a more popular relationship between the next generation of car and power grid is for the car to help the grid more than the power the home it is connected to. Utilities and automakers are both keen on using EVs for frequency regulation, accepting more power for a faster charge when more power is available, and taking less when demand is straining the overall grid. ECOtality, an EV charger company, announced today a plan to use cars on their charging systems to help Maryland utility, Silver Spring Power Co. regulate their supply and demand through a smart-grid EV connection that shifts EV charging to off-peak hours if needed.
Finally, the report authors note that carmakers don't benefit from selling an electric car that can give back to the grid as compared to a car that can just charge up as normal. So until consumers clamor for that extra service, the feature is likely to be limited to costly retrofits or special orders, rather than standard with all new EVs, further limiting adoption.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
(New York, NY -- Jenna Flanagan, WNYC) 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.
Smith Electric Vehicles says it will begin producing a delivery truck called the Newton in a building near Hunts Point beginning next year.
Smith EVs president and CEO Bryan Hansel said the company chose the location because the Newton is already used in New York, and he expects that to spread. “The initial trucks that are in New York are with people like Frito Lay, delivering potato chips, Coke-a-Cola,” he said.
Hansel said the $6 million worth of tax credits and other city and state incentives also lured the Saint Louis, Missouri-based company to set up shop in the Bronx. Officials said the trucks cost one-third to one-half the amount of conventional diesel trucks to operate and won't pollute the city's air. And they're easy for drivers to power up.
“In the morning, when they come, you unplug it, it's fully charged. You go do your day's work. That night you come back, plug it back in and it charges overnight,” Hansel said. “So we're only tapping into the grid and trying to take electricity when it’s at the lowest demand, overnight.”
The factory is expected to employ more than 100 people.
Friday, August 05, 2011
Nissan unveiled a new charging system for its all-electric Leaf this week. The difference with this charger is that the car can power the house, not just the other way around. That's a big step forward in realizing the full potential of electric vehicles.
One of the long-promised benefits of widespread adoption of electric cars is that they could make our electric grid more efficient by acting as storage capacity for excess energy. For the most part, power grids are designed to meet peak demand, which is during the day. There is usually excess capacity at night.
Cars plugged in at night could fill their batteries to the brim. Those batteries could then deliver some of that power back to the grid during the day, easing the strain on power generation facilities and reducing the overall demand. That's called vehicle-to-grid technology. If it ever works en masse, it would also make the system more adaptable to fluctuating demand, and greener.
The Nissan Leaf's lithium-ion battery can store 24kwh, enough to power the average Japanese home for 2 days, according to the company.
So called grid-integrated electric cars have been around for years, but we haven't yet seen the newest generation of EVs like the Leaf and Chevy Volt roll out and promote the technology. This Leaf charger was unveiled at Nissan's Kan-kan-kyo demonstration house outside company headquarters in Yokohama, Japan. The company touted the technology as "part of its comprehensive efforts toward the realization of a zero-emission society."
Nissan is still working out how to integrate the charger with existing commercial grid systems. According to the University of Delaware a grid-integrated electric vehicle could earn between $1,000 and $5,000 a year for its owner as a power storage device for electric utilities.
Friday, June 17, 2011
(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) We started watching electric vehicle sales to see how many people would be willing to give up gas for the untested plug-in powered cars. As it turned out, automakers have struggled to get enough EVs on the road to meet market demand or even stock dealerships. That may be be changing this month for the Nissan Leaf, at least according to statements from Nissan's CEO Carlos Ghosn.
Ghosn told reporters today that he expects "1,500 Leafs to be delivered in June." Nissan had averaged 113 vehicles per month in the first four months of the year. He said, 1,142 Leafs sold in May. Still a far cry from the roughly 20,000 people WHO reserved a Leaf in 2010 according to AutoNews. But the company is now accepting new reservations.
The Chevy Volt has met similar issues of excess demand. They told Transportation Nation in May that they had sold a total of 1,547 Volts in the first four months of 2011.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
(Todd Zwillich -- Washington, D.C) As Congress rummages for every dollar it can find to throw toward the national debt, one Republican senator says he knows where he can find billions: energy tax breaks.
Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, the number-three Republican in the Senate, says he's cooking up a plan to cancel most if not all tax breaks enjoyed by the energy sector. Instead Alexander would spend the money on clean energy R+D and lowering the deficit.
This comes a day after Alexander and 33 other Republicans backed a proposal to eliminate $6 billion in taxpayer subsidies enjoyed by the ethanol industry. That vote was seen in Washington as a strong signal that Republicans are ready to put once-sacred tax breaks on the table in an effort to strike a debt deal with Democrats.
"I and my staff are looking at all energy tax breaks," Alexander told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday. "I expect that before long I'll have legislation that will look at all tax breaks," he said.
Such a bill would almost certainly become part of a broader debate over reducing the national debt or another fight over tax code reform expected later this year.
Either way, the success of Alexander's effort could mean a fundamental reordering--or in some cases elimination--of billions in tax breaks helping the energy sector.
Alexander said he'll try to eliminate all or most long-standing energy tax breaks and instead put some of the money toward "a Manhattan project for clean energy research." A lot of the burden would fall squarely on utilities and power generation companies. But ethanol, natural gas, and oil and gas tax credits opposed by most Democrats would also presumably be included. Democrats are already vowing to include a repeal of oil company tax credits in any deal with Republicans over the debt.
Alexander is a supporter of electric cars, however, and he said Wednesday he'd favor some "jump start" tax incentives for electric cars and the development of a 500-mile battery. The idea, he said, is to give a boost to burgeoning clean energy technology then cast it to the mercy of the free market.
"I don't think electric cars deserve any sort of government support after four, five years. If they can't survive in the marketplace then they ought to be, y'know, thrown in the junk pile," Alexander said.
Right now consumers can cash in on a $7,500 credit for buying a plug-in electric car. There's also a $1,000 federal residential charging credit for plug-in car owners.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Washington State is looking to levy a special tax on eco-conscious car owners. Road maintenance is typically funded by a gas tax, both federal and local. So the prospect of a growing number of electric cars that wouldn't use gas at all is putting a little worry in the Washington state legislature.
The proposed tax would be $100 a year per electric car. According to The Seattle Times, Mary Margaret Haugen, the lead sponsor of the plan, said, "Electric cars will be driving on the highways right along with all the other cars. One of our biggest issues is preservation and maintenance of our existing highways. We believe they should be paying their fair share."
At an average of $12,000 miles per year and average fuel efficiency, The Times calculates that the average gas-consuming driver pays about $200 a year in gas tax.
Is this just fairness in public finance? Or disincentive for purchasing cleaner cars?
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Thursday, December 16, 2010
(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The fledgling electric vehicle market got a little boost yesterday, when Hertz Connect began renting all-electric cars.
The rental car giant is starting small, with just five Smart Electric Drives in New York City. "That's all we could get our hands on right now," says Rich Broome, a Hertz Senior Vice President. But he says, the company is committed to ramping up to 1,000 electric vehicles nationally—including plug-in hybrids—by the end of 2011. Other cities slated to get the rental EVs are Washington, D.C., San Fransisco and select college campuses.
The move is good news for EVs, even if it isn't totally new. The first generation of electric cars, like the original electric Toyota Rav4, were available for rent at major rental car companies in the late 1990s before carmakers backtracked on production of the vehicles. Zipcar currently offers plug-in Toyota Priuses as part of a pilot program in partnership with the city of San Fransisco. Zipcar tells Transportation Nation they've been renting alternative-fuel vehicles and hybrids since 2003, and they "welcome Hertz to the space." Zipcar does not offer an all-electric vehicle currently for rent to its members.