I asked a Nissan spokesman why the ICE and hybrid vehicles
are always available as soon as they come out and the
same EV's I have seen for 5-10 years are always "under
development" and "not for sale to the general population". He said that the
major manufacturers have no intention of directly selling EV's and that they
will always be leased on a limited basis due to battery exchange requirements
and high voltage liability. A GM spokesman said that they loose money for every
vehicle leased so they don't want to mass sell (loose money) on a wide scale.
This goes back to reducing cost through high volume sales
which won't occur unless excessive gas prices or government subsidies. He said
they were presently meeting government requirements for EV introduction. Only
Solectria and smaller converter companies were selling vehicles
outright. Contact http://www.evaa.com/ for a complete listing of
available vehicles. Kits of course for those inclined.
Another EV manufacturer was AVS buses (was GE-EV, sold to VPT,
sold to AVS) who built their 100th bus this week. Half
were pure electric and half hybrid. Another
zero-pollution technology that I found very interesting was compressed air
vehicles, which the two attending spokesmen I met from Zero Pollution Motors,
said was "disruptive technology" since it didn't fall into any pre-praddled
category and didn't use batteries. Mike Frippel and Shiva Vencat showed me a
video of their vehicle and gave me a spec claiming 60 miles range at 60 MPH or
120 miles at 30 MPH after a 4 hour compressed air charge from an onboard 240V
5.5kwh compressor generating 812 cubic ft/hr. This is accomplished with 3 carbon
fiber tanks under the vehicle pressurized to 3200 cubic feet @ 4500
psi. (160 cubic feet @ 5k psi = 1kwh of energy
stored). This is about 20 kwh stored similar to an EV
without the additional weight.
The three vehicle types used in Europe were a London Taxi
version, a small delivery van and a pick-up all with a
1100 lb payload. The vehicles weighed 1543 pounds due
to no battery to carry around. I asked them about what happens in an accident
and Mike said due to the construction of the carbon
fiber tanks they emit a loud hissing sound when
punctured but no explosion since compressed air is non-combustible. The vehicles
will sell for about $14k in the US Mike said.
The EV-1 drove with sports car like performance with its 102kw
motor at 312 volts. The most potentially affordable looking car was
Toyota's e-Com (since 97') and the Th!nk (since 95')
(formerly Pivco Citybee).
The Ecom generally appeared to be the favorite car due to its
styling and two seater commuter car design. The Ecom
handled a little better around corners but both were good
designs and would make a nice daily drive to work car but
alas not presently for sale.
The DaimlerCrysler E-van handled remarkably well for a 5k
pound vehicle. A Chrysler spokesman said that these
vans will only be sold to airports and military bases where
they make sense. They will never be sold to the general
public since vans are used for trip vehicles.
Typically the 2k pound vehicles (most aluminum) were .3 kwh
per mile and 4k pound vehicles were .6 kwh per mile requiring 240V charging,
double size controllers/motors/batteries. This was especially true for the ICE
converted vehicles like the E-van and Ford Ranger. Thus the lightest vehicles
made the most cost effective commuter cars. All were AC
drives which drives up the cost $3-10k per vehicle over a
similarly DC shunt drive control at same 95% efficiency.
Toyota's Ecom switched to inductive charging which will add
some cost if they decide to sell the vehicle. Both
hybrids operated seamlessly from electric to gas drive.
Both the Honda 2-seater Insight and the Toyota 4-seater Prius were parallel
The Prius was more complicated under the hood but ran quieter
from outside the vehicle. Other aluminum fuel efficient
cars are the Audi A2, Opel G90, BMW Z8 and Z9. It is
noted that direct injection diesel engines using no-sulfur fuel for no particulates (if available) can get similar mileage and
pollution levels as hybrids with substantially reduced cost
and complexity. Presently no-sulfur diesel is only tested in
California and the oil companies don't want to make it
due to the additional refining process.
Mike Anderson with Georgia Power (part of
Southern Company) introduced 400 more EV's into their fleets, more than Southern
Edison and presently have the largest employee lease program. Georgia governor
Roy Barnes said that Atlanta is 3.5 million and will grow to 20 million in 20
years surpassing New York so we must turn to pollution free vehicles. This will
be a mix of vehicles, hybrids for trips, EV's for commuter vehicles etc. Air
quality will effect economic development so alternative vehicles will be put
into operation in order to continue expanding.
Dr. Peter Horrup from England had a EV
marketing survey which showed that presently Fork Lifts are the dominant EV
sales but will become less significant in the next 10 years as EV drive trains
will be required for hybrids and pure EV's. In ten years EV sales will go from
13.5 billion to 44.5 billion annually. John Wallace with Ford said we have to
start selling EV's for a profit in order to grow the market and this will be
done with hybrids which will fall out cheaper parts for lower volume pure
electrics. All of these vehicles must be made with aluminum frames. Hybrids will
be profitable presently and fuel cell vehicles won't be for 10 years.
Ron Cogan with Green Car Journal said that
the major barrier to EV sales is the cost and must come down to $10k for a small
commuter vehicle to be purchased on a mass scale.
Mike Clemer with DaimlerCrysler said their
Epic minivan now has 200 miles with NiMH batteries and is used for the Post
Office, airport shuttles and government/military
Mark Perry with Nissan added 300 R&D
engineers to work on hybrids and EV's. Their Altra EV uses Lithium-ion batteries
and sold 130 to utility fleets with a 80 mile real world range. The Hypermini
(similar to the e-Com) has a 70 mile range with a CVT (constant variable
transmission) he said.
Doug Anderson with
Solectria said they have sold 400 Solectria Forces (Geo Metro conversions) since
89'. They grew to $10M in sales and now make the drive trains for AVS
(Chatanooga and New York) buses (was GE drive before
GE-EV business was sold).
Bill Biermann with AVS
implemented electric buses at Logan airport where they have proven to be 30%
more cost effective over gas vehicles. Ground equipment and air-side bag
handling equipment is more desirable as EV's since they go inside the airport on
pick-up and delivery. American Airlines had the biggest push for 600 EV's.
United purchased 475 EV T-135 tractors with Curtis and Sevcon controllers using
Advanced DC motors.
Dick Baxter with Tug Manufacturing talked
about improving technologies and said that airports are going to electric
push-back tugs due to lower maintenance and cheaper operation. The M3A model had
a low center of gravity with the batteries between the wheels 50-50 weight
distribution like all well designed EV's should.
Furguson with AVS talked about how electric and hybrid buses were more
cost effective and lower polluting to operate. He also pointed out that (for
safety and fires) when operating any EV at 300V to keep local points away from
each other to <75 volts. Thus single wire cables to & from the batteries
instead of having dual connectors. The AVS buses got 80 miles range (.8kwh per
mile eff) in summer and 55 (1.1kwh per mile eff) in winter. Opportunity charging
required weekly equalization charges. If the EV follows the standard dv/dt=0
taper shut off on each cycle then weekly equalization is not needed but never
occurs in practice do to between shift charging.
Savonis with the Federal Highway Administration talked about federal
funding for EV programs. Look at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment he
said. Dave Rodgers pointed out a good sight for comparing "green" vehicles at http://www.fueleconomy.gov/. The EV
funding office is at 1-800-423-1DOE or 1-800-CCITIES. John Wilson head of SCAT
talked about how to get government funding for EV projects. firstname.lastname@example.org for SCAT
Last but not least was the battery summary starting with Tadek
Borys talking about commercialization of the
lithium-polymer battery. Cost is of course the barrier and operation at 60C. He
said that the batteries could be brought up to 60C in two minutes after sitting
in a parking lot with internal battery box heaters.
Mike Saft with Saft Batteries showed that $150/kwh is the
target to make new battery technologies affordable and the 4 market release
requirements are volume, technical improvements, cycle life, secondary use
markets. Hybrids will bring battery cost down. NiMH is the best with $300/kwh in