It’s most likely Nissan and Renault will lease at least the batteries to consumers, if not the entire car and battery system. Andy Palmer, head of Renault-Nissan’s global electric vehicle business unit, thinks leasing the batteries will make the cost of electric vehicles essentially the same as conventional gas or diesel cars.

The Geneva show has been interesting when it comes to electric vehicles. Yesterday, one Volkswagen official stated safe, affordable electric cars are “very far away.” Apparently Nissan’s product planners didn’t get that memo – they plan to launch “mass market” electric cars in Europe next year.

An alliance with Renault is at the core of the electric vehicle deal. Models should range from vehicles designed with electric power in mind to adaptations of existing platforms over the next few years. It’s most likely Nissan and Renault will lease at least the batteries to consumers, if not the entire car and battery system. Andy Palmer, head of Renault-Nissan’s global electric vehicle business unit, thinks leasing the batteries will make the cost of electric vehicles essentially the same as conventional gas or diesel cars.

Since Europe is comprised of many smaller nations, there won’t be one strategy for all European electric vehicles. Everything from the leasing deal to the preferred method of battery recharging will vary from country to country. Of course this raises some questions about how electric cars will be able to travel from one country to another and be able to be recharged, but that may be a small problem if most electric car owners only use them as city vehicles.

http://rumors.automobilemag.com/6458336/green/nissan-plans-to-launch-mass-market-electric-cars-in-europe-next-year/index.html

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The Geneva Motor Show hosts the launch of the “50 by 50” initiative aimed at making cars worldwide 50 per cent more fuel-efficient by 2050

peugeotprototype_i-miev_sketch_source_mitsubishi1These automakers are betting that there will be a market for smaller electric vehicles (EVs) that will

be cheaper to build and far cheaper and cleaner to operate than regular hybrids. With battery technology developing rapidly and the automotive market in turmoil, that logic even has gas-electric hybrid champion Toyota hedging its bets. At the Detroit auto show in January, Toyota put the spotlight on new versions of its Prius, but also announced plans to offer a commuter EV in 2012.

French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroën kicked off the Geneva Motor Show this morning by announcing that it is pursuing a deal with Mitsubishi Motor to develop a compact electric car for sale in Europe next year. It will be based on Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV, an approximately 160-kilometer-range commuter car that the company plans to roll out in Japan this summer.

Plenty more compact four-wheelers are in the automotive pipeline. Daimler will sell a battery version of its popular Smart Fortwo next year, and Volkswagen is engineering a commuter EV called Audi Up! with a top speed of 130 kilometers per hour and roughly 100 kilometers of range. Renault is engineering a pair of battery-powered cars, to be produced starting in 2011.

To be fair, most of the companies talking up tiny EVs are similarly hedging their bets, simultaneously developing a range of hybrid options. PSA Peugeot Citroën plans to launch two diesel-hybrid vehicles in 2011–the Citroën DS5 HYbrid4 and the Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4–and it’s also developing a “multipurpose” plug-in hybrid EV analogous to the Chevy Volt.

Like the Volt, PSA’s plug-in will be a series hybrid, in which a small fuel-efficient engine serves only to recharge the batteries en route. Unlike the Volt, however, the engine can be swapped out and additional batteries swapped in for longer-range city driving.

 

 

 

 

“Our goal is to transform the Bay Area into the EV Capital of the United States, and a networked infrastructure is essential for the adoption of electric vehicles,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. “San Francisco is proud to be the first city to feature charging stations with technology to support our city’s clean electric fleet vehicles and car-share fleets.”

Technologies, the leader in electric vehicle infrastructure, announced the City of San Francisco has installed its SmartletTM Networked Charging Stations at City Hall.

The charging stations are a part of a two-year public demonstration conducted with the City of San Francisco – a pilot project to power San Francisco’s plug-in fleet and car-share plug-in vehicles. Coulomb’s charging infrastructure is providing the City of San Francisco special networked features that address electric vehicle fleet needs. Unveiling of the charging stations came in a press conference with Mayor Gavin Newsom and Coulomb CEO Richard Lowenthal announcing the City’s Green Vehicle Showcase outside City Hall, and is part of the Bay Area’s regional EV initiative.

http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2009/02/27/452117.html

There are complicating factors. Money can be given only to companies and projects that are deemed “financially viable.” G.M. and Chrysler, which have applied for a combined $13 billion from the Energy Department, must wait until the end of March for the Obama administration to decide whether the companies’ restructuring plans would make them viable.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/27/business/energy-environment/27green.html?_r=1&ref=business&pagewanted=print

The future of the American auto industry is getting off to a slow start.

The Energy Department has $25 billion to make loans to hasten the arrival of the next generation of automotive technology — electric-powered cars. But no money has been allocated so far, even though the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan program, established in 2007, has received applications from 75 companies, including start-ups as well as the three Detroit automakers.

“Politicians are breaking down the door asking why the money isn’t being sent out,” said Michael Carr, counsel to the Senate Energy Committee, which oversees the Energy Department.

It is a question that Lachlan W. Seward, director of the program, says he hears a lot these days. “We’re moving with a sense of urgency,” said Mr. Seward, who also oversaw the Chrysler Loan Guarantee Board from 1981 to 1984. “But at the same time we are trying to do this in a responsible way that reflects prudent credit policy and taxpayer protections.”

wheegowhipminielectriccar

This tiny, all-electric Wheego Whip minicar is destined for U.S. shores this May, beating out a gaggle of other electric cars that might not even make it here by the end of 2010. The $19K plug-in Whip goes 50 miles per charge with a 60 mph top speed, and judging from the performance of its prototype in the video after the jump, its acceleration and speed appear to be sufficiently sprightly for American roads.

The catch? It’ll be limited to a poky 35 mph until the U.S. government checks its crashworthiness, and will be designated a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) until it gets its U.S. mommy’s approval. That might not happen until, alas, the seemingly magic date for electro-cars: 2010.

Built by Shuanghuan Automobile in China, the Whip’s body will be familiar to Chinese drivers — it’s known as an E-Noble in its native land. It’s hard to believe this car will be available for sale in 50 dealers three months from now. Given the sorry shape of the U.S. auto industry, this microcar might whip a few car companies into shape.

mileselectriccarThe Miles electric car runs on batteries, not an engine. Six batteries provide the 72 volts necessary to propel the 2,934-pound automobile for up to 50 miles, depending on how fast you go — it can go as fast as 50 mph.

Turn the key and you are ready to take off — no revving of an engine, no shifting into drive, no sound, no exhaust.

Galen Chadwick of the Well-Fed Neighbor Alliance has brought the compact van to Springfield. He is the local distributor and said he will invest all profits into micro-loans through the alliance.

The all-electric, steel-body car is intended for in-town driving. Next year, California-based Miles Electric Vehicles will release a four-door model that will go up to 75 mph for 120-140 miles, fit for highway driving.

“It’s the car everyone is talking about,” said Ron LaPlant, who sells the car out of Farmington.

Chadwick will have the car on display at the Lawn and Garden Show this week, but Thursday the Oasis Convention Center provided its space to show off the environmentally friendly vehicles.

Tom Bakie of Nixa was there to take a test drive.

“We’ve been looking for an alternative to fuel,” said Bakie, who drives a Daewoo that gets up to 37 mpg. Semi-retired, most of his driving is local, he said, but he would have to keep his gasoline-powered car for long-distance driving.

Powell McHaney of Springfield also took the Miles car for a spin in the parking lot where his Lincoln Navigator was parked.

“I’m interested in anything that gets us off dependence on foreign oil,” said the retiree, who added that his longest trip is five miles across. “It looks to me like this is the answer.”

The car costs as little as $12,000, depending on options, but is eligible for federal tax credits that could take the cost below $10,000. The batteries have a four-year life expectancy and cost about $200 each to replace.

The cars are equipped with radio-CD players and an electric heating system. LaPlant’s son, Tony, has developed a thermo-electric air conditioner that is also available.

A full charge costs about 18 cents, LaPlant said. That’s better than 250 miles per dollar.

Just plug it in to any 110-volt outlet for the fill- up.

http://www.news-leader.com/article/20090220/NEWS01/

 

 

apteraelectricvehicle

 

Aptera will begin shipping its all-electric vehicles to customers in the fourth quarter of this year. The electric version has a 100 mile range per charge and can be recharged by plugging into a regular electric outlet.

 

To the executives behind the vehicle, its aerodynamic design and 100 miles per gallon (42 km per litre) range points the way to the future. And, with 4,000 customer orders already, they believe they have the early following to back up that confidence.

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSN1628669820090216

Thousands of miles (kilometres) west of Detroit, a California start-up hopes to find a market for a three-wheeled, ultra-efficient, downright odd-looking car among consumers sick of spending their hard-earned cash at the gas pump.

The Aptera is an egg-shaped two-seater often likened to a space-age car from the futuristic 1960s cartoon “The Jetsons.” Looking more like an aircraft than a road vehicle, it is a far cry from the hybrid sedans and electric sports cars being produced by conventional automakers.

Riding in the all-electric version of the Aptera feels similar to a regular car, although its roof-attached doors make getting in and out a challenge. Its long shape provides extra legroom and the car runs with a tinny, high-pitched hum.

To the executives behind the vehicle, its aerodynamic design and 100 miles per gallon (42 km per litre) range points the way to the future. And, with 4,000 customer orders already, they believe they have the early following to back up that confidence.

“We have a breakthrough level of energy efficiency which really means you are going to save so much money on operating costs,” Aptera Chief Executive Paul Wilbur said in an interview at the company’s headquarters and vehicle assembly facility in Vista, California.

MONEY SAVER

Aptera’s makers are still shopping the car as a money saver despite an initial price tag of between $25,000 and $40,000, depending on whether buyers want an electric, hybrid or traditional powertrain.

“It doesn’t matter if gasoline is $2 or $4 a gallon, you are still going to be buying a lot less when you buy our vehicle,” Wilbur said.

Aptera will begin shipping its all-electric vehicles to customers in the fourth quarter of this year. The electric version has a 100 mile range per charge and can be recharged by plugging into a regular electric outlet.

The company plans to make about 10,000 cars a year initially, increasing to 100,000 in the next few years. Ultimately, it will employ several thousand people at its facility just north of San Diego, Wilbur said.

Consumer research Aptera performed at the end of last year led the company to believe it will be able to sell many more cars than it originally thought.

“We walked in with one mentality about our what our volume estimates might be, and quite frankly were very happy and surprised and even a little overwhelmed by how positive the reaction was,” Wilbur said.

But the U.S. federal government declined to invest. Because of its three-wheeled design, Aptera was excluded from participation in a Department of Energy program that extends low-interest loans to manufacturers of fuel efficient cars.

Disappointed company officials said they were producing exactly the kind of car President Barack Obama advocated.

“This is Obama’s poster car for everything he is talking about,” Wilbur said. “We are the most efficient vehicle in the world. Sometimes it’s good to be innovative but in this case it’s bad to be innovative.”

Aptera aims to have fulfilled its first 4,000 orders by the middle of next year, Wilbur said. Its first customers are mainly tech-savvy, educated, affluent men who will use the Aptera as a second or third vehicle. (Editing by Alan Elsner)

 

“Furthermore, Volkswagen and Toshiba are planning the development of battery systems with a high specific energy density for the next generation of electric vehicles.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE51B5WW20090212

Volkswagen AG will team up with Toshiba Corp to develop an electric-powered version of its subcompact Up! concept car after signing a letter of intent on Thursday, Europe’s largest carmaker said.

“The objective is a cooperation for the development of electric drive units and the accompanying power electronics for Volkswagen’s planned new small (car) family,” it said in a statement.

Most global carmakers are rushing to roll out affordable vehicles designed to run solely on electricity stored in a lithium-ion battery.

General Motors has staked its reputation on bringing the Chevrolet Volt to the market late next year, using lithium-ion battery cells from South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd to drive 40 miles on a single charge.

In its “default configuration,” the bus will travel 25 to 40 miles on a ten-minute charge, depending on the terrain, says the company.

The fast-charging, lithium-titanate battery cells are manufactured by Altairnano, a leader in the new technology, but the design and fast charger were conceived by Proterra, says Goldman.

 

http://www.thestandard.com/news/2009/02/09/proterra-promises-electric-bus-batteries-recharge-10-minutes

Battery recharging times remain a major obstacle for electric vehicles. But perhaps not for long. Proterra claims that its new all-electric buses can recharge in as little as ten minutes.

Last week the company demonstrated one of its buses in San Jose (see the video below). Seattle and San Francisco are also considering buying the Proterra’s buses.

In its “default configuration,” the bus will travel 25 to 40 miles on a ten-minute charge, depending on the terrain, says the company.

But President and CEO Jeff Granato and Director of Business Development Joshua Goldman are careful to point out that since the buses are made to order, the “default configuration” varies according to the client and the planned use. How much battery goes into a bus “depends on how far the user wants vehicle to go,” they told the Industry Standard in a phone interview. For instance, an airport-to-car-rental shuttle bus needs a smaller battery than a school bus.

The fast-charging, lithium-titanate battery cells are manufactured by Altairnano, a leader in the new technology, but the design and fast charger were conceived by Proterra, says Goldman.

As every long-term laptop owner knows, batteries eventually wear out and won’t take a charge. But the Proterra executives insist that their batteries are exceptionally durable. They “potentially can outlast the life of the vehicle,” they claim.

How much will these buses cost? A San Francisco Chronicle article reports that each bus will initially cost “around $2 million.” Granato insists that that number is wrong, but was unable to discuss pricing.

Thanks to both energy costs and less moving parts (which results in less maintenance), electric vehicles are considerably cheaper to run than conventional ones.

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