Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Electric Car Revolution Has Begun

This is an excellent review of the current state of the electric car industry.  It is everywhere now and well on the way to been a major part of th mix.  The first objective is the available short haul market that will free between three to four millions of barrels of oil production.

Just accommodating that will produce the infrastructure and support capability that simply does not exist yet.  From that base, it is easy to grow and slowly innovate into other parts of the market.

It is one thing to post that this is necessary as I did two years ago.  It is much more gratifying to actually seeing it emerge in sufficient manufacturing depth to assure one of ultimate success.

A global loss of two million barrels of production per day is now something we can actually handle this coming year if we really had to on a rush basis..

There are a lot of images in the original article.  Use the link to look at them.

The Electric Car Revolution Starts Now!

For years, we've been singing the praises of electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). We even devoted an entire section to them in our book, Investing in Renewable Energy. But only within the past year or so have we seen some real progress on manufacturing these fuel-efficient vehicles.

Sure, there have always been start-ups, universities, and forward-thinking engineers who spent years building their own electric vehicles. But only now are we starting to see the major automakers putting aside their prejudices (which nearly put some of them out of business), and moving forward with their first generations of highway-capable electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
So let's take a look at what's coming down the pike in the next few years. . .

General Motors

Perhaps the most anticipated PHEV right now is the Chevy Volt. This vehicle is an extended-range electric car that can be driven for at least 40 miles on electricity stored in the battery. Following that 40-mile range, the gas engine kicks in, allowing the car to drive up 400 miles on a full tank. The Volt will use a lithium-ion battery pack and is expected to hit the market in 2011.

GM is also on track to launch a plug-in SUV in 2011. Some were concerned this wouldn't happen, as the electrified SUV was supposed to be a Saturn Vue. Saturn was scrapped by GM as a part of its reorganization. However, we're now hearing that the SUV will come from Chevy, Cadillac, Buick, or GMC.


In January 2009, Ford announced a new electrification strategy involving three types of vehicles:
·Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)
·Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV)
·Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV)

The company's HEVs are already well-known and don't need to be detailed here. While HEVs certainly help decrease fuel consumption, we are going to focus on the electric vehicle and PHEV — only with those will you start to see real, robust fuel savings.

Due out in 2011 is an electric vehicle, based on the Focus platform. The all-electric car will have a range of about 100 miles on a single charge.

Ford also has a battery-powered van which is likely to be ready by 2010. The van gets about 100 miles on one charge — more than enough mileage for a city delivery van or municipal vehicle.

And Ford is also in the process of electrifying its hybrid SUV, the Escape. This one is expected to be in production by 2012.


Chrysler has said that it plans on delivering an electric vehicle in North America in 2010. In September 2008, before Chrysler filed for bankruptcy, the company revealed three electric prototypes:
·A Dodge sports car
·A Jeep Wrangler
·A Chrysler Minivan

In July 2009, the Nikkei Business Daily reported that Toyota plans to start mass producing PHEVs in 2012. The vehicle is expected to deliver an all-electric range of between 12.4 and 18.6 miles, and will use lithium-ion batteries produced by its joint venture with Panasonic Corporation. Toyota expects 20,000 to 30,000 vehicles for the first year's output.


Japanese automaker Mitsubishi began fleet sales of its electric vehicle, the i-MiEV, in 2009. This vehicle has an all-electric range of 80 miles with a top speed of 80 mph. The company also plans to test the vehicles in the United States with help from Portland General Electric.


In February 2009, Subaru displayed its mini-EV, the Stella, at the Melbourne International Motor Show. The vehicle delivers approximately 50 miles on a single charge, with a top speed of 62 mph. About 170 of the vehicles have already been sold in Japan.


After receiving such a positive response to its plug-in hybrid 918 Spyder at the Geneva Auto Show, Porsche announced in March, 2010 that it would mass produce it. This vehicle boasts 78 miles per gallon (16 miles in all-electric mode), and enough torque to blast off from 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds. It's expected to hit the market in 2015.

Nissan revealed its electric offering, the LEAF, in August 2009. It's an electric hatchback that boasts a 100-mile all-electric range, delivering a top speed of about 76 mph. Nissan claims the vehicle's price will be within the range of a comparable gasoline-engine car. The LEAF is expected to arrive in Europe, Japan, and the United States by the end of 2010.


Just a few weeks after Nissan unveiled the LEAF, Honda announced its plans to develop an electric car that will debut in 2015. Not much was released about the vehicle, except for the fact that it's expected to be about the size of a minicar.


Hyundai's i10 Electric car is scheduled to go into limited production in South Korea in 2010. The vehicle is expected to deliver an all-electric range of just less than 100 miles, with a top speed of 80 miles per hour.


In November 2009, Daimler began production on the second generation Smart fortwo electric. Delivering up to 115 km per charge with a top speed of 100 km hour, the vehicle will be leased to customers in Berlin and other cities throughout Europe and the United States. Beginning in 2012, it will be available to anyone who wants it.

Daimler also plans to manufacture a small batch of electric Mercedes-Benz vehicles. These will likely be the Mercedes-Benz BlueZERO E-Cell Plus. The vehicle is expected to deliver an all-electric range of 71 miles and a total range of up to 370 miles, when using the supplemental combustion engine with an electric generator.


Kia unveiled its electric offering, the Ray, at the 2010 Chicago auto show. This vehicle (which is currently only a concept) utilizes lightweight materials and design to reduce aerodynamic drag, special laminate films on the windows that help reduce the need for air conditioning, and solar panels on the roof, which power up lighting and climate control systems. When operating in hybrid mode, the Ray delivers 77.6 miles per gallon. In all-electric mode, you can get about 50 miles.


BYD has taken the electric vehicle movement by storm. Based in China, BYD launched its first mass-produced electric car in 2008. It's called the F3DM and it is available in 14 Chinese cities. The vehicle gets about 60 miles on one charge, and has a top speed of about 100 mph. BYD expects to introduce the $22,000 vehicle in the United States in just two years.

Of course, it's not just the major automakers bringing electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to the marketplace. In fact, there are some smaller companies and young start-ups that are beating the majors to the punch.

Take Tesla Motors, for instance. . .

Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors currently sells an all-electric vehicle called the Tesla Roadster. And with an all-electric range of 244 miles and a top speed of 125 mph, this vehicle has caused quite a stir. Launching from zero to 60 in under 3.9 seconds, the Tesla Roadster has become a symbol of electric vehicle progress.
Tesla is also hard at work on its next car: the Tesla Model S Sedan. This vehicle can deliver 300 miles on one charge, carry seven people, and goes for about half the price of the two-seater Roadster. Certainly not a cheap car by any stretch of the imagination. . . but at about $50,000, also not completely out of reach for those who would typically plunk down roughly the same amount for a Lexus or BMW 5 Series. The Model S is expected to be available in two years.

As a side note, Tesla is also providing the lithium-ion batteries for the Smart fortwo electric.

TH!NK Global

TH!NK's "TH!NK City" is an all-electric vehicle designed for urban driving. It delivers about 100 miles on one charge, with a top speed of 62 miles per hour. The vehicle is only available in Europe and is currently being sold to government and utility fleets. As an interesting side note, the TH!NK was initially produced in 2000 by Ford. In 2003, Ford sold the project to a Swiss company called Kamkorp Microelectronics. Then in 2006, Norwegian investment group InSpire bought TH!NK. The company is actually called TH!NK Global.

On January 5, 2010, TH!NK announced it would build its first car for the U.S. market in Indiana starting in 2011.  The company plans on selling its TH!NK City in the U.S. in late 2011 by importing vehicles assembled in Finland.  The import sales will arrive before U.S. production starts.

Fisker Automotive

In 2007, Fisker Coachbuild, LLC and Quantum Technologies formed a joint venture partnership to build the Fisker Karma — a PHEV with a top speed of 125 mph. Delivering 50 miles in all-electric mode before the gasoline engine kicks in, the Karma is a luxury PHEV.

If imagination is more important to you than luxury, you may find the next one particularly interesting. . .

Aptera Motors

Aptera Motors has created an especially unique electric vehicle. It's called the 2e, and it delivers an all-electric range of 100 miles with a top speed of 90 mph. What makes this vehicle so fascinating is its aerodynamic design, which contributes to its superior efficiency and Jetsons-like look.

Coda Automotive

In 2009, electric car manufacturer Coda Automotive announced it would introduce a full-performance, all-electric sedan to the California market in 2010.

The vehicle delivers a range of between 90 to 120 miles on a single charge and achieves a top speed of 80 mph. The car also comes with Sirius satellite capability for all those folks who require their morning dose of Howard Stern.


While we're definitely excited to see the shape of electric vehicles to come, we can't concentrate solely on personal transportation. Especially when there's just as much (if not more) opportunity in the commercial sector.

After all, those big commercial trucks log more miles and require more fuel than even the biggest gas-guzzling SUVs found in so many driveways today.

As a result, with oil prices so volatile these days, many commercial truck operators are now scrambling to find new or replacement vehicles that aren't completely reliant upon gasoline and diesel. And that's opening the flood gates for dozens of new outfits that can supply electric and hybrid-electric commercial trucks.

One of the latest entries into the commercial electric truck arena is a company called Electrorides, which has developed an all-electric truck called the Zero Truck.

The ZeroTruck is a Class 4 electric delivery truck. It's actually an Isuzu N Series chassis that's been converted to run on a high-performance lithium polymer battery pack. Since the Isuzu chassis makes up nearly 80 percent of the market, this is the most logical way to go.

The vehicle does have a premium of about $100,000 attached to it. But at current diesel prices, the premium should be recouped within about five years. . . not too shabby, when you consider the typical 10-year lifespan of these kinds of trucks.

And of course, the fuel savings can add up fast.

A typical monthly payment on an Isuzu truck of this nature can run from $850 to $900. The typical monthly diesel bill? Between $1,200 and $1,800!

After decades of complacency, the world of auto manufacturing is finally starting to evolve.

While it won't happen overnight, the days of gas-guzzling SUVs and unacceptable fuel economy standards are coming to an end. They will be replaced by market-influenced fuel economy standards and electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that will ultimately deliver all the convenience, power, speed and status that our car-centric nation has come to enjoy and expect.

Of course, we're only at the beginning of this very exciting transformation. And especially over the next few years, we're going to see amazing things. . .

·New battery technologies that'll up the ante on driving ranges
·Quick-charge technologies that will enable consumers to repower their cars in less than 10 minutes
·Dramatic price reductions for electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
·New start-ups that will go toe-to-toe with the majors — igniting some fresh competition that's always good for the marketplace (and the consumer)
·Much-needed reductions in oil consumption

The last bullet point is definitely the most important. And electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles provide a real solution when it comes to reducing oil consumption.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 78% of daily commuters in the U.S. drive 40 miles per day or less. And as you probably also know by now, most electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles being developed today are focused on delivering 40 miles or better.

Now according to the most recent U.S. Census data, 112,904,000 working Americans over the age of 16 drive or are driven to work. So that gives us a rough estimate of about 88 million daily commuters, driving no more than 40 miles per day.

If half of those folks had access to an electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that delivered the necessary miles per charge to get from point A to point B. . . that's 44 million daily commuters who would not require a single drop of gasoline.

Assuming the average fuel economy for these passenger cars is 27.5 miles per gallon — the current corporate average fuel economy standard is for passenger cars — a typical commuter driving 40 miles per day would go through 1.45 gallons per day.

Based on those 44 million commuters, you're looking at a consumption rate of 63.8 million gallons of gasoline per day. It takes about 2.1 gallons of oil to make one gallon of gasoline.  So that comes to about 133.9 million gallons, or 3.19 million barrels of oil being displaced.  That's about the equivalent of 55 percent of our daily imports from OPEC.

And this does not include commercial trucks. Very soon we will be electrifying sweepers, tow trucks, garbage trucks, etc.

Yes, my friends — the cars of the future will overwhelmingly be electric.

And the opportunities stemming from this transformation will be the catalyst for a new way of life, and a new generation of wealth.

You can download the PDF version here: The Electric Car Revolution Starts Now! 

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