Tuesday, March 31, 2009

PeakOilNews: Buildings & Grounds: Food For Thought for Agriculture and the Future

Chronicle.comA Farm for the Future, a BBC documentary about the prospects of agriculture after peak oil, is now available through Google Video. The program, which was made by the wildlife filmmaker Rebecca Hosking, begins on a conventional farm owned by Ms. Hosking’s father in England’s South Devon region. The documentary goes from there to explore other low-energy, low-impact farming methods that Ms. Hosking says might be necessary in an energy-starved (and food-starved) future.The documentary should be compelling viewing for anyone involved with campus sustainability and food projects. We’ve recently discussed the importance of teaching agriculture at colleges and the fact that many colleges have become interested in local foods, along with agriculture and community gardens. Some colleges, like Green Mountain College, Sterling College, and Goshen College, have programs to teach students how to farm in a post-oil era.Peak oil — the concept that oil production will crest and then decline, leading to all sorts of trouble in society — is of course a controversial topic, and the associated movement of so-called doomers attracts its share of ridicule. In a recent book, Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next 50 Years (MIT Press, 2008), Vaclav Smil, an energy expert at the University of Manitoba, says that the alarmism of peak-oil proponents is “based on a lack of nuanced understanding of the human quest for energy” that disregards economics, innovation, and adaptability. (In his book, he seems more concerned about human interference in the global nitrogen cycle, water shortages, loss of biodiversity, and soil erosion — all of which affect agriculture, by the way.)Planning for a post-oil era is at least a prudent thing to do. Agriculture, which has been one of the most important disciplines of the American university system, will certainly face a number of pressures in the future, peak oil or no. Ms. Hosking’s documentary might provide food for thought for the future of sustainable food production.

First 5 miles

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Twike434InPortlandOregon/~3/Zm5fFK-_wro/first-5-miles.html

Compact Dymaxion Car...

It just occured to me that the 3 wheeled electric compact car I posted on earlier (see video below) may be using the same steering technology as the Dymaxion car invented by Buckminster Fuller, the guy most famous for creating the Geodesic domes (among other things). See one of my favorite Dymaxion Car Video below. The dymaxion car uses the rear wheel as it's turning wheel. The front wheels do

Air Powered on Youtube

Hey guys, Youtube has been exploding with hundreds and hundreds of new compressed air powered vehiles videos. Recently, I even saw a vidoe of Dr. Michio Kaku (world famous physicist from New York) touting the advantages and future of cars powered by compressed air. One of my recent favorites is a test drive of a convertable MDI powered by compressed air.Here is a playist of some other interesting

Monday, March 30, 2009

Electrikat: Motor Mounted

Now that’s the spring is here I’ve been able to spend some time on the bike again.  I finally got the motor mounted this past weekend.  The mounting plate is bolted in three places.  I may add a bracket so I can attach the fourth corner, but I’m not sure it’s necessary.  I was concerned about the alignment of the motor and I’ve consulted with several people who have done conversions.  I took everyone’s advice and it turned out to be much easier than I expected.  Well, assuming it’s correct.  I haven’t ridden it at 50 mph yet.
Placement of the motor vertically and front-to-back isn’t critical.  It was easy enough to eyeball it and get close to where the stock drive sprocket was.  I was most concerned with getting the motor perfectly horizontal (aligned about a front-to-back axis) and perpendicular to the frame (aligned about a vertical axis).  By placing a level on the sprocket of the rear wheel, and then on the mounting plate, I was able to shim the plate until they matched, so I had horizontal.  Then I ran a long threaded rod through a hole in the plate so it stuck out sideways from the frame.  I measured the distance from the rear axle to the rod on both left and right sides of the bike and adjusted until the distances matched.  I guess I got lucky because it didn’t take much.  See this elmoto post for details.  At that point the motor was nice and square in the frame.  The last step was to put the drive sprocket on the shaft and get it in line with the rear sprocket.  By running a string past the rear sprocket toward the front of the bike, I was able to line up the drive sprocket with the rear and tighten the set screw.  I have been told this is called the “Kentucky Windage Method”.  It worked for me.
After that I wanted to drive the motor from a single 12V battery just to see the wheel spin for the first time under its own power.  I couldn’t get the chain on fast enough!
Motor MountMotor Mount
Spinning for the first time under its own power!Spinning for the first time under its own power!
Motor - top viewMotor - top view

Autoblitz: Tesla rolls out Model S hatchback, plans late 2011 start

By MARK VAUGHNAmidst thumping techno and inside his own rocket factory, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk pulled the cover off his much-anticipated second car onThursday.The Model S five-door hatchback will go into production in late 2011 at a rate of 20,000 per year. Prices will start at $49,900 for the base model, a price that assumes the $7,500 current Federal tax credit available.The car is all new from the ground up, sharing no parts or panels with the Roadster. A thin, flat battery pack rides underneath, freeing up the interior to seat as many as seven (as long as two of them are kids in the optional rear-facing seats). The lithium-ion battery packs will come in three sizes. The pack in the base model will offer a range of 160 miles, but you can order larger packs that will go 230 or 300 miles. With the charger built into the car, the S can accept 110-, 220- or as much as 440-volt recharges. At maximum voltage the car can recharge in 45 minutes. At 220 volts, which most typical suburban households have, recharge time is four hours. It's overnight at 110 volts.Musk said Tesla is thinking about renting the battery packs, so if you need to go to Las Vegas for the weekend you could slap the bigger pack underneath, for instance. Musk said swap-out time is less than it would take to install a gas tank, whatever that means.The car will also be available as a lease, Musk said.Body panels and chassis are made from aluminum, there are no composites.For performance, Model S designer Franz von Holzhausen said, "You'd need a spatula to flip this over." Top speed is listed at 130 mph and 0 to 60 mph will take 4.8 seconds for the Sport model, the quickest of the three offered. The standard model gets to 60 in 5.6 seconds and the base in 5.7 seconds "or so." With production so far off, these figures could conceivably change.The car will be manufactured in Southern California, not far from Musk's Space X facility in Hawthorne, where he builds his rockets. The exact location of the factory was not announced.By the car's late-2011 start of production, Tesla could see plenty of competition from OEMs offering electric cars. But that's a long way off.source

Busy month with a new job…

It’s been a busy month and I haven’t had a single moment to work on the car.  I’ve got a couple more weeks of craziness and things should slow down enough to give me my weekly work session again.  After being a consultant for past few years, I finally decided to get a “real” job.  I’m now building underwater robots and submarines.  It’s really exciting to start working in a field that is so different from anything I’ve done before.   I’m learning how to make technology work in very harsh environments.  Some of these skills will definitely help in making the car more robust.

Busy month with a new job…

It’s been a busy month and I haven’t had a single moment to work on the car.  I’ve got a couple more weeks of craziness and things should slow down enough to give me my weekly work session again.  After being a consultant for past few years, I finally decided to get a “real” job.  I’m now building underwater robots and submarines.  It’s really exciting to start working in a field that is so different from anything I’ve done before.   I’m learning how to make technology work in very harsh environments.  Some of these skills will definitely help in making the car more robust.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

You know you've got a hot product when...

people are willing to risk jail time to get one!  Last night at about 11:30 pm the display window at Green Wheelin Scooters was shattered and an brand new Ultra Motors A2B bicycle was stolen.  That was the only thing that was taken from the store, not the computers, the TV/DVD, tools, nothing else, just the bike.  Someone must've wanted it real bad!  Let me back up just a little.  Yesterday we had our Ultra Motors A2B demo ride in the parking lot at the store.  We had a great turnout, people were very excited by the bike and its capabilities, we even sold a few of them!  It was a successful event.  As I was going home I was feeling pretty good about the day and how well things had gone.  Then it happened, about 11:30, as I was relaxing and winding down my evening, my cell phone rang, it was the alarm company.  The alarm was sounding at the store and they had dispatched the Walnut Creek PD.  They would call me with an update as soon as they had more info.  My heart sank, this was not the way I had envisioned my night going, I had a bad feeling that this wasn't just a false alarm.  Within minutes the alarm company was calling back and they said that the front window had been broken and the police thought that a vehicle had been stolen, could I meet the PD at the store.  I jumped in the truck and away into the night I went.  As I drove up I couldn't see the front window, it was shattered in tiny glass rocks all over the sidewalk.  It was obvious at this point that our Blue Ultra Motors A2B bicycle had been taken in a "smash and grab" robbery.  The police were very professional and sympathetic, and explained to me that whoever was responsible had probably done this before, the M.O. was that of a pro.  Anyway, if anybody out there happens to see a Blue Ultra Motor A2B in the next couple of days, please let the Walnut Creek PD know where and when you saw it, and if you can get a description of who is riding it that will help also.  DO NOT TRY TO CONFRONT THE PERSON RIDING IT!   There are very few of these bike in that color (it is new) on the streets, so the probability of it being hot is high.  If you want to see the Ultra Motors A2B bicycle, come down to the store (please pardon the mess, as we replace the window) and test drive one.  Then maybe you too can take one home, after you pay for it.    ;^) 

Baker Electric Car

Finally someone posted the video of Jay Leno showing his Baker Electric car. Jay, please consider putting up all your videos on Youtube, or at least make your videos embedable, so us bloggers can be able to show what we are talking about. Thanks.1909 Baker ElectricSEE MORE at....http://www.jaylenosgarage.com/cars/Ba.......Although a crude electric carriage was originally created in Scotland in

Obama Visits Electric Car Factory in California

President Barack Obama visited an electric car factory in California and urged workers to help the country lead the way in building a clean energy economy. (March 19, 2009)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Buckminster Fuller Challenge

THE BUCKMINSTER FULLER CHALLENGE 2008 -You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.Directed and Produced by Joao AmorimDirected and Produced by Joao AmorimBucky had it right. "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model

PeakOilGarage: First Tesla Model S Sedan Test Drive

Elon Musk unveils the new Tesla Sedan at the SpaceX rocket factory. Steve Jurvetson was fortunate to take the first test drive, and he let the video run for the whole ride. Good job!

Folding Electric Car For Women?

This is a film clip of two females assembling, unfolding a three (3) wheel electric car. The car can be fashioned as either a convertible with side doors or as a front entrance car with full cover for the passenger compartment. The car can be folded up for storage. Presumable it is an all electric drive vehicle for ease of maintenance and to eliminate the the issue of cranking the start motor of

Friday, March 27, 2009

PeakOilGarage: Tesla Model S Sedan videos

Here are some cool videos from the Tesla Model S unveiling that are appearing on the internet.
Check out what the door handles do in order to reduce drag when driving.
Door Handle video
The turn signals and front headlights have been described as if from “Tron”.
Headlights and Turning Signal
YouTube video of the tail [...]

Thursday, March 26, 2009

PeakOilGarage: Tesla Model S revealed

I am VERY impressed. So impressed that I have already put in my deposit for one.

Overview
- 300 mile range
- 45 minute QuickCharge
- 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds
- Seats 7 people
- More Cargo space than station wagons
- 2X as efficient as hybrids
- 17 inch infotainment touchscreen
Range
- Up to 300 mile range
- 45 minute QuickCharge
- Charges [...]

Sales Update- Buying a Tesla Roadster just got easier

Hello Tesla customers and enthusiasts,
As you have probably heard or read, there’s a lot happening at Tesla:

Roadster production is now at a steady 80 cars per month, and will increase to over 100 cars per month this spring. We have delivered approximately 300 customers with another almost 1000 waiting for their Roadster, and we [...]

Expaned Saturday store hours

With the warmer weather and longer daylight, we are expanding our Saturday hours at our retail store. We will now be open from 9AM to 6PM every Saturday. 

Other hours will  remain the same. We do stay open on Thursdays until 7pm and are open Sundays from 12-5 for those who work and live in surrounding areas. See you soon.
Tues 11-6
Wed 11-6
Thurs 11-7
Fri 11-6
Sat 9-6
Sun 12-5
Mon closed
601 W. Main St, Carrboro

LEVAdvisor: The Schwinn Transit Electric Bicycle

Schwinn Transit Electric Bicycle
The Schwinn Transit Electric Bicycle is a pedal-assist electric bicycle with a 250 watt front-hub motor and a 24 volt, 10 aH lithium-ion battery.
The Schwinn Transit is an electric bicycle with a lot of style and workmanship. The thing that sets these apart from most similar models by other companies is the integrated wiring and motor, so that it doesn’t really look like an electric bike.  These bicycles have a nice Selle Royale look and include fenders, a book rack, kickstand and bell.
The 2009 model features Shimano parts on the 3-speed (internal gear) hub, shifter, and cranks. The frame is “N’Lightened” Aluminum and aimed at urban/city/town use.  The tires are likewise made for street riding and the shape of the bike is tuned for style and comfort.
Two caveats to the interested consumer: these bikes come in only two colors (one for the men’s, one for the women’s) and only in standard frame size (19″ and 17″ respectively).
Maintenance and Reliability
Schwinn is a company known for strength and quality in their bikes.  The 2009 model hasn’t had much review from consumers yet, but it’s very close to the 2008 model, which has had resounding success amongst its owners. Very few problems are reported and those that are seem to center around common bicycle laments (loose brakes and the like).  Things that any bicycle shop can tune out of a bike.
Most people are purchasing their Schwinns from dealers, so they are buying a put-together bike that’s already tuned and ready to go. This obviously means fewer problems than would be otherwise seen when it comes to the “normal” things people have go wrong with a new bicycle.
Schwinn Transit Electric Bicycle
Technical Specs:

  • Top Speed: Not listed, assumed 20mph
  • Range (per charge): 25+ miles (pedal assist)
  • Motor: 180W (250W peak), 24v in-hub (front)
  • Battery: Proprietary li-ion 10ah (removable for easy charging)
  • Charge Time: 3-4 hours (to full)
  • Curb Weight: 32 lbs.
  • Carrying Capacity: Not listed
  • Warranty: 1 year parts/labor, 6 month battery

Price and Availability
The Transit e-bike is available from most Schwinn dealers nationally, though many do not stock them on-site.  Manufacturer’s suggested retail is $2,100.
Online Resources
Schwinn Electric Bicycles Transit page - manufacturer’s product page.
LEV Advisor Schwinn Electric Bicycle Forum – our own forum for Schwinn Electric Bicycle products.
http://www.levadvisor.com/forum/?wpforumaction=viewforum&f=36.0


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Autoblitz: Rave reviews for world's cheapest car

by Phil HazlewoodMotoring experts on Tuesday gave a rousing reception to the Tata Nano, hailing the world's cheapest car as "one of the greatest bargains of all time" and "a triumph of Indian ingenuity."The tiny car, which costs just 100,000 rupees (2,000 dollars) for the basic model, was unveiled to great fanfare on Monday, with Tata Motors chairman Ratan Tata saying it would revolutionise travel for millions of Indians.India's trade press agreed that the sporty, jellybean-shaped Nano passed the test as a bona fide vehicle, earning comparisons to the European Smart car and classic "People's Car" the Volkswagen Beetle.Much was made of the car's looks. Autocar India magazine described it "as cute as a cartoon caricature... desperately loveable" which was "appealing, especially to ladies."Most reviewers were surprised at the amount of headroom and leg space inside the 3.1-metre-long (10 feet) car and said it was ideal for nipping around the congested streets of Indian cities."It's not a toy or an autorickshaw with a fourth wheel as many sceptics believed," Autocar India said."It's a credible car that does the job brilliantly for its target customers and in the process trounces much more expensive cars in areas like passenger space."Auto India said the Nano -- which has a strong passenger compartment, crumple zones and intrusion resistant doors -- is likely to be safer than many of its direct competitors in the small car market in India."The Tata Nano is worth every bit of your hard-earned money and we believe it has the makings of a cult car," it added.However, demand is set to outstrip supply, with production limited to just 30,000 to 50,000 cars in the first year because of limited production capacity -- a fraction of the original target of 250,000, auto analysts say.The launch has come at a tough time for India's top vehicle maker, hit by the economic slowdown and credit crunch -- and at a time when it is trying to absorb the British luxury marques Jaguar and Land Rover, which it bought last year.In the long-term, Tata is hoping the Nano will also be a hit overseas.In France, Le Figaro compared the Nano's launch to that of the Volkswagen Beetle after World War II."It is just as 'revolutionary'. Both in terms of the place it is likely to hold in Indian society, and from a technology point of view," said the daily.There was criticism, however, of the lack of luggage space, power steering and air conditioning in basic models.And with a top speed of just 105 kilometres (65 miles) per hour from a two cylinder, 624 cc rear-mounted engine, its overtaking prowess was questioned.But reviewers seemed to accept Tata's view that potential buyers need to be realistic when considering such a low-cost motor."In the mould of the original Ford Model T but snappier and impressive in its use of the right technology, the Nano has the makings of a mega winner," wrote Adil Jal Darukhanawala from the Economic Times' ZigWheels.com."The Nano's not perfect," said Autocar India. "Owners will want more power, miss the practicality of a hatch and want an additional gear too. But that's about it."What Tata has achieved (at the price)... is a triumph of Indian ingenuity."However a commentator in Britain's Guardian newspaper warned the real significance in the launch of the Nano lay in its environmental impact with the prospect of millions of more motorists."This marks the beginning of mass private transport in the world's second largest population," said George Monbiot."For years environmentalists have speculated about what would happen if consumption in the poor world matched consumption in the rich world. Now the great experiment has begun."source

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Obama on Energy

In his weekly address, President Obama announced that in the coming week, he will highlight the core principles of his budget, including reform of the energy, education and health care sectors.The following is a transcript of the president's weekly address:Last week, I spent a few days in California, talking with ordinary Americans in town halls and in the places where they work. We talked about

PeakOilDebunked: 400. MORE ELECTRIC TRUCKS

Five years ago, when I first got involved with peak oil, electric and hybrid trucks weren't even a concept. A little over a year ago, when I first posted on the subject they still seemed fairly exotic. Now, in 2009, an amazing amount of progress has taken place, and the technology for both EV and HEV (hybrid EV) trucks is rapidly filtering into the mainstream. It's becoming increasingly clear that peak oil will have little impact on tasks such as local trucking, garbage collection, and grid maintenance. Peak oil is simply occurring too slow compared to the rate of truck innovation and dissemination.EATONEaton is a manufacturer of hybrid drivetrains for medium and heavy-duty trucks. Just a couple of days ago, President Obama spoke at the preview of a PHEV utility truck made by Eaton, EPRI and Ford:The plug-in hybrid truck is the first of five “boom and bucket” trucks based on a Ford F-550 chassis that will be provided by Eaton, EPRI and Ford to public and private utility fleets in the United States for use and evaluation. In addition to fuel and emissions savings while the truck is on the road, additional energy savings are available by utilizing the electric side of the system to power the ancillary systems and tools when the truck is stopped at a work site.SourceATCO, an Alberta electric utility, is also introducing an HEV utility bucket truck Source. American Electric Power, a mid- and southern US electric utility has 4 International Durastar hybrid bucket trucks with Eaton drivetrains, and 18 more on order Source. A Michigan beer distributor recently purchased 15 medium-duty International DuraStar hybrid tractors made by Navistar with an Eaton drivetrain Source. Kraft is adopting the Durastar hybrid for transport of frozen foods Source. Honda is testing a Class 8 hybrid diesel truck made by Peterbilt (Paccar) and Eaton Source.BALQONThe heavy-duty electric trucks being used in the Port of Los Angeles, which I described 6 months ago are now in full production. The assembly line is finished, and Balqon will first be producing 20 units for the Port of LA Source. Note that Balqon's Nautilus E30 Class 8 heavy-duty EV truck, and their Mule M-150 7-ton medium duty EV truck, are both equipped for fast-charging Source. Balqon is using AeroVironment's PosiCharge fast charge system for the Port of LA trucks Source. SMITH ELECTRIC VEHICLESThe Smith Newton 7.5 to 14 tonne all-electric commercial truck from Smith Electric Vehicles, which has been in use in Europe for 3 years, will soon be rolled out in North America Source. Smith's UK customers include: Babcock Airports, Continental Landscapes, TK Maxx, BSkyB, DHL, TNT Express, Openreach, Sainsburys, Royal Mail, CEVA Logistics, Scottish & Southern Energy, Crown Records Management, Translinc, yoyo and Balfour Beatty Source.MODECUK manufacturer Modec offers trucks in a number of styles, with a range up to 100 miles, maximum speed of 50mph, and payload of 2 tonnes. They have sold 150 vehicles since production started in 2007. Customers so far include: Tesco, UPS, FedEx, M&S, Network Rail, Speedy Hire, Stadsdeel Amsterdam Oud Zuid, CenterParcs, Hildon Water, Stadstoezicht Amsterdam, CESPA (Madrid), Deret Group (France), and UK Local Authorities (Modec vans) Source.FORDFord has announced a tie-up with Smith Electric Vehicles to market a fully electric version of its Transit Connect panel van in 2010. Ford will provide the chassis, brand and marketing, and Smith will integrate the EV technology Source.EVIElectric Vehicles International is a new player, which apparently has a significant marketing presence in Mexico. It is now offering the customizable eviLightTruck in 3 configurations -- Class 3, Class 4 and Class 5-6 -- for the US market Source.UPSIn May of 2008, UPS ordered 200 HEV trucks with drivetrains made by Eaton (the largest HEV order in the industry to date), and 300 CNG trucks Source. In October, they ordered 7 hydraulic hybrids, and in November, they announced an order of 12 EV trucks produced by Modec, for deployment in the UK and Germany in early 2009 Source.UPS currently has the largest alternative fuel fleet in the parcel industry, with more than 1,500 compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, propane, hydrogen fuel cell, electric and hybrid electric vehicles Source.RYDERRyder is offering the RydeGreen medium-duty hybrid truck based on Navistar and Eaton technology. "According to International®, the truck has the potential to provide up to 30 to 40 percent improved fuel efficiency in standard in-city pick up and delivery applications."SourceKENWORTHIn early March 2009, Kenworth (a Paccar subsidiary) received a large hybrid truck order from Coca-Cola Enterprises:The Kirkland company, a division of Bellevue-based Paccar Inc. (NASDAQ: PCAR), said Coca-Cola Enterprises ordered 150 T370 diesel-electric tractors and 35 T370 hybrid trucks. Kenworth officials didn’t disclose the value of the order but the fuel-efficient trucks are reported to cost around $100,000 each.Last year, Coca-Cola Enterprises of Atlanta (NYSE: CCE) ordered 120 hybrid delivery trucks from Kenworth. Officials at the distribution company said those hybrid trucks resulted in a 30 percent improvement in both fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission reductions, compared with standard delivery trucks.SourceAnother good source on this topic is the PESWiki for electric trucks. The Wiki gives an extensive list of firms, large and small, producing electric trucks.by JD

PeakOilDebunked: 400. MORE ELECTRIC TRUCKS

Five years ago, when I first got involved with peak oil, electric and hybrid trucks weren't even a concept. A little over a year ago, when I first posted on the subject they still seemed fairly exotic. Now, in 2009, an amazing amount of progress has taken place, and the technology for both EV and HEV (hybrid EV) trucks is rapidly filtering into the mainstream. It's becoming increasingly clear that peak oil will have little impact on tasks such as local trucking, garbage collection, and grid maintenance. Peak oil is simply occurring too slow compared to the rate of truck innovation and dissemination.EATONEaton is a manufacturer of hybrid drivetrains for medium and heavy-duty trucks. Just a couple of days ago, President Obama spoke at the preview of a PHEV utility truck made by Eaton, EPRI and Ford:The plug-in hybrid truck is the first of five “boom and bucket” trucks based on a Ford F-550 chassis that will be provided by Eaton, EPRI and Ford to public and private utility fleets in the United States for use and evaluation. In addition to fuel and emissions savings while the truck is on the road, additional energy savings are available by utilizing the electric side of the system to power the ancillary systems and tools when the truck is stopped at a work site.SourceATCO, an Alberta electric utility, is also introducing an HEV utility bucket truck Source. American Electric Power, a mid- and southern US electric utility has 4 International Durastar hybrid bucket trucks with Eaton drivetrains, and 18 more on order Source. A Michigan beer distributor recently purchased 15 medium-duty International DuraStar hybrid tractors made by Navistar with an Eaton drivetrain Source. Kraft is adopting the Durastar hybrid for transport of frozen foods Source. Honda is testing a Class 8 hybrid diesel truck made by Peterbilt (Paccar) and Eaton Source.BALQONThe heavy-duty electric trucks being used in the Port of Los Angeles, which I described 6 months ago are now in full production. The assembly line is finished, and Balqon will first be producing 20 units for the Port of LA Source. Note that Balqon's Nautilus E30 Class 8 heavy-duty EV truck, and their Mule M-150 7-ton medium duty EV truck, are both equipped for fast-charging Source. Balqon is using AeroVironment's PosiCharge fast charge system for the Port of LA trucks Source. SMITH ELECTRIC VEHICLESThe Smith Newton 7.5 to 14 tonne all-electric commercial truck from Smith Electric Vehicles, which has been in use in Europe for 3 years, will soon be rolled out in North America Source. Smith's UK customers include: Babcock Airports, Continental Landscapes, TK Maxx, BSkyB, DHL, TNT Express, Openreach, Sainsburys, Royal Mail, CEVA Logistics, Scottish & Southern Energy, Crown Records Management, Translinc, yoyo and Balfour Beatty Source.MODECUK manufacturer Modec offers trucks in a number of styles, with a range up to 100 miles, maximum speed of 50mph, and payload of 2 tonnes. They have sold 150 vehicles since production started in 2007. Customers so far include: Tesco, UPS, FedEx, M&S, Network Rail, Speedy Hire, Stadsdeel Amsterdam Oud Zuid, CenterParcs, Hildon Water, Stadstoezicht Amsterdam, CESPA (Madrid), Deret Group (France), and UK Local Authorities (Modec vans) Source.FORDFord has announced a tie-up with Smith Electric Vehicles to market a fully electric version of its Transit Connect panel van in 2010. Ford will provide the chassis, brand and marketing, and Smith will integrate the EV technology Source.EVIElectric Vehicles International is a new player, which apparently has a significant marketing presence in Mexico. It is now offering the customizable eviLightTruck in 3 configurations -- Class 3, Class 4 and Class 5-6 -- for the US market Source.UPSIn May of 2008, UPS ordered 200 HEV trucks with drivetrains made by Eaton (the largest HEV order in the industry to date), and 300 CNG trucks Source. In October, they ordered 7 hydraulic hybrids, and in November, they announced an order of 12 EV trucks produced by Modec, for deployment in the UK and Germany in early 2009 Source.UPS currently has the largest alternative fuel fleet in the parcel industry, with more than 1,500 compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, propane, hydrogen fuel cell, electric and hybrid electric vehicles Source.RYDERRyder is offering the RydeGreen medium-duty hybrid truck based on Navistar and Eaton technology. "According to International®, the truck has the potential to provide up to 30 to 40 percent improved fuel efficiency in standard in-city pick up and delivery applications."SourceKENWORTHIn early March 2009, Kenworth (a Paccar subsidiary) received a large hybrid truck order from Coca-Cola Enterprises:The Kirkland company, a division of Bellevue-based Paccar Inc. (NASDAQ: PCAR), said Coca-Cola Enterprises ordered 150 T370 diesel-electric tractors and 35 T370 hybrid trucks. Kenworth officials didn’t disclose the value of the order but the fuel-efficient trucks are reported to cost around $100,000 each.Last year, Coca-Cola Enterprises of Atlanta (NYSE: CCE) ordered 120 hybrid delivery trucks from Kenworth. Officials at the distribution company said those hybrid trucks resulted in a 30 percent improvement in both fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission reductions, compared with standard delivery trucks.SourceAnother good source on this topic is the PESWiki for electric trucks. The Wiki gives an extensive list of firms, large and small, producing electric trucks.by JD

Friday, March 20, 2009

RevengeOfTheEV: MINI E arrives in US

The first batch of MINI Es has arrived in the US.
A sharp-eyed ‘Revenge’ fan sent us these exclusive pictures from a holding facility in Central California, where the cars are being prepped for delivery.
BMW have promised 500 cars for the US market – and judging by what we saw, most of them are already here and ready for roll out.
Watch this space for delivery news.

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Exercise and electric bikes

We got a funny call this morning. A woman had read the article about us in the University Gazette. She happens to work in public health. Somehow, she queued in on my statement that "electric bikes are more efficient than the human pedaler," and she was prepared to scold us, since her research indicates there are huge energy costs that go into treating the epidemic of obesity in this country.

For whatever reason, she thought that electric bikes mean that a person doesn't ever have to pedal - that it is essentially just a scooter with pedals. Now, I will preface this by saying there are some electric bikes on the market that are essentially like that - I saw many on a recent trip to China. They were essentially scooters that had pedals grafted on so they could be called a bike (for legal reasons).
But that's not what we are about. Our vision for electric bikes is that it is first and foremost still a bicycle. It should feel and handle like a bike. It should be easy to pedal like a bike. It should encourage the rider to get exercise, by pedaling.
It reminds me of customers who make the statement "if I had an electric bike, I wouldn't get any exercise." My response to that is that I get 1 hour of exercise every day on my electric bike, because I pedal the whole time. I could get away without pedaling, but I feel silly riding along without pedaling. And I like to get the nice dose of moderate, aerobic exercise every day. On the other hand, I live far enough away, that I simply wouldn't bike every day without electric. Last time I tried the non-electric approach, the most I could bring myself to bike was 2-3 times per week. I'm in way better shape now, by riding an electric bike every day.
So, back to the phone call. Fortunately we were able to explain to the woman that our goals were the same as hers: we want people to be more healthy, and we totally agree that there is an epidemic caused by lack of exercise in the US. We just happen to think that electric bicycles can help some people overcome the lack of exercise, by encouraging them to ride more often. We have customers who have lost substantial weight after starting to ride an electric bike.
I hope we can clear up the confusion that somehow having electric assist prevents getting exercise. It does not, it encourages exercise, because it makes it more likely you will ride your bike for that trip to the store or to work, rather than getting in the car (which is no exercise at all).

Cycle9: "Pedaling a hard truth"

Yesterday a nice article about Morgan's vision for Cycle 9 was published in UNC's Faculty/Staff newsletter. It discussed some of the motivations behind why we got Cycle 9 going. The one thing that was perhaps a bit inaccurate was its focus on climate change as a reason that I founded Cycle 9. While I think that anthropogenic climate change is likely real and likely a problem that we as a society will have to face, it was a much more immediate issue that caused me to co-found Cycle9: Peak Oil. Peak oil theory says that at some point the world will have used up half of all its oil, and at that time, the remaining half will be harder to access and more expensive. There is now a consensus that the world is already past peak (estimates vary, some say 2005, some 2008, but it is clear we've been on a bumpy plateau).What does this mean?- That soon (6 months to 3 years), the accelerating reduction in oil supplies will catch up with the reduction in oil demand. - When that happens, prices are likely to skyrocket- Countries are likely to start competing seriously over oil. Imagine the US competing with China for scarcer oil. Not a good scenario for us.- The problem is actually made worse by the current economy, because many projects for oil development are being shelved as uneconomical when oil is < $50 per barrel. That means the decline will be even faster in the next few years.The real problem I see is that the current, low gas prices have lulled people into a false sense of security. I have run into so many people that seem to think these prices are here to stay, "until the economy recovers." This shows some fundamental misunderstandings about the nature of our oil supply, and the reasons why oil is presently "sort of" cheap. Note that if oil were truly cheap, we'd be back at $10 oil - but we aren't there, we're at $50 - a value that just 6 years ago would have been seen as quite high. But I digress - it only takes a small oversupply of a product to cause prices to fall. And so what if we are 1-2 million barrels per day over supplied? If production is declining at only 3% per year (most estimates are closer to 6% once we fall off the plateau), that little bit of oversupply will be eaten up in less than a year. The only way the oversupply can continue is if the economy continues to crash at a rate that is comparable to the reduction in oil supply. That would be an unprecedented rate of decline for any modern economy.The other thing many people don't seem to realize about oil prices is that oil on the international market is priced in dollars. For the past 6 months, we've benefited because the dollar has strengthened, due to lots of folks buying treasury bills as a safe investment. But just in the past week or so, there are signs that things are headed the other way. Among other things, larger than predicted federal budget deficits, along with the Federal Reserve's recent announcement that it is monetizing unprecedented levels of debt (> 1$Trillion worth) are things that will be very likely to weaken the dollar. As the dollar weakens, oil prices will rise. And there are grumblings internationally about getting away from the dollar altogether. If that happens, the dollar cost of oil is likely to be much higher.Fortunately, there seem to be some folks who realize this - we are still selling bikes and electric motor kits to folks who realize that we have to change our ways of everyday transportation. But, I'm afraid there are many people who don't realize that there is this tsunami headed our way, and that the longer that gas prices stay low, the worse it will be when it hits. I know many people are optimists, who think some techno-fix will solve the problem. But, given that we are already past the peak in world oil, the promised techno-fixes aren't deployed in time. Some people have talked about the potential for electric cars to solve the problem. Electric cars are great, and there are quite a few people doing their own conversions now. But even if 10,000's of people do that, it is a miniscule drop in the bucket. I don't want to sound like a pessimist - I'm not. I'm a realist, who realizes that some difficult times are headed our way, but I think we can change and adapt. However, that will require people changing their thinking. And it has become clear to me that, while some people are already changing their thinking, most are not. Most are "waiting for something to happen." That concerns me, because imagine waiting and waiting, then suddenly one day you can't buy gas for any price, because it is rationed for essential uses like farming or trucking? If things get to that point, it is too late to easily do something proactive about it (like moving closer to work, getting a bike, etc)People often don't like hard truths like that. It must be some inbuilt defense mechanism, to avoid the obvious when it is staring us in the face. It was similar with the financial crash. Two years ago, after doing a lot of reading about our economy and the housing bubble, I realized we were headed for a big economic crash. I warned a lot of people I know about it, trying to convince them to get their retirement savings out of stocks and into something safer. But most people ignored the warnings. I have had several people come back to me and say "I wish I had listened to you." I don't feel gleeful at all about that, it is very sad that friends and relatives have lost retirement savings in this debacle.But the thing is, if (or I should say, when) oil supplies start to seriously crash, the damage could be much worse to the unprepared.And that's why I co-founded Cycle 9. To show people that there are alternatives, that exist right now, that can drastically reduce oil consumption for day-to-day trips. We don't have to wait for the Holy Grail to arrive. But we do have to change our way of thinking to realize that the solutions were at hand all along.

RevengeOfTheEV: Obama gives $2.4bn Jump Start To Battery Makers

President Obama is making good on his promise to spearhead the EV revolution. During a visit to Southern California Edison’s Pomona EV test facility, he launched a $2.4 billion competitive grant program for US battery makers.
It’s all part of the Obama administration’s plan get to 1 million plug in hybrids on the road by 2015.
 Luis Sinco / Los Angeles TimesObama At A Town Hall Meeting in Los Angeles, California - March 19, 2009. Photos: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times
Here’s a quote from the LA Times article By Maeve Reston:
Obama unveils $2.4-billion grant program to aid electric cars
“Even as our economy has been transformed by new forms of technology, our electric grid looks largely the same as it did half a century ago,” Obama said. “So we have a choice to make. We can remain one of the world’s leading importers of foreign oil, or we can make the investments that would allow us to become the world’s leading exporter of renewable energy.” The president renewed his commitment to doubling the country’s supply of renewable energy over the next few years — including spending $11 billion upgrading the nation’s power grid to ease the delivery of renewable energy across the country, and $15 million to help develop green technologies such as solar and wind power, and new coal technologies. As a receptive audience of engineers and workers cheered his plans, Obama pledged to put a million plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015, and highlighted his offer of up to $7,500 in tax credits for Americans who purchase electric vehicles. The new $2.4-billion grant program, which would be part of his recovery program, would ask companies to compete for federal money to increase the manufacturing of batteries and parts used in the electric cars.
Later that evening, Obama answered questions during a Town Hall Meeting that took place at Miguel Contreras Learning Center, in Los Angeles, California, where he warned us about the energy dinosaurs that would be opposing the new plan:
“…if we are going to make a serious investment in clean energy, well, that requires that we phase out dirty energy. And that requires that we stop subsidizing certain things and instead subsidize other things. Somebody is not going to be happy about that because they’ve been getting the subsidies, so they will start running ads on television saying this is a terrible energy plan.”
Read the full LA Times article and the complete Town Hall Transcript.
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Automatic parking!

Isn't it amazing what you can do when all 4 wheels are powered independently by electric motors?Some EV's are set up like this and while I can't see this concept car style taking off anywhere except retirement villages and large corporate facilities, you have to admit, it takes care of the old reverse parallel park!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is Green Vehicles about to start shipping the Triac?

The Triac has been long promised by Green Vehicles, and is to me a very attractive vehicle. Last fall I got to touch one and look at it, and verify that it's a real vehicle, see that it looks well built, etc. But the delivery date has been pushed off several times now.
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Autoblitz: Terrafugia's Flying Car Successfully Takes Off

Terrafugia has completed the first successful test of its flying car. Terrafugia’s Transition is a small aircraft that can fold up its wings, drive on the road, fuel up at a normal gas station, and park in a single car garage.The company's Transition Roadable Aircraft Proof of Concept is a two-seat aircraft that can take off and land at local airports as well as drive on regular roads. Converting between the two modes takes all of 30 seconds. As a car, the Transition can drive on roads at 65 miles per hour and achieve up to 30 miles per gallon. In the air, it cruises at 115 miles an hour with its 100 horsepower engine. The vehicle will be available in 2011 for $194,000.For its first flight, Phil Meteer, Colonel, USAFR (Retired) flew the car at Plattsburgh International Airport in Plattsburgh, NY. The chase aircraft was piloted by Giora Guth. The flight lasted less than a minute and was maybe 10 feet in the air, but it's a start.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Governor Creates California Green Corp

This could mean support for alternative transportation, such as elementary, middle, and high school courses (including materials and equipment) for bicycle safety training. That might include teaches kids that may like to use a bicycle as a source of transportation on the roads with other traffic, like cars and trucks. It may include training opportunities for installation and maintenance of

Cycle9: Cars are expensive

Last fall, we had a visitor at our house, who had driven there. She had a little accident backing up in our driveway, resulting in a crunched fender on her car and a crunched door on our car.The total cost of repair? $2,400Sometimes people ask me how much my bike costs. When I tell them (some number > $1k), they often seem aghast that I would spend that much on a bike. How can bikes be that expensive?Some people don't seem to realize that bikes are inexpensive compared to cars. This accident is case in point. The cost of that one little fender bender is more than my whole bike, motor kit and all. Our insurance has a $500 deductible. So our out of pocket cost, if we cause the accident, is that much. That is less than $2,400, but it still isn't cheap. Plus those insurance bills keep coming, every 6 months. And if someone has an accident? Rates go up.It is interesting to observe the psychology behind this. I think that because people get used to just regularly paying that insurance bill, paying for gas, paying for tune ups, paying for tires, paying for oil, and so on, that the familiarity leads to people ignoring the true costs. The true costs of a good, reliable bike are not tiny, but they are only a fraction of the true costs of a good, reliable car.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Utility companies preparing for electric cars?

A USATODAY news article suggests California utility prepares for surge in plug-in electric cars which made me wonder what the other electrical utilities are doing. Electrical utilities have a role in clean transportation as being the provider of choice of the electricity that would power electric vehicles. A couple concerns known to me are whether the electric grid can handle the increased demand for electricity, and what will be the environmental effect of increased electricity demand.

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PeakOilDebunked: 399. FAST CHARGING

Last week, MIT announced the development of a new type of fast-charging lithium battery:MIT breakthrough promises lighter, fast-charging batteriesScientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a way to charge lithium ion batteries in seconds, instead of hours, that could open the door to smaller, faster-charging batteries for cell phones and other devices.[...]The breakthrough by Cedar and graduate student Byoungwoo Kang is the development of a reengineered surface material for batteries that allows lithium ions to move quickly across the surface of the battery and channels the ions into tunnels. A prototype battery built using this surface material can be charged in 20 seconds or less, compared to 6 minutes for a battery cell that does not use the material, MIT said.The surface material is not new but is manufactured in a different way. This means batteries that use the faster-charging surface material could be on the market within two to three years, the statement said.The above is just one approach. A number of fast-charging technologies are already practical and being rolled out. This was also announced last week:Nissan to trial fast charge electric car networkPilot project in Arizona promises to charge batteries in less than 15 minutesThe prospect of electric cars that can be recharged within 10 to 15 minutes moved a step closer last week with the announcement of a new pilot project in Arizona.Car giant Nissan announced that it has signed a partnership with electric vehicle charging technology firm ECOtality and Pima Association of Governments, which represents the Tucson, Arizona region, that will see the three parties work together on rolling out a charging network.ECOtality said that it would aim to have parts of the public recharging infrastructure rolled out by 2010, in readiness for the US launch of Nissan's zero emission vehicle. Nissan added that under the agreement it would then make a supply of electric vehicles available to the regions public and private fleets.The Minit Charger fast-charge technology from ECOtality subsidiary eTec was developed in 1996, and 4300 stations are currently in use for fast charging forklift trucks. You can see a video of the Minit Charger in action here.Toshiba also has an entry in this area, the SCIB (Super Charge Ion Battery):Toshiba gears up for fast charging batteryToshiba is to ramp up production of a new type of Lithium Ion battery that can charge to 90 percent of its capacity in a few minutes and is highly-resistant to short circuits.The Super Charge Ion Battery (SCiB) is a Lithium Ion battery based on proprietary technology developed by the company and is targeted at both industrial and electric vehicle applications and consumer laptop computer use.Production of the battery, which has been in development for several years, has already begun for the industrial market at the relatively low volume of 150,000 cells per month.Toshiba will increase that to several tens of millions of cells per month at a new factory it plans to build in Kashiwazaki in Niigata prefecture in north west Japan, it said last week. Construction of the factory will begin in late 2009 and production is scheduled to begin a year later, said Hiroko Mochida, a Toshiba spokeswoman.Initial production at the factory, which represents an investment of several tens of billions of yen (several hundred million US dollars), will likely be aimed at the industrial and electric vehicle markets although the same lines will be able to make SCIBs for laptop computers, she said.At September's Ceatec show in Japan Toshiba demonstrated a laptop running on an SCIB. The battery will keep its performance through up to 6,000 recharges -- more than ten times that of typical Lithium Ion batteries -- meaning a laptop should be able to run its lifetime on the SCiB without need to replace the battery. Due to its design it is also much less likely to catch fire or short circuit if crushed or damaged.Toshiba is collaborating with Schwinn on a fast-charging electric bicycle powered by the SCiB:New Schwinn fast charging electric bicycleIn September 2008 Schwinn Bicycles announced a strategic collaboration with Toshiba Corporation that they think is going to dramatically improve the uptake of electric bicycles around the world. Schwinn presented the results of this collaboration at the recent Interbike International Bicycle Expo in the form of the Tailwind.The Tailwind incorporates Toshiba’s new Super Charge ion Battery (SCiB) technology. The SCiB technology will enable Tailwind owners to recharge their battery in 30 minutes through a standard electrical outlet or as little as five to seven minutes through a commercial charger. By comparison, it takes four hours or longer to fully recharge the battery of most other electric bicycles.Here's a fast charging battery technology for buses:Proterra claims electric vehicle batteries can recharge in 10 minutesBattery 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.More info on Proterra here.Last week, it was also announced that the Tesla will have 440V fast-charge capability, similar to the Minit Charger specs. Apparently Nissan's upcoming TBD all-electric car will also have the ability to fast charge in 26 minutes.It would seem that fast charging technology is already here.by JD

PeakOilDebunked: 399. FAST CHARGING

Last week, MIT announced the development of a new type of fast-charging lithium battery:MIT breakthrough promises lighter, fast-charging batteriesScientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a way to charge lithium ion batteries in seconds, instead of hours, that could open the door to smaller, faster-charging batteries for cell phones and other devices.[...]The breakthrough by Cedar and graduate student Byoungwoo Kang is the development of a reengineered surface material for batteries that allows lithium ions to move quickly across the surface of the battery and channels the ions into tunnels. A prototype battery built using this surface material can be charged in 20 seconds or less, compared to 6 minutes for a battery cell that does not use the material, MIT said.The surface material is not new but is manufactured in a different way. This means batteries that use the faster-charging surface material could be on the market within two to three years, the statement said.The above is just one approach. A number of fast-charging technologies are already practical and being rolled out. This was also announced last week:Nissan to trial fast charge electric car networkPilot project in Arizona promises to charge batteries in less than 15 minutesThe prospect of electric cars that can be recharged within 10 to 15 minutes moved a step closer last week with the announcement of a new pilot project in Arizona.Car giant Nissan announced that it has signed a partnership with electric vehicle charging technology firm ECOtality and Pima Association of Governments, which represents the Tucson, Arizona region, that will see the three parties work together on rolling out a charging network.ECOtality said that it would aim to have parts of the public recharging infrastructure rolled out by 2010, in readiness for the US launch of Nissan's zero emission vehicle. Nissan added that under the agreement it would then make a supply of electric vehicles available to the regions public and private fleets.The Minit Charger fast-charge technology from ECOtality subsidiary eTec was developed in 1996, and 4300 stations are currently in use for fast charging forklift trucks. You can see a video of the Minit Charger in action here.Toshiba also has an entry in this area, the SCIB (Super Charge Ion Battery):Toshiba gears up for fast charging batteryToshiba is to ramp up production of a new type of Lithium Ion battery that can charge to 90 percent of its capacity in a few minutes and is highly-resistant to short circuits.The Super Charge Ion Battery (SCiB) is a Lithium Ion battery based on proprietary technology developed by the company and is targeted at both industrial and electric vehicle applications and consumer laptop computer use.Production of the battery, which has been in development for several years, has already begun for the industrial market at the relatively low volume of 150,000 cells per month.Toshiba will increase that to several tens of millions of cells per month at a new factory it plans to build in Kashiwazaki in Niigata prefecture in north west Japan, it said last week. Construction of the factory will begin in late 2009 and production is scheduled to begin a year later, said Hiroko Mochida, a Toshiba spokeswoman.Initial production at the factory, which represents an investment of several tens of billions of yen (several hundred million US dollars), will likely be aimed at the industrial and electric vehicle markets although the same lines will be able to make SCIBs for laptop computers, she said.At September's Ceatec show in Japan Toshiba demonstrated a laptop running on an SCIB. The battery will keep its performance through up to 6,000 recharges -- more than ten times that of typical Lithium Ion batteries -- meaning a laptop should be able to run its lifetime on the SCiB without need to replace the battery. Due to its design it is also much less likely to catch fire or short circuit if crushed or damaged.Toshiba is collaborating with Schwinn on a fast-charging electric bicycle powered by the SCiB:New Schwinn fast charging electric bicycleIn September 2008 Schwinn Bicycles announced a strategic collaboration with Toshiba Corporation that they think is going to dramatically improve the uptake of electric bicycles around the world. Schwinn presented the results of this collaboration at the recent Interbike International Bicycle Expo in the form of the Tailwind.The Tailwind incorporates Toshiba’s new Super Charge ion Battery (SCiB) technology. The SCiB technology will enable Tailwind owners to recharge their battery in 30 minutes through a standard electrical outlet or as little as five to seven minutes through a commercial charger. By comparison, it takes four hours or longer to fully recharge the battery of most other electric bicycles.Here's a fast charging battery technology for buses:Proterra claims electric vehicle batteries can recharge in 10 minutesBattery 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.More info on Proterra here.Last week, it was also announced that the Tesla will have 440V fast-charge capability, similar to the Minit Charger specs. Apparently Nissan's upcoming TBD all-electric car will also have the ability to fast charge in 26 minutes.It would seem that fast charging technology is already here.by JD

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Newest Lithium Iron Phosphate battery material promises sea change for electric vehicle usefulness

A new lithium iron phosphate battery formulation was announced last week and there are lots of articles ogling its fast recharge capacity. It's been obvious since I first heard of the AC Propulsion's Tzero that lithium ion batteries were game changing for electric vehicles. As cool as is AC Propulsion's history, it is the battery pack which makes an EV perform, and it was the power density of lithium ion batteries which made the high speed and long range of the Tesla Roadster even remotely possible.

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