Posts Tagged ‘BEVs’

EVs May Not be as Green as They Seem

New study claims battery cars actually can worsen global warming.

by on Dec.16, 2014

Where does that electricity come from?

If you’ve been thinking about buying a new battery-electric vehicle in an effort to be kinder to the environment, a new study suggests you might want to think again. According to its authors, EVs might actually worsen global warming.

If you’re charging up your new battery-car using electricity generated from coal, it turns out, you’ll actually create nearly four times as much soot, while increasing the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere – while also increasing smog deaths, according to the new study by the University of Minnesota.

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“It’s kind of hard to beat gasoline,” despite its bad reputation among environmentalists, said study co-author and engineering professor Julian Marshall. “A lot of the technologies that we think of as being clean,” he added, “are not better than gasoline.” (more…)

Tata Unveils $20,000 Battery Car

An “intimate understanding” of frugal engineering.

by on Jan.12, 2012

Tata used "frugal engineering" to hold the estimated price of the eMo battery car concept to $20,000.

Electric vehicles don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, insists Indian automaker Tata Motors.

Its research arm, Tata Technologies, has unveiled a prototype for a $20,000 electric car that can carry four passengers without adding to the pollution in crowded cities around the world.

“The eMo project symbolizes the coming of age of Indian automotive engineering,” said Warren Harris, Tata Technologies President and Global COO. “It is a tangible example of the capability of Tata Technologies to engineer a full vehicle – a first for any India-based engineering services company,” added Harris during a press conference at the North American International Auto Show.

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Harris added, “Because we are India-based, Tata Technologies is intimately familiar with developing markets. Additionally, our experience and presence in Europe and North America means we also have an understanding of developed markets. It’s a combination that provides a competitive advantage to our clients,” added Harris, who noted the company also does extensive work for clients such as Ford Motor Co and Chrysler Group in the U.S.


GM Will Introduce Battery Version of Next-Gen Chevrolet Spark

Spark also to debut new global family of small gas engines.

by on Oct.12, 2011

Chevrolet will offer both a battery version of the new spark and a conventional gas model using an all-new engine family.

General Motors will introduce its first pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, sometime in 2013, basing it off the next-generation Chevrolet Spark platform.

The Spark EV initially will be sold in “select” urban markets around the world, including Southern California.  It will then roll out to other parts of the world, with GM officials anticipating a slow ramp-up of demand for the vehicle – and for electric vehicles in general.

The Spark minicar will also be among the first GM models to make use of an all-new line of 3- and 4-cylinder Ecotec engines GM plans to bring to market in an effort to both improve fuel-efficiency and expand its own economies of scale,

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Demand for the new Spark battery car “will be slow,” acknowledged Jim Federico, GM’s small car engineering chief, as “Customers need to get comfortable and used to” the new technology.  Nonetheless, GM officials said they recognize that the global push for cleaner, higher-mileage products will require the expanded use of “electrification” in all its various forms.


GM Does Deal With A123 – Will Launch 1st Pure Battery-Electric Vehicle in 2014

Maker ties up with A123 for next-gen lithium battery.

by on Aug.11, 2011

GM is fleet testing a prototype Chevy Sail battery-electric vehicle in China.

General Motors has inked a deal with U.S. battery supplier A123 – a deal that well-placed sources say confirms the maker’s plans to put at least one battery-electric vehicle into production by 2014.

The maker has a separate deal with LG Chem to produce lithium-ion batteries for its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.  The Korean maker beat out A123 for that contract and is now in the process of setting up a new factory to produce Volt batteries near Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Production of the Volt is now ramping up and, along with the similar Opel Ampera, GM hopes to produce as many as 60,000 plug-ins next year.

The new alliance will focus on an entirely different range of vehicles, GM spokesman Kevin Kelly hinted.  “It is not for the Volt or the next-generation Volt.  This is for a different application, but we can’t get into what this is for or the timing.”


While Kelly declined to comment, GM sources noted that the maker now hopes to expand into a broad range of “electrified” vehicles, from conventional hybrids to plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs.  The A123 batteries will be utilized for the latter group.

Precisely what is in store is unclear, though there could be battery-electric models sold through “multiple brands,” according to sources.  The first of the BEVs is expected to reach market by 2014.


Mitsubishi’s New “i” Battery Car Tops Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt

Japanese maker gets top EPA rating with 126 MPGe rating.

by on Jul.08, 2011

Mitsubishi hopes buyers will be drawn to the low price and high efficiency of its new "i" battery car.

While it may not have the marketing muscle behind it, Mitsubishi is likely to get some serious buzz for its new “i” battery car thanks to a 126 MPGe rating from the EPA – significantly higher than its two key electric vehicle competitors, the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt.

Originally known as the iMiEV, the curiously named Mitsubishi subcompact will also have a significant price advantage when it hits market in the coming months.  That could complicate the battle for supremacy in the small but potentially fast-emerging battery car market.

Since electric vehicles don’t use gasoline, the Environmental Protection Agency has adopted a complex formula to help motorists rate their energy efficiency in a way that can be reasonably compared to a conventional automobile, hence the designation Miles Per Gallon equivalent, or MPGe.

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The Mitsubishi i is rated at 126 MPGe in urban driving situations and 99 MPGe on the highway.  (Battery-based vehicles typically don’t do as well at freeway speeds because it takes more energy to move faster and there are less opportunities to recapture wasted energy.)

By comparison, the Nissan Leaf is rated at 106 MPGe City and 92 Highway, while EPA pegs the Chevy Volt’s numbers at 95 and 90.  Even the tiny Tesla Roadster doesn’t match Mitsubishi’s 4-door offering.  The latest version of that electric sports car has a 119 MPGe rating.


First Drive: Volvo C30 Electric

Lease price, $2,100 a month, should plunge when next Volvo battery car debuts.

by on Mar.28, 2011

Volvo plans to produce only about 400 of the C30 Electric coupes, but the drivetrain will soon reappear in a new mass-market battery car.

The little coupe slips out the side door of a nondescript warehouse on the fringe of Indianapolis.  Tickling the throttle it surges ahead and effortlessly merges into traffic, yet so quiet it’s easy to miss as it rushes by.  Were it not for the bright white decals on the side of the car and the chrome DRIVe badge on the back one might not even notice the Volvo C30 Electric.

But the little coupe is the latest entry in a growing revolution, the move to electric power.  Later this year, Volvo will put 400 of the C30 Electric battery cars on the road, a quarter of them here in the United States.  They’re part of a project designed to test the new technology before Volvo launches a second battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, targeting a more mainstream market.

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Getting in on the pilot program won’t be cheap.  Volvo expects to lease the C30 battery cars for a whopping 1,500 Euros a month, about $2,100 at the current exchange rate.  That’s nearly six times more than you’d pay to lease either the new Nissan Leaf BEV, or the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.

Even then, laments Lennart Stegland, president of Volvo’s specialty vehicle subsidiary, the Swedish maker won’t come close to recovering the cost of the development program, never mind the price tag on its 24 kilowatt-hours of lithium-ion batteries.  But so it goes, he sighs, as you launch into an entirely new world of technology.


Jim Taylor Takes CEO Spot At AMP

From gas-guzzlers to green machines.

by on Dec.14, 2010

California "Guvernator" Arnold Schwarzenegger with Jim Taylor, former Hummer chief and now CEO of Amp Electric Vehicles.

Long-time General Motors executive Jim Taylor apparently has a thing for extreme machines.

In his last job for GM, Taylor headed the Hummer division, leaving the Detroit maker only when it decided to close the big SUV brand after an effort to sell it to the Chinese collapsed.  Now, after a brief bit of R&R, Taylor has resurfaced – and some might say he’s making up for past sins by taking on the CEO spot with battery car maker Amp Electric Vehicles.

The Ohio-based company was a finalist in the recent Automotive X-Prize and is just ramping up production of a battery conversion of the Chevrolet Equinox.  It is reportedly also negotiating a deal to work directly with another major automaker on an electric vehicle project.

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“Amp is well-positioned to take advantage of the rapidly expanding electric vehicle industry,” said Taylor, who will serve alongside of Joe Paresi, Amp’s new chairman.

Meanwhile, Amp founder Steve Burns, who has been serving as the Ohio-based start-ups CEO, will take on the position of president, and focus his efforts on ramping up Amp’s production base.


Feds Rate Nissan Leaf at 99 MPG

But new rating system could confuse, rather than clarify for battery-car customers.

by on Nov.22, 2010

The Nissan Leaf recently paced the NY Marathon. Now, says the EPA, it is setting the pace for the rest of the midsize auto segment.

The Nissan Leaf gets 99 miles to the gallon and can go for at least 102 miles per charge, according to new government fuel economy ratings.  Or is that 100 miles before having to plug in again?  Or 120?

While the EPA’s long-awaited calculation, which will appear on the window sticker of the Japanese battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, should please many green-minded motorists, it’s likely to confuse plenty of others.

The government’s challenge has been to come up with ways to measure the efficiency of a battery car in a manner comparable to the current fuel economy calculations used for conventional gas-powered automobiles.  But skeptics question whether the new numbers  are any better than a controversial earlier proposal that would have shown Leaf’s fuel economy at something close to 400 mpg.

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As it stands, the pure battery-powered Nissan Leaf is the most fuel-efficient car in the midsize segment, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which is charged by law with determining the mileage of new cars, trucks and crossover.  The agency’s finalized testing process gives Leaf a Combined 99 MPGe figure, or miles per gallon equivalent, which is a measure of what an alternative fuel vehicle actually would get if it were powered by gasoline.


First Look: Nissan Townpod

Clean urban mobility.

by on Sep.30, 2010

Nissan Chief Operating Office Toshiyuki Shiga reveals the maker's latest battery car concept, the Townpod.

One thing you can say about Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of both Nissan and its alliance partner, Renault, he’s determined to prove there’s a serious market for electric vehicles.

While the Japanese maker’s first battery car, the Leaf, is still a few months away from launch, Nissan was talking up other ideas for green mobility during the Paris Motor Show preview – and backing its words up with an all-new concept for clean urban mobility, the Townpod.

“The journey to zero emission is just beginning,” suggested Ghosn’s top lieutenant, Nissan COO Toshiyuki Shiga, as the covers lifted off the battery-electric vehicle, or BEV.

Under the skin, the Townpod shares it’s electric drive system with the Leaf, meaning a 24 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack driving a single electric motor.  (Click Here for’s review of the 2011 Nissan Leaf.)

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As with Leaf, Townpod would be expected to deliver about 100 miles range and take about 8 hours to recharge using a 220-volt charger.  Performance also would likely be described as “brisk” from 0 to around 35 mph, thanks to the torquey performance of electric drive systems.


First Drive: 2011 Nissan Leaf

Battery car charges into the unknown.

by on Sep.10, 2010

The 2011 Nissan Leaf is the first of several battery vehicles from the Japanese maker.

Automakers, by nature, tend to be a risk-averse group.  No surprise considering a major new vehicle program can quickly run costs up to a billion dollars or more.

Yet, Nissan is putting plenty on the line as it gets ready to roll out its first battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, the 2011 Leaf.  Not just money, but prestige, with CEO Carlos Ghosn’s own reputation on the line as he personally champions the breakthrough battery car.

Will the 2011 Nissan Leaf live up to expectations as the first purely battery-driven automobile to meet the needs of the typical American motorist, rather than tech-crazy “first adopters” and enviro-addicts willing to opt for anything promoted as green?  To find out, we jumped at the change to drive the new BEV, which Nissan had waiting for us at its technical center in suburban Detroit.

It takes only a quick glimpse to recognize the Leaf isn’t your everyday automobile.  Like Toyota, with the popular Prius, Nissan has opted for a unique – and distinctive – design that will blare out, “I’m different,” as it rolls by.

Now, that’s not just to let owners easily show off their environmentalist bona fides.  There’s a practical purpose to the sweeping lines of the 2011 Nissan Leaf.  Minimizing aerodynamic resistance has yielded a significant bump in the BEV’s range and improved performance as well, the maker claims.  It also has advantages when it comes to creature comfort.

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In the column when it comes to electric vehicles is their naturally quiet nature.  You don’t have a big internal combustion engine roaring away directly in front of you.  But that creates what some call the “stumps in the swap syndrome.”  All the little tics and pops that are normally masked by the IC engine are suddenly quite apparent.



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