Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wanted: The car that will change the world

Who will be first to release the car that will change the way American's use gasoline in a monumental way? GM, Tesla, and Toyota are certainly in the running claiming they'll have the Car in the next two years- but I won't hold my breath until I see the Car sitting on a sales lot, in my neighborhood. What is the Car you ask? It is a plug-in hybrid with the battery capacity of ELECTRC (my car) and a nice fuel efficient gas engine to kick in and provide a boost in the rare occasion that I go further than 30 miles.

Here are the specs that I think the Car has to attain to cause the revolution that I think plug-in hybrids will have on the automotive and energy industry:

Price: ~$25,000 - Must be in this range to be affordable by the mainstream car buyer
All Electric Rage ~ 30 miles normal driving up hills/some freeway - This will satisfy 95% of all daily commutes
Lifespan of batteries ~10 yrs
Gasoline Engine Efficiency - 35+ MPH
Style - 4 door - Most people don't need 4 doors, but everyone thinks that they do

I guarantee that the first auto-maker to hit these specs will have the best selling car in the world, ever. People will realize that they are going months without stopping at a gas station, that they just plug-in to their home at night and the car uses 1/4 of the cost of gasoline, and that they never worry about running out of electricity because they have a gas engine to kick in for really long trips. Gas stations will close like 5 and dimes and the stock price of Exxon and Shell will drop like its 1932 (err 2008) as people realize what a liberating experience it is to run on electricity, rather than gasoline and our oil consumption from vehicles drops ~90%.

Ah, what a world. It won't happen in 2010, but it will happen soon. We have the technology, its just a matter of the will to buck the establishment, the R&D+manufacturing to put it all together, and the realization that the first company to put it all together, wins.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Green Technodustrial Revolution

What will 2010 bring?  Recent announcements from GM and Chrysler seem to hint towards the long-awaited transition of vehicles from petroleum powered to electric, there is movement in the alternative energy production industry not seen since the Carter administration, and technology like V2Grid is becoming a household term (well almost).  We are seeing a rethinking of our energy production and consumption dynamics in a way that could radically reshape our country.

As I see the financial meltdown consuming the headlines I can't help but look towards the impending revolution in how we apply technology, specifically green technology, to our industrial output.  I love development in green technology because it alone can reshape the character of the US in the global marketplace.  We have been shipping jobs and off-shoring work for thirty years at an increasing pace as the technologies that we have developed have become commonplace and trivial to replicate around the world.  

Investing deeply in alternative energy gives the US the opportunity to develop new technologies that cannot easily be mimicked, that will lead to new science and technology research, and to the creation of the types of jobs and industry that are desirable and not easily transferred halfway around the world.  However, the world moves fast, and if we are caught flat footed we'll miss our chance to have the world look to us for these technologies, and instead we'll be picking up the leftover scraps from under the table.  Let's make a commitment to lead this revolution, I don't think it is an opportunity that our country can afford to miss.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Closing in on 9000 E-miles

Well, so much for the promise of a post per week.  That definitely didn't happen, maybe I'll schedule a reminder on my calendar to post and I'll be more diligent about it.  Well, the big news is that I've made it past 8,500 all-electric miles on the ELECTRC and am closing in on 9000 miles.  I figure that once I hit 9,000 miles sometime towards the end of September I will have not burned 9,000/25 MPG = 360 gallons of gas.  Wow, that's a lot of gas that WASN'T used. 

Life isn't all peachy though, a couple of weeks ago I barely made it home from my 30 mile round trip.  It wasn't a normal trip home - I hadn't run the car for several days so the battery charge was low, I had gone to a going away party for a vanpool buddy that was a couple of miles out of the way, and I was in a hurry.  Long story short, I had to limp home at a very slow speed the last several miles and couldn't pull in to the driveway.  So, I parked it on the street and waited a half hour until the batteries self-charged and I could drive in the driveway.  

 As a result of this final beating of my batteries my cars range seems to be down to around 20 miles now.  So, I'm driving up to Federal Way every day, and plugging in at one of my two vanpool buddies houses.  It's added a little bit of time to my commute, but it really feels better than the alternative of driving my gas powered van while I get new batteries.  The day after my ELECTRC batteries emptied out, I contemplated driving the van, until I filled it up at Fred Meyer and felt the wind being knocked out of me as I watched the meter tick up to $56.00 to fill the tank. I could hear Texaco, Exxon, etc laughing as the meter went up, saying "we've got you back on the petroleum drugs, we knew you'd give in eventually..ha ha ha" in their evilest voice.  So, I'm still driving ELECTRC, and still feeling good about my daily commute and looking forward to watching the odometer tick over 9,000 miles in the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's about time, another post- Greenwood Car Show

It's been way too long since I last posted, so I'm going to make a resolution right now to post at least once a week until I get through the backlog of topics that have been building up in my inbox over the past couple of months.

Last month I went up to the Greenwood Car Show in Seattle and took some pictures of some of the great electric vehicles that have been built in the Northwest. Below are some of the more notable cars we saw:

Here is an all-electric RAV4 that is not a conversion, but was actually manufactured and sold by Toyota in California briefly in the early 2000's. These cars are tough to find, one just went for ~$80k on e-bay several weeks ago!

Here is a great truck conversion that includes a tiltable bed which gives access to the batteries, and of course a huge solar panel on top to power the truck on those many NW sunny days.

One last picture before I have to sign off: this is a Geo Metro conversion done by Dave Cloud in Woodinville for a SEVA member. This car, fully loaded with batteries and carrying an auxillary battery pack made it 101 miles on I-5 to win the first annual SEVA rally.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The latest news

The car has now made it to 5k+ miles since the conversion.  I've been driving it just about every day, either on my commute or around town.  Until yesterday that is...when I went out to the garage and found out that someone had broken in to the car and found that someone had stolen the BatteryManager3 that tracks the # of amp hours used up, as well as the voltage of the car.  That has put an end to driving the car long distances for the time being since I don't know how much charge I've used up, how much I have left, or how many volts the car is using...kind of like someone stealing the gas gauge out of the car as well as the tachometer.  Anyways, I just picked a replacement meter up, and we'll see if that one works and hopefully be back on the road.

Lots of new excitement happening in the EV World...the Tesla guys are shipping their roadster and claim to have a sedan on the way, the Chevy Volt sounds like it is more than just vapor for the time being.  The big question will be who can get LiOn batteries cheap enough to make a car that people can afford to buy. If they can get under $30k then I think they will change the world...over $30k, and it's hard to say.