Oct 17, 2008 (From the CalCars-News archive)
Before the queue gets too long, here's a collection of eight items covering recent developments and reports.: BYD in China | France Commits $550M | Gilbarco Veeder-Root joins on infrastructure | Energy vs. water in Scientific American | Incentives keyed to battery size | What country will lead on plug-ins? | Austin AltCarExpo | Plug-in economic development and Monterey Bay Area
BYD SAYS GOVERNMENT OK IS ONLY REMAINING HURDLE:
China's BYD to Begin Selling Electric Car Next Month by Norihiko Shorouzu
October 14, 2008
Gao Sen in Beijing contributed to this article.
Shenzhen, China -- A Chinese company best-known for making cellphone batteries says it is on the verge of launching the country's first mass-produced electric car and may also have lined up its first large purchase order. In an interview, BYD Co. Chairman Wang Chuanfu said the car, known as the F3DM, will be on sale in China by the end of November, pending government approval. Mr. Wang declined to provide a sales target or price range for the new electric car but said in Beijing earlier this year that the vehicle could carry a price tag of about 150,000 yuan ($22,000) and is capable of going as far as 110 kilometers [68 miles] on electricity when fully charged.
Industry analysts say the new car -- a key reason why investor Warren Buffett recently decided to invest $230 million for a 10% stake in Mr. Wang's company -- is similar in design to General Motors Corp.'s Chevy Volt but is due to hit the market two years earlier than either the Volt or Toyota Motor Corp.'s new breed of hybrid-electric car. Both GM and Toyota say they are taking more time to make sure lithium-ion batteries they are using for their electric cars are safe. BYD uses iron-phosphate-based lithium-ion batteries, which it claims it has developed on its own, for the F3DM. Mr. Wang has said those batteries are "inherently safe" because they are more chemically stable, although they compromise to some extent on the ability to pack energy in each cell, compared with more conventional lithium-ion batteries.
The Shenzhen company, better-known for being a top global producer of rechargeable batteries for cellphones and other devices, began producing cars in 2005. It has since become one of China's fast-growing home-grown car brands, with a small number of cars, including the gasoline-powered F3 compact sedan. The new car will carry a small gasoline combustion engine to charge the car's battery when it runs out or to assist the electric engine when accelerating.
BYD's ability to offer a green car at a relatively affordable price is a factor that MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., which is 87.4%-owned by Mr. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., cited for its investment in BYD. According to BYD's Mr. Wang, the company may accelerate its plans for entering the U.S. and European markets by using MidAmerican Energy's money. BYD has no concrete plans for launching products in the U.S. and European markets, but its officials said a hybrid-electric version of the company's F6 gasoline-powered sedan could hit the U.S. market as early as 2010.
FRANCE COMMITS TO PLUG-IN CARS: The French government kicked in $550M http://www.environmentalleader.com/2008/10/13/french-president-gives-evs-hybrids-green-light/ and sponsors partnership by Electricite de France with Renault-Nissan and with PSA Peugeot Citroen.
ANOTHER STEP FORWARD ON INFRASTRUCTURE: Gilbarco Veeder-Root is the leading supplier of fueling equipment for fleets and convenience stores. They're partnering with Coulomb to advance public charging facilities. "Gilbarco Veeder-Root and Coulomb Technologies Partner To Build Charging Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles: Agreement anticipates 2010 launch of vehicles from the major automakers" http://www.gilbarco.com/object/PR_Oct12008b.html Gilbarco will exhibit Coulomb Technologies' Smartlet Charging Station at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) show, October 4 - 7, 2008 at McCormick Place in Chicago, booth 6148.
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN PROMOTES "ENERGY VS. WATER" CONTROVERSY: The Scientific American "Earth 3.0" Solutions for Sustainable Progress" special issue includes a good profile and interview with James Hansen, perhaps the world's leading climatologist. It also has an interview with James Woolsey showing him with his PHEV. We encourage you to buy it rather than read the online version ($5.95, on newsstands until December) so you can see the graphics in a very negative article about electric power. In print, the article is titled, "Catch-22: Water versus Energy." Online at http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-future-of-fuel the editors had second thoughts and retitled it less provocatively: "Energy versus Water: Solving Both Crises Together."
The article is written by MIchael E. Webber, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and associate director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy a the University of Texas at Austin. It begins, "Water is needed to generate energy. Energy is needed to deliver water. Both resources are limiting the other--and both may be running short. Is there a way out?" It addresses a real question: many people have noted that the regional water shortages could overshadow in immediacy every other global challenge within a decade.
But the article relies on questionable analytical methods, provocative graphics and includes statements like, "Compared with producing gasoline for a car, generating electricity for a plug-in hybrid-electric or all-electric vehicle withdraws 10 times as much water and consumes up to three times as much water per mile, according to studies done at the University of Texas at Austin....Whether proponents realize it or not, any plan to switch from gasoline to electricity or biofuels is a strategic decision to switch our dependence from foreign oil to domestic water."
JIM MOTAVALLI IN NYTIMES WHEELS BLOG:
"Tax Credits for Plug-Ins Favor Big Batteries"
October 9, 2008
includes interesting discussion on the merits of incentivizing kiloWatt-hours of battery packs versus miles driven or other measures. In brief, any criteria can be "gamed;" the respondents to the blog raise interesting points.
JOE ROMM IN UK GUARDIAN: "Is the Chevy Volt just hype? Next-generation plug-in hybrid vehicles can live up to their eco-friendly promises only with government support" addresses similar issues and asks whether the U.S. or some other nation will take the lead on PHEVs.
SEE CHEVY VOLT AT ALTCAREXPO THIS FRIDAY AND SATURDAY: in Austin, Texas: see http://www.austinenergyaltcar.com/ And check in at http://pluginpartners.blogspot.com/ to hear news from Plug-In Partners -- PIP's most recent post http://pluginpartners.blogspot.com/2008/10/goal.html looks back to the coalition's beginning: When we started the Plug In Partner initiative, our primary objective was to create a nationwide campaign to urge automakers to accelerate development of plug-in hybrid vehicles. But our goal was to see them manufactured and in the show rooms. As stated at the opening press conference by Austin's Mayor Will Wynn in January, 2006, "Plug-in hybrids represent a real near-term solution to America's over-reliance on foreign oil imports and energy prices that escalate the cost of everything and threaten the very economic life of our nation," "The technology exists today," Wynn says. "This campaign will demonstrate to automakers that the market is also there." Now, even as Volvo, Mitsubushi, and Volkswagen join the list of PHEV development announcements of most major automotive manufacturers, an important milestone is reached. And it comes as GM reaches its 100th year.
MONTEREY BAY AREA AIMS TO GET PLUG-IN BENEFITS:
"Plug-ins could power jobs
Salinas mayor seeks economic boost from hybrid technology"
by Emmanuel Romero, Monterey Herald, October 7, 2008