Jul 27, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
Do we spot a trend?
Reporters are increasingly using "plug-ins" to encompass plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles. Plug In America emphasizes a single campaign for both vehicle types, and much of the legislation under consideration in Washington combines both vehicle types. As plug-in cars proliferate, we're expecting to see an evolving balance for both primary household cars and second family cars.
GM prefers to call the Volt, which is undeniably a series plug-in hybrid, "an electric car with a range extension engine."
Others working on plug-in hybrids are also looking at ways to get to
PHEVs quicker. Entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin http://www.vvcars.com
talks in a 6-minute video
about his ideas about building a "series-parallel hybrid."
On the all-electric side, we've seen two new examples of companies that are considering PHEVs in an effort to reach as broad as possible an audience.
Dan Davids, a RAV4 EV owner from Seattle, reports that Norway's Think City is on the cover of the August issue of Business 2.0 magazine, on newsstands shortly. The Norwegian company, owned for a while by Ford, is the subject of the lead article in "The 29 Best Business Ideas in the World." (Think Global recently raised $60 million and will be spending $43 million on batteries from Tesla. Batteries will be leased.)
Davids reports that the story says that "Dean Kamen (Segway inventor) is an investor; he's experimenting with an onboard Stirling engine that makes the car a grid-connectable hybrid." We've also talked with Kamen about this approach. The efficient, clean Stirling engine is a good match-up with an EV or PHEV, because it takes some time to warm up.
Tesla continues to progress, as reported by San Jose Mercury News auto columnist Matt Nauman, in "Tesla: 500 Roadsters And Counting" http://www.mercextra.com/blogs/nauman/2007/07/23/tesla-500-roadsters-and-counting: 560 sold, 800 available for 2008; anyone who deposits $50K now can be sure to have a car within a year.
The Tesla PHEV news comes from a report in Business Week. In the July 30 issue, we see that Lotus Design Studio and Tesla Motors are Gold winners in the magazine's 2007 International Design Excellence Awards. In the same issue of the magazine, a two-page article http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_31/b4044419.htm, "Tesla: A Carmaker With Silicon Valley Spark" looks ahead to the company's plans for "White Star," its second-generation five passenger sedan now in development, with an expected price of $55-$68,000, and "Blue Star,' a $30,000 sedan that could be five years away. The article says, 'If necessary, the company would be willing to use a small gas engine to boost Blue Star's range and broaden its appeal."
By the way, for a very enjoyable and surprising article on Tesla by Jay Leno, see "The most fun you can have without fuel" in the London Sunday Times: http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/driving/new_car_reviews/article2036260.ece. (Leno wants one.)