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PI-08: Company News: GM/V2Green/Coulomb/Google/HEVT/PlugInSupply
Jul 28, 2008 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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In the first of several roundup postings about Plug-In 2008, we present lots of news from companies at the Plug-In 2008 Conference. All the citations below are highly compressed excerpts of announcements and news reports: read the links for details.

  • GM announces partnership with utilities and EPRI
  • V2Green demonstrates real-time smart-grid control, partners w/eTec, Coulomb
  • Coulomb unveils street charging/shows Saturn Vue, partners w/V2Green
  •'s Acta/Aptera investments and new fleet data
  • Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies debuts Ford F-150 pickup conversion
  • Plug-In Supply announces lower prices on Prius conversion kits
  • Last (and least) news from Felix Kramer about his new advisor relation with several companies

    GM allies with U.S. utility group on electric cars: Wed Jul 23, 2008­article/­smallBusinessNews/­idUSN2147289020080723 (REUTERS):
    General Motors Corp on Monday said it is collaborating with an organization representing U.S. utilities to ready the nation's electric infrastructure for the widespread sale of plug-in electric cars, such as the Chevrolet Volt. The tie-up with the Electric Power Research Institute will address three issues: guaranteeing safe and convenient vehicle charging, consumer outreach and advocating public policies that support plug-in vehicle technologies, GM said. The company is the second major U.S. automaker to announce a collaboration with EPRI, which represents utilities that generate more than 90 percent of the power in the United States. Asked whether it made sense for GM to join forces with rival automakers, in addition to utilities, Gross said GM was working on a faster schedule than its rivals because of the Volt's planned 2010 launch. "We have an actual production program in the works," Gross said. "We need to move through these issues as quickly as we possibly can."

    EARLIER STORY: GM, utility group to announce electric car tie-up: Fri Jul 18, 2008­article/­marketsNews/­idINN1845827620080718?rpc=44 (REUTERS):
    Automakers have said the adoption of the electric cars would be speeded if electric utilities would set up recharging stations and allow them to send power back to the grid from parked cars to reduce operating costs. Auto executives have also suggested the utilities could create a market for recycled but still-powerful lithium-ion battery packs from older electric cars. Those batteries could be stitched together to store energy for peak demand periods, a secondary market that could bring down the initial cost of plug-in vehicles. For their part, the utilities stand to gain revenue as consumers turn to the grid rather than the gas station as the source of power for cars, analysts have said. "GM was unsuccessful in the commercialization of electric cars before for reasons that remain controversial," said Felix Kramer, founder of CalCars, a nonprofit group that promotes plug-ins. "This time, they realize they need partners."­index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=667&Itemid=2
    ANNOUNCEMENT­2008/­07/­gm-and-electric.html ANALYSIS AND COMMENTS

    The first live demonstration of smart grid technology controlling the bi-directional flow of electricity between the grid and a fleet of plug-in vehicles. In real-time, V2Green will simultaneously manage the power flow to a fleet of plugin vehicles, including two on the Plug-In 2008 show floor -- an AC Propulsion eBox electric car and an A123 Systems/Hymotion converted Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.­docs/­v2green_etec_0708.pdf eTec to Evaluate PHEV Fast-Charging and Smart Grid Interactions for the U.S. Department of Energy eTec will work with V2Green and the USDOE to demonstrate and evaluate the value of bi-directional fast-charging for PHEVs and smart grid technologies­docs/­v2green_coulomb_0708.pdf Coulomb Technologies and V2green Announce Smart Charging Infrastucture Technology and Marketing Partnership for Plug-in Vehicles ...a technology and marketing partnership to create an intelligent charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles. Coulomb’s innovative Smartlet Charging Stations and Communications Network provide convenient, easy-to-use charging stations, delivering bi-directional energy metering and user authentication. V2Green’s smart grid technology establishes two-way communication between plug-in vehicles and the grid, allowing utilities to control charging behavior in real-time, within parameters set by vehicle owners. By joining forces, Coulomb and V2Green are able to offer a charging infrastructure that is effortless for drivers and responsive to the needs of the grid.­2008/­07/­etec-and-v2gree.html ANALYSIS AND COMMENTS

    COULOMB DEMONSTRATES CHARGING STATIONS/NETWORK WITH SATURN VUE­press_releases/­release_20080721.php Coulomb Technologies Announces New Smart Charging Infrastructure for Plug-In Vehicles Smart Charging Stations, Payment Subscriptions and Utility Grid Management Target New Market of Plug-In Vehicles Coulomb Technologies today announced a smart charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles. Coulomb has developed a complete solution targeting plug-in vehicles including Extended Range Electric Vehicles, Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles, and Battery Electric Vehicles. Coulomb's ChargePoint™ Network includes public charging stations, a consumer subscription plan and utility grid management technology for electric utility companies to smooth electrical demands on the grid. 1. Smartlet Charging Stations: Perform bi-directional energy metering and control, user authentication, and 802.15.4 wireless local area network technology, which enables a subscription model through communication with a data center. 2. Smartlet Communications Network: Provides a high reliability meshed network using 802.15.4 technology and GSM/GRPS technology to communicate with the Network Operating System for user authentication, access control, energy flow control and energy metering. 3. ChargePoint Network Operating System (NOS): Manages the Smartlet Charging Stations through the Smartlet Communications Network. The ChargePoint Network also provides web portals for subscribers, hosts and utilities. Functions include user authentication, access control, energy flow control, location management, utility company policy administration, user portal, host property portal, utility portal and GPS system interface. "Major automakers have announced delivery of plug-in vehicles to the U.S. marketplace by 2010. But with 54 million garages for the 247 million registered passenger vehicles in the U.S. today, most consumers do not have a way to charge a plug-in vehicle." said Richard Lowenthal CEO of Coulomb Technologies. "We have developed a scalable, smart charging infrastructure that provides municipalities and parking lot owners a recurring income stream through public charging stations that are easy to install and maintain. Our complete technology solution also provides electric utility companies a means to control the load that plug-in vehicles put on the grid and a means to compute and implement taxes on electricity as a transportation fuel."­2008/­07/­coulomb-technol.html
    [Our note: We always emphasize that PHEVs don't need a new infrastructure -- polls have shown that many more than half of homeowners have access to a plug to charge their cars. Of course, since the grid is ubiquitous, creating a charging infrastructure for EVs and for PHEVs for those who don't have such access, or who want to charge at work, is a much smaller challenge than to deliver a new alternative fuel type. It requires broadly accepted standards and companies that can use today's hardware and software technologies to begin. Coulomb is taking the lead in integrating the pieces for such an infrastructure.]

    GOOGLE.ORG INVESTS $2.75M: Aptera and ActaCell­2008/­07/­driving-plug-in-technology-with.html
    Last June launched RechargeIT, an initiative to accelerate the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles. At that time we announced a request for investment proposals (RFP) from teams working on technologies relevant to this goal. Today we are pleased to announce our first RechargeIT investments in two promising companies tackling the challenge of vehicle electrification. Aptera Motors of Carlsbad, California is building an ultra-high efficiency vehicle based on improved aerodynamics and composite materials. Aptera's first prototype achieved over 230 miles per gallon during testing, and they are developing an all-electric as well as a plug-in hybrid vehicle based on this design. ActaCell is an Austin-based company working to commercialize lithium-ion battery technology developed at the University of Texas at Austin. ActaCell's technology offers the promise of improved battery cycle life and lower costs, while maintaining a focus on battery safety, all of which are important factors in the widespread adoption of plug-in vehicles. The URL has links to both companies and to media reports on the news Green Car Congress reports­2008/­07/­aptera-raises-m.html that Aptera has raised $24M in a series C financing and­2008/­07/­new-li-ion-spin.html that Acta has closed on a $5.8M series A financing, both including the Google investments. Also see reports at Earth2Tech:­2008/­07/­23/­googleorg-invests-in-electric-car-startups/­ and­2008/­07/­23/­battery-startup-actacell-charges-up-with-google-dfj/­

    Many people have been curious why Google's PHEV fleet was getting an average in the high 60MPG range. The quick answer: lots of cold starts, brief trips where the engine often didn't warm up, mostly highway driving, and no orientation for drivers. The managers designed a test program to compare results of city, combined city/highway and highway driving. See­recharge/­experiment/­ for the assumptions and results. The new numbers match reports by drivers, conversion companies, CalCars and national laboratory analyses.­2008/­07/­our-plug-ins-perform-90-mpg.html Our plug-ins perform: 90+ MPG by Rolf Schreiber, RechargeIT Engineer We were curious to see how the cars would perform under controlled conditions - and how they would stack up against other conventional automobiles typically found in U.S. households. With that, the RechargeIT Driving Experiment was born! In total, it took just over seven weeks to complete all the trips in all the vehicles. And with the results in, our plug-ins did great, with the Priuses getting more than 90 miles per gallon. The PHEVs not only greatly outperformed the average American fleet fuel economy of 19.8 MPG, they did significantly better than the standard hybrids – 53% fuel economy improvement for the plug-in Ford Escape and 93% improvement for the plug-in Prius.

    HYBRID ELECTRIC VEHICLE TECHNOLOGIES SHOWS FORD F-150 PICKUP PHEV­insideline/­do/­News/­articleId=129928 EVT unveils the first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) version of the Ford F-150, helping the light truck achieve better gas mileage without sacrificing the size and utility that makes it so popular. It isn't a small improvement, either: HEVT — the name stands for Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies — claims that the stock 16-mpg figure is hiked up all the way to 41 mpg. However, the 41 mpg is only for up to 30 miles per day; beyond that, the vehicle will get 21 mpg as a hybrid. The truck will be able to travel 15 miles on electric power alone. HEVT hopes that this technology will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use. The truck will be produced on a custom basis for individuals and organizations. Full details, including horsepower figures, have yet to be released.­news.php Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies, Inc. Unveils World's First Plug-in Hybrid Ford F-150 Pickup Chicago Company Showcases Plug-in Hybrid Electric Conversion Kits Adaptable to Most Vehicles The HEVT prototype was displayed during today's keynote address by Dr. Andrew S. Grove, former chairman of Intel Corporation. "Trucks, SUVs and vans are the least-efficient vehicles on the road, so retrofitting them should be a high priority if we want to make a meaningful, near-term difference in oil consumption. Rapid commercialization of prototypes like HEVT's is the way to go," Dr. Grove said. “HEVT's solutions apply to not just smaller passenger cars and hybrids, but almost any vehicle including larger gas guzzlers,” said HEVT founder Ali Emadi. “Our laboratory simulations show that the larger the vehicle, the greater the benefits – in gas costs, particulate and greenhouse emissions, and sound pollution. For this reason we are currently focused on PSVs and will later expand to school buses as well as transit buses.”

    Plug-In Supply Inc. Unveils World’s First Plug-in Hybrid Conversion Kit Under $5,000 With Extended Life Batteries Plug-In Supply, Inc. unveiled the world’s first Prius Conversion System priced at $4995. Buyers can install it themselves or pay well under $2,000 for installation by a Plug-In Supply dealer.The PbA10 (lead acid) Conversion System, which turns a standard 2004-2008 model year Prius into a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) based on the CalCars Open Source design...has an all-electric range of 10 to 15 miles and improved average mileage of up to 100 miles per gallon (plus 1 cent/mile of electricity). By refining the design for manufacturing, Plug-In Supply’s Conversion System reduced the conversion time from several weeks to just one day in 2007. Further improvements in design have reduced the cost and complexity while improving reliability and battery longevity. The conversion system uses new extended life lead-acid batteries (over 800 cycles), for better battery longevity than was previously available. The combination of longer battery life and lower price improves the affordability of converting a Prius. The system is designed to permit an upgrade to lithium Iron Phosphate batteries with an all-electric range of 15-20 miles, as costs for these longer range batteries decline. Under development for release this year: PSI Lithium Ion Phosphate Prius+ conversion, featuring the latest batteries from Phoenix Silicon International (PSI). The chassis will provide access to the spare tire and is expected to provide 16 miles of EV mode operation and last the life of the car. Plug-In Supply is working closely with CalCars to develop these products to put more plug-ins on the road. Plug-In Supply will donate 5 percent of sales to

    DISCLOSURE BY FELIX KRAMER: Since 2002, CalCars has been working to commercialize plug-in vehicles. During that time, we've remained resolutely independent and neutral, providing visibility and assistance to all individuals and institutions that contribute to that goal (see list at­partners.html). We've had non-disclosure agreements with many companies -- and have been good at keeping secrets! Now, after years as an informal advisor and networker, I've just agreed to act (individually, not as on behalf of CalCars) as an advisor, compensated with options for activities on behalf of several companies. (I am motivated primarily by the opportunity to help promising ventures succeed rather than by the prospect of possible financial rewards.) I've just established such an advisor relationship with Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies, co-founded by Prof. Ali Emadi, and with Efficient Drivetrains Inc., co-founded by Prof. Andy Frank. I've secured their informal commitment that when they are in a position to do so, they will contribute to in recognition of our role in the industry. I've insisted on having no restrictions on my working with competing companies. I assure you that CalCars will continue to remain a neutral "Switzerland" in its relationships with companies and organizations.

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