California Enacts Pro EV Measures

USflagIMAGE200
USflagIMAGE200

In a new measure, the California State Assembly has paved the way to make electric vehicles more affordable, as well as practical, for the ordinary car user. Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield filed a bill allowing for easier access to these vehicles of the future.

Assembly bill 2502 passed the California Lower House by a unanimous 75 to none vote and with that the measure was forwarded to the California State Senate for further review and consideration.

According to Blumenfield, “Electric vehicles must become a more affordable and practical choice for Californians. Getting past ‘range anxiety’ is essential for this technology to be embraced by commuters. Accelerated vehicle recharging can help and we must make it more affordable.”

This bill is just part of the Blumenfield’s overall Clean Car Package. Other aspects of the bill include allowing car dealers to include the cost of accelerated charging systems for the electric vehicle, such as installation costs in the purchaser’s home or the vehicle’s financing charges. The fast charging equipment would allow the homeowner to fully recharge the vehicle through a 220 volt outlet overnight.

Blumenfield adds, “We can encourage more Californians to buy zero-emission cars. A few thousand dollars out of pocket is a barrier we can overcome with this bill.”

New car consumers in the state make downpayments for vehicles ranging from 17.8% or U.S.$5,139 for a U.S.$28,870 priced car in 2011. While this figure is below the threshold level of 20% recommended by car market buying authorities, making additional financing available is important to improve the market acceptance of the electric vehicle platform.

Another bill authored by Blumenfield is AB 2045 and it provides clean car drives with free access to carpool lanes and converted toll lanes. Before this measure, clean cars have never been allowed free access in these specific lanes. This said bill was passed last month and has been forwarded to the California State Senate.

Over and above the current state and federal incentives provided to purchasers, these new measures would help the car market gear more towards the purchase of clean and green technologies for their transportation needs. These new incentives would help tip the scales in favor of the electric vehicle for a cleaner and greener future for all.

Boosting Charging Time

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ev-plug

It is inevitable that electric cars are starting to become part of the transport landscape. More and more automakers are including electric vehicles as part of their car fleets. The main drawback of electric cars is that it takes forever to charge and only a short and sweet ride until the next recharge.

If the electric car was charged using a 120-volt circuit, named as Level 1 charging, is very slow. For a Volt to be fully charged, it takes ten hours to charge the batteries. As for the Leaf, with its larger capacity battery, needs twenty hours to fully charge. A Level 1 charge is best for hybrids with its smaller battery. The next level is called Level 2 charging, which uses a 240-volt circuit and the charging cable is hard-wired to a charging station and the charger is built into the car. These chargers use the SAE J1772 connection.

This is the main problem that electric vehicles have and the car designers are looking for ways to give the electric car boosts in charging. The nearest to the best design is the use of a direct current fast charger for the Nissan Leaf that is able to refill the battery to 80 percent capacity in half an hour. Other carmakers have their own design, which makes the problem all the more complicated.

Thus, the lack of a common or universal design for fast charging points for electric vehicles is the greater issue. Even an agreement on a single design for an electrical connector has been subject to much debate. The most common designs in the market today are developed using the Japanese design, which are used by Nissan, Mitsubishi and Subaru in cooperation with Tokyo Electric Power.

The design is called Chademo, which is Japanese for “charge and move”. The design uses a connector that is very differently designed from the ones in use in most electric cars. Thus, with a Chademo compatible electric vehicle such as the Nissan Leaf, it would require two different sockets to charge the batteries.

Most common electric cars can be recharged to a common 120-volt household electrical outlet overnight. Electric cars have a standardized charging cable that has many safety features. One of them would be the box control in the car which, once turned on, would allow electricity to flow through the cord to the car. Another feature would be a GFCI, or ground fault circuit interrupter, which signals the vehicle when the cable is connected to the charger. This system makes it impossible for the electric vehicle to drive off while connected.

The Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt, including many others that may come after them, would be using the 120-volt cords that are designed to the SAE J1772 standard. This standard was instituted through the work of SAE International, which is a consortium of scientists and vehicle engineers that worked in the development of the design specifications for the J1772 standard. The group is composed of 150 carmakers, electrical equipment makers and utility operators. There are other groups that work on these standards, such as the American National Standards Institute.

Solar Powered Rechargers

sunSOLAR
sunSOLAR

Nissan, in partnership with the 4R Energy Corp, are developing one of the most environmentally way of recharging their electric cars. The package for new vehicles would be including a solar power charging system with each vehicle.

The system would be able to recharge the high performance lithium-ion batteries of Nissan electric vehicles through 488 solar cells installed at the Nissan main offices in Yokohama. There are four batteries from the Leaf that would store the collected electricity. These batteries then would help in providing power to the seven charging stations spread throughout the corporate headquarter grounds.

This would be a groundbreaking way to recharge batteries. The electric vehicle does not produce CO2 emissions when it is used. This makes it a very environmentally friendly machine. Now, by being able to recharge it through a renewable source, this is an all the more environmental system. The current critique is that electric cars are merely transferring the CO2 emissions from one producer (car) to the electric plant because of the higher electricity demand. Now, in using solar power, the energy source is renewable without any pollution as a by-product. Also, with extra batteries stored with a constant energy source, the range of the vehicle as well as availability of full charged batteries would make electric cars much more viable in the long-term.

This system through is not entirely new. Another company in the United States has opened up solar powered charging stations. SolarCity, in partnership with ClipperCreek, has started to create solar powered charging stations to residents. Each unit is for home installation and the cost per unit starts at $1500 per unit. This price though does not include the lease for the SolarCity arrays that capture the sunlight and turn it into electrical energy.

This not only provides a full transportation system without any harmful pollution in any way. In charging your electric car using the solar powered charger, the cost of electricity is much lower, in some areas nearly half the cost from commercial electricity suppliers.

"SolarCity's mission has always been to help homeowners and businesses adopt clean power while saving on energy costs," Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity, said in a statement."Electric cars are already among the cleanest-running vehicles on the road-charging them on solar makes them that much better. Tens of thousands of electric cars will be delivered over the next year alone, with hundreds of thousands expected over the next five years. We're making it easier to power them with carbon-free electricity for zero emissions, and to dramatically reduce the cost of driving."

The EV Charger of the Future

Electric Car
Electric Car

Roush Manufacturing, a company based in Michigan, has unveiled its electric vehicle chargers for the home and commercial use. Aptly called the Blink, the chargers would be offered via Ecotality’s EV project. This project specifically targets owners of the Nissan Leaf EV and the Chevrolet Volt Hybrid.

Under the project, the company would build 10,000 wall-mounted chargers for residences and 6,000 pedestal chargers for the market within the year. Roush was previously making injection molded plastic components and now it has realigned its resources to meet the project’s demand. Overall, the project is well worth $230 million.

“Throughout each step of The EV Project, we’ve seen unprecedented consumer demand for electric vehicles, and partners like Roush have played a key role as we’ve brought our smart charging stations to market,” said Don Karner, ECOtality president.  With the full-scale production, the project in partnership with Roush would provide charging stations for the EV market.

On another note, a new government funded initiative to entice individuals to purchase electric cars would be including the charger for free when purchasing an EV. This project applies to purchasers of the Chevrolet Volt or the Nissan Leaf. Also covered would be the installation costs, which can total as much as $4,000.

Another part of the program would be the creation of public charging stations in major metropolitan cities such as Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.

Ford Partners for Full EV Infrastructure

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electricCAR

Ford Motor Co. will be unveiling its electric car model, the Focus and a passenger van, the electric Transit to the market. Aside from these innovative designs, the car company is expanding beyond the vehicle to provide a full service complement to its vehicles.

The automaker has partnered with three of the biggest companies in consumer electronics to provide its car customers a full service package. Firstly, the company has created a home recharging unit. The recharger is made out of 60 percent post-consumer recycled materials.

“We view this as a part of the vehicle,” said Mike Tinskey, manager of vehicle electrification and infrastructure for Ford, during a Jan. 11 interview at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

With the carmaker’s partnership with Leviton Manufacturing Co. Inc. of Melville, N.Y., the company behind the home recharger,  aside from the home installed unit, there is a portable charger also available to Ford clients. The plastics used in the unit would be created by Sabic Innovative Plastics US LLC, called the Valox iQ. The unit would be made from PET bottles and a Sabic patented resin to provide the proper housing for both the home installed and the portable recharger.

The portable recharger uses a 110-watt connection while the home recharger runs on 240 watts. The car can be fully recharged within three hours. Furthermore, the home recharger can be easily installed and disassembled, allowing easy transport for homeowners.

The home charger unit is not hard wired into the home’s electrical circuit breaker but instead is just plugged into a normal 240-volt outlet. The home charging system, together with its standard installation service, is expected to retail just below $1,500, which is 30% cheaper than other brands in the market. Also included in the package would be a ten-year hardware warranty.

Retailing the chargers and the installation is Best Buy Co. Inc. As part of their agreement, Best Buy would have an in-store support system, called the “Geek Squad” to provide installation and after-sales services for charges purchased nationwide. The service would be available in all Best Buy stores and there is also an on-call diagnostics service to provide advice on issues of the charger as well as a repair call center to send technicians to the charger’s location.

The first home charging units would be available to the public in April, in time for the commercial offering of the Transit. The larger part of the service complement would be for the Ford Focus, as they are available in 19 key market areas.