Archive for the ‘Charging’ Category


Feb 25

Project Get Ready to Help Develop Community Plug-in Car Readiness


Yesterday the Rocky Mountain Institute announced something they are calling Project Get Ready. The goal of the initiative is “to help communities prepare for and welcome plug-in vehicles including full battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and converted hybrid or internal combustion vehicles.”

This involves facilitating the engagement of advocates, utility companies, local government and other stakeholders to increase and prepare for the adoption of plug-in cars like the Chevy Volt. They have collated a menu of strategic actions that city and regional leaders can enact to become plug-in pioneers that are available on an online database.

Project manager Laura Schewel says “With this project, we can help get the nation to President Obama’s goal of 1 million plug-ins by 2015…and maybe even beat it.”

GM’s Director of Infrastructure Britta Gross says “We know that many Volt drivers will never require a public charging infrastructure, instead depending on the Volt’s range-extender to carry them any distance beyond its electric vehicle range. But public infrastructure is very important for those who live in apartments or houses without garages where they can’t simply plug into a household outlet for a full charge.”

RMI has announced they are working on initiatives with Portland, Oregon; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Raleigh, North Carolina and plan to convene at least 20 cities in the near future to develop best practices.

The following are RMIs 15 “Must Have” Actions*
Suggested stretch target: 2% of registered vehicles by the end of 2015.

Barrier: Not enough cars in the pipeline, OEMs need proof of future consumer demand
1. Corporate/city/state fleets commit to buy a certain number of plug-ins (RFPs for major purchases or conversions).
2. Stakeholder group provides a place for interested consumers/fleets to register early, and put cash down to reserve plug-ins (cash used for readiness where possible).

Barrier: How can we manage this as a multi-sector, city-wide project?
3. Create collaborative stakeholder group within the community to help regulatory, commercial, and community interests align. Sign on to a clear regional plan (based on this menu!). Plan should give equal consideration to conversions.
4. Have one “champion” whose job it is to keep this group moving forward, who has authority

Barrier: How can we bring down upfront costs for consumers?
5. Work with banks and dealers to offer low-interest loans for plug-ins, based on projected lower operating costs from gas savings.
6. Bundle all key incentives at vehicle point of purchase (home charger vouchers, rebates, etc.)

Barrier: Consumer hesitation at diving into a new paradigm for mobility
7. Perks: access to HOV lanes, free tolls/downtown parking, reserved airport parking.
8. Create consumer, city government, local business and utility education plans including test drives and “quick lease” options to individual and fleet consumers as well as high profile drivers.
9. Reduced (or free) electricity rates for charging.

Barrier: Red tape around infrastructure installation
10. Fast-track permitting for charging stations.
11. Ensure new and reconstruction/renovation building codes support the operation of plug-ins.

Barrier: What if these cars exacerbate my peak load?
12. Tie provisions of free home and public charge spots, as well as free or cheaper electricity, to either utility override power or “no charge” times.

Barrier: Who will pay for infrastructure?
13. Local employers/retailers provide some charge stations at parking decks.
14. Install public charge spots in high-traffic zones and parking areas, either with public money (via utility or gov’t for the first 2% of vehicles) or private money that uses the stations to market.
15. Provide affordable and available—or free—Level 2 home-charger/driveway circuit installation.

Source (RMI) and (FastLane)

Also should you be so motivated you can Tweet with Britta Gross on Twitter @GMblogs later today at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time.

And as a reminder we have a special Plug-in Readiness Forum right here on


Feb 05

GM Denies San Francisco and Washington DC Have Been Chosen Yet to Get First Chevy Volts


Wednesday when GM made its announcement encouraging communities to become “plug-in ready” they noted that Washington DC and San Francisco were two prime examples of places already making strides in that direction. This has led many to assume that GM had already decided that these cities were chosen to get initial production Chevy Volts when they roll off the assembly lines in November 2010.

According to GM spokesperson Pete Barkey, however, that isn’t the case.

He noted that the announcement was more of a “call to action” for places around the country to begin the dialog necessary to prepare the country to begin mass adoption of electric vehicles.

“We have not determined first markets yet,” said Barkey, “I wouldn’t infer that these would be the only two-or even the first two.”

Volt vehicle line director Tony Posawatz agreed stating “we haven’t decided” where the first Volts will be launched though encouraged “if communities show readiness they will be given special consideration.”

GM advises it certainly isn’t too late and the process to make communities plug-in ready has only just begun. Britta Gross is GM’s Manager of Fuel Cells, Hydrogen, & Electrical Infrastructure.  She offers us the following plug-in readiness checklist for use at the local level:


Feb 03

GM Announces Initiative to Get Communities “Plug-in Ready” for the Volt


Today marks another distinct turning point in the story of the Chevrolet Volt. From the beginning the focus has been on the batteries and the engineering. Now GM has outlined a comprehensive plan of action for communities to begin to get ready for the arrival of plug-in cars like the Chevy Volt.

They have announced they have begun work with stakeholders in certain regions such as San Francisco and Washington DC to develop policies and enablers to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.

Ed Peper, manager of Chevrolet said “the Chevy Volt is truly coming to life, but preparing the market for electric vehicles also requires capable partners from outside the auto industry.”

GM is advising that people like us begin to prepare our communities to be plug-in ready. This means several things. Key stakeholders involved in the discussions should include:
-State, city and county governments
-Electric utilities
-Regulators/public utility commissions
-Permitting and code officials
-Clean Cities coalitions

The following incentives are suggested to promote local consumer adoption:
-public and workplace charging infrastructure
-consumer-friendly electricity rates and renewable electricity options
-government and corporate vehicle purchases
-supportive permitting and codes for vehicle charging
-other incentives such as high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lane access

It was also noted that GM has being actively working with 40 national utility companies and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to pave the way for the Volt, and is playing a leading role with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to develop the standards for a vehicle charging interface.

Ed Peper also said “we know plenty of work still remains, both within and outside of GM, But today’s and other recent announcements underscore the comprehensive work being done to bring the Chevrolet Volt and other electrically driven vehicles to market – and they also highlight why we are so optimistic about the ultimate success of the Volt.”

To get the ball rolling right here on we have started a new Forum that people can use to begin organizing plug-in readiness initiatives in their own communities.

Source (GM)


Dec 17

New Industry?: Geek Squad to Install Charging Box for Your Chevy Volt


CNET has just published an article emphasizing the importance of community resources in wide scale launching of the Chevy Volt and other electric cars.

Interviewed is GM’s Volt vehicle line director Tony Posawatz who was by the way also was recently elected co-chairman of the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA).

Tony not only is building the Volt but plays a leading role in developing a nationwide electric car rollout plan.

He explained the importance of community to the Volt’s success. He said “we are looking at communities that exist that are willing to put all the pieces together. To me, the Volt is a remarkable product. But, if the other stuff–the communities, etc.–isn’t there, then we run the risk of failing.”

The article implies that GM may actually target the Volt launch to places in the country where such community exists, referring to buy-in from local utilities and municipalities to ensure there are incentives to buy electric cars and places to charge them.

There already exists a legislated federal tax credit of $7500 that will go to future Volt buyers. Additional local incentives mentioned in the article is for example encouraging communities to install charging stations.

Coulomb Technology’s smart charging station or Smartlet is given as an example of this. These charging stations interact wirelessly with utility companies to ensure car charging doesn’t strain daytime peak demand.

It has already been documented in a study that a 60% penetration of electric vehicles to the national automotive fleet will only result in a 7% to 8% increase in electric demand. If that occurs at nighttime, then no additional capacity will have to be placed online. However, carelessly adding this demand during daytime peak hours would necessitate the construction of dozens of additional US power plants.

It is also noted that no technical standard has yet been written and accepted for the process of rapid charging. At 240 V, the Volt will recharge in 3 hours as opposed to 6 hours at 120 V.

Posawatz amusingly imagines the day when a new Volt Geek Squad industry emerges whose service is to go out and put 240V charging boxes in peoples garages.

Source (CNET)


Oct 07

Project Better Place CEO Calls the Volt a Niche Product


Shai Agassi is the CEO of Project Better Place (PBP). That is a well-financed endeavor to create an infrastructure of battery charging/swapping stations across, at present, Israel and Denmark. The concept is that electric cars would be cheap if they didn’t have batteries in them. The batteries would be owned by PBP, and drivers, when their charge got low, could pull into a swap station and have a fresh fully-charged battery swapped in. The drivers would never own the batteries and simply subscribe to the service, possibly even getting the car for nearly free, analogous to some cell phone plans.

As nice an idea as it is, it is considered unlikely such an infrastructure could be created across the vastness of America and thus would be unlikely to be embraced here. In fact, as battery technology matures both in terms of range increases and cost reductions, the whole idea could become moot.

At the Paris Auto Show, to illustrate his belief that his approach is superior, Agassi took a shot at GM who contends the Volt will eventually become a global high-volume car. He indicated that the Volt would be priced too high to be mass market car, stating “the Volt is a $20,000 car that will cost $40,000. It will be a niche product.”

He instead contended “we want to make electric cars a mass market thing, and the only way to do that is to make it cheaper than driving a regular car.”

Source (Wall Street Journal)


Oct 06

The Production Chevy Volt Has One Charging Port, and Unnamed Object Identified


Prior to seeing the production version of the Volt unveiled, we speculated whether it would have two charging ports as did the concept, or one.  We actually took a poll here indicating that most readers preferred one well-placed charging port to two.

It turned out the production car has one charging port which is located just to the front of the driver side mirror under a sliding door (shown above).  GM Volt vehicle line executive Frank Weber confirmed to me during the unveiling that indeed the car would have only one charging port.

Many readers here noticed on the GM diagram above that there seemed to be another structure further forward and lower than the charging port that appeared as though it might be accessible from the car’s exterior, and speculation began as to what that structure is (shown as blow-up above with blue arrow).

I asked GM.

GM spokesman Rob Peterson simply stated it was the “charging unit.”  When asked to explain further, because readers really wanted to know, all Rob would say is GM was “not going to share any details at this time.”

I went to an outside source who is an expert in the PHEV field, who analyzed the image and gave us the following statement:

That is quite simply the charger. The cable coming into the car is AC, and the box in question has a heat sink, so it must mean power conversion. The cables lead directly to the batteries so this must be DC. No other boxes or chargers are shown. This must be the AC to DC power converter. It is a ~1-1.5kW charger. 8kWh needed, 6-8 hours to charge.

From what we also know, it is a smart charger that will automatically recognize AC input as being either 110 or 220V, charging in 3 hours with 220V. And at 220 V, the pack will be 50% charged in 1 hour.

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