Archive for the ‘General’ Category

 

Jun 19

Tesla dealer struggle making headway in NJ – NADA fights back on behalf of all states

 

Whether the National Automobile Dealers’ Association does have arguments that hold water there is little doubt the court of public opinion overwhelmingly has seen a leaky sieve.

As things are, legislators in the Garden State have pushed back, and in separate news, the NADA has started a Web page and issued a video.

New Jersey Bill Approved To Let Tesla Sell Direct

 
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New Jersey’s assembly approved a bill on Monday 77-0 to allow Tesla to sell factory direct, but the battle for Tesla is not over.

The next step is for the bill to be voted on by the N.J. senate and – assuming it is approved – signed by Gov. Chris Christie, assuming he will.

While the bill was crafted as a retort against the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s Mar. 11 vote to reinforce existing laws that shut Tesla out, its wording is open to zero emission vehicle makers, but Tesla is the obvious candidate.

Under the proposed legislation any ZEV maker licensed by the NJMVC on or before Jan. 1, 2014 may sell factory direct. (Do you know any others contending?)

SEE ALSO: NJ Auto Dealer Association President Challenges Tesla’s Allegations

Democrats control both chambers, and Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald made it clear the move was a politically motivated one in the state’s tug-of-war over the Tesla question.

“Tesla is an innovative company that has produced a top-rated, environmentally conscious product,” said Greenwald in a statement. “Their commitment to innovation, job-creation and customer satisfaction is precisely the kind of entrepreneurial spirit we should be encouraging in New Jersey. Unfortunately, the Motor Vehicle Commission’s decision threatened to hamstring those efforts.”

Gov. Christie sided with the previous NJMVC decision to uphold laws on the books, and has said if the state’s direct sales ban is to be revoked, it must be done by new legislation.

NADA Fights Back Against Tesla

 
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Tired of being bashed as a “dinosaur” business model and various other unsavory descriptors, the National Auto Dealers Association is fighting back against Tesla on behalf of franchised car dealers.

Actually, the NADA does not call out Tesla by name in a two-and-a-half-minute video and its Web page called “Get the Facts,” but who else has focused the public’s ire against it?


 

Everything in the video is a rebuttal against allegations fostered by Tesla and its supporters in favor of its factory direct business model to “cut out the middleman.”

The NADA site justifies the franchised auto dealer business model with – as the name implies – facts that it says support its existence as good for consumers and the economy.

Many of the points are in line with points raised by auto dealer franchise proponents a comprehensive series we began on the subject.

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Many progressively minded observers have largely sided with Tesla which has fanned the flames of public distrust and a bad guy image some are ready to pin on car dealers.

For more info, please consult the NADA’s Web site.

 

Jun 18

Volt transcends one-half-billion EV miles

 

As you’ll see, GM does not count all Volts.

Any guesses on what the real number is?

And, how long before it’s 1 billion?

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Yesterday Chevrolet announced the fleet of monitored <a href=”http://www.chevrolet.com/volt-electric-car.html”>Volts</a> on the road since its December 2010 launch has crossed the half-billion mile mark for EV miles.

The Volt is an “extended-range electric vehicle” that works – for the most part – like an all-electric car as long as the battery has sufficient charge, and the trick is to keep it more-often in EV mode to prevent the gas generator from kicking on.

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Image by kdawg.

General Motors reported it had sold 61,390 Volts in the U.S. as of <a href=”http://www.hybridcars.com/may-2014-dashboard/”>May</a>, and the plug-in gas-electric car with still the highest EPA rated range of 38 all-electric miles is on average hitting this range-estimate target.

The half-billion mile threshold however was crossed by only 47,000-plus Volt owners who have agreed to anonymous monitoring via GM’s telematics system, OnStar. This means the actual number is well above a half-billion, but GM has no estimate on that.

GM also says it’s monitoring a fleet of 300 in California and 15 percent have averaged better than 40 miles EV range.

“The fact that most of the folks who purchased the Volt at launch are still enjoying EV range performance on target with when they took delivery is testament to the attention to detail our team paid to delivering on our promise of most people driving all electrically most of the time,” said Pam Fletcher, Chevrolet Volt executive chief engineer.

Other facts are that 63 percent of Volt owners are doing their overall driving in EV mode. And, they’re averaging 970 miles between fill-ups.

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These number averages according to GM’s Manager, Electrification Technology Communications, Kevin M. Kelly, are not for the 300 in the limited study, but again, they’re for the “more than 47,000 owners who have agreed to provide their usage data through OnStar.”

In an independent study done between July and December 2013 by the Department of Energy’s EV Project (managed by Idaho National Labs) found Volt drivers who participated in 1,198,114 vehicle trips saw 974,692, or 81.4 percent completed without gasoline.

“The Volt continues to attract new buyers to Chevrolet with 69 percent of Volt buyers new to GM,” said GM. “The Toyota Prius is the most frequently traded-in vehicle for a Volt.”

 

Jun 17

EcoCAR 2 challenge won by Ohio State University

 

By Phillippe Crowe

The U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors announced last week the winning team of the EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future competition finals.

The team’s exceptionally engineered 2013 Chevrolet Malibu with energy storage, electric drive and ethanol (E85) fueled engine technology, earned it the top honor.

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EcoCAR 2 is a three-year competition managed by Argonne National Laboratory and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, GM and 30 other government and industry leaders. The goal was to give students the opportunity to gain real-world automotive engineering experience while striving to improve the environmental impact and energy efficiency of a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.

The organizers for EcoCAR 2 said over the course of three years, Ohio State University consistently met incremental goals that strengthened its position against the other university teams. Its series-parallel plug-in hybrid Malibu excelled at GM’s Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan, earlier this month, where it was put through a series of strenuous technical and safety tests similar to those used for real-world production vehicles.

“The EcoCAR 2 competition has been an incredible journey and learning experience for everyone at Ohio State, and that’s what really matters – winning the top spot is just a bonus,” said Katherine Bovee from Ohio State. “We are all excited to take everything we have learned into the workplace after graduation.”

The team’s design achieved 50 miles per gallon gas equivalent (MPGGE), while using 315 Watt-hours per mile (Wh/mi) of electricity. EcoCAR 2 added the vehicle impressed the judges with stellar numbers and even lessened the amount of criteria emissions by half, compared to the base vehicle.

“Ohio State met and exceeded the EcoCAR 2 goals at every point in the competition,” said Dr. Michael Knotek – Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Energy, U.S. Department of Energy. “Their innovative work has contributed significantly to the future of energy efficient technology in the automotive industry, and we wish all members of the team the best as they move forward in the next step of their careers, whether in the classroom or in the professional world.”

The second-place team, from the University of Washington, demonstrated the most energy-efficient vehicle, a B20 biodiesel parallel plug-in hybrid reaching 60 MPGGE and 333 Wh/mi of electricity, as well as the lowest well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions. Pennsylvania State University placed third with their E85 series plug-in hybrid.

“For the past three years all 15 EcoCAR 2 teams have worked tirelessly to design the next generation of clean vehicles and we have seen exceptional outcomes,” said Ken Morris, vice president, global product integrity, General Motors. “Ohio State stood out amongst the competition and truly did an outstanding job. All of the teams have helped advance innovative vehicle technology and improve the automotive industry and we thank them for their hard work, dedication and enthusiasm for this program.”

 

Jun 16

Come one, come all EV developers! Tesla throws the lid off its treasure chest of patents

 

NOTE: Related or unrelated, Tesla was in the news having met Wednesday with BMW, and – separately – saying it wants an EU factory once it hits (the ambitious goal of) 160,000 annual EU sales.

And, says the Financial Times, Tesla may be collaborating behind the scenes with Nissan and BMW to share a plug standard.

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It’s too soon to tell whether that will come to pass — or even if in 10 years plug standards will be irrelevant.

Nissan’s present AeroVironment DC level 3 CHAdeMO charger serves up 480V, 3-phase, 50/60 Hz with rated power of 44 kilowatts. Wireless is already able to match this, though for now Momentum Dynamics, the one company that claims it can do 50-plus kw is aiming at commercial and industrial customers. (You know, customers not shy about taking chances, and who see the value now).

The charger news is just one potential outcome of Tesla’s freeing up its intellectual property.

1) Does anyone know any specific patents that should see someone actually put it into use?
2) Is Musk a hero, deserving a standing ovation, or is this enlightened self interest? This question has floated in the Tesla forums.

By Phillippe Crowe

Tesla’s Elon Musk shook up the automotive world last week by opening up all of Tesla’s patents to anyone wishing to use them.

In layman’s terms, he made all of the company’s protected technology available to all, following a trend known as the open source movement.

In a way to illustrate this decision, Musk has made sure the list of patents known as the patent wall in the company’s headquarters is now removed.

This does not mean Tesla will see directly competing cars eating its lunch tomorrow. In fact, there are caveats if you read the fine print, such as would-be users must do so in good faith.

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”Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology,” said Musk in a blog post. This means Tesla retains the rights.

Nor are all of Tesla’s patents likely to be used, as the company keeps innovating forward beyond where it was, but the gesture is ostensibly magnanimous – even if there is underlying enlightened self interest at the bottom of it – and potentially of inestimable value.

All this is Tesla’s way of saying it wants to foster more EV adoption in the population and this can only happen if many other automotive companies start offering such vehicles.

How will Tesla benefit from this? Musk believes patents now stifles progress and he would rather see competition coming from new green cars rather than gas-guzzlers.

Here is the content of Musk’s blog post, which can also be found here:

Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

When I started out with my first company, Zip2, I thought patents were a good thing and worked hard to obtain them. And maybe they were good long ago, but too often these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors. After Zip2, when I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever possible.

At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1percent of their total vehicle sales.

At best, the large automakers are producing electric cars with limited range in limited volume. Some produce no zero emission cars at all.

Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.

We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.

 

Jun 13

Former GM advanced vehicle director, Dr. Chris Borroni-Bird shares vision of autonomous, networked future

 

The vision of Dr. Chris Borroni-Bird is the ultimate sustainable one.

He left GM to pursue his vision, but has fond memories of work done with GM, and his dream is still very much alive.

There are many more issues and ramifications to the subjects that follow, but if you want to know more, you’ll have to read his book.

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Many people have ideas about improving transportation in general, and automobiles in particular, but not as many have had the myriad opportunities to put their thoughts into action as Dr. Chris Borroni-Bird.

Last month at the EDTA Conference in Indianapolis, we met with Borroni-Bird, Qualcomm’s vice president of strategic development, and engaged in a random and enlightening conversation with the free-thinker on all things future.

What does an executive for a firm better known for smart phone semiconductors, Wi-Fi and related technologies know about cars? He’s been with Qualcomm Halo since August 2012, but has around two decades experience with advanced projects for major automakers.

Qualcomm sponsors Formula e.

Qualcomm sponsors Formula e.

These include developing gasoline fuel cells for Chrysler that can convert that ubiquitous fuel to hydrogen onboard the car. Later, he developed fuel cells for General Motors, and its Autonomy, Hy-wire and Sequel “skateboard” vehicle concepts.

And he had also a hand in the Chevy Volt’s human-vehicle interface and its early conceptualizing.

Before leaving GM, he oversaw its Electric Networked Vehicle (EN-V) project to the point of demonstrating working autonomous electric cars and seeing the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco City formed.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that today’s most-advanced cars are on their way to driving
themselves, or you’ve heard the facetious phrase that infotainment-festooned vehicles are becoming like “rolling smart phones?”

The automobile industry and communications industries are increasingly finding they have common goals.

Maybe therefore we shouldn’t be surprised that one of the auto industry’s leading visionaries jumped out of a high-level role, and yet keeps the fire burning in a career-long vision to re-imagine cars in years to come.


The EN-V offers “the first realistic solution to addressing all the problems of personal mobility in cities,” Borroni-Bird said in April 2011. “Making this become a reality is my passion.”
 

In 2010 he published a book, Reinventing the Automobile, with then-GM Vice President of R&D Lawrence Burns and William Mitchell and today he still working the plan it outlined.

“The car is going to change so much over the next 10 to 15 years, I think a lot more than it has over the last 10 years,” he says. “The book that I co-wrote five years ago now, it came out four years ago, basically predicted, in fact everything I’m talking about.”

What We Talked About

 
One watchword giving a boost to Borroni-Bird’s imagined sustainable future is “trends.”

Trends include convergence of complementary technologies, demands for greater safety and convenience, not to mention growing populations, cities becoming denser, and needs for clean energy and mobility for society, including the aging and infirm.

Of course issues like energy security also play into it, and developing far more elegant solutions is a long-term goal.

Ultimately Borroni-Bird would like to see the DNA changed for automobiles that still follow the early 20th-century purpose for which they were developed, and ideally suited.

At the same time he’s a realist, and knows vehicles must be fun and enjoyable or they’ll never be mass accepted. And he works within existing realities of present technologies, thus concedes if internal combustion engines are needed for some applications, these would have a place.

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His ability to have an open mind and at the same time be gravely practical merging lessons learned through the years are part of why he was hired. Today his role is to take a “high level” perspective of integrating many variables toward synergy.

“I think I’m a visionary. I think a lot about the future and I think about an exciting future that’s better for society,” he says. “That’s what really motivates me.”

BMW’s i-Series is being developed with this “megacity” ethos in mind, and Borroni-Bird says his vision would apply to suburbia, and outlying regions as well.

His eyes light up when outlining things like carsharing, autonomous networked vehicles, a far higher percentage of all-electric vehicles, and of course these would be wirelessly charged in a world that has overcome some of the quagmires it’s now wading through.

Building Blocks

 

We hear rumblings constantly by various automakers developing autonomous technology, but the reality of its actually one day coming to pass, says Borroni-Bird, is more likely to be a process of evolution.

Instead of diving head first into future visions reminiscent of I, Robot or The Jetsons, the building blocks in society are falling naturally into place toward autonomous vehicles.

These include simple conveniences like automatic parking technology, which is a low speed maneuver where no one is likely to be hurt. This demonstrates a car that can perform a complex action all by itself, and people are becoming comfortable with it.

Another is advanced collision avoidance technologies like lane keeping, frontal distance keeping with automatic braking, and blind-spot detection. And cars with advanced cruise control are already demonstrating semi-autonomous capabilities. Perhaps the most advanced, Borroni-Bird says, is the Mercedes S-Class. This car can already practically drive by itself.

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In August 2013, Mercedes-Benz became the first motor manufacturer to demonstrate the feasibility of autonomous driving on both interurban and urban routes.
 

Automakers however limit what cars are permitted to do at this stage, but society’s comfort level and familiarity with cars guided by radar, lidar, GPS, and other advanced sensing technologies is increasing.

Last month Google demonstrated a car with no steering wheel, accelerator pedal or brake pedal. A piece by Autoweek groaned and said “welcome to the future,” and Google’s idea of it was like “driving an elevator.”

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“With autonomous driving you are going to need redundant power supply, as well as redundant processing and redundant software; redundant networks.”
 

Nissan has said by 2020 it will have a production semi-autonomous car which will be a step beyond advanced cruise control. This will essentially let the car take over on highways, with driver control resumed on secondary roads and around town.

Yes, forces are at work to make cars more convenient and safer, which also means less liability, need for emergency services, hospital visits, and insurance and lawsuit payouts.

The push-pull interplay toward automated driving vehicles is thus happening. Consumers like the idea of less risk, as do manufacturers, even if some traditional “car guys” are not so sure the future will be better or they’ll one day be wistfully looking back to the good old days.

Working With Synergies

 

Borroni-Bird, and those in general sympathy with his views, are moving with the trends and forces at play to strike where they can.

Before autonomous cars become a reality, a lot of hurdles will need to be crossed, says Borroni-Bird. These include technical, legal, consumer acceptance, infrastructural challenges, public policy, legal and liability concerns.

Wireless charging: a current technology Qualcomm is getting started with.

Wireless charging: a current technology Qualcomm Halo is getting started with.


 

At the moment Qualcomm is developing wireless electric vehicle charging systems and interconnected vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-passenger technologies.

It’s also developing wearable wellness monitoring devices that stand to prevent accidents, such as from people whose condition could see them faint behind the wheel.

These technologies are where Qualcomm can get started toward a future short of fully autonomous electric cars projected for a world very different from today.

Carsharing Facilitated

 

One day you may want to travel across town and instead of having a car parked somewhere, you – via Internet, smart phone, or some other communication means – might summon an autonomous car to come fetch you, sort of like an Uber ride.

A couple decades from now or more, this may be possible, and at your door could show up an empty car ready like a virtual taxi to take you where you want to go.

If you want to go 300 miles, perhaps a gas-powered car comes instead, or – if Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Daimler, and other have their way – it could very well be a fuel cell electric vehicle.


 

“A lot of these technologies sort of enable each other or stimulate each other and the overall business case for a wirelessly charged autonomous electric vehicle that is shared could be compelling,” he says, adding with a smile and irony: “It’s a very different business model than you buying an internal combustion vehicle today and having to drive it and own it and park it 23 hours a day and using it one hour a day.”

Think also how public transit could be augmented or complemented by small urban runabouts. Today leaders encourage people to take the train or bus to town and not clog up city streets with polluting cars.

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A Blue Indy electric city car – particularly well adapted to a city without extensive public transit. This urban transportation model is also potentially more efficient than underutilized, publicly subsidized buses that in off-peak hours cost more energy per passenger mile, Borroni-Bird says.
 

People are reluctant to do that, says Borroni-Bird, but having their own private rented EV – whether autonomous or one they may drive – could fit more elegantly into urban planners’ views and people would still have personal mobility.

Today the Mayor of Indianapolis is already encouraging what could lead to this with its Blue Indy electric carsharing program, says Borroni-Bird.

It’s yet one more piece of the puzzle fitting to make a future picture.

Networked and Connected

 

These cars, by the way, Qualcomm is working toward interconnecting. Today it’s developing communications protocols that let cars communicate to others in real time. If, say, an accident occurs, or even a new pothole forms, or ice slick is present, all cars in the vicinity could be alerted.

It’s also developing smart phone programs that could alert both drivers in vehicles and pedestrians – which account for approximately 12 percent of traffic fatalities.

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Platooning military convoys, or tractor trailers connected wirelessly could save fuel one day like land trains where only the lead vehicle need have a human to stand by at the wheel.
 

So, you could be listening to music on your phone or texting while walking, and before you traipse past a truck blocking your view of traffic a warning could tell you to think twice before stepping into an oncoming car.

Possibilities and scenarios are many and varied, but these kinds of things Borroni-Bird and Qualcomm are working on – and these too would integrate as “building blocks” toward a thoroughly connected world sometime when the powers that be let it happen.

First Test Cases

 

Today there is no place on earth with autonomous cars trolling about as envisioned, but places to first adopt it could be college campuses, theme parks, assisted living communities, or urban car-free zones, says Borroni-Bird.

“I could imagine assisted living campuses. I could imagine this transforming the life of an old person, and making them have a much more social life which can be so much better for your mental well being,” he says. “Today especially in bad weather you may be cramped up in your little apartment and not feel comfortable walking because of ice or what ever reason.”

Indianapolis has other sustainable transportation initiatives underway, including bikseharing.

Indianapolis has other sustainable transportation initiatives underway, including bikseharing.


 

Autonomous cars would also be a natural fit in car-free zones, such as in New York or Madrid. Here, low-speed autonomous cars could be tried out, thus adding to society’s comfort level with the idea of cars that drive themselves.

They’d not need to go more than 10 mph at first, and would not need to be engineered so robustly like an airbag-laden crushable cocoons, as they’d have no risk of a big heavy car colliding with them.

In time, Borroni-Bird says these benign conditions could encourage new car companies to form. While we think of perhaps a dozen global automakers today, if cars did not need to be heavily safety engineered and meet strict emission calibrations, the barrier to entry for start-ups to develop small, autonomous electric vehicles would be lower.

Unintended Consequences

 

At the same time, Borroni-Bird says despite the best intentions, no one knows how things could turn out.

“Who knows the consequences or the implications? We can’t imagine, just like the Internet,” says Borroni-Bird. “Who could have imagined all of the implications of the Internet when it was first proposed?”

Want some things to ponder? If the idea is to reduce congestion with cars that inter-communicate, what if this backfires when people have un-manned vehicles also on the roads? Then you actually add to traffic, instead of reducing it.

Or, if an autonomous car has a function to give back control to the driver when its sensors can’t safely navigate in inclement weather, what if the person behind the wheel decided to take a chance driving home from that party, and had a few too many drinks?


He spoke of the EN-V then, but his vision is much the same today.

Another biggie is the speed limit. Today, people may willfully push it 10 mph over or more, but, muses Borroni-Bird, the car will know the speed limit. Will it have to obey? And if so, how will people like it?

And yet one more – out of others – is what would happen if the wildest dreams of a crash-free world come true? Would we one day hear of the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety lobbying Congress against permitting humans to drive their own vehicles?

Just as unmanned aircraft are already grounding pilots, what if it could be shown billions of dollars and many lives could be saved by forbidding humans to drive?

Borroni-Bird says this would be a “tricky” issue depriving people of their freedoms, or effectively legislating they must buy an autonomous car that could cost more, but he does concede the possibility

“Yeah, this could happen, I’m not going to say it won’t happen,” he said, but suggested that if society does come to that ethical crossroad, perhaps cars manually driven by humans could get their own lanes, and be segregated from autonomous traffic.

Hopeful Future

 

Borroni-Bird’s view, if you cannot tell, is overwhelmingly positive; one of betterment, and doing what he can within confines of ever-present realities which alternately motivate him while a sense of responsibility remains.

“I’m also aware these futures could have unintended consequences but I, for example, I not only am envisioning this future but I’m responsible for putting it into practice,” he says. “So at GM for example, what I was actually leading vehicle programs that were autonomous, electric, connected, it wasn’t just the creating concepts and getting people to support it and buy into it, it was actually executing the concept.”

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Borroni-Bird had a hand in the Volt’s early development. For now, the range extended EV remains one of the more practical vehicles in today’s getting-more-sustainable world.
 

But ever keeping the short term plan in mind with the long-term dream, Borroni-Bird – and others like him – are working toward a vision with each step justified and signed off upon along the way.

“Most of the technology that’s being developed for automobiles is no regrets, you know, it’s being developed, even if we don’t get to autonomous vehicles just because people want vehicles that don’t crash into each other,” he said.

But ultimately, he says he does believe autonomous vehicles and many other complementary technologies will be here. It’s not a matter of if, to Borroni-Bird, but rather just a question of when?

 

Jun 12

VIA launches eREV shuttle van at Edison Electric Institute Annual Conference

 

This Monday I talked with VIA’s David West who sent info over for the following story.

Essentially, the eREV maker is up and running. They’d not launch this or another vehicle without having their order pipeline sufficiently full of reservations.

Won’t share off the record info, but imagine other possibilities VIA could maybe also come up with …

Also, note they are using “opportunity charging.” Here the driver hops out and plugs in a J1772 to let a 24-kwh battery do 100-plus daily miles. I asked if they’d thought of wireless charging as they “right size” the battery and use the eREV as a BEV, keeping the extender off. Wound up introducing VIA and Momentum Dynamics. Generally West agreed this is the direction VIA is going, so we shall see whether the two companies do business.

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Perhaps you’ve seen VIA Motors’ extended-range electric pickups and vans that are pending launch, and Monday the company announced it’s debuting a shuttle version of its van.

In an interview Monday, VIA’s Chief Marketing Officer David West said the Utah-based startup will announce the production van specially configured for airport/hotel duty at the ongoing Edison Electric Institute Annual Conference in Las Vegas Monday.

Featured speakers at the event include Warren Buffett and former U.S. Secretary of Defense, William Gates.

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Standard GM bench seats are removed by VIA Motors, and replaced with these.

 

West said VIA is already providing free to-and-from trips for industry executives in its vans between the McCarran Airport and the convention, and these are much like shuttle vans used in January at the Sundance Film Festival.

Inside the vehicle are upgraded seats more suitable for the duty, and the vans can be equipped with other amenities as needed.

All-Electric, 100 Miles/Day

These vans, by the way, are demonstrating the ideal usage scenario VIA envisions which is all-electric. How does a 24-kwh VIA van drive over 100 miles a day, round the clock on pure electricity?

The buzzword is “opportunity charging.”

VIA has contracted with Clipper Creek which provides a strategically located 240-volt, 14.4-kilowatt, 60-amp level 2 charger that replenishes the shuttle buses in between trips.

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This would normally be down time, waiting for the next load of passengers, with AC running in the 110-degree heat, and a big fuel waster for a conventional V8 vehicle.

In VIA’s case, the van stays in the e-zone, running AC and accessories from the battery while it’s recharging between runs.

While not naming specific customers, West said VIA has orders booked for its hotel/airport shuttle. The configuration is in line with the standard entry price of $79,000.

West noted California and five other states have incentives starting at $10,500 on the state level plus $7,500 on the federal level. Certain areas of California can go to as high as $18,000 in state incentives.