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Richard230
13 November 2010, 1612
Volvo is working on batteries made of special composites based upon carbon fiber that allow for the retention and discharge of electricity like a battery, only faster. If this works out, the side panels of a vehicle could be used to store electrical power. The new material is 15% lighter than traditional body panels, while simultaneously doubling as a rechargeable battery. Results are expected within six months.

Infiniti will add an EV based upon the Leaf to their product range by 2013. It is believed that Infiniti's new four-door EV will be based upon the Leaf platform, although the two cars will share few parts. A concept Infiniti is set to be shown within the next six months, possibly at the Geneva auto show in March 2011.

The Toyoda Yaris might be converted to a hybrid for the North American market.

GM is anticipating that the Volt's electric-power range will be increased from 40 miles to 50 miles in the future.

Richard230
23 November 2010, 1515
Here are some more items from today's newspaper business section:

An article written by Jonathan Fahey of the AP says that utilities are worried about the EV market stressing their local electrical grid system. They are hurrying to upgrade transformers and other equipment in neighborhoods where they expect lots of EVs to be sold. Not since air conditioning became a hot item during the 1950s and 1960s has the power industry faced such a potential surge in growth. Last year the US spent $325 billion on gasoline and the utilities are hoping to get a small piece of this action. They seem to be worried that if too many EVs are sold in one area and their equipment fails and blacks out neighborhoods, there will be a backlash against the vehicles (my comment).

The article goes on to say that driving 10K miles on electricity will use about 2,500 kWh, which is about a 20% increase above the annual power consumption of a typical residence. At a typical 11 cents per kWh, that would amount to $275 to drive the 10,000 miles, or about 70 cents per mile. SoCal Edison expects to be charging as many as 100K cars a year by 2015.

Transformers that distribute power from the local grid to homes are typically designed to handle fewer than 12,000 watts and it wouldn't take too many cars on the circuit to blow one up. People would come home, plug their cars in, turn on the AC, throw a TV dinner in the microwave, turn on the electric stove and the plasma TV and likely either cook the utility's transformer or blow their home's circuit breakers.

In another article, written by Ken Thomas of the AP, the Nissan Leaf's equivalent fuel mileage of 99 mpg as determined by the Government testing is discussed. Nissan thinks that the window sticker will say that the car will get the equivalent of 106 mpg in city driving and 92 mpg on the highway. The EPA's tests estimate that the Leaf can travel 73 miles on a fully charged battery pack and will cost $561 a year for electricity. Nissan has claimed that the Leaf will travel 100 miles on a full charge, based upon tests used by California regulators. Mark Perry, Nissan North America's director of product planning and strategy said the Leaf's "range would vary based upon driving conditions". (Comment: I'll bet that is going to be a surprise to many of the car's buyers.)

electrician
23 November 2010, 1617
One thing the power companies are forgetting in their money seeking publicity releases is the most of the charging to EV's will be done at off peak hours. So they should have no appreciable power requirements.

Richard230
23 November 2010, 1640
It is funny how utility companies seem to forget things when dreaming up ways to justify increased rates.

BaldBruce
23 November 2010, 1912
Actually, both sides of this argument have merit. You guys are totaly accurate when you say that charging EV's will not overly tax the grid and yet the utility companies have a point also. The utilities know your point perfectly well and will conscede your point when pressed. It is actually a good thing for them to even out their day to night load balance. The problem they see is not the grid, but the local distribution network. The typical neighborhood transformer up on the pole feeding 5 homes at 100KVA. Sounds like alot until you start hanging additional 15KVA EV fast chargers! Think of it this way, two extra EVs in the neighborhood would be a 30% increase in power usage through that tired old transformer. Remember that durring the day, most of the grid usage is commercial/industrial, while at night it shifts to residential. I am using fairly typical numbers for this example. Some neighborhoods (like mine) have larger ground mounted transformers rated at 200KVA. But then again, I know of neighborhoods where two houses share one 15KVA transformer and they would be immediately in trouble with a new EV fast charger. (used to be a cottage community) Not trying to defend the power companies, but they do have some valid concerns.

electrician
24 November 2010, 0822
If we would have went to nuclear power years ago we wouldn't be in this situation, darn environmentalist!

frodus
24 November 2010, 1055
The article goes on to say that driving 10K miles on electricity will use about 2,500 kWh, which is about a 20% increase above the annual power consumption of a typical residence. At a typical 11 cents per kWh, that would amount to $275 to drive the 10,000 miles, or about 70 cents per mile. SoCal Edison expects to be charging as many as 100K cars a year by 2015.


Uh, $275 / 10000 miles = 2.75 cents a mile. How’d you get 70 cents a mile? That’d amount to $7,000.

frodus
24 November 2010, 1058
BTW, it costs utility companies MORE money to take generators off the grid during low power consumption times (at night) than it does to keep it idling along.

Its not really going to matter much actually, they'll SAVE money by keeping the generators on-line. They WOULD see an increase in consumption, obviously, but they're going to create energy cheaper because they don't have take things off the grid.

DaveAK
24 November 2010, 1106
I think Bruce has it right. There are two parts to the problem, generation and delivery. EVs are going to be a help to utilities on the generation side, but a headache on the delivery side.