Tesla Partners with Toyota and Panasonic

Tesla Partners with Toyota and Panasonic

By John Addison – May 26, 2010

Model S = New Electric Car Range

Tesla is the first to put 1,000 electric cars on the U.S. highways. Like its Roadster, the company is going zero to sixty in less than four seconds. The Tesla Roadster has a rated range of 236 miles on a single charge. In Australia, a record 313 mile range was demonstrated. The Tesla Roadster has a battery pack capable of storing approximately 53 kilowatt-hours of usable energy, almost double the energy of any other commercially available electric vehicle battery pack.

In August the company reported its first profits. Tesla is developing a roomy Model S hatchback that starts at $57,400, about half the price of the Roadster. Tesla will start delivering the Model S in 2012 from its new factory in California. The Model S will have up to a 300 mile range, far beyond the Nissan Leaf 100 mile range the Chevy Volt 40-mile electric range, and current ambitions of other electric car makers. Top 10 Electric Car Makers

Tesla will compete with other sedan makers by also offering more passenger space, more cargo space, and a premium cache. With seating for five adults and two children, plus an additional trunk under the hood, Model S has passenger carrying capacity and versatility rivaling SUVs and minivans. Rear seats fold flat, and the hatch gives way to a roomy opening, so you can stow a mountain bike, 50-inch flat-screen TV. The Model S includes a 17 inch infotainment touchscreen.

With a range up to 300 miles and 45-minute QuickCharge, the Model S can carry five adults and two children in quiet comfort. The roomy electric car starts at a base price of $57,400, before the $7,500 federal EV tax credit and additional tax credits in many states. Yes, it will be more expensive than sedans from Ford, Nissan, and Chevy but with more battery storage for more range with 3 battery pack options offer a range of 160, 230 or 300 miles per charge.

Don’t pull-up to the Model S in your sedan and try to race. The Model S goes from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds with 120 mph top speed, and the promise of sporty handling in the chassis and suspension.

Panasonic Lithium Batteries

Tesla touts its expertise and intellectual property in a proprietary electric powertrain that incorporates four key components—an advanced battery pack, power electronics module, high-efficiency motor and extensive control software.

Tesla delivers more range per charge than other electric vehicles by including more lithium batteries. Tesla’s relationship with battery supplier Panasonic is critical. The Roadster uses 6,800 Panasonic lithium-nickel consumer-sized batteries integrated into a Tesla designed battery-pack with unique energy management and thermal management. The new Tesla Model S will use up to 5,500 Panasonic batteries.

Benefiting from Tesla feedback, Panasonic is improving the batteries with plans to take them to 4 amp-hours. Panasonic is the world’s largest seller of lithium batteries. It acquired Sanyo Electric to increase market share, expand into solar PV, and battery R&D innovation. Panasonic also makes flat-panel screens and automotive electronics. When Panasonic acquired Sanyo, Toyota increased its ownership to over 80 percent in the Panasonic EV Energy Company which makes prismatic module nickel metal hydride and lithium-ion battery packs.

Toyota Partnership

Tesla Motors has purchased the former NUMMI factory in Fremont, California, that once employed over 4,000 workers in a Toyota-General Motors JV plant. The factory is an important component in Tesla’s access to a $465 million in DOE loan facility, where funds can be issued in stages over 3 years as conditions are met.

In the future, Tesla will build the Model S sedan and future Tesla vehicles in Fremont. It is one of the largest, most advanced and cleanest automotive production plants in the world. Tesla’s move represents the chance for California to recover needed employment. The plant is capable of producing half a million vehicles per year or approximately 1 percent of total worldwide car production. The factory is located near Northern California’s Silicon Valley, very near Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters. The short distance also ensures a tight feedback loop between engineering, manufacturing and other divisions within the company.

Toyota agreed to purchase $50 million of Tesla’s common stock subsequent to the closing of Tesla’s currently planned initial public offering, giving Toyota over 2 percent of Tesla. Tesla and Toyota intend to cooperate on the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support.

Nissan, Ford, and GM would all like to leapfrog Toyota for plug-in car leadership after years of watching Toyota dominate the hybrid market. Toyota, however, will fight to protect its leadership with a Prius Plug-in Hybrid, the Toyota FT-EV electric car, expanded offerings of Toyota and Lexus hybrid cars, the Panasonic battery JV, and now a partnership with Tesla.

“I’ve felt an infinite possibility about Tesla’s technology and its dedication to monozukuri (Toyota’s approach to manufacturing),” said TMC President Akio Toyoda. “Through this partnership, by working together with a venture business such as Tesla, Toyota would like to learn from the challenging spirit, quick decision-making, and flexibility that Tesla has. Decades ago, Toyota was also born as a venture business. By partnering with Tesla, my hope is that all Toyota employees will recall that ‘venture business spirit,’ and take on the challenges of the future.” President Toyoda likes to race cars and has driven the Roadster.

Tesla CEO and cofounder Elon Musk said, “We look forward to learning and benefiting from Toyota’s legendary engineering, manufacturing, and production expertise.”

Toyota introduced the first-generation Prius hybrid vehicle in 1997, and produced approximately 2.5 million hybrids in the twelve years since. Late last year, TMC started lease of Prius Plug-in Hybrids, which can be charged using an external power source such as a household electric outlet. The company also plans to introduce EVs into the market by 2012.

Daimler Partnership

Tesla has been skillful in developing strategic partnerships. Tesla also has a relationship with Daimler to supply technology, battery packs and chargers for Daimler’s Smart fortwo electric drive. Daimler holds more than 5% of Tesla’s capital stock. Daimler has orders for Tesla to supply it with up to 1,500 battery packs and chargers to support a trial of the Smart fortwo electric drive in at least five European cities. Tesla delivered the first of these battery packs and chargers in November 2009. Daimler also engaged Tesla to assist with the development and production of a battery pack and charger for a pilot fleet of its A-Class electric vehicles to be introduced in Europe during 2011. Tesla has ambitions to supply other vehicle makers.

Car2Go Gives Car Sharing a Point-to-Point Solution

Car2Go Gives Car Sharing a Point-to-Point Solution

car2go Austin

By John Addison (updated 7/16/10; original 5/20/10)

Zipcar Now Faces Major Competition from Auto Giant Daimler

Car Sharing has exploded in popularity in the U.S. with college students, one-car households, and with fleets. Until now, the car had to be returned to where it was picked-up. A new service – car2go – allows people in Austin, Texas to pick-up a car in one place and leave it in another, paying by the minute. The drop-offs are within a defined area.

During a 6 month pilot in Austin, 3,000 early members enjoyed the convenience of going from the Capitol to city center or university, saving time, money, and parking hassles. The pilot fleet started with 200 Smart Fortwo vehicles located throughout the greater downtown Austin area, accessible on-demand. Members check for the location of available cars using smartphones and web browsers. Due to the success of the pilot, the program is now expanded to 500 Smart Fortwos.

Members can take off at by-the-minute rates whenever they want without worrying about fuel, insurance, maintenance or even parking. Rentals can be completed in any available public parking space within the greater downtown Austin area or at one of the specially marked car2go spaces. A member survey showed that 95% of early users would recommend car2go and that 80% are very satisfied. Great numbers for a pilot.

Daimler, of course, makes and sells and leases Mercedes cars, Smart cars, buses, and trucks. Now it expands into car sharing with its subsidiary car2go. Daimler is positioning the Smart fortwo as the perfect vehicle for such a program. On May 21, 2010, car2go opened the program to all residents of Austin, Texas.

Can car2go catch Zipcar?

Zipcar is the world’s leading car-sharing service with more than 400,000 members and 7,000 vehicles in urban areas and college campuses throughout 28 North American states and provinces as well as in the United Kingdom. Nicholas Cole, CEO of car2go plans to expand into many U.S. cities and secure hundreds of thousands of members. Daimler sees the long-term possibility of millions of members. Imagine the potential of such a program to solve first mile /last mile connections between employers and major transportation centers such as rail and bus rapid transit stations. The success in over a dozen European cities of point-to-point bicycle sharing shows the potential of mobility on-demand.

For the convenience of drop-off freedom and per-minute pricing, car2go will price higher on an hourly basis than competitors such as Zipcar and Austin Car Share. Car2go offers a standard price of just 35 cents per minute plus tax which includes the costs of fuel, insurance, parking, maintenance, and mileage. With added time, the price drops. One hour costs a maximum of $12.99 plus tax and one day (24 hours) no more than $65.99 plus tax. There is no security deposit, monthly fees, or reservation costs. Per mile after 150 mile per rental 45 cents, plus tax.

The City of Austin and was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on May 20th for their outstanding efforts in reducing emissions. The Honorable Lee Leffingwell, Mayor of the City of Austin, praised car2go program for congestion relief in the city center and capital areas. 1,200 City of Austin employees have already joined the program. The Austin pilot was “jump started” with the City trading free parking spaces of a pool of free minutes in the car2go program.

The new car sharing program will be popular with government employees, corporate fleet managers, people living car free or sharing one car, and with college students. Car2go has a program for college and university students that has already helped University of Texas at Austin students live car free, using car sharing, transit, bicycling and walking.

The first pilot of car2go was in Ulm, Germany which now has 19,000 members. In Europe, Daimler also offers a battery electric Smart electric car which has been tested in a car2go pilot. They plan to include electric cars in the U.S. program in a few years. Cities will need an extensive public charging infrastructure to support such a program.

Ford Focus Electric Challenges Nissan LEAF for Electric Car Leadership

Ford Focus Electric Challenges Nissan LEAF for Electric Car Leadership

By John Addison (updated 11/3/11; original 5/20/10)

May 2010, I enjoyed driving the new Ford Focus Electric. I had just finished my presentation to the Western Automotive Journalists and wanted to get behind the wheel of this new electric car. The 4-door sedan felt just like driving a regular gasoline Focus 4-door sedan, except it was more quiet and accelerated faster due to the torque of the electric motor. Although it was just a prototype, and Ford assured me that it would get better as the software controls are tuned, it felt more ready to go than my previous prototype test drive last October.

The handling was smooth while driving the Focus Electric. Unlike some electric car prototypes, when I hit the brakes, it stopped evenly and quickly. The coordination between regeneration and disc braking was effective. It’s not surprising that Ford is this far along. For several years, fleets have been driving the Ford Focus with an electric drive system and a hydrogen fuel cell to extend the electric range. The Ford Focus Electric will compete with the Nissan LEAF and others makers of electric cars and plug-in hybrids – Top 10 Electric Car Makers. Nissan will deliver 50,000 Nissan LEAFs before Ford starts delivering its electric Focus.

The 2012 Ford Focus Electric can now be ordered starting at $39,200. Since Ford is only planning on limited production in 2012, they can afford to price this electric car at $4,000 than the popular 2012 Nissan Leaf. The Focus Electric is fully $10,000 more than the smaller city electric Mitsubishi i.

Both the Focus Electric and Nissan LEAF are beautiful 5-door hatchbacks with passenger room and cargo flexibility that stretches their compact classification. Both have effective displays to select favorite music, navigate with dynamic maps to your preferred destination or nearest public charger. The LEAF display includes a back-up camera.

The Ford Focus Electric can be Level 2 charged at twice the speed of the 2012 Nissan LEAF. Although this will rarely matter when charging at home, it makes a big difference when using public charging. To get home, the Focus Electric might only require an hour of waiting at Starbucks; the 2012 LEAF could take 2 hours. The 2013 Nissan LEAF will charge at the same 6.6kw/h as the 2012 Ford Focus Electric. The LEAF, at no added cost, does included a second DC Fast Charge port for an 80 percent charge in about 26 minutes; although few such fast charge stations are currently available in the United States. Both can also be trickle charged from a normal dedicated 110 volt garage outlet.

Both cars qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit and strong incentives in many states. Nissan has a head start with individuals, but Ford is likely to take the lead with its long time fleet buyers. Fleets own over 14 million vehicles in the U.S.

The electric car is ideal for many who live in a city where range is rarely an issue, and where transit, car sharing, and car rental are also available. The average U.S. suburban household has two vehicles, so the electric car could be ideal as one of those two. For many people, this will not be the best vehicle because the range limitation will not meet their work or personal demands. These people should consider a plug-in hybrid or car with great mileage.

Electric Drive System

The Ford Focus Electric that I drove had a Magna drive system and a 23 kWh Ford designed battery pack using LG Chem Compact Power lithium-ion tri-metal cells with over 17 kWh available in the charge-discharge cycle. Ford is likely to match Nissan’s 100 mile range per electric charge. The battery currently weighs 500 pounds. Ford has a roadmap that envisions the battery eventually being reduced to a size of the current Focus gas tank and a weight of only 125 pounds using new battery chemistry.

Although some express concern about the long-term availability of lithium, Ford’s Nancy Gioia, Director, Sustainable Mobility Technologies and Hybrid Vehicle Programs, said that Ford’s analysis is that there will be no shortage through 2050. Battery makers expect to recycle 98 percent of the lithium in batteries.

Made in the USA

The Focus Electric will be made in America – Warren, Michigan. Ford is investing $550 million to transform its Michigan Assembly Plant into a lean, green and flexible manufacturing complex that will build Ford’s next-generation Focus global small car along with a new battery-electric version of the Focus for the North American market. The Focus EV is part of the new Focus family available in the United States late 2010.

“The new Ford Focus is a clear demonstration that our ONE Ford strategy is providing global consumers with great products that harness the best of Ford Motor Company,” said Alan Mulally, Ford’s president and CEO. “The efficiencies generated by our new global C-car platform will enable us to provide Ford Focus customers with an affordable product offering quality, fuel efficiency, safety and technology beyond their expectations.” Ford is planning on a Global C platform for 12 to 14 different vehicles with a volume of 2 million units per year. Such volume, common chassis and many common components, can give Ford improved profit margins and room to price hybrid and electric cars competitively.

Best Electric Cars including Plug-in Hybrids 2011

New Reports from National Research Council Give U.S. Climate Action Plan Roadmap

New Reports from National Research Council Give U.S. Climate Action Plan Roadmap

Cape WindNational Research Council (5/19/10)

The National Research Council issued new three reports emphasizing why the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change. The reports by the Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, are part of a congressionally requested suite of five studies known as America’s Climate Choices.

“These reports show that the state of climate change science is strong,” said Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences. “But the nation also needs the scientific community to expand upon its understanding of why climate change is happening, and focus also on when and where the most severe impacts will occur and what we can do to respond.”

The report suggests a range of emissions from 170 to 200 gigatons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent for the period 2012 through 2050 as a reasonable goal, a goal that is roughly in line with the range of emission reduction targets proposed recently by the Obama administration and members of Congress. Even at the higher end of this range, meeting the target will require a major departure from “business-as-usual” emission trends. The report notes that with the exception of the recent economic downtown, domestic emissions have been rising for most of the past three decades. The U.S. emitted approximately 7 gigatons of CO2 equivalent in 2008 (the most current year for which such data were available). If emissions continue at that rate, the proposed budget range would be used up well before 2050, the report says.

A carbon-pricing system is the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions. Either cap-and-trade, a system of taxing emissions, or a combination of the two could provide the needed incentives. While the report does not specifically recommend a cap-and-trade system, it notes that cap-and-trade is generally more compatible with the concept of an emissions budget.

Carbon pricing alone, however, is not enough to sufficiently reduce domestic emissions, the report warns. Strategically chosen, complementary policies are necessary to assure rapid progress in key areas such as: increasing energy efficiency; accelerating the development of renewable energy sources; advancing full-scale development of new-generation nuclear power and carbon capture and storage systems; and retrofitting, retiring, or replacing existing emissions-intensive energy infrastructure. Research and development of new technologies that could help reduce emissions more cost effectively than current options also should be strongly supported.

NRC Reports and Free Summaries

Clean Fleet Climate Action Reports

The compelling case that climate change is occurring and is caused in large part by human activities is based on a strong, credible body of evidence, says Advancing the Science of Climate Change, one of the new reports. While noting that there is always more to learn and that the scientific process is never “closed,” the report emphasizes that multiple lines of evidence support scientific understanding of climate change. The core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations.

“Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for — and in many cases is already affecting — a broad range of human and natural systems,” the report concludes. It calls for a new era of climate change science where an emphasis is placed on “fundamental, use-inspired” research, which not only improves understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change but also is useful to decision makers at the local, regional, national, and international levels acting to limit and adapt to climate change.

The report recommends that a single federal entity or program be given the authority and resources to coordinate a national, multidisciplinary research effort aimed at improving both understanding and responses to climate change. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, established in 1990, could fulfill this role, but it would need to form partnerships with action-oriented programs and address weaknesses that in the past have led to research gaps, particularly in the critical area of research that supports decisions about responding to climate change.

Substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions will require prompt and sustained efforts to promote major technological and behavioral changes, says Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change, another of the new reports. Although limiting emissions must be a global effort to be effective, strong U.S. actions to reduce emissions will help encourage other countries to do the same. In addition, the U.S. could establish itself as a leader in developing and deploying the technologies necessary to limit and adapt to climate change.

An inclusive national policy framework is needed to ensure that all levels of government, the private sector, and millions of households and individuals are contributing to shared national goals. Toward that end, the U.S. should establish a greenhouse gas emissions “budget” that sets a limit on total domestic emissions over a set period of time and provides a clear, directly measurable goal. However, the report warns, the longer the nation waits to begin reducing emissions, the harder and more expensive it will likely be to reach any given emissions target.

We must manage and minimize the risks of climate change, says the third report, Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change. Some impacts – such as rising sea levels, disappearing sea ice, and the frequency and intensity of some extreme weather events like heavy precipitation and heat waves – are already being observed across the country. The report notes that policymakers need to anticipate a range of possible climate conditions and that uncertainty about the exact timing and magnitude of impacts is not a reason to wait to act. In fact, it says boosting U.S. adaptive capacity now can be viewed as “an insurance policy against an uncertain future,” while inaction could increase risks, especially if the rate of climate change is particularly large.

Although much of the response to climate change will occur at local and regional levels, a national adaptation strategy is needed to facilitate cooperation and collaboration across all lines of government and between government and other key parties, including the private sector, community organizations, and nongovernmental organizations. As part of this strategy, the federal government should provide technical and scientific resources that are lacking at the local or regional scale, incentives for local and state authorities to begin adaptation planning, guidance across jurisdictions, and support of scientific research to expand knowledge of impacts and adaptation.

Adapting to climate change will be an ongoing, iterative process, the report says, and will involve decision makers at every scale of government and all parts of society. A first step is to identify vulnerabilities to climate change impacts and begin to examine adaptation options that will improve resilience. To build the scientific knowledge base and provide a basis for increasingly effective action in the future, adaptation efforts should be monitored and analyzed to judge successes, problems, and unintended consequences. The report also calls for research to develop new adaptation options and a better understanding of vulnerabilities and impacts on smaller spatial scales.

Adaptation to climate change should not be seen as an alternative to attempts to limit it, the report emphasizes. Rather, the two approaches should be seen as partners, given that society’s ability to cope with the impacts of climate change decreases as the severity of climate change increases. At moderate rates and levels of climate change, adaptation can be effective, but at severe rates, adapting to disturbances caused by climate change may not be possible, the report says.

The new reports stress that national climate change research, efforts to limit emissions, and adaptation strategies should be designed to be flexible and responsive to new information and conditions in the coming decades. Because knowledge about future climate change and possible impacts will evolve, policies and programs should continually monitor and adjust to progress and consequences of actions.

America’s Climate Choices also includes two additional reports that will be released later this year: Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change will examine how to best provide decision makers information on climate change, and an overarching report will build on each of the previous reports and other work to offer a scientific framework for shaping the policy choices underlying the nation’s efforts to confront climate change.

2011 Ford Fiesta Gets Better Mileage than Most Hybrid Cars

2011 Ford Fiesta Gets Better Mileage than Most Hybrid Cars

Ford FiestaClean Fleet Report (5/19/10)

Ford’s all-new 2011 Fiesta with up to 40 mpg highway and 29 mpg city, delivers better fuel economy than most hybrid cars. The Ford Fiesta 34 mpg combined rating, achieved with Ford’s new six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission, is better than the Honda Fit and the Toyota Yaris. The new Fiesta will also get strong competition from the new 2011 Chevy Cruze. The 2011 Fiesta with standard five-speed manual transmission is EPA rated at 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway.

The Fiesta is available as a 4-door sedan, or as a 5-door hatchback. The sedan is 13 inches longer than the hatchback. This compact offers 85 cubic feet of passenger space and almost 13 cubic feet of trunk space.

Fiesta’s class-leading fuel efficiency follows Fusion Hybrid and other fuel economy champs such as the Ford Escape Hybrid, Mercury Mariner Hybrid.

The Fiesta achieves its best-in-segment fuel figures thanks to a host of fuel-saving technologies not normally seen at this price level. To increase fuel economy, the front-wheel drive Fiesta features a new 1.6-liter Duratec® engine with Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) that delivers 120 horsepower, an aggressive deceleration fuel shutoff and an engine accessory drive system that improves efficiency by reducing the energy it takes to power the air conditioner and alternator.

The Fiesta offers the optional PowerShift transmission, a six-speed automatic that combines the fuel benefits of a manual with the convenience of an automatic. Combine that with electric power-assisted steering, another fuel saver and some aerodynamic optimizations and you have a car that can go a long way on a single tank of fuel. Although PowerShift costs more, it is likely to pay for itself at the pump within the first few years of driving.

Fiesta is built for North American markets at Ford’s manufacturing facility in Cuautitlan, Mexico. The vehicle goes on sale in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles – with the sedan starting at $13,995, including destination charges – at Ford dealerships this summer. A more appointed hatchback can start at up to $17,995. Ford’s Prices and Options

The Fiesta has been a hot seller in Europe and is likely to receive equal enthusiasm in the U.S. The Fiesta is expected to have an EPA greenhouse gas emission rating of 5.4 tons of CO2e per year, better than most hybrids. Clean Fleet Report 2010 Top 10 Lowest Carbon Footprint Cars