Magical Solutions – Save Gas, Save The Planet Excerpt

By John Addison

Excerpt from the Prologue of Save Gas, Save the Planet: John Addison’s book about hybrid and electric cars, pathways to low carbon driving, and the future of sustainable transportation. © 2009 John Addison. All rights reserved.

Magical Solutions

As a small child, I was distraught to learn that Santa Claus was not the person that I imagined. And after reading Harry Potter, I searched the Internet trying to book a stay at Hogwarts. We want to believe in magic.

When I tell people that I write about clean transportation, they often lecture me about their one magical solution. Some tell me it is the plug-in hybrid; some say diesel. One fellow was angry that I did not immediately accept that the one answer is railroads. Another felt the same way about motorcycles.

Some believe that the answer is electric vehicles. Others believe that electric vehicles will only encourage people to use cars without guilt; these enthusiasts want car-free cities and zero suburbs. Some promote ethanol; still more don’t believe that the answer is converting food to fuel.

Some believe that the future is a hydrogen economy; others believe that hydrogen is an evil conspiracy. Some believe that energy efficiency is everything. Others will take 10-percent efficient solar power over 40-percent coal power any day. Too many people argue that there is no problem. These people do not like change. Surprisingly, the people who do not lecture me are those who walk, bike, and live car-free. Perhaps these people, free from the stress of driving in gridlock, are more flexible and optimistic.

Even the friendly walker cannot escape the critic. By one calculation, if two people walk a mile and a half, then replenish the burned calories by each drinking a glass of milk, less greenhouse gases would be emitted by driving. This contrived example works because cows emit lots of methane and milk must stay refrigerated throughout the delivery chain. Skip the milk, and the argument falls apart. Ditto, if the car is driven solo. We all need a little exercise and more than a little common sense.

There is no one magical solution. Save Gas, Save the Planet captures over 120 different ways that people are making a difference by riding clean, riding together, and riding less. Many people can avoid some driving but not all. Not everyone can take transit or carpool all the time. A busy parent in the suburbs with three kids has different requirements than someone with no children who lives in a city. As you read Save Gas, Save the Planet, you will discover a number of ways to burn less fuel without needing a new car. When, and if, you are ready for a new car, you will make a better choice.

Visit Amazon for free look inside or discount on paperback and kindle ebook.

© 2009 John Addison. All rights reserved.

Tesla Roadster Test Drive – Smooth and Stealth

Tesla Roadster Test Drive – Smooth and Stealth

By John Addison (1/20/11)

It’s easy to slide behind the steering wheel of this Tesla Roadster because the top’s removed for this January day. I don’t mind. It’s 70 degrees here in Palm Springs, California. A perfect day for a test drive.

Tesla gives me the ground rules for the drive – have fun. Yes, I can floor it if I pay for my own traffic ticket. I can take tight turns. Hit the brakes hard. Yes, I can go 20 mph over that speed bump that would trash many low-profile speed bumps.

Handling S-curves is smooth and effortless even though this sports car has no power steering. I go over a speed bump at 20 mph. No scraping sounds. No damage. These shocks are worthy of a race track.

On the highway, I press lightly on the accelerator and I’m going 60. Yes, the Roadster 2.5 can go zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds. There was no screeching tires, no whining engine, and no swerving. Just a light touch and stealth speed.

Any downsides? The Roadster that I’m driving cost over $120,000. The premium stereo is extra, as is the backup camera. Yes, only two seats and very little cargo. You’ve got room for your golf clubs, a travel bag, and your attaché. Unlike the Nissan LEAF the GPS display will not show you nearby charging stations, but the Roadster has a 245 mile range between charges thanks to the light aluminum frame, carbon fiber body, and 56 kWh lithium battery pack. One owner set a record of over 350 miles. The Roadster that I’m driving went from Orange County to Los Angeles to Palm Springs on one charge.

If you can afford to enjoy a luxury sports car, then take the Tesla Roadster for a drive. You will enjoy the smooth handling, stealth acceleration, and 245-mile electric range. After the ride, you can have fun explaining to friends about why you’re still smiling.

Tesla Roadster Specs

The AC induction motor and single speed gear box create instant torque from 0 rpm. Up to 295 lbs-ft of torque and 288 horsepower are produced as the car smoothly accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds.


375 volt AC induction air-cooled electric motor with variable frequency drive.

Roadster          Roadster Sport

  • Torque             273 lb-ft at 0-5,400 rpm           295 lb-ft at 0-5,100 rpm
  • Horsepower     288 hp (215 kW) at 5,000-6,000 rpm 288 hp (215 kW) at 4,400-6,000 rpm
  • Max rpm          14,000 rpm      14,000 rpm


Roadster          Roadster Sport

  • Top Speed       125 mph           125 mph
  • 0 to 60 mph      3.9 seconds      3.7 seconds


  • Single speed fixed gear. Reverse drive uses reverse direction of motor, limited to 15 mph.
  • Overall Final Drive        8.28:1
  • Final Drive Ratio           3.12:1


  • Custom microprocessor-controlled lithium-ion battery with 6,831 individual cells. 3.5 hour charge time from empty to full using the Tesla High Power Wall Connector at 240 Volts and 70 Amps.
  • Range   245 miles
  • Expected Battery Life   Seven-years or 100,000 miles
  • Battery heater for cold weather charging to -20 degrees Celsius             Standard

Exterior Dimensions

  • Overall Length 155.1 in.
  • Width Across Mirrors   72.9 in.
  • Overall Height (mid-laden)        44.35 in.
  • Wheel Base      92.6 in.
  • Front Track      57.7 in.
  • Rear Track       59 in.
  • Curb Weight     2,723 lbs.

Interior Dimensions

  • Leg Room        42 in.
  • Front Head Room        36.7 in.
  • Front Shoulder Room   26 in.
  • Heated Seats    Standard
  • Three-spoke leather-wrapped sport steering wheel        Standard
  • Cruise Control Standard
  • Vehicle information touch screen           Standard
  • Power windows and door locks            Standard
  • Retractable cup holder Standard
  • Air Conditioning           Standard
  • Premium Leather or Microfiber Seats    Optional
  • Executive Leather Package       Optional
  • Executive Leather and Carbon Fiber Package   Optional
  • Infotainment Group: includes large, in-dash touchscreen featuring GPS navigation, back-up camera, HD Radio, Sirius Satellite Radio, amplified 400 Watt 7-speaker sound system, Bluetooth connectivity and Homelink door opener             Optional
Tesla Model S Electric Car and Model X SUV

Tesla Model S Electric Car and Model X SUV

Tesla S SedanBy John Addison (updated 5/5/11; original 1/25/11)

Elon Musk discussed the new Model S Sedan and hinted about the Tesla Model X SUV when he keynoted the Clean-tech Investor Summit. He then gave me an interesting answer about Tesla’s future.

Tesla Model S with New Lithium Batteries

Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO and Founder, showed us a video of the Model S test drive. This premium four-door sedan easily seats 5 and with small kids could seat 7. The sedan aluminum body and frame Tesla EV is a new design in contrast with the Roadster which uses a Lotus body.

A new generation of lithium batteries is at the heart of the vehicles range of 160 miles with optional packs that provide 230 and 300 miles of range per electric charge. Tesla has reduced the cost of battery packs by integrating consumer 18650 sized lithium batteries. Panasonic, a Tesla stockholder and partner, has developed a new dedicated automotive cell 18650 sized that will give the Model S a 50 percent improved energy density over the Roadster. The Roadster has a 56kWh pack, stated Musk,  for a 245 mile range. The larger and heavier Model S can have up to a 90kWh pack, stated Musk,  for up to 300 mile range.

To make the Model S sedan roomy, the slim designed pack will be under the floor of the car for plenty of leg room. The battery pack endows Model S with an exceptionally low center of gravity, enhancing stability and minimizing corner roll. Musk committed that the pack would be removeable, a potential advantage in countries like Israel and fleet applications like limos where battery switch stations are being installed.

Tesla plans to continue to provide all sales and service, rather than use dealers. He feels that most customers find buying a car their worst experience. In contrast he wants the experience of getting a Model S to be so positive that someone would buy the vehicle even if it were not electric. 4,600 customers have made reservations for the Model S with a starting price of $57,400.

Model X SUV and Tesla’s Future

Later this year Tesla will formally announce the new Model X SUV. Other than smiling like a proud father, he offered few hints about the new SUV which will be announced towards the end of this year. My guess is that it will have significant differences from the Toyota RAV4 EV Power by Tesla. The Model X could use the Model S chassis, frame, and under the floor battery pack. Clean Fleet Report speculates that the Model X is likely to have extended range options, cost more, and have more aerodynamic crossover features.

By 2015, Tesla also plans on selling a smaller sedan for under $30,000. The future car will need to continue to differentiate itself with styling and range. By 2015, several auto makers are likely to offer electric cars at less than $30,000 including Honda, Ford, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and new Chinese competitors.

I asked Elon Musk how he could manage two different business models: (1) making and selling cars and (2) being a tier 1 supplier to competitive automotive companies. Musk answered that both are consistent with Tesla’s vision of being the catalyst for electric vehicles. If he ever had to choose between being an auto maker and a supplier, he would choose auto maker. In technology fields, however, “coopetition” has long been successful with companies licensing technology, adding innovations to open source platforms, supplying on one day, and competing the next.

Elon Musk a Role Model for Entrepreneurs

Like Google’s founders, Elon Musk is another Stanford University grad student drop out. He left to help found PayPal which netted him $180 million after taxes when it was sold to EBay. Barely 30 years old, Elon considered what to do with the rest of his life. Elon asked himself, “What would make the world better?” The internet, sustainable energy, and space exploration all topped his personal list.

With the money Musk invested in SpaceX and Tesla. He reminisced, “Tesla went close to death on many occasions.” After putting in more personal money to keep Tesla alive, he had gone through all $180 million, and had to borrow money from friends at times.

Auto industry history is littered with visionaries that built a better car only to go bankrupt. Speaking to over 400 executives at the The Clean-Tech Investor Summit, co-produced by International Business Forum and Clean Edge,  Elon Musk gives this advice to all entrepreneurs, “If you are convinced that you are correct, you should never give up.”

Elon knew that there was passionate enthusiasm for electric cars when he saw the movie Who Killed the Electric Car. “A candle light vigil for crushing of EV1 was unusual.” He added dryly, “Especially for a GM car.”

The Tesla team overcame the obstacles and built an electric car for windy roads, icy streets, and high-speed freeways. Over 1,500 are driving the Tesla Roadster. A greater number have made deposits for the new Model S. Tesla is now a public company and a battery and powertrain provider for global giants Toyota and Daimler.

Elon Musk envisions a major transformation for the one billion vehicles now on the roads of this earth. By 2020, battery technology and possibly solid-state capacitor technology will make electric cars inexpensive. By 2030, he predicts that the majority of new car sales will be pure electric, not plug-in hybrid, hybrid, or ICE. By 2050, Elon Musk predicts that the majority of cars on the road will be pure electric

Tesla cannot be dismissed as a one-car wonder as it brings out drive system for the Toyota RAV4 EV, the Tesla Model S, and the Tesla Model X. Yes, Elon Musk has stellar ambitions, but the company is executing.

Tesla Motors is the first American automobile company to have an IPO since Ford Motor in 1956. Industry and media accolades continue to be received. Daimler, Toyota, and Panasonic have all invested in the company. While critics say that Elon Musk’s vision of electric cars will not happen, some of the industries best and brightest are betting millions that he and the Tesla team will make it happen.

New Ford Focus EcoMode – Up to 24 Percent Better MPG

New Ford Focus EcoMode – Up to 24 Percent Better MPG

Ford Focus EcoModeNew Ford Focus owners can learn a thing or two about driving skills that can maximize their miles per gallon – and they can have a little fun in the process. EcoMode is a handy software application aimed at helping coach customers in the art of eco-driving – and then rewards those that practice more fuel-efficient driving skills with in-car kudos displayed on the instrument cluster.

The new Ford Focus Electric is expected to have a range of about 100 miles per charge. EcoMode can greatly help people get better range. Those buying new gasoline powered Focus can save hundreds of dollars at the pump each year.

“The foot of the driver has one of the biggest impacts on real-world fuel economy of a vehicle and was the starting point for the development of EcoMode,” said Thomas Schick, an engineer with the Ford of Germany Core Vehicle Integration team who helped design the software. “This is a useful tool that creates awareness between personal behavior and fuel consumption and offers up hints on how to improve. Applying those hints and recommendations is all up to the driver.”

Eco-driving refers to specific on-road behaviors that can improve fuel economy, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In recent internal tests, Ford found that eco-driving skills can improve fuel economy by an average of 24 percent. The nationwide Auto Alliance-supported EcoDriving initiative further claims that if every American put eco-driving skills to work on the road and achieved just a 15 percent benefit in fuel economy, more than 22 billion gallons of gas would be saved each year. Practices most often preached within the eco-driving world include:

  • Using the highest drivable gear
  • Smooth accelerations and decelerations
  • Maintaining constant speeds and anticipating traffic flow
  • Using cruise control on the highway
  • Avoiding excessive idling
  • Avoiding short trips with a cold engine

EcoMode generates a personalized driver operation scorecard by monitoring engine rpm, vehicle speed, accelerator position, clutch position, selected gear and engine temperature related to three of these categories:

  • Gear shifting (when applicable): Is the driver using the highest drivable gear appropriate for the road conditions
  • Anticipation: Is the driver adjusting vehicle speed and distance to other vehicles without the need for heavy braking or acceleration
  • Speed: Is the driver using a cruising speed on open roads that enables high fuel efficiency

People can have fun reaching record scores. Friendly competition between family members can add to the fun. Within the driver information menu on the instrument cluster, Focus drivers can review their generated score against the software’s optimized patterns for each of these disciplines. When drivers do their eco-best, EcoMode rewards them with on-screen kudos that include championship cup icons and playful titles such as Advanced ECO driver or the top prize of ECO champion.

Throughout a drive, the scoring system generates hints on how to gain more leaves for each discipline. A driver looking at the advice screen for Anticipation, for example, may see the hint “Smooth driving saves fuel” displayed on the cluster if he or she is accelerating, decelerating or braking unnecessarily. In Gear Shifting, driver advice might include “Early shifting saves fuel,” if the driver is not shifting up as early as possible in conjunction with their acceleration.

The new Focus also offers an optional map-based navigation application called Eco-Route available with MyFord Touch that gives drivers the ability to choose the most fuel-efficient route, versus with the traditional navigation system defaults of fastest and shortest routes.

A member of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Ford has supported the nationwide eco-driving effort at since 2008, and has also developed an eco-driving module for its popular Driving Skills for Life educational program designed for new drivers.

Your Money – Save Gas, Save The Planet Excerpt

Your Money – Save Gas, Save The Planet Excerpt

By John Addison

Excerpt from the Prologue of Save Gas, Save the Planet: John Addison’s book about hybrid and electric cars, pathways to low carbon driving, and the future of sustainable transportation. © 2009 John Addison. All rights reserved.

Your Money

Your vehicle is your second biggest expense. You spend the most on your home, which can be a good investment; a car can only be a big expense. Save Gas, Save the Planet is full of ways to save money and use less gasoline. People share tips and stories about how they save by riding smart, riding less, riding together, and riding clean.

A study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) shows that the average cost of owning and operating a passenger vehicle is 54.1 cents per mile.The IRS allows you to deduct 55 cents per mile for business. This is over $8,000 per year per vehicle, based on 15,000 miles of driving. Depreciation is part of that cost. Anyone who has bought a car for $20,000 and later sold it for $5,000 understands depreciation. Fuel, maintenance, tolls, parking, insurance, and tickets add up. Most households have two vehicles, costing them over $16,000 per year. New cars are expensive. Save Gas, Save the Planet will help you decide on the best choice for you. Electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and new fuels are explained including your choices today and by the end of 2010. Yes, better technology will help solve the problems of oil addiction and increased greenhouse gases. However, we are forecasted to expand from 800 million cars being driven to triple that amount. 2.4 billion cars trapped in gridlock are not the solution, even if they all run on renewable electricity.

Most do not need to rush into a new car decision. Millions are cutting car use by more often riding together and driving less. Many people are reducing the total number of vehicles they own. More are switching to transit and car-sharing programs. A growing number enjoy living car-free.

Save Gas, Save the Planet will help you lower your transportation costs. Save 2,000 miles per year by skipping rides, or sharing rides, and you save $1,000 per year. In the United States, people drive alone 93 percent of the time. Eliminating a few solo trips quickly adds up.

We drive 2.7 trillion miles per year in the United States, consuming 142 billion gallons of gasoline. In addition to the petroleum used to make that gasoline, a similar quantity of petroleum is used to produce the diesel demanded by heavy-duty vehicles, jet fuel for airplanes, special fuels for the military, and even for the asphalt that carries our vehicles.

We have more than 240 million vehicles in the United States; there are more vehicles than eligible drivers. The number of miles Americans drive has tripled in the past 50 years.

In addition to personally saving thousands, you can help the nation save billions. The United States government estimates that congestion created from commuting to and from work causes 3.7 billion hours of lost productivity annually, costing 92 million work-weeks and the nation $63 billion in wasted time and fuel. People stuck in traffic breathe harmful emissions such as particulates, nitrous oxide, and carbon monoxide. The health costs resulting from these pollutants are in the billions. In addition, by the time people get to work, they are stressed and less productive. We are spending more time on the road, stuck in traffic, burning fuel, and emitting pollutants. Instead, we can be intelligent about how we get around, work, shop, connect with others, and save money.

Visit Amazon for free look inside or discount on paperback and kindle ebook.

© 2009 John Addison. All rights reserved.