Electric Car Drivers Free of Range Anxiety

Electric Car Drivers Free of Range Anxiety

eVgo Woman Charges LEAFThe 50,000 electric car owners in the United States are discovering more range from their electric vehicles. Range anxiety is real, but over played.

For the past 18 months, my wife and I have been driving the all-electric Nissan LEAF. The official EPA range rating is 73 miles, but at times we have driven over 100 miles roundtrip before returning home to charge in our garage. The secret is that we averaged 40 miles per hour (mph). When driving at freeway speeds with more demand from the electric motor and more wind resistance, we try to avoid traveling over 60 miles.

In 18 months, we have never reached empty. The big reason is that like most owners of all-electric cars, we have two cars.  The person who plans to drive the most miles, but less than 60, takes the LEAF. Most all-electric car owners have two cars in their household.

Range is also extended because I live in California where there are over 2,000 public charge points. A few times monthly, I take the LEAF beyond its 60 mile freeway range and use Google Maps, the LEAF navigation, or smart apps to find a nearby place to charge. Typically 60 to 90 minutes is the Level 2 charge time I need to get home. When lucky the charge points are at my meeting site, or close to a nearby café. When very lucky, the charge station provides DC fast charge where I can charge to 80 percent in a matter of minutes.

New Electric Cars Offer Better Range than the Nissan LEAF

Smaller, lighter, electric cars with battery chemistry and power management allow electric car drivers to go further.  Dr. Andrew Burke easily gets 100 mile range around Davis with his new Honda Fit Electric. Dr. Burke is recognized as one of the world’s experts in energy storage.  In 1976, he actually built one of the world’s first plug-in hybrid vehicles.

In city driving, taking advantage of the “Econ” mode and regen, Dr. Burke only uses a fraction of the Fit EV’s 20 kW Toshiba lithium battery to reach 100 electric miles. His driving efficiency of up to 6 kW per mile, exceeds the EPA rated at 29 kWh/100 mile, better than the Nissan LEAF which is rated at 34 kWh/100 miles.

The Fit EV weighs only 3,252 pounds which helps it achieve great range than my larger Nissan LEAF with 3,401 pounds.  The new BMW i3 and i8 will extend range by using super-strong, yet lightweight materials including aluminum frame and carbon fiber reinforced plastic, or CFRP for short. The i3 body consists of two independent modules: the Drive Module consists of an aluminum chassis and the powertrain with the lithium-ion battery, the performance electronics and a compact but powerful electric motor.

The Tesla Model S Sedan with optional 85kW battery pack  has a stunning 265-mile range. This beautiful all-electric 5-seat sedan shows us what is possible for $79,000.  Lithium battery packs cost car manufacturers half what they did four years ago. Electric cars become far more popular as improved design, chemistry, and volume manufacturing lowers price. The Mitsubishi I starts at $29,145 before incentives and saves many $1,500 per year in fuel and maintenance.

This year, 600,000 hybrid and electric cars will use advanced batteries. In 2013, Clean Fleet Report forecasts global sales of one million hybrid and electric cars that use advanced batteries, electric motors, and electric drive system components. Volume is driving better cars and lower costs.

Toyota Electric Car Family

Most hybrids are from Toyota using NiMH batteries. By 2015, Toyota will be selling 21 new hybrids; some models may use the lithium batteries technology now used in Toyota’s four electric cars, all of which I have driven. Honda, Ford, Hyundai and others have already switched to lithium for their hybrids.

Plug-in Hybrid Sales are Triple All-Electric in USA

Chevy VOLT

All-electric car drivers need to pay attention to range; plug-in hybrid drivers find their range extended hundreds of miles with a fill-up at the nearest gas station. Hybridcars.com reports the following U.S. sales for the first nine months of 2012:

  1. Chevrolet Volt  16,348
  2. Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid  7,734
  3. Nissan LEAF  5,212

Drivers of the Chevrolet Volt travel in all-electric mode for 35 to 40 miles, then an efficient gasoline engine extends range to 380 miles. Volt drivers that regularly charge at home, work, and public charge points rarely add gasoline. But for the long trips, their car will get them there with the efficiency of a hybrid car with good MPG.

In the near future, we will see more exciting plug-in hybrids from Ford, GM, BMW, Honda, and probably from Toyota.

Battery Innovation Continues to Extend Range and Lower Cost

Lithium batteries are rapidly improving on a number of dimensions including power, energy, cost, size, and weight. Cell chemistry is improving. Perhaps of equal importance power electronics and control software is improving to improve energy and battery life. Major research is being conducted in these forms of energy storage:

  • Solid State Batteries
  • Lithium Air
  • Zinc Air
  • MgS
  • New Chemistries
  • Hybrid Ultracapacitor-Batteries

All-electric cars in Israel, Denmark, and taxi fleets in several countries extend their range with Better Place robotic switching stations. A taxi running on empty pulls into the station where the empty battery is robotically replaced with a full battery. Five minutes later, the driver is back on the road.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are being used in transit buses, big forklifts, and fleet operations that can afford to install their own hydrogen station. The hydrogen fuel cell generates enough electricity for the electric vehicle to go over 300 miles. The 20 hydrogen fuel cell buses used in the Vancouver Winter Olympics now have one million passenger miles. Mercedes, Honda, Toyota, GM and others plan on 2015 vehicles for commercial sales and leases to fleets and test geographies. The Hyundai Tucson FCV has 3 forms of energy storage: lithium batteries, hydrogen PEM fuel cell, and ultracapacitors.

Electric vehicles are now bought and leased at the same rate as the early years of the Prius. About 20,000 electric cars were sold in 2011, 60,000 in 2012. In 2013, sales are likely to again triple to about 180,000. By 2014, Clean Fleet Report forecasts that one million vehicles will be sold with lithium battery packs.

Range is not the “show stopper” that critics have claimed. All-electric cars fit in fine in two car households and with solo city drivers that have access to transit, car sharing, and car rental. Battery innovation continues to make hybrid and electric cars go farther at lower cost. Plug-in hybrids are now leading because of the convenience of electric charging at home and gasoline fill-ups when needed.

Best All-Electric and Plug-in Hybrid Cars


3.2 Million Electric Vehicles and 4.7 Million Charge Points Forecast for 2015

3.2 Million Electric Vehicles and 4.7 Million Charge Points Forecast for 2015

OAK Electric Car ChargingBy Pike Research (6/7/11)

A total of 3.2 million plug-in electric vehicles will be sold worldwide by 2015, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 106% is forecasted by Pike Research. Annual EV sales will cross the 1 million mark for the first time during the same year.

Pike Research forecasts that in the United States, the top cities for EV adoption between 2011 and 2017 will be New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Chicago. The electric utilities with the largest number of EVs in their service territories will be Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, Consolidated Edison, Exelon, and FPL Group.

Pike Research’s Electric Vehicle Consumer Survey finds that 43% of U.S. consumers would be “extremely” or “very” interested in purchasing an electric vehicle. However, the firm’s price sensitivity analysis concludes that consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for EVs is significantly below manufacturers’ expected prices.

More than 4.7 million EV charge points will be installed globally by 2015. Among EV supply equipment (EVSE) vendors, the proprietary Pike Pulse analytical methodology finds that Coulomb Technologies is the market leader in terms of both strategy and execution, followed by ECOtality.

Cyber security for EV charging systems is a challenge that remains largely unmet by the industry. Pike Research finds that the prevailing philosophy of the EV industry has been “build first, secure later,” an approach that poses many risks for financial transactions, customer privacy, and the integrity and reliability of the grid infrastructure.

Similarly, a lack of technical standards could hinder utilities’ readiness for EVs, though the industry is beginning to make progress in this area. The firm forecasts that investment in electric vehicle IT systems will reach $1.5 billion worldwide by 2015.

Details are in the Pike Research Electric Vehicles Advisory Service,  a subscription-based information suite that provides independent and objective market intelligence and strategy insights for companies and other organizations engaged in the rapidly evolving electric vehicle (EV) industry ecosystem. As part of the service, Pike Research’s global team of industry analysts cover key trends and growth scenarios for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and their enabling technologies such as EV charging station infrastructure, EV information technology systems, and EV battery technologies.

“The electrification of vehicles represents one of the most profound changes to the automotive industry in the past 100 years, both for consumer and fleet markets,” says Pike Research president Clint Wheelock. “As EVs are adopted in larger numbers in the coming decade, this transformation will not only affect drivers themselves, but also utilities, municipalities, and corporations across multiple industries, to name just a few.”

As part of its Electric Vehicles service, Pike Research’s industry analysts offer timely and actionable market insights, covering specific technology and business sectors as well as overall market conditions and trends. Research reports include an in-depth examination of business models, technology issues, policy and regulatory factors, the competitive landscape, and market sizing, segmentation and forecasting.

Electric Vehicles: 10 Predictions for 2011

Electric Vehicles: 10 Predictions for 2011

Ford Transit Connect ElectricElectric vehicle (EV) market introductions will get into high gear in 2011, accompanied by the arrival of charging station networks. During the course of 2011 many consumers will form their early impressions of the EV driving experience. Pike Research has prepared a white paper that makes 10 predictions about how the market will unfold during 2011. This is a summary of five of the 10 predicitions:

  1. The majority of people who drive a plug-in vehicle won’t own it. Forty thousand PEVs are forecasted to be sold and leased in 2011 adding to the existing fleet of freeway-speed and slow-speed electric vehicles. Many EV are in corporate fleets, government fleets, car share, car rental, and taxi fleets.
  2. Automakers will get pushback from EV owners regarding the length of time it takes to fully charge a vehicle.  Until SAE standards are finalized, the Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt, and others will charge at 3.3 kW/hour instead of faster Level 2 charging rates.
  3. Stop-start vehicles will arrive in the United States, albeit in small numbers. It is interesting that Pike would include this in a report about Electric Vehicles. Clean Fleet Report does not consider stop-start vehicles to be electric vehicles or even hybrid-electric. The report states, “For the added cost of $300 to $500, stop-start vehicles will cut the engine when the brakes are applied and when the vehicle is stopped, providing a fuel savings of 8% to 15% over traditional vehicles. Stop-start vehicles, which use a larger battery or ultracapacitors to store energy for starting the vehicle, are not hybrids because they do not have an electric motor.”
  4. Many EV charging stations will spend the majority of their time idle.
  5. Fuel cell vehicles will be sold to fleets and consumers in small but growing numbers. Fuel cells can provide added electricity to extend the range of an electric vehicle. After the successful pilots in fleets of a few hundred by dozens of vehicle makers, Daimler will put 200 of the B-Class fuel cell vehicle into global fleets.

The paper also includes an interesting discussion about EV charging stations, range anxiety, and electric two-wheel vehicles. A free copy of this 10-page paper can be downloaded here.

4.7 Million Electric Car Charge Points by 2015

4.7 Million Electric Car Charge Points by 2015

SF City Hall evcharge

Carsharing SF Plugs-in

As people start ordering electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Roadster, and Chevy Volt, a vast network of charge points becomes more important. Drivers want to extend their range by hundreds of miles by charging at work, downtown, and on the road. Many who live in cities are interested in electric cars but do not have garages. They want work and public places to charge.

The automotive industry will reach a turning point during 2010, as it begins the gradual transition away from the internal combustion engine and towards electrification. According to a new report from Pike Research, this evolution will require a market-by-market expansion of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, ranging from residential equipment to public, private and workplace charging stations. The cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts that a total of 4.7 million such charge points will be installed worldwide during the period from 2010 to 2015. Electric Car Charging Articles.

Thousands of new charge points are now being installed. Ford is promoting smart charging as it now takes orders for the Ford Transit Connect, next year for the 2011 Ford Focus EV, and in 2012 the Ford Plug-in Hybrid. Ford is partnering with Coulomb Technologies to provide nearly 5,000 free wall-installed charging stations for some of the automaker’s first electric car and electric delivery van customers.

Pike forecasts that by 2015, more than 3.1 million EVs, including plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles, will be sold worldwide. Pike Research’s indicates that competition from infrastructure providers will intensify by the end of 2011. Leading the first 20,000 U.S. charge point installations are AeroVironment, Better Place, Coulomb Technologies, and ECOtality. GE, Panasonic, Samsung, and Siemens are moving into the space with hardware and network services.

Pike Research’s study, “Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment”, analyzes technology and expansion issues for the EV charging infrastructure in global markets. It examines the market for residential, public, private, and workplace charging stations as well as reviewing the key operational and technological impacts of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles on the grid. Analysis includes an in-depth assessment of market drivers and barriers, along with profiles of charging infrastructure vendors and utilities. Detailed forecasts for EV charging equipment are included through 2015. A free Executive Summary is available online.