Tesla recent quarterly financial results show progress on several fronts. Over 1,650 customers are now driving the Tesla Roadster, the impressive electric car with a 240-mile range per charge. Customers have driven these 100-percent electric cars more than 11 million miles. The Model S Sedan is on track for completion and customer deliveries mid-2012. A much bigger market is expected for this premium sedan that starts at $57,400 and has an optional battery pack with that gives the car a 300-mile range. When Tesla begins delivery of the Model S, over 100,000 electric car customers will be driving their Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt, Ford Focus Electric and other electric sedan competitors.
The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf earn the highest safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the first-ever U.S. crash test evaluations of plug-in electric cars. The milestone demonstrates that automakers are using the same safety engineering in new electric cars as they do in gasoline-powered vehicles.
At the New York International Auto Show, the 100-percent electric car Nissan LEAF was named 2011 World Car of the Year, edging out the BMW 5-Series and the Audi A8 for the top spot. The award is the latest in a string of accolades for the world’s first affordable mass-market all-electric vehicle, which was also named European Car of the Year.
AT&T, Xcel Energy, Johnson Controls, So Cal Edison, and New York Power Authority have ordered Ford Transit Connect Electric. These pure battery-electric vans have an electric charge range of 80 miles and are a great fit for many fleet, small business, and delivery applications. In the United States, fleets control some 14 million vehicles. Some fleets placed initial orders for 10 or 20 Transit Connect Electrics; bigger orders could follow in 2011. JCI has ordered 20 Transit Connect Electrics to be part of its global fleet of 19,000 vehicles.
An entire nation will be covered in 2011 with electric car charge stations. One car company has received a non-binding order for 100,000 electric cars. The company managing the entire project is Better Place, headquartered in Silicon Valley USA. Israel is the nation that desperately wants to end its dependency on oil from hostile neighbors. Renault is the French company supplying up to 100,000 vehicles. The advanced lithium-ion batteries are made by AESC, a joint venture of Nissan-NEC.
I shift the LEAF into its normal drive mode, touch the accelerator and start driving down the San Jose streets. The car is always silent. It only has an electric motor, therefore I never hear the sound of a gasoline engine. The 5-door, 5-seat compact hatchback has plenty of room. Sitting behind me is an electric utility executive who is 6”5”. I did not need to move the driver seat forward; his legs are not pressing against my seat. If the car had 4 people his size, it would be a 4-seater, not 5. On our both of the split back seats can be lowered to carry lots of cargo, be it luggage, work equipment, or everything for your favorite sport. This beautiful car is ready for order and delivery.
As the world leader in hybrid cars, Toyota is fighting to extend that leadership in both plug-in hybrids and battery-electrics. In plug-in hybrids, GM plans on first mover advantage with the Chevy Volt. In electric cars, the Nissan LEAF has a sizable lead over the Toyota FT-EV. But Toyota has more cars on the road with electric motors, advanced batteries, and electric drive systems than all competitors put together. This article discusses Toyota’s roll-out of the Prius PHV, the FT-EV, and progress with advanced batteries.
Coulomb Technologies Smart-Charging for Ford Family of Electric Vehicles accelerates plug-in charging in nine U.S. cities. 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-mounted charging stations for some of the automaker’s first electric car and electric delivery van customers.
Tesla is the first to put 1,000 electric cars on the U.S. highways. Tesla skillfully partners with Toyota, Panasonic, and Daimler in lithium battery and drive system technology. The Roadster is battery-electric with a 240 mile range. The new Model S sedan 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. Tesla will start delivering the Model S in 2012 from its new factory. 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. Toyota agreed to purchase $50 million of Tesla’s common stock.
I enjoyed driving the new Ford Focus Electric. It 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. The Ford Focus EV has a 23 kWh LG Chem Compact Power lithium-ion tri-metal battery with over 17 kWh available in the charge-discharge cycle. Ford is likely to match Nissan’s 100 range per electric charge. The Ford Focus Electric can now be ordered with a $39,200 starting price.