This is a neat video of a pre-production Volt in action. You actually get a first-hand perspective of what it is like to ride in this range extended plug-in electric vehicle. The car is basically complete, with a working LCD screen in the dash. The passengers note that the car does have a good amount of pep; the 100% torque of the electric engine should provide competitive acceleration. The car is also whisper quiet of course. See and hear for yourself:
2010 Nissan Leaf electric car: In person, in depth — and U.S. bound
It would be easy to paint Nissan as late to the burgeoning U.S. green party, as the company essentially only counts the Altima Hybrid to sell among its alt-fuel offerings – and that sedan utilizes technology borrowed from Toyota, and it’s only sold in a few states in small volumes. While that may be the case, Nissan says their near-term prospects are really quite different. While the company has admittedly been cautious in marketing alt-fuel vehicles in North America, they have been hard at work developing electric vehicles – as well as the advanced lithium-ion batteries to support them – since 1992. What’s more, officials say they are now singularly well-placed to leapfrog “transitional” powertrain solutions like gas-electric hybrids in favor of genuine zero-emissions vehicles, and they are promising that their first pure-electric car will reach U.S. shores late next year.
That car, the Nissan Leaf shown here, is the reason we find ourselves in the company’s brand-new Yokohama headquarters today. Designed as a four-to-five seat, front-drive C-segment hatchback, Nissan says the Leaf is not just for use as a specialty urban runabout, but rather, it was designed as an everyday vehicle – a “real car” whose 160-kilometer+ (100 mile) range meets the needs of 70% of the world’s motorists. In the case of U.S. consumers, Nissan says that fully 80% of drivers travel less than 100km per day (62 miles), making the Leaf a solid fit for America’s motoring majority, even taking into account power-sapping external factors like hilly terrain, accessory draw, and extreme temperatures.
We were afforded an advance look at the Leaf ahead of the car’s unveiling today, and while it was a hands-off affair, we did have the chance to formulate some in-the-metal first impressions and take a deep dive into the car’s technology. Click through to the jump to learn all about it.
As we noted, it would be fair to say that in North America, at least, Nissan has been something of a laggard in publicly promulgating and promoting an alternative fuel strategy. Instead, in recent years, the Japanese automaker has seemingly focused on burnishing its performance image, bringing powerhouse offerings like the GT-R and the 370Z to market –not to mention augmenting their lineup with accomplished new crossovers and luxurious Infiniti vehicles. Not that we’re complaining, mind, but the company’s apparent focus on these segments has had us wondering about how the automaker views its long-term energy responsibilities and prospects.
During that same time period, Nissan’s fellow countrymen at Toyota and Honda have made very public strides in not only offering hybrid vehicles, but also marketing the lifestyle and successfully positioning themselves as benevolent, eco-friendly corporations. Similarly, European automakers like Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz have invested heavily and openly in clean-diesel technology, and American automakers have produced a startling number of keenly fuel-efficient gasoline-engined models, not to mention hybrids and scads of E85-capable vehicles – all while publicly priming us for extended-range offerings like the forthcoming Chevrolet Volt. Nissan says they have a lot of alternative propulsion vehicles in the pipeline for America – including hybrids – but the Leaf is the first concrete evidence we have of that commitment.
A Question of Style
Interestingly, unlike the current alt-fuel darlings from Toyota and Honda, Nissan has purposefully eschewed a fastback shape for a more formal five-door appearance. Shiro Nakamura, Nissan’s senior vice president and chief creative officer (read: styling director) admits he wanted the car to be unique, but not so bizarre as to be off-putting to most car buyers:
By that measure, the more upright yet unique Leaf is a success – it is a slippery shape with real passenger space, yet it doesn’t resort to visually polarizing aerodynamic tricks like faired-in wheel housings and to maximize aero. Instead, it has a smooth face (secreting two charging ports hiding beneath the Nissan logo), strangely prominent blue-tinted headlamps that manage airflow as much as they do nighttime vision, and a roofline whose rearmost pillar reminds us of another Nissan – the Murano. The Leaf has an almost Gallic rump that recalls that of the Versa, a design that in turn reminds us of offerings from Nissan’s European partner, Renault.
Underbody aero management has also been a clear priority, as the Leaf looks to have a nearly smooth belly thanks to the flat battery-pack subframe, and there are functional diffuser elements beneath the rear bumper cap to detach air from the car. It might have been wishful thinking, but we also couldn’t help noticing that the alloy wheel pattern we were shown reminds us of those employed on many Nineties-era 300ZX models. At the end of the day, we wouldn’t call the Leaf’s exterior pretty, but neither would we call it offensive – not unlike the Prius and Insight, then.
The interior is at once handsome and spacious, with what appears to be plenty of room both front and rear for real-sized adults, and the cargo area is very deep, as it is unencumbered by a gas tank assembly (the batteries are mounted beneath the seats within the wheelbase). The center stack is production and looks slick, but its smooth finish flush buttons may also be hard to operate by feel on-the move. The digital instrument cluster display and the drive controller (we can’t really call it a gearshift in an EV now, can we?) are also production pieces, and they look well finished inviting, as does the interior as a whole.
While there will probably be a few discreet changes to the Leaf (non-showcar paint, slightly different interior fabrics, etc.), this isn’t a concept vehicle – Nissan assured us that you are looking at the Real McCoy, the vehicle headed for select American, Japanese, and European showrooms next year.
Lithium Ion Becomes a Reality:
Powered by a unique array of thin, laminated lithium ion cells capable of delivering over 90 kW of power, the Leaf’s front-mounted electric motor delivers 80 kW (107 horsepower) and a healthy 280 Nm of torque (208 pound-feet), and it promises brisk and silent off-the-line power, with acceleration from a stop comparable to that of the company’s Infiniti G35. And as Nakamura-san noted, the Leaf has a top speed of over 140 km/h (87 mph).
Perhaps more important than the Leaf’s top speed are its battery’s charging characteristics. In this regard, the car’s under-floor mounted assembly of 48 lithium ion modules (each laptop-sized module is comprised of four magazine-sized cells) offers a number of charging strategies. To yield a full charge, a 200-volt, single-phase AC charger takes less than eight hours, and topping off the battery from a 100 volt single-phase standard home wall outlet will take somewhere around twice that time, so prospective Leafmakers would do well to get 220 volt hookup like their clothes dryer uses out in their garage.
More impressive is the battery pack’s 50 kW DC fast-charge capability, which is capable of accepting an 80% charge in less than 30 minutes, or an extra 50 km (31 miles) worth of range in about 10 minutes. For that, though, you’ll need access to a special dedicated (and at around $45,000 – expensive) three-phase charger, which various cities around the globe have begun installing as part of their own greening strategies. The executives we spoke with says they are working with local governments in the States and around the world to help build supporting infrastructure, but they admit the automaker has no plans to financially support the networks themselves, and fast chargers like the one we experienced in Yokohama are clearly cost-prohibitive for private ownership.
Make no mistake, though, as despite clever construction methods, the Leaf’s batteries remain heavy, at around 200 kg per car (over 440 pounds). Despite this, Nissan projects that the car’s total weight will be similar to that of a comparable gas car because the electric motor is lighter than a traditional internal-combustion engine and because there is no need for a conventional transmission. Of course, there is the added bulk of a power inverter, but on the whole, Nissan believes the car’s center-of-gravity will be lower than an I.C. car, so handling might actually be better than the aforementioned Versa.
Nissan sees the capability for dramatic user cost-savings versus a traditional internal-combustion equivalent. Using typical Japanese market figures as a starting point, the automaker says an equivalent internal-combustion vehicle’s fuel consumption figure of 20 km/liter (47.5 mpg U.S.) over 1,000 km/month (620 miles) costs about 6,000 yen per month – about $63 U.S. dollars. Conversely, assuming the same operating parameters for the Leaf (using a charge cycle using cheaper nighttime energy rates), Nissan sees an operating cost for its ZEV of just 1,200 yen per month ¬– less than $13. Of course, American drivers will likely pile on far more miles per month on average, and our energy costs differ, but the point is clear – the automaker sees the Leaf as having real money-saving potential.
Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?
While Nissan promises to deliver the Leaf to its first American customers in late 2010, it isn’t immediately clear where it will be made available, to whom, and how. By that we mean the zero-emissions vehicle will likely be marketed in select stateside cities that have already committed to building some of the necessary infrastructure to support electric vehicles, and the Leaf likely won’t be available for purchase, it will probably be a lease-only proposition – at least initially.
Officials are still working out the specifics on a global market-by-market basis, but in the U.S., at least, they are aiming for a cost similar to their midsize Altima offering – presumably after all local and federal government incentives for ZEV are factored in. Initial allotments of the Leaf will probably be leased, with the batteries also being a leased proposition, minimizing consumers’ up-front risks for adopting this new style of vehicle and allowing for easier, more cost-effective upgrades as technology improves. As has been done with other automakers’ alternative energy pilot programs in the past, the Leaf will probably be distributed to fleets and very select customers at first – a more widespread commercial push isn’t expected until 2012.
As stated earlier, the Leaf will probably be initially marketed in those U.S. cities that have committed to building the necessary infrastructure to support EVs – places like Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona; San Diego and Sonoma County in California; Raleigh, North Carolina; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Seattle, Washington. Nissan says it has established 27 partnerships with local governments around the world, and more are on the way. If you’re outside of such areas, Nissan says it won’t discourage you from becoming an owner/lessee, but obviously home charging will need to be sufficient.
How will Leaf drivers find these public charging stations? Every example will be equipped with an integrated computer system that is connected to a GPS system and global data center, allowing the Leaf to display its “reachable area” on its sat-nav screen, as well as the location of nearby charging stations. That same advanced IT system can also communicate with the owner’s smart phone, sending them emails to let them know their vehicle’s state of charge, allow users to pre-cool or pre-warm the Leaf while it’s charging (thus drawing power from the grid and not depleting the onboard batteries), and the system can even be programmed to charge in the middle-of-the-night to take advantage of lower energy costs. When we asked, Nissan officials said they did not know if the car’s communications system will require a monthly service fee along with it, or if that will simply be rolled into the cost of the vehicle.
Batteries Not Included?
While it hasn’t committed to anything yet, Nissan officials say they are shooting for similar warranty coverage to that of their more conventional offerings. Those vehicles come standard with three years/36,000 mile coverage, and powertrain coverage of five years/60,000 miles, and it will be interesting to see if Nissan can match those figures for the vehicle, it’s electronic motor, and the expensive battery pack (estimated replacement cost: $10,000).
For our driving enthusiast audience, perhaps the biggest question is: How will these cars perform? We were afforded a very brief test-drive in the company’s latest prototype EV, a Versa-bodied model that is said to be representative of the 2010 production car’s capabilities, and we’ll have a more detailed report for you shortly. At first glance, we’re impressed and cautiously optimistic that Nissan has done their homework. However, the biggest hurdle to an electrified motoring experience – infrastructure – is almost entirely out of the automaker’s hands. Will America’s cash-strapped governments be able to make electric vehicle ownership a viabile proposition for most of the nation’s citizens? Only time will tell. While you stew on that nugget, be sure to check out the official press releases and our gallery of high-res images below.
NISSAN UNVEILS “LEAF” – THE WORLD’S FIRST ELECTRIC CAR DESIGNED FOR AFFORDABILITY
AND REAL-WORLD REQUIREMENTS
Event ushers in a new era for Nissan and a new era for mobility
YOKOHAMA, (Aug. 2, 2009) – Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. today unveiled Nissan LEAF, the world’s first affordable, zero-emission car. Designed specifically for a lithium-ion battery-powered chassis, Nissan LEAF is a medium-size hatchback that comfortably seats five adults and has a range of more than 160km (100 miles) to satisfy real-world consumer requirements.
Slated for launch in late 2010 in Japan, the United States, and Europe, Nissan LEAF ushers in a new era of mobility – the zero-emission era. The car is the embodiment of Nissan’s radical, transformative vision for the future and the culmination of decades of investment and research.
“Nissan LEAF is a tremendous accomplishment – one in which all Nissan employees can take great pride,” said Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn. “We have been working tirelessly to make this day a reality – the unveiling of a real-world car that has zero – not simply reduced – emissions. It’s the first step in what is sure to be an exciting journey – for people all over the world, for Nissan and for the industry.”
Key characteristics of the LEAF include:
1) Zero-emission power train and platform
2) Affordable pricing
3) Distinctive design
4) Real-world range autonomy – 160km (100 miles)
5) Connected Mobility: Advanced intelligent transportation (IT) system
The “LEAF” name is a significant statement about the car itself. Just as leaves purify the air in nature, so Nissan LEAF purifies mobility by taking emissions out of the driving experience. Pricing details will be announced closer to start of sales in late 2010; however, the company expects the car to be competitively priced in the range of a well-equipped C-segment vehicle. Additionally, Nissan LEAF is expected to qualify for an array of significant local, regional and national tax breaks and incentives in markets around the world. As an added benefit, because the vehicle has less mechanical complexity than a traditional gasoline-powered car, Nissan LEAF is designed to be friendly to the wallet as well as to the environment.
Nissan LEAF is powered by laminated compact lithium-ion batteries, which generate power output of over 90kW, while its electric motor delivers 80kW/280Nm. This ensures a highly responsive, fun-to-drive experience that is in keeping with what consumers have come to expect from traditional, gasoline-powered automobiles.
Unlike internal-combustion engine (ICE) equipped vehicles, Nissan LEAF’s power train has no tail pipe, and thus no emission of CO2 or other greenhouse gases. A combination of Nissan LEAF’s regenerative braking system and innovative lithium-ion battery packs enables the car to deliver a driving range of more than 160km (100 miles) on one full charge*. (*US LA4 mode)
Extensive consumer research demonstrates that this range satisfies the daily driving requirements of more than 70% of the world’s consumers who drive cars.
And, Nissan’s approach makes charging easy and convenient. Nissan LEAF can be charged up to 80% of its full capacity in just under 30 minutes with a quick charger. Charging at home through a 200V outlet is estimated to take approximately eight hours – ample time to enable an overnight refresh for consumer and car alike.
The engineers and designers behind Nissan LEAF worked to create a competitively priced real-world car that would enable Nissan to lead mobility into the zero-emission era. To ensure comfort, spaciousness and cargo capacity, Nissan LEAF employs a completely new chassis and body layout.
“Our car had to be the world’s first, medium-size, practical EV that motorists could afford and would want to use every day. And that’s what we’ve created. The styling will identify not only Nissan LEAF but also the owner as a participant in the new era of zero-emission mobility,” said Masato INOUE, Product Chief Designer.
Even the smallest details can yield tremendous effect.
Nissan LEAF’s frontal styling is characterized by a sharp, upright V-shaped design featuring long, up-slanting light-emitting diode (LED) headlights that employ a blue internal reflective design that announces, “This car is special.” But the headlights do more than make a statement. They are also designed to cleverly split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, thus reducing wind noise and drag. And, the headlights provide yet one more benefit in that they consume just 10 percent of the electricity of conventional lamps, which helps Nissan LEAF to achieve its world-class range autonomy.
Through bright trim colors inside, Nissan LEAF creates a pleasing and stylish cabin environment. An environmentally friendly “blue earth” color theme originates from the Aqua Globe body color of Nissan LEAF’s introductory model. This theme is carried into the interior through blue dashboard highlights and instrument illumination.
CONNECTED MOBILITY IT SYSTEM
Nissan LEAF employs an exclusive advanced IT system. Connected to a global data center, the system can provide support, information, and entertainment for drivers 24 hours a day.
The dash-mounted monitor displays Nissan LEAF’s remaining power – or “reachable area” – in addition to showing a selection of nearby charging stations.
Another state-of-the-art feature is the ability to use mobile phones to turn on air-conditioning and set charging functions – even when Nissan LEAF is powered down. An on-board remote-controlled timer can also be pre-programmed to recharge batteries.
“The IT system is a critical advantage,” says Tooru ABE, Chief Product Specialist. “We wanted this vehicle to be a partner for the driver and an enhancement for the passengers. We also wanted this vehicle to help create a zero-emission community, and these IT features will help make that possible.”
HOLISTIC APPROACH TO ZERO-EMISSION MOBILITY AND ECO-FRIENDLY INNOVATION
Nissan LEAF is a critical first step in establishing the era of zero-emission mobility; however, Nissan recognizes that internal-combustion engine (ICE) technologies will play a vital role in global transportation for decades to come. Because of this, Nissan is implementing its zero-emission vision through a holistic approach, which provides consumers a comprehensive range of eco-friendly technologies from which to choose.
For some consumers, Nissan LEAF will be the perfect match, and the only car they will ever need. For others, Nissan LEAF will be a logical addition to the family fleet – the optimal choice for the daily commute, for example.
While zero-emission is the ultimate goal, the company is committed to ongoing innovation in eco-friendly technologies that increase efficiency and reduce emissions. As a result, Nissan offers a comprehensive suite of automotive technologies, including CVT, Idle Stop, HEV, Clean Diesel, and ongoing research and investment in FCV technology.
Zero-emission mobility programs under the banner of the Renault-Nissan Alliance include partnerships with countries such as the UK and Portugal, local governments in the Japan and the USA, and other sectors, for a total of nearly 30 partnerships worldwide.
In these partnerships major efforts focus on three areas:
1) Development of a comprehensive charging infrastructure through public and private investment,
2) Incentives and subsidies from local, regional, and national governments, and
3) Public education on the individual and societal benefits of zero-emissions mobility.
ZERO-EMISSION VEHICLE PRODUCTION
Nissan LEAF is the first in the company’s forthcoming line of EVs and is a major milestone in the realization of the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s vision for zero-emission mobility. The first of Nissan’s EVs will be manufactured at Oppama, Japan, with additional capacity planned for Smyrna, Tennessee, USA. Meanwhile, lithium-ion batteries are being produced in Zama, Japan, with additional capacity planned for the USA, the UK and Portugal, and other sites for investment are under study around the world.
ABOUT NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD.
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. is a global automotive company with vehicle sales of 3.411 million in 2008. Nissan is present in all major auto markets worldwide, selling a comprehensive range of cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, and light commercial vehicles.
NISSAN BLUE CITIZENSHIP
Nissan is committed to making a better world through its commitment to corporate social responsibility. This includes programs that focus on technological innovations that focus on people and care for the planet. Our vision for zero-emission mobility is an outgrowth of our CSR approach, which we call Blue Citizenship. Together, we are working with our Alliance partner, Renault, to make a better world through zero-emission mobility.
For more information, please visit the Nissan Zero-Emission website:
NISSAN LEAF Specs
Length: 4445 mm / 175.0 in.
Width: 1770 mm / 69.7 in.
Height : 1550 mm / 61.0 in.
Wheelbase: 2700 mm / 106.3 in.
Driving range over: 160km/100miles (US LA4 mode)
Max speed (km/h): over 140km/h (over 87 mph)
Type: AC motor
Max power (kW): 80kW
Max torque (Nm): 280Nm
Type: laminated lithium-ion battery
Total capacity (kWh): 24
Power output (kW): over 90
Energy density (Wh/kg): 140
Power density (kW/kg): 2.5
Number of modules: 48
Charging times: quick charger DC 50kW (0 to 80%): less than 30 min; home-use AC200V charger: less than 8 hrs
Battery layout: Under seat & floor
Most people are aware that Velozzi is a promising participant in the Progressive Automotive X Prize. The team intends to enter two vehicles, the Velozzi and the Velozzi X1. Both will be plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that can use multiple fuels such as ethanol, bio-diesel, and traditional gasoline. The Velozzi is pictured above, but the X1 is yet to be unveiled. However, they do hint that the X1 will be more of a mainstream, attractive vehicle for the masses. The Velozzi team keeps most of the details of their work private, as they are taking the Automotive X competition very seriously. Recently, they announced Bayer MaterialScience will be joining their already acclaimed team to aid in their long-term goal of mass producing electric vehicles for the international market. The press release is posted below for more details.
March 31, 2009
Velozzi team expands to include Bayer MaterialScience for the commercialization of Alternative Energy Vehicles
Los Angeles, March 31, 2009 — Velozzi and Bayer MaterialScience LLC (BMS) are off to the races to deliver commercially viable eco-friendly alternative energy vehicles (AEV) for the global market. The Velozzi team will participate in the Progressive Automotive X Prize, but its main goal is and will be the mass production of the Velozzi vehicles for the international market.
The intent of Velozzi is to design, develop, and build an environmentally friendly, affordable, lightweight and efficient plug-in flex fuel hybrid electric crossover vehicle, capable of achieving one hundred miles per gallon or its equivalent and a super hybrid electric vehicle with similar characteristics. Additionally, Velozzi intends to create a new and more efficient, environmentally friendly, way of mass-producing vehicles, using modularity and lightweight materials. Velozzi has expertise in hybrid systems, automotive design and construction. The Velozzi team has world-class experience in traction controls (SAMINCO), transmissions (Weismann R&D), batteries/hybrid systems (NASA) and now Velozzi intends to use BMS materials for the construction of its vehicles; BMS is the latest addition to an already impressive and talented Velozzi team. BMS is one of the world leaders in material science and, as such, brings to the project extensive know how, materials, and automotive applications engineering experience.
“Working with BMS brings us a world of possibilities on the road to consumer acceptance,” said Roberto Velozzi, Velozzi CEO. “With the broad selection of innovative materials and technologies BMS offers, we can produce a vehicle that not only appeals to consumers’ desire for fuel economy, but also their sense of style.” Velozzi added that incorporation of many BMS materials requires only a low initial capital investment, making the move into mass production cost effective.
“BMS is committed to the AEV market and has a deep understanding of the role innovative materials play from concept through commercialization,” said David Loren, market lead, PCS, BMS LLC. “We are actively seeking collaborations with suppliers and OEMs, such as Velozzi, to help them navigate through complex AEV challenges such as vehicle weight and manufacturability,” Loren added.
Velozzi, based in Los Angeles, California, is a company comprised of world-class scientists, engineers, car builders, and designers dedicated to develop environmental transportation technology to address issues concerning climate change, the dependency on volatile foreign oil prices/supply, and the inefficient way vehicles are being manufactured today. Velozzi is dedicated to designing, manufacturing & marketing environmentally friendly vehicles that can be powerful, beautiful and practical. Velozzi is the culmination of decades of R&D into the latest technological advancements tied to a ground-up approach ensuring delivery on a worldwide scale.
For more information about BMS materials, call 1-800-662-2927, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bayermaterialsciencenafta.com.
For more information about Velozzi, visit www.velozzi.org or e-mail email@example.com.
Here is a novel, albeit vague, idea. Project Get Ready is a community organizer, so to speak, helping reach President’s Obama’s goal of 1 million plug-in cars by 2015. Community members in Portland, Oregon; Indianapolis, Indiana (my state); and Raleigh, North Carolina have already agreed to work with Rocky Mountain Institute’s Project Get Ready. Basically, this project is creating community activism in selected areas that will help organize dealerships, charging stations, manufacturers, local government, and motorists for electric vehicles. Hopefully, through this program we can overcome the barriers (see below) that have slowed the proliferation of electric cars. So go to the Project Get Ready site and see what you can do. I know I will; because I am pleased to see my state as a major player in this endeavor.
Rocky Mountain Institute’s Project Get Ready prepares the nation for the electric vehicle transition with 20 pioneering cities.
Ready, Set, GO! RMI’s Mobility and Vehicle Efficiency Team (MOVE) to collaborate with cities and technical experts to create a prioritized menu of strategies that will encourage adoption of plug-in vehicles. Check out www.projectgetready.com for our menu and more information.
Snowmass CO, February 24, 2009 – Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) today announced the launch of Project Get Ready, an initiative that emerged from October’s Smart Garage Summit (see http://move.rmi.org/smart-garage.html for more) and aims to help communities prepare for and welcome plug-in vehicles including full battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and converted hybrid or internal combustion vehicles. Today they launch the initiative, including the website (www.projectgetready.com) and a “menu” listing the actions that communities must take to be truly ready for the plug-in transition.
Many communities are working to accelerate the adoption of plug-in vehicles. These pioneering communities do not yet have a way to share best practices and lessons learned. Moreover, automakers have no way to find all the places that are working to get ready for plug-in vehicles, and evaluate their progress and consumer interest. This missing connection has been cited by automakers as a critical barrier to committing to higher plug-in vehicle production.
Project Get Ready will collaborate with targeted communities that have started convening local players to develop and implement plug-in adoption plans, utilizing RMI’s universally recognized convening power, as well as detailed technical analysis.
Community members in Portland, Oregon; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Raleigh, North Carolina soon expanding to the Triangle region have already agreed to work with RMI’s Project Get Ready. Project manager and MOVE Consultant Laura Schewel says, “These pioneering communities represent widely different locations, demographics, economies and cultures, proving that plug-in vehicles will be an important transformation across the nation.”
Schewel continued, “plug-in vehicles are a revolution for the consumer and will transform the way we move from place to place, and the way we think about using energy. But each community is unique-they have different commuting patterns, parking concerns, demographics, local businesses, and cultures. Instead of battling this diversity, Project Get Ready welcomes it, allowing communities to get ready in their own way. I think this approach will lead to a faster and better arrival for plug-in vehicles and I am thrilled to have Portland, Indianapolis, and Raleigh in the conversation. With this project, we can help get the nation to President Obama’s goal of 1 million plug-ins by 2015…and maybe even beat it.”
Paul Mitchell, of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, highlighted the economic development opportunity xEV’s offer, saying, “We see the creation of an xEV ecosystem as an economic development opportunity. Not only can we deliver a more efficient transportation solution but our workforce can develop and manufacture the vehicle and smartgrid technologies needed to make the system work.”
Pete Barkey of General Motors highlighted the need for public-private partnership to introduce and promote plug-in vehicles, saying, “cars don’t necessarily sell themselves, especially with new, unfamiliar and often expensive technology. Our best chance of successfully making the transition from gasoline-powered vehicles to electrically-driven vehicles is to work with communities to help them become plug-in vehicle friendly. Organizations like Rocky Mountain Institute are helping to create a roadmap for regions around the country to become “plug-in ready.”
Mayor Charles Meeker of the City of Raleigh said that, “The Triangle area is proud to be the leader on the East Coast in preparing for the plug-in electric and hybrid-electric revolution. We are delighted to be partnering with Progress Energy, Advanced Energy and Rocky Mountain Institute to make Project Get Ready happen here. Project Get Ready is in harmony with the City of Raleigh’s mission statement. It focuses on 21st century environmental, cultural, and economic sustainability.”
We think widespread adoption of electric vehicles can strengthen our industry, address climate change, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said Joe Barra, director of customer energy resources for Portland General Electric. “PGE is teaming up with business customers, the state of Oregon, auto manufacturers, and local governments to help develop industry standards and install and test charging stations, and we’re enthusiastic about the work the Rocky Mountain Institute is doing to help utilities and cities around the country coordinate their efforts and learn from one another’s experience.”
For Project Get Ready, RMI is specifically:
• TODAY, launching a dynamic “menu” of strategic actions that city and regional leaders can enact to be a plug-in pioneer, based on input from technical advisers and cities already engaged in implementing plug-ins. In this menu, RMI will analyze the “business case” for each action from the perspective of several key stakeholders (city gov’t, employers, consumers, etc.). The top 15 are listed at the end of this release.
• TODAY, launching a web database of all national (and some international) plug-in readiness activities.
• Work one-on-one with at least three cities on creating their readiness coalitions and charters. Portland, Indianapolis Area, and Raleigh/Triangle will be the first three.
• Convene at least 20 cities as well as technical players regularly to discuss their lessons learned and best practices, and report these conversations on our website and materials. Some of our partner cities will have their own plans underway, others will be starting from the ground up.
• Provide a benchmark that will allow cities/regions to “prove” that they are ready for mass adoption of PHEVs/EVs, and have taken meaningful steps to support this critical green technology (this may take the form of a seal of approval or certification like the LEED system that gauges readiness).
• Document the progress made by participant cities in order to help quantify future demand and make it more transparent to industry (how much, where, and what type of support to expect) for PHEVs/EVs.
RMI’s MOVE team is currently in the process of selecting more participant cities that seek to lead the charge toward the electric revolution. The project will be entirely open to the public, and can be followed by the initiative’s website at www.projectgetready.com
Rocky Mountain Institute is an independent, nonpartisan, entrepreneurial, nonprofit “think-and-do tank.” It fosters the efficient and restorative use of resources to make the world secure, just, profitable, and life-sustaining. For more information, visit www.move.rmi.org.
TOP 15 ACTIONS FOR COMMUNITY LEADERS-IN BUSINESS, GOVERNMENT, CIVIC GROUPS, EDUCATION, AND BEYOND-TO TAKE TO BE PLUG-IN READY
For more, visit projectgetready.com
15 “Must Have” Actions*
Suggested stretch target: 2% of registered vehicles by the end of 2015.
Barrier: Not enough cars in the pipeline, OEMs need proof of future consumer demand
1. Corporate/city/state fleets commit to buy a certain number of plug-ins (RFPs for major purchases or conversions).
2. Stakeholder group provides a place for interested consumers/fleets to register early, and put cash down to reserve plug-ins (cash used for readiness where possible).
Barrier: How can we manage this as a multi-sector, city-wide project?
3. Create collaborative stakeholder group within the community to help regulatory, commercial, and community interests align. Sign on to a clear regional plan (based on this menu!). Plan should give equal consideration to conversions.
4. Have one “champion” whose job it is to keep this group moving forward, who has authority
Barrier: How can we bring down upfront costs for consumers?
5. Work with banks and dealers to offer low-interest loans for plug-ins, based on projected lower operating costs from gas savings.
6. Bundle all key incentives at vehicle point of purchase (home charger vouchers, rebates, etc.)
Barrier: Consumer hesitation at diving into a new paradigm for mobility
7. Perks: access to HOV lanes, free tolls/downtown parking, reserved airport parking.
8. Create consumer, city government, local business and utility education plans including test drives and “quick lease” options to individual and fleet consumers as well as high profile drivers.
9. Reduced (or free) electricity rates for charging.
Barrier: Red tape around infrastructure installation
10. Fast-track permitting for charging stations.
11. Ensure new and reconstruction/renovation building codes support the operation of plug-ins.
Barrier: What if these cars exacerbate my peak load?
12. Tie provisions of free home and public charge spots, as well as free or cheaper electricity, to either utility override power or “no charge” times.
Barrier: Who will pay for infrastructure?
13. Local employers/retailers provide some charge stations at parking decks.
14. Install public charge spots in high-traffic zones and parking areas, either with public money (via utility or gov’t for the first 2% of vehicles) or private money that uses the stations to market.
15. Provide affordable and available-or free-Level 2 home-charger/driveway circuit installation.
Here, AutoBlogGreen cut the pork and found what Obama’s stimulus bill means for our future in green transportation. Overall, this bill is very encouraging. However, it will take years before these measures can effect our economy (why many antsy senators opposed it). We should have done this 8 years ago:
- As the Environmental Law & Policy Center and CNN note, high-speed and inner-city rail made out like bandits. The first version of the stimulus bill, written in the House, set aside $300 million for these trains. This ballooned to $8 billion – along with $6.9 billion for public transportation and $1.3 billion for Amtrak – by the time it was done.
- Plug-in vehicles – as well as hybrids and fuel cell EVs – get a $2 billion investment for advanced battery technologies. The number of vehicles that are eligible for the plug-in electric drive vehicle credit jump up to 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer. The EDTA is happy with that, but is disappointed that the PHEV credit is capped at $7,500 and doesn’t apply to big vehicles (those that weigh over 14,000 lbs).
- An upgraded smart grid is helped out by $4.5 billion for development and deployment.
- Traditional cars don’t lose out, either. People who buy a new car in 2009 and who earn less than $125,000 individually or $250,000 jointly can deduct the sales tax.
From Autobloggreen today:
A123 Systems announced today that it has applied for $1.84 billion in loans from the Department of Energy to help contribute to the $2.3 billion required to pay for the construction of battery plants in the United States. In what should be good news for Michigan, the first of the facilities A123 is planning would be located there. If A123 gets the funds, it plans to have enough cell manufacturing capacity in place by 2013 to support 5 million hybrid vehicles or half a million battery electric vehicles. The factories would produce employ 14,000 people when fully operational.
A123 claims to be working with seven different automakers right now on 19 different vehicle programs. Those include General Motors for the plug-in hybrid Saturn Vue and the Chevy Volt and Chrysler with its electric programs through its ENVI division. A123 is also working with Better Place on its charging and battery swap network programs. There’s no word so far on when a decision on the application might be made or construction might start.