No, Palo Alto DIDN’T

I can’t believe the crappy pap that passes for writing these days: “Palo Alto to Require EV Charging Stations.”  MYTH.  Palo Alto just voted on an ordinance requiring newly-constructed homes to include some conduit inside, just like new construction in Vancouver, New York City, and new Tim Horton’s restaurants.  This reduces or prevents drilling into walls, studs, and foundations, should the owner later install an EVSE (not a “charger”).

This myth is so flagrant, I won’t even bother linking.  Some loser saw a headline, drew their own conclusions (incorrectly), and managed to get it past their editor and fact checkers.  Unless of course there’s no editor at all, let alone checker staff (even a proofreader).

The “chargers” (of which there are none, literally speaking) are not “sure to go unused in many homes,” since none are mandated.  The property owner retains the right to install an EVSE if desired… or an electric dryer or maybe an electric range, which take similar (if not identical) wiring.  I have a kitchenette with a second range, and if I so desired I could swap that out with a 240V EVSE.  But the motorcycle doesn’t really need to.

They’ll let any loser write on the internet these days.

Four-By-Slower

mlgYou win some, you lose some.

Mitsubishi is delaying the US release of its Outlander plug-in hybrid SUV.  Officially, demand is too strong in Asian and European markets for existing production.  Unofficially, the battery supplier was turning out substandard cells, which may have made existing production too weak.  We certainly don’t need bad EVs in the headlines giving us a bad name, so I can deal with this.  Mitsubishi, however, is watching its head start on Tesla and Land Rover tick away.

Tesla is working towards release of its Model X full-electric SUV sometime in 2014; there are also murmurings (including from Tesla itself) of adding all-wheel drive to the Model S sedan.  Considering how few people actually go offroad, adding AWD to the COTY might do it for a good chunk of the target market.

lrlLand Rover, too, is working on a plug-in hybrid, via field tests.  A plain-hybrid Range Rover will go on sale very soon; a squad of prototype ‘Rovers is also doing a trial/PR run across Europe, to India.  Namaste, future.

Zie Ozzer Germans

Photo credit: Volkswagen

Photo credit: Volkswagen

We know what BMW’s doing, how about the rest?

Volkswagen appears set with the voltwagens.  Not only will the German Giant produce electric versions of their compacts (yielding the e-UP and e-Golf), but they have already begun limited production of their XL1 plug-in hybrid.

The name comes from “1-liter car,” as in the European definition of fuel economy.  There, “mileage” is measured in how much fuel is burnt to go 100 kilometers.  VW had tried multiple iterations of 1L/100 km vehicle.  The 2013 XL1 now claims 110 km per liter of diesel- or, 260 miles per gallon.  And that’s on trips; in town, electricity will take you a claimed 30 miles (at least, per the european test cycle) with no liters at all.  That’s coming up on Chevy Volt range (33-40 all-electric miles per US cycle), on about a third of the battery (~5.5 kWh).  How?

That XL1 body is about as aero as it gets, at least in a format people might actually buy.  Consider it the new GM EV1.  For example, there are cameras, not rearview mirrors.  The body is carbon fiber, and weighs a fraction of what’s average on a North American dealer lot right now.  And VW is about as good as it gets for small diesel engines. Continue reading

Nor-way To Go!

Electric cars don’t merely function in frigid Norway… Norway has about the highest EV adoption rate of any country, haters.  Tesla has now rewarded their market with the first European sales of the Model S, and the first non-US Superchargers (in Aurland, Cinderella, Dombås, Gol, Lillehammer, and Lyngdal).

So, what’s the deal?  Why Norway, especially considering it’s an oil-exporting nation?  Well, let’s see, there’s the urbanized population, tax incentives and waived tolls, abundant hydroelectricity, and, oh yeah… the fact that Norwegians (at least as a nation) aren’t stupid.  What a lot of people don’t realize is that an entire world exists out there, a world of other customers.  If one then has oil, the smart thing to do isn’t to just light it up.  One should, instead, dupe others into lighting it up, in exchange for their hard currencies.  Norway is then flush with Euros, Pounds, Francs, etc.; are you then a dupe?

dhsNorway’s economy is doing just fine; Norway’s unemployment is about half ours.  Norway’s cars, then, increasingly operate on domestic hydropower, not fossil fuel.  This electricity is much more difficult to export (via high-purity, vulnerable cable) than oil (via boat or pipe), and would fetch a lower price even where it can go.  Note that Norwegian fuel prices are high, despite having indigenous sources; high demand from the many other countries bids it up.  This is true even before fuel taxes, so gas isn’t expensive due to “market interference”; it’s expensive due to the market itself.  Precious Norwegian fuel, then, is traded for lasting benefit, not for burning up briefly.  That’s as capitalist as it gets.

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Buy-BackBerry

indx2And then BlackBerry gets taken private (unless a miracle happens).  Meet the next Dell; previously they had sought a buyer.

How did this happen?  Easy- when the iPhone came out, RIM management immediately declared it wasn’t a “real” phone, since a real phone obviously has a keyboard.  Like theirs.  Okay, I’ll admit they had a point… for about two software versions or so.  Apple turned out to be fast learners on this one.  Faster than RIM management, at least.

Again, I’ll give the company a little credit: at least they tried.  BlackBerries gained a new OS, with responsiveness and good 3rd-party dev support, and the option of all-touchscreen handsets if you preferred.  They just didn’t learn fast enough.  RIM, meet the next Palm.

Welcome to the future: be a part of it, or be past.

See also: Phone-ys 1, Phone-ys 2, and Phone-ys 3

Supercharging Going Large

In other news from the summer, Tesla began their first European Model S shipments, starting with Norway.  Norway has also gained the first non-US Superchargers, in addition to new Supercharger sites in the US fast-charging network:p105078d

First things first, the Fremont, CA Tesla factory and the Palo Alto corporate headquarters gained a few Superchargers- why not?  Even though they aren’t on key highways between cities, the sites could stand to gain at least the hardware, for cars in prep or coming in for service.  And once you’ve got functioning hardware, you might as well finish it out into a complete unit.  It then acts as a live demo for potential or wavering customers, or company/customer training.  The Hawthorne, CA site (Los Angeles basin) also fit these (non-highway) criteria.

Normal, IL saw Superchargers open.  Normal is on Interstate 55 between Chicago and St. Louis, as well as on I-74 (to the Champaign-Urbana area and on to Indianapolis).  Aside from being a nexus of Interstates, the Bloomington-Normal area is the site of Mitsubishi’s North American plant, and is actively courting EV drivers and infrastructure.  It’s also close to Continue reading

They Blinked Out

Ecotality, parent of the Blink Network of roadside charging points (plus home EVSEs), filed blfor bankruptcy.  See Ya!

Blink is a failure, deserves to “die,” and I will neither regret it nor apologize for them.  On a purely physical level, Blink selected inferior tolerances, resins, or both for their electrical connectors, and effected failures.  Not only did their J1772 plugs approach melting in certain situations, but in some cases this affected the socket side in the vehicle.  This, even though Ecotality also owned ETEC Labs, an R&D and testing firm for EVs, charging, and other electrical needs.  Blink also selected displays for their charging points that were more susceptible to exposure, wear, and vandalism.  Apparently ETEC labs wasn’t enough.

On a management and execution level, Blink’s networks were poorly managed, to the point of being illogical.  The public charging points were badly maintained, on top of being unreliable to begin with.  And yet, Blink’s own services had directed EV owners- yes, actively steered them– to sites that were down, and had been down for a while.  Continue reading