Rimac’s Real (well, mostly)

Rimac Automobili, the Croatian company that I mentioned, is one step closer to selling its supercar design.  Rimac has obtained ten million Euros (~12 million USD) towards selling its “C1” or “Concept_One” super-coupe.  Investors have contributed this much for a Series A financing round; the company claims it is expanding and developing.

rimaclogoOn the one hand, this looks pretty compelling.  The vehicle itself, with over 1,000 horsepower as currently designed, can embarrass many Ferraris; founder Mate Rimac claims its interior will have every appointment.  Mate Rimac got his start as an e-racer of his own conversions and homebuilts, so he’s not coming in cold.  He’s also selling components to other automakers, and the Greyp electric bike/moped, again gaining practical experience in real-word products and manufacturing.  This is in Eastern Europe mind you, with low wages and rents but surprising scientific and engineering talent.  Meanwhile, since the C1 car will go for a million apiece, at a low delivery rate, to those who can pay cash on the counter, financing the company behind it will be easier than in a more consumer-oriented, competitive, high-production rate market segment.

On the other hand though, ~$12 million is NOTHING in auto world.  It’s why I led off with “one step closer,” and not “already there.”  Rimac’s capitalization is around 70-80 million dollars; Tesla by comparison required oh… around half a billion to get going.  And that’s starting with the Tesla Roadster, which was built around the Lotus Elise, which was already converted to electric by other houses.  It took three more years to go from Roadster to the Model S, the company burning up money all the way.  While this one financing round makes Rimac more credible than it was before, that’s still not saying all that much.  Continue reading



2014: what went down (so to speak) on the mountain?

-Zero Motorcycles (well, indirectly) got exactly what they put in: a Zero FX entered, and it finished.  Rider Jeff Clark put in an average time, on an average bike- it was the 2013 FX, not the improved 2014.  This is because it wasn’t literally a factory team, but pretty much sponsored by Los Angeles dealership Hollywood Electrics, who did some light mods.  (Though not enough to leave the production class, for the modified class).

-Brutus Motorcycle put in their V2 custom… and got a worse time than Clark on a Zero.  Last year’s Zero.  Last year’s lightweight Zero.  Yeah, doesn’t say much about them, but it could be the rider, not the bike.  Could be the person tuning the suspension didn’t quite grasp the issues of the course.  Could be the V2 is really more of a drag bike or boulevard catapult, and the suspension doesn’t really tune.  (The course contains hairpins, “The Devil’s Playground,” and a part called “Bottomless Pit.”  )  Never rode a Brutus, nor have any acquaintances.  Don’t particularly feel like it now.

-Bigger news: Mitsubishi’s modified race car (billed by them as a kind of MiEV, but no one actually believes that) came within 2.5 seconds of topping all other cars, gas or electric.  2.5 seconds is close enough to be driver skill, a botched corner, something getting on the course, etc.  And we were that close to a 2013 Lightning moment, but in cages, not bikes.

-Similarly, “Tesla” raced… actually, it was a privateer in a modified Tesla Roadster, not a factory team.  Similarly, a Honda Fit EV beat the sleek, expensive model.  Someone in a Honda Fit, modified only with a race-mandated roll cage, beat a Tesla sports car.

Life’s weird, eh?  Actually, no, this is perfectly understandable.  In a growth industry, lots of stuff is going on, and one slipup means the first can become last- that’s how you know the industry is actually growing and developing.


I’ve said it before: there’s an entire, enormous world the consumer on the street doesn’t see.  Except this time, it’s still on the street.

Via Motors sells electrified vehicles, just not to you.  Via takes truck and van chassis, and finishes them out (“coachbuilding”) as plug-in hybrids with a Volt-like drivetrain.  (Founder Bob Lutz came from GM, and no surprise, uses GM platforms.)  The resulting vehicles are not merely saving gas; they are now huge, self-propelled generators.  The company, then, predicted their killer app would be selling work trucks to utilities.

They seem to be on to something.  Via has a functional factory, and announced their latest big score: approximately $100 million from Canadian buyers.  Sun Country Highway has electrified the Transcontinental Highway, primarily through EVSEs at Best Western hotels.  Sun Country Highway and Best Western are now starting with their first $10 million in Via vehicles, as shuttle vans for the hotels.  Charging will be at SCH charge points, which will save the hotel chain money, and then be available for guest vehicles. Continue reading

CES 1, Audi 2(ish)

NAIAS happens to be the same time as CES, the Consumer Electronics Show.  I’ve been giving CES a whiff, simply because handheld gadgetry has been far removed from the energy domain.

No more.  Not only is telematics big, but vehicles themselves are falling in the gadget category.  Exhibit A, literally: Audi’s multiprong effort in 21st Century cars.  Besides NAIAS, they chose CES to show the Quattro Laserlight concept.  That’s “laser,” as in lasers = cool, and “Quattro™,” as in “we need 4 wheels to handle the 700 horsepower.”  Yup, not 170 hp, but seven hundred hybrid horsies.  It’s a concept car, sure.  But Volkswagen AG has committed to EVs and PHEVs, including two Porsches.  Now add Audi’s (planned) designs in (arguably) three segments.

And no mild hybrid, this Audi.  The electric motor gives 110 kW (147 hp), as much as the Honda Accord Hybrid, and backed up by a battery good for ~30 miles. Continue reading


NAIAS without gas?  The big (electric) news is that Audi is getting serious about clean vehicles.  They’re part of Volkswagen AG, which also includes Porsche (all intent on electrification, starting with hybrids).  Yet, Audi was on again, off again with their e-tron plug-in sports coupe.  Originally advertized for 2012, the company then wavered again and again.  No more.  The R8 e-tron has been (re)confirmed.  The official line is that better batteries made the vehicle competitive; rumor is that Tesla had made their 2012 plans uncompetitive.  Going deeper- or shallower, if we’re talking pocketbooks- Audi also showed an A3 Allroad e-tron.  This crossover is a big hatchback (“sportback”) with electric all-wheel-drive and good acceleration.  Though a concept for now, Audi placed it front and center, including in their publicity, as if to show they’re a serious competitor.

Combined with VW’s e-Golf and e-Up and XL1, and Porsche’s plug-in Panamera and 918 Spyder…whole lotta snakin’ goin’ on there in Wolfsburg.  Tesla meanwhile was coy and vague about 2014- no firm Model X date besides “future,” and nothing firm on the Model E at all.



Image credit: Plugshare.com

And we’ve got it.  Tesla has now completed its own “parallel Green Highway,” from Tijuana to Vancouver.  It is now possible to drive from the Mexican border, and well into Canada, on electrons alone… if you’re in a Tesla Model S, that is.  The new Superchargers in Northern California, and ones Eugene/Springfield and Grants Pass, Oregon, are a bit behind schedule.  But they now allow solid travel along I-5 for the entire West Coast.

Really, what does this mean?  Aside from some lucky people in Northern California and rural Oregon, not that much… but for the EV enthusiast, everything.  Psychologically, a West Coast Model S owner need not yield anything to some snooty gasser nut.  You can now drive from any major West Coast city, to the rest (oh, and Tahoe and Vegas too), plus a fair number of rural destinations and ski resorts, with no gas.  (Whistler and Snoqualmie, among others, have slower Level 2s; Sun Country’s Canadian units are quite fast CS-90s.)  The largest gap is now Centralia-Eugene, but that’s 202 miles… easily within the highway range of an 85 kWh Model S, and still quite doable with the 65 kWh pack if you’re mindful.  There are plenty of Level 2 sites in Portland and along Oregon’s stretch if I-5, if you’re really tight. Continue reading

Receptacle Roundup XIIc: Rest of Asia

There are several virgin territories for EV charging:

Taiwanese Standard (CNS10917)

Taiwan uses the 2-prong and 3-prong that Japan and the US do.  That was easy!

312Australia/New Zealand/Oceania (AS3112/NS3112/Others)

Aussies and Kiwis use a household plug derived from Argentina/Uruguay’s: a 3-prong with angled hot and neutral.  However, those antipodals reversed hot and neutral from the older IRAM 2073 standard.  It’s good for 230 volts and 10 amps (i. e., 2.3 kW), not quite as much as the UK but still beating the US standard.  But there’s a neat trick: the higher-amp connector standard (15A, 3.4 kW) simply enlarges the ground pin, so the beefier appliance socket can still take ordinary plugs- “backward compatibility.”  (This also implies the 10A hot and neutral blades have leeway and safety margin.)  Continue reading