Indianapolis to Deploy 425 Electric Cars by 2016 with the Help of Vision Fleet

By:   Christian Okolski

A few days ago, the office of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard announced the beginnings of the city’s “Freedom Fleet” and the upcoming deployment of 425 new electric vehicles.  As the Indianapolis Star reported, those 425 plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars are expected to replace more than 500 internal combustion engine vehicles that currently make up the city’s non-police fleet by 2016.  That switch from gasoline to electric power is expected to reduce fuel consumption by an incredible 2.2 million gallons of gasoline and save $1,600 per electric vehicle each year.  Ultimately, Indy’s electric vehicle support is among the strongest in the Country, and the city is utilizing an innovative financing scheme to make its plug-in vehicle dream a reality.

Indianapolis’ innovative push for electric cars is certainly music to the ears of electric vehicle enthusiasts, but it may not be a huge surprise.  Back in December 2012, NBC News revealed Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s executive order to replace nearly 500 gas-powered, non-police city vehicles with electric cars.  At that time, Ballard also announced his goal to turn over the city’s entire gasoline fleet with plug-in electric vehicles by 2025.  Moreover, Indianapolis is home to BlueIndy, the Country’s only all-electric car-share program, which was launched this past May, as this blog reported.  The motivation behind Mayor Ballard’s passionate support of electric vehicles stems from his experience as a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer and Gulf War veteran.  Back in 2012 and amidst the city’s latest announcement, Ballard clearly stated his mission to reduce the consumption of foreign oil and support U.S. energy independence through electric vehicles.

Indianapolis’ fleet currently uses only 21 plug-in electric cars, such as the Chevrolet Volt, Ford Fusion Energi, and Nissan LEAF, but that number will grow to 100 by year’s end, and 325 more will be deployed in 2015 to reach a total of 425 plug-ins by 2016.  For perspective, New York City’s fleet has operated roughly 300 electric cars as of this past July, according to the NYC Department of Transportation.  However, New York is nearly ten times the size of Indianapolis.  Therefore, if Indy’s electric car fleet can catch up to or even surpass that of New York with 425 plug-in cars by the end of 2015, it could have a far more impressive electric vehicle fleet per capita.  Cities across the country, such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, and others are supporting electric vehicles in various ways.  They are helping to build out charging infrastructure, provide charging station incentives, and offer electric vehicle purchase rebates, but Indianapolis is taking the most proactive approach by deploying the vehicles itself.  Simply put, no other city in the U.S. is directly placing electric cars on the roads like Indianapolis is.

Like most “green” technologies, electric vehicles save money over time but require a large, sometimes prohibitive, upfront investment.  Therefore, to make its deployment of 425 electric vehicles in just over one year financially feasible, Indianapolis’ Department of Public Works signed a contract with Vision Fleet, an electric vehicle financing startup based in Los Angeles.  As reported by the Indianapolis Business Journal, the contract is a $32 million, 7-year deal that will bring economic returns to each party in the long term.   What Vision Fleet provides is very similar to what solar leasing companies offer.  Vision will buy and own the electric vehicles but rent them to the city, so Indy does not have to pay the high purchase price for the cars.  In addition, Vision will provide maintenance on the vehicles as well as fleet management, so that the city can use fewer cars more efficiently and save money.

At the end of the day, Vision will make more money on the city’s rental payments than the electric cars, maintenance, and management costs, and Indianapolis will get quiet, clean electric cars without having to pay a large upfront cost.  In fact, Indy will pay less to rent and operate the electric vehicles than what they would spend to own gasoline vehicles.  The deal between Indy and Vision Fleet could be the beginning of a revolution in the way electric vehicles are purchased, similar to how SolarCity helped create a solar panel boom with smart financing that leverages future energy savings to eliminate upfront costs.  If all goes well in Indianapolis, Vision Fleet may be renting electric cars to fleets across the Country, and perhaps the globe.

Indianapolis may not grab daily news headlines like larger cities such as New York, but when it comes to embracing electric cars and sustainable transportation, the Midwestern city deserves the world’s attention.  Indianapolis is not only leading the charge for electric vehicle adoption but also embracing an innovative financing system that could significantly boost future deployment of all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in cities across the U.S. and perhaps the world one day.  For the time being, however, 425 new electric cars is good news for the ears, lungs, and wallets of Indianapolis residents.

Motiv Continues to Make Noise as its Electric Garbage Truck Quietly Takes out Chicago’s Trash

By:   Christian Okolski

Chicago’s Electric Garbage Truck

Motiv Power Systems has built the first clean, quiet, and fully-electric garbage truck in North America, and it is being used by the City of Chicago.  As noted in a recent press release, The Windy City’s new Electric Refuse Vehicle (ERV) has been servicing residential refuse and recycling collection routes that are up to 60 miles long, and it can transport up to nine tons of waste.  To meet the range and power demands of its routes, the ERV is powered by ten 20 kilowatt-hour battery packs, which can be fully recharged in 8 hours with Motiv’s Universal Fast Charger.  By running solely on electric battery power, the ERV will save approximately 2,688 gallons of diesel fuel a year, which will amount to $10,000 in savings if diesel fuel costs $3.72 per gallon, on average.  Moreover, the truck will reduce 23 tons of carbon dioxide each year, so it will not just appeal to the ears of Chicago residents but also their lungs

It is important to note that Motiv, a small start-up company that was founded in 2009 and is located just south of San Francisco in Foster City, California, did not build Chicago’s truck from the ground up.  The ERV combines a Loadmaster body commonly used for other Chicago refuse trucks, a chassis manufactured by Crane Carrier and furnished by Cumberland Servicenter, and Motiv’s own all-electric powertrain system.  That powertrain system, the electric Powertrain Control System (ePCS), boasts a modular configuration, so it can be tailored to fit multiple different vehicle bodies and chassis while also remaining “battery agnostic”.  Therefore, Motiv has simply taken the body and chassis of a normal garbage truck and outfitted it with a proprietary, electric powertrain.

While the mere existence of the Country’s first electric garbage truck is, on its own, music to the ears of electric vehicle enthusiasts, Motiv still has 19 more to deliver.  In November 2012, Greentech Media reported that Chicago had placed a $13.4 million order for a total of 20 electric garbage trucks, expecting Motiv to deliver all of them over the course of five years.  With that timeline in mind, Motiv should have all 20 trucks built by Fall 2017.  Although it may have taken the company two years to get the first ERV out the door, Motiv now has the designs and experience it needs to ramp up production and churn out 19 more ERVs at a much quicker pace.

Motiv’s Milestones

Motiv has certainly received substantial media attention from its electric garbage truck, but the company has been growing and gaining attention for a couple of years now.  Motiv first made headlines back in 2012, as it demonstrated the first commercial electric vehicle to use the ePCS with financial assistance from a California Energy Commission grant.  The vehicle was an all-electric shuttle bus operated by Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation, a commuter, transit, and corporate shuttle service that primarily operates in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The Bauer’s shuttle proved Motiv’s ability to build a reliable commercial electric vehicle that had a range of up to 125 miles and could operate at a cost of only $0.10 per mile, which is 83 percent less than that of a diesel counterpart.  Shortly after the successful demonstration of the Bauer’s shuttle, Motiv secured its order for 20 electric garbage trucks from the City of Chicago in November, 2012.

One year after the Chicago deal, Motiv teamed up with Trans Tech Bus to hit its next big milestone and developed a fully-electric school bus with up to 100 miles of range.  The bus was delivered to the Kings Canyon Unified School District in California and began operating this past winter as the first all-electric school bus approved to transport students in every state.  Moreover, CleanTechnica reported that Motiv and Trans Tech received total order for not just one, but four electric school buses.

In the past few months since delivering its first electric school bus, Motiv has continued to progress and hit new milestones.  At the beginning of the summer, Fleets and Fuels reported that the City of Mountain View, California, which is right in Motiv’s backyard, ordered four all-electric shuttle buses.  The shuttles will be able to hold 16 passengers each and provide mobility to the people who live and work in Mountain View as they go about their daily errands and activities.  They are also sponsored by Mountain View’s largest employer, Google, and will, therefore, be free of charge to use.  In addition, Motiv was able to leverage its successful business development and product rollouts to secure $7.3 million in private investment from multiple investors but primarily Colorado-based Magness Investment Group.  The infusion of funding was revealed in a June 30 press release, which also noted that Motiv had just delivered its second electric school bus to Kings Canyon Unified School District.

A Business Model That Is Working

Motiv is certainly discovering its niche in the market, as it has primarily focused on outfitting large, all-electric commercial vehicles with the ePCS.  Having a business model of furnishing existing vehicle chassis and bodies with its electric powertrain system, Motiv gives its customers the option to electrify virtually any type of commercial vehicle.  This freedom is undoubtedly enticing to fleet operators, since they often place unique demands on their vehicles and require varying vehicle configurations.  A shuttle service and a delivery company, for example, require very different types of medium-duty trucks, but Motiv can fulfill each of their specific needs.  Ultimately, this flexibility allows Motiv to expand its market base.

Chicago’s electric garbage truck is proof that Motiv’s business and product work as intended.  Despite the fact that Motiv has primarily electrified shuttle buses over the past couple of years, it has been able to successfully develop a totally different product, the ERV, and the result is the same.  As with electric shuttle buses, Motiv’s electric garbage truck mitigates the release of harmful emissions, saves significant money in fuel costs, and, most importantly, meets the unique operational needs of the fleet it serves.  Motiv may not be as flashy as Tesla, but the California startup is certainly playing a very important role in the industry by showing that large fleet vehicles can go electric too.  Chicago’s ERV is only the latest proof of the extensive versatility and capabilities of commercial electric vehicles.

Granted, Motiv still runs a small, niche operation, and it will be interesting to see if the startup can scale up its sales and production to a point where it is truly making a dent in the commercial vehicle market.   In fact, the demand and capability for the company to make such a move is still unknown.  At the very least though, Motiv is proving that large, commercial electric vehicles do work, and they work well.  Hopefully, more fleets will soon take notice, but until then, there are 19 more ERVs to be built.

 

Two New Records Headline the Success of National Drive Electric Week

Above: Empire Clean Cities supports the City of White Plains and its opening 10 new public charging stations

By:   Christian Okolski

Last week marked the first National Drive Electric Week, an expanded celebration of electric vehicles that has replaced National Plugin Day.  As reported by this blog, National Drive Electric Week was organized in the United States by the Electric Auto AssociationPlug In America, and the Sierra Club, but events also spilled over into Canada, Italy, and the Netherlands.  Even Mission Electric’s parent organization, Empire Clean Cities, participated in New York by supporting the City of White Plains’ installation of 10 new public charging stations, as reported by The Examiner.

According to the Huffington Post, more than 90,000 Americans across 152 cities and 39 states showed strong support for electric vehicles and their benefits by attending parades, test rides, showcase events, and more.  Plus, hundreds of volunteers gave their time to make National Drive Electric Week a true success.  Some lucky electric vehicle enthusiasts were a part of record-breaking moments.

While Cupertino, California is most commonly known as home of the computer and electronics supergiant, Apple, it is now home of the most plug-in electric vehicles in a parade as well.  As Plug In America has announced, the parade was organized by the San Francisco BayLEAFs and the Silicon Valley chapter of the Electric Auto Association, hosted by Cupertino’s De Anza College, and featured 507 electric vehicles.  The gathering of both electric cars and motorcycles was ultimately confirmed to be the largest ever by Guinness World Records, beating the prior record set in Stuttgart Germany in May 2014 by 26 vehicles.  Considering that the prior record of 481 electric vehicles only lasted for about 5 months, Cupertino’s glory may not go uncontested for long.

One day after Cupertino’s big achievement, the People’s Climate March in New York City set the record for the largest public climate change protest ever, as reported by the Christian Science Monitor and numerous other media outlets.  While estimates of how many people actually attended the parade vary, it seems that somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 people took part.  While many familiar faces took part in the parade, some of the most notable attendees included UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former U.S. Vice President and climate activist Al Gore, and recently appointed UN Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio.  The incredible turnout and appearance of high-profile individuals surely benefited from the fact that the march took place only two days before the 2014 UN Climate Summit, which was also hosted in New York City on September 23rd.  While the People’s Climate March was a demonstration advocating actions to mitigate climate change and not only support electric vehicles, it did feature an “EV Bloc” of electric vehicle supporters, which was organized by National Drive Electric Week.

After all the great National Drive Electric Week events held last week, the public support of electric vehicles and their role in reducing climate-altering pollution certainly proved to be strong and growing.  As the Huffington Post notes, 180 national and local media outlets provided unprecedented coverage of the nationwide support of electric vehicles.  Hopefully, heightened public awareness of electric vehicles will translate into greater consumer interest and continued growth of the electric vehicle market.

This Week Is National Drive Electric Week!

By:   Christian Okolski

For the past three years, National Plugin Day has been a day dedicated to the electric vehicle, where those who manufacture, drive, and charge them showcase their equipment across the United States.  This year, however, the entire week of September 15-21 has been dubbed National Electric Drive Week 2014.  All across the Country, and even abroad, this week is an extended celebration of electric vehicles as well as the environmental and energy-saving benefits they bring to the table.

National Electric Drive Week is organized across by Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association, and it is sponsored by the Nissan LEAF, the best-selling electric car in America.  From Hawaii to Maine, these organizations are collaborating with both public and private local entities, as well as local electric vehicle owners, to bring electric vehicle parades, driving events, showcases, award ceremonies, and more to the public.  National Electric Drive Week has even spilled over into Canada, Italy, and the Netherlands, extending its reach internationally.  The National Electric Drive Week website provides opportunities for people to volunteer at events and an interactive map of where they are being held.  In total 151 events will complete this week’s festivities.

In New York City, for example, an “EV Bloc” of marchers who support electric vehicles will join the City’s People’s Climate March on Sunday, September 21st.  More information about the EV Bloc’s participation at New York City’s People’s Climate March can be found on the National Electric Drive Week website.  Additional National Electric Drive Week events in New York State will be held in Cohoes, Highland, Lindenhurst, Rochester, and Syracuse.  However, an extension of the week will be held on September 23rd in White Plains, where electric vehicles will be displayed, and Mayor Roach will cut the ribbon on the Lyons Place Garage, a new parking facility with electric vehicle charging stations.

With more than a quarter million electric vehicles on U.S. roads for the first time, National Electric Drive Week is an encouraging expansion of National Plugin Day.  Every year since the first National Plugin Day in 2011, more and more electric vehicles are being driven, and their annual sales have increased every year.  While less than 20,000 electric cars were sold in 2011, there have been nearly 80,000 sales so far this year, and that number will easily surpass the 100,000 milestone by the end of December.  The popularity of electric cars is certainly on the rise, and the expansion of National Electric Drive Week is an encouraging sign of the times for electric vehicle enthusiasts.

 

Tesla Gigafactory Update: Site Selected in Nevada

By:   Christian Okolski 

A little more than a week ago, Tesla Motors announced that it had selected Nevada to be the home of its state-of-the-art battery gigafactory.  Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, and the Governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval, also attended a press event in the Silver State to make the announcement and reiterate the benefits that will arise from the electric vehicle maker’s new battery factory.  Musk even expressed his enthusiasm by calling Nevada a “get things done state”.  Tesla’s decision is not a complete surprise, since just recently, this blog reported that Nevada was the frontrunner in the gigafactory’s site selection sweepstakes, which has seen fierce competition from five states, Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas.

For those who are unfamiliar with the gigafactory saga, Tesla released its plans to build the ten million square foot battery facility somewhere in the Southwest, and it has been deliberating on where exactly to locate it until two weeks ago.  While the initial states in contention included Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas, the field was expanded after requests for consideration were made by California, the home of Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters.  Ultimately, the five states trying to secure Tesla’s gigafactory have been negotiating incentives deals with the automaker in hope of luring the revolutionary gigafactory and its estimated 6,500 jobs.  It seems now, that Nevada has presented Tesla with the best deal.

As Forbes reported, Nevada has promised Tesla approximately $1.3 billion in tax rebates over the next 20 years, which would cover at least 25 percent of the projects total cost of $4-5 billion.  This offer is the 10th largest incentive package offered to a company in the United States.  In return for its newly awarded $1.3 billion in financial assistance Tesla will be required to invest at least $3.5 billion in manufacturing equipment and other property in Nevada.  According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, while a special legislative session was needed to approve Tesla’s benefits, the legislation to solidify the deal was unanimously passed by the State Legislature and signed by Governor Sandoval last Thursday.

After last Thursday’s approval and the finalization of a $1.3 billion in financial assistance, Tesla has won much more than the 10 percent of public funding that it originally desired for the project.  In return, the State will reap billions in economic activity, thousands of new jobs, and one of the greatest initiatives of innovative technology development and manufacturing in America.  It turns out that Elon Musk was right, and Nevada is indeed a “get things done state”.

 

Kia Nears Release of Its First Electric Vehicle, the Soul EV

By:   Christian Okolski 

 Last October, it was reported that an all-electric version of the Kia Soul, the Soul EV, would enter Kia’s product line with an expected release date of Fall 2014.  As fall quickly approaches, CleanTechnica has posted an interesting article on the Soul EV, detailing when it will go on sale, where it will go on sale, and what kind of range and charging it will offer.  Ultimately, it looks as if Kia’s original timeline is still in place, and U.S. car buyers will soon have a new electric vehicle to choose from that will offer competitive pricing and functionality.

For those unfamiliar with the gas-powered Kia Soul, it is the Korean automaker’s quirky hatchback that has been marketed in TV commercials featuring anthropomorphized hamsters that are both hip and can drive.  Over-the-top marketing aside, the Soul is Kia’s successful take on a versatile and affordable city car.  In fact, it recently scored highest on the “Top 10 Urban Cars” list compiled by Cars.com, receiving praise for its build quality, comforts, and technology.  Ultimately, the Soul EV fits into the electric vehicle market well, since it appeals most to customers who drive in dense, urban areas where the limited driving range of electric vehicles is not as much of a problem.

Kia has made the Soul EV’s range competitive with other electric vehicles by outfitting it with a lithium-ion battery that holds 27 kilowatt-hours of charge and delivers a range of 80 to 100 miles.  Moreover, the Soul EV will be capable of DC Fast Charge, which can bring the battery’s charge from zero to 80 percent in approximately 33 minutes.  While the base model of the gas-powered Soul will offer 130 horsepower to the driver, the Soul EV’s electric motor will supply 109 horsepower but with “instant torque”.

Unfortunately for electric vehicle enthusiasts, the Soul EV will first go on sale in California this fall, and shortly after it will be available in Maryland, Oregon, New Jersey, and New York.  If you don’t live in one of those five states, Kia’s first electric vehicle will not be coming soon to a dealer near you.  While the official price is yet to be revealed by Kia, Edmunds expects the Soul EV to cost somewhere in the high $20,000s or low $30,000s.  However, it will also be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax rebate, bringing the real cost to the low or mid $20,000s.

Ultimately, the Soul EV is not likely to be a game changer in the electric vehicle market.  While its price, range, charging abilities, and performance will be competitive with the best-selling vehicle in its class,  the Nissan LEAF, the Soul EV will not provide a single breakthrough feature that sets it apart.  However, its acclaimed refinement, style, comfort, and versatility should still make the Soul EV a very viable option to customers who are not only looking for an electric vehicle, but also a good all-around city car.

 

 

 

 

Tesla Nears Final Site Selection for its “Gigafactory”

By:   Christian Okolski 

Back in winter, this blog reported on Tesla Motors’ plan to build a massive “gigafactory” to produce large volumes of electric vehicle batteries.  Ultimately, the gigafactory is expected to be completed and operational in 2017 and, as production ramps up, have the capacity to supply 500,000 electric vehicles with batteries by 2020.  While Tesla still needs to select a site for the facility before beginning construction, Silicon Valley’s reporting shows that a decision on that front is looming.

The most compelling piece of news regarding the site selection is that Tesla has already broken ground on and begun excavating a potential location in Reno, Nevada.  Reno seems to be a frontrunner in the selection process due to its lack of any corporate income tax, personal income tax, or inventory tax.  In addition, the potential Reno location is suitable for on-site power generation from three different renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, and geothermal.  Despite the good prospects for the Reno location though, Tesla wants the winning state to contribute 10% of the $4-5 billion project cost, and as the Reno Gazette-Journal has reported, Nevada may need to convene a special legislative session to muster those funds.  As Nevada figures out an incentives package though, conversations between Tesla and other states are continuing “behind closed doors”.

Still in the running to be home of the gigafactory are Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas, and the competition among those states is reportedly fierce.  Tesla’s new battery plant is expected to employ approximately 6,500 people with, a plethora of well-paying, skilled manufacturing jobs that would provide a significant boost to a local and even state economy.  In fact, USA Today has made it known that in a recent conference call with Wall Street analysts, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that site evaluations similar to the one taking place in Reno will also be conducted in “one or two other states”.  Tesla’s gigafactory business is so desired that in California, two state senators are actually sponsoring new legislation that would give special, currently unavailable incentives to the electric vehicle maker.

If Tesla wants to build a $5 billion, 10 million square foot battery plant on a 500-1000 acre site in time for 2017, it surely wants to select its location as soon as possible.  Although Reno may be the frontrunner in the Tesla gigafactory sweepstakes, and there seem to several compelling reasons for it, the decision clearly has not been set in stone.  Either the Reno location still needs to be investigated further, or other options in Arizona, California, New Mexico, or Texas are seen as being potentially more compelling, or both cases currently hold true.  Regardless, Tesla is closing in on finding a home for its unprecedented gigafactory and seems likely to make a decision in the not so distant future.

 

 

Cadillac ELR Owners Get Wireless Charging Option

By:   Christian Okolski

Last Monday, Evatran put out a press release announcing that its PLUGLESS wireless charging system will soon be available to owners of the Cadillac ELR, GM’s luxury plug-in hybrid.  The PLUGLESS L2 wireless charging system was first made available to owners of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF, and the Cadillac ELR will be the third vehicle that is compatible with the system.  Evatran notes that ELR owners are now able to pre-order the PLUGLESS L2, which may be delivered as early as September 1st.  Moreover, the company says that it will make its wireless charging system available to owners of three additional “premium” electric vehicle models by the end of the year.

Wireless charging for electric vehicles employs a process called magnetic induction to charge an electric vehicle without a cord or plugging in.  In order for the technology to work, it requires two main hardware components, a transmitter on the ground that draws electricity from the grid and a receiver on the vehicle that is able to send electricity to the battery.  When the transmitter on the ground uses grid electricity to create a magnetic field, that field “induces” an electric charge in the vehicle’s receiver.  Once the receiver receives the induced charge of electricity through the transmitter’s magnetic field, it simply feeds that electricity into the battery to charge it.  In order to charge properly, the vehicle and its receiver must be properly aligned over the transmitter in order to facilitate charging.

Evatran’s website has some good photos of what its wireless charging technology looks like and gives those unfamiliar with the technology a better idea of how it works.  Moreover, Evatran says that its PLUGLESS L2 system charges electric vehicles just as fast as a traditional, plug-in device, and it allows customers to use charging timers and mobile apps to manage the system.

Wireless charging for electric vehicles is more widespread and has been around for longer than many may know.  A company called Conductix Wampfler, for instance, is one of the earliest pioneers of the technology and has been charging electric buses in Italy since 2002!  In addition, major automakers like BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, Volvo, Toyota, Nissan, and more are all developing wireless charging technologies as well.  Although some of these automakers have licensed the heart of their systems from WiTricity, an MIT “spinoff” company that has also pioneered the field, there is clear interest from major automotive industry players in the commercialization of wireless charging technology.  However, it is important to note that Evatran, through its PLUGLESS system, is the first company to actually commercialize the technology and sell to owners of mass-market electric vehicles.  According to a recent article by the Richmond Times Dispatch, the Virginia-based company was expecting to ship 50 wireless charging units in July, although it previously only had 25 units in the field.

Ultimately, being able to charge electric vehicles wirelessly could be an important component to a convenient charging infrastructure, and there is certainly value in the ability to simply park and charge, without having to plug anything into the vehicles.  It will be very important, however, that the prices of wireless charging systems remain competitive with their plug-in counterparts in order for them to be successful.  Moreover, it will be just as necessary for these systems to work with the majority of, if not all, electric vehicles and provide interoperability among different manufacturers of transmitters and receivers.  Only through interoperability, will wireless charging one day be able to move into the public domain, where city streets and workplace parking lots can offer wireless charging to electric vehicle drivers with many different vehicle types.

 

 

Tesla to Sell its Affordable Model III in 2017

By:   Christian Okolski

As reported by Forbes, Tesla Motors has confirmed its plans to release another all-electric sedan, which is to be more affordable than the luxurious and high-performing Model S, in 2017.  This news is not a tremendous surprise, since Tesla had revealed the goal of building an affordable electric car as far back as two years ago.  However, it is noteworthy that back in 2012 and according to PluginCars.com, the anticipated launch date of the new model was 2015.

Since Tesla currently sells the Model S and is preparing for production of its Model X crossover, the automaker will name its affordable electric and third generation mass-market vehicle the Model III.  The Model III was originally slated to be called the Model E, but that idea was scrapped after Ford claimed its own trademark to the Model E name and threatened to sue Tesla if it violated the trademark.  While the Model III will be 20 percent smaller than the Model S, it is expected to have an impressive, 200-mile driving range and cost $35,000, approximately half the price of a base Model S.

The 2017 launch date for the Model III makes considerable sense, since that is when Tesla also expects to get its battery “gigafactory” up and running, as reported by this blog.  With the ability to produce batteries en masse and cut battery costs by approximately 30 percent, Tesla will have a much better shot at selling a Model III that resembles the excellent quality touted by the highly-acclaimed Model S.  By cutting the cost of an electric vehicles most expensive component, Tesla will be able to place more resources into refining the Model III’s overall performance and quality.

The Model III is expected to be revealed in 2016, so Tesla still has a couple of years to work out the details of its third, all-electric vehicle.  Regardless, it will be very important for the young automaker to successfully cut costs in the right places and deliver a car that provides high value for its price.  Time will tell if Tesla can build an electric car that goes toe-to-toe with the “mainstream” auto market.

Bay Area Governments Place a Large Order for New EVs

Photo credit:  BAY AREA NEWS GROUP, RAY CHAVEZ — AP Photo

By:   Christian Okolski

The San Francisco Bay Area is a well-known hotbed for sustainable energy efforts and new technology as well as home base for several companies who embrace those characteristics, such as Solar City, Tesla Motors, and City Car Share.  Considering California’s enticing electric vehicle incentives (including a $2,500 tax rebate on new electric vehicle purchases and unrestricted HOV lane access to electric vehicle drivers) and the fact that the Bay Area is the fifth largest metropolitan region in the U.S., it is no surprise that the region boasts one of the Country’s largest electric vehicle markets.   To further advance the Bay Area’s strong presence in the market, local municipalities have recently made the largest government fleet electric vehicle deployment in the U.S. to date.

The Bay Area Climate Collaborative (BACC), a public-private organization that works to advance the region’s climate goals, announced this electric vehicle deployment last Tuesday.  In total, 90 all-electric vehicles were simultaneously deployed by Alameda County, Sonoma County, San Francisco, Concord, Santa Rosa, San Jose, Oakland, Fremont, the Marin Municipal Water District, and the Sonoma County Water Agency.  The 90 electric vehicles include 64 Ford Focus Electrics, 23 Nissan LEAFs, and three all-electric vans built by Zenith Motors, which were all purchased with $2.8 million in funding assistance from California’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission.  The BACC, which helped organize and facilitate the deployment, notes that the 90 new electric vehicles are only one step among a series of efforts to incorporate more electric vehicles into public fleets.  It also notes that the new electric vehicles are expected to save more than $500,000 in operational costs and avoid the release of 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide through their first five years of use.

Unfortunately, 90 new electric vehicles is not a jaw-dropping number and will likely not make up a large percentage of this month’s electric vehicle sales.  As reported by this blog, 11,493 electric cars were sold this past June.  Regardless, it is an encouraging sign that local governments, not just in the Bay Area, are making an effort to support the market and set an example to other government agencies and consumers.  According to the New York City Department of Transportation, for example, New York’s city agencies have added 55 Nissan LEAFs and 8 Chevrolet Volt’s to their fleets this past year, with a total of more than 300 electric vehicles in current operation.  Hopefully, local government fleets in the Bay Area, New York City, and across the U.S., can continue to replace conventional vehicles with electric ones, delivering higher market gains, better cost savings, and greater reductions in greenhouse gas emission