Electric vehicles – It's not just about the car - "One of the key characteristics of complex systems, such as the world's energy and transport sectors, is that when they change it tends not to be a linear process. They flip from one state to another in a way strongly analogous to a phase change in material science... A second important characteristic of this type of economic phase change is that when one major sector flips, the results rip through the whole economy and can have impacts on the societal scale." (via) [more inside]
The mysterious Faraday Future (yes, that's the real name), has already hired 400 top automotive engineers (such as the former director of manufacturing for Tesla) and is building a $1B facility to create a new type of electric car as soon as 2017. But what is Faraday Future? Some think its part of Apple's secret "Titan" car project (which will have electric license plates!), while others think it is "China's response to Tesla." The auto industry is changing fast, as, also within the last 24 hours, Toyota started investing $1B in AI and Local Motors rolled out their latest 3D-printed car design.
A visit to Baotou Lake where rare earth minerals, used in "green" products and electronics, are processed. [more inside]
A few days ago, the first race of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA)'s new Formula E Championship ran with the Bejing ePrix . The race is not quite a simple variant of Formula 1 with electric cars, as the heavy battery packs don't provide enough energy for a complete 50 mile race, so a second car is used to finish the race, and each Formula E car receives 10 specially designed tires per race weekend, which are designed to last the full race, compared to the 52 tires that Formula One cars receive. Though this is a serious race with serious vehicles, as veteran open-wheel and sports car driver Katherine Legge explains in a first-hand account of what it's like to drive the all-electric Formula E car, it's also an effort to promote the potential of electric cars via social media. Saturday's race was the first of 10 races, which will wrap up in June 2015. The Wire has a wrap-up of various news stories, and that article includes a full video of the race in Beijing. More information from Wired, and on the official FIA Formula E website.
Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal sure loves his Tesla Model S. He also thinks that, for using Tesla's name for his company, the least Elon Musk could do was help fund a Tesla museum. Musk agreed.
While Tesla Motors expects its first profitable quarter (despite some bad press), the electric car competitor it unsuccessfully sued for stealing its technology, Fisker Automotive, teeters on the brink of insolvency. How did Fisker, a company valued at over $1 billion dollars at the beginning of 2013, end up in this sitation? A Timeline of Fisker's Rise and Fall
"Does Tesla's Supercharger answer the road trip question for EVs?" Tesla announces plans to rollout a network of supercharger stations that will generate more solar power than the Tesla S series cars draw, leading to a net input into the grid. Yahoofinance says "...the first six Supercharger stations, which will allow the Model S to travel long distances with ultra fast charging throughout California, parts of Nevada and Arizona."
Frenchman Xavier Chevrin is driving an electric car 3,000 miles through Africa, from Nairobi to Johannesburg. Finding outlets is a challenge, about 65 percent of Africans do not have access to electricity. The daily video logs are a joy not only for the beautiful scenery along a contemporary African road trip, but the excitement of many Africans who have never seen an electric vehicle. The vehicle is a souped-up version of cars used by the French postal service, a Citroen Berlingo powered by Venturi. This is Xavier's 2nd long distance electric car expedition, previously he did Shanghai to Paris, it set the record for the longest distance traveled in an electric vehicle.
DeLorean goes electric: Due to hit the market in early 2013, the company says the DMC-EV will cost $90,000 (£57,000) and is aiming for a first production run of 300 vehicles.
$40,000 is what you'll pay to have the battery replaced if you leave your Tesla Roadster, a $100K electric car, unplugged long enough that the battery discharges completely. Reportedly, the problem will also plague the upcoming Model S coupe, a $50K downmarket model. Owners cannot insure against this loss, it is not covered by warranty, and the car cannot be driven, recharged, or easily towed if so "bricked".
Toyota Motorsport GmbH set a new lap record for an electric vehicle at the legendary 20.8km Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit in Germany with a time of 7 mins 47 seconds. WARNING: it's basically an advert for Toyota, but a cool one. [more inside]
From the successful conversion of a Porsche 914 into a battery electric vehicle (BEV), MIT's Electric Vehicle Team are now working on the conversion of a Mercury Milan Hybrid into a quick-charging BEV. Instead of the typical 10 to 12 hours for a full charge, the MIT team is looking at an 11 minute charge-time for their BEV, dubbed "elEVen," and they're blogging in detail about their progress. (via) [more inside]
Neil Young has a new album out. Ever innovative, Neil has written his new album about his electric car. [via]
Official: GM reveals the production Chevy Volt 2011.
Shai Agassi's Audacious Plan to Put Electric Cars on the Road. Now it's Agassi's turn. He starts off uncharacteristically nervous, stammering a bit. He's got something different, he says. A new approach. He believes it just might be possible to get the entire world off oil. For good. Point by point, gaining speed as he goes, he shares for the first time in public the ideas that will change his future—and possibly the world's. [more inside]
Two takes on the immediate future of the electric car: we are either "Going Nowhere Fast" (if you ask a petrolhead from Top Gear magazine) or we are witnessing "The End of the Petrolhead" (if you ask The Economist). A bestiary of current and planned models includes TeslaMotors (now in production), Fisker Automotive (who are being sued by Teslamotors), the GM Volt (due 2010), The Lighting Car Company, the plug in Prius, the GWiz (now slightly less squishy apparently), the Corbin Sparrow, a few (vapory?) models from Zap! and the wondrous Sinclair C5.
Want a highway-speed in-production electric car right now and can't afford a Tesla Roadster? The now defunct Corbin Sparrow has been re-born as the NmG ("No More Gas") from Myers Motors. It uses 12 lead-acid batteries (1-4yr life), 70+mph, 30 mile range, about $50k. It's not for everybody but - in the US - it's currently the only other pure EV option available (that's not a conversion or low-speed). However if you can wait a couple years more EV's are in development.
Build your own electric VW Rabbit! It's easy, just order the VoltsRabbit kit and you can have your very own 90-mile range electric car. Bonus boints for converting a Rabbit Convertible to electric!