Amazing Video of Car/Pod That Pivots on a Dime

March 20 2008 / by Accel Rose / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Transportation   Year: 2008   Rating: 5

Check out this awesome car/pod prototype that carries up to three passengers and can pivot on a dime to change directions. I recall seeing concept drawings of this and thought it was still a year or two in the future, so I was surprised to come across this video of a functional, albeit slow, version of the product.


For the life of me, I can’t recall which company is behind this elegant weird new car. Does anyone know who’s producing this totally new approach to transport and when I’ll be able to rent one in NYC?

Better Place planning to build out Hawaii's electric vehicle infrastructure

October 05 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: 2011   Rating: 5 Hot

Hawaii might be the perfect market environment for transforming its vehicle fleet from liquid fueled combustion engine vehicles to electric cars powered by batteries and fuels cells. There is strong support for ‘green’ policies, most vehicles trips are over short distances, and the islands’ fixed boundaries make it easy to plan out the cost of infrastructure. There are a number of strong cleantech startups and state has aggressive plans to expand its own local renewable energy production from solar, wind, geothermal and bio energy so it could tap this locally produced energy into electricity or hydrogen to fuel electric vehicles. Now it appears to be planning new fueling infrastructure for the coming wave of electric vehicles.

Today, the Honolulu Advertiser is reporting that electric vehicle infrastructure builder Better Place (Palo Alto, CA) has plans to build a network of electric recharge units and battery ‘swap out’ stations to service Hawaii’s first wave of battery powered electric vehicles.

Is this good news? Yes.

Will it be easy? No.

The Good News
We appear to have taken the first step – getting the auto industry on board. Every major automobile company has announced plans to release its first generation electric vehicles between 2010-12 around lithium ion batteries. Automobile companies appear ready to leverage the manufacturing cost benefits of killing of the combustion engine and adopting more modular electric motors powered by lithium ion batteries, capacitors and hydrogen fuel cells. Auto engineers are now taking the next step towards integrating all systems- to make a viable electric propulsion platform for the 21st century. With this commitment we can expect other companies to start developing infrastructure. The problem? Overcoming the politics of utility power generation.

Forcing Change on Big Utilities
While this news might feel good, the saying “It’s not a revolution if nobody loses” is certainly relevant. Transforming how we fuel our vehicle fleets is not going to be easy or conflict free. But where might we anticipate pushback?

Common sense says ‘Big Oil’, but the real challenge in accelerating this shift towards electric vehicle infrastructure might be ‘Big Utilities’ who are now struggling to imagine their place in a world of fueling homes and vehicles.

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The Good news? China is investing in electric cars, The Bad news? China is investing in electric cars

November 10 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Transportation   Year: 2016   Rating: 5 Hot

Need more evidence that the electric vehicle industry is going global, quickly?!

Bloomberg is reporting on plans that General Motors is expanding its investment and partnership with China’s SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co. It is unclear whether this investment is simply to secure GM’s position in China’s growing market, or if GM might tap China as the manufacturing hub for electric vehicles powered by batteries, fuel cells and capacitors.

Big bets are being made by automakers and many of them tap Asia as a manufacturing hub for energy storage. Last month GM selected a Korean maker for its Chevy Volt, and VW is now openly seeking Chinese partnerships to produce batteries. Meanwhile Korea and China are looking to build their own homegrown electric vehicle brands.

Why this is important to the future of energy?
The fastest way to move beyond the combustion engine is to tap the power of global markets. But it requires us to rethink our assumptions about the future. Namely, if Asia does leap ahead, the US and Europe will have to rethink their aspirations of being ‘energy independent’. Instead they will trade ‘foreign’ oil, for ‘foreign’ batteries!

The Good news
Electric cars can help to clean up air pollution around the world, expand opportunities for renewables to compete in transportation fuels, and could help us better manage the flow and storage of electrons currently limited to a one-way electrical grid.

Electric vehicles can change the world, but they are likely to do so in ways that we cannot currently imagine by mere extrapolation.

The Bad news?

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California moves forward on 'green infrastructure', invites startup Better Place to build out electric car fueling network

November 21 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Transportation   Year: 2016   Rating: 4

On November 20th California took a major step towards building out the state’s “green” infrastructure to support the electrification of the auto fleet towards vehicles powered by batteries, fuel cells and capacitors. State and local leaders gathered in San Francisco to announce a new public partnership with ‘mobility operator’ Better Place.

Better Place has big plans for California and has estimated that the network investment in the Bay Area alone will total $1 billion when the system is fully deployed.

We have featured several stories on Better Place and CEO Shai Agassi [Video Interview] to highlight the company’s vision for changing the business model for how cars are fueled. Better Place is moving quickly and has already negotiated infrastructure projects within Israel, Denmark, Australia, and Hawaii. Adding California to their list could be the tipping point. Not just for Better Place, but for how we think about fueling our vehicles with batteries, fuel cells and capacitors.

The simplest translation of Shai Agassi’s disruptive vision?
To expand adoption of electric vehicles we must lower barriers for consumers and rethink our notions of infrastructure in a way that goes beyond the model of paying at the corner gas station pump.

Consumers should buy the car, but not the energy storage device (battery, fuel cell or capacitor). Remove the cost and risk of owning energy storage systems that might be improved in the next six months or a year. Instead consumers would subscribe to an energy infrastructure provider who offers a ‘pay per mile’ (e.g. mobile phone minutes) plan.

Drivers could recharge at a local station, or (pay attention!!) pull up to a station to ‘swap out’ an old battery (or solid block of hydrogen, other fuel cartridge) for a new container. It is this ‘swap out’ model that holds the greatest disruptive potential.

How do we do it?

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Energy Story of 2008: #1 Electrification of the Passenger Car

December 15 2008 / by joelg
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 4 Hot

By the fall of 2008, every major automanufacturer from GM to Nissan to Tata--and a few startups such as Tesla and Aptera--had announced production model plans for all manner of electric vehicles, from all electrc vehicles, to plug-in hybrid electrics, to fuel cell vehicles, with deliveries to consumers starting in 2010.  2008 could well be known as the nail in the coffin for the bulky combustion engine which has plagued the auto industry with its manufacturing and design liabilities, and association with volatile oil markets.

How quickly might the world re-tool the global auto industry to build new vehicle chassis based on electric motors and advanced energy storage systems?

Every Auto Manufacturer has Announced Electric Vehicles

Continue Reading other Top Energy Stories from 2008

#2   The Year of Scientific Breakthroughs

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Top Gear Tests Out the Honda Clarity, Says It Will Save the World

December 16 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Transportation   Year: 2012   Rating: 4 Hot

Top Gear recently test drove the Honda Clarity in Los Angeles and proclaimed with certainty that this car will be the most important one in 100 years.  The reason?  It runs on Hydrogen.

It looks like a normal car, drives like a normal car, fills up like a normal car, and its only by-product is water.  They also go on to say how the car may never have to be serviced since the engine has only one moving part.  It's crazy to think how much people are investing in hybrid or electric technologies (meaning plug-in cars) when a hydrogen-powered car will obliterate them all in the coming decade.

Now if we could just find an incredibly cheap way of making Hydrogen at home from air we'd be set.

Dean Kamen Unveils Stirling Engine Powered Hybrid Car, Stuns Us All

November 10 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Environment   Year: 2012   Rating: 3 Hot

Dean Kamen has jolted the world yet again with his latest contraption — A Stirling engine hybrid car.

The Stirling engine, for those in the dark, is an engine which derives its power from an external heat source. The amazing thing about it is that the heat source can be just about anything, even your own body. Kamen’s car, dubbed “REVOLT,” can run on any conventional fuel, from biodiesel to natural gas.

Despite the practicality of such an engine, development of the Stirling engine in the world has been trying at best. Weird to think that an engine, which runs on heat and was invented in 1816, could fall to the side all these years. But we’re starting to see the Stirling engine pop up more and more these days, especially in large solar arrays.

So when are we going to see this in production?

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[Video] Honda reveals hydrogen fuel cell electric sports car

November 20 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Transportation   Year: Beyond   Rating: 3

[2008 Los Angeles Auto Show] Honda has revealed the FC Sport design study model- a three-seat sports car concept hydrogen powered electric car based on Honda’s V Flow fuel cell technology already deployed in the Honda Fuel Cell (FCX) Clarity sedan.

The lightweight sports car design has an ultra-low center of gravity, powerful electric motor performance and zero-emissions. The design study concept is inspired by supercar levels of performance through low weight and a high-performance, electrically driven fuel cell powertrain.

Hydrogen cars are electric cars!
While many journalists and bloggers are getting this story wrong and asking is the future ‘battery or fuel cell’- – the answer is both. Hydrogen fuel cell cars ARE electric powered cars! Hydrogen converted in a fuel cell produces electricity to power electric motors.

Pure battery vehicles are based on first generation energy storage systems. But cars are not iPods and next generation high performance electric vehicles- will combine batteries, fuel cells and capacitors! Not one device rules them all, and Honda understands this engineering reality!

Now for some futuristic sports car eye-candy!!

Video via Edmunds Insider

Music Video & Images #2

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Buddy Can you Spare a $Billion? How about $18b? Automakers Ask Congress for Loans

December 03 2008 / by joelg
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 3

225_fiftybilliondollars.jpgBy Joel Greenberg

What Happened?
Responding to the US government's request that they provide plans for what they would do with government loans, the Big Three automanufacturers presented their plans.  Here's an overview of what they're asking.

The Big Three automakers all describe a 'perfect storm':

- sales down 30% or so from last year due to downturn in economy
- credit markets frozen so they can't offer credit to car buyers, accelerating the decrease in sales.
- All in various stages of transition to new technology (smaller vehicles, electric vehicles, more fuel efficient gas engines & drive trains, etc.)

'Help us through this rough patch,' they all seem to be saying, 'and we'll help you by not tanking the economy even further.'  GM is the most direct in articulating the threat.  "A failure by GM will likely trigger catastrophic damage to the U.S. economy..." while Chrysler goes into detail why a bailout is preferable to bankruptcy.  Ford's the most upbeat. "We note that Ford is in a different situation from our competitors, in that we believe our Company has the necessary liquidity to weather this current economic downturn – assuming that it is of limited duration." 

Here's what they're asking for:

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Electric vehicle infrastructure start up Better Place signs contract in Australia

October 23 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: 2012   Rating: 2

Electric vehicle infrastructure start up Better Place continues to grab headlines with projects in Israel, Denmark and Hawaii. Now the company announced plans to build out infrastructure in Australia.

Infrastructure for Electricity & Hydrogen
Electric cars are coming but we will need to develop new infrastructure and business models that go beyond today’s notions of corner gas stations delivering liquid fuels to combustion engines.

Electric cars are likely to be powered by a combination of batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and capacitors. Not one energy storage device is expected to rule them all. And while the short-term strategy of extending the world’s electricity grid to vehicles seems logical, in a few years we might turn to the chemical storage of electricity via hydrogen to overcome cost and performance challenges of electron storage in batteries.

Electrification in Australia
Startup Better Place has announced agreements with AGL Energy and financial advisor Macquarie Capital Group to raise $1 billion (AUD) and begin deploying an electric vehicle (EV) network powered by renewable energy.

Australia has the world’s seventh highest per capita rate of car ownership, the country has nearly 15 million cars on the road after adding over a million new cars last year.

Victorian Premier John Brumby said, “The Victorian Government supports any initiative that will have positive outcomes in reducing emissions in the transport sector and welcomes this innovative approach to help make broad adoption of EVs in Australia possible.”

Related posts:
Warren Buffet invests in Chinese battery & electric car maker
Detroit to World: Nobody has Killed the Electric Car
France set to expand electric grid for vehicles

More on start up Better Place

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Kids Get Hydrogen Powered Remote Controlled Car, Adults Still Waiting

November 04 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2008   Rating: 2

Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies has a spiffy new remote control car that runs on hydrogen. It uses solar power to convert water into hydrogen which the user then empties into the car. Platinum plates then compress the hydrogen to get the needed electricity from it. While the car can only run for about four minutes, it’s a step toward making our toys and gadgets that much more energy efficient.

Horizon itself is a very interesting company. They started out with the intention of being specialists in everything hydrogen and pretty much did just that. they offer a wide variety of products from small hydrogen fuel cells to portable ones for camping trips. The one that caught my attention was their development of a hydro-bike (video below) with puts a small fuel cell on a bicycle in order to power it. I want.

via Nerd Grind

Is Detroit asleep at the wheel? Canadian battery company expands presence in China

November 05 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Transportation   Year: 2013   Rating: 2

Yesterday, Canada’s Electrovaya announced the signing of three Memorandum of Understanding MOU’s with Chinese manufacturers of electric cars, trucks and manufacturing equipment including Chana International Corp. which has joint ventures with both Ford and Mazda. Electrovaya’s announcement comes less than a month after signing a strategic partnership with India’s TATA Motors to sell cars in Europe in 2009.

Where is Detroit?
Detroit’s Big Three (GM, Ford & Chrysler) are distracted by short-term challenges. Their ‘legacy costs’ associated with building cars around the combustion engine could keep it from leapfrogging into a new era of vehicle manufacturing and design based on electric motors.

Could we be witnessing a classic ‘low end disruption’ strategy evolving in the global auto industry as Asia grabs reigns on future of electric vehicles powered by batteries, fuel cells and capacitors?

How?

Global automakers figure out that the revolution is how you build cars, not how you fuel them that matters. (Oil is not the problem, the problem is the combustion engine.) The key to building low cost high performance electric cars revolves around energy storage systems. If it is cheaper to build energy storage systems in China than Ohio and Michigan, than the Rust Belt might struggle to grow cleantech jobs.

Electric car industry is going global, quickly!
Now that the US election is over, the tone of conversations could change significantly to reflect more pragmatic policies. One policy vision that could be destroyed is the notion of ‘energy independence’ via electric cars. This rhetoric could fade quickly as it becomes more clear that both the auto and energy industries are very global, and will likely continue to become more globally integrated in the post-combustion era.

We have featured dozens of stories of the globalization of the electric vehicle industry including Warren Buffets equity stake in Chinese energy storage company BYD, Korea’s push into energy storage manufacturing with General Motors, and Tata’s intention to sell electric cars inside Europe.

Energy Storage key to Accelerating Change
The key to electrifying the world’s transportation fleet is to advance and integrate energy storage systems around batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and capacitors.

Detroit’s future might depend on how the value chain unfolds around global energy storage systems. If Asia appears to be the lowest cost manufacturing hub for energy storage systems it could reinvent the world’s auto industry.

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