Sunday, May 31, 2009

Snarky CNBC report on "obsessed" Mini E driver

The first consumer with a Mini E lease, Peter Trepp, was interviewed on CNBC. The vroom- obsessed anchor concludes with an erroneous and unprofessional "gotcha" about coal. The report exudes such bias, you may want to let CNBC know how you feel here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Still pimping for hydrogen

Secretary Chu may have acted on the science, but the Terminator hasn't gotten the termination memo.
Reporter: Are you satisfied with the number of hydrogen stations and vehicles we have today?

Schwarzenegger: I wouldn't be here if I was. I'm hungry! I want more cars, more stations, and not just in California. I think Washington has to get with it. . . We will find the partners and we will build the stations. We always march forwards.

Electric car agitation in Norway

In Norway, the effort to find a means to get financing so Th!nk can fulfill existing orders for thousands of vehicles took to the streets on Tuesday. A 50-electric car parade took the issue right to the Trade and Industry Department in downtown Oslo. A concrete proposal for a Guarantee Institute for Electric Vehicles was presented to the government.

ElectricAid, Norstart and Bellona, along with politicians from the left and the right and the Green Party, Greenpeace and the Norwegian Environmental Union demonstrated support for a loan guarantee program. An answer should be forthcoming shortly.

They broke it, we own it

Looks like GM's imminent bankruptcy will result in the US government holding a 70% stake.

NY Times

Monday, May 25, 2009

First Electric Mini Delivered!

Peter Trepp in Southern California is the first consumer to take delivery of their electric Mini. The USA Today story begins:
"Peter Trepp just can't keep his foot off the accelerator of his new Mini E."
Peter blogs about his electric Mini at

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Toyota spokesman on PHEVs at EVS

You can smell the PHEV procrastination. Asked by the reporter when the plug-in Prius on display will be available in Norway, he replies:
"This is the first demonstration program. We have a small number of vehicles in Paris, France and in the UK and we're involved in gathering some data to understand how consumers actually use these vehicles...We will start much bigger scale demonstration... 100 vehicles in Strassbourg, and it's intended a 3 year trial to understand how consumers react, how they use the vehicle, to gather information and this will enable us to decide the best way to configure the vehicle and then we can make decisions about marketing. No decision about introduction of plug-in hybrid vehicle. The whole reason is we have to do the trial to better understand consumer requirements..."

[Source: Electricaid/Norstart]

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chu speaks on hydrogen and fuel cells

Sounding a lot like Joe Romm in Who Killed the Electric Car.
TR: The hydrogen fuel-cell program has been scaled back in the proposed budget, and the emphasis has been changed from transportation to buildings.

SC: That's right.

TR: It used to be thought, five to eight years ago, that hydrogen was the great answer for the future of transportation. The mood has shifted. What have we learned from this?

SC: I think, well, among some people it hasn't really shifted [laughs]. I think there was great enthusiasm in some quarters, but I always was somewhat skeptical of it because, right now, the way we get hydrogen primarily is from reforming [natural] gas. That's not an ideal source of hydrogen. You're giving away some of the energy content of natural gas, which is a very valuable fuel. So that's one problem. The other problem is, if it's for transportation, we don't have a good storage mechanism yet. Compressed hydrogen is the best mechanism [but it requires] a large volume. We haven't figured out how to store it with high density. What else? The fuel cells aren't there yet, and the distribution infrastructure isn't there yet. So you have four things that have to happen all at once. And so it always looked like it was going to be [a technology for] the distant future. In order to get significant deployment, you need four significant technological breakthroughs. That makes it unlikely.
From an interview with Kevin Bullis of Technology Review, here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tom Hanks on his electric car

Tom Hanks' letter to the editor of the New Yorker about his electric car, a Toyota RAV4 EV.

A letter in response to Peter J. Boyer’s article (April 27, 2009)

MAY 18, 2009
Peter J. Boyer, in his otherwise spot-on piece about the car industry, assumes that I once leased G.M.’s sadly fated EV1 electric car and, like other drivers of that twin-seat rocket of a vehicle, watched the emission-free car be wrested from my garage, towed away, and busted up into pieces of metal, glass, and rubber smaller than razor blades (“The Road Ahead,” April 27th). Luckily, I did not. The source of Boyer’s slight inaccuracy may have been the documentary film “Who Killed the Electric Car?,” which used a clip of a visit I made to the “Late Show with David Letterman,” during which I claimed to be saving America one electric car at a time. However, by the time I began shopping for an all-electric car, in 2003, the EV1 had already been yanked from showrooms as if the car had never existed. Instead, I found what was purported to be the very last electric car available for sale in the state of California—a Toyota EV. It had four doors, a rear hatch, room for my family, including a dog in the back, power windows, A/C, a great sound system, and the fastest, most effective windshield defroster known to mankind. When the car companies collectively, and, to some, diabolically, decided to take these cars back, the electric vehicles disappeared. But not mine. I have the pink slip. I own that car, and it is still driven every day, albeit by one of my crack staff of employees. My electric car recently crossed fifty thousand miles on the odometer with its original battery but without so much as a splash of gasoline.

Tom Hanks
Los Angeles, Calif.
Source: The New Yorker

Monday, May 11, 2009

Minneapolis gets EV Ready

Minneapolis will be getting 18 electric cars from Ford, and stimulus funding will be used to install charging points, as reported in the Twin Cities

Electric Minis only weeks away from delivery

Four hundred fifty electric Minis will hit the road in the next few weeks in California, New York and New Jersey. The leasees, who will have the car for one year, are chomping at the bit. Bill Nye the science guy will put aside his gas-guzzling Prius for twelve months. Ex-EV1 drivers will be among those taking advantage of their first opportunity to get back in an electric car. Ken Bensinger reports on a gathering in LA.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Chu kills fed fuel cell funding

The New York Times reports:
Cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells, once hailed by President George W. Bush as a pollution-free solution for reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, will not be practical over the next 10 to 20 years, the energy secretary said Thursday, and the government will cut off funds for the vehicles’ development.
It's about time. Gotta wonder what they're thinking about their pet project now in Sacramento. California does seems determined to be the last supporter of hydrogen and fuel cells left standing. There's still time to reallocate AB118 money being flushed away on a few hydrogen stations. CEC, CARB, anyone listening?

Source: NY Times

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Report shows bioelectricity yields more miles per acre than ethanol

It has been suggested before that it just might be more efficient to turn crops into electricity than biofuel, and here's a study that proves that to be the case.

According to the study co-sponsored by the Carnegie Institution for Science, "Bioelectricity was the clear winner in the transportation-miles-per-acre comparison, regardless of whether the energy was produced from corn or from switchgrass, a cellulose-based energy crop. "

"The internal combustion engine just isn't very efficient, especially when compared to electric vehicles,” says Elliott Campbell, lead author and professor at UC Merced. “Even the best ethanol-producing technologies with hybrid vehicles aren't enough to overcome this."

“Some approaches to bioenergy can make climate change worse, but other limited approaches can help fight climate change,” says Campbell. “For these beneficial approaches, we could do more to fight climate change by making electricity than making ethanol.”

And it's all here in this cool graphic. Click it to see it larger.

[Source: Carnegie Institution for Science]

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Oil makes us impotent

“I had a surprising call this week,” the author Richard North Patterson told the audience that had gathered last weekend as part of the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. It was former President Bill Clinton. Mr. Patterson’s new novel, “Eclipse,” is based on the case of the Nigerian writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, and Mr. Clinton spoke of a phone call he had made 14 years ago to Gen. Sani Abacha of Nigeria, asking him to spare Mr. Saro-Wiwa from the hangman.

Mr. Clinton said General Abacha “was very polite,” but “he was cold,” Mr. Patterson related. “Clinton took away from that, among other things, that oil and the need for oil on behalf of the West and other places made Abacha, in his mind, impervious.”

The event’s moderator, the Nigerian novelist Okey Ndibe, added an unexpected epilogue. A friend in the Abacha cabinet said the general later boasted: “All these pro-democracy activists run to America and expect America to save them. But the U.S. president himself is calling me ‘sir.’ He is scared of me.”

Source: New York Times