Tag Archives: Electric Vehicle

Electric cars could make or break the American auto industry’s job market. Nearly 75,000 jobs could be lost by 2030 without government investment

Credit: Pixabay.

The transition towards electric vehicles is inevitable. And like any disrupting technology, the effects on the industry and job market at large could create unwanted shock waves if this transition isn’t managed properly. Case in point, a new report released this week by the Economic Policy Institute found the U.S. auto industry could stand to lose about 75,000 jobs by 2030 due to things such as more overseas parts manufacturing and less domestic assembly.

The year 2030 has been eyed by President Biden as the time by which at least 50% of all new vehicles sold in the United States would be electric.

In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 7% of U.S. adults said they currently have an electric or hybrid vehicle, and 39% said they were very or somewhat likely to seriously consider buying an electric vehicle. But the U.S. represents only about 17% of the world’s total stock of 10.2 million electric vehicles, while China has 44% (more than 4.5 million) and the nearly 3.2 million in Europe account for about 31%. The high cost of acquisition and lack of cheap car insurance (electric vehicles cost approximately $442 more to insure than gas-powered ones) are still keeping undecided buyers on the sidelines.

In order to accelerate this transition, Democrats have circulated a plan in Congress that seeks to up the current $7,500 tax credit for the purchase of a new electric vehicle (EV) to as high as $12,500.

While these consumer subsidies are welcomed, economists argue that the government needs to also incentivize manufacturers in order to prevent jobs lost down the supply chain. Under the current plan discussed in Congress, EV buyers could be awarded an extra $4,500 credit for vehicles assembled at unionized factories in the U.S., as well as $500 if the vehicle’s battery was made domestically. These are good subsidies, however, they may still be not enough.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, about 50% of all EVs currently sold in the U.S. are made domestically. Less than half of the parts in the powertrains for U.S.-made electric vehicles are produced domestically, whereas three-quarters of the powertrain parts for U.S.-made gasoline vehicles are produced domestically.

If the market share of domestic manufacturers were to drop to 40% and powertrain manufacturing stayed the same, the industry could stand to lose 200,000 jobs. If it were to rise to 60%, the industry could gain 100,000 additional jobs by 2030.

These risks are due to fundamental differences between gasoline and electric car manufacturing. EVs require about 30% less labor to manufacture than gasoline-powered ones since they have much fewer moving parts.

Compare these numbers to China’s, the world’s largest EV market. In China, virtually all EVs sold in the country (98%) are assembled domestically. Nearly 100% of the value of a battery pack, by far the most expensive part for an electric vehicle, stays in China. In contrast, half of the value of the battery for EVs sold in the U.S. stays in foreign countries like South Korea, Japan, and China, which have a more robust battery manufacturing chain.

Unlike the U.S., China has offered a lot of subsidies to manufacturers. So much so that it found itself with too many EV manufacturers, many of which have gone bankrupt due to stiff competition.  Industry and Information Technology Minister Xiao Yaqing said that the government is now encouraging the consolidation of the market through mergers.

It’s not all bad news, though. Ford and General Motors have both announced they will be ramping up domestic battery production in order to minimize supply disruptions.

“U.S. automotive workers have had their economic opportunities and job quality battered for decades by harmful policy decisions. The massive coming shifts in automotive sales toward EVs present new challenges and opportunities for these workers. If policymakers ignore the opportunity to build the sector back stronger, large job losses and further degradation of job quality is the most likely outcome. If instead policymakers help meet this coming transformation with strong investment targeted at boosting the U.S. position in the electric vehicle market and in advanced vehicle technology manufacturing, and if these investments are accompanied by measures aimed at strengthening bargaining power for workers, then employment will expand in the U.S. auto sector and the number of unionized jobs will grow. With a smart policy push, the long downward slide in job quality will reverse at the same time that the U.S. leads in building the vehicles of the future and combating climate change,” the authors of the new report concluded.

Three-wheeled solar-powered EV allegedly has 1,000 miles of range

Credit: Aptera Motors.

Aptera Motors, an American startup company based in San Diego, California, recently announced a new three-wheeled electric car with a range of up to 1,000 miles. If you have at least one eyebrow raised in skepticism, you’re not alone. That’s because no other auto company, not even market leader Tesla, has come up with a vehicle close to this range. The catch? You can charge the car’s 100 kWh battery from an electrical outlet, but also while driving or parked thanks to its solar harvesting roof.

A solar batmobile

Electric vehicles have been bashed by skeptics for a number of reasons since they rose to prominence in the past decade. Two arguments usually come to mind. One is their limited range compared to a conventional petrol car on a full tank of gas, the other is environmental, with many critics highlighting the irony of buying a car to “go green” while charging using electricity from a coal-powered plant.

But with dramatic improvements in battery technology and rapid developments in charging infrastructure, as well as phenomenal deployments of wind and solar energy (The solar PV annual market could reach about 150 GW – an increase of almost 40% in just three years), these arguments are becoming obsolete.

Sales of electric cars topped 2.1 million globally in 2019, surpassing 2018 – already a record year – to boost the stock to 7.2 million electric cars and marking a 40% year-to-year increase.

Clearly, a lot of people love EVs, whose market is an increasing expansion. But those who are still not happy with their range or about the source of their charging electricity may find Aptera’s concept appealing. Previously, Aptera folded in 2011 after failing to secure a $150 million loan to produce its Aptera 2e vehicle.

Instead of a sedan or SUV, Aptera Motors designed a three-wheeled electric vehicle that is all about efficiency. The composite materials and the streamlined shape makes the three-wheeled vehicle light, compact, and fast.

According to the company, Aptera’s curvy vehicle has a drag coefficient of just 0.13, compared to 0.23 for Tesla’s Model 3 or 0.28 for Volkswagen’s ID 4. This highly efficient use of energy enables the car to travel up to 1,000 miles on a single charge.

Credit: Aptera Motors.

What’s more, the vehicle is covered in solar panels which would offer an additional 40 miles of range per day, depending on where in the world you park or drive it.

Preorders for Aptera’s Paradigm and Paradigm Plus models are open now for a price tag ranging between $25,900 and $46,000. The company expects to deliver them by the end of 2021. So far, the company has raised nearly $1.5 million from small private investors.

Having more electric vehicles won’t meet our climate targets

More than seven million electric vehicles are currently operational around the world. That’s a big step from the 20,000 that were in use a decade ago. Nevertheless, this technological leap, which will lower the use of fossil fuels in the long run, won’t be nearly enough to address the global climate crisis, according to a new study.

Credit Wikipedia Commons

Many governments around the world are betting on electric vehicles. Norway plans to ban sales of new internal combustion engines by 2025. The Netherlands will follow suit by 2030, while France and Canada have set a 2040 deadline. States in the U.S. are also joining the group, with California last week announcing a 2035 goal.

“A lot of people think that a large-scale shift to EVs will mostly solve our climate problems in the passenger vehicle sector,” said Alexandre Milovanoff, lead author of a new paper, in a press statement. “I think a better way to look at it is this: EVs are necessary, but on their own, they are not sufficient.”

Milovanoff and his team ran a detailed analysis of what a large-scale shift to electric vehicles would mean in terms of emissions and related impacts. They chose the United States as a test market, as the country is second only to China in terms of passenger vehicle sales and has lots of high-quality data available.

The researchers used computer models to estimate how many electric vehicles would be needed to keep the increase in global average temperatures to less than 2ºC above pre-industrial levels by the year 2100. This is the target included in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Their method allowed to convert the 2ºC target into a carbon budget for US passenger vehicles, then determining how many electric vehicles would be needed to stay within that budget. Their findings showed the US would need 350 million EVs on the road by 2050 to meet the target emissions reductions.

“To put that in perspective, right now the total proportion of EVs on the road in the U.S. is about 0.3% [of total],” said Milovanoff in a statement. “It’s true that sales are growing fast, but even the most optimistic projections suggest that by 2050, the U.S. fleet will only be at about 50% EVs.”

In addition to consumer preferences, there are other technological barriers to deploy more electric vehicles. The study showed that a fleet of 350 million EVs would increase annual electricity demand by 41% of current levels. This would demand a major investment in new infrastructure and new power plants, some of which would run without fossil fuels.

The shift to EVs would also impact the demand curve, which shows how demand for electricity rises and falls throughout the day, which would make the management of the national grid more difficult. Finally, the researcher said there could be technical challenges regarding the supply of materials such as lithium needed for the vehicle’s batteries.

That’s why the team concluded that getting so many EVs on the road by 2050 is unrealistic. Instead, they recommended a set of policies such as shifting from personal vehicles to other modes of transportation. These would mean a large investment in public transportation and the redesign of cities to allow more trips to be taken by bicycle or on foot.

“EVs really do reduce emissions, but they don’t get us out of having to do the things we already know we need to do,” said Heather MacLean, co-author, in a statement. “We need to rethink our behaviors, the design of our cities, and even aspects of our culture. Everybody has to take responsibility for this.”

The study was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Electric vehicles can save lives, reduce emissions, and prevent economic damages

Vehicle electrification across the US could prevent hundreds to thousands of premature deaths annually, while also reducing CO2 emissions by hundreds of millions of tons. Taken together, these effects would prevent substantial economic damages, according to a new study.

Credit Flickr Noya Fields (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Researchers from Northwestern University combined climate modeling with public health data to assess the impact electric vehicles (EV) can have on US lives and the economy. If EVs replace 25% of combustion-engine cars, the country would save $17 billion annually by avoiding damages from air pollution and climate change.

“Vehicle electrification in the US could prevent hundreds to thousands of premature deaths annually while reducing carbon emissions by hundreds of millions of tons,” Daniel Peters, who led the study, said in a press release.

“This highlights the potential of co-beneficial solutions to climate change that not only curb greenhouse gas emissions but also reduce the health burden of harmful air pollution.”

The researchers focused on the US light-duty transportation sector, which accounted for 29% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the country in 2017. Within the transportation sector, up to 60% of GHG emissions came from light-duty vehicles. The sector has been a key focus for states such as California over the last few years.

To carry out the study, Peters and his team looked at the vehicle fleet and emissions data from 2014. They found that if 25% of the US drivers adopted EVs in 2015 then 250 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would have been mitigated. Combustion engines also produce harmful pollutants that can cause health problems, such as asthma and chronic bronchitis.

“A good example is to look at nitrogen oxides (NOx), a group of chemicals produced by fossil-fuel combustion,” Peters explained. “NOx itself is damaging to respiratory health, but when it’s exposed to sunlight and volatile organic compounds in the atmosphere, ozone and particulate matter can form.”

To account for these interactions, the researchers developed a model that simulates the weather and chemistry in the atmosphere, including interactions between car exhaust, other sources of emissions, and power generation.

They used the model to simulate changes in air pollutant levels across the lower 48 states, based on different levels of EV adoption and renewable energy generation. They combined this data with already available county health information, which allowed to evaluate health consequences from the air quality changes caused by the adoption of EVs.

“People have been developing solutions to climate change for years,” said Northwestern’s Daniel Horton, senior author of the study. “But we need to rigorously assess these solutions. This study presents a nuanced look at EVs and energy generation and found that EV adoption not only reduces greenhouse gases but saves lives.”

The study was published in the journal GeoHealth.

World’s largest electric vehicle fully recharges itself

The world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) is a 45-ton dump truck operating at a quarry in Biel, Switzerland. However, it’s not its size that makes this EV particularly impressive. What truly sets it apart is that you virtually never have to plug it in.

The Elektro Dumper — the largest EV in the world. Credit: Kuhn Schweitz AG.

Each day, the eDumper truck hauls 65 tons of rock collected off the side of a mountain, then descends down a 13-percent slope to a cement processing plant.

At 110-tons during its descent, the truck is more than twice as heavy than during its ascent to the collection point. This huge inertia enables the truck’s regenerative braking system to capture more than enough energy required to charge the eDumper for its trip up the quarry.

Moving vehicles can have a lot of kinetic energy, and when brakes are applied to slow a vehicle, all of that kinetic energy has to go somewhere. In most vehicles, that energy is lost as heat, but electric vehicles use the motor as a generator to convert much of the kinetic energy into stored energy in the vehicle’s battery.  These days, you can find regenerative braking in everything from electric bicycles and skateboards to electric scooters.

Credit: Kuhn Schweitz AG.

The eDumper was made by Kuhn Schweitz AG, based on a Komatsu HB 605-7. The EV truck is 9 meters long (30 ft.), 4.2 meters wide (14 ft.), and 4.2 meters tall (14 ft.). When fully raised, the dump bed reaches up to 8.5 meters in height (28 ft.).

Powering the truck is a massive 600-kilowatt-hour battery pack, which carries nearly six times the energy density in a Tesla Model S and weighs 4.5 tons (9,000 pounds).

Thanks to regenerative braking, the eDumper captures potential energy traveling down a slope with an excess load to power its batteries. Each year, the truck saves 50,000 tons of diesel, thereby reducing its CO2 footprint by 1.3 million kg.

It’s truly impressive how far EVs have gone. More than two million plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) were sold in 2018, a 63% increase from 2017. Meanwhile, companies are experimenting with electric trucks, boats, and even airplanes.

Electric vehicle charging sign.

There are now over three million electric vehicles on the world’s roads, after massive sales in 2017

Global sales of electric cars rose by over 50% in the past year, the International Energy Agency reported on Wednesday.

Electric vehicle charging sign.

Image credits Ken Kistler.

People still love cars, but they seem to be more careful about the vehicles’ impact on the environment — at least, judging by what they’re buying. Sales of electric cars across the world rose by 54% in 2017, passing the three-million units mark, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), an autonomous Paris-based intergovernmental organization that “works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy” for its member countries.

China remains the largest single market for electric vehicles (EVs) in the world, with the IEA reporting that sales there rose roughly by half. However, EVs maintain a relatively small market share of 2.2%. On the other end of the scale lies Norway, the country where EVs can boast the highest market share — but even here it’s only 6.4%.

Despite their relative scarcity so far, the rise in sales of EVs is a good sign, the International Energy Agency’s report adds. Over 1 million new EVs were sold worldwide in 2017, setting a new record. The three countries that saw the most sales of new EVs were Norway (39.2% of total), Iceland (11.7%), and Sweden (6.3%). China came in fourth (2.2% of total sales), followed by Germany (1.6%).

If policymakers stand true to the environmental goals they pledged to in Paris, we’ll see an even more significant increase in personal EVs in the near future — up to a total of 125 million by 2030, the IEA estimates.

“Supportive policies and cost reductions are likely to lead to significant growth in the market uptake of (electric vehicles) in the outlook period to 2030,” the report reads.

In case we pursue a more ambitious policy in favor of electronic vehicles, that total could get as high as 220 million by 2030, it adds.

While governments have the power to make this transition happen, they also have the power to break it: without policy to promote the sale and use of EVs in the future, they likely won’t overtake their petrol and diesel competitors, the report explains.

“The main markets by volume (China) and sales share (Norway) have the strongest policy push,” the IEA said. “Looking ahead, the strongest current policy signals emanate from electric car mandates in China and California, as well as the European Union’s recent proposal on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions standards for 2030.”

The EU has so far made some important moves in favor of EVs — which do not release greenhouse gases — as part of its pledge to reduce emissions by “at least 40% below 1990s levels” and boost renewable energy use up by at least 27%. EVs are made even more attractive here by recent announcements of EU countries such as France that the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned by 2040 in order to meet the targets of the Paris climate accord.

Manufacturers are also keen to get a foothold into the EV market, with the likes of Volkswagen investing heavily in their development. Furthermore, decreasing battery costs, coupled with higher capacity, and a more robust infrastructure (be it charging stations or electrified roads) are also powering the success of EVs.

3D-printed car.

World’s first mass-produced, 3D-printed car is electric, looks cool and costs under $10K

Three-dimensional printed cars will soon find their way to driveways and cul-de-sacs all across the world as the first mass-produced vehicle of its kind aims to revolutionize the auto industry.

3D-printed car.

Image via Polymaker.

Cars are a pretty big investment. They are also quite necessary for some and quite desirable for others. So why not keep the second part but drop the price? That’s what Italian-based electric car company XEV and 3D-printing material company Polymaker want to achieve with a tiny but adorable car called the LSEV.

“XEV is the first real mass production project using 3D printing,” said  Dr. Luo Xiaofan, co-founder and CEO of Polymaker, during a recent press conference at the 3D-Printing Cultural Museum in Shanghai.

“By saying real, I mean there are also lots of other companies using 3D printing for production. But nothing can really compare with XEV in terms of the size, the scale, and the intensity.”

According to CNBC, the printed car will weigh just around 450 kgs (992 pounds), takes just three days to print, and will bring you back under $10K. The secret behind this price tag, Polymaker says, lies in the 3D printing process itself. The company managed to shrink the number of plastic components that go into the vehicle from 2,000 to just 57. This makes it much faster and cheaper to print, but also lighter than any comparable vehicle. Apart from the chassis, seats, and glass panes, every visible part of the car was 3D-printed.

It does come with limitations, however — this isn’t a sports car. It’ll do up to 43 mph (around 70km/h), and a single charge will cover about 93 miles (150km). Not good if you’re trying to cross the border to Mexico in a hurry — but really handy when you have to zip about through a crowded city. The vehicle’s relatively small dimensions also help in this regard.

People seem to agree with me: as XEV reports, they’ve already received 7,000 orders for their car, despite the fact that production should start sometime in the quarter of 2019.

“This strategic partnership between XEV and Polymaker leads to a revolutionary change in automotive manufacturing,” writes Polymaker. “It is possible that similar changes, related with 3D printing technology, will happen to every aspect of manufacturing very soon.”

MIT and Lamborghini team up to create electric car of the future

The future is here — and it’s driving a fantastic car.

Image credits: Emrick Elias.

In a time when cities are getting more and more crowded and the bulk of research seems to be aimed at making cars more sustainable and smart, the good old fashioned sports car seems to have lost some of its identity. Tesla Motors changed all that with the Roadster, an electric car that manages to stand its own against the sleekest and fastest of cars. Now, Lamborghini wants to take things to the next level. They teamed up with MIT engineers to create a prototype for the Terzo Millenio (the Third Millenium), an electric, self-healing car which can deliver high peak power and regenerate kinetic energy.

Lamborghini will provide the sweet set of wheels and the technology they have developed so far, while MIT boffins such as associate professor of chemistry Mircea Dinca will ensure its ability to harvest and save energy while safeguarding the high standards Lamborghini drivers have gotten used to.

“The new Lamborghini collaboration allows us to be ambitious and think outside the box in designing new materials that answer energy storage challenges for the demands of an electric sport vehicle,” says Dinca. “We look forward to teaming up with their engineers and work on this exciting project.”

Interestingly, the Terzo Millennio wants to get rid of batteries and instead use supercapacitors to store energy. Supercapacitors are high-capacity capacitors with extremely high capacitance values but lower voltage limits — i.e. they can store a lot of electrical energy on relatively low “pressures”, meaning it can be hard to push it down long circuits. Simply put, this makes them suitable for many rapid charge/discharge cycles rather than long-term compact energy storage. Supercapacitors also help with regenerative braking — an energy recovery mechanism which slows a vehicle or object by converting its kinetic energy into electrical energy which can be later used to fuel the car. The technology fits with the idea of a powerful electric car, but presents significant autonomy challenges.

Lamborghini also wants to revolutionize the engine concept, to offer even more power and freedom of design. Instead of having just one engine and send the power to the wheels, they want each wheel to have its own engine. This, says Lamborghini, allows for lots of torque and moving energy by wire instead of a cumbersome and heavy driveshaft.

The car will also use technology developed by John Hart, associate professor of mechanical engineering, who will work on the carbon fiber and composite materials which could enable the complete body of the car to somehow be used as a battery system.

It’s an intriguing, exciting concept which promises to revolutionize cars, but it remains to be seen whether this will be anything more than an interesting concept. Still, either way, the sports car seems to be getting back some of its identity.

British Royal Mail to start piloting sleek electric trucks

The famously red Royal Mail is going green.

Red on the outside, green on the inside. Image credits: Arrival.

Every single day, thousands of British mailmen load up their trucks and drive to different houses on different streets, delivering all sorts of post and packages. The British sure love their mail system, as they should. It’s far from perfect but it works, it’s efficient, and something about the small red truck turning the corner on your street just gives you a small, pleasant tingling. But soon, the familiar shape of the Royal Mail trucks might change, and it might change for the better.

Nine electric trucks of varying sizes and ranges up to 100 miles (160 km) will roll out of Royal Mail’s central London depot from today, carrying parcels to London and around. The trucks, weighing 3.5, 6, and 7.5 tonnes respectively, are part of a one year trial.

Paul Gatti, Royal Mail Fleet’s managing director, says this is part of a larger effort to make the 49,000-car fleet more eco-friendly.

“We have trialled electric trucks before but not of this type of innovative design,” Gatti said. “Royal Mail is delighted to be collaborating with Arrival and pioneering the adoption of large electric commercial vehicles. We will be putting them through their paces over the next several months to see how they cope with the mail collection demands from our larger sites.”

The company producing these trucks, Arrival, says that they’re the first ones to emerge from its 110,000 square foot factory in the Midlands in England, but more will come. Gatti says that establishing such partnerships are vital to the company’s sustainable goals. Arrival claims it can produce 50,000 such trucks a year, due to its factory being fully automatized.

The same trucks, on a different colour. Image credits: Arrival.

Aside from being electric, the trucks are also cheap — just as cheap as diesel cars, Arrival CEO Denis Sverdlov says, thus removing the main barrier to go electric. They also feature an AI to support the driver, as well as a large front window that warps around him, allowing a larger field of view around the truck.

This isn’t the only avenue Royal Mail is taking to reduce its carbon footprint. Just earlier this year, the company has announced an agreement with Peugeot to purchase 100 zero-emission Partner L2 Electric vans, to be used by postmen on delivery rounds. This is a move that has been hailed by everyone, including the consumers.

“Our research has shown that electric vans are a good operational fit with our business and we are delighted to be ordering such a large volume to use in our daily operations. This is good news for our customers and the towns and cities which we serve.”

The vans will roll out in December, as charging stations will be installed at different delivery offices across the UK.

With a fleet of 49,000 vehicles, 9 trucks and 100 vans aren’t going to make much of a difference. But it’s a good start. The Royal Mail shows not only that it’s not clinging to the past, but that it’s quick to adapt to the needs of a changing world. The company was founded in 1516 and remained state-owned for 499 years, until 2013, when a majority of the shares in Royal Mail were floated on the London Stock Exchange. Many feared what was to come, but so far, things seem to be carrying on quite smoothly. A report revealed that the public deeply wants to continue supporting the Royal Mail and invest in it — around 700,000 applications for shares had been received by the Government, more than seven times the amount that is available to the public.

Elsewhere in the world, Deutsche Post (Germany) has been building its own electric delivery vans. They recently announced a partnership with Ford to build a fleet of 2,500 bigger all-electric delivery trucks.

Credit: Tesla.

Tesla will double the stations in its Supercharger network by the end of the year

As Tesla prepares to roll out the Model 3, a mid-priced electric sedan which signals the company’s transition from high-end electric cars to mass-market adoption, one big priority is upgrading the charging infrastructure. To cover massive upcoming demand, Tesla is planning on significantly expanding its charging stations, including the high-speeding docking stations known as the SuperCharger. The number of SuperChargers around the world is set to double by the end of the year, according to a recent press release.

Credit: Tesla.

Credit: Tesla.

Tesla started 2017 with 5,000 Superchargers around the world and 9,000 Destination chargers, the latter being various charging stations at hotels, resorts, and restaurants installed by Tesla itself. By the end of the year, the number of Superchargers should rise to 10,000, a thousand of which will be installed in California alone. Another 6,000 Destination chargers will also be added globally.

Despite the big upgrade which will see 150% more Superchargers in North America, it’s unclear whether Tesla can satisfy most of its 200,000 clients, especially as the Model 3 is set for release this year. There are over 400,000 Model 3 pre-orders that need to be delivered by 2019. According to Ben Sullins of Teslanomics, right now there are 105 Teslas for every Supercharger station in California.

Tesla's Supercharger network. Grayed-out pins are upcoming. Credit: Tesla.

Tesla’s Supercharger network. Grayed-out pins are upcoming. Credit: Tesla.

A Supercharger outputs 120kW of power compared to only 35 to 50kW, the typical rating of DC Quick Chargers (CHAdeMO and SAE-CCS). A Tesla should be able to get charge 80% of the battery in 40 minutes and a full charge in 75 minutes. Because they’re not nearly as numerous as gas stations, the policy right now is to place them less than an 80% charge away from any adjacent station. If you check out the Supercharge map on Tesla’s website, you’ll see some places are more crowded than others. On the busiest routes, Tesla will make it possible for dozens of Superchargers to service vehicles simultaneously. Most Supercharger hotspots, even in California, are capped at 20 stalls. Moving to 50 or 100 individuals chargers sounds like a very big move.

“In addition, many sites will be built further off the highway to allow local Tesla drivers to charge quickly when needed, with the goal of making charging ubiquitous in urban centers,” Tesla announced.

All customers who bought a Tesla after Jan. 15 2017 can use a Supercharger for free up for up to about 1,000 miles worth of electricity every year. For most owners, that’s almost free charging all year-round on the road since the bulk of charging is done at home.

FF car

Faraday Future’s secret all-electric SUV spotted in Los Angeles

FF car

Credit: Twitter

Faraday Future, a new electric car company with billions in undisclosed funding, has been making waves in the past 12 months. The company has recruited a lot of talent, like top executives from Apple, Google and even its direct competitor Tesla Motors. It’s all sitting on a big pile of cash and plans to open a $1bn. factory soon in Nevada. But all this hype and absolutely nothing to show apart from a fantasy muscle car has made a lot of people weary, including yours truly.

It seems, however, that FF is actually farther ahead than critics thought. A Twitter user spotted one of the company’s SUV prototypes on the streets of L.A., and though the vehicle was camouflaged, its defining features are too similar to the silhouette sneak peak Faraday showcased at CES 2016, Las Vegas, a couple of months back.

The FF crossover silhouette presented at CES 2016. Credit: Autoblog

The FF crossover silhouette presented at CES 2016. The hatch hinges protruding from the rear of the roof match those photographed earlier in L.A.  Credit: Autoblog

Judging from the single picture, it seems FF’s intention is to compete directly with Tesla Motors’ Model X — a large and lengthy crossover. But right now, that’s only speculation based on appearance given that we have absolutely no specs at hand.

One thing we know for sure, however, is that this crossover and any other vehicle FF eventually releases will feature the company’s signature Variable Platform Architecture chassis. We’ve seen it presented at CES when FF showcased a monster concept car called the FFZERO1. What’s interesting about the architecture is that it enables a modular and flexible platform. Basically, a customer can order his own custom car based on specs like battery capacity, four wheel drive, etc.

How the Variable Platform Architecture works.

Previously, Faraday Future received permission from the California DMV to test driverless cars on the state’s roads. Will this secret crossover also drive itself or at least partially? It’s very likely at this point.

The hype is still here to stay, though. Faraday Future has a lot of things to do and show before it can prove itself.

charging station EV

EV charging hubs set to outnumber Petrol Stations in the UK by 2020, Nissan says

In only four years’ time public electric vehicle (EV) charging spots will outnumber petrol stations in the UK, claims Nissan.

charging station EV

Credit: EnergyTrends.org

The automaker published a report in which it claims there are only 8,472 traditional fuel stations left in the UK, down from 37,539 in 1970. Based on the current rate of decline, this figure is supposed to drop to 7,870 by summer 2020. EV charging spots, however, are rapidly increasing in numbers through the country. By the same date, these charging locations are expected to reach 7,900, Nissan reckons. This shift might actually happen sooner, depending on how fast Brits switch to EVs and manufacturers can cut down prices.

Right now, there are 4,100 public EV charging locations in the UK. It might not seem like much, but we ought to consider there were only a couple hundred in 2011. This accelerated growth is driven by rapid adoption of EVs as well as generous infrastructure investments made by operators.

“As electric vehicle sales take off, the charging infrastructure is keeping pace and paving the way for convenient all-electric driving,” said Edward Jones, EV manager at Nissan Motor in a statement. “Combine that with constant improvements in our battery performance and we believe the tipping point for mass EV uptake is upon us.

“As with similar breakthrough technologies, the adoption of electric vehicles should follow an ‘S-curve’ of demand. A gradual uptake from early adopters accelerates to a groundswell of consumers buying electric vehicles just as they would any other powertrain.”

While EV stations might soon outnumber petrol cars, the two are not equivalent in convenience, however. There are four main EV charging types: Slow (up to 3kW) which is best suited for 6-8 hours overnight; Fast (7-22kW) which can fully recharge some models in 3-4 hours; and Rapid AC and DC (43-50kW) which are able to provide an 80% charge in around 30 minutes. In a petrol station, you can get quick refuel in under 5 minutes, though. This setback might falter in the coming years though as operators use more efficient, larger batteries as well as faster charging stations, i.e. Tesla’s SuperCharger network.

In Japan, there are already more EV charging spots than petrol stations, and Bloomberg Energy News predicts EVs will be cheaper than conventional automobiles by 2022 on a total cost of ownership basis.

Elon Musk stepping out of the Model X. Image: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Tesla’s Model X crossover looks straight from the future

Tesla Model X

The gorgeous Model X. Credit: Tesla Motors

In front of hundreds of guests, Tesla’s CEO, the ever resourceful Elon Musk, unveiled the company’s new model: the Model X crossover. It’s been a long heralded and waited vehicle, and it sure didn’t disappoint. This beauty, all dressed in white, looks more like a bird than a car with its upward-opening “falcon doors”. It also flies like one, reaching 0 to 60mph in 3.2 seconds making it the world’s quickest SUV. Wait ’till the kids see it.

Elon Musk stepping out of the Model X. Image: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Elon Musk stepping out of the Model X. Image: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Though they look great, have plenty of space and are very comfortable, I personally hate SUVs since they eat up too much gas. That’s not friendly to your pocket, nor the environment. While Tesla will definitely hurt that wallet (the Model X sells for a breathtaking $132,000…), at least there’s less environmental strain. It’s definitely refreshing to see an all electric SUV on the streets for a change.

“The mission of Tesla is to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport,” CEO Elon Musk said at the car’s reveal, held at the company’s factory in Fremont, California. “It’s important to know that any kind of car can go electric.”

Besides its falcon doors (wings?), which can open with as little as 12 inches on each side of the vehicle, the Model X also has a couple of other very interesting, let’s say unique, features. One of them is the windshield – the largest ever seen in a car. This extends all the way over the driver’s head so you have a complete 90 degrees view. It might prove hard to keep your eyes on the road though when you can perfectly see the sky from the front seat.

Tesla employees demonstrate how much luggage you can fit it in the car. It's been described as "cavernous". Image: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Tesla employees demonstrate how much luggage you can fit it in the car. It’s been described as “cavernous”. Image: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Other things of note is the car’s incredible high torque capable of easily towing 5,000 pounds, or more than enough for a boat or trailer. The batteries were also cleverly placed at the low of the vehicle so it’s harder for it to topple over. Just like the Model S P85D, the Model X has a 250 mile range. In other words, it all looks and behaves awesomely. It’s really hard to spot a flaw (apart from the pricing, of course). Maybe those falcon doors, since you wouldn’t dare opening it in your garage. Just kidding, the doors are equipped with smart sensors that stop or revert when an obstacle is sensed.  Then again, if you can afford a car nearly as expensive as a house (not in San Francisco, I know, calm down) you should re-design your garage as well.

[MORE] Why Tesla’s Battery Might Spell a Global Energy Revolution

If you’re an audiophile, you’ll instantly fall in love with the Model X. It has 17 speakers worth 560 watts littering the car’s interior. These were developed in-house by Tesla to make sure it falls under their strict specifications, like power consumption – always a top consideration for EVs.

It looks like the Model X is the first luxury electric SUV, but it might not be alone for long. Bently plans to release its plug-in hybrid Bentayga SUV in 2016,  Audi showed off an all-electric crossover concept which might be ready by 2019, and leading companies like BMW, Lamborghini and Aston Martin all want a cut. Tesla is first, though. Can you believe people call this a family car? Amazing!

tesla_model_x

Tesla seeks to make EVs mainstream: announces new car at half the price of Model S

This is an official, fan-made rendition of how the Tesla Model 3 might look like.

This is an official, fan-made rendition of how the Tesla Model 3 might look like.

Despite the naysayers and constant thorns thrown about by oil lobbyists in the  US, Elon Musk‘s Tesla is doing fine, thanks to fantastic leadership, innovative marketing (free charging, battery swapping, Tesla’s own supercharge west coast highway, etc.) and sound engineering. Still, Tesla is an inaccessible brand for most people because of its high-end pricing, but not for long. The company recently announced it will soon release its third car, dubbed Model 3, which will address a far wider audience being priced at only $35,000 or roughly half as much as the successful Model S.

The Model S has been a success for Tesla. The EV is just as a fast and reliable as any luxury sports roadster that uses internal combustion, accelerating  0-60 mph in only 4.2 seconds, and with a range of 300 miles it does well to compensate for most autonomy issues people usually have with electric vehicles. Priced at $70,000 for the cheapest version and going upwards $90,000 for the top-end option, it’s clear the Model S is geared towards wealthy early adopters. Spring doesn’t come with only flower, though, and while Tesla is profitable, with only 30,000 units shipped so far, it’s hard to believe Tesla will revolutionize the automobile industry at this rate.

This is where the Model 3 comes in. While we’ve yet to hear anything really specific about it, apart from the pricing and a 2016 release date, Tesla’s lead designer Franz von Holzhausen has said previously that the Model 3 will have a more distinctive design than the Model S. The car itself will be 20% smaller, fairly lighter and a lot cheaper. So, where’s does the price cut come from? At half the Model S price, expect some lower performance. Tesla officials have been quoted saying the Model 3 will have a range of 200 miles (compared to 300 for the Model S) and will most likely feature lower power. Some of the lower costs, however, have been driven by optimizations  like better batteries which are always improving year round.

tesla_model_x

In the meantime, the second car slated for release by Tesla will be the Model X  – a crossover utility vehicle based on the Model S, but with a higher roof and falcon-wing doors – with a target delivery date of Q2 2015. With the Model X and Model 3, Tesla plans to finally make EV mainstream and push the company out of its early adopters cone. Funny enough, the Model 3 was initially named Model E, but a potential lawsuit with Ford forced the company to change it.

“We had the model S for sedan and X for crossover SUV, then a friend asked what we were going to call the third car. So I said we had the Model S and X, we might as well have the E. We were going to call it model E for a while and then Ford sued us saying it wanted to use the Model E — I thought this is crazy, Ford’s trying to kill sex! So we’ll have to think of another name. The new model is going to be called Model 3, we’ll have three bars to represent it and it’ll be S III X!” said Musk.

Tesla Model S at a charging station

TESLA expands charging network across west coast, aims to cover 98% of the US by 2015

Tesla Model S at a charging station

Tesla Model S at a charging station

A lot of Americans are buying into the electric car dream. As noble as this may be, despite the fact that EVs are  far from being pure ‘green’, there are numerous challenges faced by the industry which have deterred a lot of folks from switching to electric cars such as the one offered by Tesla Motors. One such big issue is charging on the road. You can travel anywhere in the US and be sure that you’re within an hour tops from a gas station. Elon Musk, Tesla founder and CEO, aims to reach the same kind of practicability conventional internal combustion vehicles offer. A first obvious step is to open charging service stations through out the country.

Tesla is expanding furiously in this direction, not being willing to take chances and wait for this kind of infrastructure to build itself. Recently, the company announced the opening of the West Coast Supercharger Corridor, energizing a network of stations that enable Model S owners to travel for free between San Diego, California and Vancouver, British Columbia. Tesla owners are thus no farther than 200 miles from a charging station.

[RELATED] New York is planning wireless charging manholes for electric cars 

Here’s the gist though, because people are weird and not always rational. Most people will drive as a year to year average no more than 40 miles each day, mostly on commutes. You’ll often hear arguments like “What if I decide to drive 500 miles north to see a horse race?”. Have you ever seen a horse race or drove for more than 500 miles? “No”. This is what people in the EV industry call an anticipatory objection. People might only drive a couple times a year more than 200 miles, but that doesn’t stop them for imagining a long-shot perspective in the future which greatly influences their buying decision. Couple this with having to stop and charge about one hour ever 150-200 miles or so and you’ve got yourself quite the hurdle. Tesla is addressing all of these issues.

Tesla charging points in 2015. According to Tesla 98% of the US population will have access to charging.

Tesla charging points in 2015. According to Tesla 98% of the US population will have access to charging.

Tesla Superchargers are substantially more powerful than any other charging technology in the world, capable of charging Model S 20x faster than most public charging stations. Superchargers deliver up to 120 kW DC (Direct Current) power directly to the Model S battery, providing half a charge in as little as 20 minutes, according to their statement.  By 2015, Musk wants to have service stations that provide fast charging for as many as 10 cars at a time littered all over the country and to demonstrate his concept, he plans on traveling cross-country in a Tesla Model S with his kids.

Even so, for 200 miles worth of travel estimated by Tesla at 80% battery worth or at least 40 minutes of charging time this adds up to at least nine hours of dead time in his 3,200-mile trek. Tesla is sexy, powerful, clean even in some environmental respects, however let’s not kid ourselves you’re not going to convince anyone with these charging times. Here’s what brilliant marketing and engineering meet , though.

Across all Tesla service stations Model S owners can charge for free. Need to charge and fly? No problem, then you swap your empty battery for a full one at a nominal fee. During a PR event sometime ago, two Tesla batteries were replaced in less time than it took to refuel an Audi at a gas station.  This kind of servicing tech is set to be rolled out this winter and will cost somewhere between $60 to $80 or the equivalent of 15 gallons worth of gas. The message is clear: you’re a Tesla client, in other words you’re an innovator who wants to make a contribution to saving the world, so you get your charging free; you’re in hurry, so here’s this solution.

The whole idea is eliminating all the hassles associated with EV to the point that it becomes common sense to buy one instead of a internal combustion engine. If Musk pull this off, well… he has nothing left to prove anymore.

Green Garage Can Be Done

Why you should build an eco-friendly garage

Green Garage Can Be Done

Green Garage Can Be Done

More and more people are becoming aware of the harmful effect that human activity is having on the environment, and are attempting to reduce the impact by making alterations to their lifestyle and homes. The concept of energy saving ‘eco garages’ is also becoming increasingly popular, not only do they conserve energy but also save money. You can build large concrete garages that will shelter your pride and joy cars but also get on the green band wagon.

Concrete Can Be Cheap and Eco

Green Concrete Being Laid

Green Concrete Being Laid

Some may already have concrete garages, which is a great start. Concrete is an incredibly cheap and sustainable material. Pervious concrete allows water to drain back into the ground on which it is laid when it rains. In terms of using it for roofing, it is waterproofed using Hydrophobic Pore-Blocking Ingredients (HPI’s), to repel water and blocks out dampness and leaks and is extremely hardy, therefore cutting down on future repair costs. Green concrete offers a variety of cost effective options for building an environmentally friendly garage.

The Door

Of course you’ll also need a garage door. There is a range of recycled and recyclable materials available in all colours and styles so there is no need to compromise on the appearance of the garage. They are weather resistant and designed to effectively insulate the building to prevent heat loss. This is particularly useful if the garage is attached to the home and saves not only energy but unnecessary extra cost to the owner. To add to this, you could provide power to the garage by installing solar panels in the roof.

Electric Car Charging Point

Teslar Charging

Teslar Charging

The ultimate eco-garage would obviously house an electric car and domestic charging point for the vehicle.

It is thought that by the year 2020, ten per cent of vehicles purchased will be electric cars.  With the commencement of various schemes across  the UK, not only are charging points being installed  in public places such as supermarkets and car parks, but people are now being encouraged to have them fitted domestically.

UK Energy Saving Trust

UK Energy Saving Trus

UK Energy Saving Trus

In Scotland, The Energy Saving Trust are offering grants to residents to install a completely free 32 amp domestic charging point, with all installation costs covered as well, and with numbers of electric car sales estimated to increase this year in the UK, similar schemes will be offered elsewhere. So why does it make sense to have a charging point at home?

Well, for a lot of people that return home for the evening night, their electric vehicle can be charging whilst they sleep. Off peak electricity is far cheaper and with no fuel costs to pay this means the running of the car will be extremely cheap. Not only is this beneficial to the owner, but will do wonders for reducing carbon emissions. If you consider the predictions that there could be 700,000 solar powered homes by 2020, this will mean extremely good news for the environment. In New York, there’s actually a pilot program which allows electric cars to recharge when parked using wireless induction via charging docks that look like manholes.

 

wireless charging new york

New York is planning wireless charging manholes for electric cars

wireless charging new york

(C) HEVO

A 2013 study by MIT indicates that 53,000 early deaths per year occur because of vehicle emissions. Cleaner, more efficient vehicles have been a priority for automakers for years now, but these cars still directly pollute anyway. Electric vehicles, while with current technology still indirectly pollute through their carbon footprint during manufacturing and charging (remember electricity in most parts of the world is still generated through burning coal!), are clearly the cleanest alternative. There are many drawbacks, however, to EVs that keep many from adopting them. One big issue many car owners face that keeps them from turning ‘green’ is autonomy. A nifty and creative solution proposed by New York startup HEVO  aims to solve this issue. Their plan is to create special, reserved parking spaces where a sort of manhole wirelessly charges the car parked underneath it.

All electric vehicles have a driving range of roughly 200 km. That’s more than enough to cover the average daily travel needs of an user, around 47 km. Still many are frightened they’ll get stranded in the middle of the street or can’t pull their car off the drive way the next morning if they forget to plug their vehicle for charging. What if you could charge as you drive? That’s really bold, but very hard to implement. Right now, it’s more practical to be able to charge where you park.

What if most parking spots were equipped with mini charging stations? Certainly, this kind of initiative would help solve a lot of headaches and maybe convince a lot of people to switch to electric. Wireless charging would be ideal since you don’t want charging cords littered throughout the city which is already hectic enough.

HEVO Power from HEVO Power on Vimeo.

The system proposed by HEVO provides 220V using induction and up to 10 KW of energy from the manhole charging pad to the vehicle. The vehicle needs to be already equipped with a receiver along the drive train to absorb the power. According to HEVO, 10 hours of charge would be enough to provide 175 miles worth of travel. For now, HEVO plans to open its first two charging stations early next year in lower Manhattan, servicing New York University’s fleet. This kind of service won’t be limited for fleets though. Individual EV car owners would be able to reserve an electric-charged parking space, too.

Wireless charging seems to work best for transit systems. Last year I reported how the world’s first wirelessly charged transit bus was commissioned , and South Korea is currently experimenting with a pilot program that charges municipal buses directly from the road using similar wireless technology.

Utah State University has demonstrated a first-of-its-kind electric bus that is charged through wireless charging technology. The Aggie Bus, shown here driving through USU's Innovation Campus, achieved several significant milestones. (c) USU

World’s first wirelessly charged electric transit bus unveiled

Utah State University has demonstrated a first-of-its-kind electric bus that is charged through wireless charging technology. The Aggie Bus, shown here driving through USU's Innovation Campus, achieved several significant milestones. (c) USU

Utah State University has demonstrated a first-of-its-kind electric bus that is charged through wireless charging technology. The Aggie Bus, shown here driving through USU’s Innovation Campus, achieved several significant milestones. (c) USU

While the first electric public transport vehicle become operational more than a century ago when the first trolleys rolled on the streets of Europe’s capitals and America’s major cities,  development towards autonomous electric public transportation hasn’t really developed that much since then. Sure power and efficiency has evolved tremendously, but the working principle is more or less the same. Recently, Utah State University unveiled something worth presenting to the world, after it released, through a spin-off company, the world’s first wirelessly charged electric bus.

When inductive charging was first introduced by Nikola Tesla, like most of his inventions that later become fundamental to human civilization, his work was labelled as unpracticle. Yet far from his brilliant vision of a wireless electrical grid that can transfer energy from point A to point B no matter the distance, recent technological advancements has made wireless charging a reality albeit over short distances.

Called the Aggie Bus, the all electric bus is based on Utah State University’s wireless power transfer system, publicly presented a mere 16 months before, which is capable of transferring enough energy to quickly charge an electric vehicle. Thus the Aggie Bus was fitted with an advanced prototype of the system that transfers power over an air gap where no physical contact is required. More specifically, the Aggie Bus is capable of a power level up to 25 kilowatts, greater than 90 percent efficiency from the power grid to the battery and a maximum misalignment of up to six inches.

“The unveiling of the Aggie Bus today is a historic achievement and a great leap forward in the science and engineering related to electric vehicles,” said Robert T. Behunin, USU vice president of commercialization and regional development. “As a result of the work done by Utah State engineers, scientists and partners, EV owners and operators will now be able to simply drive over a pad in the ground to recharge their batteries, the benefits of which reach far beyond convenience.”

“Current battery limitations prevent an all-electric transit bus from operating all day from an overnight charge,” said Wesley Smith, CEO of WAVE. “WAVE solves that problem by charging the bus wirelessly during its daily operations when the bus stops to load and off-load passengers. This technology makes electric buses competitive with their diesel hybrid and CNG counterparts.”

source: USU press release

 

Rare-earth magnet scraps are melted in a furnace with magnesium. Scientists at the Ames Laboratory are improving the process to reclaim rare-earth materials.

New method promises viable rare earth metal recycling

When left in scarcity, the human mind has always been pressured to find a solution. In the past decade or so, the demand for rare earth metals has soured as ever expansive green technology required it. The problem however, is that not only do these metals come in short supply, but they’re actually controlled in their vast majority by China. Monopolies are bad for any market, and scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Ames Laboratory have managed to find a way to recycle rare earth materials from junk, and lean the balance a bit from China.

Most of these rare earth metals, known scientifically as lanthanides are almost exclusively controlled by China. That’s not to say that the world’s lanthanides deposits are exclusively underneath Chinese soil, far from it, even the US has quite a hefty batch of its own, however in order to operate a lanthanide mine one needs roughly 15 years to tap into these reserves. This tricky process and sheer financial investment scared most of the world’s governments away from dwelling into such a plan. China, however, started mining for rare earth metals since the 1980s. Today, they’re reaping the rewards – 95% to 100%, depending on the material, of the world’s lanthanides supply is controlled by China.

One could say that Chinese officials were struck by a moment of brilliant vision, since it took many, many years for technology to reach the level of material requirements it has today. Most of the lanthanides are destined nowadays towards the automotive industry, where they’re used in battery pack and electric motor of hybrids and EVs. This is where a rather ironic fact unfolds.

Electric vehicles started taking off recently because they represent a green solution (not that green actually) and lower the dependency of the market on oil. In the US at least, a third of its oil comes from unstable regions such as the middle east or Nigeria. Seeing how China exclusively control’s the world’s supply of lanthanides, electric vehicles are joined by a similar geopolitical risk as well. Soon enough the demand for rare earth metals will surplus the supply, and when this happens China will be free to raise the prices considerably.

Currently, 100,000 tons per year of lanthanides are manufactured and utilized, while there’s an estimate 99 million tons of rare earth metals available in total.

Recycling rare earth metals

Rare-earth magnet scraps are melted in a furnace with magnesium.  Scientists at the Ames Laboratory are improving the process to reclaim  rare-earth materials.

Rare-earth magnet scraps are melted in a furnace with magnesium.
Scientists at the Ames Laboratory are improving the process to reclaim
rare-earth materials.

The DOE project looked on refining an existing process for extracting neodymium, which is one of the most commonly used rare earth metal, while at the time being one of the rarest. Current pricing is at $150 per kilogram, and an estimated 8 million tones of neodymium deposits have been identified by prospectors.

In the 1990s, the Ames lab looked to extract neodymium from neodymium-iron-boron magnet scrap, using liquid magnesium. After twenty years however, the demand for the material has soured and thus a better process for extraction was required. The main problem, however, lied in whether the recycled neodymium would yield performance.

“We start with sintered, uncoated magnets that contain three rare earths: neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium. Then we break up the magnets in an automated mortar and pestle until the pieces are 2-4 millimeters long,” said lead researcher Ryan Ott.

The pieces are then thrown in a mesh screen box, where magnesium chunks are later added. The mixture is heated via radio waves, until the magnesium, which has the lowest boiling point of the heterogeneous mix (650 °C), melts. “The iron and boron that made up the original magnet are left behind,” Ott goes on to describe the process.

The magnesium and rare earths combination is cast into an ingot and cooled.  Finally, the magnesium is boiled off, leaving behind only the neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium in a smaller ingot of pure rare earths. Subsequent testing reveals that the outputted rare earth metals compare favorably in performance with their unprocessed counterparts.

“We’re continuing to identify the ideal processing conditions.  We want to help bridge the gap between the fundamental science and using this science in manufacturing.  And Ames Lab can process big enough amounts of material to show that our rare-earth recycling process works on a large scale,” said Ott.

Quite possibly the same extraction method could be used for other rare earths. If so, then recycling could balance the market and in term lead to a more healthy growth for technology.

[source]

ibm-car

Study aims to lay ground for the first ‘green highway’

ibm-car IBM has teamed up with Zapadoslovenska energetika (ZSE), the biggest electric company in Slovakia, for a feasibility study which aims to prepare Bratislava, the nation’s capitol, for plug-in electric vehicles. With this in mind, the companies will look at the best way to develop a  “green highway” between Bratislava and the neighboring Austrian city of Vienna, which is about 49 miles away.

Electric vehicles are being hailed everywhere as the future of automobile transportation, but they’re still in their infancy, and a yet highly limiting infrastructure casts a shroud of unpopularity over them. At the turn of the XXth century when the automobile boom rose, infrastructure grew along with it to meet the demand for more roads and gas stations. For EVs, infrastructure comes down to a simple, yet complicated at the same time, fact – electric plug-in stations, dispersed in such a way that they cater to the vehicles’ rather poor autonomy. However, companies today don’t have the economic luxury of simply building serving stations on the go, and this is where this partnership comes in.

The two companies will thus work on a project which will tackle all the issues which might arise with building public charging  network between Bratislava and Vienna that can support a new generation of electric cars without stressing the existing power grid.

“Rising fuel prices and energy consumption are two major issues facing many cities around the world,” said Guido Bartels, general manager of IBM’s Global Energy and Utilities Industry. “These factors coupled with aging roads and infrastructures, can affect city planning, local economy, and overall community satisfaction.”

The IBM-ZSE project “tackles all of these issues,” Bartels continued. “It has the potential to introduce a modern, convenient and more intelligent way for consumers to commute, which in turn may encourage more to make the shift to an electric vehicle, while reducing stress on the energy grid.”

Hopefully, if the virtual outline of the serving network is deemed accessible, from more than one point of view, actual implementation might commence, and along with it, hopefully, other important routes in Europe and the rest of the world.

source