Monthly Archives: January 2015

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2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS)

Known locally as “The Detroit Auto Show”. For this years show I was only really interested in 3 cars: The new Volt, the Bolt concept car, and what kind of treatment would my beloved FFE get? There wasn’t anything else “new” that I was interested in (or that I haven’t seen before)–at least with respect to plug in cars.
The new Volt: This car is really sharp compared to the old Volt. To my eyes it looks a bit sleeker and more modern. In addition there is sort of room for 3 in the back seat:
2016 Chevy Volt
2016 Chevy Volt
2016 Chevy Volt
2016 Chevy Volt
The Bolt concept car: This is GM’s 200 mile concept EV. I like the looks of it–to me it has a very similar form factor to the Ford Escape, or C-Max (although it is a bit smaller than either):
Chevy Bolt
Chevy Bolt
Chevy Bolt
The Focus Electric: Last year Ford had all their plugin cars off to the corner of the display, almost as an afterthought. This year the plugin section was a little more prominent in with the cars. As for the FFE: It was smack dab right in the center of the Ford display!
Focus Electric
Focus Electric
Unfortunately we decided to go to the show at the same time as everyone else from Southeastern Michigan and thus I wasn’t able to get many clear shots of any other cars of interest (not that there were many more of interest than mentioned above). Tesla only had Model S’s on display of which all of them were packed with people.
Tesla Model S
A few other items to note: Aside from GM having the Volt/Bolt up on a prominent display and VW mixing the eGolf with the other Golf’s most other manufacturer’s plugin cars were off to the corner, almost as an afterthought. Even Nissan had their only Leaf way in the back of their display.
Nissan Leaf
The other observation was the demographic of people taking pictures: Those taking pictures of plugins tended to be younger college age (especially around the less expensive plugins like the Leaf or the Smart car). Those taking pictures of your typical ICE vehicle were more middle aged (except for Tesla–everyone was taking pictures of Tesla’s).

GM Takes a big step forward, Ford a few steps backwards

Today and tomorrow are the press preview days at the North American International Auto Show. First up on the block was GM/Chevy with a big announcement: the new Volt 2.0 and a “Bolt” concept car:
Bolt
This is huge: Chevy showing a 200 mile BEV for around $30,000. If GM can get this guy to production before Tesla’s Model 3 then GM will own the BEV market (and before the Leaf 2.0 which is also rumored to have at least 150 miles of range). Announcing these new vehicles at a time of record low gas prices does show that GM, at least, does get it. GM does understand that EVs are the future (or at least that the future is going to include all sorts of alternatively powered cars, not just ICE).

In contrast, what did Ford show off today? Performance vehicles: The new F-150 Raptor, a race ready Mustang GT350R, and it reintroduced the GT halo car. Granted both the GT and the F-150 will be powered by an Ecoboost V6 instead of a V8 (much to many gear-heads disappointment). Also granted that Ford does have a full stable of vehicles and customers (probably more ICE customers than BEV customers anyway! LOL) but its been a long time since the Blue Oval has released any encouraging electrification news (There have been no substantial changes to any of their plugins for a good 3 years now–FFE, C-Max Energie, and Fusion Energie).

Realistically, looking at the timing of my lease, if I were to hope to get anything new it would have to be announced this winter as anything announced next winter would go into production long after my lease is up. I can still hope Ford will announce something EV related at the Geneva auto show in March. That show, however, is for the global market and anything announced there would not be sold in North America within the lease time period either. Which leaves me with a huge question mark come next year: What will my next car be (reasonably sure it will be a plugin)?

Ford working on CCS for the FFE?

Is for working on CCS for the FFE? A couple too many acronyms there? Ok we know FFE = Ford Focus Electric as I’ve been using that in this blog for quite some time now, but CCS? CCS = Combined Charging Standard. It is the “fast charge” capability that SAE (yeah another acronym: Society of Automotive Engineers) had developed for North America.

To date Ford has said nothing about any improvements to the FFE. Just a year ago when they announced the 2015 ICE Focus the big news for the FFE was an additional color that was it. Since then Ford has said not so much as a peep about the future of the FFE (or even any possible BEV product). When they announced the 2015 Focus there was rumors that Ford would be including a Focus Energi. That rumor made a lot of sense: They already had the powertrain developed, it is already in a Focus based product (the C-Max), therefore it would take very little engineering to get done. Alas the 2014 auto show circuit came and went with no new news on any electrified Focus (or Ford BEV model).

Fast forward to today: We are in the middle of the auto season here (with the LA Auto show kicking it off last fall and the Detroit Auto show in a week). Included in this is CES. Now CES isn’t your usual auto show, but Ford has had a keynote address there for the past few years (in fact it was back in 2011 that Ford announced the FFE at the CES). This years Ford CES keynote can be viewed here. I encourage you to take the time to watch it as it shows the very different direction Ford is taking/planning for way out in the future. Pay careful attention at the 29 minute mark, though where Mark Fields says this:

It would also be beneficial if urban shared vehicles were electric. Because not only do they lower operating costs they also can be refueled in their parking space. But shared EVs need time to charge and in Dearborn we are developing fast charging technology for our vehicles. Plus we’re looking at partnerships with retail and fast food businesses to develop fast charging infrastructure. Because we want to make EVs easer to use because when more people chose EVs everyone benefits from the lower emissions.

The context of the quote is for an urban vehicle sharing environment but the last few sentences (about businesses and what they are doing in Dearborn) hints that they are already working on this for production vehicles. The only fast charging technology that Ford has publicly bought into is the J1772 CCS standard (and the photo in the video seems to imply that is what is on the FFE shown–including a much simpler charge port door):

CCS Fast charging doesn’t really make sense for the Energi products with their 21-mile range and small batteries. It only really makes sense for the FFE or another large battery BEV. Thus one could conclude from this small morsel of information that either a CCS enabled FFE is coming down the pipeline, or that Ford is working on another BEV for the marketplace?

Will Ford slip in more pieces of info like this at the Detroit Auto show in a week? You’ll have to pay close attention (like I did pulling the above needle out of a haystack)..!

 

No gas for your Pizza delivery

This is pretty funny: Galactic Pizza in Minneapolis offers pizza delivery by super heroes driving EVs:

 

A PowerXPress “recall”?

Interesting, I got the following note in the mail from Bosch:
PowerXPress note
Here is the text:

Our records indicate that you are using your Power Xpress to charge an electric
vehicle(s) with a charging system that operates at 30A or higher. Recent
incidents have occurred in which customers have expressed concerns related
to the performance of the Power Xpress while charging at 30A or higher. Some
consumers have reported incidences of sticking or melting within the connection
between the charging station coupler and the vehicle inlet.
The. Power Xpress is designed to charge vehicles up to 32A. A new cable/coupler
assembly has been designed to address the customer concerns while charging
at 30A or higher. In an effort to secure your complete satisfaction, Bosch will
upgrade your Power Xpress with a new cable/coupler assembly — completely at
your convenience, and at our cost.
The division of SPX Corporation that originally designed and sold the Power
Xpress became part of the Bosch group of companies and now operates as Bosch
Automotive Services Solutions Inc. (“Bosch”). Therefore, Bosch will be addressing
your charging needs going forward, including the upcoming interaction with you
regarding your charging station.
A Bosch customer service representative will be contacting you within the next
30 days in order to arrange for this upgrade. We will coordinate with you to have
a Bosch certified electrical contractor visit your installation at a time of your
choosing to complete the exchange of the coupler and cable. Because the Power
Xpress was designed for field replacement of the cable/coupler assembly, this
repair will take less than one hour and will not disturb your installation or its
environment in any way. A licensed electrician will detach the existing cable/
coupler from the unit and simply install the new one.
Should you no longer own your Power Xpress, we ask that you forward this
message along to the new owner if possible, or provide the new owner’s contact
information if available.

If you have any questions in advance of our contacting you,
please call Bosch at +1 888 823-9877.
Bosch Automotive Service Solutions

This is interesting! You may remember that my coworker suffered from this very problem. A technician eventually did replace the cable in his unit at no cost. The issue must have happened to more than a few EV owners for Bosch to issue this recall.