Tag Archives: Ev

Contradictory article contradicts itself!

In the Detroit News today there is an article with the headline: “Buyers, electric cars slow to connect“.

I do realize that, in many cases, the headline is written by a different person than the article. The first section of the article would seem to confirm the headline saying things such as:

But four years after the Volt went on sale in late 2010 to enormous fanfare, sales haven’t met early optimistic predictions

Then later on, though, the items such as this are mentioned:

Still, EV sales overall are growing — with EVs up 25 percent and plug-in hybrid sales up 35 percent — but they still account for a minuscule .7 percent of U.S. car and truck sales. Some 20 models come in EV versions in the U.S.

What isn’t mentioned is that plug-in sales are increasing at a rate faster than hybrids did (source). The article, to me, just confirms that people are being overly critical of plug-ins in general and that if they aren’t a sales smash (e.g. in the top ten sales list) then they are a failure. This is completely unreasonable; no new technology was a sales leader when it was first introduced (Apple iPhone notwithstanding).

I have another nitpick with the article:

Automakers have spent billions to introduce the vehicles. They repeatedly cut prices in an effort to juice sales. Just this month, Ford Motor Co. cut — again — the price of its slow-selling Ford Focus EV. Its price tag is $29,995 — down $6,000 since last year and down $10,000 since the Dearborn automaker put the vehicle on sale in late 2011.

Price alone isn’t why the FFE hasn’t sold that many (all along its price structure has been in-line with its competitors). Ford itself has said many times “We don’t expect to sell many of them” and, given how much effort they’ve put into selling them, sales have born that out. The FFE is a great implementation of an EV and Ford would sell many more if they simply marketed the thing…

In contrast the Detroit Free press has published an article helping people decide what kind of alternative vehicle they should get.

Now this is an interesting revelation..

Compact Ford Plug-in Hybrid Coming on new C2 Platform in 2018

This news all but confirms the plans for a “Focus Energi” coming in the near future (as Inside EVs also points out). The speculation there is that it will also include the Escape as a Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid which would make a lot of sense for Ford to do since it was so successful with the old Escape Hybrid.

What will all this mean for the Focus Electric? Time will tell. Many worry that Ford will kill it at some point–I don’t have this pessimistic opinion simply because Ford needs the FFE to be in compliance with CARB laws (even if it has a stable of plug-in hybrids). My hope would be Ford would take the lessons learned with the FFE and apply them to larger cars–I’ve seen wild speculation that Ford would produce a 200 mile+ range BEV Lincoln MKS–now that would be some car! (I doubt that will happen though: Ford is far too conservative to attempt something that ambitious.)

Think about it though: Since Ford has recently been giving people many different powertrain options (look at the Fusion: you can get a standard engine, turbo, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid) they should also add EV to that mix (not necessarily for all models). Since many are on the same platform they could conceivably do this with the Focus, Escape, C-Max (although the article above seems to think the C-Max will be going away), and possibly the Fusion:

  • Standard gas engine
  • Ecoboost gas engine for more mpg
  • Hybrid for even more mpg
  • Plug-in hybrid for even more mpg
  • EV for no mpg

Even better yet: They should advertise that they have these things (when is the last–or even first–time you saw a Focus Electric commercial?).

 

Traffic Jams and the ICE Mindset

Now and then when talking to people about my FFE/EV I hear a common question, one that people think will “sink” the EV: “What if you get caught in a traffic jam?”

Its interesting to ponder the one question. It is rooted in the fact that if you are driving a conventional car and get caught in stop and go traffic your engine continues to run burning gas. If you don’t have much fuel to begin with (e.g. not much range in the EV) then you may have a problem as you burn through your fuel sitting there.

This certainly is the case during the winter months, especially in the FFE due to the cabin heater. If you are not moving you’ll need some heat. In the FFE the cabin heater is the most power hungry accessory in the car. Thus stuck in traffic burning through electrons to simply heat the cabin you may very well have an issue. On a very hot day the problem is similar with the A/C consuming some electricity (but not nearly as much as the heater).

On a much milder day, however, when you can just sit in traffic with the windows open (if you don’t mind the noise & smell from the other cars) you will use very little electricity at all. In fact as you go slower the “guess-o-meter” will actually increase your available range because you’re using less electricity. Its fun sitting in traffic watching the status indicator creep up and up–at times I’ve had the available range after a traffic jam be more than the range at the start of the trip!

So the next time you hear: “What if you get caught in a traffic jam?” respond with something like: “EV’s love traffic jams”!

 

Another funny/good EV commercial..

From the likes of VW:

This one comes courtesy of Inside EVs.

 

Michigan EV Show & Rally

Today was the Michigan EV Show & Rally (mentioned in a prior posting). This is an EV show given by a local community college. I went to this show about 3 years ago. At that time there wasn’t many production EVs available (I think the Volt had just been released at the time). The show resembled Maker Faire more than it did an EV show with all the custom conversions.

Today’s show was a lot different, there were may production EVs on display (and the mix resembled the mix of EVs that I see every day on the road here in Southeastern Michigan). They were handing out this chart showing available EVs (it looks a little dated).

As far as the vehicles that were there:
Volts:
Volts
and more Volts:
Volts
Oh wait, there is a Leaf in there and waay in the back is an i3.
In fact there were two i3s there both were unsold and presented by a local BMW dealer (although the dealer’s location is at least 50 miles from the college–I strongly suspect that the two pickups with car hauler trailers in the parking lot was how the i3s got to the show):
i3
i3
i3 on the left at one of the College’s four Chargepoint stations (C-Max Energi on the right; there was 3 C-Max Energi’s there).
Ok but wait: Wasn’t there an FFE there? Well yes: mine but mine wasn’t on display–was there one on display?
Can you spot the FFE?
Well yeah its really easy to see the FFE, and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (which is kind of goofy here: The show was mostly for EVs–at least the plugin variety. Lincoln doesn’t have a plugin yet).
What else was there? This cool converted S-10 pickup:
S-10 EV
A couple of full size hybrid pickups (presented by power companies interestingly enough)(Yes that is a Cadillac ELR in the background):
Dodge Hybrid
Chevy
Here is the aforementioned Cadillac ELR:
Chevy
Leafs were also plentiful:
Chevy

Like I said: The mix matched my daily observation of EVs on the road here in Southeastern Michigan: Many Volts, a few Leafs, one FFE, a few C-Max Energi’s, one Lincoln MKZ, a couple of i3s (although I haven’t yet seen one on the road). Strangely enough there wasn’t any Tesla’s there (either Roadster or Model S–I was there pretty early–I arrived just as it opened at 9am and cars were still showing up so it is possible that a Model S and/or Roadster showed up later).

 

2014 Michigan Electric Vehicle Show

On June 7 is the Michigan Electric Vehicle Show at Schoolcraft college.

Michigan EV Show

 

Click here to see Schoolcraft college on a map.

 

Extending your range?

I’ve seen a few people post ideas in the FFE forums about how to pull a generator behind your EV to give you that extra bit of range. It is an interesting thought…enough of one that someone actually designed a thing: I give you the EP Tender (here is their main website).
EP Tender
I don’t think this guy will work for my beloved Focus Electric because he taps into the vehicle between the charger and the battery (since most EVs don’t allow charging while driving). It basically turns your EV into a PHEV with a cute little trailer. Even more fascinating is the simple solution to backing up (watch the video).

 

Thinking about an EV?

Are you currently interested in purchasing an EV and are going through the research phase? Does your driving pattern fit within the parameters of an EV?
When I was doing my research to see if the FFE would work for me I had the same question. I did all the math and it told me that it should have no issues with the FFE. Still your left questioning…what if?
During my investigations I found the iEV smartphone app. (Note that I have no connections to the makers of iEV–just a happy customer.) You run the app whenever you drive somewhere in your current car. The app uses the phone’s accelerometer to estimate what electricity your driving would use if you were driving an EV. They have recently updated the app to version 3.
iEV 3 screen grab
This new version has a larger selection of EVs to choose from and shows you how your trips fit with each. After using it for a few weeks you’ll get a feel if an EV is right for you–maybe even which EV is right for you.

Estimating power consumption

In order to estimate the power consumed for a given route I’ve put together this simple page.

Enter in your starting and ending addresses, and approximate value for watt hours/mile and the usable battery capacity (these two values will default to 230 and 19.5 kWh for the FFE) then press the “Calc Route” button. Once you’ve calculated the route you can edit the Wh/mile and battery capacity values to see the values change. In addition you can drag the route around to change it and see how long that takes.

This is a really simple calculator that uses the distance over the route as returned by Google and the Wh/mile value to come up with the estimate. Elevation changes are not used in the calculation (as I’m assuming the elevation consumption will be included in your Wh/mile value).

Update 1: The page has been updated to add some round trip values, and it now will attempt to estimate the electricity used with a basic formula + google maps elevation data. These new values are reflected by the “est:” label in the output (Electricity Used, and % Used).

Update 2: Added a “use heat” checkbox to indicate if the heater is used or not.

Are people really aware of EV costs/savings?

A new survey finds that most consumers are not aware of the savings available to them if they purchase an EV.

The Detroit News reported on the study:

  • Only 2 of 758 respondents knew about available home EVSE subsidies
  • 75% were uninformed about savings due to EVs efficiency
  • Consumers couldn’t answer basic factual questions about EVs

This study is very interesting, but I’m not surprised: How often do you see an EV being advertised on TV? (Granted EV advertisements on TV are most likely a very regional thing–I’m sure there are a ton of Leaf commercials on TV in California.) In addition there are certain portions of industry that don’t want to see EVs succeed.

Well look at that: the study data is from 2011 (see details here). As that link says: back in 2011 of course no one knew about EVs–they were just starting then…!