IDTechEx hosted its annualThe Future of Electric Vehicles conference this past week in San Jose, California. The two-day event highlighted all forms of electric vehicles (EVs) including land, air and watercraft and also featured a number of prominent industry speakers as well as an exhibition of state of the art EV technology.
The first day of the conference covered topics ranging form solar powered vehicles and real world applications of EVs to electric air and watercraft vehicles.
Jim Castelaz, CEO of Motive Power Systems, gave a particularly interesting presentation on the electrification of truck fleets. Castelaz pointed out how fleet electrification will provide a viable solution to risk-averse organizations, but that the technology for heavy vehicles is only being seen in limited pilots. He argues that there needs to be a larger scale pilot to understand the driveline technology for trucks. The Bay Area Climate Collaborative is currently working with local government agencies to bring EVs to local government fleets.
Day two of the conference focused on future traction batteries, wireless devices, investment in EVs, and lessons we can learn from EV development in East Asia. Steven Visco, founder of Berkeley-based PolyPlus Battery, discussed how the company has advanced research with higher energy density batteries (lithium air), which means longer ranges for EVs in comoing years. PolyPlus is the recipient of a $5 million grant from the Department of Energy (DOE).
The UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies showcased research revealing that those who have leased a MiniE or Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) in California have been thoroughly impressed by the performance of the vehicles. Consumers remarked that the EVs were simple to drive, had smooth acceleration, and good launch feel.
The Future of Electric Vehicles provided an important forum for the industry's leading thinkers to come together and discuss the state of technologies being implemented in the EV world. Most agreed that there was a great amount of work to do in the future, but successes presented at this years conference have shown how much has already been accomplished in bringing EVs to new markets.
Employees at the New York City (NYC) Department of Transportation (DOT) will soon be experiencing the benefits of the Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Toyota Prius before it comes to market in 2012.As part of Toyota’s worldwide demonstration project, the NYC DOT will receive 2 PHEV Prius’s, while 3 others will be shared between the port authorities of New York and New Jersey.
Toyota has placed 600 PHEV Prius’s with various fleets worldwide to demonstrate the technology and educate consumers on the benefits of these vehicles.
Here in the Bay Area, a plethora of business leaders have had the opportunity to evaluate the PHEV Toyota Prius through the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which received 3 of the vehicles as part of Toyota’s demonstration project.Most recently, Tory Bruno, president of Lockheed Martin’s Strategic & Missile Defense Systemsexpressed his enthusiasm for the PHEV Prius by highlighting the superior fuel mileage and all-electric capabilities for short trips.
Bruno is convinced that many Silicon Valley businesses will play a critical role in advancing plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles due to their expertise in wireless communications, data management and electronic control systems.Moreover, Bruno emphasized that the lower fuel costs and reduced environmental impacts will help drive consumer adoption of these vehicles, as well as stimulate economic growth and strengthen national security.
Watch the Nissan Leaf Worldwide launch with remarks from Nissan Americas Chairman, Carlos Tavares, BACC Director Rafael Reyes, Air Quality Management District CEO Jack Broadbent and San Francisco Director of the Environment Melanie Nutter.
Updated: Remarks by Bay Area Climate Collaborative Director, Rafael Reyes
If we had walked these streets 100 years ago we'd see horses, trolleys, and of course, cars. All kinds of cars. Chain drive cars, shaft drive cars, ones with tillers, ones with steering wheels. Gas powered, electric powered, even some steam. It was a time of innovation. But in the 100 years since we have innovated only at the margins in personal transport.
Today Nissan brings a renewed burst of innovation to our streets which will transform how people move. An advanced affordable vehicle that is not only fun to drive but costs less to fuel and operate. And not a moment too soon.
Just last month the International Energy Agency stated that the world has reached its maximum production of petroleum from existing and even undiscovered oil fields. Economic consequences lie ahead.
Nissan has given us a better way to power transportation. We don’t have to send $350 billion to unfriendly countries for increasingly costly supplies of oil. We can invest that at home to innovate and create jobs. And we can safeguard our resources. We can have clean air and a clean atmosphere.
It’s fitting that the launch of this landmark vehicle is here. Unprecedented collaboration by local and regional governments, business and non-profits is making the Bay Area the EV Capital of America. In October as one example, the region announced a series of game-changing EV projects, supported in part by the Bay Area Climate Collaborative co-founded by Mayor Newsom, for taxis, local government fleets, car share and charging stations ensuring that all Leaf and EV owners can get where they need to go. The vehicles in these projects will save over 700,000 gallons of gas per year worth over $2 million, enough to drive across the US 5,000 times in a typical car.
We are grateful that the landmark innovation by Nissan which makes this moment possible.
The Japanese battery-and-electronics giant took a 2% stake in the Silicon Valley automaker, which has long used Panasonic cells (among others) in the battery packs powering the Tesla Roadster. Tesla says Panasonic will be its "preferred" supplier of cells as the company develops packs for the forthcoming model S and other vehicles.
The deal isn't a big surprise, given that Panasonic has a joint venture with Toyota, which has invested $50 million in Tesla, which in turn has a separate $60 million contract to help develop the forthcoming Toyota RAV4 EV. It is nevertheless a significant development for Tesla, which also has Daimler in its corner.
This announcement follows on the heels of GE's stated plan to purchase tens of thousands of EVs, and both developments have important implications for the EV landscape. That Panasonic and GE, two of the world's most recognizable brands, have chosen to invest such significant sums in EV technology signifies a powerful endorsement and further legitimizes EVs in the US marketplace. Additionally, the funding from Panasonic will enable Tesla to improve its battery pack technology and increase efficiencies, effectively setting a new bar that will serve to reinvigorate competition and further drive product and process innovation within the EV industry.
General Motors (GM) recently announced that its Volt would be equipped with communication systems based on Google’s Android platform. This symbolizes a convergence of the automotive and internet industries as they move to deploy electric vehicles (EV) and the necessary supporting infrastructure. This partnership will provide GM Volt drivers with next-gen mobile apps, such as location-based services and battery-charging schedules that coincide with the availability of renewable energy sources. Moreover, the integration of the Volt’s vehicle communication system with the Android OS allows for a more customized driver experience that meets the specific needs of EV drivers.
In addition to GM, auto supplier Continental AG is developing a hardware and software system based on Android, called AutoLinq, that synchronizes in-vehicle infotainment with mobile-devices. SAIC, a Chinese car company, has developed and infotainment system based on version 2.1 of Android that has been a great success according to consumers and critics.
Automakers and parts manufacturers are embracing the Android OS because it offers the flexibility to create a custom interface for EV drivers, as well as taps the vast community of open-source developers and apps that are built for Android phones. The potential for innovation in this area seems limitless as growing numbers of consumers embrace EV’s and next-gen mobile apps evolve in tandem with consumer interests.