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Elon Musk, Tesla’s ever enigmatic CEO, announced over Twitter that the company will likely repay its government debt by Wednesday, May 22.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, public charging stations in America increased from 5,200 on December 18, 2012 to 5,678 on March 22, 2013.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is backing away from its previously announced plan to see 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015, saying the timeline isn’t really all that important.
A year riddled with controversy for electric cars is winding down, but not without at least one more flare up — Chinese firm Wanxiang Group won the bidding war for A123 Systems.
With the EV-Everywhere initiative, President Obama is looking to spur the creative minds of business men, engineers and scientists across the country to make electric vehicles more affordable to own and drive in the next 10 years.
One of the biggest challenges pressing car makers and buyers today is the price of gas. President Obama’s latest EV pushing strategy is meant to help the American public from having to rely on gas powered vehicles. The goal of the project is to have 5-passenger affordable American electric vehicles that will pay themselves off in five years or less and be capable of getting the average American to and from work without worrying about range. Obama said he would like to see these five vehicles on the road by the year 2022.
“The EV-Everywhere Challenge is focused on advancing electric vehicle technologies and continuing to reduce costs, so that a decade from now, electric vehicles will be more affordable and convenient to own than today’s gasoline-powered vehicles,” Secretary Chu said yesterday at an event at a Daimler Truck factory in Mt. Holly, N.C.
The initiative will bring together the ideas from several offices at the Department of Energy and aims to find ways to bring down costs of the various parts of electric vehicles.
This process will involve reaching out to Universities, laboratories and businesses. Additionally, to recruit more bright minds, workshops called EVerywhere will take place across the country in the next few months.
The EV-Everywhere challenge is the second challenge issued by the Department of Energy as part of their “Grand Challenges” model. Their last challenge involved finding a way to make solar power directly cost-competitive with electricity from fossil fuels by the end of the decade. More challenges are expected over the next few months to find better ways to harness clean energy.
Bright Automotive has just announced its plans to close up shop. It blames the Department of Energy (DOE) for not helping secure a $314 million loan.
In a letter to DoE secretary Steven Chu, Bright execs wrote that the government failed them and ultimately lost “hundreds of great manufacturing and technical jobs … and thousands of indirect jobs in Indiana and Michigan”
The company was founded in 2008, and planned on releasing a plug-in hybrid van (seen above) but has yet to manufacture any.
In 2007, the government offered loans to companies that would produce energy-efficient vehicles. Programs like this helped get Tesla off the ground, but lately it seems like the DOE is killing off more ideas than breeding innovation.
Readers may be reminded of another inventive company called Aptera which also closed its doors a short while ago. Both companies floundered after finding that their projected funding from the DOE program would fall through.
Last week we brought you a story about Aperta employees boorishly smashing the remaining shells of their 2e electric vehicle, including quotes from their disgruntled former CEO, Steve Fambro. You may wonder how things went so wrong.
If you haven’t been following the Aptera saga, or if you don’t know what Aptera is, this is a good time to jump in.
Rewind to 2006 where founders Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony found a company called Aptera with the intent to build and sell super-efficient electric vehicles. They planned to take advantage of a program offered by the Department of Energy by which companies could take over abandoned factories and enjoy low-interest loans if they made vehicles 25 percent more efficient than those they would replace.
Aptera had a funky three-wheeled car in mind that looked a lot like a tear drop made out of plastic composite. In September of 2008 Fambro found himself on the outside of the company, replaced as CEO by Paul Wilbur.
By December, Aptera’s application for money from the DoE had been submitted and promptly rejected— three-wheeled cars apparently didn’t qualify.
Over the next two years Tesla and Fisker both recieve hundreds of millions of dollars in DoE funding, and three wheel cars are provisioned for subsidy by the DoE.
In 2010 Aptera re-applies and was denied funding again, this time becuause the DoE says they cannot pay back capital costs for the company.
Shortly afterwards, the company re-allocated their remaining resources to developing a four-wheeled sedan that had a better chance of catching on.
At this point the DoE committed $150 million in loans on the condition that the company also secure $80 million in private funding. That proved to be too much. Aptera simply couldn’t find investors to pour money into their company after another operation failed to get funding because of their similar plastic composite bodies.
By early December of this year the company had run out of cash and needed to shut down. They decided to execute the close early enough to distribute remaining cash reserves among their employees as severance.
In an interview with Green Car Reports, Wilbur admitted that they spent too much time chasing DoE finding and that a better path would have been to look for private money from the beginning. The DoE, he said, took far too long to yield any money for Aptera to stay afloat.
[Source: Green Car Reports]
Back in September, the US Department of Energy, in conjunction with Nissan Motor Co, green lighted a proposal to test a Cummins four-cylinder turbo-diesel in the full-size Titan pickup.
The program was largely conceived to help big trucks like the Titan achieve better fuel economy, in lieu of the 35.5 miles per gallon CAFE requirements (that now also include light trucks), scheduled to be phased in in 2015.
The test engine, a 2.8-liter unit cranks out 350 lb/ft of torque at 1800 rpm making it comparable with the Titan’s existing 5.6-liter V-8. However substantial gains in fuel economy have already been achieved, the diesel is said to currently allow a 2WD Titan to achieve around 28 miles per gallon, a sizeable improvement on the V-8 truck’s 13/18 mpg (city/highway).
Cummins says this new diesel can be built in either 2.8 and 3.5-liter forms and thanks to the use of high strength steel pistons, is not only a sturdy engine but also rather compact by diesel standards, not that compactness is of real concern when installing one in a Titan.
The test program is scheduled to run through September this year and it will be interesting to see what further results develop when it comes to capability and fuel economy. However, regulators are now proposing even tougher fuel economy standards for 2025, as much as 62 mpg. With such shifting targets, in such a short period time, the ability of any pickup truck manufacturer to meet them is going to prove challenging at best.
[Source: Automotive News]
Chrysler is delivering 10 Ram 1500 Hybrids to the U.S Department of Energy for testing within the next week. The pickups will be delivered to Yuma, Arizona, as part of a $100 million research project. The program with the U.S Department of Energy will run through June 2014.
140 Ram 1500 pickups will be delivered by Oct. 1 across the U.S. These plug-in hybrid trucks we be put through grueling testing including extreme temperature testing with fluctuations from 25 below zero to 125 degrees.
The Ram trucks utilize 5.7-liter V8s making 345-hp. The engine is mated to a two-mode hybrid transmission manufactured by GM and a 12.9-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery. These trucks will be capable of traveling 20 miles on electric-power alone with a total range coming in at 655 miles. The Ram is capable of towing 6,000 pounds and has a 1,000 pound payload capacity.
[Source: egm Car Tech]
Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are looking to jump-start the American electric car industry, to use the hackneyed pun. With Department of Energy research funding going towards battery development, Chu believes that their goal of a car that can make LA to Las Vegas on one charge, and sell for $25,000 without a government subsidy, will be attainable in 6 years.
Chu said that the DOE is currently funding research to lower the cost of electric-vehicle batteries by half within the next three or four years, and increase their energy density trifold within six years. Currently, America only builds 1% of advanced batteries in the world, but the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will invest in more battery research and create more manufacturing plants, securing more jobs.
Eventually, Chu hopes that the $25,000 price will come without federal subsidies for owners. But right now, with the cost of highly-efficient batteries still sky-high, he is working to turn the current $7,500 tax credit into an instant rebate so EV owners won’t have to wait until April.
Los Angeles is in on the program too: the city currently has 90 electric charging stations, but Villaraigosa is planning 400 more in and around the city.
[Source: LA Times]
Mapping out electric car charging stations onto an open source format like Google Maps seems like something totally self-evident, but the Department of Energy and Google are undertaking an official initiative to overlay EV charge points onto of a mapping application.
The project will be known as the GeoEVSE forum, and comprise of a database of 600 charging stations, which allows users to search by location, charger type and payment methods. Private companies like BestBuy are also getting on board, and the various entities involved hope that the project will help further public trust in electric vehicles and the surrounding infrastructure.
Having recently been awarded a $500 million loan by the U.S. government to build affordable pug-in hybrids, Fisker Automotive is expected to build those cars at a shuttered General Motors plant in Delaware. Vice President Joe Biden is expected to announce tomorrow that the California-based Fisker company will revive the Boxwood Road facility in Wilmington.
The plant, which built the Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky and their Opel variant, closed only recently as a result of GM’s decision to eliminate the Pontiac brand and sell-off Saturn.
The half billion dollar loan that Fisker recently received is part of the Department of Energy’s $25 billion Advanced Technologies Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program. Fisker said it, “represents a significant step in America’s future.”
A portion of the loan will go towards final development of the luxurious and expensive Karma PHEV. The Karma uses a technology similar to the Chevy Volt, but is considerably more powerful, allowing the 403hp luxury car to hit 62 mph in six seconds while getting 67 mpg. It can drive on pure electric power for up to 50 miles, with a total extended range of 300 miles.
The majority of the loan will go towards building a new generation of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) that will cost $39,900 after tax credits.
Fisker says the project will create or save at least 5,000 jobs among U.S. auto suppliers and in manufacturing the hybrids.