CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine AUG/SEP 2012

Page 1


Promise THE

Prius Plug-in OF THE








50 Prius Plug-in

Will it lead the charge?


32 Find your niche


Balqon Corporation targets short haul drayage tractors

66 Two wheels and a bright future Electric motorcycles are pushing the technology and gaining on gas-burners

76 Electric supercars


80 Data-driven fleet decisions Removing the guesswork



20 A closer look at regenerative braking

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• Pure EV or Hybrid applications

• Safety deployment according to ISO26262 (ASIL-C & -D handling)

• Peak torque to over 700Nm

• Very high pack SoC accuracy • High cell measurements accuracy • Cell estimation based on dynamic model using self-learning technology • Multiple cell chemistry support • Power limit prediction with multiple time horizons

• Dual CAN-bus support • Performance logging using on-board flash memory • PC-tools for in-system SW updates & HW in-the-loop simulations • Designed to meet GMW3172

• Wide power range (100-300kW) • Efficiency to 97% • Speed range to 7000rpm • Direct or geared drive versions • Designed for lowest possible manufacturing cost

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contents 24 24

PolyPlus reaches for 1,500 Wh/kg THE TECH


40 Vertically integrated & fleet focused Microvast designs batteries, builds buses, and partners with utilities


58 The economics of free charging


62 Proceed with caution

ChargePoint President and CEO Pat Romano on charging for charging

84 Improving charging station deployment 90 Peak use


The Pecan Street Project studies the highest concentration of EVs in the US

Publisher’s Note When I first envisioned a magazine about electric vehicles, I was thinking of a consumer outreach publication. As an engineer working on battery-powered projects, I found myself answering the same basic EV questions over and over again during friendly conversations about my job. So, the idea was to create a central source of information to help educate people about the superior and promising technology that I spent my days entrenched in. Sometime in the two years since that original idea, it became clear that this type of magazine would not hold my attention for very long. I realized that answering those same few questions issue after issue would bore me right back into another engineering job. What does intrigue me, however, is exactly how this industry is going to emerge from its infancy. To me, it’s not a question of if, but how, who, and when. How will prices drop and range increase? Whose new products, ideas, or research are the most promising? When will the majority of consumers, and fleet operators, clearly see EVs as the best choice? Charged evolved into a mirror for the EV industry, shining a light on the good ideas and innovators where we can find them, in our best effort to help connect the dots. Starting with this issue, our Table of Contents splits our industry coverage into three categories that best sum up our editorial vision. First is The Vehicles, where you will find features discussing how to get more people to plug-in: automaker electrification strategies, fleet options, racing, and other marketing efforts. Next is The Tech. Here we take a closer look at pushing the limits of EVs through the beauty of well-engineered products - batteries, power electronics, and other EV-optimized automotive systems. And finally there is The Infrastructure where we discuss charging at home, at work and in public, and the implications for the utilities. These three separate, yet connected, areas of the industry are constantly changing and shaping an exciting future - a future that I am proud to be a part of and to report on. EVs are here. Try to keep up. Christian Ruoff Publisher


Christian Ruoff Publisher Laurel Zimmer Associate Publisher Charlie Morris Senior Editor Markkus Rovito Associate Editor Jeffrey Jenkins Technology Editor Joey Stetter Copy Editor Nick Sirotich Illustrator & Designer Nate Greco Contributing Artist Contributing Writers Joe Barrett Donald Bowen David Herron Jeffrey Jenkins Michael Kent Charlie Morris Markkus Rovito Tom Saxton Contributing Photographers Tinou Bao Joe Barrett Dale Frost Michael Gil Jennifer Hale James Qualtrough Indi Samarajiva Tom Saxton Cover Image Courtesy of Toyota UK Special Thanks to Kelly Ruoff Sebestien Bourgeois For Letters to the Editor, Article Submissions, & Advertising Inquiries Contact

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CURRENT events Fisker appoints Tony Posawatz new CEO

Ford announces C-MAX Energi all-electric specs

In a surprise move, Fisker Automotive has named Tony Posawatz its new CEO and President. He replaces Tom LaSorda, who took the job only in February. Posawatz is an industry veteran with a very fitting technical background. His last role was as GM’s Vehicle Line Director and key leader of Global Electric Vehicle development, where he was responsible for the Chevrolet Volt, bringing the car from concept to production.

We are proud C-MAX Energi is the first plugin hybrid that can deliver a 550-mile overall range and more than 20 miles of electric range as it gives customers great flexibility to commute to work, then take off for a road trip while passing many gas stations along the way. C-MAX Energi is a great symbol for the leading fuel economy we’re delivering across our lineup to give customers the power of choice to save money at the pump. John Davis, C-MAX Chief Program Engineer

Starting at $33,745 - and eligible for a $3,750 federal tax credit - Ford is passing along cost savings that have been achieved through various efficiencies to customers, says Kevin Layden, Director, Ford’s Electrification Programs and Engineering.


Photo courtesy of Fisker Automotive

Photo courtesy of Ford

Touting the specs for its new PHEV, Ford staked out a clear position for it in the market: face-to-face with a certain hit Japanese hatchback. The new C-MAX Energi is projected to deliver 550 miles of total range, and 20 miles in electric-only mode, nearly double the electric-only range of the Toyota Prius Plug-in. Its maximum electric-only speed of 85 mph will also best the Prius’s 62 mph. Fuel economy is expected to be 95 MPGe combined.

We are delighted to be adding an executive of Tony’s caliber to the Fisker Automotive leadership team. His depth of knowledge and experience in this innovative field of new technology means that he is one of the world’s most experienced leaders in vehicle electrification technology and the plug-in ecosystem. In the long-term he will ensure that Fisker is well positioned to maximize the potential of not only the Karma sedan, but also bring the Fisker Atlantic smoothly to market. Henrik Fisker, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder

Fisker is currently conducting a recall to address a faulty low-temperature cooling fan. An internal short in the fan was determined to be the cause of a recent, highly publicized, Karma roadside fire.

Honda reveals 2014 Accord PHEV details

Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles opens new facility

The 2014 Honda Accord Sedan will feature four new powertrains including a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) option. Set to go on sale in early 2013, the Accord PHEV will offer the ability to run in an all-electric mode for 10 to 15 miles and a calculated total driving range over 500 miles.

Photo courtesy of The Mahindra Group

Photo courtesy of Honda

Describing a vision of the “future of mobility,” Anand Mahindra, Managing Director of Indian conglomerate The Mahindra Group, formally inaugurated a new manufacturing facility in Bangalore, where Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles Pvt. Ltd. plans to build up to 30,000 EVs per year, mostly for the export market.

Mahindra Reva was founded in 1994 as the Reva Electric Car Company, and launched its first model in India in 2001 and in London in 2004. In May 2010, the massive Mahindra Group acquired a majority stake in the company.

To begin with, we are aiming at selling 6,000 cars per annum in the domestic market. Until the eco-system for rapid charging is developed in the country, we will focus more on exports. We hope that the government will emulate Scandinavian countries in bringing out a policy for electric vehicles. Anand Mahindra, Managing Director

India’s government has recently approved a 230 billion rupee ($4.13 billion) plan to encourage the production of electric and hybrid vehicles, with a target of six million vehicles on the road by 2020.

Powered by Honda’s first two-motor hybrid system, the PHEV will use a new Earth DreamsTM 2.0-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine producing 137 horsepower, teamed with a 124 kW electric motor. Electric driving is supported by a 6.7 kWh Li-Ion battery, and total system output is 196 hp. Fuel efficiency is expected to exceed 100 MPGe, and it’s also expected to receive an Enhanced ATPZEV rating from the California Air Resources Board. Beyond its function as a full-electric vehicle, drivers will be able to choose two driving modes to manage battery capacity. In its default upon start-up, the Accord PHEV acts as a pure electric vehicle and will continue on in full-electric mode until battery capacity necessitates the automatic switch to gas/ electric hybrid operation. At higher speeds or under high demand for acceleration, the gasoline engine can kick in to provide additional power. In “HV” mode, the plug-in Accord acts as a conventional hybrid. In “HV Charge” mode, it blends gasoline and electric power while also augmenting the battery charge level. When plugged into a Level 2, 240 V charger, the recharge time is less than one hour - about half the required charge time of the Prius Plug-In Hybrid. The battery pack is mounted above the rear suspension.

AUG/SEP 2012 11

CURRENT events

Wanxiang Group to invest up to $465mil in A123

CD-adapco releases spiral wound cell simulator

Wanxiang Group Corporation, China’s largest automotive components manufacturer and one of the country’s largest non-government-owned companies, announced the execution of definitive agreements to invest up to $465 million in A123 Systems.

Photo courtesy of CD-adapco

Photo courtesy of A123 Systems

CD-adapco has released a computer-aided engineering tool, called STAR-CCM+ Battery Simulation Module, designed to simulate spirally wound lithium-ion battery cells. The technology, developed in conjunction with Battery Design LLC, Johnson Controls, Inc., and A123 Systems, is aimed at helping the automotive and battery companies design and develop advanced electric drive vehicle power sources more quickly.

Development of the new module was co-sponsored by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy provided funding for the development of the software as part of the CAEBAT program to reduce petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The code includes some of the latest techniques for modeling electrochemical and thermal performance. It’s great to see these methods become mainstream. Robert Spotnitz, Battery Design LLC’s President


Under the terms of the agreements, Wanxiang plans include an initial credit extension of $25 million and another $50 million to be funded after the satisfaction of certain closing conditions under a Senior Secured Bridge Facility. Upon satisfaction of certain closing conditions, Wanxiang would purchase a $200 million aggregate principal amount of A123’s 8.00% Senior Secured Convertible Notes. The agreements also include the potential for Wanxiang to invest up to an additional $190 million by exercising the warrants that will be issued in connection with the Bridge Facility and the 8.00% Convertible Notes for cash. The full investment would represent approximately 80% of the fully diluted common stock of A123 outstanding at that time.

Wanxiang has demonstrated its commitment to partnering with and investing in US companies, so we also believe that we will continue to expand on our strong manufacturing and systems engineering capabilities in Michigan and Massachusetts. David Vieau, CEO of A123

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CURRENT events

ARPA-E awards $43mil to energy storage projects SK Innovation wins separator patent lawsuit SK Innovation has won a patent lawsuit against LG Chem, the world’s biggest player in batteries. Last December, LG filed a lawsuit alleging that SK copied proprietary Safety Reinforced Separator technology for lithium-ion batteries. SK countersued, asking the Korea Intellectual Property Tribunal to nullify LG’s patent, claiming that SK’s battery separator is based on independently developed technology called Ceramic Coated Separator. The Tribunal has ruled that LG Chem’s technology isn’t sufficiently different from similar products made by SK, supporting SK’s request for a nullification of LG’s patent on that technology. In a statement, LG Chem said it will appeal and bring the issue to the highest court. “As an appeals court normally approves the ruling by the KIPO, chances are good for SK Innovation to be declared the victor in the patent dispute,” a patent expert in Seoul told the Korea Times. “But this case also appears different because it’s highly sensitive.”

A recent study from Pike Research ranked LG Chem as the number-one vendor for automotive grade lithium-ion batteries, based on an assessment of strategy and execution. The company supplies batteries to global car makers, including GM and Renault. It has opened a manufacturing plant in the US and plans to build another in Europe. SK Innovation hopes to challenge LG’s lead in the market, and has an agreement with German car parts supplier Continental to invest several hundred million euros in a joint venture to develop lithiumion battery technology for EVs.


The DOE’s Advanced Research Projects AgencyEnergy (ARPA-E) has selected 19 new projects that will receive a total of $43 million to develop new energy storage technologies. The projects are supported through two new ARPA-E programs Advanced Management and Protection of Energy Storage Devices (AMPED) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - and will focus on innovations in battery management and storage.

This latest round of ARPA-E projects seek to address the remaining challenges in energy storage technologies, which could revolutionize the way Americans store and use energy in electric vehicles, the grid and beyond, while also potentially improving the access to energy for the US military at forward operating bases in remote areas. Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy

The AMPED program aims to develop advanced sensing and control technologies that could significantly improve both grid-scale and vehicle batteries. Unlike other DOE efforts to push the frontiers of battery chemistry, AMPED is focused on maximizing the potential of existing battery chemistries to help reduce costs and improve performance. AMPED research projects include development of sensors, testing devices, and battery management systems to improve performance, battery-life forecasting, and validation. Some of the SBIR projects include fabricating batteries from abundant, domestically sourced, lowcost metals like aluminum and magnesium and the development of low cost nano-composite materials that could cut energy storage cost by half or more.

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CURRENT events

Photo courtesy of Omron Corporation

Omron releases “Smallest” Power Relay Omron Corporation has announced the release of its new G9EN DC power relay, which they claim is the smallest and lightest high-capacity DC power relay in its class. The relay is 50% smaller and lighter than Omron’s previous comparable relays, thanks to the use of the company’s newly developed proprietary sealing technologies and magnetic control methods. Typically, a ceramic housing is used to keep the pressurized gas sealed in, but Omron has achieved down-sizing and weight reduction of the relay body by changing the ceramic sealing construction from a conventional box-shaped ceramic case to a combination of ceramic plating and metal casing. Omron boasts a switching circuit and permanent magnet circuit design that specifically extinguishes the arcing that occurs during DC load interruption across narrow contact gaps, enabling high-speed arc interruption regardless of current direction. The result is a non-polarized main contact circuit, that until now has been difficult to achieve with directcurrent type relays using arc interruption via magnetic blow-out. Non-polarization means the device is suitable for use in applications requiring two-way current flow. Applications include main relays and pre-charge relays for vehicles with high voltage batteries, chargers, feeders, and accessories for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid cars. The G9EN has a maximum switching voltage of 400 V and maximum switching current of 60 A. The company is also preparing for the release of other advanced new products, including a 150 A main relay and an air-break switch pre-charge relay.

Ford begins production of hybrid transmissions Ford’s HF35 transmission, which incorporates two electric motors, is the first hybrid transmission to be designed and built by Ford. Previously, a supplier in Japan handled hybrid transmission production. By bringing the development work in-house, Ford reduced development costs by 20 percent.

The HF35 is billed as the industry’s highestperforming, smoothest-operating hybrid transmission. Innovations include electric motors capable of operating at higher speeds, a new cooling system that enables higher speeds in electric drive, optimized gear ratios and reduced weight for improved fuel economy, and more precise controls to deliver higher levels of refinement as the powertrain transitions between engine and electric drive. The new transmission will be used in five electrified vehicles being introduced this year: the C-MAX Hybrid, C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, Fusion Hybrid, Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Ford announced the debut of a new flexible assembly line at the Van Dyke Transmission Plant, which will produce the HF35 hybrid transmission. Ford and suppliers are investing $220 million in the Van Dyke plant and will add 225 new jobs there by the end of the August.

This demonstrates our commitment to bringing jobs and technology back into Ford and North America – actions that not only benefit our employees but our customers and the communities where we do business. Jim Tetreault, Vice President of North America Manufacturing

AUG/SEP 2012 17

CURRENT events

EV Project offers free chargers in 3 new cities

EVs, chargers, and utilities learn to communicate

Photo courtesy of ECOtality

Toyota is partnering with Duke Energy and Energy Systems Network for a pilot project in central Indiana that will begin to answer the question of how best to manage plug-in vehicle charging based on integrated communication between the vehicle and the electric power grid.

Toyota will provide a UL-certified home charging station and a home gateway communication system to be installed in each customer’s home, allowing the vehicle and the “smart grid” equipment to communicate with each other, evaluating billing and power supply control. Duke Energy will simulate price structures and demand response events to understand the impact to the customer’s bill and understand how these types of programs can aid in grid reliability as plug-ins become more prominent. The pilot will employ the use of Homeplug Green PHY, a Power Line communication standard that is based on SAE technical standard J2931, and utilizes the ISO/IEC standard, that has been announced by ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association) as the European standard beginning in 2017. This method allows the sharing of data collected in a home network between the plug-in vehicle and the utility.

ECOtality announced that it will offer its Blink charging stations free to residents and commercial host sites in the Chicago, Atlanta and Philadelphia metropolitan areas, as part of its expansion of The EV Project, a publicprivate partnership with the DOE. Qualified residents, who have taken ownership of either the Nissan LEAF or Chevy Volt, will receive a free residential Blink wall mount charger as well as an installation credit up to $400, subject to certain conditions. ECOtality is the project manager of The EV Project, a research initiative to help build America’s future EV infrastructure. To date, The EV Project has gathered more than 33 million miles of EV driver data that will serve to support the deployment of EVs in key markets. Local energy delivery companies are also joining the initiative.

To support this effort, in June we launched PECO Smart Driver Rebates. This exciting program offers rebates and incentives for residential and business customers [in the Greater Philadelphia Region] investing in new electric vehicle technology, including a $50 rebate for residential and business customers who have purchased an electric vehicle, a $1,000 rebate per unit for our government, institutional and non-profit customers installing up to two Level 2 public chargers, and up to a $3,000 rebate for local counties who are installing a Level 2 public charging station. Craig Adams, PECO President and CEO

AUG/SEP 2012 19



By Jeffrey Jenkins - Charged Technical Editor, power electronics guru, and Chief Electron Herder for Evnetics

egenerative braking (usually called regen for short) is simply the act of turning a motor into a generator, so that it slows down the load it was previously driving. Instead of converting momentum into heat with friction brakes, regen puts some of that energy back into the traction pack, not only saving wear on the brakes, but giving a little boost to range every time you stop. Any electric motor can be used as a generator, but some are better than others, and the benefits of regen itself are often more psychological than practical. Let's first consider both the benefits and practical limits of regen in an EV by analyzing a simple yet realistic hypothetical situation: accelerating a 1,000 kg EV onto a freeway, cruising at 100 kph for 30 minutes, then decelerating to a stop at the end. The typical EV might use 200 Wh/ km (Watt-hours per kilometer) of energy, so the total energy consumed on the freeway portion of the trip


Photo courtesy of Tinou Bao


will be 10 kWh. The rate for electricity here in Tampa, FL is $0.11/kWh, so the freeway portion of the trip will cost $1.10. The amount of energy that regen can recapture in this example is only that which was used to accelerate the vehicle up to cruising

speed, not what was used to cruise along the freeway. Even assuming 100% efficiency, regen saved us one cent in electricity. Of course, the more time spent accelerating (say, driving up a mountain, or in stop-and-go traffic) the

Engineering Notes Calculating Regen Savings

Using the equation for kinetic energy (Kjoules = 0.5mv²) for a 1,000 kg vehicle decelerating from a speed of 100 kph gives a result of 384 kWs (kilowatt-seconds). Dividing that by 3,600 to convert seconds to hours gives us a rather paltry 0.11 kWh of recovered energy - assuming 100% efficiency. Multiply 0.11 kWh by the rate for electricity of $0.11/kWh and the resulting savings is $0.0121.

more energy that regen can recover (and the less wear and tear on the mechanical brakes), and if a motor is capable of doing regen at little or no additional cost, then the only downside to using it is that it will increase the average power handled by the traction motor, which may lead to overheating.

Design Considerations

Another consideration with regen is how much to employ and when to activate it. The way that feels most familiar to people who grew up driving ICEs (that would be pretty much all of us) is to enable a modest amount of regen when your foot is off both the accelerator and brake pedals, as

AUG/SEP 2012 21


this feels a lot like engine braking. However, better overall driving cycle efficiency can often be obtained by learning to coast when both pedals are off, and only enabling regen when the mechanical brakes are applied just enough to light the brake lights, and not much else. The other common approach is to make the braking effort from regen proportional to the pressure of the hydraulic fluid in the mechanical braking system. Even more sophisticated schemes using regen for, e.g., traction control are possible, limited only by the imagination of the software engineers and the tolerance of the company employing them for getting sued when something horribly complex goes horribly wrong.

Motors and Regen

Some motors are better suited to doing regen than others. There are literally hundreds of different types of motors in existence, but only five are commonly used in traction applications: Series DC (Series), Permanent Magnet DC (PMDC), Separately Excited DC (SepEx), PM Synchronous (PMAC, both Interior and Surface PM types), and AC Induction (ACIM).

PMDC and SepEx

The PMDC and SepEx types are both well-suited to regen, but are rarely used by either OEMs or DIYers. The PMDC type is limited, mainly because even the largest of them are only suitable for motorcycles and small sport vehicle applications, while the SepEx motor requires nearly as complex a controller as an AC motor, yet suffers from the same disadvantages of all brushed motors. Namely, the brushes limit the maxi-


mum RPM allowed and also produce conductive dust that eventually compromises the isolation between the battery pack and the frame if not cleaned out regularly.


The Series motor, despite being a brushed type, is very popular for light-duty EVs, like golf carts, and with do-it-yourself, low-volume EV builders, mainly because it delivers the most power for the least cost and has the highest peak-to-average power capability of any motor. However, it is generally not even considered for use by OEMs because it cannot operate in reverse or regen without bulky and expensive contactors, and even then it is poorly suited to regen because it is fundamentally unstable as a generator - the more you load down a series generator, the higher its output voltage! This instability is made even worse by the controller, because to enable regen with a series motor the controller has to operate in the voltage boosting mode, which itself is unstable, particularly at high ratios of input to output voltage. The way I often describe a series motor and controller doing regen is stacking two brooms and then balancing them in the palm of your hand. You got to be one helluva magician to pull it off, and even then it's a lot of work just to balance a couple of brooms. Thus, because the actual benefit of regen is rarely worth more than a few cents per operating cycle, the extra cost to implement it with a series DC motor is not justified. This is in contrast to the three motors that are most popular with OEMs: Interior and Surface PM Synchronous, and AC Induction.

There are literally hundreds of different types of motors in existence, but only five are commonly used in traction applications These motors need to be driven by an inverter, which usually employs six controlled switches to synthesize three-phase current from a DC source. An inverter is a considerably more complex (read: expensive) device than the simple buck or buck/ boost converter that can be used to control a Series DC motor, but the advantages of these types of AC motors are so compelling to OEMs (if less so to golf cart manufacturers and DIYers) that the cost disadvantage is worth it. At any rate, with a sophisticated enough inverter, along with rotor position feedback from either an encoder or resolver, all three of these types of motors are very well suited to both forward and reverse operation while delivering either positive (motoring) or negative (generating) torque. This is because the magnitude and direction of both rotation and torque are all controlled by software, more or less. Thus switching between forward motoring and forward regenerating is pretty much as simple as commanding a slower rpm. There are significant differences in behavior and cost between these three types of AC motor, despite the fact that all can use the same control-


ler, and even much of the same control software. The stator on all three motors is pretty much the same; it is the rotor that is different in each of them.


The rotor of the ACIM is the simplest and least expensive to construct by a wide margin, because it consists of bars of aluminum (or copper in high efficiency types) embedded in steel laminations. The laminations can be stamped from sheet stock, and the bars can be cast in place. This type of rotor is extremely robust, as evidenced by the 12,000 rpm limit of the ACIM used in the Tesla Roadster. The downside is that the field must be induced in the rotor bars by transformer action (hence the name), which not only robs a percentage point or two of efficiency compared to a similar size PMAC machine, but it also consumes a substantial portion of the current rating of the inverter. The actual percentage of the current rating given over to inducing the field can be calculated from the motor's cosine ÎŚ specification, but typically anywhere from 50-200 A is required by the induction motor's field. C


of the two to construct because the motor because of the wide speed magnets are, as the name implies, range, high efficiency and compact attached to the surface of the rotor. size, but my prediction is that it will You don't need a PhD in engineernot reign supreme for long, simply ing to see that this greatly limits the because the ACIM is so much less maximum rpm the rotor can tolerate. expensive to build, and history is The magnets are buried in the rotor replete with examples of the less exof the Interior PMAC motor, which pensive trumping the technologically significantly enhances its ability to better (Betamax, anyone?). tolerate high rpm, but also results in the highest manufacturing cost. This is just a cursory overview of Burying the magnets also gives the regenerative braking and how it is Interior PMAC (often just called accomplished with the most comIMP) motor a wider "Constant Power mon motors used in EVs, but I hope Speed Range" because the magnets it sheds some light on something in the rotor can be "pushed" by the which is often cloaked with a shroud phase currents in the stator (resulting of mystery, and invoked with hushed in what is called reluctance torque). and reverent tones by the newly con189-000031_ChargedEVs_ThirdPg_Ad.pdf 1 6/15/12 3:20that PM is). The OEMs just love this kind of verted (to electric,

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In contrast, both of the PMAC motors use rare earth magnets to supply the field, and are therefore somewhat easier to control from a software perspective. They also exhibit higher efficiency and better utilization of the power semiconductors in the inverter. The downside is that the rotor is much more difficult and expensive to construct - they aren't called "rare earth magnets" for nothing! The Surface PMAC motor is the simpler




AUG/SEP 2012 23



of a


After decades of patent-protected breakthroughs, PolyPlus stands poised to make its first commercial move from its trio of power-dense battery technologies:

lithium-sulfur, lithium-water, & lithium-air. By Markkus Rovito


Photo courtesy of PolyPlus



A PolyPlus Li-seawater battery

t’s a balmy, 95-degree August day in the nation’s capital, but Steven J. Visco, PhD, the CEO, CTO, and co-founder of PolyPlus, sits in the climate-controlled comfort of the White House itself. He’s at a roundtable discussion with the US Department of Energy (DOE). On the docket: create a national strategy for advanced clean energy manufacturing, increase R&D funding for top clean energy technologies, and create a network of manufacturing innovation institutes. You know, little things. Visco represented his 27-employee company alongside giants such as Dow Chemical, DuPont, GE, Ford, and others. Yet Visco’s attendance at the prestigious roundtable was the lesser honor that the DOE recently bestowed upon the Edison award-winning PolyPlus. In July, the DOE granted PolyPlus $8.99 million to finish the development and scale manufacturing of its Protected Lithium Electrode (PLE), the chief component that has enabled PolyPlus’s lithiumsulfur, lithium-seawater, and lithium-air battery technologies. The grant was one of the largest awarded to only 13 companies out of a pool of 1,500 interested organizations. PolyPlus is working with Corning and Johnson Controls to pioneer a completely new manufacturing process. Thus Visco’s presence on the DOE panel. PolyPlus’s Li-water battery has been clocked at 1,300 Wh/kg - well above the 400-450 Wh/ kg theoretical limit of Li-ion batteries - and Visco believes they will reach an energy density of 1,500 Wh/kg by the time the technology is commercialized in 2013. Still, that is just the tip of the iceberg that could bring down the titanic combustion engine when PolyPlus batteries finally reach the EV market in as many as 10 years. PolyPlus has calculated the theoretical energy density of its Li-air technology at 11,000 Wh/kg. “That’s a big, big number,” Visco said. “It’s more than an order of magnitude. Now, can you get it? It’s one thing to calculate - it’s another thing to actually do it.”

AUG/SEP 2012 25

The PolyPlus Protected Lithium Electrode (PLETM)


The slow march toward the most potent battery on Earth quietly began more than 20 years ago in Berkeley, California. Spun off from and funded by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (the same lab associated with the CalCharge battery consortium Charged reported on in the June/July 2012 issue), PolyPlus incorporated in 1990 on the strength of innovations in environmentally friendly lithiumorganosulfur batteries. At the time, the gold standards in rechargeable batteries were nickelcadmium and lead-acid. PolyPlus was sure that its Li-sulfur chemistry


would beat the brakes off them both. Then in 1991, Sony dropped the lithium-ion bomb. “We had a chemistry in hand that was certainly exciting, but the bar had just ratcheted up quite a bit with Sony’s introduction,” Visco said. “At that point, we knew we had to get to higher energy densities. Lithium-ion was clearly going to be improving. If you’re going to launch something new competing with an incumbent technology, and you’re, say, five years out, you’ve got to make sure that you’re sufficiently that much higher, so that when you commercialize, you have a big advantage.”

Visco believed that PolyPlus had the most advanced Li-sulfur technology in the world, but they had problems with self-discharge of the cells. “We concluded that the only way to solve the problem of lithium-sulfur was to introduce a solid electrolyte membrane between the anode and the cathode that would shut down all these processes that were creating problems,” Visco said. PolyPlus’s search for that material lead them to what they believed was the only company in the world that could help them, a Japanese outfit called Ohara. It just so happened that Ohara’s US rep had some of the


It is highly conductive to lithium ions, but impervious to liquids and gases, so that the lithium core is electrochemically active but chemically isolated from the external electrolyte.

Steven J. Visco, PhD

Photos courtesy of PolyPlus

CEO, CTO, & Co-founder of PolyPlus

membranes sitting on his desk, but he thought they’d be no good since they’d been sitting out for more than two years. “Those are the pieces I want,” Visco said. “If you have something on your desk for two years, that indicates that they’re stable. Send them up to me. I’ll test them.” All the tests PolyPlus ran proved that the Ohara material’s conductivity measured exactly what they had claimed. The next step was to put it up against lithium. “If you can’t put lithium up against it, then its an interesting material but not practical,” Visco said. “But we had developed a special practice internal to PolyPlus, called the interlayer process. We can

take something that’s not stable to lithium, put an interlayer on it that is conductive to lithium and then put the lithium down. We did that test, and it worked beautifully. We got stable performance.” Bolstered by that outcome, PolyPlus decided to experiment further and see what happened when it put water up against the membrane. “That’s really crazy,” Visco said. “You just don’t put lithium in the water. They don’t mix. I figured we might get an interesting paper out of it. We might get a 10-minute type of transient and see something interesting, but that would be the end of it.” To Visco’s great surprise, he would later receive an exuberant 3 am call from his director of technology explaining that they had just measured the thermodynamic potential of lithium and water for the first time, and that they were moving lithium from the lithium electrode into the water, and then replating metallic lithium from water. Visco asked him, “you know that’s a pretty strong statement, right?” But sure enough, PolyPlus was onto something, and the company went largely silent as it began writing patents related to its discovery. “We had a material that would definitely solve the biggest problems with

lithium-sulfur technology, which are the self-discharge and corrosion,” Visco said. “But we also realized for the first time that you could build a lithium-water battery, and you can build a lithium-air battery, which is kind of the ultimate. If you look at the periodic table of the elements, you want to go to the far corners. You want to go to the lightest negative electrode, which is lithium, and then for the cathode, oxygen is light because it’s free. You don’t have to carry it.” PolyPlus essentially spent years developing intellectual property that will eventually bring its many technologies to market. To date it holds more than 70 US and international patents, and when adding pending patent applications, Visco says that number approaches almost 150. But the core of the company’s IP is the solid electrolyte membranes that allow for stable Li-sulfur, Li-water, and Li-air batteries. It’s called the Protected Lithium Electrode, or PLE. It is highly conductive to lithium ions, but impervious to liquids and gases, so that the lithium core is electrochemically active but chemically isolated from the external electrolyte. Now flush with DOE cash, PolyPlus and its partners will manufacture a pilot line this year that will produce the first commercial PLE-enabled batteries: non-rechargeable Li-seawater batteries. “We need to demonstrate to potential customers that this is a manufacturable technology, that it does what we say it does, that it’s robust, and that it survives in the application environment,” Visco said. “So that’s why we start with what I guess you’d call the low hanging fruit: something where we have a huge advantage. We’ll get experience in the

AUG/SEP 2012 27

BATTERY TECH market, manufacturing experience, and credibility in delivering a pretty remarkable product. Then we’ll move toward the rechargeable chemistries, which are going to be more complex. You don’t solve every manufacturing problem from day one. You do it sequentially.”



The lithium-seawater battery actually uses oxygen just like fish do - like artificial gills. It uses the oxygen that’s in seawater, and then the seawater is the electrolyte.

seawater battery actually uses oxygen just like fish do - like artificial gills. It uses the oxygen that’s in seawater, and then the seawater is the electrolyte. By the time you add electrodes, you’re at about density 1. So if our battery is 1300 Wh/kg, it’s still 1300 Wh/kg in use. And we’ll certainly get to 1500 Wh/kg for the commercial version. That’s huge. People get excited when they have a 30 percent performance improvement. We’re saying 10X in some applications.” That kind of energy density may even lower the red flags that are sure to fly simply from the fact that the batteries are non-rechargeable.

Because UUVs have no convenient local power source from which to recharge (as we have for our smartphones, for example), fossil fuel-burning ships have to stay at sea waiting for them to return and recharge. Visco feels confident that PolyPlus’ non-rechargeable Li-water batteries will save its customers money in the end. “The cost for small surface ships is a minimum of $20,000 per day,” Visco said, “to say nothing of the waste of fuel and production of CO2 while it’s sitting there. In contrast to this, if one outfits a UUV with a high-performance Li-water battery,

Photo courtesy of PolyPlus

There are several reasons why Visco feels confident that PolyPlus will have a huge competitive advantage with its non-rechargeable Li-seawater batteries that will go to market in 2013, namely energy density and environmental friendliness. Although it will be a while before PolyPlus technology hits the electric automobile market, the company will target the EVs of the sea - underwater robots, drones, and other unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) - with its Li-water cells. Currently much of those devices run on sulfuryl-chloride chemistry, which Visco criticizes. “Those batteries are typically around 400-500 Wh/kg on the bench top on land, but they don’t tolerate pressure,” Visco said. “They’re put in a glass bubble to be protected from pressure, and they’re pretty dense. If you drop them in water, they sink. An underwater robot has to be neutrally buoyant, so you have to add flotation, because the battery’s weight is too dense.” As a result, Visco says that the pressure bubble and flotation needed for underwater sulfuryl-chloride batteries de-rate them to an in-use energy density of about 150 Wh/kg. “Our technology is pressure-tolerant - it doesn’t need any kind of protective bubble,” Visco said. “And it’s neutrally buoyant, because lithium’s density is half of water. The lithium-

PolyPlus the UUV can head off for days (or months, depending on the power requirements), and return to shore or be picked up by a surface ship later.” When it comes to toxicity, PolyPlus touts the superiority of its Li-water chemistry over sulfuryl-chloride, which can react violently with water and release hydrogen chloride and sulfuric acid. “But more importantly,” Visco said, “they have a tendency to explode. So you have an explosion hazard and a disposal problem. It’s quite nasty, but it’s used because people need energy. With our chemistry, you let the thing discharge to the end, and you’re just left with the ceramic plates. There’s nothing else. It’s a completely environmentally benign technology.” PolyPlus expects to receive its completed pilot line of Li-water batteries by November or December and be piloting them by January 2013. The market for these batteries is quite large in Visco’s estimation. In addition to the aforementioned underwater vehicles, Li-water batteries could power the many thousands of weather and military sensors that get dropped each year, such as the sonobuoys that detect and identify objects in motion underwater. “We think it should do close to 100 percent penetration in most markets,” Visco said. “Some of the customers we’re talking to are already saying that they don’t want to slowly introduce them; they just want to completely replace their batteries with our technology. That’s rare.” While Visco said that the cost of

materials for the PolyPlus Li-water batteries is “pretty low,” the company will be looking to command the highest price that the market will bear in the initial stages, before scaling to high volumes begins to drive the cost down.


PolyPlus will need its Li-water batteries to succeed in order to establish momentum and reputation for its developing rechargeable Li-sulfur and Li-air batteries. Regardless of which of those technologies finds a niche and takes off first, the plan is to establish the rechargeables first in

charge lithium-sulfur batteries, you end up with a product that comes out a solution, and that limits some of the kinetics of the battery, the power density, and some other things.” However, early this year, PolyPlus had another breakthrough in Li-sulfur that addressed that lingering problem. The company will announce the news of that breakthrough before the end of the year. As a result, “we’ve refocused our efforts in lithium-sulfur rechargeables. We’re working on both fronts: lithium-air and lithium-sulfur rechargeables.” Despite that, Visco confirmed that it’s a “reasonable guess” that the PolyPlus Li-sulfur batteries could reach the EV market first. “We’re making rapid progress,” he said. “It’s taken us a while to get to 40 [recharge] cycles on lithium-air, and in a very short time we got to that with lithium-sulfur with the new technology, and actually we’ve gone beyond that.” While Li-air has a tremendous upside, it also has a more complicated chemistry due in part to the unpredictable make-up of the atmosphere. “If you drive through a desert,” Visco said, “you’ve got to make sure you don’t dehydrate the battery. If you drive through a jungle, you don’t want to pick up too much water. So there’s complexities in water management. But lithium-sulfur is a sealed battery. It’s too early to know which technology is going to win, but we’re betting on both. Lithium-air may find a certain niche and lithiumsulfur a different one.”

Some of the customers we’re talking to are already saying that they don’t want to slowly introduce them; they just want to completely replace their batteries with our technology. That’s rare. consumer electronics and then, eventually, in EVs. That’s the path that Liion took, and EV battery technology requires too much manufacturing capital and too many recharge cycles to jump straight into that application. So the unanswered questions for PolyPlus in the EV market are: which technology, and how soon? Although PolyPlus was launched on the backs of its Li-sulfur breakthroughs, its focus more recently had been on the higher potential energy density of Liair, rather than Li-sulfur, which has a theoretical limit of 2,500 Wh/kg. All that may soon be about to change. Visco said that PolyPlus had basically shelved Li-sulfur for a while, due to the fact that “when you dis-

AUG/SEP 2012 29

BATTERY TECH car volume (minus the space for the electric drive) to house the batteries, and space is not much of an issue. Assuming that commercial lithiumair is close to (or slightly better than) Li-ion with regards to volume, this should not be a problem.” There’s also the fact that most Liair researchers need to use cylinders of dry oxygen, because water from atmospheric oxygen will attack the lithium and corrode it in days or even hours. “If you look at commercial oxygen cylinders, there’s five pounds of steel for every one pound of oxygen,” Visco said. “So it’s kind of silly. It’s just kind of academic fooling around. The reason lithium-air is compelling is because of the possibility of using the same air that we breathe as the positive electrode.” PolyPlus’s PLE allows a Li-air battery to eschew oxygen cylinders for atmospheric air. The invention also addresses a second big criticism of Li-air batteries: that they are chemically delicate. Critics say lithium gets diverted into dead-end reactions with water or CO2 in the air, so the

electrodes may need to be sealed or filtered so they interact only with dry air and the electrolyte. “Total baloney,” Visco responded. “It is true that some of the competitive efforts will have that problem because they use a vastly inferior technology (no PLE), but this is not a problem for us. PolyPlus always uses unfiltered humid air in its lithium-air cells, with no CO2 problem. We have a patented technology that allows us to use acidic aqueous electrolyte, and acidic electrolytes do not pick up CO2.”


Visco of course leaves the door open to the possibility of licensing the PolyPlus PLE, but for now, the plan is to soldier ahead with its manufacturing partners to commercialize its technologies one at a time. The biggest challenge that the coalition of PolyPlus, Johnson Controls, and Corning now faces is building brandnew manufacturing processes without a third-party support network or established supply chain.

We have to not only get the technology to cycle well, but make sure that we don’t introduce solutions that are hard to manufacture.


Photos courtesy of PolyPlus

Several organizations both academic and corporate (such as IBM and the University of St. Andrews) have also been experimenting with Li-air battery technology, and as IEEE Spectrum reported in July, research groups in Italy, South Korea, and Scotland have achieved 100 cycles with different types of Li-air cells. Despite that, many are critical of Li-air’s potential for the EV market. Materials science expert Professor Stanley Whittingham of Binghamton University thinks that Li-air batteries need too much space for EVs and will be used for large, stationary energy storage, rather than portable applications. He also said, “there’s no electrolyte that currently works well.” As one might expect, Visco had something to say about Li-air criticisms. Regarding the space issue, Visco remarked, “battery engineers are constrained by conventional auto design and the space allotted to the gas tank in hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars. However, in a fully electric vehicle, designers can utilize the entire

PolyPlus “Let’s say you wanted to put up a lithium-ion plant,” Visco said. “You can buy all the manufacturing equipment. There are companies in Japan, Korea, China. You can cherry-pick manufacturing experts and have that thing up and going. The only barrier is capital. If you want to put up a lithium-air or -sulfur plant, we’re it. You gotta come to us. There is no world expertise available; 99.9 percent of the information is at PolyPlus. We’re building a team, but it’s slow going. We have to not only get the technology to cycle well, but make sure that we don’t introduce solutions that are hard to manufacture. It’s the chemistry, the manufacturing, the sourcing of materials, and setting up the supply chain, because it doesn’t really exist.” In another reference to Li-ion, Vis-

co pointed out that there are many large, reputable sources for the microporous membrane of a Li-ion cell. In the case of a Li-sulfur membrane the only two sources are Ohara, and now Corning. That’s why, when asked how soon a PolyPlus battery whether

it turns out to be Li-sulfur or Li-air first - will make it inside an EV, Visco notes that it took almost 20 years for Li-ion to power EVs. “Now, in our case I think that can be done quicker,” he said. “But nevertheless, I just had this discussion with

Johnson Controls. They think that if we can introduce a commercial rechargeable product in 4-5 years, that we should be looking at EV applications in 10, which would be twice as fast as what was done with lithium-ion. But Johnson Controls is very committed to EV technology. That is their future.” Is it their future, or is it the future? However long it takes, with the energy densities possible in Li-air and Li-sulfur technology, there is no doubt to Visco that the first PolyPlus batteries in an EV will be capable of the vaunted 500-mil-per-charge range. Hell, maybe they will even crack the 1,000mile range. And the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. For PolyPlus, that step may require them to walk on water: lithium-water.


Your Niche

Balqon Corporation targets short haul drayage tractors

Photo courtesy of Balqon Corp

By Charlie Morris


Photo by Dale Frost, courtesy of Prot of San Diego


lectric vehicles (EVs) have their partisans and detractors. Supporters see the be-all and endall transportation solution, while opponents argue the technology is too young. Somewhere between the two extremes lies the truth: today’s commercially available EVs have strengths and weaknesses compared to internal combustion engine (ICEs). The strong points include lower operating costs and lack of tailpipe emissions. Drawbacks include higher initial cost, bulky batteries and limited range. This means that EVs are well suited to certain transportation tasks and (at the moment) unsuitable for others. A company that can find and fill a niche in which EVs’ strengths are

important, and their limitations irrelevant, should be able to build a good business in the near term, and be poised for even greater growth in the future, as EV technology improves. Such a company is Balqon, founded by Balwinder Samra in 2005, which develops drivetrains targeting the market for yard tractors. These tractors aren’t the kind that pull farm implements, but the kind that pull trailers full of cargo. If you’re thinking that an over-the-road tractor/trailer, which needs to pull heavy loads long distances, would be a poor niche for electrification, you’re probably right. Balqon’s tractors are designed not for highway travel, but for short-haul drayage, which is the process of transferring cargo between

different modes of long-haul transport - ships, trains and trucks. The vehicles that provide this service are a critical link in the chain of containerized shipping that is the backbone of today’s global distribution system. The concept of drayage is far from new. In the days of sailing ships, goods were loaded onto horse-drawn wagons, or drays, at dockside and taken to nearby warehouses. Nowadays standardized shipping containers are moved around sprawling port facilities by vehicles called yard tractors, yard hustlers or yard goats. As a ship is unloaded, a giant crane lowers each container onto a special trailer, which a yard goat then hauls to a numbered space in an enormous asphalt yard. It’s something like valet

AUG/SEP 2012 33



Photos by Dale Frost, courtesy of Prot of San Diego

FIND YOUR NICHE parking for containers, except that no restaurant parking lot could ever be this big or this busy. A large container ship carries as many as 4,000 containers, which need to be unloaded at the rate of one container every two minutes, with loading and unloading often taking place at the same time. A modern port facility employs a huge number of yard goats, and they are in more or less constant motion. All these trucks rushing around may seem chaotic. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to have the crane load containers directly onto a train? Efficient it might be, but in practice, this seldom happens, both for reasons of practicality (a train would need to advance one car length as each container is loaded), and flexibility (not all the containers on the ship are going to the same place, or even in the same direction). Containers are aggregated into huge lots only for their long-haul trip across the ocean. Once they reach a port, they will disperse to thousands of individual destinations, some traveling by rail, some by truck, and some by other ships. The only feasible way to handle the traffic is to transfer them from a ship to a short-term holding area, where they wait to be picked up by a shipper for the next leg of their journey. In this application, the limitations of EVs aren’t problems. Each trip from ship to holding area is a few hundred feet at most, so yard goats don’t need to have a long range. They operate only within a port facility, so a charger is never far away. A typical goat works two 10-hour shifts each day, so it can top up its charge on lunch breaks, and get in a four-hour charging session after each work day. So, an electric tractor using current technology is perfectly capable of doing this job. But what really seals

a large container ship carries as many as 4,000 containers, which need to be unloaded at the rate of one container every two minutes the deal is the fact that ICE-powered yard goats cause a serious problem that EVs do not have - a stinking, smoky, black problem. To illustrate the point, consider the USA’s largest and second-largest container ports, the Port of Los Angeles and its neighbor, the Port of Long Beach. The Port of LA processes almost eight million containers each year, which requires the goaty services of 16,000 diesel trucks. These trucks use industrial engines, which aren’t subject to the same emissions regulations as the tame automotive diesel engine that powers your VW Golf. The pollution they generate is a serious problem, both locally and regionally. The drivers spend a lot of time idling, and getting in and out of the trucks to deal with paperwork, which means they are exposed to lots of acrid engine fumes. The twin Ports are a major source of air pollution - by some estimates, they are responsible for 40% of Southern California’s air quality problems. There’s a plan in the works to double the capacity

of the nearby rail yard, which would mean some 32,000 trucks fouling the fair air of the Golden State. The Port has been working on this issue for some time, and has received grants from the DOE and other agencies to reduce pollution. Since 2009, it has been experimenting with several types of advanced powertrains that promise to reduce emissions. It is currently conducting trials with both CNG and hydrogen/ electric hybrid trucks. However, while these somewhat less-polluting hydrocarbons have their champions, only a battery-powered electric vehicle can deliver zero local emissions using existing infrastructure and technology that’s feasible today. In LA (and at many large ports), not all of the rail freight can be handled within the port facility. Around 70-80 percent of goods go to a rail yard located a couple of miles from the docks, and residential neighborhoods lie between the two. Local residents would surely be happy to hear that the big rigs that

AUG/SEP 2012 35

FLEETS Nautilus XE-20 Zero Emission All Electric Terminal Tractor Max speed 25 mph, Unloaded grade 10%, Loaded 5%, Max GCWR 90,000 lbs 215 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack, 312 Volt 40 kW level 3 charger, 2.5 hour charge time from 80% depth of discharge, 4 charging ports standard, priority smart charge algorithm based on vehicle state of charge, 480 VAC, 3 phase input voltage, output voltage - 400 VDC max

4 speed fully automatic Allison 3000 RDS transmissions, heavy duty torque converter which reduces shock and strain on drive line components and electric motor, in-line electric motor

roar through almost 24 hours a day were converted to EVs. At the rail yard, the transfer process is repeated. Containers are delivered to a holding area, where they wait to be loaded onto a train bound for Phoenix, Portland or Peoria, and then transferred to trucks again for the last leg of their journey to Main Street USA. The Port of LA uses two different types of drays: yard tractors within the port facility and on-road trucks for the trip to the rail yard. On average, drivers of the on-road trucks make only five five-mile round trips per day, because of paperwork and other delays, so these trucks need


only have a 25-mile range - an easy niche for EVs to fill. When not on the highway, they may spend as much as 65% of their time idling, waiting for a container or for paperwork. Balqon’s XE-20 yard tractor can tow loads up to 30 tons with a maximum speed of 25 mph. It features a four-speed Allison automatic transmission and a 215 kWh lithium-iron-phosphate battery pack (for comparison, a Nissan LEAF has a 24 kWh pack) that can be fully charged in 6.5 hours, or 2.5 hours with the optional Level 3 charger. It comes equipped with all the usual air and electric connections and other

200 HP rated 230 volt AC vector duty electric motor connected to flux vector variable frequency controller, full continuous torque at zero speeds, 200% peak load rating, fully enclosed zero maintenance

gadgetry, including a heated and air conditioned operator cabin. The XE20 is currently being used not only at the Port of LA, but also at a couple of military bases and steel mills, and at Ford Motor Company, which uses it for back-end logistics. The XE-30 on-road dray also has a 30-ton capacity, but it has a five-speed transmission, a slightly larger battery, and a top speed of 45 mph. In addition to assembling the vehicles, Balqon makes the inverters, power electronics, chargers and battery management systems. The batteries come from Balqon’s partner SOL.

Photo courtesy of Balqon Corp

Proprietary flux vector motor controller 240 kW liquid cooled, 600 amp rated, auto shut-off during idling operation, regenerative braking

FIND YOUR NICHE With diesel at $4 a gallon, Balqon’s yard tractor offers savings of around $100-150 per month compared to the cost of leasing and operating a diesel tractor. Even so, it’s a tough sale if a buyer has to come up with the purchase price of $194,000, almost double that of an old-fashioned diesel tractor. However, now that its products have some history - over 20,000 hours in the field to date Balqon has got a large bank to offer three- and five-year leases on its products, which means customers can start saving money from day one. As Mr Samra found, “in today’s economy, people aren’t investing for the long term. If there’s a benefit they want to see it right now. And that’s what this leasing model does for them.” Yard tractors aren’t Balqon’s only products. It also makes the M150 inner-city delivery truck, which can haul four tons, and has a maximum speed of 70 mph and a range of 90 miles loaded. Balqon also exports drive systems to bus and truck manufacturers in Europe and Asia in fact, 84% of the company’s current revenue comes from exports. Diesel prices are higher in these markets, so it’s easier to justify using EVs in many commercial applications on an economic basis alone. However, the pollution angle is more and more attractive to buyers in Asia, where cities are growing so fast that there’s a pressing need for mass transit, but local planners find that it’s no longer politically acceptable to put nasty diesel buses into service. Mr Samra is always mindful of the particular requirements of an individual market, and targets only those niches in which EVs’ strengths can provide value (and where their drawbacks aren’t a problem). For

example, the company has found that garbage trucks aren’t a good niche, because heavy, bulky batteries would limit a truck’s payload, which isn’t acceptable to trash haulers. On the other hand, he sees opportunity in class 7 and 8 heavy tractors. Of

the 760,000 on US roads, 240,000 are used on short-haul routes - not exactly a small niche. Like any EV expert, Mr Samra has a lot to say about batteries and industrial energy storage - a natural complement to electric mobility.

in today’s economy, people aren’t investing for the long term. If there’s a benefit they want to see it right now. And that’s what this leasing model does for them

” Buffer Battery

DC Fast Chargers Fast charge that is gentle to the Grid Our systems provide battery storage charging in less than 30 minutes while minimizing electricity from the grid. We provide turnkey EV solutions.

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AUG/SEP 2012 37

FLEETS Industrial energy storage

by the time diesel is brought to some of these remote sites, it has an effective price of $8 a gallon Photo by Indi Samarajiva


Balqon is exploring the industrial energy storage market, where the name of the game is replacing leadacid batteries with newer lithiumion technology. The latter offers about double the lifespan, almost no maintenance, and better transfer efficiency. So why is anyone still buying lead-acid batteries? You guessed it up-front costs are still lower, at least for smaller classes of batteries. For high-capacity batteries (700-1,000 amp hours), however, Li-ion has reached price parity, and Balqon has identified several promising niches, including forklifts, solar storage and airport ground support equipment. The fastest growing segment of all is in the telecom industry, providing backup batteries for cellular towers. In the wake of Katrina, the US began requiring cell phone towers to have generators. In practice, many of these towers run continuously off a diesel generator that is sized for peak load, which might be 20 kilowatts. However, at off-peak times, the load might be only one or two kW, which means a huge waste of fuel. With Balqon’s 24 kW system, the generator needs to run only about three hours a day to charge the battery, saving money not only in fuel costs but also in maintenance (by the time diesel is brought to some of these remote sites, it has an effective price of $8 a gallon). In developing countries, the main worry isn’t natural disasters, but simply the unreliable power grid, which may go down a couple times per day, taking cell phone service with it. Phone providers that have Balqonsupplied backup storage at their towers can advertise 24/7 service. The company is doing good business in South Africa, Nigeria, India and Bangladesh.


a diesel engine has a “battery-to-wheel efficiency” of only 12.6 percent, while the potential figure for a Liion-powered EV is 90 percent

Lithium’s potential

What really gets Mr Samra to wax poetic are the advances in battery technology that are now making their way from the laboratory to the factory floor. He put the situation in a context that commercial vehicle operators can relate to. Batteries add weight to vehicles, because they aren’t as energy-dense as diesel fuel. Better batteries will make it possible to increase payloads. He laid out some figures that quantify the exciting potential of Li-ion batteries. Diesel has an energy density of around 14,000 Wh/kg, while lithium has the theoretical potential to offer 11,680 Wh/kg, if you could fully oxidize a lithium ion - and folks are certainly trying. However, Mr Samra calculates that a typical diesel engine has a “battery-to-wheel effi-

ciency” of only 12.6 percent, while the potential figure for a Li-ion-powered EV is 90 percent. Even taking the higher efficiency into account, current Li-ion technologies can’t come anywhere near the energy density of diesel, but a lithium-air battery could get very close. So, “lithium-air gets us there,” as Mr S eloquently puts it. He believes that the technology is two to three years away from commercialization (an optimistic projection compared to

many estimates that put viable Li-air batteries a decade or two away). During that time, Balqon plans to perfect its products and build relationships with suppliers and customers, hoping to be the first on the scene with vehicles ready to sell when things really start to take off. “We’re about three years from reaching almost five times the range we have today - that’s what keeps us motivated. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Standard High Voltage Motor Control Systems: (Pictured) PM100 PM150




314 x 200 x 87


436 x 200 x 87

KW - Peak

L x W x H (mm)

Mass KG

Voltage V


360 / 7 20


360 / 720



Photo courtesy of Microvast





& Fleet

focused M

Microvast designs batteries, builds buses, and partners with utilities By Michael Kent

icrovast is the largest battery company you’ve probably never heard of. That’s because they are their own best customer. Instead of pitching their proprietary lithium–titanate technology to vehicle builders, the company identified a well-suited niche for their batteries and set out to demonstrate a sustainable model. Primarily a research and development focused chemical company, Microvast took a bold move when they purchased Hengtong Bus, one of the largest bus makers in China with annual production of around 5,000 buses. By focusing on commercial fleets, Microvast wants to show utility companies that they will be the biggest beneficiaries of electric vehicles. “If there is a technology that enables [utilities] to sell electricity to the vehicle owners directly - similar to

AUG/SEP 2012 41

Photos courtesy of Microvast


the gas station model, at a very high rate - we will see a joint development of the market by both car companies and utilities,” explains Lance Deng, Microvast’s head of corporate strategy.


Since 2006, Microvast has primarily focused on advancing lithium–titanate (LTO) technology as a replacement for conventional lithium-ion cells. Widely regarded as one of the best choices for the next generation of batteries, LTO cells use nanostructured lithium-titanate instead of carbon to cover the surface of the anode. The result is increased electrode surface area, allowing for two key advantages over today’s commercially available cells: charge/discharge capacity and cycle life. Lance tells us that by using their R&D experience, they have been able to produce a special cathode, anode, and separator to


make one of the most advanced LTO batteries, while eliminating some the chemistry’s weaknesses. “We have patents for all those important elements of the battery.” Before focusing on battery research, Microvast engineers developed reverse osmosis membrane technology for water filtration, which they sold to Dow Chemical. “By adopting some of the knowledge and skills we had to manufacture those membranes, with the highest possible quality you can find on the water filtering market, we’ve been able to produce a new type of separator that allows very efficient delivery of electricity in the battery.” To complement their specialized separator design, Microvast claims proprietary anode and cathode developments that have resulted in battery specs “better than any known LTO battery performance on the market.”

Other LTO pioneers include Toshiba, which supplies batteries for the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Honda Fit EV, and Altairnano, whose cells can be found in Proterra’s EcoRide BE35 - an all-electric 35 ft bus. Lance says while these companies use similar LTO chemistries, their cathodes and anodes are completely different, and Microvast’s recent advancements have enabled them to push the chemistry to new limits.

Cycle life

A battery’s cycle life - the number of complete charge and discharge cycles before the nominal capacity falls below 80% of initial rated capacity - is critical in determining its viability for mobile applications. A higher battery pack cycle life means a longer vehicle life span and a lower overall cost of ownership. This is where Microvast promises their cells excel - a life of over 20,000

Microvast cycles (with 100% Depth of Discharge and 4CC/4CD conditions). By comparison, today’s lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells have a life of around 2,000 cycles, under similar charge conditions. And Toshiba’s lithium-titanate oxide Super-Charge Ion Battery (SCiB™), used in the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, offers a life of around 6,000 charge/discharge cycles.

Those are impressive specs, if they can live up to independent tests and real-world trials. But when talking EVs, arguably the most important question is: At what price and weight?

Charge/ discharge rate

Microvast also boasts that their technology can endure a highly intensive charge and discharge rate without damaging the cells, on the order of 5-6 times the rate at which LFP cells safely operate. That means a vehicle fitted with Microvast batteries could be fully charged in a matter of 5-10 minutes, assuming you have one heck of a mega-ultra-super-fast charger and power source available.

Lance tells us that price is roughly the same compared to LFP in today’s market. However, the energy density is about 15-25% less, a trade-off that

could be absorbed given the right application, and to Microvast that application is buses.


Commercial fleets that run routebased operations are ideal for electrification. The predictable route allows for optimal battery pack sizing, so that the capacity will precisely meet the range needs. Microvast found their LTO technology was particularly well suited for city buses whose daily routes include 10-15 loops, with short stops at central depots. In their model, each electric bus only has to be fitted with enough battery capacity to sustain the operation of one loop of around 10-15 miles. Every time the bus comes back to the terminal station it can be quickly charged in about 5 minutes. In contrast, an electric bus outfitted with LFP would need enough battery capacity to run the bus for around 50 miles, because the tech-

Engineering Notes The lithium-titanate battery Advantages

The main advantages LTO batteries hold over other commercially available lithium chemistries - like LFP - include superior charge and discharge power capabilities, cycle life, operating temperature range, and thermal event safety.


Areas where LTO falls short include energy density and gassing. The electrode potential of LTO is about 1.4 V higher than graphite. So the voltage of Nickel Cobalt Manganese (NCM)-graphite is 3.6 V while NCM-LTO is only about 2.2 V, which means you need more LTO batteries in series to reach the same energy requirements. However, Microvast says they have recently updated their production cell design, and the nominal voltage changed from 2.2V to 2.3V for the newly developed cells - an increase of about 5%. In charge/discharge cycles, organics in the electrolyte will react with the cathode/anode and generate gas that results in swelling of the cell and loss of battery performance.

AUG/SEP 2012 43


Engineering Notes Microvast’s Innovations

By various modifications/innovations of the anode, cathode, electrolyte, and separator, Microvast claims to have significantly reduced the problem of gassing, while achieving a cycle life of 20,000 cycles. Microvast’s battery is an evolved type of lithium-titanate battery, called “LpTO technology,” built on a LTONCM structure base and with the following advancements: Anode For the LpTO anode, they modified the crystal of LTO by developing a patented doping technology, which decreases the reactive activity of Ti 3+ with the electrolyte to reduce gassing dramatically. Cathode For the NCM cathode, a "glass-like" layer is coated on the surface of NCM material. This allows the migration of Li-ions but blocks the contact of NCM with the electrolyte. It is said to improve the stability of the NCM material at high temperature, the safety, and the lifetime. Separator Adapting from their experience and knowledge developing an Ultrafiltration Membrane for water purification applications, which they sold to Dow Chemical, Microvast was able to develop a unique separator with high porosity and improved wettability with the electrolyte. They note that their improvement provides more migration channels for Li-ions during high rate charge/discharge. And due to its extra-high porosity characterComparison graphic provided by Microvast and based on their internal research. istics, the electrolyte is completely soaked into the separator, producing minimum risk of leaking even if the outer shell of the cell is damaged. Electrolyte By adjusting the composition of organic solvents and adding some functional additives to the electrolyte, Microvast says they have been able to further restrain gassing. Testing Microvast’s claims of superiority over competitors are based on in-house testing and on-road trials. They currently report that they are in the last stage of finalizing their Generation II cell, for vehicle and energy storage applications, and in the process of scheduling third-party tests with US national laboratories and independent agents. (With the extra-long life, LpTO life-cycle testing could take one to two years.) They are currently testing the Gen II cells on 10cc/10cd and at higher temperature conditions to shorten the test period. Cycle life test data provided by Microvast and based on their internal research.


Photos courtesy of Microvast


nology doesn’t allow the batteries to be charged as quickly. This means a heavy and expensive battery pack - in some cases more expensive than the bus itself. Another issue with LFP is the 1,000 to 2,000 charge cycles. If a bus is doing one deep charge cycle per day, the batteries will begin to wear out after 3 to 4 years of operation. An average bus has a life expectancy of 12-14 years, and within the life of the electric bus the operator will have to replace a LFP battery, which again is a huge cost. If it is not a demonstration or some political requirement, that operator will not likely see a financial benefit from that bus. Because their new LTO battery has a much longer life expectancy and a much greater charge and discharge capacity, Microvast believes they have created a more sustainable model.

With a battery pack that is sized only for the range of one loop (plus a little cushion), the size is roughly 1/10th that of an LFP pack sized for a full days use. And even if the buses charge 10-15 times a day, the batteries will still last 8-12 years, dramatically reducing cost. “So in our model, the battery cost for the life of the bus is roughly 1/20th of other existing choices. We’ve done quite a lot of different case studies in the US and other countries, and owners and operators can actually get additional net profit for making the switch from a fossil fuel vehicle to a pure electric vehicle. As opposed to other electric bus options available right now, where owners will see a net loss at the end.”


One of Microvast’s main goals is to help utility companies get into the

EV market more efficiently. The company believes electric utilities could provide the biggest push for widely deployed EVs. “The UltraFast charge station works just like common gas stations and allows electric buses, and in the future passenger cars, to fill up very quickly and serve many vehicles in a short period of time,” explains Lance. “This is an exploration into a viable new business model that opens the door to utility companies who realize the big potential of the trend of electric vehicles in the future, and want to build themselves into the future gas company-like giants that sell large amounts of electricity on the roadside charging stations.” Their first operational city bus system is already underway with the full backing of China’s State Grid, the largest utility company in the world. The company has already delivered

AUG/SEP 2012 45

© Tourisme Montréal - © Marc Cramer

EV 2012 VÉ Electric Vehicles / Véhicules électriques is the annual Conference and Trade Show focusing on EV opportunities and challenges in Canada. A full technical program involving Canadian and international speakers is complemented by an exhibition including domestic and international OEM's and suppliers. Join us in the multicultural city of Montréal, Québec, Canada, from October 23 to 26 2012. Visit for full details

Microvast model in action and working so well.” Lance says they are looking at many different markets, but haven’t had much time to deeply explore

other territories. “We have received a lot of interest from different cities in the US and Europe, but we have yet to employ our system here [in the States].”


Photo courtesy of Microvast

250 UltraFast charging BEV and PHEV buses in Chongqing, China, the country’s fourth largest city. Currently there are two commercially operational central charging terminals, operated by State Grid, one with two charging points and another with six. Each charging point delivers a whopping 400 to 450 kW.

The initial fleet of six buses, which officially went into service in March 2011, each racked up over 24,000 miles by June 2012. They service a route with a 24-mile loop, and are charged six times per day. In that time the company claims less than 1% capacity loss, and expects a life of well over 15,000 cycles. Lance tells us that it is full speed ahead for future deployments. “China State Grid is working very closely with us. They would like to promote this method to multiple major cities in China for commercial fleets, especially city transit buses. Very soon in China we will have four [charging] locations operational.” This year, Microvast has been given an order for another 500 buses, and next year expects to deliver an additional 1000 buses for these particular cities. “It’s pretty amazing to see our

As a world leader in next-generation mobile and wireless technologies, Qualcomm is no stranger to the wireless chargingspace. Wireless EV charging (WEVC) is the logical evolutionary step for plug-in electric vehicles. With no plugs or cables, WEVC is simple and effortless. Qualcomm Halo™ WEVC can deliver power levels from 3.3kW to 20kW so its suitable for home, office and public deployment, and with comparable efficiency to plug-in systems, Qualcomm Halo WEVC will refuel your car at the same pace as existing plug-in chargers. WEVC chargers can be installed flush in the pavement, invisible to the eye, they enable charging where plug-in

charging is not possible, desirable or is just inconvenient. Bringing a new technology to market requires experience, vision and a long-term commitment. At Qualcomm we invest in future technologies and appreciate the sustained effort that will be needed to make wireless EV charging a reality for all drivers. More and more we are moving to a wireless world – Qualcomm is helping to drive the transition.

AUG/SEP 2012 47

Two Upcoming Key Battery Industry Events Conveniently Timed

Lithium Battery Power 8th Annual International Conference

December 4-5, 2012 Las Vegas, NV USA


Battery2012 Safety

December 6-7, 2012 Las Vegas, NV USA

Advancements in Systems Design, Integration & Testing for Safety & Reliability Presenting Organizations, Sponsors & Media Partners For Lithium Battery Power and Battery Safety 2012:

Photos courtesy of Microvast


“The US utility system is pretty complicated. You don’t have unified forces to understand and promote this type of new business model. Because China is a fairly open country to new technologies - especially electric vehicles - we have been able put more than 100 buses with our system in China since 2011, and have been commercially operating them for more than one year.” There are a lot of commercial fleets with similar operational patterns that could benefit from

this type of new model should it ultimately prove successful. Lance explains that the company is in talks with “a few big names” in commercial vehicle powertrain systems to develop a suitable turnkey solution for bus builders here in the US. In the meantime, the R&D arm of the uniquely vertically integrated company

will continue to push the limits of existing battery chemistries while exploring the possibilities of new mixes. “That is where our strength lies.”

Will t h

Priuse P lead l u g th On the march toward widespread adoption of 100+ MPGe plug-in vehicles, the Prius Plug-in could take the most significant step. By Markkus Rovito

e cha





On the march toward widespread adoption of 100 MPGe plug-in vehicles, the Prius Plug-in could take the most significant step. By Markkus Rovito

Prius c

3rd Gen Prius



53 MPG city 46 MPG highway

51 MPG city 48 MPG highway

"When you think of hybrids, you think of Prius." So says Geri Yoza, National Manager for Advanced Technology Vehicles, Product Planning Department at Toyota. Of course, that would be the standard company line at Toyota, but for once, it's a company line that cannot be disputed. In the year of its 15th anniversary since being introduced in Japan, global cumulative sales of Prius models will exceed 3 million in 2012. Prius now has not only the most recognizable name in hybrids, but one of the most recognizable automotive names bar none. Through the first quarter of this year, Prius models sold 247,230 units worldwide, third behind only the Toyota Corolla and the Ford Focus. While it was not the first hybrid, nor the sexiest hybrid, the Prius remains the hybrid. And according to the US Department of Energy's numbers at, several of the Prius models are the most fuel-efficient cars in their class. Now the question becomes, can the Prius Plug-in (PPI) hybrid electric vehicle replicate the success of the Prius hybrid and put PHEVs on the map of the car-buying public at large? The first PPIs rolled into dealerships in 15 states in February of this year. For the full five months of


can the Prius Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle replicate the success of the Prius hybrid and put PHEVs on the map of the car-buying public at large? March to July (the latest month available at press time), Toyota sold just over 5,000 PPIs in the US, which averaged 3-5% of total US Prius sales per month. Even in its limited markets, the PPI outsold the nationwide Chevrolet Volt in April before sales plateaued later. By next year, Toyota plans to extend the PPI's reach to all 50 states.


Light up your cigars, the Prius family has been breeding like bunnies. Part of the reason behind the 2012 explosion of Prius sales must be due to the new Prius models

Photos courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation


Prius v

Prius Plug-in


after $2,500 Federal tax credit

44 MPG city 40 MPG highway

51 MPG city 49 MPG highway

that address varying customer needs. Besides the PPI, the more spacious Prius v wagon launched in late 2011, and the subcompact 4-door Prius c followed the PPI to dealerships in March of this year. Those two new hybrids bookend the 3rd-generation Prius liftback in terms of capacity, price and mileage, giving families or young singles more appropriate Prius options. While it carries the largest sticker, the plug-in model provides the option of greater fuel efficiency for the large Prius customer base, as well as all of the new eyes that are looking the way of the Prius. So far, the results for PPI sales have been mixed, yet promising. In April, the PPI not only outsold the Chevy Volt despite being in only 15 states, but a May report from found that the PPI was in fact the third fastestselling car in the country in terms of time spent on a dealer lot. The average PPI car lasted only five days on the lot before sale, just behind the BMW X3 and X5, which sold in four days. However, since then PPI sales have declined while overall Prius sales continue to do gangbusters over 2011 numbers. For instance, in June, Toyota sold 19,150 total Prius units in the US - a 340 percent increase over June


95 MPGe EV mode so far, the results for Prius Plug-in sales have been mixed, yet promising 2012 US Prius Plug-in Sales March April May June July

891 1654 1086 695 688

First available March 2012 in 15 launch states: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. Availability will open up to all other states in 2013.

AUG/SEP 2012 53

2011. Of those Prii, 60 percent were 3rd-generation Prius liftbacks, 19 percent Prius c, 17 percent Prius v, and 4 percent Prius Plug-in. The PPI did slightly better in the previous month of May, when 5 percent of 21,477 Prius cars sold were plug-ins. One has to consider the fact that since the terrible tsunami and earthquakes hit Japan in March 2011, supplies of the Prius - and many other Japanese goods - were down for much of 2011. However, there’s an undeniable upswing in Prius popularity, with customers choosing the classic liftback model first, followed by the least expensive models in order: the Prius c, Prius v, and Prius Plug-in.


Beyond mere numbers, there is a deeper question of whether or not previous hybrid ownership indicates that a person will buy another hybrid, PHEV, or EV. A recent Polk study issued in April focused only on hybrids, and returned somewhat discouraging figures. In 2011, only 35 percent of previous hybrid owners bought another hybrid (down from 38.9 percent in 2010). Part of that is due to the availability of more fuel-efficient ICE cars, such as the Ford Fiesta, that can break 40 MPG on the highway. However, the feedback was better for Toyota in par-


60 percent of Prius owners who bought a new car in 2011 bought another Toyota, and 41 percent - well above the average - bought another hybrid from either Toyota or another maker. ticular. The Polk study showed that many hybrid customers who didn’t buy another hybrid still stayed loyal to the brand of their old hybrid. So for Toyota, 60 percent of Prius owners who bought a new car in 2011 bought another Toyota, and 41 percent - well above the average - bought another hybrid from either Toyota or another maker. If it’s hybrid brand loyalty Toyota wants, it’s got the models to encourage it: 12 hybrid models are currently

Photos courtesy of Toyota UK


available, including the Lexus offerings. If the Polk study suggests that hybrid owners at least stay brand-loyal, then owners of the now discontinued Honda Accord Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid would be more likely to purchase another Honda or Ford, but not necessarily a hybrid. While the Polk study focused solely on hybrids, additional data issued separately by Nissan and Chevrolet last year found encouraging links between hybrid ownership and a step-up to PHEVs or EVs. Nissan had a bank of about 130,000 people who expressed interest in the LEAF, and found that more than half of them were Prius owners. In a much smaller sampling of people, Chevrolet found that of the people who traded in a vehicle for a Volt, about one-third of those were trading in a hybrid. Incentives have also swung away from hybrids and toward PHEVs and EVs. Federal tax credits now apply to PHEVs and EVs only, as do HOV single-occupancy car pool lane stickers in most states that have them, such as California. Yoza mentioned that the PPI is doing particularly well in such states and that in California and other states that follow the ZEV mandate, the PPI has a warranty of 10 years/150,000 miles.

AUG/SEP 2012 55



So while some of the trends and data bode well for the PPI, and others bode ill, we will get to see how the Prius Plug-in story plays out over time. Yoza was quick to point out that the PPI is not a pilot program. “Even when we launched the Prius, it was a roll-out program,” she said. “Automakers spend a lot of time, especially when it comes to new technologies, to train their dealer service technicians and sales people. You want to build consumer awareness and educate consumers. You have to get all your stakeholders involved. You’ve got utilities to talk to. To put all of these things together takes time.” If Toyota is gearing up for a long journey toward electrified vehicles, the small-battery pack Prius Plug-in does have the air of an incremental step toward that goal. The PPI has a 4.4 kWh Li-ion battery pack that’s good for 11 miles at a top speed of 62 mph in the all-electric EV mode. Complementing that is a 10.6 gallon gas tank. All told, the PPI is rated for 50 MPG (combined city and highway) in hybrid mode and 95 MPGe in EV mode. The argument for small battery pack plug-in hybrids is simple: fewer batteries means less of a price premium. The cheaper the vehicle, the more people will consider


purchasing. As more and more consumers become familiar with the technology, the automakers can incrementally one-up each other with respect to electric-mode specs, efficiency, and price point until the day battery improvements make an unmistakable case for fully electric cars. We can already see such a pattern taking place, with the Ford C-Max Energi PHEV scheduled to oneup the PPI in terms of all-electric range (20 miles) and price ($29,995 after the $3,750 federal tax credit) when it comes out this fall. The C-Max is expected to have the same 95 MPGe as the Prius Plug-in. Carmakers have a choice between building smaller or larger battery pack vehicles, like EVs or large-battery PHEVs such as the Volt. For now Toyota has gone small.

Fewer batteries means less of a price premium. The cheaper the vehicle, the more people will consider purchasing.

Photo courtesy of Toyota UK

We can already see such a pattern taking scheduled to one-up the Pruis Plug-in in

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

place, with the Ford C-Max Energi PHEV terms of all-electric range and price

But just how useful is a battery pack with an 11-mile range? Last year GM released some data from the Chevy Volt’s Onstar link that showed how many of the total Volt miles were covered from power off the electrical grid. What it showed was that about two thirds of Volt owners travelled less than 40 miles - the battery range of the Volt - per day, meaning they would not have to switch to gas. From Yoza’s perspective, she thinks many PPI owners can accomplish small trips entirely on the car’s 11-

in the case of large fleets, the entire battery capacity of smaller pack vehicles will be used more often, fully utilizing the investment in batteries more often

mile EV mode range. She also argues for small battery pack PHEVs, saying that “once you deplete your traction battery, then you’re carrying all that weight around.” Less weight makes for higher MPG ratings in hybrid mode, and in the case of large fleets, the entire battery capacity of smaller pack vehicles will be used more often, fully utilizing the investment in batteries more often. Be that as it may, at its current pace of sales, the PPI will not sell the 16,000-17,000 units that Toyota predicted it would in 2011, while the Volt is on track to exceed 18,000. However, it’s not a direct comparison or a competition. The Volt’s all-electric range of 35-40 miles triples that of the PPI, and its base price of $40,000 exceeds the PPI’s base price of $32,000 as well. The Volt may well appeal more to the customer that prioritizes driving in EV mode over cost. With all the years of R&D, sales, and marketing that Toyota has put behind the Prius in making it a success, you have to give the company credit for doing its part in the transition to EVs. As we watch the PPI roll out nationwide, we can only hope that the well-earned popularity of the brand lends itself to the plugged-in movement. Toyota has led the horses to water. Will they drink?

AUG/SEP 2012 57





By Tom Saxton

Vice President of Plug In America

n June, Cathy and I took our Tesla Roadster on an 11-day, 1,823-mile road trip. It was by far our longest trip in an electric car, and it worked well because the 240-mile range of the Roadster fit pretty well with our goal of a leisurely trip of about 200 miles of driving per day. The motivation for this trip was the Plug In America board meeting being held in Berkeley, CA, making it especially appropriate to be driving electric. We had a great time and a few adventures, but the most interesting thing from the EV perspective was our charging experience. EVs are great for local driving, as drivers can do most of their charging at home overnight, which is far more convenient than making trips to the gas station. For most owners, 90% or more of charging occurs at home, so use of public charging stations is only occasional. But on a road trip, it’s all about public charging. Our energy for the trip, totaling 554 kilowatt-hours (kWh), came from charging at home plus 14 locations on the road. At 11 locations, the charging was free. At one location, we paid just a little under the value of the electricity, and at the other three we paid between three and five times the cost of the electricity. Assuming the US average rate of 11 cents per kWh, 554 kWh is worth $60.94. Amazingly, we paid $60.94, so the overpriced places balanced perfectly with the free locations.


Charging Fees and Other Spending Location

Home (top off to full 100% charge) Burgerville, Centralia, WA Harborview Inn & RV Park, Garibaldi, OR Lincoln City, OR, North Lot Charleston Harbor RV Park, Charleston, OR Chinook RV Resort, Klamath, CA Benbow Inn, Garberville, CA Coddingtown Mall, Santa Rosa, CA Four Points Sheraton, Emeryville, CA Rivers Edge RV Resort, Red Bluff, CA Redding School of the Arts, Redding, CA Chanticleer Inn, Ashland, OR Wolf Creek Inn, Wolf Creek, OR A friend’s garage, Corvallis, OR Portland Crowne Plaza, Portland, OR Burgerville, Centralia, WA Home, Sammamish, WA Total

Energy kWh Value* 11 $1.21 16 $1.76 58 $6.38 3 $0.33 44 $4.84 45 $4.95 47 $5.17 3 $0.33 61 $6.71 46 $5.06 10 $1.10 53 $5.83 31 $3.41 36 $3.96 41 $4.51 6 $0.66 43 $4.73 554 $60.94

Fee $1.21 FREE $5.00 FREE $23.00 $15.00 FREE FREE FREE $12.00 FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE $4.73 $60.94

Other Spending $0.00 $12.00 $85.21 $0.00 $95.00 $95.00 $203.50 $0.00 $298.36 $57.97 $0.00 $385.00 $155.90 $0.00 $159.83 $12.00 $0.00 $1,559.77





1,823 miles


top offs

other spending at locations with free charging:


*Assuming the US average rate of 11 cents per kWh

Our energy for the trip, totaling 554 kWh, came from charging at home plus 14 locations on the road.

Using these charging locations, we traveled 1,823 miles on less money than many people spend on a single tank of gas. At first glance, this sounds like we ripped off the free charging places while the few places that made us pay for charging made out like bandits. However, the businesses that made the most money from our trip all gave us “free” charging. Cathy planned our trip very carefully so that we could do nearly all of our charging overnight, while we slept. Every place we stayed got our business because there was charging available, either at the motel/hotel or at an adjacent location. In total, we spent $1,559.77 at businesses that either provided charging or were close to charging. The value of the electricity we consumed was just 4% of our total spending at charging sites for the trip, and about 2% for the sites where we spent the most. That’s the real

AUG/SEP 2012 59

value proposition for public charging infrastructure. Our experience shows that lodging can attract EV customers and earn customer loyalty by providing charging, and it costs just a few cents on the dollar to provide the charging at no cost. How many businesses are interested in attracting customers away from their competitors at a fraction of the cost of advertising? For a site that installs EV charging and chooses a billing rate for use of the station, there’s far more at stake than profit made directly from billing. When Cathy is planning a trip and needs to choose a place to stay, she checks to see if charging is available. If one B&B offers free use of an outlet for charging our car overnight and another says it will cost us $20 (for $1.50 worth of electricity), we choose the one that’s not trying to gouge us on charging (generally out of ignorance rather than greed). If a hotel or restaurant gets their return on investment by attracting customers, the greatest return is earned by attracting the most customers, and that is going to be helped by providing charging priced at or below the cost of electricity. A site host can often make the most return on investment in charging equipment by giving the charging away for free. However, at one location on this trip we ran into the opposite problem. The Four Points Sheraton in Emeryville, CA, has a ChargePoint station, making it by far the closest EV-


friendly hotel to our meeting location in Berkeley. The station is free, which seemed like a nice amenity until we arrived with a low, hot battery ready for some charging and cooling only to find the station in use by a Chevy Volt. It had been charging for about 3 hours, so it had at most about an hour of charging left to go. We checked into the room and headed out for dinner. When we got back, a Nissan LEAF had just plugged in with a low battery, needing perhaps as much as 7 or 8 hours of charging. At this point, the LEAF and the now fully-charged Volt were using the only two parking spaces with access to the charging station, so we couldn’t even use the slow 120 V charging option.

In total, we spent $1,559.77 at businesses that either provided charging or were close to charging.

Photos courtesy of Tom Saxton


Neither the Volt nor the LEAF belonged to a hotel guest, which was a little frustrating since we had picked the hotel because it had charging. It wasn’t until 8:30 pm that the Volt owner showed up to collect his car, four hours after his charge had completed. With the Volt gone, I was at least able to plug into the 120 V outlet on the station. The next morning, after the LEAF had finished its charge, I was finally able to plug in to the Level 2 charging station. Because we were staying for two nights, it wasn’t terrible that we weren’t able to charge from the L2 station for the first 14 hours we were at the hotel. If we had been staying for just one night, this would have been a big problem, especially if another car had squeezed in when the LEAF left and plugged in before we could.

the businesses that made the most money from our trip all gave us “free” charging

When we left the next morning, there was a Prius Plug-in charging from the 120 V outlet while we topped of our charge before departing. When we got home, I checked the data from the EV charging infrastructure study I’ve been working on for Plug In America, and it showed that station to be one of the most-used ChargePoint stations in the country, averaging over 11 hours of use per day. Because of the high use rate for that station, I can’t recommend the Emeryville Four Points Sheraton for EV drivers who need a charge and don’t have two days to babysit the charger and spring into position to charge as soon as the station is available. In order to preserve the value of that charging amenity for their potential guests, the hotel needs to either install more stations or lower the use rate by non-guests by billing use of the station. As an EV supporter, I want to see public charging stations get as much use as possible, so I applaud the Four Points for supplying an obviously highly valued station, but as an EV driver in need of charge, I want stations to be available when I need them. Much as Wi-Fi at hotels has evolved over the past 15 years from being rare and expensive to ubiquitous and often free, I expect that charging provided at or below the cost of electricity will become a necessary amenity provided by hotels and motels that want to be competitive in attracting customers.

AUG/SEP 2012 61



CAUTION ChargePoint President and CEO Pat Romano on the danger that high fees for public charging could pose to the industry

Pat Romano ChargePoint President & CEO

there are some things happening in the pricing area that could potentially hurt the industry as a whole.


hargePoint (formally known as Coulomb Technologies) does not install, own, or set rates for EV charging stations - although it often gets confused with companies that do. ChargePoint provides a broad-based, open network for EV charging station management and administration. As an open, standards-based platform, ChargePoint is compatible with charging stations from many manufacturers. It claims the title of largest online network of independently owned charging stations in the world, with almost 9,000 charging spots and “a lot more” in the pipeline. Working with all that usage data gives Pat Romano, ChargePoint President and CEO, unique insight into shifting trends. His biggest concern for the future: lack of understanding of the issues around charging for charging. “Given the size of our network we are starting to see issues emerge.” Like many others in the industry, Mr. Romano is concerned with the political nature of EV discussions. The industry tends to be at the center of a lot of unnecessary debate. “It is the most maligned successful industry I’ve ever seen. I think all of us have a responsibility to not let smoldering fires turn into large ones, and there are some things happening in the pricing area that could potentially hurt the industry as a whole.”

The question is how to think about fees for public charging. Until recently, most of the early companies and cities with public charging stations offered the service for free. Romano sees this situation changing rapidly. “Now that there is real power being dispensed, we’re seeing a concern that people are starting to switch from free to fee.”

Photos courtesy of ChargePoint

Charging by time

Many charging station hosts rate their usage fees by the hour, which is problematic. For one thing, Romano explains, all EVs do not have the same capacity to draw power. Some cars draw 3.3 kW, some 6.6 kW, and the J1772 spec will let you go up to 16.6 kW. “16 kW is a bit impractical because of infrastructure requirements, but you have cars coming out at all places in between. This means charging by time unfairly penalizes drivers of certain cars and really gives an advantage to drivers of other cars.” To further complicate the hourly-rate model, future energy management and demand management scenarios could result in chargers being instructed to adjust the power they are delivering to a vehicle instantaneously. “So, if I’m being charged by the time, but San Diego Gas & Electric decides that life is not great right now - it’s three o’clock in the afternoon in August on a hot day [they] could actually dial down the charging.” To illustrate the point, Romano poses a simple price analysis. “If you charge a fee of $2.00 per hour, then an EV driver [with 3.3 kW charging] experiences the same price structure as driving a 20 mile per gallon car,” assuming a gas price of $4.00 per gallon and that EVs get about 3 miles per kWh. “I see numbers that look like that all the time. EV drivers, especially the early ones, are quite educated and quite vocal. They blog a lot. They do the math. In many cases they understand that number better than the business owner who put in the charging station.” Romano fears this could be “the next football, so to speak, to get kicked around in our industry. If you don’t have a thriving and healthy commercial model, prospective EV buyers’ willingness to purchase is limited.” “Why should I buy an electric car? You’re getting gouged for the rates commercially.”

EV drivers, especially the early ones, are quite educated and quite vocal.

Charging by kWh

Romano recommends station owners set their rates on a kWh, not hourly, basis. However, in 41 of our 50 states, it is illegal to do so, because utility regulations restrict the resale of electricity. Back in 2010, ChargePoint, ECOtality, and Better Place successfully lobbied California to exclude EV charging providers from being regulated as if they were utilities. Since then, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Florida, Minnesota, Maryland, Hawaii, and Illinois (pending the governor’s signature) have followed the lead. If you offer public charging in one of these nine states, Romano recommends you use a per-kWh pricing model, which “completely levels the playing field.” If you want people to actually use the charging station on a regular basis, he recommends a rate no greater than $0.30 per kWh. “We have a lot of relevant usage data from our network and at [a rate] above $0.30 per kWh, we think you will find usage in a must-charge scenario, but not in topping-off scenarios.” For vehicles with 3.3 kW onboard chargers,

AUG/SEP 2012 63

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this corresponds to a 40 mpg gas equivalent car assuming $4.00/gallon of gasoline. For those forced to charge on an hourly rate, based on where you operate, Romano says, “you have to be very conscious about how that pricing is being set.” “For states that don’t allow the sale of EV charging services by the kWh, our recommendation is that if you exceed $1.33 an hour, which is 30 miles per gallon equivalent at 3.3 kW/hour at $4.00 per gallon of gasoline, no one is going to use that station. It would be far more attractive at about $1.00 per hour, which would give that same driver about 40 miles per gallon gas equivalent cost.” However, he suspects many more states will quickly follow the trend and also change their utility regulations. Do you really want to charge for charging services? Romano insists that, for most, public charging is not about profiting from the sale of power. “At large people have a gas station model on the brain, and EV charging is not about replacing liquid fuel with electrons. When it’s placed in a business, EV charging is about aligning an amenity with your current business.”

“It may be something that you want to profit from in certain scenarios and certain places, like cities and towns replacing parking meters with charging stations. That’s a great scenario where recovering costs and maybe profiting a little from the power is good, but if you’re a retailer, you may not want to charge your customers.” (See The Economics of Free Charging, page 60.) Romano sees a future in which Level 2 is the primary means for charging in parking spots where vehicles will spend an hour or so. “Given that, we’ve got to encourage the top-off model, because it really allows us, from an industry perspective, to let cars with reasonable size batteries be practical. If we require cars with very large batteries - if we make that the only way that it’s practical to drive an EV - it will take so many years for the cost structure of those cars to fall into line. We will be waiting for a long time for this thing to hit scale.” “The only way to hit scale, as an industry, is to make sure that Level 2 is pervasive. And the only way to make sure that Level 2 is pervasive - and used - is to price it effectively, because the EV drivers are doing the basic math.”

When it’s placed in a business, EV charging is about aligning an amenity with your current business.

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Two Wheels & A B right Future On the track, electric motorcycles are pushing the technology and gaining on gas-burners. By David Herron

Photo courtesy of Brammo


here are three closely related electric motorcycle racing series: e-Power, TTXGP, and TT ZERO. In 2012 they demonstrated tremendous advances since the beginning of twowheeled EV racing in 2009. The advances show that electric motorcycles are beginning to have parity with gasoline-powered motorcycles. It’s becoming clear that in a few short years, electric motorcycle racing, and production electric motorcycles, will thrust into the mainstream with thrilling capabilities. These advances did not happen on their own, but were made within the context of a trio of electric motorcycle racing series that began in 2009 with the TTXGP on the Isle of Man.

Photo by James Qualtrough


Auspicious launch - 2009 Isle of Man TT Week

The TTXGP began racing operations in 2009 with a widely covered event, during the famous TT Week, on the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) race is one of the longest running motorcycle races in the world, with its first running in 1907. The Snaefell Mountain Course is 37.733 miles of some of the toughest road racing conditions in the world, snaking around the Isle of Man, which is located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland. The course is on the island’s regular road network, climbing over Mt. Douglas to an altitude of nearly 1400 feet high. The TTXGP was launched by founder Azhar Hussain to accelerate electric vehicle technology development. An electric vehicle racing series would bring together contestants, with incentives to improve the technology amd push boundaries, if only so they could win the next race. That kind of motivating factor could accelerate the technology development curve, speeding up the production of electric vehicles that could fulfill consumer needs, while building a race-promoting business. The technology developments might even have benefits outside motorcycling. These were lofty goals, some of which have already been attained.


The most prestigious event during TT Week is the Senior TT race. The TTXGP organizers were not only able to hold the inaugural TTXGP race during the TT Week, but secured the race a primary spot in the schedule just before the principal event. As a result, the 2009 TTXGP received plentiful press attention.

2012 Milestones So far, major milestones this year include: • • • •

Three electric motorcycles at the TT ZERO with a lap time over 100 miles/hr, The entry of a not-quite-factory team from Mugen (Honda) in the TT ZERO, Stock electric motorcycles from Zero with race performance similar 2010’s prototype machines Five electric motorcycles at the Laguna Seca e-Power/TTX race with lap speeds within the qualifying range for AMA SportBike race that weekend

All of these advances are historic, and show big steps in electric motorcycle technology.

Photo courtesy of Mission Motors

Since the 2009 TTXGP, the field has grown considerably, but not without controversy. Originally the TTXGP organization was slated to become a “race promoter” acting under Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), or International Motorcycling Federation, governance, but something fell apart in the negotiation rooms. The details of what happened aren’t important to this article, but the result was a division of electric motorcycle racing into these organizations: TTXGP - Independent organization running electric motorcycle road racing series in Europe, North America and Australia, with a World Championship each year. The organization also is considering launching electric car racing. FIM e-Power - Electric motorcycle racing series run by the organization that governs gasoline powered motorcycle racing worldwide. The e-Power series is mostly run in Europe, with one event in the US. TT ZERO - After 2009 the Isle of Man government took over the electric motorcycle race during TT Week, calling it TT ZERO.

The documentry CHARGE captures a pivotal moment in motor sport history: the dawn of the zero-emissions motorcycle racing era. The film begins in early 2009 amid the hectic preparations for the race, and concludes over a year later at the 2010 TT Zero. The second race sees a huge leap in performance - proof that racing really does improve the breed. 2012 TT ZERO - Three electric motorcycles “break the ton”

To “break the ton” is to race at over 100 mph. In 2010, when the Isle of Man Government launched the TT ZERO series, they created a special prize for the first electric motorcycle to break the ton. The 2009 race was won by Rob Barber riding for Agni Motors, completing the single-lap race in 25 minutes 53.50 seconds, with a lap speed of 87.434 mph. His time was significantly faster than the 2nd place entry built by XXL Racing, ridden by Thomas Schoenfelder, who finished in 29 minutes 4.93 seconds, with a lap speed of 77.841 mph. This was amazingly fast for the electric motorcycles of 2009. Fast forward to 2012, and for the past three years a Portland, Oregon-based motorcycle racing team, components designer and manufacturer, MotoCzysz, has won the TT ZERO with bikes that are not only prettier, but get faster every year. For the 2012 TT ZERO, MotoCzysz came with two bikes each marked on the front fender with a little reminder of the goal, the lap time required to beat the 100 mph speed that would win the prize. Also present was the Mugen team, who had hired John McGuinness as the rider, a man who is among the

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Photos courtesy of Zero Motorcycles


Zero DS Production Motorcycle winningest of the riders on the TT Circuit. Mugen, the company, was founded by Hirotoshi Honda, the son of Honda founder Soichiro Honda. Mugen has never been owned by Honda, but many are seeing Mugen’s presence at the TT ZERO as, effectively, a factory team for Honda. Mugen does a lot of programs by and for Honda, why not this time? On the other hand, Mugen’s European Manager Colin Whittamore claims Mugen was there for their own purposes, not Honda’s. There is significance in a large organization like Mugen participating in the TT ZERO. It ushers in the coming of major manufacturers like Honda, Suzuki, or Yamaha. While factory teams have been part of TTXGP/e-Power/ TT ZERO races since 2009, the companies involved (Agni Motors, Brammo, CRP, Lightning Motorcycles, Mission Motors, MotoCzysz, Muench, Zero Motorcycles) were all small start-ups. These small start-ups have to be


looking over their shoulders wondering when the major manufacturers would join the game. The Mugen Shinden (“God of Electricity”) weighs in at 573 lbs, with a 90 kW three-phase brushless DC motor, and a 370 V lithium-ion battery pack that puts out 220 Nm (162 ft lbs) of torque. The bike was designed solely for the Isle of Man TT ZERO, according to Colin Whittamore, and is unlikely to appear in any other event. Of the nine bikes that left the starting line, only four made it to the finish. Of those four, three broke the 100 mph threshold, specifically: Mike Rutter, MotoCzysz, 21’45.33 minutes lap time, 104.056 mph lap speed; John McGuinness, Mugen, 22’08.85 minutes lap time, 102.215 mph lap speed; Mark Miller, MotoCzysz, 22’23.97 minutes lap time, 101.065 mph lap speed. In fourth place came Rob Barber, Zero E TGM, 28’56.45 minutes lap time, 78.221 mph lap speed.

Zero S Production Motorcycle eSuperStock and Zero Motorcycles

In the North America TTXGP series, eSuperStock is a new award that is an experiment in what might become “spec racing” for the TTXGP. In racing, the spec classes are races between vehicles whose specifications are strictly controlled by the race organization. This can lower the cost of participation, and increase the number of participating teams. The eSuperStock award is defined to include only production electric motorcycles with sales of 25 units or more. The only qualifying electric motorcycle, at this time, is the Zero S (and DS), and the eSuperStock award was defined in cooperation with Kenyon Kluge, an employee of Zero Motorcycles. In turn, Zero Motorcycles employees, on their own time with loose support of Zero’s management, brought a fleet of four Zero S motorcycles to race.

The riders racing for the eSuperStock award are demonstrating another advance in the electric motorcycle field. The Zero S is the first production electric motorcycle that can be credibly raced on this sort of race track. However, the stock Zero S has a top speed of only 88 mph, which is quite a bit slower than the top bikes from Brammo, Lightning Motorcycles, MotoCzysz or Muench. There is a large speed gap between the eSuperStock bikes and those from Brammo and Lightning. While slower than the top electric motorcycles of 2012, the Zero S and DS are manufactured electric motorcycles whose performance is similar to many of the motorcycles racing in the 2010 season. Those motorcycles were generally experimental prototypes, while now this performance level can simply be bought at any Zero Motorcycles dealer. And with a few modifications it could be raced.

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Photo courtesy of Mission Motors

2012 e-Power/TTX race at Laguna Seca

The race at Laguna Seca has, for three years, served as an excellent benchmark tracking advances in electric motorcycles. The race has always drawn the top electric motorcycle teams from Europe and North America. For the 2011 and 2012 seasons this race also served as a collaboration between FIM’s e-Power organization and the TTXGP. To add to the prestige of the event, it takes place during the MotoGP race (the top series in motorcycle racing), at the famed Laguna Seca Raceway. One of the goals is to achieve parity between electric and gasoline powered motorcycle racing. The 2011 and 2012 Laguna Seca events was the first demonstration of electric motorcycles racing at the speed of gasoline motorcycles. In 2011, the Mission R, built by Mission Motors and ridden by Steve Rapp, had a best lap time within the range of the 600cc AMA SportBike lap times. During that weekends qualifying race, Steve Rapp had a 1’31.376 best lap time, which would have placed 5th in the qualifying grid of the gas bike race that same weekend. During the


Photo courtesy of Brammo

the top three electric bikes raced fast enough to qualify for the 600cc gas bike race that weekend race he had a best lap time of 1’33.194, top speed of 134 mph, and finished the race a full 30 seconds faster than the MotoCzysz and Lightning riders dueling for 2nd and 3rd places. Michael Czysz, riding for MotoCzysz, had a best lap time of 1’38.136, and Barnes, riding for Light-

Photo courtesy of Brammo

ning, had a best lap time of 1’37.417, top speed 134.96 mph. In 2010, Czysz’s (MotoCzysz) best lap time was 1’44.496, and top speed 116.13 Barnes’ (Lightning) best lap time was 1’44.620, and top speed 117.5 mph. The 2012 race at Laguna Seca saw a big leap forward. During the qualifying round, Michael Barnes riding for Lightning Motorcycles achieved a 1’33.860 best lap time and a top speed of 140 mph (225.4 km/hr). This was just shy of the 1’31.376 lap time Steve Rapp had riding for Mission in 2011, leaving Rapp’s record standing. It does demonstrate an improvement over Lightning’s results in 2011, where Barnes had a 1’37.417 best lap time. It wasn’t just Barnes - riders for Brammo and Muench performed at the same level. The race results were: 1. #80, Michael Barnes, Barracuda/Lightning Motorcycles, 1’35:319 best lap time, top speed 140.5 mph

2. #58, Steve Atlas, Team Icon Brammo, 1’35.625 best lap time, top speed 122.4 mph 3. #32, Eric Bostrom, Team Icon Brammo, 1’36.259 best lap time, top speed 133.9 mph 4. #49, Matthias Himmelmann, Muench Racing, 1’37.246 best lap time, top speed 132.3 mph 5. #89, Tom Montano, Barracuda/Lightning Motorcycles, 1’37.681 best lap time, top speed 144.8 mph The slowest qualifying time for the AMA SportBike race (600cc superbikes) the same weekend was 1’36.766, meaning that the top three electric bikes raced fast enough to qualify for the 600cc gas bike race that weekend, and the next two weren’t far behind. The makers of the top electric motorcycles are on the verge of achieving parity with the 600cc gas powered superbikes’ speeds. It’s plausible that, judging by lap time and top speed improvements since 2010, in a year or two

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Photo courtesy of Brammo

the top electric motorcycles, and riders, could be racing at the top of the 600cc superbike times.

Speed and Distance

Speed is one thing, but parity with the race length is a different story. While the electric motorcycle races last for 9 laps, or about 20 miles, the AMA 600cc superbike races go for 20 laps (about 45 miles), or 23 laps (52 miles). Clearly this will require a serious breakthrough in battery pack energy density. These top electric motorcycles are carrying 12-14 kWh of energy storage. That’s about a third of a gallon gasoline equivalent. For the electric motorcycles to race for 45 miles would mean perhaps 30 kWh of energy storage. While many battery researchers are developing promising technologies, it is anybody’s guess when manufactured batteries could be used in an electric race bike to match the speed and length of gas bike races.

Testing Tech on the Track

Most of the teams involved in the series are using the racetrack to test and improve technology to be used in other venues. Only Muench Racing and Lightning Motorcycles have stated plans to sell electric superbikes. All


Photo courtesy of MotoCzysz

These top electric motorcycles are carrying 12-14 kWh of energy storage. the other teams are selling electric vehicle components, or more consumer-oriented electric vehicles. • Brammo has announced the Empulse and Empulse R electric motorcycles, as well as the Engage and Encite electric dirt bikes. These will, in 2013, be joining the Enertia on the company’s line of electric motorcycles. The Empulse the company plans to sell to the public is a far cry from the Empulse RR they race with. The Empulse is targeted at regular consumers rather than the pinnacle of racing, so it has an on-board charger and a J1772 outlet allowing the bike to be recharged at any charging station.

Photo by Jennifer Hale, courtesy of Mission Motors

Photo by Jennifer Hale, courtesy of Mission Motors

• CRP raced in the 2010 and 2011 seasons in Europe, and for 2012 has been showing the Energica electric motorcycle that’s also targeted at regular motorcycle consumers. The company’s two seasons of electric motorcycle racing gave them the technical data necessary to design the Energica. • Lightning Motorcycles first announced that they would begin selling duplicates of the race bike shortly after setting the electric motorcycle land speed record, 215 mph, in August 2011. The company also plans to sell a range of electric motorcycles some time in the future. The company’s mission is to develop the most innovative competition electric racing vehicles, and use that technology to produce and distribute affordable two-wheeled electric vehicles for commuter markets worldwide. • Mission Motors was originally focused on becoming the “Tesla of electric motorcycles,” but has since refocused the company on selling electric vehicle components and design services. Their website describes a range of products, including electric motors, motor controllers, battery packs, battery management systems, DC-DC converters, and vehicle data software. The Mission R race

bike is a test bed for these components, and the company is not looking to manufacture the bike. The company cannot name its customers. • MotoCzysz likewise is focused on developing and selling electric vehicle drive train components, and is using the race bikes as a test bed. The D1g1tal Dr1ve is the company’s drivetrain product, and the company recently announced a model meant for medium-duty trucks and construction machinery. The company also plans to supply drive train components to TAC Motors for that company’s eStark, the electric version of the company’s popular jeep-style sport-ute. • Muench Racing carries a name with a long history in German motorcycling. In 2011, the team has announced a plan to supply race bikes to other teams wishing to race. Since 2009, electric motorcycles have come a long way. Top speeds and reliability have improved considerably. In 2012, we have production electric motorcycles that can be used to race, the top electric motorcycles are entering the speed range of the top gas bikes, and major players are entering the fray. The future is bright indeed.

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Supercars By Joe Barrett of Qualcomm Europe - a developer of wireless EV charging systems

Much of the discussion around electric cars over the past few years has focused on traditional vehicle types: city cars, family saloons and some high-end models such as the Tesla Roadster, BMW iSeries and Lightning. However, interest in EVs is likely to shift up a gear with the announcement from motorsport’s governing body, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), that they have plans for a new EV motor racing series. Slated to kick off in 2013 with demonstration runs, the first races will happen in 2014. FIA plans to have Monacostyle road racing, with Rio de Janeiro already signed up as the first city. The Formula E grand prix has been licensed to a consortium of progressive international investors, Formula E Holdings Ltd (FEH), with the Spanish billionaire Enrique Banuelos as a key investor. Included in the consortium is Drayson Racing Technologies, run by Lord Paul Drayson, which has been pioneering sustainable racing for a

number of years; and over the past two have developed a record-breaking 850 bhp EV racing car capable of 200imph. Drayson Racing Technologies, which is acting as scientific adviser to FEH, will develop the championship’s science and technology policies, adhering to internationally recognized standards. All parties are committed to delivering a zero-emission racing series that is exciting and attracts a broad new motorsports audience. The Formula E cars will have a maximum racing time of 25 minutes - within races teams will use two cars, swapping to a freshly recharged car to complete a race of around 60 minutes. Drayson believes that eventually racing circuits will be embedded with wireless charging systems, enabling races of almost unlimited duration. “Formula E will showcase new electric vehicle technology and be a racing laboratory for the latest R&D innovations - that in turn will add

Photo courtesy of Drayson Racing

Formula E will showcase new electric vehicle technology and be a racing laboratory for the latest R&D innovations

Rimac Dual Oil Cooled Permanent Magnet Motors

Photos courtesy of Rimac Automobili

to its appeal for a new generation of fans,” he says. The technology and science that will ignite Formula E cars will of course filter down into production cars over the coming years, but there are still some EV pioneers investing in the future now. If you are prepared to pay the price, you can own your very own Electric Supercar. One interesting Croatian automotive company is taking up the Electric Supercar mantle. Rimac, based just outside Zagreb, have showcased their Concept_One EV Supercar with 600 kW high speed, dual permanent magnet oil cooled motors driving the front wheels and 400 kW motors driving the rear. All this delivers an impressive 1088 bhp and 0-62 mph in just 2.8 seconds. “Imagine a car with over 1,000 horsepower that controls each wheel separately, adjusting a thousand times per second in a corner,” says Mate Rimac, CEO. “We’re not only imagining it, we are actually building it.” The Concept_One comes with a whopping 91 kWh battery and a potential range of 600 km, though 500 km is probably more realistic. The price is also fantastic at $980,000, which places it in the realm of the top supercar bracket, and presently only 88 people on the planet will be able to own one, meaning that the rest of us will be left to drool over it at motor shows. Clearly though, the EV has broken out of its shell, and with the realization that even the most basic DC electric motor can out-perform a traditional combustion engine, innovators will keep on extending the limits of EV design and performance. EV engineers are also considering what other technologies they can integrate into EVs: full torque vectoring to improve handling and control; wireless charging to

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power. elegance.

Advanced electric motor controllers up to 1600 hp. | electric vehicle systems

Photo courtesy of Delta Motorsport

Photo by Joe Barrett

Photos courtesy of Delta Motorsport Photo courtesy of YASA Motors

YASA-750 Axial Flux Permanent Magnet Motor

remove the need for cables and make charging simpler; carbon composite chassis to reduce vehicle weight and add strength. Removing cost from the vehicle is also vital and has been the objective of Delta Motorsport with their custom-built E-4 sports coupé. Based at Silverstone - the home of British racing - Delta is using the E-4 as a test bed for a number of EV technologies. Nick Carpenter, Technical Director, says, “smaller and lighter normally leads to lower costs, and if EVs are to become mass market this is essential.” During the development of the E-4, and working closely with the University of Oxford, Delta designed a compact, powerful yet lightweight electric motor. That led to the university spinning out a company called YASA Motors that now specializes in very high-power and torque-dense axial flux motors. The E-4 is also based around a carbon composite chassis that is both strong and very lightweight. But Delta has also focused on keeping the cost of the shell as low as possible. As Carpenter explained, “carbon fiber is an expensive raw material that can also be expensive to laminate into components, so we focused on designing an optimized chassis using the minimum quantity of material, but also developed a process that reduces the labor required.” The battery is also a key contributor to EV weight, and Carpenter believes that smaller battery packs should be used in conjunction with an on-board “range extender.” As a result, Delta’s next project is the development of a micro-turbine generator running at >100,000 rpm to charge the EV battery on those occasions when the driver needs extended range - again with the focus on low cost from the start. Electric Supercars - with both mind-blowing performance and price - definitely fuel the desire to own one of these stunning cars. As sponsorship money comes into Formula E and other electric automotive sports initiatives, the technology should become more affordable, and these new features and designs will find their way into programs at the traditional car companies.

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GUESSWORK FleetCarma makes electrifying your fleet about the data By Michael Kent

Fleet operators are increasingly challenged with shrinking budgets and less time; they need to quickly determine the number of vehicles to purchase each buying season and which EV model, if any, offers the best total cost of ownership while meeting their vehicle spec requirements. And this needs to be done for each job in their fleet. That is where FleetCarma says they can save you time and money - by rapidly analyzing numerous vehicle options in hundreds of duty cycles to find the best fit for each job. FleetCarma is a division of CrossChasm Technologies Inc., which was formed in 2007, specializing in vehicle data acquisition and simulation tools to help advance


hybrid and electric vehicle technology for major OEM customers such as General Motors and Magna. Its FleetCarma division is focused on making EV adoption easy and effective for fleet operators by providing two unique pieces of technology: a Vehicle Selection Toolkit that simulates the performance of electric vehicles in fleetspecific applications, and an electric vehicle monitoring system that provides unique EV-only data that conventional telematics systems can’t provide. Organizations in both the private and public sectors have been using these tools for their EV fleets including Transport Canada, the Provinces of Ontario and Que-

a powerful tool that can enhance the way fleet professionals select the vehicles for each job and each duty cycle

bec, Manitoba Public Insurance, AutoShare, Purolator, PowerTech and several municipalities such as Toronto and Vancouver. The company’s CEO, Matthew Stevens, sits on the board of Electric Mobility Canada and is an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo. Matt holds a PhD in chemical engineering and has been well recognized for his contributions and leadership in the area of hybrid and electric powertrains. Chris Mendes, the firm’s CTO, has worked in advanced motor and control system development for vehicle types that range from lunar rovers to forklifts to passenger ve-

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FLEETS hicles and heavy-duty trucks. Chris is also a board member of Electric Mobility Canada and holds an M.A.Sc. in mechanical engineering, focusing his research on hybrid vehicle design and advanced torque control strategies.

The Tools

FleetCarma’s Vehicle Selection Toolkit is unique because it takes data that fleets are already gathering and leverages it to offer more value than basic monitoring. The data is used to ‘drive’ a computerized-version of a Nissan LEAF or Chevrolet Volt (or any EV) in a simulated environment. This enables procurement officers to determine if an electric vehicle will meet the vehicle specification requirements for each job in their fleet before they go to tender. These modeling and simulation techniques have been used for years by OEMs to rapidly and costeffectively determine the best technology to meet their unique design requirements. Now it is being used by fleet operators to determine the best vehicle to meet their unique job requirements. In addition, it allows fleets to determine the particular EV model that offers the best total cost of ownership over the intended service life. It is a powerful tool that can enhance the way fleet professionals select the vehicles for each job and each duty cycle.

helps fleet managers validate their EV purchase decisions and maximize the utilization of these vehicles in their fleet In addition to the Vehicle Selection Toolkit, FleetCarma provides a data logger that is uniquely designed for EV monitoring after fleets receive their plug-in vehicles. Fleet managers need data, and as more and more of their vehicles become electrified they will realize that their old data acquisition tools become less and less useful. The reason for this is that telematics systems are good at getting information on emissions-related signals, but they don’t get battery information on EVs. So, if fleet managers want one common platform to measure and manage miles driven on electric power, charging history, and energy and emissions savings, they need an EV-capable logger to provide this information. In the end, the FleetCarma EV-capable logger helps fleet managers validate their EV purchase decisions and maximize the utilization of these vehicles in their fleet.


A VEHICLE SELECTION TOOLKIT Simulating the performance of electric vehicles in fleet-specific applications

Photo courtesy of Michael Gil

AN ELECTRIC VEHICLE MONITORING SYSTEMT Providing unique EV-only data that conventional telematics systems can not

Plug-in Fleets

FleetCarma tells us that, so far, the most common fleet operators adopting electric vehicles have been in the public sector. These operators are interested in meeting GHG emissions reduction targets. The overall performance and efficiency of plug-in vehicles will be much more sensitive to duty cycle parameters than their gasoline-powered counterparts are. This makes it even more important that a fleet manager assess each duty cycle for EV suitability. The key is to find the jobs and routes that maximize EV utilization and leverage the operational savings offered by plug-in electrics. Some common public sector applications, like law enforcement and inter-office delivery, have worked well for EVs so far. For private sector fleets, FleetCarma sees plug-in electric delivery trucks on inner-city routes, offering the potential for shorter payback periods. Even individuals managing a large number of sales vehicles are evaluating the benefits of plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota’s Plug-in Prius. But the operational savings are only part of the story. In many cases, the folks in the private sector are citing increased operator satisfaction with the electric drive experience, reduced risk to fuel price volatility and topline marketing benefits as well. It comes down to cost vs. benefits and the calculation is going to be different for every job in the fleet.

Charge your EV on the go. Blink Pedestal Charger Âť

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IMPROVING Charging Station Deployment






Principal with Meridian Associates. Mr. Bowen is a Registered Land Surveyor. In his 27-year career he has consulted on projects associated with municipal, commercial, industrial, and residential land use issues and regulatory permitting processes.

s the popularity of electric vehicles continues to expand, the demand for charging station availability is also increasing at a rapid rate. EV infrastructure has quickly and quietly sprouted in many urban areas throughout the US and along many interstate highways. The advanced investment in this pathway infrastructure will continue to play a vital role in the integration of EVs into our transportation system. However, continued adoption of electric vehicles by consumers is dependent on the availability and ease of use of charging facilities. Although the location and status of each unit may be identified through websites as well as applications on mobile devices, significant inconsistencies remain in the physical appearance, location, and access to this equipment. Electrical codes dictate the standards for materials, installation procedures, and connection to the electrical grid, but the user interface, including physical access, signage, use limitations, area demarcations, and cost, is largely unregulated, and is subject to the discretion of the facility owner. However, a few states have already devised guidelines to combat this problem. A wide range of regulations and policies in the states of California, Washington, Hawaii, Minnesota, Virginia, and Oregon stipulate everything from vehicle charging rates to the exact placement of EV charging systems, parking space dimensions and signage. For over a year, I have been utilizing a wide variety of charging station facilities and have experienced a number of impediments that hinder the convenience of recharging my Chevy Volt. Many hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, and parking facilities have installed EV equipment,

an amenity which is rapidly becoming a business imperative in the corporate world. Nonetheless, charging stations have not yet reached widespread prevalence in the most convenient locations. Areas where people are engaged in commerce for a period of hours, such as malls, golf courses, theaters, and transportation facilities, represent significant new opportunities for EV charger installation. The vast majority of the charging units that I’ve used were identified through a mobile device prior to departing for unfamiliar destinations. Mobile applications such as PlugShare provide the locations of both private charge stations (which require advance permission) and publicly available options. Vender-specific mobile apps alert you to the location and availability of charging stations equipped solely by their company. Mobile apps usually provide the specific address of the host facility, conditions for use, user comments, level of charge capacity (120 V or 240 V), directions, and photographs to aid with navigation to the charging facility. Based on my use and observations of dozens of charging stations, I have compiled a list of Best Practices for facility owners and real estate managers to consider.


Signage is extremely important to locate and then operate the charging equipment. It should be large and well lit at night to avoid the need to search for EV charging stations, especially when entering a parking lot or garage. The vast majority of facilities that offer this amenity have limited instructional signage to direct vehicle operators to designated spaces.

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CHARGING Optimum content for signage: • Reservation of parking spot for electric vehicles only • Name and phone number of organization responsible for operation and upkeep • Time limitations • Level of amperage • User fee or rates • Consequences of violation of either time limit or type of vehicle: • “Violators will be towed at owners expense” • Towing company and telephone number • Days and hours of operation The demarcation of individual parking spaces - using easily identifiable EV symbols and bright green paint on the entire parking space - is an effective method of identifying a charging facility and its designated equipment. Similar to the blue demarcations of handicap parking spaces, green designation of EV parking spaces assists with identification by EV operators and serves as a deterrent or vibrant reminder to conventional vehicle operators.


Convenience will also play a significant role as the purchase of EVs becomes more widely accepted. Unobstructed access to EV charging stations may seem logical, but I have found that a number of parking facilities have limited or prohibited access. Some restrict access by means of ‘Residents Only’ or ‘Do Not Enter’ signage. I had a particularly difficult time tracking down one charging station noted on a mobile app when, after an extensive investigation effort, I was informed that the charging station was located in an underground parking garage referred to as Harbour Front Centre in Toronto, Canada. No trace of evidence on the ground would lead one to conclude that this charging facility even existed. A construction fence prohibited access, and only through the kind-hearted assistance of facility staff did it become known that the garage was not even scheduled to open for another two weeks!


Accessibility measures may allow disabled persons a greater chance to operate an electric vehicle in a safer and more convenient environment. The first of every 25 EV charging spots, or any available and convenient space should be reserved exclusively for the use of disabled


persons. This requires a parking space at a diagonal or perpendicular to the curb with ample space around the charging equipment as well as a barrier-free route of travel. Close proximity to the entrance of the building will allow equal opportunities to all EV drivers. Accessibility should also include sidewalk clearance for pedestrian passage if in a public area.


Charging station maintenance and protection should be put in place. Charging equipment may either have a retractable cord or a clear place to hang the cord at an appropriate height above the ground. Curbs, wheel stops, or steel bollards prove useful in protecting EV charging stations, especially those placed near an angled or perpendicular parking spot.


EV charging spots must clearly mark their policies and procedures in regard to payment or fees. If requiring a card reader, this device should be clear of obstruction, visible, and at easy level for reach. Free EV charging spots may promote energy efficiency or entice new customers or clients to the business providing the service. These free spots should be well promoted and clear for the driver to understand.


Public education is highly recommended to inform occupants, tenants, and visitors of the availability and location of charging stations. This information should be available through websites for individual companies and facility owners. The public is far more likely to consider EVs if awareness of EV infrastructure and equipment is increased. In my opinion, the public charging stations available at City Hall in Boston have increased public awareness more than any other charging stations in New England due to their high profile location and nearconstant use.


Enforcement is necessary to prevent conventional gas powered vehicle operators from occupying EV charging stations. Enforcement may pose challenges, given that the spaces are often in preferred areas, and are desirable due to proximity to elevators and stairwells, building access, and pedestrian walkways. As EV popularity soars, policing of time limitations

will be critical to continued expansion. In addition to education of policies through proper signage, communication of charge completion is one method of insuring that idle equipment does not go to waste. The On-Star app for my Chevy Volt emails me upon complete charge or any premature disruption.


Illumination of parking spaces is extremely helpful for the payment and use of charging stations. Despite vehicle safety considerations such as the illumination of the J1772 EV plug connection, dimly lit surroundings can make it difficult to identify charging equipment and designated spaces.

As our transportation system evolves, these recommendations will maximize the potential use and benefit of EV charging stations. The adoption of such amenities serves as a strategic differentiator between forward thinking businesses and those who choose to fall behind in a competitive environment. Minimizing the time and effort necessary to utilize charging stations will improve integration of EVs into our transportation system, reducing both our reliance on foreign oil and our carbon emissions. Widespread and well-executed EV infrastructure will provide the groundwork for a stronger economy and a healthier environment for our country now and for future generations.

“ICED� - a conventional (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicle occupying an EV charging spot

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Peak Use By Charlie Morris

Photo courtesy of Pecan Street

The 21st-century electrification of transportation will affect society in many yet-unforeseen ways, but one thing that is already obvious is that it will require major changes for electric utility companies. Electron vendors all over the world are working with auto companies, charging equipment makers and governments on various pilot projects and studies to gather information and plan for the new mobility model (we regularly cover these in our daily blog at One of these is the Pecan Street Project, now getting underway in Mueller, Texas, a planned community near Austin. The study involves 400 homes, all newly built in accordance with LEED energy efficiency principles. Residents are voluntarily testing various green technologies, from solar panels to smart meters. Researchers have installed high-tech meters in 100 homes to get a detailed picture of how residents use electricity and how the new gadgets work in the real world, and will monitor energy use through early 2015. About 65 Muellerites drive plug-in cars (mostly Volts), the highest concentration of EVs in any US community. Pecan Street’s Brewster McCracken points out that the EV is the biggest electrical load to hit US homes since the advent of the air conditioner. A typical home AC pulls around 4 kW, and an EV draws around 3.3 kW (the next-biggest energy hog, an LCD TV, uses perhaps 300 W). As more households start plugging in EVs, energy providers will have to find ways to intelligently manage the load, or it will wreak havoc on power grids. The Pecan Street team has cracked a preliminary bushel of data, in order to establish some baseline figures, and has found a couple of interesting tidbits.

The first is something that many of us suspected - most people plug in their cars when they get home from work, between the hours of 3 and 8 pm, just when they also crank up their ACs, TVs and other appliances. The team also found that all the EV owners in the study want Level 2 charging. As Robert Bruninga pointed out in an article in our June/July issue, for most drivers, Level 1 should theoretically be sufficient - the 12 hours or so between evening happy hour and morning coffee is adequate to top up at 120 volts. But the Mueller EV owners were already using Level 1 charging before the study began, and they lined up to get the Level 2 chargers when Pecan Street handed them out. While this may sound like game over for the grid, another early finding points to a potential way out. Most of us think of a southern orientation as the right way for solar, but the Pecan team has found that, in Austin at least, west-facing solar is more “load-aligned.” Of the homes in the study that have photovoltaic panels, 40% are west-facing, and their peak generating time coincides almost exactly with the afternoon peak usage period. A familiar suggestion for dealing with the peakcharging issue is Time-Of-Use (TOU) pricing. Several providers already offer lower electricity rates at off-peak times, and the Pecan team will begin a trial of TOU next year. While peak-time charging is an obvious issue (McCracken doesn’t call it a “problem,” but notes that their research is intended to find out whether it is in fact a problem), the Pecan Street Project will surely identify others in the course of the study. They are also sure to find solutions, some of which may be ones no one had anticipated.

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